Thursday, March 31, 2011
one of my favorite things about living in sarasota is the downtown farmer's market. it's chock-full of everything wonderful: produce, artisan cheese, olive oil and honey, fresh pasta, pastries, and much more -- and all of it's local and well-priced. i really should make an effort to get down there every weekend; as it stands right now, i make it about twice a month.
this weekend, my mom and i spent a good hour meandering through the market. we both picked up some local honey to try and soothe our terrible allergies (side note: have you ever taken honey to help allergies? did it work for you? i've heard great success stories!), and i snapped the above pictures. don't those strawberries look delicious?
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
happy monday, everyone--and happy last week of march! (seriously, can you believe it's almost april?) how were your weekends? i hope they were great, and that you're going into this week relaxed and rested.
i had a fantastic weekend--despite some lingering stomach-bug stuff, my mom and i spent lots of quality time together wandering around sarasota. we had lunch and dinner at two of my favorite sarasota restaurants on friday (and in between, she hung out at the beach while i worked), and then spent all day saturday wandering around downtown--we went to the farmer's market, had lunch at the sweetest little cafe (you can see my yummy baked oatmeal, above), stopped by our favorite orchid nursery/gift shop (mom bought herself a gorgeous orchid and pot, and me the turquoise ceramic pot and succulents above, which i love--it's all so cheery!), and got frozen yogurt. there was a little bit of a scuffle toward the end of her visit, when she got a flat tire and i realized i'd locked my keys and both of our cell phones in my apartment, but it actually ended up being a pretty hilarious way to end her time here.
then, saturday night, my friend k. and i got to go see the new york-based kate weare company perform two dance pieces, bridge of sighs and bright land, at the historic asolo theater on the ringling museum campus. kate weare is known for its demanding physical performances against a very spare background, and it was really interesting to watch both of the pieces the company performed. bright land, which was set to old-timey music that made me think of grapes of wrath and the 1930s, was my favorite, but both were excellent and i'm still thinking about them today.
and as for this week--well, here are my little goals. please share yours, too!
+ i'm recycling a lot of last week's health goals, since i was down for the count again thanks to whatever random stomach bug decided to make itself at home in my system, so, yes: eat healthily (and mostly vegetarian), exercise, sleep early.
+ pick up a new book. (any recommendations?)
+ clean out my kitchen closet. so boring and probably so dusty, but i have to do it.
+ spend as much time outside as possible, whenever possible.
+ start cultivating a work wardrobe style. (more on this later in the week.)
and you? tell me, and i'll see you back here tomorrow! xoxo
photos by me
Friday, March 25, 2011
happy friday, friends! we made it to the weekend!
i'm particularly looking forward to this one because my mom is coming to visit. i haven't seen her since january, and the weather is especially beautiful right now, so it looks like we'll be spending a lot of time outside -- at the beach, at the farmer's market, at restaurants that have outdoor dining options. i was sick this week (again, ugh -- this time with food poisoning, which i'm still experiencing stomach cramps from, yuck), and even at 27 years old, i still always want my mom when i don't feel well. so this is good timing. yay, mom.
what are you up to this weekend? whatever you do, i hope it's relaxing and springlike and full of people and things you love. see you back here on monday. xoxo
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
happy monday, friends! how were your weekends?
mine was, just as i'd hoped, blissfully low-key. although i went from cold-mode to allergy-mode (seriously, the pollen is killing me), i did manage to get some spring cleaning done and i'm feeling pretty happy about it. also, i can tell i'm getting older because i bought a new vacuum on sunday, and was incredibly excited about not only purchasing, but using it (we have a lot of white cat hair being shed around here).
other than spring cleaning, i also walked around st. armands circle for awhile on saturday and took in a bit of vitamin d in the beautiful sunshine. and in the spirit of my plan to get my house looking good, particularly my bedroom, i also poked around on etsy looking for prints, and fell in love with one by my perennial favorite, catherine campbell (pictured above). i love catherine's artwork -- in fact, i bought her 2010 calendar last year and have taken to cutting off the calendar portion of each month and framing the resulting drawing. i still have several months left to do that with, and i'm looking forward to finding spots around the house for them.
i have a busy week this week -- a couple of lunch meetings, a trip to naples for work on thursday, and my mom coming into town for the weekend on friday (yay!) -- but i'm looking forward to all of it. and in the spirit of continuing to get things done and in order, here's my list of commitments for the week:
+ taxes paid and filed (my accountant says they should be done this week).
+ get back into my exercise routine, since i was laid up for a lot of last week.
+ laundry, laundry, laundry. i have a lot of it to do.
+ make big batches of coconut shrimp curry and split pea soup that i can eat and reheat throughout the week.
+ continue going to bed earlier (i was in bed before midnight every night last week -- yippee!)
+ go to the beach one day to sit and watch the sunset.
+ wear bright lipstick, just because.
+ stay hopeful. about everything.
and you? what are your goals? tell me, and i'll meet you back here tomorrow. xoxo!
Friday, March 18, 2011
oh, friday, it's good to see you.
this has been a week, hasn't it? aside from everything that's going on in japan (and libya, too) -- which, as we all know, is completely heartbreaking and devastating and terrifying -- i've been trying to kick the never-ending cold and i just can't seem to quite do it.
but there have been good things, too. work is going really well, i got a much-needed haircut, i celebrated a dear friend's birthday, and i have some other things happening that i'll share with you next week. also, it's officially the time of year i like to call perfect -- 75 degrees during the day, 50-something at night; warm enough to wear shorts, cool enough to not have to turn on the a.c. i hope you all are experiencing equally wonderful weather, wherever you may be.
this weekend, i have to go to a work event on saturday morning, but i plan on laying low the rest of the time -- i'm in that mood right now -- with the exception of some friend time and hopefully some outdoor exercise. i also want to whip up some sort of sweet treat, so we'll see how it all pans out. no matter what, it should be a good few days.
and you? what are your plans? tell me, and i'll see you back here on monday. have a sweet weekend, friends. xoxo
pretty photo by chizuru-bis
Thursday, March 17, 2011
loving these looks from three little ducks (spotted on unruly things) -- everything is just so pretty and summer-perfect, from the hair and makeup to the jewelry and, of course, the clothes. another one to add to my "shamelessly copy" file.
p.s. how cute is the name "three little ducks"?
p.p.s. happy st. patrick's day from this irish girl to all of you! xoxoxo
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
not a lot of story behind this one, but i spotted this pretty blue house on my travels recently and had to snap a pic. i love the juxtaposition of the blue sky, blue paint and red flowers (and the pretty tile details) -- and this is also a good indication of the incredibly beautiful, sunny weather we've been having lately. yay.
until fairly recently, i'd never made brownies from scratch. i know -- i go on and on about how much i love to bake, but if someone had asked me for a brownie recipe, i would have looked away. then i tried making nigella's brownies, and -- this is hard to admit -- i totally screwed up. while the taste was perfect, i overbaked the edges, underbaked the center, and basically ended up with brownie goo. so needless to say, i was disappointed.
then, while reading the lovely olivia's blog, i saw that she had linked to a recipe on king arthur flour's website and hailed it as "failproof." since i needed a thank-you treat for a friend and knew he liked chocolate, i decided i'd try to do brownies again.
i'm really glad i did -- these brownies are, indeed, failproof. i ended up having to bake them for about 5 minutes longer than the recipe instructed, but they turned out perfectly moist and chocolatey. next time, i'm going to try them olivia's way -- with salted caramel running through them -- but for now, i'm so glad to finally have "my own" brownie recipe.
and here it is, adapted slightly from king arthur flour:
oscar-approved*, no-fail brownies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder**
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chips
in a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. return the mixture to the heat or microwave briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°f to 120°f), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. (heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.)
while the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.
add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth. add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. (note: if you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.)
spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake the brownies for about 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.
**oscar is my cat, showcased in the photo above.
*i didn't have espresso powder on hand, so i used instant coffee powder (which i also used in this recipe) and it was totally fine.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
abby liga is one of my favorite photographers. not only is she sarasota-born, winter park-based (w.p. is my hometown; sarasota, as you know, my now-town!), but i know her in real life and she is just lovely. she's also super talented, and i love these photos from a recent engagement session she shot in new york city. the colors in the first are really beautiful, aren't they? and we all know i can't resist a good bakery shot.
find abby's website here, and her blog here.
all photos by abby liga
Monday, March 14, 2011
i didn't have big plans for the past weekend, and i'm glad: on friday night, i started to feel the beginnings of a cold, and by saturday i was good for about an hour outside at the farmer's market before i had to come home and curl up in bed for the next day and a half. add to that a strange reaction to some cold medicine (is this what happens when you get older?) and -- most importantly -- the deep-rooted feelings of sadness i've been having over what's going on in japan (it just seems unthinkable), and i'm glad friday, saturday and sunday were quiet.
i'm feeling better today, but not great, and i'm looking forward to crawling into bed early and getting a full night's sleep. and in that vein, this week, i'm committing to making little healthy changes and hoping they stick.
+ trying to swap out green tea for coffee, at least for awhile. i love coffee, but i've really been enjoying all the green tea i've been guzzling lately. at the very least, cut my coffee intake down to one cup in the morning.
+ up the fruit-and-veggie intake; cut back on the processed stuff. i did that this weekend and i really think it's helped me kick the cold a bit more quicky.
+ go.to.bed.earlier. regular readers of this series know that this is something i really struggle with, so any going-to-bed early tips are appreciated.
+ wake up earlier so i can actually enjoy my cereal (and maybe even make a smoothie!) at home instead of grabbing a cup of yogurt as i whirl out the door like the tazmanian devil.
+ take advantage of the longer days and the absolutely beautiful weather, and feel grateful for everything i have, because -- as we've all rediscovered over the past four days -- it can disappear in an instant.
+ once i'm feeling better, do at least three days of the 30 day shred, which i've been doing for months but only sporadically. my arms need toning and it's almost bathing suit season.
it's an ambitious list, but i think these are all symptoms of a bigger desire i have, now more than ever, to live well, and live in the moment.
how about you? what are your goals for the week? xoxo
lovely photo by nirrimi
Friday, March 11, 2011
of course, the first -- and really, the only -- thing on my mind this morning is the terrible news from japan and the pacific. my aunt, an english professor, won a fullbright scholarship and spent most of 2009 and 2010 just outside tokyo. she and her family loved japan and its people; my mom went to visit last year and felt the same. it's just so heartbreaking. and yet, i can't stop looking at the photos and reading the news coverage.
i'm definitely sending out thoughts of hope.
but happily, other than this sad news, this week has been pretty great -- i actually hit all of my commitments! i trusted myself to make some big decisions, not only about my professional future, but about some personal things, as well, and i'm pretty proud of myself. as you know, i picked out a paint color for my bedroom (i'm definitely going with the icy pink) and i also chose a haircut, both of which are long-overdue items that just needed to be taken care of. i know they might sound silly,but it feels good to have a plan, even if it's just for how to do my hair. next week, i'll also get all of my taxes completed, which is a great thing, and continue my good exercising/eating habits. yay.
the weekend weather is supposed to be beautiful, so i'm going to spend tomorrow morning with my friends k. and t. on k.'s boat, but other than that, i don't have many other plans -- so it should be a good few days off.
what are your plans? tell me, and i'll see you back here on monday!
lovely photo by ashatay. i don't know if it's the color or the objects in the image itself, but there's something slightly haunting about it, no? or maybe it's just me and my somber headspace this morning.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
i'm going to be honest with you: this granola, to me, is more like oatmeal cookie crumbs. there's nothing too unhealthy in it, but it's definitely more cookie-like than you might expect. so, yes--disclaimer.
that being said, it's also seriously delicious.
i've never been a big granola person. i like the idea of it, but firstly, it often contains raisins, and i hate raisins with a burning passion. i don't know from where that hatred comes, but it's intense. (i have a similar aversion to fig newtons; something bad that was related to purple fruit obviously happened to me as a child.) secondly, it never tastes particularly fresh to me -- so again, i thought, what's the point?
but then emily posted about her experience making alton brown's granola -- and echoed many of my sentiments re: freshness -- and i decided i needed to try out the recipe. so i did. i mixed together oats, coconut, almonds, cashews, a little brown sugar, a little good-quality maple syrup, a touch of vegetable oil. and what resulted was delicious; i shared some with my boss and my coworker and they both loved it. it's crunchy and fresh-tasting and, best of all, you know what actually goes into it. i'm big on that; it's one of the reasons i prefer to bake my own treats and, lately, cook most of my own food.
and yes, now i'm officially a granola convert. my favorite way to eat it is atop vanilla yogurt, mixed with sliced fresh bananas, but i'm not above grabbing handfuls of it from a bag, either. so without further ado, here's the recipe, made with emily's tweaks from alton brown's original.
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp good-quality maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
photo by me
my coworker, h., and i like to take a little walk every afternoon, for a variety of reasons: to go to the quickie mart to get a snack or beverage, to catch up on the day's events, to visit a new shop, to just get some exercise or fresh air. we usually have a set route, but occasionally we deviate. the other day was one of those times: we ended up strolling up beautiful palm avenue and just happened into posh on palm, a fabulous store that would make any shabby chic lover jump for joy. while i tend toward a more bohemian-modern style, i have a very soft spot for shabby shic (at least, shabby shic done right), so this store made me smile. i'll definitely be back; it's the perfect place to pick up a gift or home accessory.
photos by me
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
so, remember those big decisions i was talking about on monday? i made them. and with them i made a bunch of other choices about my life -- number one being that it is finally, after two years in this apartment, time to get my bedroom in order. it's gross right now, you guys. there's a headboard that's not being utilized, two pieces from my old bed, no shades on the window and a tattered couch that really just needs to go. (i'll definitely take a "before" photo so you can see just how bad it is.)
and i'm positive a nice, fresh coat of paint will make a huge difference in there, so that's where i'm starting. for awhile, i was waffling between light gray and icy pink, but pink has won, especially after i revisited this photo of david stark's bedroom (via his design*sponge sneak peek). my bedroom is pretty dark, and although i love gray in almost any form, i think gray paint will be just a touch too much. i'm going to go pick out some options this weekend, but the color in the photo above is pretty much exactly what i'm looking for.
what do you think? what home improvements have you made recently? i'd love to see!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
yesterday i mentioned that i'm really enjoying meklit hadero's music, so today i thought i'd share one of her songs with you. although the song is ultimately about someone leaving (hence the title), the beat is pretty sexy, and it's kind of perfect getting-ready-to-go-out-on-a-springtime-saturday-night-date music. it's also, as i discovered, great sunday-night music, too -- i listened to it while standing in my kitchen with the windows open and a cool breeze blowing through, and had one of those simple, perfectly happy moments. so lovely.
anyway, listen and let me know what you think. meklit, who was born in ethiopia but based in san francisco, will be in sarasota in october for the ringling international arts festival, and i'm hoping i get to see her perform live.
what are you listening to lately? (for me, it's meklit and a lot, a lot, a lot of adele.) please share!
Monday, March 7, 2011
happy monday, everyone! did you have good weekends? i did -- i hung out with my friend t. on friday, which was lovely, and then on saturday attended a press event at the ringling museum with mikhail baryshnikov, during which the lineup for the 2011 ringling international arts festival was announced (it's going to be awesome). after that, a bunch of us headed downtown for chillounge night, which has become something of a sarasota springtime tradition. i was lucky enough to score v.i.p. tickets, so we were able to enjoy complimentary food and drinks all night, and the bands that were playing were great, so we all ended up dancing the night away, too. (here's a pic, snapped by my buddy chris; don't we look happy? we were!)
all that event-going and street-partying led to a pretty low-key sunday, and i spent a lot of time (a) sleeping and (b) laying on my couch, watching movies and thinking deep thoughts. this week is a big one for me -- i have to make some important, literally life-changing decisions and they're a little (ok, a lot) scary. i wish i could be more specific, and i know you might be reading this and thinking, "what?", especially after all the gushing i've been doing about the place i'm at in my life right now, but the good news is that, although these decisions are ginormous, they're pretty much win-win, and i'll share more about them as soon as i make them.
and actually, making those decisions is my big commitment for the week. that, and also:
+ pick out a haircut i like. i am in desperate need of at least a trim.
+ keep calm.
+ trust myself.
+ continue the cooking/exercising. i've been feeling pretty great because of them.
and you? what are your little goals for the week? xoxo
photo by molly
Friday, March 4, 2011
happy friday, friends! i hope you had a good end of february and first bit of march. it's been exceptionally beautiful here in sarasota -- 75-degree weather, lovely breezes, longer days, gorgeous light -- and it looks like that pattern is going to continue into the foreseeable future, or at least the weekend, which is a happymaking thing, indeed.
speaking of happy, that's an emotion i've been feeling lots of lately, too. i've been eating well (and cooking lots), walking/exercising a ton, and just generally feeling good. i don't think that's a sign of spring -- i've been feeling this way since january -- but i do think it's continued proof that putting yourself in the path of positive, healthy things (in my case, work i'm loving and equally happy, supportive people) is never a bad thing.
also, speaking of work, meeting martha stewart last week was a pretty big deal for me; i'm so inspired by her business and the work she does. i'm still working through everything i'm feeling -- it's way more than just the i-met-a-celebrity adrenaline rush -- so when i get those thoughts together, i'll post them here.
and this weekend i'm going to a press event on saturday night, then to an outdoor festival here in town, and i also want to keep up the exercise (maybe some yoga?) and the good eating. sleeping in is always on my list, of course, and i'm thinking about whipping up a batch of these brownies for a friend -- hopefully they turn out well; my last brownie attempt was a big-time fail. (sadness.)
what about you? what are your plans for the weekend? no matter what you do, i do hope you have at least a little time to stop and smell the flowers -- literally or metaphorically.
i am seriously swooning over this color lately: lovely photo by marie zucker
Thursday, March 3, 2011
it's a two-blog day!
i know you probably don't want to see any more posts about the academy awards, but i can't not post about my best-dressed pick of the night: mila kunis. i love everything about this entire look -- her hair, her makeup, but especially the dress. i need to incorporate more of that shade into my everyday wardrobe.
who was your best-dressed at the oscars?
this may sound sacrilegious, but until the end of last year, i'd never had a buckeye -- you know, those little round peanut butter morsels dipped in chocolate to resemble buckeye nuts. lucky for me, a friend magnanimously gave me one from a tin she'd received, and i was immediately hooked. i mean, chocolate and peanut butter? c'mon.
so when the super bowl rolled around and i was invited to a house party, i immediately volunteered to bring a dessert item and chose to make a batch of buckeyes. turns out they're ridiculously easy to whip up, and though the amount of sugar, butter and peanut butter required to make them practically forces you to turn a blind eye to your measuring cup, they're totally worth it (i had several people ask me for the recipe after eating them). for some reason -- as you can see in the photo above -- i was apparently rolling these with my eyes closed, so they're kind of, um, ugly, but i've seen them turn out way cuter, and i have full faith that yours will be more aesthetically pleasing than my own. and again, no matter what, they're delicious.
so, without further ado, here's the recipe!
1 1/2 cups (about one jar) creamy peanut butter
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar*
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
in a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla and confectioners' sugar (the dough will look dry). roll into one-inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping) and chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
after the peanut butter balls have chilled, melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. stir frequently until smooth. dip the frozen peanut butter balls into the chocolate, holding onto the toothpick. Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like buckeye nuts. put candy back on the cookie sheet, and refrigerate until serving.
*the recipe i based this version on originally called for six (!) cups of confectioners' sugar -- you can definitely use that much if you want, but i found that four cups was more than enough, particularly when coupled with the already-present sweetness of the peanut butter.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
hi, guys! i feel like i should be writing my happy monday post today, but it's wednesday. it's weird, even though i posted yesterday, it felt kind of...abrupt. is that odd to say? i don't know; i feel like my monday posts start off the conversation for the week, in some weird way, and missing them makes me feel strange. (or maybe i'm just strange.)
anyway, before i start really babbling, the reason i didn't post on monday, and why you're getting way more words than you would from a normal scenes from sarasota post, is because i got a nasty computer virus (aaaaand cue a whiny "i miss having a mac" chorus). thankfully, my friend/co-worker's boyfriend works in IT, so it took him a whopping 20 minutes to fix everything, but the day and a half i was without my laptop was...hard. which, honestly, makes me think i need to unplug more often.
in other news, i've been cooking up a storm this week -- so far, i've made shrimp curry (again), homemade granola, buttermilk pancakes from scratch, and tomorrow i'm going to whip up some chocolate two-bite cookies as a thank-you treat for my friend's computer-saving boyfriend -- and it's been great. going to try to keep the homemadeness up.
i've also been listening to adele's new album, 21, and oh my gosh, it's amazing. like, heartbreakingly so. i'm the kind of person who thinks in stories, and i can imagine a story for every single song on this album, even if it's not my own. there are big, swelling, movie-soundtrack-worthy songs, and then there are songs that literally hit so close to home they make you squeeze your eyes shut and take a deep breath. my favorites of the moment are "rumor has it," "turning tables" (which makes me think the most of the aforementioned movie soundtrack) and "someone like you," which kills me. go. listen. enjoy.
oh, and on a completely unrelated and random note: i ran out of my beloved lancome mascara last weekend and replaced it with cover girl lash blast (orange tube, non-waterproof), which i was tipped off to by a tweet from anna at door sixteen, and i love it. possibly even more than the lancome, if that's possible. (i need to write a makeup post soon; i've been using a bunch of products that i absolutely love and think you might, too.)
so that's what's been going on so far this week. and here are two photos from one of my favorite places in sarasota -- the top of the ringling bridge. (not the most perfect shots, obviously, but i still love them.) i took the first one, with the city views, from one side of the bridge, and couldn't get over how pretty the lilac-colored sky was, and i took the second one when i was walking back up the other side and the sun had sunk even lower -- i love seeing the progression of the light. the bridge is one of my happy places -- it's awesome for a jog or a power walk, but it's also a great place to think and listen to music and look out over the water. i'm really glad it exists.
i hope you're having a great week so far -- see you tomorrow!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
you guys, can we just pause and smile at this bright and cheery kitchen for a moment? it belongs to martha stewart living design director james dunlinson, and i think it's pretty much perfect (not surprising since we all know how much i love yellow). hooray for colors, and also hooray for this image inspiring me to start my own collection of colorful cafe au lait bowls.
image via martha stewart