Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Balcony Day Dreaming

Ever since Jon and I moved out of my in-laws house in 2012, I've longed for an deck/outdoor space to enjoy a meal or cup of coffee in. In our last apartment (we rented the first floor of a 2 family home), there was a small yard but the only place sturdy enough to sit with a chair was in our driveway-not exactly my dream locale.

When we were deciding wether or not to move forward with our new place, Jon asked what my favorite feature of the apartment was and I immediately said, "the deck". Given how updated and different our new place is from our old, he was taken aback by my response (he was most excited for the open concept, updated kitchen #surprise).

Since moving in on Jan 22 (the day before the 2016 Snowpocalypse), I've been back and forth to Ikea weekly picking up new furniture and accents for the new place-happily we are almost done!

You may have seen this Instagram post where I shared my new favorite tome/magazine. For $7.99 it costs less than many high end fashion mags, but it has the feel of a coffee table book and features gorgeous shots of real homes using Ikea products. On my last trip to the store, I decided that I would also pick up another one of these books titled, "Step In. Step Out.", and I did just last night!

This book details over 29 outdoor spaces, both large and small, and I am feeling SUPER inspired to dress up our little balcony for the warmer months. I'm so excited for Sunday morning pancakes on the balcony in our pjs or Tuesday night dinners with a glass of wine after work-you can bet that you'll see such meals chronicled on Instagram immediately!

I've decided to go with a "French Bistro" theme for the balcony (cue Jon rolling his eyes), which could not be more different from our "Modern Bachelor" indoor aesthetic. Keep reading for the pieces I'm planning to dress up the balcony with-all of which are super afforable!

If you have any suggestions, I'm open to hear them!! Also, does anyone have a good crepe recipe??

You can also follow some of my more elaborate outdoor ideas on this Pinterest board!

My Balcony Bistro

Friday, February 5, 2016

Semi Homemade Brownie Donuts

I'm feeling both accomplished and self congratulatory when I tell you that I've recently had a genius thought. I've developed my own semi-homemade lazy person's guide to making brownie donuts.

Let me set the scene for ya. 

Last Thursday (my late night at work), I ran to the market for a few last minute ingredients for dinner (baked sweet potato flautas-yum) and happened to grab a box of extra fudge brownie mix. As if the thought of Thursday night "no-reason" brownies isn't enough to make you happy, I thought that I should bake them in a donut pan that I already own. 

In the past, I've made from scratch vanilla bean donuts-my takeaway was though delicious, they were time consuming and vanilla beans are expensive ($20 for 3 measly beans). So I haven't busted my donut pan out in well over a year and a half. I was reacquainted with my pan while packing it up for our move a few weeks ago and was struck with the thought that I should make another batch of donuts in the near future. 

So, I've had donuts in the back of my mind, and a sweet tooth for just about 27 years and on Thursday, the stars aligned and I baked up some brownies shaped like donuts!

PS. Here is the donut pan that I have and love for under $10! 

Keep reading for the method that brought about these wonderful little creations! 

  1. I mixed up my brownie batter following the instructions on the back of the box, opting for the "Fudgy Brownie" recipe.
  2. I lightly sprayed my donut pan with cooking spray to ensure no removal issues when I was ready to eat these babies. 
  3. I used the brownie box to hold a gallon sized Ziploc bag and poured my batter into the bag, thus creating a disposable pastry bag. 
  4. I snipped off one corner of the bag and carefully piped batter into each donut well. 
  5. I then used a small spoon to smooth the batter into the well, ensuring it stayed about even with the walls of the pan. 
  6. The box suggested 35-38 mins at 325 for a small brownie pan so I baked mine for about 20 mins at 325 in my toaster oven (temps/time will vary based on your oven/toaster oven). I always err on the shorter baking side and then leave my goods in longer if needed. 
  7. I tested the brownies with a toothpick and when it came out clean, I knew they were ready to cool and eat! 
  8. Lastly, if you buy the Duncan Hines Double Fudge brownie mix, they provide a nice little packet of God knows what fudge drizzle that you can use to ice your donuts. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Style Crush: Olivia Palermo

Fun Story: Back in 2011 when I worked for Hanky Panky (HP) as a planning analyst, I attended a launch party for the brand. One of the founders of HP asked me to go talk to Olivia Palermo who was also in attendance because she (founder) did not know who Olivia was. To be completely honest, at that point in my life, I had never heard of OP either. I went over to say hi, to which she kindly responded and made small talk. IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN BACK THEN. Now, I'd  love to see her and have a quick chat! But at least we spoke once!

That back story leads me to today's post, my recent obsession with her. Her style skews more ladylike and feminine than I usually find myself drawn to, but I can't resist a pretty face with good style and a love for dogs. I admire how polished she always looks and that she isn't afraid to wear color and flat shoes! I always admire women of fashion that style great outfits featuring flat shoes #realistic.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 OP outfits followed by OP inspired accessories that I'm dreaming about!






Monday, February 1, 2016

How I Maintain My Glow

When I arrive home from work, after kissing my husband and pups, I almost immediately head to the bathroom to remove my makeup (my favorite wipes are e.l.f.'s Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes). I wear makeup everyday that I'm expected to look polished and presentable (aka most days) and on my days off and Sunday I always opt to go makeup free if possible. For me, going without makeup requires that I keep my skin in tip top condition, which requires a regular commitment to skincare and beauty products that keep me glowing.

Over the past few years, I've begun to really shift my focus from covering up acne and imperfections towards protecting and embracing the skin that I'm in. I now wear SPF 30 moisturizer every day, take off my makeup daily (I am absolutely religious about this step in my process), use a face mask and scrub 1-2 times weekly, and apply facial and eye oils nightly before bed (another one I'm religious about).

My husband, and previous travel companions can attest to how serious I am about staying hydrated and keeping my skin alight. I'm prone to fleeting fits of obsession, but taking care of my skin has become a consistent obsession of mine and sharing my routine has become a fun project for me, I'll tell anyone who will listen.

Keep reading for my skincare and lifestyle picks that keep me feeling beautiful and healthy, while maintaining my inner glow!

The foundation of my beauty routine is a stand-by facial wash, and I am still using this one by Promise Organic. [read more here
Once my current face wash runs out, I'm going to give Glossier's Milky Jelly cleanser a try, I'm very intrigued! 

I love to indulge in a face mask 1-2 times per week. I've been alternating between Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask and Glossier's Mega Greens Galaxy Pack and Moisturizing Moon Mask. 

My nighttime routine ALWAYS consists of a couple drops of this Hana Eye Oil followed by 4 pumps of my absolute favorite Aura Cacia facial oil Last but not least, I add a liberal squeeze of Glossier's Balm Dotcom to my lips!

As someone who suffers from eczema, I am very serious about moisturizing. At times, my face feels dry after washing and/or removing my makeup and toners have become my answer to that. I love Lush's Tea Tree Water for when my skin is breaking out or feeling a bit clogged. Caru's Neroli + Immortelle toner is perfect for after working out, in the morning, and in the warmer months. I also love Vichy's Eau Thermale spray for freshening up, especially when flying. 

In addition to caring for my skin on the outside, I take a few steps to enhance my inner glow. Everyday I take a (gummy) multi vitamin as well as (a gummy) B12. ( I love gummy candies and taking gummy vites ensures that I actually do so.)

Aside from my gummy vites, I often make a body scrub from almond oil and granulated sugar (1 part oil to 2 parts sugar). 

Another favorite routine of mine is dry brushing. You can read more about it here

What I'm about to say is not revolutionary. When I'm on my game and drinking tons of water, my skin is 100 times clearer and more radiant. I try to drink 3-4 liters of seltzer a day, if I'm home all day, it's usually more. I'm not a huge fan of flat water, so I use my SodaStream to make seltzer from filtered water and I tell myself that it's better than nothing!