Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sweet Tooth February

I have officially become a Pinterest addict and it has resulting in a whole lot of new baking and cooking!  Valentine's day is later this week and I've been bringing some sweets into work (so they aren't tempting at home!).  I was really inspired by this beautiful post on Epicurean Mom:
(photo from Epicurean Mom)
I loved the beautiful pink shade of the cheesecake and the fact they are smaller portion sweets!  The recipe (follow link above) calls for fresh raspberry puree, a homemade graham cracker crust and of course cheesecake with fresh blackberries!
I do not have a food processor so I has to substitute some parts of the instructions....
Smashing up the graham cracker in a plastic bag seemed to work well for the crust portion and I used a hand mixer to blend the cream cheese portion.
It was difficult to achieve the perfect texture without any lumps but I blended it as much as possible with the mixer and hoped it would be ok!
I am not sure I did the raspberry puree perfectly or maybe since berries aren't in season, they may have not been juicy enough-- the cream cheese got a little tint of pink but I not quite the beautiful pink color of Epicurean Mom's original post.

I used a larger pan, 13"x9" and baked it for a few minutes less than the original recipe. When I first took it out of the oven it didn't look like the prettiest dessert I've ever made.
My original plan was to cut them with cookie cutters but it turned out pretty thick so I decided to make these as "bites".   I love the rustic look of it chopped into bite size pieces and the berries are oozing deliciousness!
Did I mention they are absolutely delicious!  So excited to try some of her other recipes!  Happy Sunday and happy baking!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Encrusted Embellishments

At work we were super inspired by this fabulous DVF blouse completely covered in gorgeous iridescent and metal sequins!   After scouring the garment district for some equally fabulous embellishments, I had to buy some extra for a little DIY project.  Initially, I really wanted to over embellish an eyelet dress, but I started a bit smaller. 

When I was still recovering from my broken foot earlier this year I was limited to wearing supportive athletic sneakers, I then graduated to alternating with converse and slip on sneakers.  Old Navy had these super cute glittery canvas slip ons in a champagne color which seemed like they would be even better with some sequins!

Inspired by DVF's layered application of sequins, I started with these fabulous oversized flower paillette sequins and layered them with pink iridescent paillettes, frosted flower cup sequins and finished with metallic beads.  I am also working on scattering smaller pearlized paillettes around to fill some of the empty space.



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Conscious Retailer

Reusable grocery totes, bag collection boxes in stores, organic products spanning the market from food to clothes to makeup...there is no doubt a green movement happening in retail.  I've worked on product development for several large retailers and organic and sustainable materials have definitely become a hot topic.  There is one issue it always comes down to- price. 
In my experience, there is always the worry of raising the cost of a product to make it organic and is this an important enough feature to the consumer to shell out more money for it?  A retailer who seems to have the formula down is H&M.
They premiered their "Conscious Collection" last year and I've noticed an increasing amount of tags highlighting organic cotton, recycled poly and tencel popping up in their stores over the past year.  I was thrilled to a new conscious collection hit the stores this week and it did not disappoint!

I'll admit it was partly due to the fact they definitely highlighted pink in the collection.....
The collection is larger than last year.  There is a great mix of pricing and product, day pieces hovering around $19.95 and the new "exclusive collection" of evening wear (pictured in store below). 
I was curious if this was just about materials or if their was more to it.  H&M has made a huge commitment to this concept and it is just not just about one delivery a year.  They are the #1 user of organic cotton in the world (they aim to use 100% organic cotton in all product by 2020), their shopping bags are 100% recycled plastic, they donated 2.3 million garments to charity last year and the list goes on.
They've highlighted 7 main goals on their website and they provide time and action plans for achieving each.
Provide fashion for conscious customers
Choose and reward responsible partners
Be ethical
Be climate smart
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Use natural resources responsibly
Strengthen communities
I have a lot of respect for H&M after reading more about their global conscious efforts.  Its also fun to be able to trace the origins of your new dress to recycled plastic shampoo bottles (dress at right below) or pesticide free organic cotton (center).  I also never knew some of their jewelry is also made out of recycled plastic materials.  I will definitely continue to follow their efforts to produce conscious product.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ombre Nails

I spotted a Ombre Nail tutorial on Jezebel this past Friday.  
Instead of going for the more dramatic effect pictured on their site, I tried it with 2 shades of pink- Essie's "Lovey Dovey" and Betsey for OPI "Its My Pink".  I figured it was a safer combo for my first attempt at blending 2 colors.
Basically, you apply a coat of an opaque color, let it dry and then use a makeup sponge to dab the darker color at the top of your nail.  The sponge does create an airbrushed effect which is pretty cool, then you dab on more and more to create a more saturated color at the top of the nail.  I was having a hard time getting the top of the nail to look dark so I went back over it with the actual nail polish brush and then dabbed color down.  When I tried to go back over certain spots with the makeup sponge after the polish had been on  for more than a few seconds it picked up the polish making blotchy spots.  
You finish it off with top coat applied sideways across your nail to not mess with the ombre effect.  All in all I thought it turned out cute, just think I need some practice!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Too Too Obsessed

Recently hunting around on the  "What's New" section of Sephora.com I discovered something to get really excited about.  I love what Sephora is doing in collaboration with OPI for their nail polish line.  They offer great shades, have been all about the "nail art" trend and the jewelry top coats sort of seal the deal for me.
And then there is this.......
As a major Betsey fan, I can't think of a better person to be in charge of creating the perfect hot pink nail color.  And to top it off, its scented like her new perfume "Too Too".  I couldn't wait to try it.  

Check out how cute the packaging is-gingham, roses, polka dots, cherries and leopard!

Finding myself home with a few hours to myself on a Saturday afternoon, I opted to do my own manicure.  The consistency of this polish seems to be a bit thin so that threw me off when I first started applying it.  The color looked a bit dark when I applied the second coat but brightens up as it dries.  I topped it with the Sephora "Only Gold for Me" top coat and it looked so cute!
As the polish dries, it begins to smell like Too Too.  I was wondering if the top coat would affect the scent at all but it doesn't seem to.  I couldn't stop smelling my nail last night, its subtle but smells so good! I also loved that it perfectly matched the pink on one of my Betsey rings.
Since I bought this Sephora has added a collection of different Betsey polishes, nail decals and tips.  I can't wait to try more!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My First Miette

I received the beautiful Miette cookbook as a Christmas gift from my mom.
With its lovely pink frosted cake on the cover, scalloped edge pages and pretty pictures, I was very excited to try baking a Miette cake.  
I have dabbled a bit in baking over the past year but there is something very satisfying about making something completely from scratch.  So I curled up on the couch on my week off staycation between Christmas and New Years and began reading the baking essentials section.  It was immediately intimidating.  I had to look up a bit about Meg Ray after reading some of this book because she sounded like a control freak.  If you do not do this you will fail, if you do not have a stand mixer, you can't bake anything in my book, etc.  (I am paraphrasing of course)
But Meg Ray is a self taught baker who now owns two bakeries in San Francisco and produces beautiful cakes and treats with a consistently perfect look.  This book is essentially an instruction manual on how to recreate her fabulous confections and maintain the Miette aesthetic.  If I was in her position, I would probably sound a bit like a control freak as well.  I also liked that these cakes definitely seemed challenging and I was excited to try making and decorating a layer cake.
After reading through the general sections, I purchased some essential supplies, I've never even owned a cake pan before!  I would love to someday have the baby pink kitchen aid stand mixer but I am not quite ready to invest in this item so my little hand held guy would have to do.
I bake cookies and brownies at random but it feels like you need an occasion for a cake.  Nick's birthday was coming up so I asked him to pick a cake, he chose the "Coconut Mousse Cake".
There were multiple components to be made for this cake, the base "hot milk cake", coconut simple syrup, coconut mousse filling and boiled icing to top it off.  The ingredients for the coconut mousse filling proved a challenge for me.  I always think I can find everything in NYC but with my current limited mobility restrictions, I started with the source suggested in the book, Perfect Puree of Napa Valley.  The puree is $25 which is pricey but then I saw the shipping was an additional $40 unless I planned on ordering 3 jars which, I did not.  After doing some research, I found this was the case with many suppliers of this type of product.  So, I went for choice number two, the "Bumblebee Cake".
The Bumblebee seemed a bit less complicated and all of the ingredients were readily available.  The components are a butter yellow cake, simple syrup and chocolate ganache frosting.  Meg suggests you can bake the cake up to 3 days before so the butter seeps into all the nooks and crannies.  The cake baking went without incident.  What is really nice is all Miette cakes are 6" which is a nice size to share with a few people.  I used the left over batter to pour a few cupcakes, even though Meg advises this is a total no no as this batter is too dense for yellow cupcakes and you must use an altered recipe also provided in the book!! Don't tell.  The next day, I started on the cake assembly.
The first step was sawing the cake into three even layers which was challenging.  I'm pretty sure I yelled at Nick to "stop watching!!!" because I was so nervous.  I got three, sort of even layers to work with.  In the meantime I also worked on the chocolate ganache frosting.  It was really fun to make the frosting even though this wasn't a traditional buttercream.  This frosting is based on a recipe from the La Maison du Chocolat French cookbook and is deliciously rich and chocolatey.  I could not stop tasting it!
I was so nervous to frost the cake that I started with the cupcakes (that I was not supposed to make with this batter) and thought they turned out pretty!
The cake proved more of a challenge for me.  As instructed I did a crumb coat to coat the outside of the cake, holding in any crumbs and serving as a primer coat for the frosting.  After chilling the cake, I worked on applying the top coat.  I could not quite get frosting the sides of the cake down.  I had frosting drooping down the sides and now wonder if I just didn't have the frosting at the correct consistency.  I definitely did not get the pristine finish shown in the book.

But I have to say it tasted delicious!  It was very satisfying to try something new and make a cake completely from scratch.  Stay tuned for more Miette!






Saturday, February 25, 2012

DIY Key Caps

I recently found this idea on pinterest, click below for the original post.   I always use those little fluorescent key caps you can pick up from the hardware store when you get keys made, but never thought about personalizing my keys like this.  I was super excited to try it.
DIY Keycaps
I knew I wanted to do pink and I loved the minty color above but didn't have any so I went with a pearlescent white for my other key and topped them both off with glitter. 
For pink I used Essie's "Lovey Dovey" which is one of my favorite nail polish colors, topped with OPI "Teenage Dream" which is from the Katy Perry collection.  For the white I used this very random bottle of pearl white I had on hand and covered in the amazing OPI for Sephora gold jewelry top coat.  I love the jewelry top coats because they have giant chunks of glitter and looks amazing over any color!

Voila....the finished look
So much cuter than hardware store key caps!