Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Shopping

This holiday weekend, use the code HELLO30 for a discount of 30% off final sale items! This includes jewelry and collaboration items that are in sale, too!

Gap has their Labor Day Red, White, & Blue Event, with select styles up to 40% off. And don't let the "up to" fool  you, there is seriously a lot of great stuff for sale. My favorites:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Favorite Scones

My perfect morning? A leisurely brunch with family or girlfriends, surrounded by rich coffee, fresh fruit, and an array of baked goods. My all-time favorite treat is scones; they're perfect for breakfast, brunch, or mid-afternoon snacks. Here is my favorite scone recipe, which I regularly modify with different mix-ins and toppings. They're not too cakey and pair perfectly with a clotted cream. 

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried fruit, or other add-ins (see below)
1 lemon, zested
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in dried fruit and about 1 tsp. lemon zest (I prefer to eyeball it, zesting about one third of the lemon). Add heavy whipping cream and stir until moistened. (I like using a stand mixer to ensure all dough has been coated.)

2. Knead dough on floured surface, being sure to not overwork or dry out the dough––it should still be somewhat elastic, pliable, but smooth. Divide dough in half, and set one lump aside. 

3. Roll first half of dough into a circle approximately 8 inches in diameter, and 1/2 inch thick. Cut into six wedges. 

4. Arrange separated on a stone wheel, or greased baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. 

5. Zest the remaining lemon rind (2/3) and combine with 2 tablespoons sugar. Sprinkle half of  mixture over scones. 

Bake for 15 minutes. Repeat steps 3-5 on the other half of the dough, baking individually in two batches.


1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup cream cheese or sour cream at room temperature (I prefer cream cheese for a richer, thicker cream.)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon confectioners sugar

Blend until thick and smooth. Refrigerate. 

2/3 cup dried apricots + 1 lemon for zesting
3/4 cup shredded coconut + 1/2 chopped bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate + 1 orange zesting
3/4 cup blueberry craisins + 1/2 cup chopped white chocolate + 1 lemon for zesting

*Any citrus zest should be zested into the scone mixture and also sprinkled with sugar on top of scones. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Small Family

Small family grows!

As you know, I have an identical twin sister (Abby) who also happens to be my only sister, my only sibling. So it has just been the two of us rattling around the house with our parents. Our little family of four for two decades.

Mom's father and sister are both deceased, but her mom, our Grandma Esther is a resilient woman at 98 and a half years old. She's remarkable. So my mom is also from a small family.

Dad has one brother and a set of parents, naturally. I am embarrassingly out of touch with my cousin, Uncle, and that entire side of the family.

So let's count. My nuclear family: 4, Extended family: 5 (somewhat generous considering closeness.)

And yet I don't woefully mourn the size of our small, small family. Friends are amazed, acquaintances are confused that I don't regularly yearn for more siblings, more cousins, etc., etc. The honest truth of it is, I don't know any different. This is my normal. I can't imagine spending a week at some lake with a million cousins and a handful of chatty aunts!

Because in their place, we've created a huge family. Hugely close, hugely personal, hugely extended and untraditional.

My "Auntie Sandy" and "Uncle Kevin" are close family friends with vibrant children, who also have brilliant little children. They've taken me to dance class, picked me up from work, and have made ice-cream with us at 9:00 while doodling on Lisa Frank notepads.

So the small family grows.

My amazing God-parents have four kids ranging from 27 to 13, all of whom are beautiful, hilarious, are true siblings to Abby and me. And their family? Enormous. We do Thanksgiving together, cramming at least thirty people into a modest Midwest home. We vacation as one big family, we share "family jokes," because we are family.

And by now, this uniquely intimate family of four has grown tenfold. Yes, our everyday home life is shared between four people, incredibly close, very in sync. Arguments do not erupt over television channels; choreographing schedules is a basic line dance, uncomplicated, including everyone at everyone's events. Young ones are not teased about childish crushes, and older kids are not harassed by boogers.

It's quite nice, you know. Quiet at times, and lonely when both Abby and I left for college in tandem. But it's as though we've had a modified single-child experience. And siblings? I have a wonderfully rich sibling relationship with my "god-brothers/sisters" that allows me to go home once I've had enough sword fighting.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pesto Cubes

As the summer wanes (although this crazy heat insinuates otherwise) Abby and I are preparing for another busy, wonderful school year. At the top of our list is grocery shopping, with non-perishables being the frontrunner. Yes, pasta noodles are a must, but what to do about sauce, which usually comes in such large amounts and perishes before you use it?

Well, my genius roommate, McKenna (aka Master-Chef/Baker), solved our problem with a surprisingly simple solution. Before the school year, make a batch of pasta sauce––our favorite is pesto––and freeze them in ice cube trays!

Each cube is is perfect for one small serving of pasta, and is easily thawed in the refrigerator. The rest stay fresh in the freezer, while you stay fret-free of expired sauce lurking in the pantry. Brilliant!

I used this delicious spinach-basil pesto recipe from the August/September Taste of Home.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Accessory Specs

My beautiful sister, Abby, with her cool (real) frames.

Would you wear non-prescription glasses? I've worn glasses since third grade, as has every family member. My mom and dad, though, have both undergone LASIK eye surgery, which now allows them to swim with their eyes open and read the alarm clock the minute they open their eyes!

Mom especially emphasizes how it changed her life, how liberating it was to not wear glasses or contacts. (I still remember her flushing down her lenses!) But one of my favorite accessories is my glasses. I love trying on different frames, and Abby says she dreams of having a small "glasses closet" to switch up her style! 

If I were to ever get LASIK eye surgery, I'd still be tempted to wear glasses without prescription lenses on the days I feel like mixing it up. Bottom line, if you've never needed glasses, it's pretty silly; if you wear glasses, get tons of frames; if you once wore glasses, go for it! Who will ever know?

Would you wear fake frames?

P.S. My eyesight is so poor, I can only get lenses made through my regular optometrist  However, my friend is obsessed with her Warby Parkers!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Work Friends

Ultimate work friends.

When I come home over the summer and vacations I also return to my hometown job. I get to see all my work friends, and we chat away about how the last few months have been. But I rarely hang with these friends outside the workplace; we don't text while I'm away, nor do we make any efforts to truly stay in touch.

Recently, our managers organized a "team bowling night" to ignite the get-to-know-you vibe in all of us. We were told to not talk about work ––at all!

Example: I know who is good at what at work, I know everyone's name, I know the songs on our playlist they love and which they hate. But I don't know them exactly.

As of a few weeks ago I decided to buckle down and be "real friends" with some of my "work friends," which has been a delight! I get to ask them great stuff when I go into work, keeping our job light. Yeah, we deal with our tasks, but we also get to chat about life, family, upcoming plans. It's a blast to get to know your co-workers in a new light.

I'm curious? Do you hang with friends outside of work? If you were to sit down with them, would you immediately talk about work, or would you both talk about your personal lives? 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pale Nails

It feels as though we are already done with summer, and transitioning into fall! The mornings are very cool, our days don't pass 75 degrees, and I've spotted a few of leaves on the ground! During the summer, I go for fiery shades of pinks and oranges, with the occasional lime green. But fall requires a more subdue palate, refined to deep purples, taupes, and matte navy. Naturally, this slow transition is a mind-bender for me.

My good friend surprised me with a little gift the other day: a bottle from OPI's German Collection (with which I had been unashamedly obsessed.) "My Very First Knockwurst," a beautiful pale, almost flesh tone pink. It's the ultimate summer to autumn color! Pale like a peony, subtle like fall morning.

What are your favorite nail colors? Do you prefer to change the selection seasonally, or do you have a select three or four you constantly rely on?

P. S. Gilded nails; galaxy nails, white nails

Photo via @sarahcarlsonetc Instagram

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to Pin Like an Expert

Last week we deemed the fabulously creative Baba Souk an expert pinner! I'm always amazed at how wonderfully curated some Pinterest accounts are, and there is a little bit of strategy to making those stunning collections! Here are a four things I've picked up along the way:

1. Don't be afraid to pin the obscure. Those images that make you pause, because they're so strange and so beautiful.

2. Following a basic color palate, or intensity is supreme. Bri Emery from Design Love Fest is great at this! Just look at these gorgeous color stories!

3. There's no need to pin only one board at a time. In fact, giving your pinning variety makes it interesting and surprising for followers. That color story from above will give it cohesion. So take some liberties and pin artwork, clothing, nature, animals, and even food. The light and color of the photos will give it sense.

4. Pin vertically! Portrait photos will give your account a linear look, encouraging followers to scroll through. It also is visually more please, as they tend to show up larger on Pinterest, while landscape photos can look shrunken.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tales from Online Shopping

I recently ordered a pair of sneakers for our family trip to walking-worthy Chicago. From all the blogs, I'd decided these were a pretty fabulous option next to my ratty Converse. (Plus, that white toe-cap always made my foot look long and ski-like!)

Long story short, these beautiful shoes arrived, and to my dismay one rivet popped right off! After sending them back I patiently awaited my replacement and pondered online shopping.

Thoughts on online shopping:

1. Shoes, shirts, pants; you name it! It needs to be tried on before being purchased! Reviews aren't as helpful as they seem. Everyone is different.

2. Shipping rates are astronomical! So many sites require a minimum of about $75 for free shipping, enticing you to buy more than you wanted. (P.S. Piperlime has free shipping and returns always!)

3. Delivery dates are pretty accurate, but when it's suddenly several days late the anticipation gets to be annoying.

4. Where's the people? Sure, some sites have those pop-up windows for chatting with an online representative. However, I really prefer to talk with a person in a store. They are experts on the clothes, so they'll be able to help you with dressing for your specific body type, budget, fabric care, etc.

5. A big bonus for online shopping, though: it's pretty convenient. You can shop in your PJs on a girls' night, quick order a secret birthday present for a family member, and compare prices efficiently.

A lot of pros and cons with online shopping. What's your consensus? I generally like it just fine, but there have been several times when I've had to send it back because of wrong size or item sent, defective product, or ill-fitting clothing. In the end, is it worth it the "home convenience" or should you just drive the five minutes to the mall in jeans instead of sweats?

Photo via @sarahcarlsonetc Instagram

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Driving and Cities

Do you live in a big city and still drive? I know a lot of people in NYC don't drive, and even don't own a car, because public transportation is so great. Likewise, I know buses, taxis, and walking are popular in Chicago. My first two years at college, I relied on walking and buses to get around the Twin Cities; this can be somewhat difficult, though, since it can take an hour with connecting stops to get from campus to Grand Ave.

Abby and I have talked about brining a vehicle to the cities. This way we could actually buy ice cream at the grocery store! We could get two gallons of milk, frozen pizzas, etc. It would also be nice so we could go wherever, whenever!

But I have some reservations. First off, our vehicle (which currently is at our parent's house) is quite large. It feels powerful on the interstate, but is a beast to park. Moreover, it guzzles gas. Not the most ideal situation for a tight-fisted college student. When we add up insurance, gas, parking (meters are everywhere in the cities!), along with the anxiety of driving in the cities, it feels overwhelming!

Do you have any advice for driving in big cities? Everything is so incredibly fast-paced, close quarters, and generally confusing! Obviously, it will take practice, but I would love you input! Is a car a pro or con in big cities?

Photo via Flickr

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

{Summer Reads}...The Round House

I just finished reading The Round House by Louise Erdrich this morning; I've been going through it in stages for an online book discussion for by campus job training, but I had to read ahead late into last night. I even woke up early to finish the last couple pages that became a haze in my heavy-lidded late night read.

I first encountered Louise Erdrich in my American Indian literature class at the university, and was stunned by her beautiful story weaving in Tracks. (This is also an incredible book that I advise you to seek out.) Erdrich is a Minnesota native, and member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, part of Anishinaabe. She owns an independent book store, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, which I'm dying to visit, and has an incredible written legacy. She has written over twelve novels, several books of poetry, and children's literature.

The Round House is a heart-breaking, thrilling, and delicate story of Joe, a young boy living on a reservation in North Dakota. The novel begins with a shattering family tragedy, shrouded in mystery; the search for truth and justice carry the rest of the novel, as readers see true family, real emotion, and the rapid maturation of a young boy burdened by sorrow and frustration.

Seriously, this is a must read! It's haunting, nail-bitting, and humorous.

Photo via

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Playing Catch Up

I have a habit of using my days of to catch up on things. I'm by no means a procrastinator; in fact, I'm a bit of stickler when it comes to deadlines. But my days off from work are not always the weekend, so I use days like today to do things that I've missed. Here's what I'm catching up on today:

1) The Newsroom. So good, to dramatic, so Sorkin.

2) Paperwork (yuck!) for the upcoming school year. I got an email today that one of my advisors was missing some forms. Time to get out my favorite blue pen and fill out those forms!

3) Online job training. This is by far the weirdest thing I've ever done. My campus job this year is a sort of mentorship program for incoming freshman. But since most people live away from campus, or even Minnesota in the summer as we prepare, everything is virtual. It's pretty interesting. I'll be popping out my contacts and reading several interesting articles.

4) Reading for fun. I'm still on Changing My Mind, which is turning out to one my favorite reads in a long time. Zadie Smith is the bomb.

5) Course book inventory. I've ordered a ton of textbooks, but seriously have no idea what I have and what I still need. Amazon, watch out!

Photo via 

Monday, August 5, 2013

{Expert Pinner}...Baba Souk

{Pins from board "Secret Garden"}

Stephanie, contributor to Design Love Fest and curator of Baba Souk is seriously an expert pinner. Her boards are meticulously organized, inspiring, and vastly diverse. Almost every time I go on Pinterest, I feel mesmerized by the beautiful things she finds. Not only does she have great taste in what she pins; her pinning streaks usually have little themes, beautifully orchestrated. You'll see these subtle themes and changes by looking at her pin boards.
{The glorious "Gold Digger" board}

{Wanna party? "Fiesta" has got you covered}