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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Blueberry & Orange Muffins

I'm re-sharing this recipe, as Emma and I plan to go blueberry picking soon... yay summer!


Not only do we have a lot of blackberries around here, but we also have (had) a lot of blueberries.  We've made gobs of blueberry muffins this summer and I needed a twist of something new.

I added some orange juice and zest to our most recent batch and love how it turned out.  It was just the right amount of something different.  I was considering even doing an orange glaze on the top - I love anything with a glaze, but opted for a crunchy sugar sprinkling instead.

I also baked these a little longer than I normally do because I had a craving for a browned sugar top.  Don't ever underestimate the power of texture when it comes to food.  Yum!

A morning baking at the baking counter - I really do love having a big separate area to spread out on. 

Here's one of my favorite tips : I put extra batter in a Large Disposable Pastry Bag.  I can keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of days or in the Freezer for months.  When we want muffins, I just get it out and squeeze it individually into the muffin papers.  If it is in the freezer, I get it out the night before and put it in the fridge to thaw.

I love the Jumbo Brown Cupcake Papers for muffins - just like a bakery.

This is the morning we went blue berry picking with our friends.  Sweet Emma. 

I think she tried a green one ; )

Blueberry Orange Muffins

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cups granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 orange, zested and juiced
6 oz. fresh blueberries
coarse sanding sugar*

For the muffin batter, stir together flour sugar baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add melted butter, eggs, orange juice, zest and milk and stir just until combined.   Fold in blueberries.  With an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into a muffin tin lined with papers.

Top generously with coarse sanding sugar.

Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes.

I sprinkled generously with sanding sugar before baking.

Love that crunchy sugar top!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bacon & Potato Frittata | Easy Summer Brunch

This was a recipe that I posted 2-3 years ago when we lived in Concord.  I haven't made it since, but remembered it being delicious - and easy.   And it was.  They guys loved it because it was full of potatoes and bacon! 

Bacon & Potato Frittata 
with White Cheddar & Chives


serves 4-5

6 strips of bacon, diced
2 yukon gold or red potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons of butter
10 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
sea salt & cracked pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, cook diced bacon, butter & potatoes for 4-5 minutes until bacon renders the fat and the potatoes begin to soften.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, chives, salt and pepper.  Add eggs to the skillet and put in oven to bake for 15 minutes, or until eggs are cooked through.  Top with cheddar cheese and chives.  Serve in wedges. 

Bagel & Lox Platter | Simple Summer Brunch

Bagel & Lox Platter
for 4

When we go out to brunch, this is always my go to - especially in the summer.  It was the perfect option for this party because all I had to do was assemble it.

2 Sesame or Plain Bagels, sliced
6 oz. Cream Cheese, room temp
6 oz. Smoked Salmon or Lox*
Cherry Tomatoes

*I know that smoked salmon and lox aren't exactly the same thing, but they are similar enough for this - just use what you can find.  Make sure it is sliced very thin.

If you are organized, you can assemble this the night before... or right before, like I did.  You can also toast the bagel slices... which I also did.

This was a big hit - something most of us just order in restaurants, but is so easy to serve/assemble at home.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Simple Summer Menu : Lemon Basil Shrimp Skewers, Pesto Pasta, Tomato & Prosciutto Salad, Glazed Lemon Cake

When you think of backyard entertaining, burgers or steaks are usually on the menu.  If the crowd is right I like to take a fresher approach and serve pasta with Homemade Pesto Sauce
and Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp.

You can use any pesto for the pasta that you like - it is so much easier to make than you'd think.  The basil in my garden is not quite ready to harvest, so I bought a huge bunch to use at Trader Joes for just a couple of dollars.  I like the put the hot pasta in a big bowl straight from the pasta water and toss it with the pesto - the heat takes a little bit of the edge off of the fresh basil and raw garlic.

Recipes :

Homemade Pesto Sauce

Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp

For a simple, but elegant summer party you can't go wrong with hydrangea.  Here, I put them in a rustic pot to make them feel a bit more casual.  How-to, here >

Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp

This Tomato, Goat Cheese & Prosciutto Salad would be the perfect thing for a seated starter.

If it is more of a gather around sort of party, the Tomato Mozzarella Platter is always my go-to in the summer.  

This Glazed Lemon Cake is perfect ending for a summer party.  No one will say no to lemon - it always sounds so light and refreshing.

Shop the Summer Entertaining Collection for more entertaining ideas >

Friday, May 19, 2017

Recipes Index

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Blue Hydrangea Cupcakes for Summer

I think it is so fabulous to be able to make something out of nothing. I love that with a few simple ingredients (hello, cake mix!) and tools, it is possible to make something really beautiful. These hydrangea cupcakes are a great example of making something really pretty out of nothing.

I've wanted to try these cupcakes for a long time. I love when the hydrangea are turning from bright blue to a deep blue, purple with touches of green. They are just amazing. I have a very generous neighbor that invited me to cut blooms from her bushes whenever I wanted... obviously, she didn't know what she was saying! Though tempting, I've only borrowed this one time to use as a centerpiece to go along with these cupcakes.

I used a box cake mix for the cupcakes - no shame. To set off the color of the blue "hydrangea" I used these Brown Cupcake Papers They are taller than standard cupcake papers, but still fit into a standard 2" cupcake pan. They make a bigger cupcake, which is nice when you use this much frosting.

Here is a link to the frosting recipe I use.

Products Used :

Celebration Candles - Seaside
Disposable Piping Bag
Jumbo Star Tip
Brown Cupcake Papers

 Fit the piping bag with a Jumbo Star Tip (I used these disposable bags (100 bags for $14) to make clean up easy).

To get the variegated blue/purple look,  I made the blue color first, set half of it aside...

Then mixed in a little red to make the purple color.  There is only a slight difference, making them look more realistic.  Can you see the streaks of purple?  It just sort of naturally happens when you put both colors in together.  I use a small spoon to help get it into each side of the bag.  You don't have to do it perfectly, just a little bit of each color makes them look great.

I'm trying a new thing - video!  Here is a little technique video to show you how I make them look as real as possible.  What do you think?  Do you want me to do more videos?

I served these for my sister's birthday, so I used Celebration Candles in Seaside.

Here is the Pin Strip!

Stay tuned for details on the Blue Hydrangea themed table setting tomorrow!

Resources :

Celebration Candles - Seaside
Cocktail Napkins - Seaside
Disposable Piping Bag
Jumbo Star Tip
Brown Cupcake Papers

Thursday, May 18, 2017


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Fresh Peaches with Sugared Scones | And... My New Store Coming Soon!

For last weekend's brunch I wanted to serve a dessert that was early day appropriate.  I thought about strawberry shortcake, but the local strawberry season has faded and I'm not a huge fan of shortcakes... but I do love scones (no surprise, right?).  And what about peaches?   Are peach shortcakes a thing?  

You'll notice in the photos that I've switched from using the silpat baking liner to pre-cut sheets of parchment paper.  We used them at the bakery I worked at in college.  I'm crazy about them - no cleaning and non-stick.  They are so nice to have around for packaging, too - work great for wrapping up loafs of banana bread.  I love them so much that they are going to be one of the items I am going to stock in my new... store!

That's right.  I've been working on developing an online shop (Update! Now available, here!) to be part of the blog that will contain all of my favorite things and things that I always get inquiries about.  I'll carry a variety of "everyday essentials" (like the parchment liners, hemstitch napkins, linen tea towels, candles, kraft cookie/cupcake boxes, etc.), mailable gifts and special seasonal items as well (like cozy throws and pillows in the Fall, and goodies gift packaging for the Holidays).  I'm also designing some custom products that I will carry, too.  I'd love your input on what you'd like to see in my store! 

Back to the scones : 

To make the simple scone a little more special, I added almond extract and crunchy sanding sugar.  The sugar gives great texture and crunch to the fluffy and moist scone.  To put it over the edge, I topped it with vanilla bean whipped cream. 

I can't tell you how good this is.  Silly good and very, very simple.  I think this is what shortcake is actually supposed to taste like!  I highly recommend baking them just before serving (they only take 10-12 minutes) so they are hot and fresh with the cold peaches and whipped cream - or ice cream.

Fresh Peaches with
Sugared Scones
and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

makes 12 small scones

2 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
egg yolk
course sanding sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
fresh peaches
lemon juice

In a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt using the paddle attachment.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix on low until the butter is mixed in and is the size of peas.  In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, whipping cream and vanilla with a fork.  Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the cream and egg mixture.  Turn off the mixer once added.

Turn the dough out onto the floured surface.  Divide into 2.  Add some flour onto the top of the dough, then pat it out into a 2 disks - about 6 inches in diameter.  Cut the disks into 6 pieces like a pie.

Separate the pieces and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush on a little bit of a beaten egg yolk, then top with sanding sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.   

They are non-stick, too.  Perfect for cookies and scones, of course. 

Whip heavy cream with sugar and vanilla bean paste until fluffy - about 3-4 minutes.

Peel and slice peaches, then toss with lemon juice and sugar.  Serve scones sliced, topped with peaches and whipped cream.

Back to the store :

I'd love your help as I make final selections for the store.  What items do I often feature in my photos that you'd love to buy?  What sort of things would you like to see me carry?

If you want to pre-order the parchment paper sheets, just leave me a comment and I'll set some aside for you.  I'm thinking they will run about $12 for 200 sheets (that should be a year supply!).  What do you think?  Is that reasonable?  I'm verrrry open to feedback, so please, fire away!

Update : Visit my online store, here!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Master Bathroom | White, Ivory, Marble, Subway, Brass & Glass

I'm doing a little behind the scenes organizing of my blog and trying to get everything in order, including a new home tour area.  I haven't yet given a proper tour of our Master Bathroom since our renovation/addition 2 years ago.  You've seen photos included in the Master Bedroom Tour, but this post gives more specifics and resources for your reference.  

It is one of my favorite rooms and works just as I hoped it would.  In fact, I will probably duplicate this very bathroom in any future home we have : )

Here are some posts I wrote while planning and designing the bathroom : 

I wrote this post when we were planning the bathroom.  I include inspiration boards, dream photos, the floor plan and how we got everything we dreamed of to work in the space we had.

This post is the worksheet I prepared for the tile layers along with inspiration photos.

Planning the vanity was one of great debate.  I wanted a free-standing style that fit perfectly between the two windows.  We had 5ft, which meant a single basin.  So many people told us it was a mistake. I couldn't disagree more.  I am so glad that we have the added countertop space vs. squeezed in two sinks.  Never once in 2 years has it been an issue - sharing the single sink.

Cabinetry : Inset, Shaker Style Cabinets (same as our kitchen)

Clear Powder Room Bottles : These are part of my Clear Bottle Collection, found here.

This detail to the backsplash of the vanity was a last minute idea - I think it "makes" the entire thing... and it cost no addition money : )

Adding lots of windows and natural light were essential to our design.  It is not that large of a bathroom, so the large beautiful windows really make it feel luxurious and bright.  After this photo, we have added roman shades without blackout liners (to still filter in soft light) that are pulled down during essential times.  They are pictured in other photo below.

I love my tub so much!  When we were building, I told our architect that I wanted a bathtub.  They were convinced that we didn't have enough room for a 'soaking tub.'  Nowadays, most masters are complete with a 6 ft. soaking tub that has a prominent position in the bathroom and looks beautiful but never gets used.  I wanted a tub that I wouldn't feel bad filling up every other day... and would fit.

I found the perfect 60 x 32 inch Koehler tub.  It has clean lines and is rectangular in shape.  I chose Biscuit to match our subway tile and paint.

The glass doors were much more expensive than I had anticipated.  They were the last things we had to order for the entire house.  Since we hadn't gone crazy or much over budget on anything else, I just went for it.  There were more inexpensive options, but none of them gave this exact look without more metal trim hardware.  I do love them, though, and I feel like they really set off the entire room.

Subway Tile : Bone with Matching Grout
2 Polished Nickel Rain Shower Heats

These Shower Bottles were the main reason I design my Clear Bottles Collection.  I couldn't imagine putting big, brightly colored, logo clad bottles in my beautiful new shower!

Clear Shower Bottles available in my store, here.

In this photo you can see the picture frame moulding we had added to the walls by the trim carpenter.   It was the perfect way to add character and a luxury feel without breaking our all white/ivory color scheme.

You can take a tour of our Master Bedroom, here.

Walls & Trim : Benjamin Moore Navajo White Satin 

Countertops : Arabescata Veneto Marble with Honed Finish

Powder Room Bottles on Vanity : Available in my Store, here.

Shower Bottles : Available in my Store, here.

Hardware : Martha Stewart Bedford Brass from Home Depot

Sconces : Visual Comforts Vendome Rubbed Brass

Shower Walls : Biscuit Daltile Subway (Home Depot)

Shower Floor : Hampton 2" Hexagon in Honed (The Tile Shop)

Shower Curb : MS International Grecian White in Honed (Home Depot)

Shower Heads (we'll have two) : Danze Opulance in Polished Nickel (

Deck & Splash Marble : MS International Grecian White in Honed (Home Depot)

Windows : Anderson 400

Roman Shades : Roman Shades from Home Depot in Milan Feather

Floors : Hardwood Stained, Minwax Dark Walnut

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