Friday, February 25, 2011

what are you doing this weekend? + me and martha stewart.

i don't normally post pictures of myself on this website, but since this picture is of myself AND MARTHA STEWART, i couldn't help it.

oh my gosh, you guys. yesterday was one of the best days of my professional (and, honestly, my whole) life. it started with an event here in downtown sarasota at which biz stone, the co-founder and creative director of twitter, was present, and at which i got to meet and chat with him. yeah, i just casually walked up and introduced myself to the guy whose invention i use every single day -- and it was awesome. he was so friendly, and so was his wife, livia, who was with him and who is a sweet little pixie of a thing. it's always cool to see genius millionaires wearing jeans and swigging bud light directly from a bottle -- and it was even cooler that this bud-light-swigging, jeans-wearing genius millionaire was being honored for his efforts with farm sanctuary, an organization dedicated to ending cruelty towards farm animals.

ok. so that would have been cool enough by itself. i mean, biz stone. so great.

but nope: more awesomeness. after leaving biz's event, i headed out to siesta key to meet and interview martha stewart(!!!), who was in town for an event at the ringling college of art and design. i can't say much more about the circumstances of our meeting (other than that they were work-related), at least not yet, but i can tell you that she was absolutely lovely: gracious and kind and totally non-judgmental of the fact that i was so nervous to meet her that i was probably visibly red and shaking and about to wet myself. say what you will about martha -- i think she's amazing, and she's an inspiration to me as a woman and a businessperson.

so, yeah. that was my thursday -- i really feel like two very important parts of my life merged in this totally awesome way (and, to supplement that feeling, i found out that biz and martha are actually friendly in real life). february 24, 2011 will be a date i remember for a long, long time.

and this weekend? this weekend, i plan on channeling my inner martha by cleaning and baking -- this thin mints recipe that emily posted looks pretty stellar, and i might make deb's homemade oreos again, too. i also have my second book club get-together, and i really want to sleep in, too.

and you? tell me your plans -- and regale me with any celebrity run-ins you've had in the comments!

p.s. please ignore my awful, scraggly hair in this photo. i was having a bad hair day and clearly need a trim!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

loving: paper crown.

i admit it: i love lauren conrad's (yes, the reality tv star) style. it embodies exactly the kind of easy, girly aesthetic i myself try to achieve on a daily basis. so it's probably not really a surprise that i like what i've seen of her new line, paper crown -- or maybe i just like the way it's styled. paper crown is nothing groundbreaking, but it's certainly pretty, and i'll look forward to see what the response to it is once it hits stores.

see the complete lookbook here. what do you think?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

baked!: chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream

say hello to a new series on this little blog o' mine: baked! as you probably know if you've been reading this blog for a little while -- and as you definitely know if you're my pal in real life --  i love baking. like, to the point where i often say that if i didn't love being a writer/editor so much, i'd be driving around sarasota in a cupcake truck, selling pastries. seriously.

that's why i'm introducing this new series -- i bake enough to warrant it, and i love sharing what i make with my friends. this allows me to do that virtually with all of you. like scenes from sarasota, i'm hoping this will become a weekly thing, but regardless, you'll definitely be able expect a baked! post at least twice a month.

so, all that being said, herewith my first official baked! blog post: chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.

i am a firm believer that we should all have a chocolate cake in our baking repertoire: a moist, chocolate layer cake complete with a generous amount of frosting. my mom used to make chocolate cakes for my birthday when i was growing up, and to this day, it's still my go-to cake choice -- you could say it has sentimental value. i like it simple -- no fruit/special filling -- and iced with good buttercream. and while i usually go for vanilla buttercream, this recipe's chocolate version is a total winner. all in all, this cake feels like comfort -- like a dessert you can bring to a party and like a dessert you can sit on your sofa with a movie and a glass of wine with. those are the best kind, aren't they?

chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting
barely adapted from ina garten

1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder (like ghirardelli)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder*
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh-brewed hot coffee

for the frosting
6 oz. semisweet chocolate (again, like ghirardelli)
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee powder

make the cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. butter 2 round cake pans. line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. mix on low speed until combined. in a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. with the mixer on low, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. with mixer still on low speed, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

place one layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. with a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

make the frosting: chop the chocolate and place it into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. stir until just melted; set aside until cooled to room temperature.

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about three minutes. add the egg yolk and vanilla, and continue beating for three minutes. turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. dissolve the coffee powder in two teaspoons of the hottest possible tap water. on low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended, but don't whip. spread frosting immediately on the cooled cake.

*i should note that i had a glass (ok, or two) of wine before making this cake and accidentally omitted the teaspoon of baking powder -- but everything still turned out great.

photo by me. i'm not the best cake froster, but this one is supposed to look homemade. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

scenes from sarasota: island park

one of my favorite places to walk around here in sarasota is downtown's island park. flanked by a tiki bar (o'leary's), a marina and an upscale seafood restaurant/bar, island park sits directly on beautiful sarasota bay and boasts some of the prettiest views in the city. it's also home to parrots, which you can see in the first picture if you look closely (who knew?!), and a children's playground/water park, and it's one of the best places in town to lay down with a big blanket and a picnic lunch or a good book -- after which you have to walk over to o'leary's for a pitcher of beer and a platter of peel-'n-eat shrimp with friends, of course. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

happy monday, everyone! my weekend is technically not over -- i have today off -- but i thought i'd pop in with a quick post and my commitments for the week.

it's been a busy weekend, to be sure: on saturday afternoon, i went to my friend r.'s baby shower (at the beautiful polo grill here in sarasota), and then on saturday night, i went over to my friend k.'s mom's house for a south-african themed dinner party. the weather was impossibly gorgeous, and k.'s mom's house sits right on beautiful sarasota bay, so she set up a long table outside, complete with flowers and lit candles, and we all feasted on shrimp, lamb, fruit, salad, herbed couscous, milk tart and my chocolate cake (which was probably the most american thing i could have brought to a south african party, but ah, well -- and more on the cake later this week). it was a perfect night -- one that really felt much more like mid-spring than mid-winter.

on sunday, k. and i went for an almost-10-mile bike ride through downtown sarasota, over the ringling bridge and then through st. armands circle. again, the weather was perfect, so the ride felt great, but when we got back to our respective houses, i'm pretty sure we both crashed -- i know i did. i spent the rest of the night laying on my couch in sweatpants, chatting on the phone, watching movies and enjoying the luxury of doing nothing and knowing i didn't have to get up early for work this morning.

today i have some errands to run and i always like to spend the last day of the weekend getting things together for the week. so in that spirit of getting things together, here are my commitments for the week:

+ plan out a little dinner menu for the week. (curry and soup will be in heavy rotation. also some sweet potato fries, i think.)
+ take the clothes i've recently purged from my closet to goodwill. 
+ re-arrange my bookshelves so that they look more attractive/i can display more knickknacks.
+ give myself a pedicure. my feet really need it.
+ drink more water. i've been slacking a bit lately. in fact, until last week, i was having a very strong cup (ok, two cups) of coffee in the afternoon, but they started to make me so jittery i got anxious at night, so i've cut that habit out -- and water is the perfect replacement. yay.
+ choose happiness. yes.

and you? what are your little goals for the next few days?


Friday, February 18, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends! did you have a good week? i did -- i spent much of it working and working out, cooking and cleaning and getting things in order. so, yes: a good week. plus, the weather has been insanely beautiful here -- 75 degrees and sunny every day. my friend/coworker h. and i have a habit of taking 15-minute afternoon walks, and i swear the sunshine has been like an instant shot of happy. this time of year is exactly why i love florida.

and i'll have extra time to enjoy sarasota this weekend, because i have monday off for presidents' day. i'm going to a friend's baby shower tomorrow morning (i'm still not used to my friends having babies), and then a dinner party tomorrow night, to which i think i'm bringing this cake (i love your recipes, ina). i also want to write up all the recipes and stories i've been meaning to post on my sadly neglected baking blog and figure out a way to catalog them in this space (easier and more user-friendly), and of course spend time with friends and get in some exercise. i may or may not post on monday; if i don't, i'll definitely see you back here tuesday.

and please do tell me your plans for the weekend, too -- whatever you're doing, i hope you have a fantastic time doing it! xoxo

image via

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

a few of my favorite things, or: a little list of happy.

+ this shrimp curry, which i mentioned on monday and have been savoring ever since.
+ nars blush in super orgasm -- my aunt bought it and didn't love it, so she gave it to me, and i am smitten.
+ rosebud salve.
+ work.
+ cold water with fresh lime wedges. yum.
+ exercise, which i've really been loving lately. yay, endorphins!
+ emily and geoff's house tour on apartment therapy, which is inspiring me to paint my bedroom pink (something i've wanted to do for awhile) and embrace wood.
+ strawberry abita. light and refreshing and seasonal and currently sitting jauntily on the shelves of my grocery store. woohoo!
+ this girl's pretty, wavy hair (which makes me want to keep mine long, after all -- see photo above), cute outfit, and style philosophy.

your turn! what are your favorite things right now?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

scenes from sarasota: burns court.

i'm going to (try to) start something new in this space -- a new feature called "scenes from sarasota." hopefully it'll become a weekly thing; if not, i'll try to post to this series at least twice a month. usually there'll be two photos, but if i have tons, i'll upload them to flickr and let you know. there's so much beauty in this little town i call home, so i figured why not document it?

these two pictures were snapped on one of my favorite areas of the city. burns court is home to the sweetest little 1920s med-rev bungalows you ever did see, as well as a pepto-bismol pink, arthouse-style cinema that serves not only popcorn and treats but beer and wine, an art gallery, and several restaurants -- my favorite of which, owen's fish camp, is shown in the second photo. (you can only kind of see it, but the restaurant itself sits in the shade of a beautiful banyan tree.) there's really nothing better than having a seafood dinner at owen's and then catching a film at the movie theater, or vice versa. it makes for the perfect sarasota night out, especially if you get to walk slowly down the street to your car afterward, under the glow of the twinkle lights that line the street.

Monday, February 14, 2011

the weekend + committing to... + happy valentine's day!

happy monday, friends -- and happy valentine's day! how were your weekends? mine was pretty great -- on friday night, i ended up randomly going out with my friend t., who generously bought me a glass of wine at one of my favorite local pubs and provided some awesome conversation while she was at it, and then she and i had the most random and hilarious conversation with the guy sitting next to me, who was...well, let's just say inebriated and not afraid of sharing. good times. (the writer in me loves learning details like the ones he shared about people's lives, though; there's always fascinating stuff to be discovered in everyone, even if they've had six cocktails.)

on saturday, my friend k. and i walked the ringling bridge with her adorable pupster, emma, and then i baked a big batch of the "pink cookies" from molly's lovely book, a homemade life, which you can see in the photo above -- they really do taste best when topped with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. i also quite literally sat down on the floor with some construction paper, markers and scissors and made the valentines you see in the first photo. i put bundles of cookies in the paper bags, and then gave them -- and the cards -- to my girlfriends at our valentine's day catch-up session later that night, and i think they were a hit. it was really fun putting everything together; i'm not a particularly crafty person, but there's something undeniably appealing about making something from scratch (especially for people you love), isn't there?

sunday was more spending time with friends, cooking (this shrimp curry recipe is seriously divine, and so simple -- and it would be equally tasty with tofu or chicken), cleaning and exercising -- a pretty perfect sunday, if you ask me.

i've been feeling pretty great about life in general lately, and i'm hoping to carry that positivity with me into this next week. so, on that note, here are my little commitments for the next several days:

+ continue to make as much food from scratch as i possibly can. the simplicity and deliciousness of that curry really resonated with me -- it's so easy to resort to boxed or frozen food, but it's so much healthier -- and so much more worth it -- not to.

+ spin class, spin class, spin class!

+ sleep.early.argh. (why, oh why, do i have such trouble with this?)

+ remember live in the present moment. i'm still waiting on some potentially big news (hi, my name is cryptic), and it's too easy to drift into future thoughts and "what ifs." so i need to remind myself about what i said about feeling good about life right now, try to embrace it wholeheartedly, and remember that my decisions are just that: my own.

i hope your days are filled with love, friends. xoxo

photos by me

Friday, February 11, 2011

what are you doing this weekend? + some pretty, pretty cakes.

aren't these maggie austin cakes absolutely beautiful? if i ever get married, i would have one at my wedding in a heartbeat. they're the kind of cake that are so lovely that you almost don't want to touch them--but at the same time, the frills and ruffles kind of make you want to swipe your finger along the edge of one and take a big lick of frosting, don't they? (they do for me, at least. maybe i need some cake today.) (p.s. are you proud that i managed to avoid the phrase/pun "takes the cake"?)

anyway, what are your plans for the weekend? i finally got my house cleaned up last night, so i can check that off my to-do list, but i still want to try and go to a spin class and walk the bridge -- oh, and bake those valentine's day cookies i mentioned on monday. and either tonight or tomorrow, a group of my favorite friends and i are getting together for a catch-up night -- it's been too long since we've all been able to hang out, so i'm really looking forward to it.

tell me what you're up to, have a lovely and love-filled weekend, and i'll see you back here on monday (with something valentine's-y, i'm sure!). xoxo

Thursday, February 10, 2011

little letters.

dear new-old job,
you are awesome. you have not only made me happier than i've been in months, but also decreased my anxiety level and literally cleared up a stress-induced rash on my hand. you're like a built-in dermatologist and mental health counselor, and you rock.

dear house,
i would really love it if you cleaned yourself. how did i make such a big mess this week?

dear self,
you need to do better at the whole going-to-bed-earlier thing.

dear oscar,
i include you in every batch of these little letters, and i just realized i've had you for almost five years. this may sound silly, but you are one of the brightest spots in my life. i love my little fluffernutter.

dear spring,
i can tell you're getting closer -- the days are getting longer, the temperatures a bit warmer.

dear girlfriends,
i'm so excited for a night of catch-up this weekend.

dear hair,
i'm fighting the urge to cut you into a bob, but it took so long to grow you out this much, so i'll keep fighting. maybe some more layers will help.

dear thursday,
hi. it's nice to see you again.

dear readers,
you rock.


love these unabashedly bright blooms by candace rose photography.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

loving: the old red hen.

i am kind of a sucker for white vessels: vases, cups, saucers -- anything, really. so i am totally loving the old red hen's pretty -- and beautifully photographed -- white ceramics (the milk glass items are my favorites). lovely, yes?

Monday, February 7, 2011

the weekend + committing to...

happy monday, friends! how were your weekends? i spent most of mine laying low, just like i wanted, but manage to venture out for a super bowl party for a bit on sunday night, which was full of the most delicious food imaginable and some pretty awesome company. a nice way to end the weekend, indeed.

other saturday/sunday highlights included finally watching the social network (thoroughly enjoyed -- did you see it?), spending time with friends, and making peanut butter buckeyes (i used this recipe, but cut the sugar down to four cups) for the super bowl party. again, exactly what i wanted to do. i love it when things align like that.

and now, in the spirit of a new week, here are my commitments for the next several days:

+ hit a spin class at least once; walk the bridge a few times; keep up my pilates routine.
+ finish my proofreading project.
+ make this sandwich for lunch one day. yum. (p.s.: that's my good friend's tumblr. yay!)
+ also make molly's heart-shaped valentine's cookies that quite literally taste pink, thanks to a capful of cherry extract.
+ finish cleaning out the closets in my house -- so far my bedroom and hall closets have been cleared, and it feels really nice to deaccession.
+ go to bed by 11:30 p.m. every night this week. (i have to circle back to this one every few weeks because i am so, so bad at it. hello, night owl.)
+ do exactly what the image above says.

and you? what are your goals for the week? please share, and i'll see you back here tomorrow! xo

Friday, February 4, 2011

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends! i've officially made it through a full week of work at my new-old job, and i am a combination of incredibly happy and incredibly tired. so i forfeited any plans to be social tonight and instead headed straight home to watch a movie, clean my incredibly messy apartment, tie up a few loose ends on some projects, and relax. i think the theme of this weekend will be "lay low."

last night, i got to go to the ringling museum for its ringling in bloom designer preview event, where floral designers created flower arrangements based on 27 pieces of the museum's world-renowned art. it was a lovely evening, and when i was walking out of the museum and across the little bridge that connects it to the visitors pavilion, i looked out over the grounds and thought, "what a lovely, only-in-sarasota kind of night." i've had several experiences like that this week -- it's nice to love the place you live, isn't it? if ever i were to leave florida and come back to it again, i'd come straight here.

so yes, this weekend will be spent quietly, enjoying the comfort of my little apartment in the little town i call home. and you? what are your plans? are you staying in or making it a big weekend out? let me know, and i'll see you back here on monday!


bubbles via

Thursday, February 3, 2011

color theory.

not really a fan of the phrase "pops of color," although i do like what it refers to -- in this case, something done perfectly by gwendolyn mason and earnest merritt (what an awesome name he has). i'm swooning over the yellow wall/pink chair combo, and i just love the green in the dining room, too.more color (that's not robin's-egg blue) has been working its way into my home, and i love it -- these photographs are pushing me to add even more.

via design*sponge

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

loving: pretty pink makeup.

it's well-documented that i love's sweet, sparkly hair accessories, pins, and shoe clips, but i also love this model's makeup -- aren't her gold-rimmed eyes, pink cheeks, and bright lips lovely? putting this one into my "need to copy" file immediately.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

working girl.

going back to work in an office definitely has its perks. not only do i love my new-old coworkers, but i'm also kind of happy to get out of the sleep-in-do-freelance-work-in-pajamas-until-3 p.m.-and-then-finally-take-a-shower routine. that's not to say that i won't miss making my favorite long-sleeved gray cotton t-shirt and multi-colored polkadot pajama pants into an actual outfit instead of just plain old sleep clothes, but i really do like getting dressed for work (most of the time).

i've always worked in casual environments; in fact, at my last job we rarely saw clients, so flip-flops were not an uncommon office accessory. while this new work is still in a creative environment, it does require me to look more like a young professional and less like a beach bum -- which is why i'm drawing inspiration from these pretty anthropologie ensembles. quirky but still office-appropriate for a non-corporate girl like myself.

p.s. happy february (!), everyone! xoxo

p.p.s. look out for a little p.s.a./second post coming later this afternoon!