Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Madeleines


For someone who doesn't love to cook and who absolutely mega-loathes baking, my mom owns practically every culinary gadget found in Crate & Barrel's impulse aisle.  There's a professional mixer, springform pans, canning jars, silpats, food processors, juicers, an avocado slicer, a strawberry huller, an immersion blender, milk frothers (as in, more than one), tart shells, mini cupcake tins, jumbo cupcake tins--I could go on, but won't since I'm already rambling.

So while I was home this past week and my mom asked me to make something for a tea luncheon, I noticed a madeleine pan lurking in a back cupboard.  And since I was feeling French and spontaneous that day,

Striped boatneck = French. Jumping = spontaneous.

I decided to make the madeleines for the first time. I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but didn't experience the same problems she seemed to have. Mine developed the signature hump easily, which I attribute to David Lebovitz's tip of freezing the pan prior to baking. In fact, it was so simple and filled the house with such a delicious buttery lemon scent, that I will be making these again soon.


Tender and dense, but with a bigger crumb than I wanted.  I might try cake flour next time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wedding belles

As a female without the romance gene (sometimes it feels like I'm missing a chromosome), it's a big deal when I'm swept up by a wedding.  I recently traveled to New Haven for my friends Amy and Chris' nuptials, bringing my total of attended events up to a whopping two.


Both the ceremony and reception (complete with a carousel!) were held on the beach.  It was intimate, elegant, pure fun, and yes, romantic.  And just as I'm clearing the uncharacteristic stars from my eyes, I stumble across this video, so reminiscent of that evening in Connecticut.

I dig the bride's Lisa Marie vibe.  The groom too, in general.  Love me some scruff.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Seriously, J. Crew?

 
Loafers are this year's oxfords.  Oxfords are...also this year's oxfords.

And inane comments regarding ridiculous footwear trends are next year's Toms.  Which is what these loafers kind of look like.

More deep, important thoughts like these on the subject later.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Running wild

One minor purchase over the weekend: a sweet but not overtly girly print to hang in my bedroom.

 

photo via The Wallaroo.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Project-ing

I love a good project, especially when I'm holed up in my basement apartment against a hurricane.  The inspiration for most of this is usually drawn from something I see professionally done that makes me think, "I can do that."  Or sometimes: "I can't afford that."

Take these bracelets from Chan Luu. It's criminal how much she charges for them. So I googled a couple high-res images of the photos, bought some beading supplies, and was able to recreate this for around $20 apiece:



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Muffin topped

My boyfriend and I rang in this past new year's eve in Seattle. Why, you ask (although you didn't need to, but it means so much to me that you did)? Because we wanted somewhere cold. Somewhere with good bars and an even better music scene. Somewhere far enough from DC that we wouldn't get sucked into another overhyped event.



Before we left, I bought two guidebooks, with the plan to compare them and return one. Both had the usual tourist highlights--the SAM, Pike Place Market, the Sculpture Garden--but I ultimately settled on Fodors, since it included an extensive list of dive bars. It also billed the Macrina Bakery as a must-see, so we did.




Everything at Macrina was delicious. The ham and cheese dumpling, the cinnamon bun, the Guiness tart my boyfriend bought to go and later ate with his fingers. But the most striking order was the Fresh Fruit Muffin. Light, fluffy, barely sweet, and studded with quartered apricots and whole blackberries. All that--in one muffin! It haunts my dreams.

Thankfully, my Sugar Daddy had the foresight to buy me the cookbook (get it? get it? oh, you guys). I tabbed the recipe with plans to hold out for ripe summer berries, but I had to have my way with it immediately.



I coupled a quart of strawberries with a half-pint of blueberries and a few apricots that my mother gave me after a recent trip home to Maryland. The recipe produced about two dozen muffins, which were quickly dispatched with slathers of salted butter and much crumb catching.

And, days later, when my roommate and I were still finding muffins rolling around the kitchen, they made for quick, tasty snacks when reheated. Which was lucky, because once I tasted them for the second, third, fourth time, I couldn't see myself making it through the week without another. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Family portraits, remix




Look at these amazing panoramic family photos by Holger Thoss!  Look at them!  I love the seamless integration of action candids and posed portraits.  They play like a movie reel of stop-action frames.  I'll have to make my own my day.  Both family and photos, I mean.

images via Holger Thoss.

Monday, August 22, 2011

#Trending: Neon messengers


You know those neon messenger bags you've seen everywhere but just can't seem to place?  The ones that you just googled "neon messenger bag" for, which lead you here and is the only reason you found my blog?  Well, search no more because they're from The Cambridge Satchel Company, and unlike the imitations by Kate Spade, these OGs are incredibly affordable and can be personalized with embossed print. Which means you can get one in a highlighter shade and something tawny for the fall.

images via Bohemia, compilation by me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Orleans


My boyfriend and I went to New Orleans for a four day weekend, and man, it was a trip.  Booze in the streets, cathouses overflowing on the sidewalk, smoke everywhere--four days was fun, but four days was enough.

We stayed at the International House Hotel, which I highly recommend for a nice buffer from Bourbon Street and the revelry following the first Saints game of the season.  We saw a little of everything (and drank almost everything): the Garden district, French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Magazine Street, Frenchman Street.

Shoutouts to the outstanding meals at Green Goddess and Bon Ton Cafe, jazz at Maison Bourbon and Blue Nile, perfect cocktails at d.b.a., and shopping at StyleLab with (Drew) Brees, the Doberman puppy that stole my heart.

Holy schamoly, this was my weekend.  This and naps.




 

 
 



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cro(i)ss it off my list

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I've been wanting to bake croissants for as long as I can remember, years even, since I saw a PBS special on the process.  As I recall, the phrase "sheets of butter" was tossed around by the host, and that had me hooked.

Now that I've made these fucking things, let me insert a HUGE disclaimer: you won't save any time, money, or calories, but you will get a blog post out of it.  Yay.


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The croissants turned out well: a crisp exterior that gave way to flaky, tender layers--all in all, nothing I couldn't get at Le Pain Quotidien.  After two days of folding, layering, and proofing, I won't be making these again anytime soon.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer hair

Ooh la la.
Ah, summer.  That magical time of year that makes all typically inappropriate behavior suddenly acceptable, even desirable.  Popsicles are perfect for breakfast, one week vacations the norm, and dirty, unwashed hair is miraculously deemed "beachy."

As Refinery29 pointed out this morning in an easy step-by-step guide to three hairdos, braids are the bee's knees this season.  Of course, there are always those that capitalize off of a beauty trend ($45 for knotting my hair?  No thanks), but even an unpracticed hand can make the perfect plait.

Luckily, braids stay together best in hair that isn't squeaky clean, save for intentionally loosened strands.  And the ones featured in the how-to are simple to follow but produce beautifully undone and impressive results.  Check out the slideshow here.

image via Refinery29.

Friday, August 5, 2011

iRead

I don't really understand the whole e-reader fanfare.  I love books: collecting them on a shelf, dogearring the pages, and yes, sometimes toting them around in my giant purse.  So when my brother suggested that we buy my mom a Nook last Christmas instead of a nice collection of hardbacks, I reluctantly caved.

Behold--the face of Kindle smugness!

For some people, books are the equivalent of socks and underwear as gifts, but for me, they're something I love to give and receive (dirty bird).  I can spend hours adding to my shopping cart on Amazon and just as much time whittling down my selections to a reasonable total.  Which is how I got turned onto Simon Rich's "Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations," two holiday seasons ago.

Rich, a Harvard grad and former president of the Harvard Lampoon, develops random situations into hilarious, 2-3 page "what if" scenarios.  The whole thing takes about 15 minutes to read, which is perfect for bathtime, Metro commutes, and, say, when you should be applying for jobs instead of blogging and half-watching House of Payne because you're too lazy to find the remote.  (How is it the number one sitcom telecast of all time?  Seriously, the people want answers.)


Here's an excerpt from the book, the first vignette--and my favorite--The Ride Back to Beersheba:*


Click to enlarge.

*
All images via Google Books. Simon says, "See you in court."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Warby Parker


Contrary to my opthamologist's advice, I rarely remove my contact lenses.  They're in my eyes from the second I wake up to the moment just before bedtime, saving me from the danger of blindly stumbling around my apartment or worse yet, the hideous emergency-only eyeglasses I haven't updated since high school.

Now that Warby Parker has started manufacturing sunglasses in addition to their original optical line, I've decided to treat myself (and someone in need) to not one, but two new pairs of frames.  Warby Parker, whose motto is "eyewear with a purpose," is essentially the TOMS Shoes of the glasses world.  For each pair purchased, the company delivers another to a person without access to vision correction.  Through partnerships with various non-profits, they have already distributed over 50,000 pairs in over 36 countries, yet still manage to keep prices low.  As in, prescription glasses that retail for an unbelievable $95.   For those of you with perfect vision who don't need glasses and thus don't understand the high expenses associated with them, that is an amazing deal for fashionable, high-quality eyewear.  Also, screw you.


What's more is that they deliver, free of charge, five frames of your choice for you to try on with zero commitment to purchase.  I requested the majority from the men's section because I have an abnormally big head and ultimately chose the Striped Chestnut "Zagg" and "Everett" sunnies in Gimlet Tortoise.  In about 10 days, I expect to receive my new pairs and maybe give my poor eyes a break.