Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Foodie Files

I love to cook, but I don't always love to bake (unless you allow for the use of box mixes, in which case I make a mean Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie).  I know, they sound like similar if not identical activities, but I'm telling you they're not.  Cooking allows you some flex room...room to experiment, if you will.  Wanna add a dash of this and a smidge of that?  Go for it!  And if it doesn't work, just add a touch of something else!  Baking...not so much.  Don't believe me?  Add the wrong amount of baking soda to your next treat and let me know how it goes.  Unless I'm with my cousin Tricia (who's a baker extraordinaire) I tend to steer clear of baking projects.  Until I saw this Banana Nutella Bread recipe (!!!) last week and literally dropped everything I was doing to make it immediately.  And oh my word am I glad I did.  It's so good.  So very good.  

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 heaping cup Nutella


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray 8×4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda & salt.


In another large bowl, beat sugar and butter until blended (the trick is to use a fork). 


Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, milk and vanilla, and beat until blended.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating constantly until blended (don’t over-mix).

Spoon Nutella into a small dish and soften in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add 1 cup of the banana bread batter to the Nutella and stir until blended. 


Spoon Nutella batter alternately with plain banana bread batter into the prepared pan. 


Swirl batters together with a knife.

Bake for 60 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave it to sit in the residual heat for another 10 minutes.  What I wouldn't give for another piece of this right now...mmmmMmmm.  

Paradise Island: Sandi

Welcome to Paradise Island, week four!  (Need to play catchup?  Check out weeks one, two and three here)  Let me shoot straight with you for a second, today's post is all about my Aunt Sandi for one reason and one reason only- I was in the mood to brag about her today.  She's my Mom away from Mom and is truly one of the most inspiring people in my life.  She's the Nora to our Walker clan, the Kris to our Kardashian craziness and I just love her.  If you knew her, you'd love her too.  Plus her picks are on point (how classic is that 'Reserved' towel?  It may be my new favorite thing).  

Q&A: If I was famous it would be for writing a book entitled, 100 Things My Students Have Taught Me.  Sally Fields would be my celebrity BFF and she would help me steal every last piece in Kris Jenner’s closet!”



1. Feather Earrings, Etsy $38  2. Large Brim Hat, San Diego Hat Co $54  3. Hope in a Jar, Philosophy $28-$105  4. Cranberry Almond Snack Bars, KIND healthy snacks $44.50 for 50  5. Women's Barefoot Pace Glove, Merrell $100  6. The Amethyst Heart, Amazon $11.69  7. Orange Peel. Mandarin and Vanilla Soy Candle, Whispering Woods $13.50  8. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia Fragrance, Sephora $80  9. Reserved Towel, Lazybone £9.99
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Doesn't this outfit make you wish you were strolling through Cabo?  I guess the better question is what doesn't make you wish you were strolling though Cabo...but still, the outfit enhances the daydream, don't you think? :)  


1. Love Sam Lace Square Top, Piperlime $174  2. Pilcro Straight Ankle Chinos, Anthropologie $88  3. Tribal Ring Pendant Necklace, Urban Outfitters $29  4. Le Vernis Jade Nail polish, Chanel $25  5. Retro Cat Sunglasses, Rayban $135  6. Jade Bangle, Forever 21 $5.80  7. Boutique 9 Wedges, Piperlime $114  8. Etched Detail Cuff, Forever 21 $7.80 

Baby, baby, baby (oh!)....on .Learning Love's Life.

I'm over at .Learning Love's Life. today, guest posting for my sweet friend  Jessica about the cutest baby clothes you ever did see.  I couldn't help but give you a little sneak peek below (eeeek- so adorable!), but you've gotta check out the full post here.   

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Get It Together: Patio Bliss

Summertime is about watermelon, lemonade, picnics, sundresses, tan skin and everything that's good.  I feel happy just thinking about it.  As it pertains to your house, Summertime is about patios.  I love me some air conditioning but there's no substitute for the great outdoors...you've gotta soak it up while you can, people!  Given the right amount of reading material, I could curl up in this hanging chair all day long.  And perhaps, at some point, I will.  Now, three cheers for Summer! (hip hip *hooray* hip hip *hooray* hip hip *hoooooooray*)


1. Recycled Glass Votive Holders, West Elm $4  2.  Glass Bell Shape Shade, School House Electric $49  3. Glass Globe Shade, School House Electric $49  4. Pod Hanging Chair, Weylandts  5. Abstract Idea Pillow, Anthropologie $118  6. Tree Trunk Stool, Dwell £149  7. Diamond Indoor/Outdoor Rug, Dash & Albert Rug Company $38-$514

Pushing Daisies

Of all the series I've known and loved, no show has ever struck me quite like Pushing Daisies.  The "forensic fairy tale" Bryan Fuller created was pure magic, pure quirk and pure "good heavens, that's stunning" all at once.  But the facts were these: after 1 year, 8 months, and 10 days some crazy person at ABC pulled the plug (that was for all you fellow Pushing Daises fans- the rest of you aren't privy to that joke...sorry).  If you have a weakness for fashion, quick wit or star-crossed love stories of any variety, you're sure to go bonkers over this show.  I put together a styleboard for Charlotte Charles (or, as my TV crush the piemaker calls her- Chuck).  Her wardrobe is perfection, is it not?


1. Floral Dress, Vintageous  2. Marc Jacobs Daisy Perfume, Sephora $60  3. Vintage Polka Dot Scarf, Etsy $18  4. Veranda Wrist Gloves, BHLDN $40  5. Saturn Sunhat, Anthropologie $58  6. Featured Home Dress, Modcloth $67.99  7. Blueberry Pie, Dean and Deluca $65  8. Sierra Shades, Anthropologie $24  9. Vintage Bee Ring, Folksy £9  10. Rouge Allure Laque, Chanel $32
Monday, June 27, 2011

Adventures With Andy Warhol

Sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.  For example, this girl needed to check out the brand new Andy Warhol exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and she needed to do it right away.  So despite the fact that no one was available to accompany her, she went.  By herself.  And it was awesome.  (and lets shift out of third person gear...) I must say- I'd never visited a museum alone before but it turned out to be surprisingly...relaxing.  It was a total "me" moment and you've just gotta have those every once and awhile.  But since I didn't get to share the experience with anyone, I'm gonna have to share it with you.  You don't mind, right?  I knew Andy Warhol was unconventional, but I didn't realize the extent of his eccentricities until my recent trip to the Frist.  For example, did you know:

 -Good Mr. Warhol  produced and directed over 100 films (though I can't imagine they were the kind of films anyone would want to see).  His 1964 film Empire is eight hours of footage of the Empire State Building.  Eat shows a man eating a mushroom for 45 minutes.  Sleep is a six hour film that chronicles poet John Giorno (you guessed it) sleeping.

-From 1973 to his death in 1981, Warhol created over 600 "time capsules" which documented correspondence, food, souvenirs and objects from his daily life.  
 
-Though he had many world famous friends, his constant companion was none other than his handy dandy audio recorder, which he used to document all of his conversations.  And referred to as his "wife".

Just a few gems for you to ponder.  After viewing so much of his original work (including a few of his films and exhibitions), I think it's safe to say the man was either hopelessly unbalanced or an honest to goodness genius.  Or maybe he was both.  Either way, his art was both groundbreaking and outrageously successful...his painting "Eight Elvises", below, sold for $100,000,000- a feat only a handful of artists (Jackson Pollack, Piccasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, Gustav Klint and Willem de Kooning to be exact) had previously achieved.  He's a legend.  A wacky legend, but a legend nonetheless. 

Design Musings

Friday, June 24, 2011

Que Bella

Well, it's time to play Que Bella catch up!  The last few weeks have been out of control but so fantastic.  My trip to Miami was a step up from fun...in fact, I'd go as far as to say it was straight up medicinal (the sugar coated medicine that tastes awesome, even).  I can't remember the last time I felt this refreshed and downright happy- and not just in my body, in my spirit as well.  It was perfect for a million reasons but I can't imagine you're interested in sitting there whilst I list them all...so I'll just narrow it down to 1,000.  Kidding.  How's 3 (in no particular order)?

Reason #1 my vacation was the greatest week I've had in recent memory: I got some ever-so-valuable quality time in with my partner in crime, Jess.  Our road trip (yup, we drove.  15 hours, thanks for asking) was filled to the brim with everything from murder mysteries and scavenger hunts to progressive lunches and (in a temporary lapse of judgement) the shadiest motel Orlando had to offer.  We have way too much fun together.  Way, way too much.


Reason #2: Two words...Rendezvous Conference.  My goodness, it was amazing.  Not only was I so proud of my bestie, DawnChere (she and her husband worked their little tails off to make this thing happen), but I just couldn't get over how powerful the sessions were.  DC shared a message about "The moments we return to" that's been ringing in my ear ever since.  I honestly wish everyone I know could've come (including you)...since you missed it, you should check out this re-cap video.  It's legit.


Reason #3: Our cruise.  Where do I even start?  I'm telling you, when Jess and I were making our plans we had no idea how many wonderfully perfect twists and turns were ahead (isn't life fun like that?).  To make a looooooong story short, we ended up expanding our crew of 2 to a party of 7 when a few of our favorite people were able to score last minute tickets aboard.  Cruisecation turned into Duronpalooza and Gabby and Jessie turned into the happiest girls in the world.  Check out just a few of the things that went into making our weekend so perfect:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Paradise Island: Nadine

Welcome to Week Three of our fabulous Summer series, Paradise Island (click here if you missed weeks 1 & 2 and have no idea what I'm talking about).  Today we're exploring the wonderful world of Nadine (and what a wonderful world it is).  Nadineski is the ultimate class act...I'm telling you, your IQ is sure to raise a few points just by being in her general proximity.  Not only is she smart, she's crazy stylish.  In fact, her accessories in particular slay me on a regular basis.  Check out what made the cut on her Paradise Island list (trust me, this girl knows whats up...these are some solid picks).

Nadine & her husband, Mark

Q&A: If Nadine was famous, it would be for being in the most successful sister girl group ever or having the most relatives and friends with February 2nd birthdays.   Tina Fey would be her celebrity BFF and she would help her steal every last piece in Khloe Kardashian's closet.


1. Summer Group Tote, Michael Kors $158  2. Blasted Nail Color, OPI for Sephora $9.50  3. Rouge Coco Shine Lipstick, Chanel $32  4. Prescription Sunglasses, SEE  5. Glam Life Sandal, Kenneth Cole Reaction $29.99  6. Santal 26 Candle, Le Labo $70  7. Bright Coverup, Anthropologie  8. Kindle, Amazon $189

The Foodie Files

Since I had a pretty strong (and ultimately correct) feeling I was going to be way behind after last week's vacation, I had my Mom prepare this week's Foodie Files.  This lemon chicken, veggie and pasta dish is one of her go-to Summer meals- it's so light and fresh!  I'd vouch for anything my Mom made, but I can tell you from experience, this one is a winner. 

Ingredients:

4- 6 chicken pieces
1 large Lemon and zest.
Shallots
2 cloves of Garlic
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup Italian Black Olives
2 cups of washed Brocolli
1 can of Artichoke hearts
Garden Basil, Parsely, Thyme
 ¼ cup of Grated Regiano Parmeseano Cheese
1 Package of Egg Pasta

Boil water and cook pasta.  Don’t forget a dash of salt in the water.  While water is boiling, add enough Olive Oil to coat a saute pan.  Add shallots and garlic and let cook till soft and golden (about 3 minutes).
Add washed and dried chicken pieces and cook at a pretty good flame for about 6 min per side.


By this time your water should be boiling- add Egg Pasta and cook per bag instructions.  Add brocolli, artichoke hearts, olives, lemon juice and chicken stock to chicken and let cook another 5 minutes over medium heat.


Drain and plate pasta and and cover with chicken, brocolli, artichokes and grated cheese.  Serves 4-6.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mirror, Mirror


1. Through the Loop Dress, ModCloth $99.99  2. Raw Gem Earrings, Anthropologie  3. Mopa Mopa Bangle, Anthropologie $298  4. Kendra Scott 'Slome' Statement Cuff, Nordstrom $88  5. Masiello Women's Peep Toe Pumps, Aldo $44.98  6. Teong Kay RGEOA Ring, Shop Rumor $116  7. Street Level 3095 Handbag, Piperlime $79

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I miss my Dad's garden- it's one of my favorite places in the world.  One day I'll have a backyard and he'll help me plant a (much smaller) garden of my own.  It's a far off day, but I'm excited about it already.  In the meantime, I've assembled a small arsenal of garden cuteness.  Adorable, right? :)


1. Garden Tools, Alice Supply Co $28  2. Watering Can, V&A Museum £35  3. Ceramic Vegetable Labels, Terrain $24  4. Sunken Pool Garden Hose, Terrain $58  5. Heirloom Seed Collection, Terrain $25  6. Wild and Wolf Garden Gloves, Celia Birtwell £10.94  7. Large Cedar and Iron Herb Planter, Etsy $69  8. Original Tall Boots, Hunter Wellies $125
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get It Together

Anything that makes laundry less miserable is A-OK with me, so I love these pieces Natalie found for today's Get It Together.  Speaking of laundry, I have a couple hundred loads to do now that I'm back from (the greatest) vacation (of all time).  Thanks to everyone who helped out while I was away- you guys were incredible.  Now, time to get back to the grind!


1. Laundry Sign, The Exchange  2. Smartek Steam Iron, Overstock $15.49  3. Laundry Detergent & Softener, Alberto Aspesi  4. Ironing Board Cover, Etsy $25  5. Whites & Colours Lauundry Bags, Cox & Cox £19.95 each  6. Hudson Metal Tray Stand, Habitat £18
Monday, June 20, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011

I Love It When We're Cruising Together

What a perfect week I've had.  I've got a ton of pictures I want to show you and all kinds of stories to tell but it's going to have to wait just a tiny bit longer.  I'm sort of in the middle of getting things together for my grand vacation finale.  That's right- I'm leaving today for what I anticipate being the greatest cruise of all time.  You heard me- cruise!  The greatest one!  Ever!  I'll give you the full scoop when I get back, but I thought it would only be fitting to leave you with some nautical eye candy.  Enjoy! :)


1. Lindsey Stripe Shorts, French Connection $98  2. We Are Owls Scarf, Net-A-Porter $126  3. Octopus Pillow, Layla Grace $70  4. Happer Women's Wedges, Aldo $90  5. Sailing into the Sunset Dress, Modcloth $97.99  6. Thomas Paul Plates, Daytrip Society $32 for a set of 4  7. Nautical Mug, Etsy  8. Anchor Double Finger Ring, ASOS $13.79
Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Foodie Files

Since I'm still down in Miami on vaca (can't wait to tell you all about it tomorrow, by the way), I asked my perfect Mom to help me out with today's Foodie Files.  She taught me everything I know and is an exceptional chef, so it seemed like the right call (okay, Papa- you're right...you taught me a bunch too). :)  The good news is she sent me a killer recipe.  The bad news is, after looking at the pictures, I'm craving it in the worst way.  If there are leftovers, I don't even want to know about them.  I can't wait to make it when I get home!

Stuffed Zucchini

1 Zucchini (good size) 
1lb of Ground Turkey
1 can diced tomatoes
Shallots
Garlic
Butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups Rice (I used long grain Indian matta rice)
Basil, parsley & thyme from the garden
Capers
Shredded Regiano Parmesan Cheese
salt & pepper

To cook rice, add to pot with enough water to cover about 1 inch above rice.  Add 2 tbs. of  Olive Oil and 1 tsp of salt.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  While rice is cooking, wash Zucchini and remove and discard the seeds.  Hollow out zucchini removing inside flesh (I used a cantaloupe baller) and set aside.


Sauté shallots, Garlic, Butter, Olive Oil, until shallots are soft and yellow, about 3 minutes.  Add ground turkey and cook 'till just about done, about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add cooked rice, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, capers and salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.


While ingredients are cooking add about 1 inch of water to a roasting pan place hollowed out zucchini inside.  Fill Zucchini with cooked ingredients Sprinkle with Cheese.


Cover and Cook 30 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Paradise Island: Natalie D.

Time for Paradise Island, round 2!  Did you miss round 1?  Check it out here or I see some confusion in your future.  Today's subject is Ms. Natalie, whose style you know a bit about already (if you don't, check out her Mirror, Mirror posts here and here).  Nat's look is hard to define, but if you backed me into a corder I'd call it bohemian with a definite edge and a touch of hipster.  She understands that sometimes less is more (the girl can rock a tshirt and jeans) and sometimes more is more (she's not afraid to make the occasional serious fashion statement, which I can certainly respect).  Check out her must-haves below.  

Q&A: If Natalie was famous it would be for winning an Oscar.  Her celebrity bff would be Emma Watson who would help her steal every last item in Natalie Portman's closet.



1. Duchess Music Notes Italian Printed Leather Journal, Barnes & Noble $34.95  2. Ipod packed with Paramore  3. Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray, Sephora $23  4. American Apparel Tees, American Apparel $58 for 3  5. Bee Raw Honey, BeeRaw $12  6. Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai with blueberries, Costco $17.88  7. Black Rose Ring, Chanel $1,550  8. Garden State, Amazon $11.49
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Our lovely intern, Natalie, did such a great job with her last Mirror, Mirror post that I asked her to put together another while I'm away on vacation.  Thanks for holding down the fort while I'm gone, Nat!


1. Mega Bead Chandelier, TopShop $50 2. Feather & Chain Hair Extension, Etsy  3. Jigsaw Pieces Tank, Anthropologie $78 4. The Roller Mid-Rise Cropped Jeans, Net-A-Porter $200 5. Purple Abstract Tear Ring, TopShop $20 6. Gypsy Wrap Bracelet, Forever 21 $7.80 7. Hesta Purple Tie Up Espadrilles, TopShop $50
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guest Blog: Diana from Harvey Designs


I love receiving letters in the mail.  It’s at the top of my list of my favorite things.  Next to actually speaking to that person face to face, receiving a letter is the best way to feel that a loved one/ dear friend is present.  Seeing their handwriting, knowing they touched the same piece of paper you are now holding is a very tactile experience.  It means the world to me.

It’s not just the receiving of letters!  I love to write letters, which brings me to the topic of this post.  STATIONERY!  I firmly believe that everyone needs at least one, nice, all-purpose set of stationery.  (Sounds old fashioned, but have you ever tried to write a professional thank you note on a piece of ruled notebook paper?  Not. Happening.)  All-purpose stationery can be boring and uninspiring, so I have scoured the internet etsy, and have four different categories that should cover just about any situation.  I have included some of my favorites for each category! 

Romantic: Tip: guys… girls LOVE getting little notes, even better if they’re not on the back of a napkin!  And I don’t care how tough guys are, they like getting letters too!  (amiright?!)


Professional: asking for that raise looks so much better when it’s written on a nice polished piece of stationery!                                    


Friends/ Family: cheeky or just plain old fun, this is my favorite category.


Specific occasion: thank yous, birthdays, sympathy, etc.  Easily the most used category.


Now get out there and send some love! 

1. You're My Favorite, Sparrow Nest Script $5  2. I Love You More Than Tea, Storey Shop £3.95  3. Golden Heart, Lucie Prichard $7.50  4. We Go Together, Sapling Press $4.50  5. Whispy Personalized Stationary, Blushing Pearl $55 for 20  6. Honeycomb Letterpress, Long Stem Lollipop $10  7. Modern Circle Personalized Stationary, Ruby Press $120 for 50 calling cards and 20 notes  8. Blossoming Flower Notes, Ruby Press $75 for 50  9. Classic Personalized Letterpress, Penelope's Press $25 for set of 15 10. You Are Greater Than Cupcakes, 4Four $3.75  11. Howdy Bunny, Brush and Mallet $3.75  12. Peacock Cards, Kinaloon $24 for 10  13. Sassy Girls, La Belle Vie Design $15  14. Hugs Letterpress, Steel Petal Press $4  15. Rainy Day Letterpress, Letterpress $4.50  16. Thank You Card, Print For Love of Wood £2.50  17. Some Things Just Suck, Letterary Press $4  18. Birthday Card, Able and Game $4 
 _________________________________________________________________________

I was thinking about it this morning and I can safely say that, outside of my family, Diana is my oldest friend (friendship-old, Diana-not old...just to clarify).  I have a treasure chest full of memories with my dear, sweet Denna Bug (you knew I was gonna go there, didn't you Di?)- after 20 some years I still rely on her encouragement and friendship and I'm still blown away by just how creative she is!  Thanks so much for the incredible post, Diana...you're quite literally the best.  To check out Diana's awesomeness on a regular basis, visit her at Harvey Designs or follow her on Twitter at @HarveyDesigns or @di3pt14.
Monday, June 13, 2011

Father's Day Gift Guide

Happy Father’s Day week!  What do you mean you weren’t planning on celebrating Father’s Day until Sunday?  Are you crazy?  This is your Dad we’re talking about here!  I, for one, plan on celebrating my Dad starting now.  Of course, in the interest of full disclosure (and before you start thinking I'm a better daughter than I actually am) I guess I should tell you today is my Dad's birthday.  Reason enough to start the party early, don't you think?  I’ve bragged on him here and here (and many other places) but if you'll allow me one more moment to gush about him, I promise I'll make it quick.  I'm a Daddy's Girl through and through for at least a million reasons.  To name just a few- he's hardworking, humble, generous and makes me laugh harder than anyone in the world.  We're two volumes of the same book- just ask anyone who knows us. :) If I was with him today (and I sure wish I could've been) I'd hug him really tight and tell him he's the best Dad in the world.  And it would be the truth.  Love you, Papa.  Hope your day was perfect.

Since I'll be out of town for the next week, I sent my Father's Day gift early (how on top of things am I?)- for those of you still on the hunt for the perfect Father's Day gift- look no further!  Our handy dandy gift guide is here!



1. iPad Case, Etsy  2. Muhle Shave Brush, Terrain $64  3. Ellis Island Passenger Records, Ellis Island $30-$70  4. Portland General Store Whiskey Shave Soap, Terrain $20  5. Bullet Casing Cufflinks, Uncommon Goods $80  6. Desktop Shuffleboard, Uncommon Goods $25  7. Vintage Cocktails, Amazon $50

Design Musings

Friday, June 10, 2011

Table for Twelve: Danielle's "Desserting" Us

If Table for Twelves are my digital children, then this month's party was most certainly an unplanned pregnancy.  Let me explain.  The average Table for Twelve takes weeks to plan and execute, but this time around I didn't have weeks.  In fact, I barely had days.  You see, in a bittersweet turn of events our dear itty bitty Danielle was offered an amazing promotion that required her to re-locate to Little Rock, Arkansas.  Immediately.  And there was no way I was letting her leave without a proper send-off.  So the girls buckled down and helped me strategize, buy, craft and cook like we've never strategized, bought, crafted, and cooked in our lives.  It's amazing what a little elbow grease can amount to.  We came up with the theme Danielle's "Desserting" Us because Danni has a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a sweet tooth.  But more on dessert in just a second.  Let's start with the table.

In an effort to be supportive, we wanted to make this a happy party...which presented a bit of a problem cause we were all totally bummed she was leaving.  Since drastic times call for drastic measures we decided to go totally overboard on frou frou and fun.  And I think it sorta worked!


We set up (and decked out) an ice cream bar and had everyone bring the toppings of their choice.  I think my favorite decorating detail was our puff ball ice cream cones, although the hurricanes filled with glitter confetti rank pretty high on my list of 'things that make me squeal YAY'.  


We had a couple surprises for Danielle- the first was the party itself.  The others were stacks of CD's for her road trips, an 'I love Nashville' t-shirt we all signed (perfect for PJ's), and the mason jar cakes I highlighted in yesterday's Foodie Files.  


Despite the fact that we knew we'd be Danielle-less after the party ended, we had a grand time.  And in the moments when we couldn't help but shed a few tears, we reminded each other what an exciting time this is for our sweet girl.  Cause that's what families do. :)  So, Danielle- we miss you already and hate that you're far but know we're so incredibly proud of you.  You may have "desserted" us, but you couldn't loose us if you tried. :)  Here's to our night of...


For more details on this or any Table for Twelve (we've racked up quite a few, now!  Picnic in the Park, Royal Wedding, Breakfast at Tiffany'sValentine's Day), or to find out more about Design-Muse's party planning or design services, contact me here.
Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Foodie Files


I've been pumping out Table for Twelves like a madwoman lately- it's all but destroyed my storage situation, but I've gotta say, I enjoy orchestrating them so much!  I've got another one coming at you tomorrow...it's fun, fun, fun and sugary sweet.  Literally.  Consider today's Foodie Files a delicious sneak peek, cause we're talking cake.  Crazy, multi-colored, layered cake in a jar, to be exact.  You've gotta see the finished project to appreciate it.


Fun, right?  Now, before you're hopelessly lured in (as I most certainly was when I first saw the idea on The Family Kitchen). I've gotta warn you- this is a time consuming project.  It also has a high potential for disaster (honesty=best policy).  By the time we got to our last batch, I think I worked out most of the kinks but you've gotta know up front- it was a loooong, somewhat traumatic afternoon.  As of press time (I've always wanted to say that) I've made this recipe twice...once as a trial run and once for our Table for Twelve party favors- at which point I had to quadruple it.  I listed instructions for both recipes below, but keep in mind the pictures are from our mega-batch.

Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix made according to package instructions (mega-batch = 4)
food coloring in the color palate of your choice
3 one-pint canning jars (or 12, if you're quadrupling)
1 can vanilla frosting (or 2- I know...the math is off there...all I can tell you is I quadrupled & had TONS of extra frosting)
Rainbow sprinkles



Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the inside of each canning jar (I ran ours through the dishwasher for good measure). Spray the inside of each jar thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.


If you're making the standard recipe, distribute the batter as equally as possible amongst 4 bowls.  Each bowl should have between 1/2 a cup and a 3/4s of a cup of batter.  Tint each bowl with cake batter until it's very vibrant- usually between 15-20 drops for the standard recipe, 4x that for a mega-batch.  If you're quadrupling, make and tint each cake mix seperately.


Decide what order you want your colors to appear and spoon about 4 tablespoons of the appropriately tinted batter into the bottom of each jar.  Be careful not to let the batter touch the sides of the jar- we found the best way to do this was to scoop the batter with a large spoon and use another spoon to direct where it should go and catch excess.


Spoon equal amounts of your remaining batters in your desired order, continuing to layer each color onto the next.


Wipe any excess non-stick oil from the top of the jar and cover each individual jar with aluminum foil- we didn't figure out these two important tricks until our last batch, as a result some unwanted browning took place in our earlier batches (as you can imagine, my perfectionist self was less than stoked about this).  Place 3 jars in a shallow baking dish and add about 1/4″ in of water to the bottom of the dish. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.  


Remove jars and allow to cool completely before scooping a small portion from the top of your cake and adding a big dollop of frosting to the top. Sprinkle & serve, or cover with a lid and store in the fridge until needed.  Although they'll take up a good chunk of your time, the end result is quite adorable.  A fun sous chef (muchas gracias, Natalie), a good playlist (Frank Sinatra Pandora radio- check it out, it'll change your life) and a good attitude (which I may or may not have possessed at the time of said project) make all the difference in the world.