New Favorite: Chai Cupcakes

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I mentioned last week that I made Chai cupcakes with a few friends – they were so delicious my family ate them all up by the next day! I decided to have another go at the recipe this weekend and ended up making over four dozen cupcakes {and spending four hours in the kitchen!}. I doubled this recipe and added cinnamon sticks for decoration. I also used a lot more powdered sugar for the frosting to keep it at a firm consistency. The honey-ginger frosting really makes these cupcakes – I would recommend adding even more grated ginger to the frosting for a little extra zing.

Look for Less: Hound

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{Topshop Colour Block Tee dress for $72 vs. Hound Meridian dress for $148}

I usually spend my Friday post talking about the upcoming weekend {in brief: I may see the new X-Men movie and I’m spending Saturday at Kyle’s grad party} but after discovering a new brand a few days ago that I really like {but is far outside my budget}, I decided it would be fun to do a “look for less” post. Hound, a Chicago-based brand founded in 2009, designed their Spring 2011 collection “Between Wind and Water” by “looking to the stars, navigating bodies of water and studying geometric shapes found in shadows.” I love the clean lines and color-blocking found throughout this collection and was happily surprised to find out the designer was inspired by the northern woods of Wisconsin when she created this line! Although the designs are all unique, it was surprisingly easy to find quite a few look-alike pieces at Top Shop and Urban Outfitters. Here is what I found:


{Urban Chiffon Dip Dye top for $29.99 vs. Hound Beacon Cropped top for $84}

{Urban Kari skirt for $14.99 vs. Hound Starboard skirt for $114}

{Urban Mesh-Trimmed Bodycon dress for $49 vs. Hound Eclipse dress for $168}

Wednesday Wishlist: Unnecessary {but necessary} baking tools

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After two of my friends and I made Chai cupcakes last night {see tomorrow’s post for the recipe and photos} I started thinking about all the baking I’ve been doing the past few months and how much I really enjoy it. A year ago my friend Caileigh made an amazing batch of Red Velvet cupcakes with a perfectly swirled dollop of cream cheese frosting on top. Since then, I’ve been trying to perfect my own frosting recipes but can never seem to get the perfect consistency. I talked to her last night and after giving me a few tips and showing me this handy tool, I’ve decided I’m going to spend at least part of this upcoming weekend baking a few batches of cupcakes. Here are some other baking tools I’m currently eyeing:

{Cake pop maker – these are now an official thing, at least according to Starbucks}

{I’ve been looking for little dishes for molten cakes and creme brulee}

New Favorite: “Design Seeds”

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I was on Pinterest the other day when I began noticing a number of cool images and designs paired with a sea of various color swatches. Finding the right color palette for a website, blog or even handmade thank you card can be a difficult task and while there are a number of online color palette generators I usually find most of them boring or too generic. Enter: Design Seeds. Design Seeds is my new favorite color blog for a few reasons – the site is designed like an interactive scrapbook, all the photos and colors are high quality and seem to pop off the screen, and the palette search option is comprehensive and easy to navigate. Here are some of my favorite “colorspirations”:

 

 

Weekend: Half Marathon

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I don’t usually like my birthday but had a really enjoyable day yesterday spending time with Kyle for most of the day and with Laura most of the evening. I started the day out with coffee at Fair Trade, read “Hunger Games” and shopped during the afternoon and went out for Thai for dinner with Kyle. Laura and I have been on a “Star Wars” binge for the last few days and decided at the last minute to a) run to the library to find episode three and b) find a late night birthday treat at Sunroom Cafe. Unfortunately, the movie was checked out and the cafe was closed. We ended up renting “The Proposal” and splitting a piece of carrot cake from the grocery store. Although it was a somewhat unconventional way to spend my birthday I really enjoyed it.

My dad is coming to Madison this weekend for the half marathon and I’m getting really nervous/excited for the race. My running partner and friend Rachel and I have trained hard but I’m still feeling a little worried! I know it will go fine and I know I will be relieved when it is over!

{These chocolates from Kyle are really yummy}

{Laura and Brenda knew just what I wanted for my birthday: one of my new favorite films and “The Help” which I’ve been wanting to read for a few months.}

{Fun new Lancome Juicy Tubes from my roommate Brenda: Copacabana Coffee and Rose Twist}

A Healthy Birthday Treat

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Because I’m running a half marathon on Sunday I’ve been trying to stay pretty healthy this week. I’ve filled my diet with lots of fruits and vegetables for the past few days and thought that since it’s my birthday week I deserved a {healthy} treat. I saw a few recipes online and finally settled with cheesecake stuffed strawberries. I altered the recipe quite a bit to fit my “healthy” standard and came up with this:

1. Filling- Whip the following ingredients together and then refrigerate for 20 minutes:

  • 8 oz. of no-fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese {softened}
  • 1/2 cup powered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2. Crush half a sleeve of cinnamon graham crackers in a sandwich bag. Put in a bowl and set aside.

3. Hollow out 1 package of fresh, large strawberries. I used a small knife to do this and am planning to use the insides of the strawberries for a fruit smoothie tomorrow.

4. Fill a small sandwich bag with the chilled filling and cut a medium size slit in a bottom corner. Fill each strawberry with filling. Dip the top of each strawberry in the graham crackers crumbs.

Wednesday Wishlist: Chic Briefcases

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{I really like the Cambridge Satchel Company’s selection}

Now that I’m getting a move on applying for jobs I’ve been on the lookout for a sturdy, but elegant briefcase. Unfortunately, it’s been somewhat difficult to find an affordable version that isn’t a. bulky and b. made for men. After a pretty extensive search online a few bags caught my eye. Although most of these were not designed with the intention to be used as a briefcase, all these bags are long enough to fit my MacBook and wide enough to fit a few extras like a cell phone and a few folders.

{French Connection satchel}

{Longchamp Planetes}

{Eco briefcase}

New favorites: Occasion Jewelry

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I received these two pieces as graduation presents a week ago and absolutely love them. A while back I blogged about my new obsession with all things “Tiffany Blue” {seen here} and my Aunt Lisa generously took my post to heart and picked out this classic heart shaped necklace. I was so excited to open the little blue box when she gave it to me! I also received these beautiful earrings from my stepmom Cathy – now I’m just looking for the right occasion to wear them.

{I just picked up these simple thank you cards to send out to friends and family}

Obsessions {baked goods}: S’more cookies

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It is only the first week of summer vacation and already my roommate and I have begun planning fun things to do for the next three months. We started a list of activities, places to visit and things to make and have already thought of over 60 ideas. Although we planned to check off “bonfire” from our list last night, the weather was cold and rainy so we decided to have a movie party instead. In the spirit of summer we tried out this recipe for s’more cookies. We substituted crushed cinnamon graham crackers for the rolled oats and added a little milk to the recipe. I don’t eat marshmallows because they aren’t vegetarian but we left a few cookies with just chocolate on top. They were delicious!

Graduation

After three amazing years at UW-Madison, I celebrated my graduation with friends and family last weekend. My immediate family, my uncles Mike and Danny, my aunt Lisa and three of my cousins traveled to Madison on Saturday to help me celebrate – we spent the weekend eating good food, catching up and spending some time in the sun. The weekend went by fast and I can’t believe graduation is over!

{Dinner at Underground Kitchen}

{Me and my cousin Guerin at brunch before graduation}

{My roommate Laura took lots of pictures of me getting ready…}