Last night the gracious ladies of BeStyled, a blow dry bar in Chestnut Hill, invited a group of us from Boston Bloggers to have an evening of pampering — and what better way to shake off a mid-week slump than with blow-outs, make up styling, champagne and blogger chatter, right? I love going to get my hair done, and my stylist Kelly did such a great job of giving me some volume and movement. I feel so relaxed when I’m getting it washed and dried, and it’s even more fun to do it with a group of girlfriends — we took over the salon and had a blast!
Note: BeStyled gifted all of us free blow outs at their salon. All opinions are my own.
Just what I needed, another adorable catalog to pop up in my mailbox, right? I’m currently being tempted by new-to-me retailer Joules USA with all of their uber-preppy striped clothing. From cozy cowl-necked sweatshirts and rugby shirts, to cheery wellies, I’m absolutely smitten. And that fluffy red vest with striped lining just wants to come to home with me! I need it, right?
One of my best girlfriends has a birthday coming up, and we have a mutual passion for donuts — I wouldn’t be exaggerating by saying we exchange at least 2-3 emails a week about donuts. Which is why I thought it was completely acceptable to make a cake, and then add donuts on top of it for her birthday celebration this weekend. Conveniently, I had recently purchase a mini-donut pan, and followed the recipe that came with the pan (from Williams-Sonoma). They were surprisingly simple to make and totally jazzed up my box-mix cake I made for the occasion. So remember: the next time you’re making a three layer chocolate-chocolate cake and you ask yourself “Is this enough?” the answer is no, no it’s not enough, and then add donuts on top of that cake.
This summer when we were on our cross-country honeymoon road trip, we stopped at a restaurant in Cleveland where I promptly demolished my bridal diet by ordering the baked mac and cheese. When the dish came out the waiter stopped to point out some homemade applesauce accompanying the cheesy dish. All he asked was that I give it a try, dip the steaming hot pasta into the cool, sweet applesauce — he assured me it would change my life. And it did. It makes total sense, I’d heard of people eating a slice of sharp cheddar cheese with apple pie, but it just never occurred to me to try this combination before, but it was completely and totally delicious. So this week I made some macaroni and cheese and had to try making some homemade applesauce to go with it.
Let me tell you a little secret: making homemade applesauce is as easy as pie (you like that apple joke?). I peeled and cored 10 apples (a friendly farmer at our farmer’s market recommended using gravenstein apples, if you can find them.) and combined them with half a cup of apple cider, half a cup of brown sugar, one tablespoon of granulated sugar, and three cinnamon sticks. I put it in our crock-pot on high for 4 hours, removing the cinnamon sticks after the first hour, and stirring occasionally. And that’s it, simple as that! Make sure to serve the applesauce cold — I’m convinced the difference in temperature is just as important as the balance of the flavors.
It’s been a busy week, and I can’t believe how quickly it got away from me! So in lieu of anything groundbreaking over here, I’m opting to share a few pretty little things that have caught my eye lately. I love the punny nature of the east coast coasters, and for some reason the bunny ear clock gives me a giggle too. I’m loving the brassy accents on that decanter (hello, from target! what a steal!) and the cute cheese knives and spare change dish. The Kate Spade holiday cards were too cute to pass up, I ordered a box to use for various celebrations, and plan to frame one of them to hang above my new bar cart!
I have a little Fall-inspired cocktail to share today as we gear up for the weekend: Apple Cider Sangria. I made this last weekend and it delicious — I love creating a pitcher of pre-made drinks when having friends over, it’s nice to have something already prepared so you can dive right into the party! To make the sangria, I chopped up two small apples, a half an orange, a few slices of lemon, and some cinnamon sticks and poured a bottle of red wine over the top. I let the red wine soak in the fruit overnight, and right before it’s ready to be served, I poured in a can and a half of hard apple cider (I used Down East cider — one of my favorites and totally delicious on its own — which is why I finished the other half of the second while making dinner!). Be sure to scoop out some of the fruit into your glass when you serve it — cheers!
Guys, is there anything better than a cheese plate? I’m loving the slate board we got as a wedding gift from my cousin, using chalk to mark the different plate components I think makes it so user-friendly, no more “hmm, I wonder what this cheese is?” guesses for our guests. I also got thrifty and used a leftover cardboard berry basket from the farmers market to hold some carb-y treats — eco-friendly and darn cute, don’t you think?
I tried my hand and some homemade pasta this weekend, and finally got a chance to use the pasta machine we got for our wedding — the process of making pasta seems so daunting at first, but it’s actually amazingly simple, and so worth the effort! I tried two different methods, the first was a classic all-purpose flour and eggs combination, and the second used an egg flour and water. I also tried two different fillings with the dough variations, one was a ricotta, parmesan, and Italian sausage stuffing that I served with a red sauce, and the other was a butternut squash with maple brown sugar that my in-laws brought home to me from Vermont — I served those with brown butter and toasted pine nuts. I preferred the egg flour for a stuffed pasta like this, and think the all-purpose flour works better for a cut pasta like fettucini, but overall: YUM. Luckily I made about a gazillion of each, so I will be enjoying leftovers all week!
This weekend we had big Saturday plans to go to Ikea and buy a new couch, but right before we left we checked the inventory online and saw that it was out of stock — bummer! So I was faced with a rare treat: a weekend day with zero plans. I decided to take advantage of our surprise day of freedom and threw a little impromptu dinner for friends. Since it was super last minute, I worked with what I had and re-purposed our table topper from our wedding, and some bright pink napkins from our rehearsal dinner, and then I finally broke out a few of our wedding shower presents, like my sea urchin salt and pepper shakers (I love them!), some Kate Spade candles, and a bunch of farmer’s market blooms — I was so happy with how it came out!