Life Lately | In the New Year

Here I am again after taking another 2 month blogging break. Because I always conveniently fall off the WordPress map during the winter months, I’m going to allocate all blame to hibernation. I have been sleeping more as of late, though sometimes it feel like not enough. That’s what a crazy work schedule plus forced upon night owl tendencies will do to ya.

So what’s been going on with me during my absence? Well, I’ve completed two Whole30s and did a few days of a third [Whole30]; made the most amazing Thanksgiving bird; had a glorious week in the Burgh with my mom; got all the pickle novelty gifts for Christmas; took a few hard falls on the ice/snow; whipped my hair back and forth on New Year’s; consumed more coffee than I ever thought possible for my low caffeine tolerance self; taught myself how to weave; cuddled the shit out of all the Murder House animals. Seriously. I’ve spent the last few months tangled in yarn with cats on my lap or shoulders, in my kitchen, or at Whole Foods. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Unless I could be animal free on a beach in Tulum.)

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Listening to… A whole bunch of Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis and Shannon and the Clams. I’ve had these two in my rotation for about a month. Perfect music to sing aloud to in your kitchen. Major emphasis on the loud part.

Regretting… I regret ever letting the cats on the table/kitchen counters. Both now pose as Sid and Nancy’s breakfast bar & prime nap location. I lose count how many times I have to throw Nance off the counter when trying to slice sweet potatoes. Luckily Sid is much more passive, and if you sing very loudly in a Louis Armstrong voice, she will book it for my bedroom. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Eating… Clean. Ugh, you know I hate saying that! But yeah, doing the whole30 a few times around has changed my diet. Mainly I’ve just cut out dairy, grains and legumes, and added sugar whenever possible. Brussels sprouts, eggs, Russian kale, coconut milk, bacon, and Kiku apples are my go-to’s. I’ve been living the paleo lifestyle except for when it’s too cold to cook and my sister and I binge on Thai or Chinese takeout. #NotWhole30 but who the fuck cares. Last Sunday I pre-gamed the Superbowl with almost an entire Papa John’s pizza. No regrets!

Wearing… All my sister’s clothes and too much JCrew. I attribute this to the above. Shopping not exclusively online is kind of fun again! Except I really prefer to just not when it comes to the mall. Still all about that all black errr’thang because I got two pairs of ripped black denim in a JCrew sale! Booyah!

Spending… Too much money at the yarn store.

Planning… A trip to Texas. I always insert <triptoTexas> in this spot. Hopefully In late April. I want to do NIOSA with my dad and then spend some quality time in Dallas with my best babes. And I want to get my cowgirl tattoo. Been saving that one for Denton.

Laughing… At everything Nancy does and at myself. Yeah right for thinking you were going to keep up your outdoor running routine in the dead of winter.

Dreaming… I want to be on a beach. I want to have something that resembles a tan. I want salty air and sand and sun. Whether it’s Mexico, the Jersey Shore, or the god-forsaken Gulf of Mexico, I will turn this dream into a reality this summer. Until then I guess I will just think warm thoughts.

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Whole 30 & About Fifty-Million Other Things

HI YALL! Can you believe October is almost over?? I figured I should squeeze in a post before the month comes to a close. I’ve been meaning to write up my Dutch Baby recipe for you all to enjoy, but that has somehow moved to the blogging backburner. Maybe tomorrow, after all it is another day!

In other news, I am on day 4 of the Whole 30 challenge and so far it isn’t much of a challenge. Sometimes I have dreams about cookies or cheesy pizza, but I always wake up right before I take that first bite. You go, subconscious! I am making it my personal mission over the net 30 days to bring to you…or the internet…or whoever, really, meals that are not only appealing to the taste buds, but also the eyeballs. I can only cringe when perusing the whole 30 hashtag on Instagram. Sorry MzFit_Momma or whoever, but your “plated” Jenny-O turkey slices and banana protein balls look like shit. and they don’t make this healthy lifestyle look appealing at all. I get not everyone is talented in the kitchen, or works a part time job, or has an iPhone 5-6, or even a camera….but come on. You take a selfie with your fake eyelashes on and matching PiNK gym attire, why not make what you’re putting into your body look as put together as what you are putting on it. I know this is sounding kind of ranty, but if i have to read one more basic ground turkey Pinterest recipe I am going to freak.

End rant.

And so the mission. I will be posting the occasional photo on my Instagram of meals, dishes, original recipes etc. If you would like the recipe, send me a DM or email and I will send it straight to you. I have been Facebook messaging recipes to a good friend and have found it a bit easier than photographing the process, editing said photos, and writing up a post. It’s something I enjoy doing, but since new cat Nancy knocked my camera off the kitchen table, I’m going for quality over quantity.

In other news, we got a new cat. She is fat and fluffy and black. Sid is her name and cuddling/peeing on piles of clothes is her game.

In other other news:

-I’ve been getting back into running.

-I haven’t washed my hair in two weeks.

-My friend Lauren and i are taking on Thanksgiving this year.

-Lauren also recently got engaged, so I am taking on her Thanksgiving week wedding shower!

-I really, REALLY, REALLY want to go the Texas Style Council 2015 conference. All of my favorite bloggers will be there and it’s CAMP THEME. Nuf said.

-Autumn is making me fall in love with Pittsburgh all over again.

-I’m also ready for this crazy winter. Bring on the snow.

-I’ve become quite good at dating.. and I also eat a lot of dates thanks to Lara Bars.

-My Whole 30 is made possible by my Whole Foods discounts and the lack of alcoholic friends in Pittsburgh.

That’s all for now! Sorry MzFit_Mommas of the internetz. I don’t mean to be a bitch. I’m a virgo– can’t help it.

Life Lately | September Musings

Life has been quite the whirlwind since my last blog post. So many things have happened, including but not limited to: starting a new job, getting a haircut, becoming a cat lady, turning 26, etc. Those are all pretty big life moments if you ask me.

The radio silence is coming to an end. As we move into a new season, I sense a re-birth of blogging coming along. Also, the new job leaves me with 20 extra hours a week to mess around in the kitchen, take photos, go on dates (!), and really just time tot throw a pursuing other passions. I have been filling my notebook with content, so hopefully, for you all, that means more blog posts aka pie and recipes and photos of my hair. Until then, here is a look at the current picture.
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Not going to… Apologize for my lack of presence on the internet. As you may be able to infer from the introductory blurb, I was busy and then I had all this free time to, honestly, not spend on blogging. Instead I went kayaking, visited museums, went on hikes, started learning Hebrew, and yeah, maybe I watched an entire series or two on Netflix..

Listening to… Pandora is playing Band or Horses, which is a pretty accurate representation of my momentary musical tastes. Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, and The Lumineers consume my internet radio speakers. Last week I almost overdosed on Neil young in honor of the Harvest Moon. As real bonafide baking weather approaches I feel myself going back to the late greats of vintage country: Waylon, Willie, and the Boys + Patsy, Dolly, and Loretta. Oh yeah, Gene Autry, too.

Loving… Allow me to introduce you to my sister’s new kitten, little miss Nancy. While she technically belongs to my sister, her heart kinda sorta belongs to me. She sleeps with me every night, takes naps on my lap, and de-pots all of my succulents. Maybe it’s because I feed her every morning, or because I let her lick my face, but I consider her my little fur baby. I still love my smelly, old Gypsy, but Nance has very quickly changed my opinion on cats altogether. Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m4 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Eating… So my new job is in the bakery at Whole Foods. It’s pretty great- the people, the culture, the 20% discount. Since living up north, I’ve really let my granola flag fly, but not I can eat organic on a budget. My current obsessions are garden frittatas, General Tso tofu, and all beets everything. Oh yeah, Siggi’s Icelandic style yogurt is my jam. i eat it everyday and will never go Greek again. I bought myself another cast iron skillet for my birthday. It appears that I am starting a #52weeksoffrittatas with the frequency in which I make them. Also, two words for you: DUTCH BABY. Expect a blog post soon. Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Thinking about… Buying a ukulele to become a youtube sensation, going back to grad school to pursue the degree I should have gone for, forgoing the graduate degree and just getting my ESL cert, moving to a foreign country to teach English, where/when my next move will be. Each year on my birthday I set my New Year resolution. Last year’s was getting the hell outta dodge (Denton|Texas). This year I am dedicating to pursuing what I really want whether it be school, living in a different city, being a full time creative/baker. I’ve also been doing a lot more writing, my comical upbringing being the topic of intrigue. Everything is still a jumble in my head. That’s why I call it the thinking process. And who says I have to choose just one!

Planning… A trip to Texas! My good friend is getting married in October, so down south I will go! I am trying to figure out how to not so evenly divide my time between the DFW and San Antonio. Things that go along with trips include plane tickets. I need to get on that..

Anticipating… The arrival of fall. This past weekend showed signs of an early arrival. The temperatures staying in the 50s for the majority of the weekend. Instead of taking advantage of the perfect hiking weather, I spent the day on Lauren’s couch napping and binging on Gilmore Girls and Thai food. Which brings me to my next bullet point of anticipation *Gilmore Girls October 1st!

Wearing… Entirely too much flannel for the late summer, birkenstocks, and my usual all black everything. My wardrobe has also seen a resurgence of denim since jeans have now become a work staple. I won’t even begin to tell you about my new pair of clogs…Hipster Heidi of the Alps called. She want’s her wardrobe back but she aint gonna get it!

Spending… Money on farmers market flowers. Last week I bought a $7 bouquet that was so big I needed both arms to manage it on the short walk home. I felt like I was hugging a tree! See also, Siggi’s yogurt. I am about to purchase a case of that stuff!

Being thankful for… There are so many things on this list. I’ve been very blessed to have such wonderful people in my life, near and far. I love that I have animals to keep me warm as the mercury drops. I have a sister to laugh with. I have flowers to weave into something pretty. I have family planning trips. I have freedom to be doing what I want. So many, many things. These are just a drop in the bucket.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Stay tuned, y’all!

XOXO

Special Occasion Cupcakes | Simple & Sweet

You guys! I had my first paying baking gig since moving to Pittsburgh! My friend and local business owner approached me about doing cupcakes for her friend’s wedding shower. Now if you would have asked me to decorate a cake or even cupcakes before working full time in a bakery, I would have probably taken a day or two to think it over (and teach myself technique) before agreeing. Well that was not the case this time. I think I agreed before she finished asking the question.

I still get pretty nervous about using fondant and different decorating tips, but the queezy feeling in my stomach is no more. This happens when you show up to work with a terrible hangover only to find out that the resident decorator is a no call no show and you have to get your shit together and decorate 3 three THREE wedding cakes. Yeah that happened a couple of weeks ago. I now feel pretty invincible.  Thankfully, Dora did not want me to go all Cake Boss at this point and time. For the sake of simplicity, she ordered a vanilla cupcake with a vanilla butter cream icing. You know, simple really is the best. Simple can also be beautiful!

I adapted this recipe from my go-to girl (Martha). Sorry for the lack of photos. I was crunched for time, but- simple is key here.

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Simple Lavender & Vanilla Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs finely chopped lavender (fresh or dried)

For the icing:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 Crisco baking stick

1 tbs vanilla

1 cup milk

12-16 cups powdered sugar

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, lavender, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add this mixture to the sugar and eggs.
  3. Add the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake papers halfway and bake for 15-20 minutes. This recipe should yield about 2 dozen cupcakes, more or less.

Butter cream icing is just as easy. If you are like me and do not own a mixer of any sort, I find that a rubber spatula and occasionally a wooden spoon will do the trick.

  1. Cream together your butter, shortening, and vanilla.
  2. Alternate between adding cups of powdered sugar and tablespoons of milk. The final product should be stiff enough to hold its own on top of a cake or cupcake.

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I think they turned out beautifully! Dora and her family and friends also loved them, and that’s all that really matters. The door has since been opened for freelance cake and pastry work. I will also really emphasize…I LOVE BAKING PIE! I can always be contacted via my blog if you have any questions.

Memories For Sale

Last weekend Lauren, Chase, and I ventured to a more remote part of the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Our previous estate sale plans were thwarted by an expired Craigslist posting, so we did the next best thing- antiquing. The more I think about that word as a verb, the more I dislike it. See also- crafting. Due to a lack of money, I wasn’t really looking for anything other than inspiration. It is free after all, but you’ve got to keep your eyes open.

Ohio River Blvd Antique Mall was the place. The purple brick building’s facade resembled something like an auto shop you’d find off East McKinney Street in good ol’ Denton, Texas. Its bright colors draw in business and drive out evil spirits, though being an antique store, the place is probably filled with all sorts of juju.

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As soon as you cross the threshold, you go back decades. Mid-century sofas stacked 3 on 3, glass bottles galore, knickknacks and tchotchkes, and dishes from days long gone fill the rooms. Oh! And there are rooms, not to mention floors! The interior is a Victorian house filled with other peoples’ belongings. Other peoples’ junk? Definitely other peoples’ memories.

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On a different note, there’s nothing like an antique store to reiterate the fact that when you die you leave all your shit behind you. While it is a slightly morbid point of view, it does make me evaluate my tendencies as a consumer. Ever since moving to Pittsburgh, I have really been trying to simplify my life. Antique stores can be a great testament to this. So many of the objects filling the shelves hail from a simpler time, and I get a little inspired to live like they did. This correlation might only make sense to me….Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Consumerism and bank account status aside, I did make a beeline towards the depression glass and handful of insulators.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Besides Ohio Blvd, we also frequented a few other thrift and surplus stores. They all sort of cast a similar shadow on my opinion voiced above.

Out with the new and in with the old!

 

 

Papa Don’t Peach (Pie)

Let’s rewind the clock and really even flip the calendar back a month to June. I don’t normally like to go back in time, but pie is involved so I’ll make an exception.

The Monday beginning Fathers Day week I found myself lying in bed not being able to sleep and thinking about food, per usual. I swear, all of my best ideas come to me via delirium. This one also came courtesy of Madonna, an earlier trip to my butcher crush’s establishment, and the onslaught of summer. PEACHES AND BACON – I had the perfect pie any pops would like on their day.

When I shared this bright piedea with friends, theladies were like “that’s a strange combination” and the dudes were like “fuck yeah, bacon”. From their responses I knew I was on the right track. I used the same all butter pie crust recipe I’ve grown accustomed to, with the addition of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Crust is always my favorite part of the pie so I love making minor adjustments to the recipe in order to bring out the flavor in the filling. As for the peaches, cream, and bacon, I took the local route. I love any excuse to visit my local butcher (I have the biggest crush on that man) and farmers markets are a no brainer.

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Papa Don’t Peach Pie

For the Filling:

8-10 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla + 1/2 tsp maple syrup

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs + 2 tsp corn starch

1 1/2 tbs tapioca 

pinch kosher salt

  1. Peel and slice peaches and place into a large mixing bowl. make sure your peaches are ripe, otherwise this is a pretty arduous task….it really is the pits. (Ha!) Try brown bagging your fruit for a day or 2 beforehand. Toss in and coat the peaches with the fresh lemon juice, vanilla, and maple syrup.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, combine all of your (other) dry ingredients. Lightly toss the mixture in with the peaches with a rubber spatula.  This is why I love making fruit pies, so simple! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  3. Lightly fry up a few slices of bacon in a skillet. Then dice those babies up. We will dot the filling with bacon instead of butter!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  4. When assembling your pie, a double crust is the way to go. I would recommend either a tight lattice crust or small vent slits. Peaches are more on sensitive side. You don’t want to end up scorching your fruit or hurting anyone’s feelings. I have a love for latticing things, so duh, I went with a fat, tight, and diagonal weave. Before adding the filling, I like to dust the bottom half of the pie shell with a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour. This helps to thicken up any juices during the baking process. Yum! Finally after spooning your peaches into the shell, dot with the little cubes of bacon before starting to weave the top crust layer. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  5. Pop your assembled pie into the freezer for about 30 minutes. This help the crust to maintain its shape during the baking process. No one likes a droopy crust! After freezing, brush the top layer of crust with a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Another trick for the books, this gives you a soft yet flaky and goldenly delicious pie crust. I used local dairy products, too! Happy cows=happy pies, right? Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  6. Bake this baby for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, rotating every 20 minutes. Let cool for an hour before delving in. I served the pie with homemade coldbrew coffee, but I can only imagine the amazingness of a la mode! Next time, next time.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

If and when I finally make that pie shoppe dream come true, this will definitely be on the menu come fathers day. It may have to become a summer staple, because who doesn’t like peach pie? (Answer: weirdos/people who are not my friends)

 

***Because bacon is involved, this also makes a great breakfast choice!***Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Think Pink!

After an unsuccessful search for the perfect dog-friendly apartment with wood floors, high ceilings, and bay windows (I know in my heart that such a place exists), my sister and I decided to give el Murder House another go-round. I can deal with this house another year for the price and sheer location. Since Gare Bear loves me (even more now that he knows I want to be Jewish) he has granted us permission to do whatever we want to the house. First things first: a door that designates our gender!

P I N K

You may know that all black everything dominates my fashion choices, but sometimes I like to add color. Other times I just like to match my house! Besides our new front door, other things I am loving right now are kimonos kimonos kimonos, hats hats hats (duh!), and only washing my hair once a week (see hats) x beachy waves! Throw in some cutoffs, Birks, or even boots and you have my summer wardrobe in a nutshell.

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“Nothing says bitches live here quite like a pink door.” -my sister.

Sweet Potato Babycakes

The idea for this blog post found its beginnings in a personal journal entry. I was complaining via pen and paper about my lack of a Memorial Day weekend due to a 70 hour work week. The weekends are usually the time when I bake on my own, photograph, edit said photos, and then draft blog posts. I feel like I have not had a weekend since the middle of May. Anyway, somewhere in a rant on Instagram, Friday Night Lights (my newest Netflix obsession), and work, my mind saw a sudden burst of color. You know how shades can provoke certain emotions? Well, I feel like my brain did the opposite of that. By the end of my entry all I could think about were hues of purples and orange. I wanted to manifest these colors into something delicious. From that, my recipe for sweet potato babycakes (with a black raspberry & cinnamon glaze) was born! Image

Some of you may be questioning my choice of sweet potatoes now that summer is well upon us. What else is naturally orange and possesses an abundance of flavor and depth? Don’t say carrots unless you want to be wrong! Adding cinnamon the the fruit glaze really tied all the flavors together with a result that was slightly sweet and slightly savory. I have also had a hankering to use edible flowers as a garnish/decoration. After discovering and following an Australian cake decorator, Unbirthday Bakery, via Instagram, I purchased a package of pansies from a local grocery store. I figured this to be the better route than urban foraging. I really cannot wait to work with edible flowers again! They give you a warm fuzzy feeling, or me at least. ImageImageImageImage

My friend Lauren let me shoot and bake in her adorable, very well lit kitchen. Her original vintage gas stove is the stuff my dreams are made of, though, I guess in that dream I’d never be able to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Her kitchen was the perfect setting to create and then later enjoy.

Sweet Potato Babycakes w/ a Black Raspberry & Cinnamon Glaze

For the cake:

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 cups flour

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

For the glaze:

4 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbs black raspberry preserves

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup water, added 1 tbs at a time

edible flowers for decorating

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  1. Wash, peel, and prick your sweet potatoes with a fork. Roast for about 45 minutes or until done at 400 degrees. Once cooled, mash sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. It is okay if there are some chunky pieces, it will give your cake some texture! ImageImageImage
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together salt, spices, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. ImageImageImageImage
  3. Mix the mashed sweet potatoes in with your butter, eggs, and vanilla. Once fully incorporated, stir in the flour and spices. Your batter should be thicker, more like the consistency of a banana bread. ImageImageImageImage
  4. Grease and flour 4 smaller baking cups, I used ramekins. If you want to make a full sized cake or bunt, be my guest! A 9 inch pan should do the trick. Pour your batter into whichever type of preferred baking dish, just note that the size may adjust the baking time. For ramekins, the total baking time was about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. use a toothpick or a fork to test your cake at the 30 minute mark. ImageImageImageImageImage
  5. Now for the glaze! Whisk together vanilla, a few tablespoons of your water, and the preserves. Slowly add in powdered sugar cup by cup, alternating between tablespoons of water. The thing with glaze is that you don’t want it too runny. The ideal consistency is a almost like Elmer’s glue. ImageImage
  6. If you have a pastry bag on hand, you may want to use it for your glaze. It certainly makes decorating a whole lot easier and definitely less messy. Squeeze the glaze onto the tops of your cakes in a zigzag circular motion, then apply flowers before the glaze has a chance to set. ImageImageImageImage

 

I am more than elated with the way these turned out. Like I said earlier, I cannot wait to decorate more with edible flowers. This recipe also proves that sweet potato is flavor that can and should be used year round! It is always nice when a vision becomes a reality, in this case the purple and orange color combination.ImageImageImageImage

 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and a pleasant Monday! Talk to ya later, babycakes!

Sunday Snapshots

(Ughhhhh) so I am actually kind of embarrassed / disappointed with myself for not blogging AT ALL this week. I had a crazy week at the bakery and felt like I had a dark cloud looming over my head the last five days. The sun is finally out today, thus bringing hope to the end of a gloomy week.

Today is Mothers Day. I’ve spent the morning sitting in my yellow chair and reflecting on what it means to be a mom. Shannon has passed down her good hair genes and her crazy. She has also taught me all I need to know about love, tenderness, and faith. Though we differ more than she realizes, we do share these things. I miss her all the time.

Enough for sentiment. Today is for being lazy and spending time with my baby, because, pets are like children.

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Cinco de Monday

Today is Cinco de Mayo and the temperature is in the low 40s. Instead of drinking margaritas on a patio or next to a pool, I am hanging around the house, taking it easy, and trying to mentally prepare myself for what will be another long work week. It’s a good day to practice calligraphy, mess around with watercolors, and only venture out to walk the dog. But, not to worry, tacos were had this morning!

I also have the new Lykke Li on repeat. My favorite. Hope you all have a nice Cinco de Monday!

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