{everyone needs a side of sparkle}


cappuccino update

 Remember this post? Well, I just made myself a mid-afternoon treat using chocolate almond milk in place of regular old milk. It foamed up beautifully and tastes so good I just had to share this little side of sparkle with you!

 {Perhaps these cappuccino brownies will be a splendid chocolatey-coffee fix for dessert tonight}
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oh, wear!

cozy fall weekend

Just thinking today about the (almost) weekend with Hero Hubby and the girls and how nice a crisp and sunny fall day is. Not quite overcoat weather, but a warm sweater will do just fine. Have a cozy weekend!

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My littlest one scratched her cornea yesterday. It was scary seeing the doctor patch up her eye, but even scarier knowing that such a delicate part of her was injured. As I learned, the eye has an amazing ability to heal itself after a scratch like that. A blob of antibiotic cream and a patch to keep the eye protected while it heals is the simple treatment. Basically, it looks worse than it is, but it's a reminder (especially to all of you with young ones!) to keep the eyes safe. My new daily task will be to keep Laela's fingernails filed daily - not just trimmed short, but filed to keep any sharp edges away...
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flip off time

My mid-century modern loving side jumped with glee when I spotted this flip clock screen saver. Sometimes I roll the cursor over to the hot spot that activates my screen saver just to watch a minute
flip by...
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a perfect autumn breakfast

Good morning, dear readers, I hope you enjoyed the weekend and are looking forward to the week ahead. I am still dwelling on Sunday morning's simple, yet delicious breakfast with my family. The day started out damp and drizzley, but by 8:00 the sun had started to slice through the clouds to reveal a perfect autumn morning. Apple turnovers, I thought and swiftly brought a roll of puff pastry dough out of the freezer to defrost while I prepared the apple filling. Incredibly tasty and with such a fancy appearance, apple turnovers are very easy to make. I like to keep a few rolls of store-bought puff pasty dough in my freezer, but here is a recipe to make the dough from scratch.

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold thawed puff pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll each sheet into a 12-inch square and cut into four squares.
2. core, peel and slice 2-3 Granny Smith apples
3. place apples in skillet (use a cast iron skillet f you have it) with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of salt and a few shakes of nutmeg and cook over medium heat until the apples and soft.
4. place about 1/4 cup apple mixture in center of each square. Brush edges with water. Fold over to form triangles, seal edges firmly with a fork. Place on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. 5. sprinkle with sugar and let cool on wire rack.

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have a jammin' weekend

Ok, so that post title is a little cheesey... but, really I'll be jammin' out this weekend with all the wild and delicious concord grapes Hero Hubby and I have been harvesting from the backyard grapevines this week. There's nothing like homemade jam (remember this post?) to use in recipes, give as gifts, or simply to spread on toast. I like cutting down the sugar a bit for a tarter taste. Happily, I will fill up many of the empty glass jars I have stored away - some are just too pretty to recycle! Add a bottle (or two!) of my new wine-crush, Baker's Dozen jammy cabernet, and my jammin' weekend will be underway. But, it would not really be jammin' weekend if it were not for the aural gems of Moby Grape in the bluesy/jazzy jam session album, Grape Jam. Not the most mainstream stuff, but worth the price tag to get this on CD. I'll have to dust off the ole' itunes playlist for these guys and have a truly jammin' weekend.

3 lbs Concord grapes, stemmed
2.5 c sugar
2 tbls fresh lemon juice
1. Chill 2 small plates (for testing jam).

2. Slip skins from grapes and purée skins with 1 cup sugar in a food processor, then transfer to a 4- to 6-quart wide heavy pot. Stir in lemon juice, peeled grapes, and remaining 1.5 cups sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently and skimming foam, until pulp is broken down, about 20 minutes. 

3. Force jam through fine sieve set over the pot. Discard remaining solids. 

4. Cook at a slow boil, skimming foam occasionally and stirring frequently as mixture thickens to prevent scorching, 35 minutes, then test for doneness.

5.To test jam, drop a teaspoonful on your chilled plate and chill 1 minute. Tilt plate: Jam should remain in a mound and not run. If jam runs, continue cooking at a slow boil, testing every 5 minutes, until done, up to 25 minutes more.

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diy project no. 004: laundry soap

I love doing laundry. So much, in fact, that when I came across a diy laundry soap recipe I just had to try it out. I hadn't realized just how chemical-laden commercial laundry soaps and fabric softeners are until I researched the topic, not to mention their cost is four times higher than the homemade version (this recipe ends up costing about $0.05 per load). Skeptical at first, I soon discovered how easy it is to make my own and, when put to the test, how effective! Which is verrrrry important when you have the kind of laundry we have... toddler + baby + husband = disastrous piles of stained and damaged clothes.

As for fabric softener, you ask? Simple white vinegar with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Yuck, vinegar?! I hear some of you saying... be assured that there was no vinegar odor whatsoever when I pulled the clothes from the dryer - just fresh clean clothes with a very faint hint of lavender. Use one tablespoon of vinegar per load - pour it right into the fabric softener dispenser and fill with water just like you normally would.

I encourage you to try this easy, chemical-free, money saving laundry soap; it's so simple and it works.
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carrot soup

With the brisk close of each afternoon as it folds into evening, I've been craving hot and hearty soup to warm my (almost) autumn bones. Making carrot soup seems to mark the switch from easy sundresses and sandals to long baggy sweaters and leggings. Tonight is just the night for the occasion, though I am a few days early for the arrival of fall (it officially starts on the 23rd). Here is my tried and true recipe. Serve with a rustic whole grain saloio bread.

2 tbls olive oil
2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lg onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tbls ground ginger
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbls fresh lemon juice
1/4 c cream

Heat oil in large heavy saucepan (I use my dutch oven) over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups stock. Cover and simmer until carrots are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. 

Add ground ginger and mix well. Puree soup in batches in blender or food processor. Return soup to the same saucepan. Mix in lemon juice Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin to desired consistency with more broth. Whisk in cream in medium bowl just until slightly thickened, then add to soup. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or dollop of sour cream.

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the baby list

Maybe there's something in the proverbial water, but so many of my friends are expecting their first babies in the very near future! The baby topic is something I am rather current on, especially the "gear" parents find themselves knee-deep in once their tiny package arrives. Ever tending toward the minimalist approach, I have found a handful of products helpful essential to my daily baby rearing routine. Clothing and diapers aside, here's my bare-bones baby list:

puj tub
baby bjorn
mountain buggy
calma bottle
skip hop diaper changing
skip hop farmyard mat
bloom coco lounger
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oh, wear!

into fall 2011

Skinny jeans (I still like to call them cigarette jeans), a pleated corset top with a cropped tuxedo jacket and scrumptious suede heels would be my go-to evening get-up this fall if I could manage to not look like toothpaste trying to be put back into the tube (read: an oozing mess). Ah, my post-baby body begs for a bit looser fit in my clothing these days. I do love the retro-chic look here... the feminine details on the typically masculine tux jacket and a smokey eye creates just enough mystery.

corset shirt | jacket | jeans | shoes | clutch | ring | necklace | eye palette | nail polish
 | lip balm
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getting organized: week night dinners

Monday in our house marks my weekly venture to the market where I attempt to load the shopping cart full of enough food for what I think will be five wholesome and delicious dinners. While I'm combing the aisles, I'm also combing my brain for all those yummy recipes I just saw somewhere that looked so effortless and nutritious. Since my children, lovely as they are, will have made scrambled eggs of my aforementioned brain by 8:00 am, I need more than the feeble remains of my mental powers to procure the items necessary for an entire week of dinners. Fortunately there's help - and it's so stylish! Thanks, ollibird, for making these cute menu planners. The printable version is available for download and would look fabulous on the fridge next to Violet's latest work of crayola abstract expressionism. My plan is to print of many of these planners. I'll fill in two copies each week - one that will stay on the fridge to answer my daily "what the hell's for dinner?" question and one to take with me to the market to answer my weekly "what the hell am I buying?" question. I ask myself a lot of questions... thankfully I now have answers to two of them.

originally viewed at a pretty life in the suburbs
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who wants some Schweddy Balls?

Leave it to Ben and Jerry's to mint an ice cream with such a, well, ballsy name. Schweddy Balls is coming to a supermarket freezer near you and it boasts the well-rounded flavors of vanilla, rum, fudge and malt balls. For those of us who don't quite get the reference (and that included me) the flavor is based on the old Saturday Night Live skit where Alec Baldwin plays Pete Schweddy on a fake NPR show, Delicious Dish, where he makes holiday treats such as cheese balls, rum balls, and his signature Schweddy balls. Ben & Jerry's spokesman Sean Greenwood stated, "we've always been a company that has had a sense of humor."

Though it sounds unappealing (unless you're into that sort of thing), once I understood the flavor's pop culture connection, I admit my intrigue and will seek out a pint. I imagine I'll smirk every time I open the freezer and catch a glance of the words "Schweddy Balls" peeking out amidst the bags of frozen peas, broccoli and meatballs.

original story via npr
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diy project no. 003: party animals!

I came across this diy post for candle holders on the sweetest occasion and will be definitely making these for the next birthday party we host.  This is such a great idea, inexpensive to make and they will look amazing on cupcakes!

plastic animals
plastic candle holders
drill with 1/8″ drill bit
gold spray paint (or any color that you like - hot pink, perhaps?)

Hold the animal with the pliers and drill a hole straight down, being careful not to pop out the other side. The hole just has to be deep enough for the holder to fit.

Spray paint the animals in a few light coats, rotating them to cover all sides. Note: I used gold (w/o primer) and it worked fine for both the nicer plastic animals and the dollar store ones. I wanted a pop of color but some of the animals didn’t take to regular spray paint, be sure to use a plastic spray paint or a primer for plastic and always test one first. You can also spray paint the candle holders to match.

Marvel at your craftacularness.

images via the sweetest occasion
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baby shower chic + enter fall

One of my dear friends is having a baby this month and we celebrated with her over the weekend at her baby shower. In my dreams I would have worn this ensemble to the event. I actually wore a dress similar in color to the one pictured... not quite ready to let go of summer yet.

Speaking of showers, it's going to be raining here for most of the week and I could not help but ogle over these unique umbrellas.

The close of Labor Day weekend seems to signal the unofficial start of fall. I stepped outside my front door and caught the sight of several leaves twirling their way down to the ground. The days remain warm and sandals and knee-skimming shift dresses in sunny patterns are still breezing about town. Window-boxes continue to overflow with bright flowers and it doesn't really feel like fall yet - but, I guess you can't argue with the leaves.

hair clips | dress | clutch | bangle | sandals | earrings | lipstick | perfume

leaves image unknown
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have a restful weekend

Good morning, dear readers, and what a good morning it is in our house! Baby no. 2 (aka Laela) has finally slept through the night, giving her mum and dad a much needed night filled with consecutive hours of slumber. I wanted to create a long post of all our Labor Day weekend plans, but my little alarm clock did not wake me up at 3:00am (yes I have been blogging in the wee hours). So, I will be crafting a heavy dose of sparkly things for you over the weekend and will post again on Tuesday. I hope you have a restful weekend!
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