My Vacation with the President…


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Okay, okay… so that was a small huge exaggeration. But, we were on Martha’s Vineyard together, soo… it’s basically the same thing, right?  This past weekend my family and I took a mini vaycay to a lovely little island off the coast of Massachusetts.  If you’ve been following any of my posts over the last year, it should be pretty apparent that I’m a sucker for anything preppy, quaint, oceanside, and/or cobblestoned.  So you can imagine my excitement when I arrived to find that MV has beautifully married all of these wonderful qualities.  

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The first night, we went to dinner at this amazing hidden gem located in Edgartown called The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn.  Living up to their tagline: “behind the times on purpose,” this place is truly one of a kind in decor, elegance, and service.  I don’t think I’ve ever compared a restaurant to a “work of art,” but, I’m making an exception here.  Every room and outdoor space that we were fortunate enough to explore were immaculate.  Each item appeared like it was hand picked with the space in mind and nestled with precision among the other fabulous treasures original to the home.  One room, in particular, was the perfect backdrop for an after-dinner drink.  Mahogany walls, a fireplace flanked by leather chairs, equestrian trinkets, antique paintings, and silver serving sets filled the room – think, the dream study you never had (and if you do have such a study, I’m coming over…).  

I think with all my fascination with the decor, I’ve forgotten about the food.  Two words: so. good.  We began with decanted red wine, fresh-baked rolls, and french onion soup.  Everything was hot, healthy, and flavorful.  For my meal, I chose a roasted chicken dish served with potatoes and veggies.  The real star here was the dessert.  If you aren’t drooling yet, prepare yourself – homemade. sea salt caramel. gelato. with chocolate ganache.  Just sayin’, it was the closest to Heaven that my taste buds are ever going to get.  Bonus:  Apparently this is a celebrity hotspot.  I just can’t vouch for which ones.  The waitress we had was very hush hush about it, as those celebs that do frequent The Terrace do so with a confidentiality agreement in hand…Fancy! 

Sadly, I don’t have many pictures from this lovely little nook, but check out what I did capture below!

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Fast forward to the morning and next on our food agenda (is there really any other kind of agenda?) was breakfast.  After grabbing a quick coffee at a great little shop (forgot the name.. whoops!) , we went to Among the Flowers Cafe.  Not much to say here except: great food, adorable atmosphere, and outside seating…among flowers. 

Another notable aspect of our trip was our biking adventure.  What better way to explore the island than to do so on our own two wheels.  Although, having not been on a bike that isn’t stationary in almost 4 years, my husband would say four wheels would be more appropriate for me. Let’s just say I struggled a bit at first, but it eventually came back… I mean, aren’t our bodies destined to never forget how to do this? Anyway, this was probably my favorite part of the whole weekend.  We trekked down to South Beach (not Miami…I’m not that athletic), to a lighthouse, and through some residential parts of Edgartown which literally left us speechless.  Those homes are like…perfect. I want to be in them.  

Here are some pics from our journey below!

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One last thing, coffee.  I’m obsessed with it and I will honestly go out of my way for a good cup.  I think I may have found a place for serious java lovers (25+ types of coffee-serious): Espresso Love of Edgartown. (Disclaimer: I have never used the word “java” before…do I sound as ridiculous as I think I do!?) This place was completely hidden and also completely packed so I wasn’t able to really take it all in at a leisurely pace.  But, I was able to order an Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte.  I’ve had a lot of lattes in my day, but this, this was majestic.  So good and worth the trip if you’re in the MV area (or in Boston – who knew!?).  Another bonus: this is also a celebrity hotspot – President Obama and Meg Ryan as of late. 

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And as always, no Cape trip is complete without…:

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Vineyard fashions will be coming up in a later post, so stay tuned!

Where is your favorite summertime destination?  I want to know – comment below! 

XO

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Cool Wwwwhhhhip…


Get ready for a really random post.  First things first…we haven’t had a “Verdict” in a while… I’m definitely long overdue for picking apart celeb outfits and unapologetically declaring one a winner. That sounds hard, but really, they clearly don’t care what I think.

And. here. we. go…

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I was flipping through some photos of some style-stealing celebs and came across this one.  Both ladies are totally gorg and on trend with the sheer blouse, but let’s face it, some people wear certain items better than others.  I’m always a big fan of the “polished” look so for me Miranda Kerr takes this one. The sleek navy skinny pant coupled with the fantastic and always effortlessly chic bare, nude pump really kick this outfit up a notch.  It’s totally casual, but still looks put-together – a “can’t-go-wrong” combo in my opinion.

So where did Jennifer Hudson, the newly slimmed down diva, go awry?  Well, it certainly wasn’t her playful hair or fresh-faced makeup.  For me, it was the sloppy buttoning of the untucked blouse and the navy and black legging pairing.  Now I know the blue/black rule technically no longer applies, but I’m sorry… I just don’t like it.  It almost looks like you got dressed in the dark and you tried to match colors, but failed.  I will say, I love Jenny’s loafers.  These babies are so in right now and I’m dying to get my hands on a pair!

Overall “Verdict”?  The beautious Miranda and her flawless after-baby figure for the win!

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Here’s where things get random.  Wondering about the title?  Even if you aren’t, you should be and you also should have said it in Stewie’s voice…but that’s beside the point.  Anyway, in yesterday’s sweet treats post I failed to mention a really adorable companion to this winter’s inevitable hot chocolate binge: I give you the cool ‘whhhhip’ heart!

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Ta-da!

This couldn’t be easier either.  Simply buy a tub of this creamy goodness, freeze it in a pan, and then use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to instantly make your drab, yet delicious drink, more appealing.

Want another twist on classic hot cocoa?  How about strawberry white hot chocolate. Yup, that’s right. Pink, creamy, chocolaty…did I mention it’s pink!?

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How cute is this!?  Everyone should be drinking this, like, all the time. Even if you aren’t drinking it, just have it near you…it’s that pretty. Thanks to Darla of Bakingdom (such a clever name, right!?), we can all have a little fun this winter.  Check out the recipe below!

WHAT YOU NEED

1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 cups (750 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream (for a lighter version, omit the cream and replace with more milk)
1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped

**NOTE: For a semi-homemade version, replace the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice with 1/4 cup strawberry milk drink mix, such as Nesquik.

**NOTE: If you want yours sweeter, add up to an extra half cup of sugar while the mixture is cooking.

HOW TO DO IT

Slice the strawberries then toss them in a medium bowl with the sugar and lemon juice.

Cover and set aside for one hour.

Stir the strawberry mixture to evenly coat everything, then transfer it to a blender or food processor. Process until completely pureed, then press the strawberries through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.

Pour the strawberries back into the processor and add the milk and cream. Process until blended.

Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan set over medium heat in the white chocolate.  Cooking over medium heat, whisking almost constantly, until it just barely begins to lightly boil, about 10 minutes; remove from heat.

Transfer to your favorite mug, top with marshmallows or whipped cream, and any other yummy treats.

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Here’s to hearts and polka dots!

XO

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Easy, Healthy, & Sweet Treats for Fall…


So maybe its the crisp fall air or the changing leaves that make me want to bake little sugary confections and warm up by a fire with some hot apple cider…doesn’t this happen to everyone?

To kick this “sport” (and I use this term incredibly loosely…) into high gear, I’ve compiled some must have recipes for fall.  I fully intend on trying these myself since they look too good, wayyy too cute (and sometimes even healthy!) to pass up.

OVEN BAKED APPLE CRISPS

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Go ahead and try to tell me these don’t look amazing! You can’t. They are super easy, super healthy, and definitely scrumptious – and they even make your home smell festive… talk about a multi-tasking recipe!

WHAT TO GET

2 apples

Cinnamon

HOW TO DO IT

Remove apple core.

Thinly slice the entire apple.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place apple slices on it.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 275 degrees for two hours. At the end of hour one flip them over so they bake evenly.Check on them at the hour mark and every 30 minutes after that. Once they look nice and crispy take them out and enjoy!

Pictures & Recipe taken from Delighted Momma.

NO BAKE OATMEAL COOKIE BALLS

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Maybe it’s because of my short stature, but I’m a big fan of anything bite-size.  These fun goodies intrigued me and I am certain Bake-Fest 2012, or in this case “no-bake” fest, will include some of these babies.

WHAT YOU NEED

1 cup of almond meal (buy at Trader Joes) **
1 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, softened
¼ cup of peanut butter **

1/2 cup powdered sugar, for tossing each ball in

(**Note: I am determined to find an alternative for these two ingredients for all my fellow nut allergy friends… sigh…)

HOW TO DO IT

Combine all ingredients, except powdered sugar, in a large bowl and mix until a dough is formed.

Using a cookie scoop, firmly pack the scoop and place each scoop on a cookie sheet.

Chill for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl add powdered sugar. Remove cookies from fridge and toss each cookie in powdered sugar until well coated. Shake off excess.

Place on a plate and chill for 10 minutes & enjoy!

Reminder: Keep leftovers in refrigerator

Picture & Recipe taken from Simply Gourmet.

CREAMY PUMPKIN SMOOTHIE

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TO. DIE. FOR. Ugh… where has this been all my life!? I’ll tell you where it hasn’t been and that’s in my stomach.  If you’ve read pretty much any of my fall posts I’ve mentioned ‘pumpkin’ at least once so I don’t believe this smoothie really needs much of an introduction except that I should have made it, like… yesterday.  Oh, and did I mention that it is actually fairly healthy and protein packed – as if we needed another reason to love this idea.

WHAT YOU NEED

1/3 cup pumpkin

1/4 banana, frozen

1/4 cup non-fat milk or coconut milk

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt, non-fat

3/4tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. maple syrup

1/2 tsp. stevia or extra 1 tsp. maple syrup

3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

4 ice cubes

HOW TO DO IT

Mix all the ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth.

HEALTH INFORMATION

Calories: 156.8, Fat: .05, Cholesterol: 1.2, Sodium: 71.9, Potassium: 268.4,

Carbs: 24, Fiber: 4, Sugar: 13.5, Protein: 14.6

Picture & Recipe taken from Peanut Butter & Peppers.

Annndddd, meet me in the kitchen.  Let me know if you try any of these!

XO

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Warm Up With Zucchini…


As you all know, I’m mildly obsessed with all things pumpkin, especially once the Fall weather hits.  What you don’t know is that I also happen to love zucchini bread.  That’s right, a veggie and bread have come together for a delicious union.

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Now, I’m no master chef and I don’t have a long-standing family recipe to share, but I did find one online that was described as “really, really good and moist…”  While the word ‘moist’ seriously bothers me, I have been known to make exceptions for its usage in regards to breads, cakes, muffins, and cupcakes.

Needless to say, the recipe peaked my interest.  I gathered the ingredients and went to work.  The results?  Well, true to its statement, the recipe yielded (dare I actually use it myself…) moist bread – and muffins since I had extra batter.

What You’ll Need

  3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 1/4 cups white sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

How To Do It

  1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Recipe by allrecipes.com

Here are a few pictures of my baking adventure…

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Maybe it’s the warm, fresh-from-the-oven consistency or the aroma of cinnamon and vanilla that makes me enjoy this treat so much, either way, its delicious and you should probably give this recipe a whirl!

XO

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Cozy Up With A Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte…


Hold the phone…homemade pumpkin spice lattes!? Yes, please… I’ll take 28 2 because I’m modest. Honestly though, this is so great. Check out this recipe (and scrumptious pictures) posted by Lezoemusings. Your taste buds with thank you later.

XO

LE ZOE MUSINGS

That time of the yr is inevitably approaching. The time when the foliage begin their natural color change, the air is crisp, and falling in love (all over again) is ideal.

The first gift that I ever received from my husband (also happened to be the first time we met in person…yep, we are an online couple!) was a poem, handwritten by him on a piece of opaque paper. Behind the paper was an image of fall w/ the trees & their fallen leaves lining a barren road. It’s beautiful! That was 12 yrs ago & now the piece of art hangs in our living room.

I LOVE autumn b/c for me it signals a slew of holidays coming. Not to mention, fall festivities are so much fun! They totally prepare you for the holiday spirit.

But nothing screams the initial approach of fall more than latte sipping tendencies… pumpkin…

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Cupcakes on wheels…


That’s right, friends..cupcakes. on. wheels. How great is that?  I’m not sure why no one has ever thought of this before (at least in the Merrimack Valley, MA area), but I’m SO glad Nadine of Pipe Dream Cupcakes had this ingenious idea and implemented it in a flawless fashion.

I know at this point you’re probably drooling intrigued, so let me put things in perspective with a picture.

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Pretty awesome, huh?  This hidden, well..actually mobile, gem is not only completely adorable, but also absolutely delicious.  My fiance and I had the pleasure of literally stumbling upon it 2 weeks ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since (…in the most non-creepy way possible..?).  We were completely hooked after purchasing 4 cupcakes from Nadine herself.

Get out your napkins, here’s what we got:

RED VELVET 

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COOKIE DOUGH

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COOKIES & CREAMImage

S’MORE

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Hard to believe, but they taste better than they look, and let’s face it, they look pretty great.  The talented Nadine, like her cupcakes, was also extremely sweet and took the time to talk to us and let us into paradise her confectionary riddled world.  All the cupcakes aboard her mobile bakery are prepared fresh each morning and it shows. 

For more information, her current location, anddd more pictures of cupcakes,

visit her website: pipedreamcupcakes.com

her Facebook page: Pipe Dream Cupcakes

her twitter: @PipeDreamCup

or call: (978) 397- 6470

Here’s to finding sweet treats in the streets!

XO

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Pass the melon balls…


So, with all this talk about Fall, I think it’s officially safe to say this lady has moved on from warm-weather styles, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to spend a few more weeks enjoying the delicious tastes of summer.

I’m pretty sure every good summer ends with a party.  Now, I’m not talking about the crazy “college” party where the main course is a keg with a side of Cheetos… (although, a good glass of wine is never off the table…).  I’m talking about a more civilized gathering with a bit more emphasis on the food.

Now being in my mid-twenties, I have more of an appreciation for easy to prepare, relatively inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing, and quite honestly, practical food. If you’re planning on playing host(ess) to some of your friends and family in the remaining summertime weekends, here are a few tapas (little plate) recipes and serving options that definitely fit the bill – literally  and figuratively.

MELON BALL BLISS

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Perfection in 4 Easy Steps: 1. Buy a watermelon. 2. Buy a melon baller. 3. Ball the melon. 4. Put melon balls back into the shell and serve.  Literally could not be more simple, affordable, or adorable!

For a cheap melon baller, look no further than Target, hellooo $9.25.

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GRAPE CATERPILLARS

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I know that after the melon balls you were thinking this pretend party platter couldn’t possibly get any cuter. Sorry, but I just had to hit you with grape caterpillars – fruit with faces? Call me 6 years-old, but this is a must have.

Perfection in 4 Easy Steps: 1. Buy grapes, wooden skewers, mini chocolate chips, and a small tub of frosting. 2. Thread (washed) grapes onto each skewer until only about 1-2 inches of wood is showing. 3. Dip the mini chocolate chips in a tiny bit of white frosting and place on the last grape of one side. 4. Serve!

KIWI POPS

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Hot day? Looking for a lower calorie option to satisfy your sweet tooth? I give you the kiwi pop. While you can likely do this with any fruit, I think the small round shape that mirrors a traditional ice cream pop deceives the mind into thinking this sweet treat is a guilty one and who doesn’t like to feel like they’re getting away with something, so dig in!

Perfection in 4 Easy Steps: 1. Buy kiwis, melting chocolate (75% Cacao if you’re looking for the heart healthy benefits of antioxidants), and popsicle sticks. 2. Wash, peel, and slice kiwis into desired thickness – (just be sure to not make them too heavy or they won’t stay on the stick!). 3. Place (cold) kiwis on the popsicle sticks and melt the chocolate.  4. Dip kiwi sticks into the melted chocolate until fully coated. Allow time for chocolate to harden (Tip: Like cake pops, melting chocolate hardens best when in a cooler environment.  Also, when making pops of any kind, it is always a good idea to use a styrofoam block to stick them in so the chocolate dries evenly and without touching any foreign object!) Serve!

(END OF) SUMMER SALAD

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Harvesting season may have peaked, but there are still plenty of hearty veggies left for the taking.  Deliciousness and health benefits aside, summer salads just look great.  They are full of color and whether you’re a master chef or not, a plate with that much interest and dimension is sure to leave your guests feeling full impressed.

Perfection in 4 Easy Steps: 1. Pick out your favorite veggies and wash thoroughly. 2. Buy some sort of a crumbly cheese – think feta or goat. (The consistency and tangy flavor goes great with crisp greens!) 3. Add something unexpected.  Think corn or dried cranberries. 4. Drizzle a light vinaigrette (balsamic, lime, or raspberry are so refreshing!)

DRESS UP YOUR SPACE

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Okay, so this may be a bit elaborate for a summer party, but seriously, I’m in love with this room’s white, whimsical fantasy nature.  While the white may be best served in a bridal/baby shower setting (or a fancy soiree, if you will…), I still think this room has got it going on and I’m willing to give it a try if you are.

Perfection in 4 Easy Steps: 1. Buy balloons (white & clear – or whichever color you choose), small marbles matching the color of the balloons, and a helium tank (Balloon Time – $35 from Walmart). 2. Fill each balloon with helium and before tying, drop a marble into its body. (The weight of the marble inverts the balloon so it is suspended in teardrop shape) 3. Tie balloon and let it float to the ceiling. 4. Feel accomplished and dance around your balloon palace!

Have you ever implemented these fun ideas into your parties?  If you have, or are planning to, I want to be invited hear all about it!

XO

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Red’s Not Just For Shoes…


I loooveeee red velvet cupcakes, cakes, cake pops, muffins (they do exist!)…pretty much everything.  I came across the most adorably packaged red velvet cupcake mix from William Sonoma and just had to have it – (I am most definitely every marketer’s dream…)

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So cute.  I’m an easy target. (williamsonoma.com)

Now to preface my baking experience the other night, you should probably know that I was running on little sleep and took on this endeavor at 8 P.M. after working a full day and without a mixer.  I guess what I am trying to say is that these directions were so simple that a grumpy, sleepy, and ill-equipped pretend
“cake-boss” …well, anyone can make them.

I read some of the reviews online and was shocked to see how many people had a terrible experience with this mix.  While it is a bit pricey ($15) and cream cheese frosting generally hates me, I couldn’t disagree more with all their complaints (think: greasy, dense, flavorless).  Ironically, moist (ew.), fluffy, and flavorful is more like it — and this is coming from the girl without a mixer, good thing I have a sensational bicep…

Check out the recipe by William Sonoma Kitchen below!

For the red velvet cupcakes:

 2/3 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 package red velvet cupcake mix

For the cream cheese frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese

8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

To make the red velvet cupcakes, have all the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a 12-well muffin pan with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the buttermilk, eggs, oil and vinegar on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the cupcake mix in 2 additions, beating each addition until just combined and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute more.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely.

To make the cream cheese frosting, have all the ingredients at room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth and no lumps of sugar are visible. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

Frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Here’s to pearlized sprinkles and cuteness that’s good enough to eat…12 times.

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XO

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Yum-Yum Eat ‘Em Ups!


I love baking. It’s a fact.  There’s something about cooking up a sweet treat that puts a smile on my face and in the bellies of those who are brave enough to eat what I bake. My biggest fan and guinea pig is my fiance, lover of nearly all chocolatey confections and quite the “cookies and cream” connoisseur.  While I don’t always have as much time to bake as I’d like, when I do it’s a production.  Picture billowing puffs of flour, at least 23897 5 unnecessary utensils, and a variety of liquids strewn about the counter.  Regardless, it’s fun and creative and that’s what I love about it.  Image

My latest obsessions (and by latest, I mean within the last couple of years) have been cake pops.  Seriously, how cute (and delicious) are they!?  If I had endless hours in a day, we all know what I’d be doing after my high praise for the almighty cake pop.  Starbucks had the right idea, especially with their “Birthday Cake Pop”… this creamy, adorable, pink pop is filled with flavor and, dare I use the most heinous word in the English language,… moist.  Okay, enough of my ramblings, all this baking talk has left me hungry!  Check out a couple of my cake pop creations!

XO

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