A few weeks ago, Ryan and I had the pleasure of staying at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island for a friend’s wedding. It is a delightful boutique hotel with beach cottages lined up along the serene Newport shoreline. Upon our arrival, we found the most heavenly cookies waiting for us in our cottage. With just one bite, these cookies scored a place on my top five cookies of all time list.
Serena & Lily is one of my very favorite brands for home decor, bedding and bath. Their products are clean and fresh with subtle patterns and design nuances. These are some of my favorite picks. I am lusting after the plated glass vase (middle). It versatile and timeless with just the right amount of glimmer and shine.
Good news! Serena & Lily’s Friends & Family sale is happening right now. Receive 20% off your entire purchase through 10/15.
Click on the “+” icons above to visit these pieces in the S & L online shop.
We recently spent the weekend in Newport, Rhode Island to attend a friend’s wedding. I fell in love with this charming town! This “City by the Sea” has a cute downtown with a vibrant art, shopping and dining scene that is perfect for a weekend trip from Boston or New York.
My favorite excursion was the three-and-a-half mile Cliff Walk along the Atlantic shoreline and a return trip along Bellevue Avenue where many of the famous Vanderbilt and Astor families built their “gilded” mansions.
We also enjoyed some delicious New England food and wine, including lobster sliders overlooking the ocean on the lawn of Castle Hill Inn.
We did not have enough time to explore Newport, so we will definitely be back to this wonderful gem. A perfect time to visit is just after Labor Day when the summer crowds are back to school and it is still warm enough to comfortably enjoy the fresh air and scenic walks.
Last summer, Ryan and I attempted the 3-day BluePrint “Renovation” juice cleanse. We were fresh off a long trip to visit family and friends in Chicago that involved many nights eating out and a lot of wine. Admittedly, I only lasted on the cleanse for one day, but I continued to replace a meal here and there for a week or so in an effort to lighten up and give my body a break. I actually liked all of the juices in the cleanse, but one of my favorites was this pineapple, apple, mint juice (PAM). It was the second juice of each day of the cleanse. The benefits of pineapple are worth noting: tons of Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Potassium and the enzyme Bromelain, which reduces inflammation and promotes good digestion.
I am so OVER this cold weather. The only thing that has kept me sane is quick trips to the gym. I tag the kiddos along and they play in the daycare while I try to get myself back in warm weather shape.
A few of my workout favorites are shown above, specifically this Athleta Chi Tank (1) and these Ultimate X Capri Pants (5). I love that the long tank has a bit more coverage. And, the capris sit a tad higher on the waist and hold everything in while you work everything out.
I am also in the market for some new running shoes and there are so many raving reviews for these Nikes (7) that have a supposed sock like fit.
Are you a fan of bold colors for workout gear? I think I could only pull them off at the gym!
It may be the anticipation of warmer seasons or it could be the new full-time mom gig. But, whatever it is prompted me to give my health a boost and give up the “DC.”
You may wonder what “DC” stands for. If you don’t know, that means you aren’t horribly afflicted with the addiction to the liquid gold that is Diet Coke.
I’ve gone a few days without my adored can of cold caffeine. I can’t focus. I am searching for common words. My photography has deteriorated. Prepping design files for my work has become THE most mundane task in the world. Make another recipe for the blog? Eh, maybe tomorrow.
In short, I am a super hot mess without my DC .
My DC habit was out of control. I was gulping down 3 of those bad boys a day! So, one day I just stopped buying it and then there was none in my house. I had to go completely cold turkey. For me, there was no other way.
Some bright mind once said, “it has to get worse before it gets better.” Therefore, I am moving forward and trying to replace my soda with healthier alternatives. Instead of reaching for my 6am DC, I am enjoying a decaf latte and a healthy breakfast. A few days per week I am enjoying this granola paired with vanilla yogurt.
I originally tried to make Alton Brown’s recipe for granola bars for snacks for the girls, but my first batch fortuitously crumbled into the most amazing granola I’ve ever tasted. I don’t know about you, but I like clumps in my granola. Are you with me? Sweet chunky bites of goodness with a little crunch and a little sweetness. This granola delivers when it comes to clumps and chunks for two reasons: 1) minimal mixing and 2) actively pressing the granola into a baking dish.
Aside from being tasty, this granola is packed with all sorts of healthy ingredients. Aside from common whole food ingredients such as oats, sunflower seeds and almonds, this recipe includes wheat germ, which is the nutritional part of the wheat berry. Wheat germ contains over two dozen vitamins and minerals and was described by Mayo Clinic as one of 10 great foods for a healthy lifestyle. (You can typically find wheat germ in your baking or cereal aisles. I used Bob’s Red Mill Raw Wheat Germ, which is about $2.99 for 16 oz.)
As you can see, this granola is a very clear departure from my old morning breakfast routine! This is going to be a staple in our house for a while, I think! I hope you like it!
I am digging deep from within to bring some sunshine and happiness to the blog today! I have a couple of close friends who really need a pick-me-up right now.
While doing some retail therapy online, this yellow sweater from J.Crew caught my eye. I love that this bright color might be a big trend for Spring. It’s an instant cheerer-upper, no?! I definitely do not have enough of it in my closet.
Are you with me? Let’s rock some serious happiness right into March!
(Disclaimer: This entire post was written with an inquisitive and endearing 3-year old sitting on my lap. Please excuse any spelling errors, word omissions, run on or incomplete sentences.)
Today, Faye had ketchup for the first time. (It was love at first bite.)
Today, Maddie demanded to wear my NYX Round Lipstick in the color “Snow White” before we went to the grocery store. (She was an instant hit with the 65+ mid-morning shopping crowd.)
Today, we had a dance party in our pajamas to mommy’s new favorite funk-pop song “Sugar” by Maroon 5. (…We nailed it.)
Today, I am entering a new phase of life. It’s called full time stay-at-home mom.
Over the course of the past three years, I’ve had two wonderful women care for my girls in Chicago and New York while I ran my old letterpress stationery business and took on some freelance design work. Life has stepped in and now our favorite sitters have their own families. It comes at an agreeable time as I have reduced my design workload significantly over the past several months.
I am not quite sure what the next several weeks or months will bring. Down the road, I may have a sitter again so I can focus on my much loved design work. But, in the near term, my focus is going to be on spending quality time with my little girls. Dancing, doing makeup, working on our “first things.”
The nice thing about blogging is that I can do it when I have the chance. And, baking and cooking, which is a large part of my blogging strategy, happens to be something that I really enjoy doing with the girls. So, although I may post less frequently, you will still be seeing some of our wonderful creations.
Now, about these Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting. There are two reasons why I made these: I had a jar of Nutella sitting on my kitchen shelves for for-ev-er and it was sacrificed during a New Year organizing binge. And, Maddie demanded that we make something with a) chocolate and b) sprinkles. I am not a chocolate lover by nature, but I must say that these were delicious!
One word of caution: I would probably avoid adding sprinkles on these cupcakes. Mine bounced right off of the Nutella! My food stylist and I (see below) did manage to get them to collect in the crevices of the frosting swirls for the photos.
Cheers to all you moms out there! I will see you on the playground.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a standard sized muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together until well mixed. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla together until completely smooth.
Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Pour in half of the buttermilk* and gently whisk for a few seconds. Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk. Stir until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the liners until they are halfway filled.
Bake for 18-19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
*If you don't have buttermilk, you can make your own: mix 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice with ½ cup milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
For the Nutella Frosting:
In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and salt until smooth Add vanilla and beat until combined. Add Nutella and beat until light and fluffy.
Today, friends, I am keeping it real. Recurring cold weather temps and frequent cold strains have produced a very sarcastic and tired lady over here at Chic & Sugar.
Last night Faye threw her entire dinner on the floor and then pooped in the tub. At bedtime, Maddie threw a temper tantrum and told me I was a “bad listener.” In summary, I’ve had a lot of constructive criticism from the toddler-set lately.
Let’s be honest. I don’t really eat those things. So, today, I’ve decided to bring you….wait for it….
a sandwich. (Note the lower case “a.”)
Let me tell you, photographing a sandwich stinks. It STINKS. It’s not pretty. It’s not sweet. This one, in particular, is oozing green.
But, I have to admit, it’s good.
I routinely (read: every day) eat a turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch, but took a chance on this chickpea and avocado sandwich recipe. I needed to up my game in the vitamin + nutrient departments and the avocado is a powerhouse fruit! The zip of lime paired with flavorful cilantro and smashed avocados and chickpeas is perfection.
If I haven’t scared you already, I would highly recommend it for a healthy lunch alternative to your everyday sammie.
I promise you that something very chocolate-y is waiting in the wings!