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Archive for February, 2012

I had a really busy weekend – rehearsals on Friday night and Saturday morning, an epic baking project Saturday afternoon, a dear friend’s birthday party on Saturday night, and my church job and a concert on Sunday night! Lots of activities means lots of outfits! Here are two of many:

[dress: Audrey 3+1 at Mimi&Red; boots: Via Spiga; watch: Nixon]

This is obviously my birthday party outfit. It was a little chilly on Saturday night, so I put my trusty denim jacket over it. This dress is SUUUUPER short – to the point where I can barely sit down in it, so I chose my flat black boots. If I were 21 again (or feeling super-saucy) I would have worn it with sky-high heels, but I’m an old lady now 🙂

Here’s my concert outfit. Notice the theme?

[dress: Forever 21 (seriously!); shoes: Steve Madden Caryssa (in slightly better detail here)]

This isn’t a shot from the night of the concert, actually. Don’t fear – I *was* wearing makeup yesterday! I guess I’ve been in an asymmetric mood lately – good think I like my right shoulder!

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I love chocolate and caramel, but chocolate and salted caramel? I DIE. My church choir had a potluck after one of our recent concerts, and I decided that instead of bringing my usual napkins, I would attempt to bake! Those of you who know me in real life probably know how much of a disaster this could potentially be, but I found a pretty foolproof recipe at Sweetapolita and got really brave. The recipe was originally published by Saveur and all of the measurements were metric, so that’s why some of these amounts might seem a little bizarre, but trust the recipe!

It’s kind of a three-phase process, so I’ll break it down phase-by-phase.

Phase 1: Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon dutch-process cocoa powder (as you can tell, I used something generic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and softened (I zapped it for 30 seconds in the microwave and let it sit while I got my act together)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

[crust ingredients, with an unnecessary cameo by granulated sugar]

1) Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

2) Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy. WARNING: lower the beaters in *prior to* turning them on. Otherwise, you’ll have to add an additional step to clean the powdered sugar off of the counters, floor, and your hair :). Mix in egg yolks and vanilla.

[sugar + butter + eggs + vanilla = cats meowing incessantly]

3) Mix in dry ingredients.

[dough]

4) Transfer dough to a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (like this one from Crate & Barrel). Press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a track and let cool.

[dough, holes]

Phase 2: Caramel

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream

[measuring cups – Anthropologie]

1) In a small heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook undisrupted until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340 degrees F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the mixture should be a rich amber color. If you’re like me, you’ll want to buy a candy thermometer.

[candy/oil thermometer – Williams-Sonoma]

2) Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter + cream (mixture will bubble, so cuidado and don’t stick your face in it!) If your caramel is too dark/burnt, throw it out and start again. You’ll thank me later.

[caramel]

3) Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and let cool slightly. Refrigerate until firm (4-5 hours). FYI this makes a CRAPLOAD of caramel, so do not fret if it looks like it’s going to pull a Mount Vesuvius (in its active days) over the edge of the tart pan. It’ll settle in.

Phase 3: Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (to expedite the melting process)
  • Fleur de Sel for garnish – I used Balinese Sea Salt, but I’d recommend any giant grain sea salt to make it pretty!

[ingredients; laptop+rockin’ tunes optional]

1) Bring heavy cream to almost boil (translation: get it really hot) in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into medium bowl and pour in hot cream. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.

[ganache]

2) Pour ganache evenly over tart. I had to spread it out with a spatula. Refrigerate 4-5 hours (I did it overnight). Sprinkle tart with sea salt. Slice. Eat. Get diabetes.

[tart, partially camouflaged by my counters]

Enjoy! This tart is amazing with coffee, and best when it’s chilled.

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Despite what this outfit implies, it’s not *quite* springtime here in San Diego yet. The afternoons get nice and warm, but it’s still too chilly in the shade for bare arms (at least it is for this girl!)

[tank – Ann Taylor LOFT outlet (similar here); modest camisole – Victoria’s Secret; jeans – Citizens of Humanity; wedges – Steve Madden]

I’m currently working on an epic baking project – look for the recipe in a future post, if I don’t burn down my apartment trying to make it!

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[striped blazer – Forever 21 ($19.50!); tank, retro flare jeans – Old Navy; wedges – Steve Madden; headband – J.Crew]

I’ve been obsessed with finding a striped blazer for months, and by the looks of Pinterest, so has everyone else, so you can imagine my excitement when I found this little number at Forever 21 for cheap! The blazer inspired me to put together a low-cost outfit. The jeans are on sale for $25, the tank was $8.50, and of course, the blazer was under $20. Amazing!

Since I went low with the clothing, I reached for the stars with my handbag and jewelry:

[monogram pendant – BaubleBar; watch – Nixon ‘Kensington’; spiky cuff – Charlotte Russe; bag – Kate Spade ‘Victoria Falls Maryanne’; renegade cluster bracelet – Stella & Dot; hammered gold bangle and small bangle with etchings – T + J Designs]

Let’s talk about how much I love this bag. It’s big enough to hold all of my stuff, and I am DYING over the ostrich leather and the bright green is the perfect pop of color! Best of all? It was on sale!

[note: color is NOT neon; photo was processed with Instagram]

Enjoy the long weekend!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m going to be completely honest with you all: this holiday was way better in elementary school, because I knew I could count on a sweet haul of candy and valentines (sometimes with stickers!) from my classmates. We also had a rule that you had to bring enough valentines for everyone, so no one would feel left out. Sharing is caring.

I’m obsessed with the red-on-pink trend I’ve seen lately all over the blogosphere (here, here, and a sweet variation here)  and on Pinterest as well. If you had any doubt that the colorblocking trend is here to stay for a while, here’s a shot from the Thakoon presentation at New York Fashion Week (taken from The Man Repeller‘s blog):

Here’s my humble attempt:

[sweater – The Limited (on sale!); jeans – Old Navy (much brighter in person than on the website); flats – Halogen; arm party – details here; watch – Nixon]

As usual, the goofy expression is all mine 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It hardly ever rains in Southern California. When it does, my town tends to go into a panic – accidents everywhere, appointments canceled, and a general aura of blah pervades. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t a participant in any accident, kept *all* of my appointments, and managed to maintain a pretty cheery attitude, despite fate’s best efforts. Guess you can’t keep a fashionista down!

[dress – Everly; belt – Thrifted; knee socks – Forever 21; mary janes – Steve Madden]

[jacket – Meghan (found at Nordstrom Rack)]

Peace, love, and fashion,

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Lately I have…

1) Been really bad at blogging. Blame it on a busy work schedule, a sneak-attack sore throat that lasted almost an entire week, and general laziness. Sorry! I’m trying to do exactly what this little print says:

[my mantra, lately]

2) (re)Taken up ballet/modern dance! I haven’t taken a legit dance class since law school, and even then, we only made it halfway through Jazz Dance at community college due to other commitments (i.e., finals). I’ve also never really taken ballet. I obviously know the foot positions, how to port de bras, and some really really basic terms, but this class is teaching me tons of new vocabulary, and it’s totally fun!

[ballet slippers, floor]

3) Lost the fight to stop Fatman from sleeping in my dresser drawers. It’s so frustrating to see all of my clothing covered in cat hair, but he looks so happy sleeping that I can’t bring myself to lift him out of the drawers. He’s also packed in there quite tightly, so I literally cannot lift him out of the drawers!

[naptime]

4) Welcomed some new friends to my arm party! I think I need Bangles Anonymous.

[from left: Renegade Cluster Bracelet, Serpent Bangle – Stella & Dot; Thin Gold Bracelets – Gifts from Grandma; Gold Link Bracelet, Small Gold Bangle With Etchings – T+J Designs]

5) Started rotating flats into my shoe wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, I love my super-high heels, but I’ve recently found some amazing flat shoes (like the over-the-knee boots here) that are slowly making me see the light.

[flats – Halogen]

Here they are in action with a cozy weekend outfit.

[Dolman Sweatshirt – Old Navy; Faux Leather Leggings – H&M; Flats – Halogen; Headband – Goody; Ring – Gilt Groupe (can’t remember the designer!)]

Here’s to getting back to blogging!

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