{everyone needs a side of sparkle}



Today I am already nostalgic for baby Laela's infant-hood. It was no so long ago that Violet was a snuggley ten pound-er with shiny, unblinking eyes that would stare up at me from a swaddle of blankets. These days she is talking, drawing, running, dancing... everything an energetic toddler does. The snuggles are rare and the unblinking stares, fleeting. As I gaze at Laela asleep in her moses basket, I know it won't be too long before my tiny baby becomes a little girl and races off to keep up with her big sister.
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strawberry cupcakes + coconut frosting {= yum}

During my hurricane Irene induced web-surfing I landed onto uncharted blog territory; how sweet it is is a wonderfully composed food blog that just so happens to have a recipe for cupcakes that combine two of my favorite flavors: strawberry and coconut. Usually the stuff of smoothies, strawberries and coconuts rarely couple up in a recipe. Thus, my love of the two tastes compels me to share this recipe with you. We are in the thick of canning season and I intend to splurge on some organic strawberries just for these (and I simply must have some pink sprinkles to decorate the tops). 

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped strawberries
1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt with the mixer on low speed, then gradually increase speed. Add in chopped strawberries and beat on medium speed until the strawberries break down – about 1-2 minutes. At this point, the strawberries most likely have enough liquid that you don’t need to add any milk to the batter. If you batter seems dry and is not like typical cake batter, then add milk 1-2 tablespoons at a time, beating until incorporated.

Pour into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake is set. Let cool, then frost.

Note: I would not suggest using frozen strawberries because of the high water content. If you must, make sure they are completely thawed and as dry as possible. Even the fresh strawberries have a high water content, so if yours seem very wet, blot them with a paper towel. Also, if you can get your hands on some strawberry extract, it would probably be delicious in these. You can also add some food coloring if desired to give it the bright pink look.

Coconut Frosting
2 sticks of butter, softened (1 cup)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar + more if needed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of coconut extract (if you don’t have this, no big deal)
1-2 tablespoons of lite coconut milk
3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixture until completely smooth and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar slowly. Gradually increase mixer speed and add vanilla and coconut extracts, then beat for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of the bowl. If frosting is too thick, add coconut milk 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If it’s too thin, add powdered sugar gradually until it thickens. Fold in shredded coconut and mix until just combined.

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cappuccino time

It's no secret that I love coffee and all things delicious one can make with it. A french press girl in the mornings, I most definitely favor a cappuccino later in the day. With Friday afternoon already on my mind, I'm planning on slipping out with my two ladies to our local cafe and delighting in the foamy warmth of a (to-go)cup.  Someday I will posses my very own espresso machine (with direct hot water tap, of course) so I can enjoy an afternoon treat at home. For now, here is a cappuccino hack to try at home with you french press (if you don't own one, I highly recommend them)!

Brew espresso in your french press {2 tablespoons medium-grind espresso to every cup of near-boiling water}. Stir. Let it stand for 4 minutes, then depress the plunger. Pour 1/3 cup of espresso into the bottom of your coffee cup.

Microwave about 1 cup of milk for about 20 seconds. Rinse out your coffee press and pour in the hot milk. Foam it with the plunger and top the espresso with 1/3 cup of the milk and top the rest with the foam. Enjoy!

image via evan's kitchen ramblings
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color inspiration: bubblegum pink

The not-so-girly side of bubblegum pink. Isn't it fun to see a color out of context?  Always marked for the frilly, the fruity and the adolescent, this shade of delicious pink takes on an edgier persona while still adding its signature playfulness. 

one | two | three | four

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currently coveting:

There's nothing like a few wardrobe updates and a new scent to welcome the change-over of summer into fall.  I can count on my skin being thirstier this time of year and I am definitely coveting one love organic's all purpose balm.  Oh, how I would love to slip into a new pair of tall boots, namely these by Rachel Comey which would look kicky with this rust colored Halston dress... all the while sipping a dark and stormy from these glasses by Dwell Studio.  Speaking of glasses, a heavier pair of shades to go with the inevitable chunky knit sweaters and dark denim I'll be wearing are on my mind.  Plus, I love most anything tortoise shell.  The buzz about Target's partnership with Missoni for a much anticipated assortment of delectable stylings has me lusting after a new batch of barrettes.  Oh, the things I covet...

skin balm | sunglasses | boots | dress | perfume | barrettes | drinkware

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4x4: nude sunglasses and scarves

4x4: nude sunglasses and scarves

Plan on partying hard this weekend?  Go incognito in style as you make that walk of shame, enjoy a hungover breakfast, or stagger onto the playground with your child the next morning (coffee in hand).  Imbibe and then hide... gracefully with the softness of a nude palette. 

{top: one | two | three | four}  {bottom: one | two | three | four}

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dinner tonight

Violet is off at Camp Grandmum's and I am fleet of foot - well, as much as one can be with a six week old.  I had forgotten how portable (I love my baby carrier) and non-opinionated an infant is, so Hero Hubby and I are going to enjoy a nice, quite dinner at home.  I will be making this simple, no fuss chicken with artichoke hearts and pasta dish.  With any luck mine will look as good as the picture... not sure what that beverage is in the glass, but on my dinner table it will definitely be a chilled pinot grigio*.

Coarse salt and ground pepper 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 8 thin chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds total) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth 1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts packed in water, rinsed, drained, and quartered 2 tablespoons rinsed and drained capers 2 tablespoons butter 8 ounces angel-hair pasta 1/2 cup parsley leaves

Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Place flour in a shallow dish, and season with salt and pepper. Dredge cutlets, shaking off excess. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Cook chicken in batches, adding remaining oil as needed, until light golden, 1 to 3 minutes per side; transfer to a dish.

Add broth to skillet, and bring to a boil; cook until reduced by half. Add artichokes, capers, and the chicken with any juices. Gently swirl to combine, and bring just to a boil. Remove skillet from heat. Swirl in butter, and cover to keep warm.

Add pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente; drain. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta, topped with parsley.

*fun fact: artichokes affect your taste buds to enhance sweet flavors and thus altering the virtue of your vino.  So I'll break out the cheap stuff during dinner and enjoy a little (just a little since I'm nursing) limoncello afterwards. 
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wordless wednesdays

Hello dear readers!  I am starting a theme for Wednesdays called "wordless wednesdays." A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll be letting the images do the talking. 

one | two | three 
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splendid summer day

As I sit here listening to the rain pelt the windows and the wind sweep across the house as if it were trying to toss us into the marsh, I am fondly reminiscing of the not-so-distant beach day we enjoyed several weeks ago.  Ah, those wonderfully hot sunny days and long easy stretches into dusk - the stuff of summer.  I hope the fall doesn't sneak up and steal summer away too fast.  Though it might, I am glad I have this photo to remember the summer baby Laela joined our family.

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oh, wear!

pretty pink pastels

Go softly into late summer with tropical weight wool shorts, a fluttery blouse and classic black flats with a bit of flair.  How chic well manicured fingernails will look in a warm grey... a nude matte lip is a timeless classic. 

blouse | shorts | lipstick | flats {bottom left} | flats {bottom right} | nail polish | bangle | earrings | flats {top}
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have a romantic weekend

Hoping you find the time for a little a lot of romance this weekend...

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animal car

The realization has finally occurred; my car will never be clean again.  Having been commandeered by a toddler and an infant, the back seat of my vehicle looks like a murky swarm of disembodied animal crackers, discarded wipes, board books with most of their pages stuck together, and a soggy array of stuffed animal travel companions scattered amid the chaos.  Every now and then I unearth a diaper in need of discarding... it's not a pretty (or pleasant smelling) scene.  While I can do a few maintenance cleanings, that new car smell and shiny interior will remain a distant dream.  And that's ok.  I used to stress out about keeping the car extra clean - vacuumed, dusted, Armor All-ed... the works!  It was one more line on my weekend to-do list, but now I think of the mess as another passenger.  A travel companion that never whines, cries or demands music when I have a headache.  Someday the mess will move on and I'll have a clean backseat again - until then I'll let the mess grow on me (just hopefully not on my children). 

image via incompiuto

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color inspiration: yellow

I've been thinking up ways to add touches of yellow to our living room and the use of yellow in these interior spaces is inspiring!  In large quantities and small, I love the way it brightens up a room. 

one | two | three | four | five | six
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I need a granita

The humid air has me thinking about the icy bliss of granita to quench my thirst and my foodie ambitions.  It may seem like a long task, but once you get it into the freezer it's really not that long before you will be enjoying your sophisticated sno-cone.  I like serving granita in stemless martini glasses with a a few mini biscotti on the side. 

2c water
1/2c + 1Tbs sugar
1lb fresh or frozen blackberries (about 3.5c)
juice of 2 lemons
4 Tbs creme de mure (optional)

Simmer the water and sugar in a medium saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Rinse the blackberries and quickly ease them into the syrup. Simmer for about 3 minutes until the berry juices are released. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 

Puree the mixture in a food processor, then strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds. Mix the lemon juice and creme de mure, if using. 
Pour granita mixture into a shallow, wide container. Cover with a lid, foil, or plastic wrap. Freeze 1-2 hours or until the edges are frozen. 

Take out of freezer and scrape with a fork, mixing it from the edge into the center. Repeat the scraping and mixing process every 1/2 hour or so (at least 3 times) until the entire mixture has turned into small, sequined ice flakes.

recipe via wegottaeat
photo via mowielicious
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No, I do not have a typo in my post title.  I've been seeing a lot of fascinating faceted items around the web world lately and decided to share. I really love those heels - especially how the strap goes around the entire body of the shoe.  I wonder if they are comfortable enough to wear for an evening... I wonder if that chair is comfortable...

one | two | three | four | five | six
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diy project no. 002: homemade playdough

Investigative little hands need to be kept busy and play dough is Violet's favorite "toy" right now.  A bit hesitant at first, she now requests the pliable stuff just about every morning (it is much more exciting than yogurt and granola).  The basic recipe I used can be found here.  I added fragrance to give it a little bit of fabulous.  It just so happened that I had violet flower (bof!) fragrance left over from a diy stint with making bath bombs.  So pleased with the results of the dough, I'm thinking these would make great Christmas gifts for the little ones in my life.  I love these containers and am so tempted to get every one of these cake decorating colors to make a rainbow of play doughs.  Glitter?  Perhaps I'll even experiment with adding a side of sparkle.  Have a creative weekend!
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individual jam cakes

Last week I snatched up a pound of organic strawberries and promptly forgot I stashed them in the crisper (shame on me).  They were looking rather drowsy when I dug them out a few days ago, but I'm not one to let such prized produce go to waste.  So, I made a batch of strawberry jam.  Yesterday I was searching for a simple, delicious dessert to make that night and came across this recipe for individual strawberry jam cakes.  I was tickled silly to use my very own homemade jam. These cakes are definitely addictive - I've already enjoyed one two today with my morning coffee.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a standard 6-cup muffin tin; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, and zest until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time until creamy; set aside. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches to butter mixture; set aside.

In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; fold into batter. Divide half of batter among muffin cups. Make an indentation in the middle of each; fill with 1 tablespoon jam. Top with remaining batter.
Bake until a cake tester inserted in top cake layer comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Unmold cakes, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool. 
In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and juice. Place rack over parchment paper; drizzle cakes with glaze. 
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the uniform

No, I'm not talking about some CSI-esque television show.  I'm speaking of the fashion feint motherhood plays on a woman's sense of style.  You've all seen it and maybe even are wearing it right now.  The Uniform comes in two ghastly iterations: khaki pants, t-shirt, and sneakers or faded and pilling yoga pants, t-shirt, and orthopedic looking flats (or in colder months, Uggs).  There are some good points to The Uniform: You can wear it five times a week and no one notices; it's comfy; makes you feel maternal; you blend in perfectly with the other moms standing in line at - (name any discount retail chain).  The Uniform is so ubiquitous that not only will no one notice if you wear it five times a week, in fact, no one will notice you period.  Looking comfy and maternal reminds men of their mothers. You're also a wife. You used to be a girlfriend. Once upon a time you were a hot date.  Get the picture?

The good news is wearing kitten heels does not make you a bad mother and your children don't care if you're wearing a spicy lip gloss and eyeliner.  You're still Mum - they won't forget.  Maybe it's time to shake things up a little bit. With a few updates you can liven up your look, feel better about yourself and remind your man of the sexy woman he married.
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life is just a bowl of cherries

My grandmother used to say "life is just a bowl of cherries; all you have to do is take out the pits."  Thought this to be an appropriate post for today, being Monday...

photos by a rosy note
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