NOTW: Gradients & Fleck

Remembering back to when I first got into graphic design, I was in 8th grade, I used gradients on ev-er-y-thing. The more knowledgable I became, the quicker I tamed that beast but with ombre everything everywhere (still), it's alright to sneak them in and not be super embarrassed.

The subtle shift in colors with nail polish that's been applied by sponge is so dreamy to me. I really like this manicure and I'll definitely be doing it again! I'm still on my Meteor Shower kick, clearly...

From left to right: Sinful Colors in Cross My Heart and Rain Storm, Wet n Wild in I Need a Refresh-Mint and American Apparel in Meteor Shower.


For the Love of Sprouts

When I was a kid I never ever ate Brussels sprouts, but not because I thought they were awful, my mom just never cooked them. I'm not entirely sure if that's a Latin@ thing or what... I do remember picking one up at the grocery store once and peeling each leaf off while my mom pushed our cart (she had no idea I was doing this (lol)), and that's my entire history with the tiny cabbage.

Imagine my surprise when I saw unpicked Brussels sprouts at Trader Joe's! Both cute and terrifying on their stalks. Lots of little things gross me out often times.

(Photo courtesy of @jozjozjoz)

Last week, I braved through my fear and tested Smitten Kitchen's Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts. They were so good I made them again Monday night! I recommend the recipe, hands down, especially because so many recipes call for bacon or bacon fat and I don't eat meat (and maybe you don't either?).

Oh, shallots, how I love youuu. Why do you bring me endless tears? :'(

The sprouts are braised in white wine (I used Yellow Tail Chardonnay) and (veggie!) broth then removed to make a ridiculous sauce with Dijon mustard and cream. I wish I would have made more sauce so the sprouts (I) could've swam in it!

I paired the sprouts with tilapia, our household staple. Normally, I pan fry it with a bit of olive oil, garlic, and onions; instead I broiled it with a lemony concoction of butter, lemon juice, and lots of parmesan. So nice and gooey!

If my mom had cooked Brussels sprouts like these when I was a kid, I'm sure I would have loved them as much as I do now. They're just so rich and full of flavor!


NOTW: Golden Tones

Last week I ordered nail striping tape online after searching locally to no avail. It was time. Hopefully eBay will pull through and it won't take forever to arrive! In the meantime, I had to trust my hands, hold my breath for steadiness, and ask Andrew to help draw the line on my right thumb. Luckily for Andrew (me), I had new nail art pens to help.

Meteor Shower is becoming one of my favorite glitter polishes. I love the gold flake look without the price tag of actual gold flake polishes like the 18K Real Gold Flake Zoya just launched. Don't get me wrong, it's really pretty, but it's just nail polish!

From left to right: Sally Hansen Nail Art Pen in Pearly White, L'Oreal in Gorgeous Gold, China Glaze in First Mate, American Apparel in Meteor Shower, and ORLY in Naked Ivory.

This manicure actually caught the eye of my boss who never notices my nails. It must have been all the sparkle!


Kitchen Experiments: The Fanciest Cake I've Baked

It dawned on me after my cookie post that I have yet to bake a traditional cake from scratch, which is weird. After some recipe searching, I decided to try out Magnolia Bakery's Hummingbird Cake*. A cake made with ripe bananas, pineapple, pecans and cream cheese frosting? There was basically no question, plus Andrew raves about it all the time because he's lucky enough to work near the Magnolia Bakery downtown.

My first time making homemade frosting was quick and painless. I'm sold! Homemade frosting is totally worth the extra effort. I ended up with a smaller amount than I'd hoped for, which was a bit of a bummer. I was dead set on decorating my cake like this beauty, but there's always next time.

As always, I was happy to use my gadgets. I mean, how fun is chopping pecans? Well, chopping pecans with an adorable little baby food processor is THE MOST FUN.

After allowing the cakes to cool, I started cutting down the tops to level them off. Now that took some patience. I had to keep telling myself there's no time to be a perfectionist. Why did I start baking at 8pm...?

I bought my first angled spatula to be fancy. It's totally not necessary, but I felt cool using it (I'm such a nerd). While cutting the excess cake to even out the shape I kept thinking what am I going to do with all these leftovers? They're still sitting in my fridge! Maybe I'll try cake balls.

Not too bad for my first crumb coat, though it seems people usually use less icing.

I was thrilled with the result, and it's wasn't just eye candy either! Be warned: This cake is extremely dense. It's incredibly rich, moist, and fresh tasting, but above all else, it is as dense as can be. I had to take half of it to work because there was no way Andrew and I could ever finish it. Everyone loved it!

*A word of advice if you follow the MB recipe: Don't forget to add your eggs! There is no mention of eggs anywhere other than in the ingredients list. I was about to pour my batter into my cake pans when I realized I had three eggs sitting on my counter.

Do you guys use all of your dishes when you cook and bake, too? Just me? Ok...