Monday, March 31

under the sea

Well, it's Monday again and since this past weekend was super weird at parts and I didn't take any photos not of food, let's talk about last weekend. Though, you can expect a full account of Friday evening sometime in the near future.

Last weekend, JD and I took a trip out to the aquarium. I hadn't been there in ages, since my cousin Matthew was little. All I remembered of it was the rope lined bridge near the entrance and a petting tank that wasn't in the same spot in my memory. Who knows, I may have combined features of different aquariums.

On the other side of the bridge, when you first walk in they had a tank set up with most of the fish from Finding Nemo. It was quite popular. All of the kids had to stop and point them all out. I'm not going gloss over it, I did the same thing and JD teased me for it.

Strollers and screaming aside, well expected on a Saturday, I really enjoyed our visit. Especially the outdoor exhibits. The penguins and otters were so cute.

Cue the photos...

I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

Thursday, March 27

a very casual weekend look

 j. crew scarf (old) . converse shoes . mulberry handbag

I wore this outfit this past weekend when it was a bit warmer out. It feels like I have been waiting forever to be able to wear this jacket, though I did wear it to the airport when we went to Tortola. My mistake. It was warm enough when we left, not when we landed. Winter had finally arrived. I really love it and can't wait to get more use out of it this Spring. 

We did a lot of errand running, so I opted for comfort, throwing on my favorite pair of jeans, a simple white sweater, that unfortunately leaves a trail of fuzz in it's wake, and a blue polka dot scarf that is completely obscuring my sweater in these photos. 

And now, here is a bonus outtake featuring Mischa, judging. As if I don't already feel silly whenever I (awkwardly) pose for outfit photos. 

Wednesday, March 26

coral and cropped


This morning as I skimmed photos on my intsagram feed, a familiar sight popped up. Transparent blue water lapping at a pale sandy beach, lined with palms. A slanted hill, covered in green off in the distance. The sea breaks over the jagged rocks at the tip. The view from the top of the hill by the villa in Tortola, Long Bay beach. This place...
And so though the wind is howling outside my window as I type, I am thinking warm, happy thoughts this afternoon. 

I am loving the coral color of this Proenza Schouler handbag and the navy chevron stripes on this Joie skirt (ps. it's on sale!). I think they would compliment each other nicely. I would pair with a white cropped top, matching coral nail polish, and my favorite booties.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, March 25

turkish delight bars

I remember way back when I first starting cooking with chocolate, thinking it would be so difficult. I was a bit intimidated by the thought of it, but as it turned out, it was quiet simple. Candy is a whole other story. My pastry chef cousin gave me a pretty cookbook for Christmas and of all the delicious looking macarons and cookie and cake confections I selected the most complicated recipe to try first. It's not a two person job by any means, but I was thankful for JD's help, especially with the gelatin / boiling sugar parts. The recipe was clearly written for someone who had done this sort of this before. I had to read the directions several times and redo the gelatin because it was out of order.

Ingredients

For the base:
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/3 cup self rising flour, sifted

For the Turkish delight:
4 teaspoons of gelatin (the equivalent of two packets of Knox gelatin)
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup water, extra
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons rosewater
red food coloring
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

To Make:
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 12 inch pan and line with parchment paper, letting an inch or two hang over the sides. I ended up using a 9 x 13 inch pan as I didn't have the proper size on hand. It worked fine, but the bars came out a little thiner than preferred. 

With an electric mixer, beat butter, superfine sugar, and extract until combined. 
Stir in sifted flours. Press mixture evenly over the base of the pan. Lightly rake a fork over the surface and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

Now comes the tricky part.

Reserve one tablespoon of the "extra" water. 

In a medium saucepan over low heat, stir the extra water (minus one tablespoon) and white sugar together, without boiling, until it dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to a boil and let it be, uncovered, without stirring until it reaches a temperature of 240°F. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes without stirring, regulating the heat to maintain a temperature of 240°F. Remove from heat.

*A candy thermometer is recommended as it reads those higher temperatures, but we ended up using a regular meat thermometer. The dial will continue to go around, you just need to eye where the marker should be. 

Stand a small heatproof container in a small saucepan of simmering water. 

In the small heatproof container, add the two tablespoons of water (note: this is not the "extra" water). Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and stir until it dissolves. 

*We used a measuring cup for this part and it worked out much better than our first attempt with a larger bowl. 

In a separate bowl, blend cornstarch with the reserved 1 tablespoon of "extra" water, gelatin mixture, rosewater, and a few drops of red food coloring until smooth. Stir into the sugar mixture and return it to heat, a simmer. Stir for about 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes opaque. 

Next, you strain the mixture over the bar base. This is important because there will be quite a bit of undesirable clumpy things that you wouldn't want on the bars. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours or overnight. Use a hot wet knife to cut the bars as the candy will be difficult to cut otherwise. 

Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and enjoy!

This recipe makes approximated 24 bars. The recipe recommends storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

The bars came out pretty good if I do say so myself. JD and my mother liked them as well. Though, as previously mentioned, it would have been nicer had the candy layer been a little thicker. Candy is still intimidating, but I did learn a good deal. It will be much easier the next time I make them.

Monday, March 24

catch up | insta-weekend

Hello blog world, and happy Monday.

Last week was a rough one. I spent most of it sick in bed. It was just one thing after another. As soon as one symptom dissipated, another came along. I won't drag you through all of the details because that would be disgusting. I was lucky enough to go all winter without a single cold and then bam, a box of tissues in one day. 

We took it easy over the weekend, staying in to watch American Hustle on Friday, and paid a visit to the aquarium on Saturday. Yesterday was filled with odd jobs and turkish delight bars. Recipe to follow sometime this week.

Since we're catching up, here are a few photos from the weekend. 

On Friday I gave Mischa a bath since I was finally feeling well enough. Bath time is never an easy task with this dog, though I must say she is getting better. I said nothing to her, but she knew it was coming. The went and hid the moment she saw me take her brush out. Afterwards, all clean and dry, she was happy again and showed off her shiny, fluffy hair, which could use a trim.
"She'll never find me here, I'm invisible."
"I look good."
"... so good, you should give me a cookie."
Pretty farmland on our drive out to the aquarium.
Our Saturday evening baking experiment. 
And the secret friends playing follow the leader in the yard. 

And that was my weekend. I hope you enjoyed yours!

Thursday, March 13

spring things


How sweet is this dress from Topshop? The print reminds me of a Joie dress from last year that I loved, but at a more affordable price. It has finally been warming up and although I'm currently feeling bit under the weather, I cannot wait to break out my spring dresses and sandals again, and my new leather jacket that I've been waiting to wear for what feels like ages. I love the laser cutout details on these sandals, they're definitely something you could pair with anything and everything. 

Wednesday, March 12

ski weekend

This past weekend JD and I and some friends went up to Vermont for a ski weekend. The trip wasn't exactly what we had originally planned it to be, but I got to make jiffy pop for the first time and JD re-watched a couple episodes of Parks & Rec with me so that was nice. I can tell you that it will not be happening again, the trip, not the parks watching. I think he's starting to get hooked. With that group, things never quite go as planned. There's lots of bailing all around, all the time, for everything. It's frustrating. I'm always shocked when they all show up for weddings.

I have been neglecting my camera and subsequently didn't take very many photos. So here is a very limited photo recap of the weekend.
 This little guy made a home in the snow piled on top of what is in warmer days, a flower box.
The boys were convinced that eight people definitely needed this much bread and that it would all be gone by the end of the weekend. You can't see it, but the bread box is filled with english muffins. They were in fact, incorrect. No one needs that much bread.
 JD and I went out to dinner at a cute inn that we visited on last years trip but it ended up being very disappointing. I snapped this picture before dinner. We couldn't leave fast enough afterwards.
 Everyone decided to leave a day early, so JD and I made breakfast for dinner in effort to clean out the fridge a bit so we wouldn't have to carry so much of it home with us. It was wonderful.
Please excuse my very messy hair. I had no idea that giant bump was there until after JD took this picture. As you can tell, I was very excited about the jiffy pop.

And that about sums it up... and it's Wednesday already.

Wednesday, March 5

getaway


This weekend I'll be heading up to Vermont for some skiing with friends. I haven't started thinking about what I'm going to pack just yet, but it will most likely be an assortment of cozy sweaters and my favorite smart wool socks, they're so warm! Admittedly, I'm still a bit ahead of the weather, but I think this outfit is much more wearable than last week's all white ensemble. 

I'm really liking the dark wash of this chambray shirt from J. Crew. It would pair nicely with light beige or white pants and a colorful statement necklace. I also love this weekend bag. I've been looking for one for ages and this one is near perfect. 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 4

haircuts

It's that time of the year again. I've got that itch to cut my hair. Though, I most likely will not go through with it. You see, every now and then I decide I need a change. My hair has gotten very long recently, to a length I've wanted it to be for years, and it's looking a little tired. The unintentional ombré has grown out and lightened enough that I'm thinking a nice chop would do me well. 

Backstory: A couple of years ago after experimenting with the summery auburn shades of my youth, I called it quits for the sake of healthier hair and went back to brown. I've since been waiting for it to grow out and as time took it's toll the dye faded and my strands went from chestnut to gold (though the ends have been photographing more on the red side). I got very lucky that it was trendy to have ombré hair but I've never been a fan of it. So why did I stick with a look I wasn't fond of, you ask? I did so much damage to my hair that I don't plan on dying it again until I need to. That and I didn't/don't mind it. It's just not something I would have chosen. 

Now that the grown out portion is finally at my shoulders, I have the opportunity for a fresh start, if you will, with monotone hair. Or, I can keep it long and keep trimming off the gold bits until it's all gone. Decisions, decisions.

Zooey Deschanel and Amanda Seyfried both have the most beautiful hair and make me want keep my hair long forever.

But I love the long bob cut. It's one of my favorite haircuts I've had and the one I always think of when when I want to make a change. It's timeless and flattering and looks lovely on Charlize Theron and Fearne Cotton. 

I suppose I've got some thinking to do.. What do you think?

Monday, March 3

last show

The other day JD pointed something out that I found very intriguing. We were talking about improv and the difficulties I was having in class getting boxed out by all of the "big personalities" the "actors" tote along with them. 

I'm a big fan of following the rules. I like to practice good etiquette and pride myself on being appropriate. I was taught that if someone wipes a scene they have dibs on the next one. If they don't have an idea they'll rejoin the back line and it's anyone's game. Whoever steps out first gets to initiate. And so on... 

He pointed out that following the rules only works if everyone else is following them too. And no one in my class liked to follow the rules.

At my final show on Saturday I was boxed out, literally stepped on twice, and denied speaking privileges in the second group game, which should probably be in quotations since the opposite of the game was attempted. Frustrated doesn't even begin to cover it. 

At one point I took two full steps out to initiate a scene and the two from the prior decided to hug directly in front of me, blocking my entrance  Another stood in front of me to bow at the end of the show. According to JD, I made exasperated hand gestures after each incident, hands low and outstretched, palms facing up as if to say "wtf?".

The show was horrible. I'm not going to sugar coat it. It was. Games were not played, explored, or remotely clear. Walk ons only muddled and added to the confusion. And everyone said "NO" to any idea presented. My one thing, my group game, no one wanted to play it, which was very disappointing, mostly because I have been waiting for the excuse to behave like Grace Kelly's Tracy Lord from High Society since I first stepped onto the premises last March. 

Please do watch the following scene if you have the time, it's hilarious and brilliant and I can recite the whole thing word for word. 

Basically, my polite rule following in the grand scheme of this class ended up causing me more harm than good. I am by no means saying that ignoring rules is a good thing, but instead that it's not a fair fight if only one person is fighting fair and the others aren't. It's like bringing a hand grenade to a water balloon fight. I needed to be much more aggressive, but it wasn't an easy task by any measure with so many human bulldozers present. 

In improv and in life you can't wait around for things to happen, it doesn't work like that. Things rarely just "fall into place" if you sit back and do nothing. You have to go out and make things happen for yourself. 

I really hate to say such negative things. This may be one of those posts that comes down. And I don't know what comes next. We'll see in a couple of weeks. Right now, I'm just very disappointed.