Month: April 2014

Homemade Pizza

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If I could pick only one food to eat for the rest of my life, pizza would definitely be a front runner. I blame it on being Italian, but in reality, it is just way too good not to love. I finally got around to making my own pizza from scratch – and (unfortunately) I think my addiction just grew exponentially. I used Emily Schuman’s recipe from her book, Cupcakes and Cashmereand it turned out amazing. It was fresh and delicious, and I’m sure will become a staple for summer meals on the porch.

Ingredients

3/4 c warm water (between 105 to 110 degrees F)

1 packet active dry yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra to coat crust

1 jar tomato sauce

2 c low moisture shredded mozzarella

2 garlic cloves, minced

fresh basil

Recipe

Pour warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle packet of yeast and sugar on top. Allow it to bubble up for a few minutes. Mix in flour, salt, and olive oil. Add water 1 tsp at a time until dough is right consistency (you don’t want it too sticky). Place dough on floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes. Place dough back in an olive oil coated bowl, cover with damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes to an hour (until dough has doubled in size).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Prep a baking sheet with either a sprinkle of cornmeal or baking spray.

Roll out dough onto floured surface into a circle. Coat with a thin layer of olive oil, then sprinkle minced garlic. Add desired amount of tomato sauce, and sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until bottom of crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, and garnish with fresh basil.

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Oui, Mon Cheri

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J.Crew Sweatshirt, Sugar Lips Shorts (old, similar here), J.Crew Belt (old, similar here), West Elm Clutch, J.Crew Necklace (sold out, similar here)Levity Pumps, ‘Tart Deco’ by Essie Nail Polish, ‘Devil’s Advocate’ by Essie Toe Polish 


It may have been because of the sudden increase in temperatures this past weekend, or because I watched one too many episodes of ‘Hart of Dixie’ where Zoe struts around in shorts and high heels, but I was certainly ready to bring my shorts out of my closet this weekend. To keep the look from looking either too summery or too dressed up, I paired it with a comfy lazy day sweatshirt and minimal make up for a Sunday morning coffee outing. The look is light and playful, and just about as comfy as can be.

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Photo Credit: Ryan Sides

Herb Garden

herbgardenAnother one of the things on my spring to-do list was to plant my own herb garden. Other than it bringing some life and color to my porch, I also wanted it for practical reasons. I am always guilty of buying a batch of basil only to use two leaves. So much goes to waste, and it happens entirely too often. I don’t have much of a green thumb, so as long as I can maintain my garden, it will be a great investment for me, and was a fun project to complete this past weekend. Here’s some tips to making your own herb garden at home.

Things you’ll need:

Herbs of choice

Planter or large pot

Soil

Wooden stakes

Black chalkboard paint + foam brush, and chalk

herb1Determine what types of plants you’d like (I went with what I cook with most, but you can choose based on scent, appearance, maintenance, etc). I selected basil, oregano, and parsley for all of my Italian cooking, and finished off with mint for fresh mojitos in the summer.

herb2Choose a planter that is deep enough to have plenty of room for the plants to grow. You’ll want to have lots of extra space in the soil for the roots to expand over time.

4.27.14HERBS-5Fill planter with soil. Divide into sections based on how many plants you have, and plan where each herb is going to go. Make a cavity one quadrant at a time (push the soil up and out, instead of compacting it to make the hole).herb4

Remove one plant at a time from its container, and pull apart its roots until they are dangling below. Place into prepped hole, and gently recover base of herb with soil. Repeat this process until all herbs are planted.

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Press soil down gently, and give  plants an abundance of water. It’s good to research what your specific plant needs, but herbs generally are best somewhere mostly shaded that receives afternoon sun.

herb3To make garden markers, paint two coats of chalkboard paint onto planter sticks, and label. If you’d like to make them more permanent, you can opt to use regular black and white paint instead.

herb6Stick markers and other fun things into your herb garden to make it your own. This website is a great resource for do’s and don’ts of maintaining your herb garden – such as giving it more water than you think it needs, and don’t start picking your herbs until they have matured some.herb7

Currently

oneyearanniversary

(Having a piece of celebratory cake)

One year ago today, I made the decision to start this blog. I didn’t necessarily know what it would turn into, or how long it would last, but I knew that it was something I had always wanted to do. This year has flown by, but looking back, I have so many great memories I can relive through this blog. It has been an amazing source of inspiration and a much needed outlet for me. I’m excited about how it’s grown this past year, and am looking forward to the years to come. Thank you to everyone for their support this past year – I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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(Easter brunch with the family at our favorite little cafe)

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(Pastel colored sunset at the cabin)

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(Continuing childhood traditions this past weekend)

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(A moment with my sweet little girl)

Celebration Cake

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In celebration of The M.A. Times’ first birthday tomorrow, I felt it was a perfect time to make my first multi-layer cake. While it’s certainly a longer, more drawn out process than baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies, it’s a lot of fun and the end product made me feel like I had accomplished something major. This recipe is amazing – it’s the best mix of moist and fluffy. The recipe below is for a plain vanilla cake with buttercream icing, but I added various amounts of pink food coloring to mine to give it a fun ombré effect.

Ingredients

1 c butter, softened

1/2 c vegetable shortening

3 c granulated sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

3 c all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c whole milk, room temperature

1/2 c buttermilk, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3 c confectioners sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat three 9″ banking pans with cooking spray.

Beat together butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add sugar one cup at a time, making sure each is incorporated prior to adding next cup. Once sugar is added, use same method with eggs – one at a time until completely mixed.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together both milks and vanilla extract. Alternate adding each to the butter and shortening mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour batter equally between pans. (If food coloring is desired, add in this step. Start with the lightest – add small amount of coloring and pour into pan. Add more food coloring, mix, and add to next pan. Add food coloring one last time, and pour into third pan.)

Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes, then cool completely on a cooling rack.

For icing: beat butter on high for about three minutes. Add in sifted confectioners sugar 1/2 c at a time, blending completely. After all sugar has been added, turn mixer up to highest speed for 10 seconds to increase fluff. Add in vanilla and salt and mix well.

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Laundry Room Makeover

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One of my self-challenges this season was to tackle one problem area in my house per weekend. This past weekend I attacked my laundry room – probably the most dreaded room in my house. Not only do I dislike how small and cramped it is, I also can not stand doing laundry. I re-vamped my space to make it more user-friendly and visually appealing. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I love doing laundry now, but I definitely do enjoy my new, cheerful work space. Here’s a few tips to improve your laundry room at home.

laundrybin

Have something that keeps your products organized. The space looks much more tidy and streamlined if all laundry products are tucked away in a bin. There are many options available for purchase, but I chose to make a cute, laundry-room appropriate bin. To make bin, buy an unfinished wooden bucket from a craft store. Next, paint two coats in the color of your choice. Stencil on letters (I used 1″ stencils). Let dry and install. It was a quick and easy 10 minute DIY, and adds tons of character to my space.

clothesline

Have somewhere to hang your clothes. For me, the simplest option was to install a clothesline. Many of my clothes require being hung to dry, and instead of storing and setting up a cumbersome drying rack every time I do laundry, I simply used 12 gauge aluminum jewelry wire and some hooks to install and indoor clothesline. Make sure hooks are very secure in wall, and pull wire as tight as possible before tying off.

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Make upgrades. Determine which products are most important to you, and treat yourself to something nice. For me, this was good smelling, visually appealing laundry products, and felt covered, coordinating hangers. The upgrades were small and fairly inexpensive, but make a huge difference to the space.

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Add decorative items. Just because a laundry room isn’t a typical place for artwork and decor doesn’t mean you can’t have a little bit of fun. Add a couple of pieces to bring some life to the room. I used a fake potted plant for some greenery, and an old piece of art that was still homeless from my move.

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Oversized Floral

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J.Crew Skirt, J.Crew Shirt, Cynthia Rowley Wedges, Vintage Bracelet, Catbird + B.P. Rings, Essie’s ‘A Crewed Interest’ Nail Polish, J.Crew Tote


I tried on this skirt an embarrassing number of times before finally taking the plunge. I kept trying it on with button-ups, navy shirts, striped shirts – anything that was as equally fashionable and feminine as this skirt. It wasn’t until my last try-on session, when I just threw it on with a white linen v-neck, that it finally felt right. I was so concerned about making the whole outfit a statement that I failed to realize sometimes pieces like this are better if you let them stand out on their own. This skirt is so bright and full that I found it worked best paired down with delicate jewels and nude wedges.

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Photo Credit: Ryan Sides