Saturday, May 28, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

happy weekend, friends! did you have a good week? what are your plans for the weekend?

me, i couldn't be happier that i have today, tomorrow and monday off. a little three-day weekend does the mind and body good, i find, and my list of things to do includes something water-related (not sure what yet), dinner with friends, lemon bars, a new book, a memorial day barbecue and frozen yogurt. not too shabby. 

and i'm taking monday off from posting (i think), so i'll see you back here on tuesday. i hope you have a wonderful weekend -- even though the real start date of summer is late june, i always feel like memorial day is the season's true kickoff, don't you?

i snapped the photo above at my favorite local bookstore -- how pretty are those fabric covers?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

loving: the english dept.

i was an english major/creative writing minor in college and have an almost overwhelming fondness for the classes i took and the professors who taught them. so when i stumbled across a wedding boutique called the english dept., it made me think of two of my favorite things: beautiful, happy white weddings and stacks of books by my favorite writers and theorists. what could be better?

photos: the english dept.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

books: the imperfectionists and the frog king

i've got a twofer for you today, and i think you're going to like it:  i read like a madwoman last week and finished two books, both of which i thoroughly enjoyed.

first up? tom rachman's the imperfectionists. i've gotta say, this novel was pretty much flawless. it's about an international, english-language newspaper based in rome, and the book alternates between brief, italicized vignettes about the family that founded the paper and longer chapters about members of its current staff (and one of its readers). by the end, not only do you feel like you've gotten to know the characters individually -- on an intimate and often heartbreaking level -- but you also get a sense of what it must be like to walk into their office and interact with them on a collective basis every day. highly, highly, highly recommend. i loved this book.

i followed the imperfectionists with adam davies' the frog king. i actually just met adam in real life (and once at an event at which he read excerpts from this book, which is why it was on my radar), and was immediately taken with his mastery of the english language -- seriously, the man can whip up a fantastic sentence. the frog king, which i understand is pretty autobiographical, is about a young man trying to make it in the razor-sharp world of new york city book publishing and maintain a relationship with the woman he loves more than anything, and, well, the back cover says it all: "this is not a fairy tale." i really enjoyed this book -- it's often funny, and you feel an energy behind davies' prose, which, again, is just beautiful -- and could relate to and empathize with more of it than i should probably admit. it's definitely worth picking up. and if adam gives a reading near you, go. i promise it will be entertaining.

what have you been reading lately? (next on my list is tea obreht's the tiger's wife, which i first spotted on mary's lovely blog.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

a quote for tuesday; or, why i love ira glass.

"nobody tells this to people who are beginners. i wish someone told me. all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. but there is this gap. for the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. it's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. but your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. and your taste is why your work disappoints you. a lot of people never get into this phase. they quit. most people i know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. we know our work doesn't have this special thing we want it to have. we all go through this. and if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is a lot of work. put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. it is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. and i took longer to figure this out than anyone i've ever met. it's gonna take awhile. it's normal to take awhile. you've just gotta fight your way through."

Monday, May 23, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

i celebrated the fact that we all survived the rapture by hanging out with my friends and drinking wine this weekend. it was glorious.

here are some other glorious tidbits from the past few days:

1. two books finished: the imperfectionists (loved; made me teary; made me think seriously about my career) and the frog king (loved; made me teary; made me think seriously about my life). more on both later this week.
2. a new dress in emerald green, courtesy of my friend k.'s insane thrifting abilities.
3. a perfect saturday night with the aforementioned friends-- the kind of night where you laugh a lot and bump into people you know on every corner.
4. fuchsia toenail polish -- the perfect color for the beginning of summer. (and also, having the toenail polish applied while chatting with one of my favorite people.)
5. the overwhelming feelings of love i felt for sarasota at certain points throughout the weekend -- whether it was looking out at the cityscape from a friend's downtown balcony or dipping my toes into the salty water of the bay at island park.

and five goals for the week:

1. continue down the path of assertiveness (which, when i put it that way, sounds kind of yoda-ish, but i still want to do it).
2. on the above note, do one thing that scares me.
3. experiment with getting up half an hour earlier in the mornings. this will either (a) work, (b) fail miserably or (c) work but make me very grumpy -- but i figure, hey, if i can go off coffee, i can wake up earlier. right?
4. plan out my meals for the week. this makes everything easier and i like the domesticity of it.  it's oddly comforting.
5. work some more on my nascent piece of writing.

and you? i would love to hear, so please share!

photo: via

Friday, May 20, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

the week that was was kind of surreal.

i got a schoolgirl crush on someone brilliant, and those flutters of innocent, undiluted admiration are making me feel giddy--and also like there's a possibility he might not be completely unattainable, even if, in truth, he is. i looked up at the full moon. i planned a trip to see some mermaids with old friends. i scratched out the first paragraphs of something i'm hoping will become a viable piece of writing. i went to an art exhibit about hip-hop. i watched some cute second-graders dance and sing. i put on a pair of pants in a smaller size.

so it was a good surreal week.

and i'm not sure what this weekend will hold, other than tomorrow night's book club (um, i didn't read the book, although i am reading the imperfectionists right now, soon to be followed by the frog king). some outdoor time, i think. maybe a walk through the farmer's market or brunch with friends. we'll see; i'm not making plans. the way things are going, i'm nothing but content right now.

what about you? tell me what you're up to over the next few days, and i'll see you back here on monday.

photo by victoria

Thursday, May 19, 2011

loving: coterie.

by now i'm sure you've all seen jane's lovely new online shop, coterie, right? (if you haven't, click over immediately.) full of a selection of impeccably curated items for the home -- everything from notebooks to muddlers and spurtles (i love that word) to ceramics to throws to soaps and candles -- jane's shop is just as lovely and as much of a source of inspiration as her blog.

coterie. the word even sounds nice, doesn't it?

Monday, May 16, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

what a weekend.

actually, i need to amend that: what a wonderful weekend. one of the best in a long time -- it was full of friends and food and drink and fun and all the things that make up a perfect saturday and sunday. i could probably go on for pages about the shenanigans, but i won't -- instead, i'll give you five favorites.

1. bridesmaids. not quite what i expected, but still pretty hilarious.
2. friends, and lots of them. all of whom live far away, which made seeing them that much sweeter. 
3. perfect weather -- a brief reprieve from the recent 90-degree-plus temps.
4. me, growing a (metaphorical) pair. you guys, it is very hard for me to just go up and talk to people i don't know that well, especially in non-work situations  -- but this weekend i did just that, and to someone pretty awesome. yes, it required a glass of wine or two, but it was amazing. yay for balls!
5. peonies, pictured above. a tiny splurge, but they make me so ridiculously happy that it's totally worth it.

and here are five commitments for the next few days:

1. biggest and most important: do some writing that is separate from work and from this blog. going to that reading last week flipped a switch in my head and made me realize how much i absolutely love making sentences. i've wanted to write a book ever since i was a little girl, so why not start piecing something together? even if i'm the only one who ever sees it, i think it will make me really happy.
2. keep up the exercise and healthy eating. i've been doing pretty well and hope the momentum will continue.  in fact, i tried on a pair of shorts this weekend in a smaller size and they fit -- eek!
3. find a new (savory) recipe to try out. have you made anything particularly delicious lately?
4. smile as much as possible. i mentioned that i wanted to do this once before and think it bears repeating -- and pretty often, at that.
5. figure out some summer vacation plans since summer is practically upon us at this point.

and you? tell me, and i'll see you here tomorrow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends! what are you doing this weekend? i have an action-packed one planned; i have several friends in town from out of town, and one is celebrating a birthday, so saturday night should be filled with goodness. we're talking about going to see bridesmaids, which looks hilarious (and also features my husband, jon hamm), having drinks and dinner at a fun downtown location and just generally lots of talking and catching up. i'm excited. it should be a good weekend.

and the past few days have been good, too. i'm feeling a forward momentum at work, i went to listen to this author speak the other night and now have a couple of new books on my list (and also a giant crush -- he's so cute!), and i've been exercising and eating well. if i can manage to clean my sty of a house tonight, i'll be in great shape.

tell me your plans, and i'll see you back here on monday. i hope you have a great few days!

photo via the genius karey. it's so sarasota it's not even funny. also, i love baby sea turtles.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

baked!: salted caramel brownies.

all right, guys. this is serious.

we need to talk about salted caramel brownies.

these little bits of heaven have been on my mind since i first made my no-fail brownies (actually a king arthur flour recipe) -- in fact, those brownies were simply a test batch to ensure that they would be the right vehicle for the salted caramel variety. happily, they were -- and they totally stand on their own and are delicious in their own right. if you're looking for a great brownie recipe, i highly recommend them. but i wanted to take them up a notch, to quote emeril lagasse. so: salted caramel it was.

per olivia, the queen of salted caramel brownies, i used smitten kitchen's buttery salted caramel recipe, and it couldn't have been easier: just sugar, salted butter and heavy cream. after it was done, i set it aside, made the brownie batter, then put a layer of brownie batter in a greased pan, drizzled half the caramel on top, and repeated. olivia says the key to the success of these brownies is to underbake them by 5-10 minutes, so i put mine in the oven for about 27 minutes and then stuck them in the fridge for another two hours before i finally had to have a taste.

they. are. delicious. and if you're in need of a baked-good gift or party treat, give these a try. i promise your guests won't be disappointed.

note: this post disappeared in the great blogger outage of may 2011, so if you left a comment and it's not showing up, my apologies.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

bike love.

i mentioned that when i was at my parents' house a few weeks ago, i borrowed my mom's bicycle and took a long ride around my hometown, which is beautiful all the time but especially in the spring. (see some photos here.) i really love bike riding in general, as evidenced by my love of spin class and how happy i felt after the aforementioned bike ride, so it's pretty shocking that i don't own my own bike here in sarasota -- i mean, what would be better than biking by the bay or the gulf? so that's my project for the summer: find a bike.

do you own a bike? do you love riding it, too?

photo via

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

begin again.

doesn't this movie, beginners, look good? it showed at the sarasota film festival a few weeks ago -- christopher plummer was here to promote it -- and i'm so sad i missed it, but i can't wait for it to hit theaters. i love ewan macgregor and christopher plummer, and i really love this quote, too: "people like us, half of them think things will never work out. the other half believe in magic."

i like to think i'm part of the second half.

have you seen any good movies lately?

Monday, May 9, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

happy monday, everyone -- did you have a good weekend and a good mother's day? i had to stay in sarasota this weekend and missed my mom terribly, but we talked on the phone, she got the gift i sent her earlier in the week, and i made my brother deliver a card and flowers, so all was well.

a snapshot of the weekend, in five parts:

1. peonies. my favorite flower.
2. cakey buttermilk pancakes. (i use this recipe -- easy, quick, delicious.)
3. bethenny frankel yoga. (no, i am not kidding. best yoga workout i've done in a long time.)
4. beautiful, sunny weather.
5. salted caramel brownies. oh my god. (more to come on these.)

five commitments for the upcoming week:

1. remain focused in the face of continued busyness. (again, though, i really like it.)
2. cook as many meals as possible from scratch. (i've been really good about this lately and would like to continue.)
3. practice patience. and, on a related note, also acceptance.
4. finally cross a couple of things off my to-do list that i've been procrastinating on (most of which involve the post office).
5. spend time with some friends who will be in town at the end of the week -- i'm so excited to see them, especially since one lives far away (hi, jenn!) and one is moving to new york in july.

pretty photo by punkinmom.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

happy mother's day.

i know i usually don't post on sundays, but i wanted to share this photo of my mom and me (circa 1984) and send out happy mother's day wishes to everyone. my mom and i couldn't be more different, personality-wise -- she's very calm and stoic, and i get worked up easily and am very emotional -- and we certainly have had our share of arguments, particularly during my bratty high school years, but i'm happy to say that we're also very close, and that she's one of the smartest, strongest women i know. we talk on the phone almost every day and she always knows what's going on in my life. it's such a nice feeling.

there are so many things that stand out to me about my mother, but i think my favorite is that she always encouraged me to do exactly what i wanted to do with my life. that's not to say that she didn't have high expectations -- she did, and she does -- but i was always free to make my own choices about what i wanted to be and where i wanted to be it. and for that, as well as for everything else, i am so thankful.

Friday, May 6, 2011

what are you doing this weekend? + a quote i love.

happy friday and happy weekend!

i don't know about you, but the past several weeks have been super busy, and the next few weeks (including this weekend) are likely to be more of the same. it's all good busy, though: tons of projects and events and fun commitments that i'm glad to be part of. it's just...well, busy. 

but you know, i've been feeling happier as a result of it -- like i have more of a sense of purpose. i've actually been feeling this way since the end of january, but i think the springtime and everything that comes with it heightens those emotions. so i'm going to leave you today with this quote by virginia woolf -- one of my top three favorite writers and thinkers of all time -- because it sums up exactly how i feel. it's from the years.

"we're only just beginning, she thought, to understand, here and there. she hollowed her hands in her lap, just as rose had hollowed hers around her ears. she held her hands hollowed; she felt that she wanted to enclose the present moment; to make it stay; to fill it fuller and fuller, with the past, the present, and the future, until it shone, whole, bright, deep with understanding." 

have a happy weekend and a happy mother's day, and i'll see you  back here on monday.

photo by stefanyalves

Thursday, May 5, 2011

scenes from sarasota: birdwatching.

one of the cool things about sarasota is the animal life that abounds. on any give day, you'll see manatees and dolphins in the bay, pelicans hanging out on fishing piers, parrots in the trees at island park, turtles and coyotes (yes, seriously, although the latter are super elusive) on the beach, and all kinds of other birds everywhere. it's awesome. (side note: one of my all-time favorite sarasota experiences was having a baby manatee swim right up to my kayak one warm spring evening. it let my friend kate and me pet it, rolled over in the water, let us hold its flipper and was generally the cutest thing i'd ever seen. i would really like to have that experience again some day.)

anyway, on my travels the other day i saw this white dude hanging out in front of a house and had to snap a picture. isn't he cute? he looks like he's waiting to be let in for some kind of garden party!

summer perfect.

summer started early in florida this year -- temps have been hovering in the high 80s for several weeks now, and i've quickly moved into a weekend wardrobe of shorts and t-shirts, as opposed to the jeans and cardigans i had been wearing. (please note that flipflops are a year-round staple, however). but the work wardrobe is always a bit tricky; no matter how warm it is outside, offices here are always air-conditioned and tend to err on the side of ice-cold.

so when i discovered fischer's lovely line of clothing, a huge smile crossed my face. these are the kinds of easy and unfussy -- but still pretty -- pieces that i just love. they're office appropriate and heat friendly, and i would wear any of these outfits in a heartbeat. how about you?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

baked!: springy coconut cupcakes.

first of all, a disclaimer: i promise i don't only bake things that have coconut in them -- in fact, next on my list is salted caramel brownies. so there's that.

second of all, these cupcakes -- based on ina garten's recipe -- are good.

i needed a dessert item for my friend k.'s 30th birthday bash two weeks ago, and was thinking about making the giant coconut cake again. but i've made that cake a lot lately, so i decided to switch it up and go for coconut cupcakes, instead. i'd had ina's recipe bookmarked for awhile, and since the last baked good i made by her -- this chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting -- was so good, i figured, why not?

the results were, if i do say so myself, impressive: moist vanilla cakes with a hint of almond extract and a bit of shredded coconut, topped with a big slather of just-tangy-enough cream cheese frosting and shredded sweetened coconut. since k.'s birthday also fell on easter weekend, i took advantage of all the readily available easter candy and added three jelly beans to the top of each cake. (and then, not going to lie, i polished off the bag of jelly beans over the rest of the weekend.)

anyway, if you need a sweet treat that feels decidedly springlike, i definitely recommend these. and since i've got coconut on the brain, are you a coconut lover or hater? (i find people usually fall into one of those two camps -- is there an in-between?)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

loving: sparkly things from five and two.

i tend to stick to an admittedly muted (and kind of nautical, come to think of it) palette when it comes to my wardrobe -- gray, navy, black, brown and white are all staples, if not uniform -- but i also unabashedly love anything sparkly, especially in accessory form (like these kate spade shoes -- i mean, where would i wear these? but who cares? they are awesome). so when i spotted these pieces from five and two, via unruly things, i literally said "ooh" out loud. they just beg to be worn with a black dress and a great party, don't they?

Monday, May 2, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

wow, sunday certainly ended with some big news, didn't it?

it feels weird to write this post without commenting on that news -- i stayed up late watching cnn and reading the new york times, and i don't really want to say anything more, other than that i truly hope that this information brings some sense of peace and/or closure to the families of those who perished on 9/11 attacks, and that i'm so grateful for the sacrifices the members of our military make, no matter my opinions about the leadership choices that require them to make those sacrifices.

and now on to our regularly scheduled programming:

five fun things from the weekend:

1. jane eyre. such a good book-to-film adaptation -- perfect casting, i thought -- and catharsis for me to read the book (one of my top five favorites of all time) again.
2. long bike rides around my hometown. huge old oak trees, beautiful houses, pretty lakes -- why don't i have a bike in sarasota, again?
3. perfect weather. i thought florida had decided to go straight from winter to summer, but this weekend was just right -- cooler at night, warm during the day and, best of all, not humid at all.
4. dinner with friends; brunch with mom; cupcakes from my favorite bakery, bluebird bake shop. i love good food. (related: my mom also gave me the most recent issue of bon appetit, and i can't wait to try some of the recipes from it -- so many of them look really easy and, better yet, delicious. who wants to come over for dinner?)
5. time with family, especially my brother, who i don't see nearly as often as i'd like and who i always miss a lot.

five commitments for the week:

1. make this smoothie, because i really, really, really need to eat more vegetables and this looks like an easy way to squeeze some in.
2. take bridge walks in the evening. the perfect after-work decompressor, especially when the weather's like it is right now. plus, these days, you can't beat the way the sunlight shines over the water at that time.
3. try harder to focus. my mind's been all over the place lately (though not necessarily in a bad way).
4. tackle and finish some freelance work -- and stay organized while doing it.
5. be kind. to everyone.

photo by mister sullivan