Tuesday, August 30, 2011

scenes from sarasota: statues on ringling museum campus.

it's a gray, rainy day here in sarasota, which is why i think i'm drawn to the way these photographs -- of statues at the john and mable ringling museum of art campus -- were taken. the mood of them, the absence of our typically abundant florida sunshine, feels just right today. (and i can't even tell you how much i love that lion.)

photos by mary ann mattox

Monday, August 29, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

monday has been playing tricks on me.

i had a great weekend that was the perfect mix of solitude and time with people i care about. i laughed a lot (a lot, a lot). i watched a really good movie, one that i'm a little embarrassed i'd never seen before. i didn't sleep very much last night, but i woke up happy.

and then i discovered that zadie, my little gray fluff, had urinated all over my lovely, clean couch. needless to say, i was less than thrilled about this. ugh.

(any home remedies you may have for removing urine stains/smells from fabric are much, much appreciated. i'm attempting borax when i get home. oh, and back story: i just bought zadie and oscar a brand-new, covered litterbox and am thinking z. may have been having trouble getting her furry little body through the small plastic door. again, cat owners: any way to aid the transition? i am so sick of dealing with piles of kicked-from-the-box litter...)

so yes, monday, you minx: if that little incident is any indication of how the week is going to go, i'm up for the challenge. especially because on the other side of it is a three-day weekend. 

i'm also up for taking on these five commitments:

+ i never thought "help my cat adjust to her new litterbox" would be on one of these lists, but there you go.
+ attempt getting up earlier. i always try to sleep until the very last minute before leaping out of bed and stumbling to the shower, but i find that -- even though it's hard -- i am really a much better person when i give myself time to wake up.
+ write my brother some more letters, because i am really missing him (and the thought of going to visit my parents this weekend and not seeing him makes me a little misty).
+ work on some more personal writing. i need to be a bit more disciplined about this, and jane's lovely post on sunday, plus accidentally coming across a phrase i think would be great in some kind of story, have inspired me.
+ buy some fresh flowers, just because.

and you? have your mondays been minxes, too? what are your goals for the week? tell me, and i'll see you back here tomorrow.

gorgeous photos by emerson merrick

Friday, August 26, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends!

it's been an interesting week, hasn't it? it began, for me, with the idea that we might be getting at least the outer bands of a hurricane and is ending with clear, blue, sun-soaked skies -- confirming, i suppose, the idea that nothing is ever really certain.

still, hurricanes (even just the threat of them) never fail to make me twitchy -- i say to most people that it's because i hate going without electricity (i know, first-world problems), but really, it's the whole living-alone thing. i am a master at carrying multiple bags of groceries up flights of stairs, doing minor home repairs and generally being independent, and i like it that way. but sometimes i wish someone lived with me in my house other than my cats, and natural disasters are certainly one of those times. even when those natural disasters veer northeast, they still always give me pause.

but i'm not going to dwell on that this weekend, because what good would it do? instead, i'm going to catch up on some sleep, clean my house from top to bottom, do laundry, write my brother some more letters and spend time with friends. i'd like to get to the farmer's market and pick up some fresh flowers, too. and maybe i'll even try out a new baking project. who knows?

what are your plans for the weekend? tell me, and i'll see you back here on monday.

snuggle time with the fluffs: also on the agenda. (they love each other now, it's awesome.) photo by me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

baked! homemade cinnamon rolls.

whew, it's been awhile since i've done a baked! post, huh? it's not that i haven't been baking -- i have, quite a lot -- it's just that i've been repeat baking. it's been a lemon square, chocolate-chip cookie, salted caramel brownie and buckeye-filled summer, what can i say?

have i ever told you that i come home for lunch almost every day? my office is about five minutes from my apartment, which makes it super easy to make a homemade sandwich or whip up a quick salad on my break. and one of my favorite things to do while i eat is watch the 1 p.m. episode of barefoot contessa on food network. i never used to love ina -- i thought she was a tiny bit snobby for a long time -- but after trying a few of her recipes and getting raves for them, i became a convert. plus, there's something soothing about the routine of watching her at lunchtime.

on a recent episode, ina made the sticky buns pictured above, and i immediately knew i had to find an excuse to make them. you see, i am a cinnamon roll lover. we used to make a pan of pillsbury cinnamon rolls on sundays when i was growing up, and i think that's where my fondness for them comes from: the intoxicating aroma of cinnamon and dough mixed with the almost-too-sweet taste of cream cheese frosting reminds me of that tradition. even now, i still always eye cinnamon rolls when i'm in a pastry shop. i don't often buy one, but i like knowing they're there.

this weekend i had company, so i thought it would an excellent time to try out this recipe. the best part is that it completely circumvents the dough-making process, which is perfect when you need to quickly feed your hungry guests. basically, you cream together some butter and brown sugar, drop a dollop into a muffin pan and sprinkle some nuts (pecans, walnuts) on top. then you unfold a sheet of phyllo dough, brush it with melted butter, fill the whole thing with more brown sugar and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, roll it up, slice it into rounds, place the rounds in the muffin tin and bake until the butter and brown sugar has caramelized and the phyllo is golden and flaky. what comes out of the muffin tins is doughy, cinnamon-y, sweet and just the right amount of sticky. i think you'll like them. let me know if you bake them yourself.

easy sticky buns
adapted from ina garten's recipe

12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed 
1/2 cup nuts, roughly chopped (ina calls for pecans, but i used walnuts)
1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry

for the filling: 
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. distribute the nuts evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with the melted butter. leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon. starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. trim the ends of the roll about 1/2-inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. allow to cool for five minutes, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and nuts out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

good morning! let's talk about underwear!

i've never really been a lingerie girl. i probably shouldn't share this with you, but in the spirit of full disclosure: until just a few years ago, i had quite the collection of "granny panties" -- those cotton briefs that are probably the most unsexy things in the whole word, but are also really comfortable. i'm not sure if the reason i wore them was laziness or lack of caring (or a combination of both), but there you have it. you could have called me gran.

however, recently it's come to my attention that nice undergarments not only look pretty, they can make you feel pretty, too. i certainly don't wear gorgeous, perfectly matched underwear every day (and i'm fairly certain we all have a ratty bra or pair of granny panties reserved for laundry days or schlep-around-the-house days), but it's nice opening my underwear drawer and seeing some lovely, lacy things nestled inside.

anthropologie, of course, has a great selection of underthings that fall right into the pretty/sexy category, and i've chosen a few of my favorites above. are you a fan of super-sexy, intricate underwear, or are you like me and lean more toward the comfort side of things? (i'm glad i've discovered there actually is a happy medium!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

what a wonderful summer weekend, full of friends and food and fun.

i could go on and on about it, but instead i think i'll put it in list form, as per usual:

+ penne alla vodka, peanut butter buckeyes, pancakes from scratch, homemade cinnamon rolls. (i'll do a baked! post about the cinnamon rolls later this week.)
+ an afternoon at mote aquarium. i'd never been before; it was a blast. also: giant squid on exhibit. whoa.
+ cosmic bowling on saturday night! so fun, and with such a great group of people. also, there was an awesome blues band playing live--who knew?!
+ a couple of thunderstorms that made couch-laying and tv-watching perfect in-between-activity activities.
+ a really great sunday nap. followed by a coke float. hello, childhood memories.

and for the week, five commitments:

+ vanquish the large pile of dishes currently hanging out in my sink. i just couldn't deal with them last night. (have i ever told you that i hate washing dishes?)
+ take some more stuff to goodwill. i think i'm still not completely done with the closet purging.
+ write my brother a letter, since the only way to communicate with him while he's in boot camp is by snail mail.
+ start thinking about what i want to accomplish for the rest of the year, since, yep: it's about the time.
+ pick up a new book. any suggestions, friends?

and how about you--what are your goals for the week? let me know, and i'll see you back here tomorrow!

image via ffffound

Friday, August 19, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends! how were your weeks?

mine has been good, and the weekend promises to be pretty excellent, too. i've been busy with work projects, but managed to make time for exercise and cleaning and cooking, as well. and i have company in town from friday-sunday, and the plans include lots of relaxation time and hangage with sarasota friends on saturday night. i'm excited.

how about you? what are your plans? i'm sort of in shock that we're officially almost through with august, and while we don't feel a reprieve from summerlike temperatures here until about november, labor day weekend always signals the unofficial start of fall for me. and that, you guys, is soon. i hope you all enjoy a sun-soaked august weekend -- only one more left after this one!

see you back here monday and thanks, as always, for reading.

photo by stefanyalves

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

pink moments.

i can't remember where i first read about ojai, calif., and its "pink moments"--the time of day when the setting sun creates a brilliant shade of pink for several minutes over ojai valley and its adjacent mountains--but i love everything about the idea of them, and i wish we had them here.

pink moment captured by kit_ingui

Monday, August 15, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

happy monday friends! how are your mornings going so far? did you have a good weekend? i hope so!

my weekend was pretty fantastic--as i mentioned on friday, my mom came to town and we had a blast hanging out; plus, some good friend-time was worked in, as well. in fact, here are five happy tidbits from friday, saturday and sunday:

+ a beachside barbecue and sunset swim on friday night with some of my favorite people.
+ lots of lovely sleep on saturday. it's been a long time since my eyes have fluttered open and seen 11 a.m. on my cell phone clock, but i needed that.
+ seeing the help with my mom. it was surprisingly good--and surprisingly emotional.
+ delicious dinner with mom at one of my favorite restaurants: mozaic. (i had asparagus soup and salmon. fantastic both that night and in leftover form the next day.)
+ banana-pecan pancakes (pictured above--amazing) and eggs benedict at the breakfast house, a sweet little cafe i hadn't tried before this weekend. 

and for the week, five commitments:

+ make this: nick and toni's penna alla vodka (barefoot contessa-style).
+ also, make these. (there's a method to my madness with the cooking/baking, i promise.)
+ spin, yoga, spin, yoga. forever and ever, amen.
+ clean apartment, top to bottom.  pick up some fresh flowers, too.
+ be aware of the present moment as much as possible. (it's so easy to look forward or backward instead.)

and you? how were your weekends--and what are your goals for the week? tell me, and i'll see you back here tomorrow.

photo by me

Friday, August 12, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

you feel pretty sure you've been having an weird week when you arrive at your spin class late and get inordinately upset about the lack of bike availability. (please note that you recognize that this is no one's fault but your own, and somehow that makes it worse.) you confirm this feeling when you work out with a vengeance on other gym machines for a 45 minutes, then head straight for a fast food drive-through on your way home.

(i'm not going to lie, though: those french fries hit the spot.)

and honestly, the week really hasn't been bad. "weird" is definitely the right word to describe it. there have been some really great moments, minutes, hours. there always are. i think there's just a feeling of upside-down-ness that's throwing me a little bit. hopefully some rest this weekend will get me used to it.

speaking of the weekend, it should be a nice one: tonight i'm going to a beach barbecue with friends--the kind of friends who are like family--on longboat key, and tomorrow my mom is driving down for a visit. we're going to pal around, have a delicious dinner and see a movie. i was just commenting that my parents aren't a huge factor in my day-to-day existence here--they live close by, but not close enough to see terribly frequently--so i'm excited to see mom and catch up.

how about you? what are your plans for the weekend? tell me, and i'll see you back here on monday!

photo of sarasota's ringling museum by buttonpie

Thursday, August 11, 2011

word love.

i try to post original (at least, original to me!) content as much as possible on this little blog o' mine, but sometimes i come across something that moves me so much that i just have to repost it. jane tweeted a link to this blog post by stephanie earlier this week, and i've gone back to read the beautiful words it contains every day since then. as i mentioned, it's been a pretty emotional week for me -- aside from my brother leaving for bootcamp, there are other feelings-y things happening  -- so any time i feel a connection with something, i've been grabbing on to it and trying not to let go. these words are no exception, and i think (i hope) you'll love them as much as i do.

"what is going on inside me i cannot tell. in the sky a thousand stars are magnetized, and i lie glued by the swing of the planet to the sand. a different weight brings me back to myself. i feel the weight of my body drawing me towards so many things. my dreams are more real than these dunes, than that moon, than these presences. my civilization is an empire more imperious than this empire. the marvel of a house is not that it shelters or warms a man, nor that its walls belong to him. it is that it leaves its trace on the language. let it remain a sign. let it form, deep in the heart, that obscure range from which, as waters from a spring, are born our dreams." --antoine de saint-exupery

photo by hamjolou

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

loving: steven alan fall 2011.

steven alan is one of those shops at which i would happily max out my credit cards. here are just a few looks i'm loving from its fall 2011 collection.(and i have to say that, in 98-degree heat, it's kind of refreshing to think about cooler weather and sweaters and textured tights, even if that weather doesn't come to florida until december.)

what are your fall must-haves?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

happy tuesday, everyone--how were your weekends? mine was quite lovely: i had friday off, as you know; i spent saturday celebrating; and my sunday was pretty much full of relaxation, which was glorious. things are a little emotional today -- my brother headed off to boot camp for the marines yesterday morning, and my whole family is really upset, especially my mom. so needless to say, the last 24 hours have been a combination of (for me) a birthday lovefest mixed with sadness, which has basically turned me into a pile of mush. (and i should clarify that, even though we're all so sad he's leaving, we are very aware that this is his decision and we support him in what he wants to do, whatever that is.)

but that's enough about that. i'm certainly not avoiding what's going on with patrick (that's my brother), but i'm all about kicking off this week -- my first as a 28-year-old -- with some positivity, even if i am a day late with this post. so, here are five lovely things from the weekend...

+ dinner at the always-wonderful owen's fish camp with my always-wonderful people.
+ a kajillion birthday texts, phone calls, tweets and facebook messages. (thank you!)
+ crazy, stupid, love. so good, and so well-cast.
+ the chocolate featured in the photo above (a birthday present). i have already eaten too many of them. so good.
+ a smile that lasted from thursday night straight through sunday

...and five commitments for the week:

+ do some personal writing. i've dropped the ball on this, but i'm newly inspired.
+ think happy thoughts. (i realize this may sound trite, but i think it's something we should all do from time to time, especially as we are bombarded with national and international bad news.)
+ eat as healthily as possible to offset the weekend's chocolate and french fry diet. (one very, very green smoothie has already been consumed.)
+ up the ante on the yoga practice, since it feels so good and really calms me down.
+ take care of some boring-but-necessary personal "administrative" stuff, like renewing my driver's license.

and you? what are your goals for the week--and how has it been for you so far?

photo by me

Friday, August 5, 2011

what are you doing this weekend? + happy birthday to me!

happy friday, friends! how were your weeks? are you happy we're at the weekend?

my work week was excellent, and i feel like i began the weekend early last night with a sushi feast (followed by cocktails al fresco) with some girlfriends. i also took today off work, so i'm enjoying typing this blog post from the comfort of my own couch with a cup of tea next to me and zadie-girl (cat) curled up in the space between my laptop and my actual lap.

sunday is my birthday (i'll be 28!), so i've made some plans that include spending time with some pretty awesome people, eating really good food, drinking wine, spending time in the sun and generally relaxing. it should be a good few days.

what are your plans for the weekend? whatever they are, i hope they are full of sunshine! see you back here on monday.

photo by i am baker

Thursday, August 4, 2011


pretty girl, pretty dress, pretty light. i am having maxi-dress envy (i can't wear them without looking stumpy), and that color is one of my favorites. lovely.

photo: the sartorialist

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

loving: elephantine's "two loves" necklace

rachel's jewelry is some of my favorite, and her lovely blog is always a source of inspiration. so it's no surprise that i'm loving her newest piece--this necklace, sweetly named "two loves." isn't it pretty?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

tuesday eye candy.


just a little tuesday eye candy for you: loving these images of brazil by woodnote photography. how soothing is that fog?

Monday, August 1, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

happy monday, friends -- and happy august! (seriously, can you believe it's august already? i cannot. although i am excited that it's my birthday week, so happiness, in this case, outweighs disbelief.)

anyway, how were your weekends? mine was awesome -- in fact, here are five delightful things that occured:

+ a delicious dinner and fun post-dinner walk on friday night. (made even more fun by the fact that we narrowly escaped a huge storm.)
+ horrible bosses. you guys: hilarious. the scene with charlie day singing in the car made me laugh so hard i cried. go see it.
+ saturday brunch (fresh fruit crepes, yum) at first watch. delicious.
+ the most amazing nap of my life on saturday afternoon.
+ a little shopping (followed by a little wine drinking) with my friend k. on sunday.

and here are five commitments for the upcoming week:

+ keep calm. this week looks busy already, and i took friday off so i could have a little three-day birthday weekend. so, yes: calm will be key for me.
+ smile.
+ in the same vein as above, set aside a few moment of silent stillness each day, whether that means unplugging a bit in the evenings or going to bed a few minutes earlier. i think that will be super beneficial.
+ try a new recipe. (not sure what yet.)
+ paddleboard! (this got cancelled last week, so i'm recycling. will post photos when it happens! we're long overdue for a scenes from sarasota post, anyway...)

and you? what are your goals for the next few days? tell me and i'll see you back here tomorrow.

photo by romeika