Thursday, August 30, 2012

oreo cookies & cream cupcakes

I owe this cupcake recipe to my cousin, Shannon, who introduced me to these little gems a few years ago. While they aren't always the most presentable cupcakes to a true icing perfectionist/sadist such as myself, they are always a huge crowd-pleaser. Doctoring boxed cake mixes can really make life easier when baking, so finding recipes that do so successfully is always a welcome treat. If you save this super-easy recipe in your arsenal, your friends will be very, very thankful that you did (each and every time you make them).

Oreo Cookies & Cream Cupcakes


30 Oreo Cookies
1 box plain white cake mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 tub vanilla icing


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 12 cupcake liners. Separate 12 Oreos in half, and place each icing-side wafer in a cupcake liner (icing side up). Crush the remaining Oreos in a ziplock bag and set aside.

Add cake mix, sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla to a large mixing bowl, and mix by hand until just incorporated. Measure 1.5 cups crushed Oreos and mix into the batter.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter, and bake for 18-20 minutes. Cupcakes should be very slightly golden. Allow cupcakes to cool before icing.

Mix the remaining crushed Oreos with the vanilla icing, and ice cupcakes. Garnish with additional Oreos, if desired/if you haven't already eaten the rest of the pack.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

camera bag {jo totes}

Finding a camera bag that's functional, easy to carry, and of course cute is something that makes me very happy. As I've mentioned before, with my first amazing camera bag purchase, having a bag that I don't feel silly carrying prompts me to use my camera 1023.3% more (statistics may not exactly reflect actual increase in usage). While I love my black leather bag from Epiphanie, this one from Jo Totes is so much better and more appropriate for summer. I know summer is almost over, but in light of an upcoming warm-weather honeymoon and a move to sunny Austin, I know it will become another favorite purchase.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

mint + neutrals

blouse // pants (anthro) // bag // heels // sunglasses

Pairing mint with neutrals is one of my favorite fresh color combos. I know, I know... I've mentioned this mint love about a zillion times, but this look feels like a sophisticated take on the combination that transitions well into September. It never hurts to find another use for my happy-go-lucky polka dot pants, either (bonus!). Finishing off the look with camel and nude accessories helped the outfit stay casual but polished. A very special thanks goes out to Adam for taking these photos after a long Monday of work, when it wasn't exactly high on his to-do list.

Monday, August 27, 2012

bacon jam {and brie!}

The other day, it really hit me hard that summer was coming to a rapid, unwelcome end. I realized that yet another season had passed me by, and I had tried about 0.03% of the seasonally-appropriate recipes I have saved hoarded on my laptop. I vowed to spend these last few days of summer making only fresh, summery treats full of fruit and veg. And then I made bacon jam.

This fabulous little invention combines many of the most amazing (though seemingly a little incongruous) flavors and smells out there, and cooks them all down into a little jar of spreadable heaven. It was incredibly easy to make, and if I hadn't accidentally left it out of the fridge the very same night I made it (and then cursed violently at myself for about ten minutes), I would have put it on everything then licked the jar clean. Maybe I jumped ahead of the summer season a bit, but no one is complaining.

For a sinfully good appetizer, cut a baguette into 1/4" slices, top with a slice of Brie and a dollop of bacon jam, and broil until the Brie is melted and gooey.

Bacon Jam
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1.5 lbs sliced bacon
1.5 medium yellow onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. maple syrup
3/4 c. brewed coffee (I used mocha flavored, because why not throw some chocolate in the mix, too?)

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook approximately 15 minutes, until fat is rendered and bacon is browned. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain fat, allow to cool, and then crumble into smaller pieces. Reserve approximately 1 T. of the bacon fat, drain the remainder.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, vinegar, and coffee. Bring to a boil, deglazing the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the cooked bacon back into the pan.

Transfer to a slow cooker, and cook on high (uncovered) approximately 4 hours. Eat several spoonfuls while hot (because you can), then allow to cool. Bacon jam can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Friday, August 24, 2012

hey, look who it is!

Well, hello there. I think I know you. Look whose little blog post made the DailyBuzz Style Top 9 today! How fun. Approximately once a month, maybe every other month, I'm apologizing for going MIA for a while. I'll spare you the apology today, but know that I'm constantly trying to improve (who me?) for next week. Have a wonderful weekend that's anything but neutral.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

pretty girly things {natural}

Sometimes when I'm feeling utterly uninspired, I like looking through the hundreds (OK, thousands) of random pictures I have saved throughout every nook and folder in my computer. That simple idea is what prompted my Pretty Girly Things posts. Pinterest clearly has not helped this little photo-saving addiction of mine, yet somehow even pinning isn't enough--I have to save my favorites PC "My Pictures" style. Here are some beautiful bits of muted, natural inspiration that I'm sharing for no other reason than that they made my day just a little brighter.

Monday, August 20, 2012

goat cheese & roasted red pepper crostini

Finding appetizers that are equally easy and delicious is always a priority for me (as discussed previously). Taking this a step further, beyond easy to assemble, it's even better to find apps that can be made ahead of time, before guests arrive if you're entertaining. After finding an unnecessarily large log of goat cheese on sale at Whole Foods (yes, a sale at Whole Foods believe it or not), I made this insanely easy and delicious treat. With only four ingredients, and insanely easy preparation, this a great recipe to have in your arsenal.

Goat Cheese & Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

French baguette
Jarred roasted red peppers
Goat cheese
Fresh basil

Preheat broiler. Slice baguette into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Spread baguette slices out on a cookie sheet, and broil just until lightly toasted. Slice peppers into thin strips. Spread with goat cheese, and top with roasted red peppers and basil. That's it and that's all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

peach + mint

Blouse // Shorts // Cuff // Shoes
This outfit is very Man Repeller-esque for the simple fact that Adam, and most men, just plain hate this type of shorts. Lucky for me, I'm not on the prowl, so I can wear things like this and just watch the fiance give me weird looks. You see, I like this outfit for two reasons: I'm obsessed with peach and mint, and the shorts make my legs look about a zillion inches longer than they really are. I bought this blouse with fall wardrobe intentions, but was happy to find some use for it in summer as well. By the way, how gorgeous is this lace gold cuff? And it's malleable enough to bend it around my baby-wrists (bonus!). So cheers to being a girl, and all the man-repelling fashion that comes with the role.

Monday, August 13, 2012

bloody maryland

I am feeling pretty clever right now, I must admit. This weekend, I was craving a good Bloody Mary to nurse myself out of bed, and decided that I really do prefer to make them myself. Why? So that I can throw as much crap into the glass as I want, and make it just right. So anyways, here's the clever part: why  has no one (to my knowledge) used the term Bloody Maryland to describe the way charm city does brunch? 

It seems to me that the overwhelming use of Old Bay to spice up this hangover-curing staple should be given it's own name. So, I turned to Google to search "Bloody Maryland", and all I found was a creepy TV show with poor 13-year old Alana who is "haunted by spirits wherever she goes". Poor Alana. Without further adieu, here's my new weekend favorite/necessity.

Bloody Maryland
Serves 4

3 cups tomato juice
12 oz. vodka (two shots per drink)
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 limes
1.5 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. fresh horseradish
4 t. Old Bay seasoning
2 t. hot sauce
1/2 t. pepper

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and refrigerate at least one hour. When ready to serve, rim four glasses with Old Bay, and fill halfway with ice. Divide mix evenly between four glasses.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

rustic summer lace

I posted about Adam and I's engagement photos over a month ago, and I had every intention of detailing each of the outfits I chose for the shoot... but you know how that goes. I just never got around to it until now. Better late than never, right? Especially since our air conditioning broke down on us yesterday, and I've been pretty gross the past two days (not exactly photo-ready). I bought this hat for our vacation to Mexico, but paired with a sweet and simple dress and neutral wedges, it made the perfect summer outfit for the rustic setting. As a special bonus, the dress is even on sale for $39. Steal!

All photos by L. Hewitt Photography.

Monday, August 6, 2012

cold-brew iced coffee

Recently, I've been dabbling in the unfortunate vice of coffee-drinking before a long day of work. Being that it's summer, and the walk to work can get humid, I've been leaning toward the iced variety. I stumbled upon an article about the increasing popularity of cold-brewing coffee to make a rich concentrate, which can subsequently be used to make delicious homemade iced coffee for days. It was inexpensive to do, and I like a project, so I decided to give it a go. The result was a delicious, rich drink that gave me a morning boost for well over two weeks from a single (only $7) batch!

Cold Brew Iced Coffee

12 oz. light roast coffee beans, coarsely ground
8 cups water
Several large coffee filters
Fine mesh sieve
Milk, sugar, and flavoring, optional


Add ground coffee beans to a large bowl or pitcher, add 8 cups of water and stir.  Allow to sit, covered, at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

Place large coffee filter in a fine mesh sieve over the opening of a pitcher. Scoop liquid and ground beans into filter gradually, changing filters as needed when they become clogged with beans. The concentrate will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks.

Mix 1 part coffee concentrate with 1 part milk (or water, but I like milk), and serve over ice. Add sugar to taste, if desired. I also added vanilla syrup to each serving, because I like my coffee to basically be morning-dessert. Enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2012

my week in photos {8*3}

This week went by with such a sleepy blur that I barely snapped a photo during the work week (a true rarity for me). I actually did do some fun things with Adam and a few friends, but the iPhotography was lacking. Last weekend, however, I managed to snap some photos at the beach where I met up with my family for a few days. I'm not sure why I've been so exhausted, but apparently Oliver shared the feeling, and adopted a most interested sleeping position stuffed against the arm of our couch. But, best of all, check out how adorable my niece is, looking like a retro bathing beauty.

bayside view from our balcony
kennadi / my niece / miss k / my princess
grilled sweet corn

king crab legs
my favorite beach house in avalon
my adorable niece and nephew. check out miss k's pose.

obvious choice.

falling asleep with coffee in hand before work. oops.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

summer to fall {polka dots}

bag * lingerie * shoes * iPhone cases * dress
I can't help but love polka dots; there's just something about them that makes me so happy. Sometimes it's hard to find pieces that feel refined, and far from childish. I knew I had to start rounding up some spotted pieces when I started hearing the news that polka dots would continue to be on-trend for fall. I'm kind of obsessed with these fun and flirty Honeydew Intimates, and may already be the proud owner of the Madewell Skimmers (once they come in the mail, that is). Between lace and dots, I'm hoping I can populate my closet for autumn with minimal cash-money spent.