Friday, May 31, 2013

travels | bayfield

While at the cabin last week we made a day trip to Bayfield.  Its a lovely little town on the shores of Lake Superior.  Very far north, but it had been years since I've been here and it was a yearly stop for us growing up. 
Not everyone in the family was thrilled with spending more time in the car, so it ended up just being Mim, Lydia, Miss Grace, Dad and me.  A pretty fun group if I do say so myself.
 My heart!
Lunch at the Pickled Herring!  I'm blaming it on my German roots.  They use a 100 year old recipe and fish straight out of the lake.  Dad and I both ordered the Smokehouse Salad that had pieces of smoked trout on it.  So delicious! 
After a few hours of walking around town, shopping, buying Miss Grace a sweatshirt (hello tourist!), lunching and such, we grabbed coffee for the road.  It was some very cool, very hipster coffee shop called Big Water Roasters.  I ordered a Lavender Mocha, simply because I've never heard of one before.  Oh gracious!  It was the most unbelievably good mocha I've ever had!  The perfect dark chocolate mocha flavor, where you can taste both espresso and chocolate and then just the slightest hint of herbal lavender.  The barista said they make their own lavender syrup.  Of course they do...
I've been dreaming about that one ever since.

travels | up north in tall pines

We spent Memorial Day weekend at the cabin.  The pine trees block any and all 3G signals up there and I tend to alternate between really enjoying the iPhone fast and a mild panic because my email won't download.  Its a struggle.
This little guy didn't mind at all, he played in the dirt the WHOLE time... and loving it!
The kids cooked dinner over the campfire one night.  Mom & Dad went on a date and left us to do our thing.  Our thing just happened to be "hobo dinners" (such an un-PC name for ground beef, potatoes and carrots wrapped in foil and burned) and banana boats. 
Clearly we're all "Country Living" while away.  Tin-foil dinners, watermelon and a ketchup bottle on the table.  Photo shoot worthy.
Cabin food!  So delicious, the ketchup really rounds out the charred flavor.  And pairs perfectly with diet coke.  Health nut, what?
Daniel putting out the raft via kayak.  I see no way this could end poorly.  The water was only about -55 degrees, but he managed to get it hooked up without getting wet.  Our neighbors were out on the jet skis and some other crazy people were out water-tubing. 
The weather was perfect!  We spent a lot of time out in the sunshine, reading, friends came up to visit for several days (bringing their precious baby boy), and we celebrated a birthday.  A great start to the summer!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

reads | relish | daphne oz

It's no great surprise that I love all things cooking & entertaining.  I come by it naturally, my parents are both great hosts and we love to have our friends over for meals, parties, or any excuse that we can come up with.  I'm always on the lookout for the latest cookbooks and our independent bookstore in town usually has a great selection.  That being said, I'm not sure how this new book by Daphne Oz totally flew under my radar.  Gracious!  I actually ended up seeing it at Target and Brooke was like "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about this, it's totally your kinda book".  Thanks a lot girlfriend! 
I resisted buying it for a good two weeks and finally had a weak moment one Sunday night, again, at Target (its a problem) and after leafing through it (again) decided to just do it.  Best decision I made all week!  This is the best new cookbook/entertaining guide I've seen in a long time! I'm going to predict that she is the new Martha Stewart.  The recipes are healthful (she is Dr. Oz's daughter after all) and delicious, super-fresh, beautifully designed with great photos, good tips, and a fun sense of humor throughout the whole book.  (I must also point out that she is a Lilly girl too!  Check out those pants!)
I may end up cooking my way through the whole book at some point... It's that good! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

delightful | masquerade ball

Before the ball begins - unmasked.
Warming up with a practice dance.
Guess who???
The last dance of the evening.

Our sweet friends, Kathryn and Tara hosted a masquerade ball several weekends ago. I'm not even a dancer, but there was no way I was passing this one up!  It was at the most amazing venue I've seen yet, a perfectly renovated barn with a hunting lodge flair.  Complete with a giant moose head on the wall.  So fabulous!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

quotable | fighting boys

| setting: kitchen with Grace (age 4) and Brooke (age 21) |

Grace:  "Brooke, have you ever had two boys fighting over you because they wanted to marry you?
Brooke: "Um, no"
Grace (with more than a hint of irritation in her voice): "Well, I have"

Remind me to take some notes from this one. 

travels | st. louie

We spent last weekend on a whirlwind trip to St Louis, MO for a conference Dad was speaking at. I say "whirlwind" because we spent twelve hours driving and less than fourty eight hours in Missouri. That was about eleven and a half hours more of the Illinois flatland than I'd prefer to look at. Your eyes start to burn and you see mirages. "Is that a Starbucks out in that field?". Strange location for a coffee shop...

The conference was great! Definitely one of my favorite. I might be biased, but dad's sessons were pretty brilliant. I'm still take notes when he speaks. There was so much good information going on, my favorite was something our good friend said about the "half a percent rule". If you can do something today, one half a percent better than you did yesterday, it might not seem like much but it will add up to big results. I've been working on that all week!  

We squeezed as much friend-time in as possible, catching up over meals and in the hallways.  Brooke and I even managed to sneak out on a beautiful Saturday morning and found adventure in the form of a historic downtown. My night owl friends miss out on little things like misty mornings near the river, perfect sunshine and local coffee beans. I've given up on explaining my deep love of early mornings.  They will never understand.  After two hours of saying goodbye (we like to drag these things out) we drove home in time for dad to preach Sunday's message and to celebrate Mothers Day. 

It was my favorite kind of weekend. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

making | thoughts on a signature dessert

I love those people who have signature desserts.  You know, that ONE thing that they are know for, they can make it in their sleep, its amazing every time, and you know who made it at a potluck.  Its a signature.

I'm fascinated with the idea of creating a signature dessert. I grew up in the kitchen and have always been a baker and have experimented with just about everything.  Pies; not a fan of crust, but I've made a few good ones. Cake; love it but the layers can get tricky.  Cinnamon Rolls; you've got it, but only on holidays!  Pavlova, creme brulee, millions of cookies, gluten free breads, everything.  If its got sugar and butter, I'm a fan! 

So I started to hone in on this about two weeks ago, getting stuck at the mechanics for a while waiting for an oil change gave me some unexpected free time, and I began to brainstorm on what would be the best "me dessert".  I knew a little of what I wanted, relatively uncomplicated (no layer cakes), easy to find ingredients (no homemade passion fruit curd filled tarts, please), no cheesecakes, and no breads. I wanted something that I could literally whip up at a moments notice and then had the option to play with if I had the extra time.  I also needed to be able to make a gluten free option.  And then it hit me.  Sugar Cookies!

How perfect could that be?!?  Then I started to breakdown what made the perfect sugar cookie, moist & cakey, lots of vanilla, perfectly shaped and of course, a really good frosting on top!  They really can be made quickly, or chilled overnight and baked in the morning.  I wanted them to taste great with or without frosting and if I have lots of extra time they can be decorated with royal frosting (the flood-and-fill method for extra special events!). 

My first try was based off of an recipe from iambaker, which I followed very closely and took painstaking notes of any changes throughout the process.  It was a bit tedious, but, my goal is to have a foolproof finished product.  A girl can't be too careful!  I'm also keeping track of my prep & baking times, so that I know exactly how much time it will take me to prepare an entire batch.  I should also note that these were even gluten free!  I use Cup4Cup gluten free flour for all of my GF baking and have the best results. 


They were good, really good.  But not perfect.  Y'all didn't expect me to nail it the first time did you?  It was a great recipe though, moist and yummy, and delicious even the next day. I eyeballed the frosting recipe (right now I'm all about the cookie, the frosting will have to wait) and added some preppy with the green & pink.  I'm going to attempt these next time with vanilla bean caviar and lemon extract and see if I can't get the flavor to pop just a little more. 

Expect to see some serious sugar cookie action in the near future!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

quotable | cat-eye

Elle: "My, your cat-eye looks good today!"
Abbe: "What do you want?"

Funny thing about cats, they're naturally suspicious.