Thursday, June 28, 2012

crafty ceramics

Are you ready for what may truly be the easiest DIY you've ever seen? Do you have an inexpensive mug, plate, bowl or any random ceramic kitchen item in your home? If not, go ahead and splurge on a two-buck coffee mug. Do you have a Sharpie? Get yourself one of those, too.


Write or draw on item with Sharpie.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven.
You've got yourself a safe, permanently set design.

I decided to write a sweet little note on one of Adam's morning tea mugs (he is English after all, so tea is a must). I tucked it back in the cupboard in hopes that it makes the start of one of his days just a little brighter. I could've gotten a little neater or more artistic with the design, but I think handwritten notes are always a sweet and personal touch.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

arnold palmer (john daly) pops

Buying a $10 popsicle mold was one of those purchases that may not fall into the realm of necessity, but I have to admit it has made me really happy. I started first with puppy pops, because I'm quite obviously obsessed with my baby, but have since moved on to an adult (human) treat. This recipe can easily be made into an alcohol-free Arnold Palmer pop, or can be spruced up a bit with some vodka for a John Daly version (a name that never ceases to make me chuckle). This recipe is a Jordan original, and I am more than proud of the results, and Adam was in love. You can take the time to freeze the layers separately for appearance, or just mix it all together for a quicker treat. Either way, they are so refreshing, and just boozy enough to be fun grown-up summer treat.

John Daly Popsicles
Serving size: approximately 6 popsicles

1 cup sweet tea (or any iced tea you like)
3 lemons
8 T. vodka
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 drops mint oil, or fresh mint leaves
6 popsicle sicks

Layer 1: 
Mix 1 cup iced tea, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 4 T. vodka. Add to popsicle mold, paper cup, or glass and freeze with popsicle stick. If you are using a cup/glass, you may need to let the mix get a little slushy before inserting the stick to allow it to stand up.

Layer 2:
Make a simple syrup by heating the water and sugar over medium-low heat in a pan until sugar is incorporated and mixture is slightly thickened. Add 3 drops of mint extract. Alternatively, you can rub mint leaves between your fingers to release some oils, and add them to the simple syrup for a few minutes to release their flavor. Add juice of 2.5 lemons and 4 T. vodka. Pour into popsicle mold after first layer has frozen, and return to freezer.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

cascading chiffon

Earlier this month, I shared with you a little sneak preview of our engagement photos. We've since received the finalized set, but I'll restrain myself from sharing each and every one with you here. However, I believe this outfit {OK, this dress} deserves it's own post, because I do love it so. While looking for outfits in airy, romantic colors and fabrics that I felt would photograph nicely, I was stunned to find such a beautiful dress at such a reasonable price point. Leave it to ASOS to provide such value. I opted for a peachy-blush tone for the photos, but I am still drooling over the mint version as well. Paired with these beautiful suede heels, it was a beautifully romantic outfit for such a special occasion.


Love Chiffon Wrap Hi Lo Dress, ASOS
Brennaman Heel, Aldo

One year ago today:  Roast Beef, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

Monday, June 25, 2012

mint + white

Dress: Victoria's Secret, Tote: J. Crew, Sunglasses: Free People
It's no secret that I'm in love with spring and summer's mint green trend. I love green in almost any form, but mint is especially up my alley for warm weather. Mint can be paired with a huge variety of colors and patterns, but I think it just looks so refreshing with simple white. This cute new beach tote from J. Crew and my Free People shades were perfect accessories to simple white cover-ups for idyllic sunny days by the pool.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

english tea time

In honor of England's tough game against the Italians today, and my fiance's British roots, I decided to share this sweet little perk of our resort on our recent Playacar vacation: daily tea time complete with a variety of teas, petite treats, and savory bites. While we didn't often pull ourselves away from the poolside, tea time was a cute and quaint little respite from an otherwise tropical-themed trip. So despite my tortoise pace in travel posting, here's one for the Brits. Come on, England!

things i loved this week: organic decor

This gorgeous decor.

This weekend was both uneventful and comforting, as I recovered from a foolishly-earned broken rib on the classic couch-and-bed combo. While I was lamenting my split second mistake that led me to this couch-ridden state, I realized how very lucky I am to have a fiance who takes such wonderful care of me. That being said, I also realized how much our dark and impersonal new apartment needs an interjection of some life. I started perusing ideas to bring some of the outdoors inside, and found so many cute and lively ideas. When I'm able to lift something more than a hairbrush, I'll let you know what I decide to do with the new place. Until then, I'll lust over these inspiring images.

This simple DIY project.
This terrarium. (similar at Terrain)
This vase and arrangement.

Friday, June 22, 2012

savannah buttermint ice cream

I've mentioned my love of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream cookbook before, but after my third attempt at her mouth-watering recipes, I've never loved it more. Her Savannah Buttermint caught my eye immediately while flipping through the beautiful pages, but I forced myself to wait until spring or summer to make the light, refreshing flavor. The ice cream set up beautifully in the machine itself, and was ready to eat without spending hours in the freezer like many home recipes. The lightly buttery, pastel yellow cream, with a hint of mint, was complemented perfectly by white chocolate flecks throughout. Adam even declared it to be the best ice cream I've made yet (at least until I finally relent and make his vanilla with Heath bar request).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

gamine gingham

I'm not really sure how I feel about the "new" trend of tying shirts in a knot circa... well I'm not sure when, but I know girls did this when I was really young, so I'm guessing the early nineties. It looks cute when some fashionable ladies pull it off, but I don't see it as a trend that's catching on anytime soon around me. I did, however, try it out while on vacation with this slightly baggy gingham top and white shorts, and I think it worked for a quick lunch by the pool. A little vintage editing makes it feel like a picture someone might find of their mom from her twenties {I love seeing old photos of my mom, who was, and is, so beautiful}.

Shirt: J. Crew, Shorts: Madewell, Sunglasses: Free People

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

free as i'll ever be

As per my usual, I took what some would call entirely too many photos on our recent unbelievable trip to Playacar, Mexico. I'd say it was just right. I love pictures so much; there's nothing better than looking back through a photo album and remembering little details that would have otherwise been forgotten. For this reason, I've decided to spare you from the vast majority of these photo. Instead, I'll be writing a few quick summer outfit posts, and perhaps a post or two about the trip itself. I bought this Free People dress after seeing it on the cover of their catalog paired with these sunglasses. I thought both pieces were unique and interesting, and I just had to have them. The dress is so comfortable, with tons of stretch, but also full of intricate, unfussy details. It was perfect for a nice dinner on a hot summer night.

Monday, June 18, 2012

peanut butter puppy pops

Are you ready for one of the cutest series of photos possibly ever? Okay, I'm a little biased, but if these photos don't make you smile, then you have a cold, cold heart, my friend. I wanted to make a special summer treat for Chubs (aka Oliver) today, so I decided to surprise him with some homemade pup-friendly popsicles. The recipe is really difficult, so make sure you write this down verbatim: vanilla yogurt and peanut butter. Complex, I know. If you want to get fancy like Chubs and I, you can spring for extra chunky. Oliver absolutely loved his first pop, and it was so cute to see him sit so sweetly and patiently licking his summer treat.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

things i loved this week

this whimsical advertisement {from Pinterest}

this manicure from the beauty department

these funfetti marshmallows from raspberri cupcakes

Lake Retba, or Lac Rose, colored pink from cyanobacteria {from Pinterest}

Saturday, June 16, 2012

fish tacos with chipotle slaw

Ever since the Gypsy Queen food truck came to Baltimore, I've been obsessed with their Mission Bay Fish Tacos. While I knew I wouldn't be able to fully recreate them, I wanted to make a simple, similar version for a summer dinner. I debated following one of the recipes I saw online, but opted instead to just wing it and come up with my own. I am so glad I did because they were absolutely delicious. I kept eating them until I felt sick. In fact, I grossly over-ordered a full pound of flounder for two people, so I continued to eat in an attempt to not waste. Anyways... they are really incredibly foolproof to make (especially since the slaw can be made ahead of time), and really worth a shot. Consecutive posts about margaritas and fish tacos means I'm probably still in Mexico mode, hanging on as long as I can to our vacation bliss.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

12 oz. flounder, or other white fish
1 egg
1 cup panko
1/4 T. chipotle chili powder 

1/2 T. salt
Generous pinch fresh ground black pepper
Generous pinch seasoning salt
Peanut oil, to depth of 1/2" in pan, for frying
4 corn tortillas
1 package coleslaw cabbage mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 T. minced garlic
1 chipotle pepper (from canned chipotles in adobo)
3/4 - 1 T. adobo sauce, to taste (from canned chipotles in adobo)
1/2 T. lime juice, reserving a small lime wedge

1. Make the slaw:  Add sour cream, mayonnaise, minced garlic, chipotle pepper and sauce, and lime juice to the bowl of a food processor, and blend until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine with coleslaw cabbage mix. Refrigerate while making fish.

2. Make the fish:  Heat peanut oil in pan over medium-high heat. Heat slowly until oil shimmers, but does not smoke or burn. Cut fish into small strips (similar to small chicken tenders... mmm). Set out two bowls for breading the fish. Whisk the egg in one bowl. Combine panko, chili powder, salt, pepper and seasoning salt in second bowl. Dip each piece of flounder first into the whisked egg, then cover all sides in the panko mixture and set aside. Fry fish, 4-5 pieces at a time in the oil for approximately 3 minutes. (I flipped the fish once during frying instead of using enough oil to submerge them fully). Transfer to paper towel lined plate, and cover with foil.

3. Assemble the tacos:  heat the corn tortillas in either a warmed oven or microwave. Spoon cold slaw mixture into taco shells, add 1-2 pieces of fish, and squirt with a few drops of lime juice.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

prickly pear margaritas

I was first introduced to prickly pear by my future mother-in-law, Jan, on my first visit to Austin... naturally, in the form of a margarita. Instantly, I was in love. The prickly pear syrup adds not only eye-catching color, but also a unique flavor that doesn't pollute the deliciously tart, salty drink with saccharin sweetness. I decided to buy a bottle of the syrup, and was pleased to find that one bottle goes a long way. I proceeded to make a classic margarita, with a little cactus twist. They were absolutely delicious, and I could have slugged back about ten of these cheerful little glasses. You may be wondering: are these frozen or on-the-rocks? The answer is somewhere in between, and the reason is both impatience in the freezing process, and inability to take photos before devouring a cocktail first. I told you they were good.

Prickly Pear Margaritas
Serves 2 (cocktails, not people... you'll want more than one)

4 oz. white tequila
1.5 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. prickly pear syrup, or to taste

1 oz. fresh lime juice
Coarse salt and lime wedge for garnish, if desired

On the Rocks:  Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and pour.

Frozen:  Combine all ingredients with ice in a blender, blend until desired consistency. Warning: this takes a lot more ice than I anticipated.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

bold baubles

So called "exclusive" shopping sites that require registration and a log-in are a dime a dozen these days, and there are quite a few I have regretted joining over the years (mostly thanks to their daily sale e-mails). However, Bauble Bar is not one of those sites. This is no get-it-now-or-we'll-keep-flooding-your-inbox-website; it's a fantastically diverse jewelry website with no markups, and amazing prices. From classy and chic studs to wild, on trend neon statement pieces, they've got quite a lot to peruse. They feature a lot of designer collaborations, and even blogger-curated collections. They even have a dead-ringer copy of the Anthropologie necklace I last wore here. Check it out, and you won't be disappointed!

Monday, June 4, 2012

engagement photo shoot

I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to share this post with you. Yesterday, Adam and I had our engagement photos taken by our amazingly talented wedding photographer, Leah Hewitt. We spent the afternoon at the Howard County Conservancy, which is a shockingly beautiful and unique piece of land outside of Baltimore. Leah not only immediately made us feel comfortable and relaxed, but also was both wonderfully professional and fun. Her eye for natural sunlight and scenery made for the most beautiful engagement photos I could have imagined. Just hours after the shoot, Leah already had several "preview" photos for us to fall in love with before the collection of final hi res images come soon. I am so thrilled to see how they all turn out. Until then, here are a few photos from our shoot.

All photos © 2012 L Hewitt Photography.