weekend whats

hedgehog measuring cups{Adore: Hedgehog measuring cups, courtesy of my husband for Valentine’s Day}

Happy Friday, dears! I’d like to thank each and every one of your for reading pearls on a string. Lately there’s been more and more visitors and friends, and I am so grateful. You may have noticed that my Thursday posts have been lacking. For the time being, I am going to cut down to just four posts per week. My life balance was getting a little out of whack and with work + blogging + life’s fun surprises I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed. So, I am taking a step back to enjoy what I do and avoid burnout. I can definitely see how some gals make blogging their full-time career, it can be très time-consuming! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend that includes some life balance for you as well, whether it’s learning to slow down or speed up.

the following{Watch: Nathan and I are now completely obsessed with The Following.}

bright lips{Wear: Bright lips + all white}

feather ring{Shop: The new jewelry collection at J.Crew. On my list? This lovely feather ring (only $45!).}

pink rainbow cake {Bake: An ombré cake}

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chocolate raspberry mousse

chocolate raspberry mousse

I can’t think of anything that is more Valentine’s Day than chocolate and raspberries together. In high school I would anxiously await the seasonal arrival of the white chocolate raspberry ice cream at Baskin-Robbins and take full advantage of it. (Is that awkward to admit?) This year I decided to make a mousse version to celebrate and it turned out amazing. Decadent, satisfying, and très delicious. The best part is the recipe is quick and easy to make. Although mousse may sound and appear complicated to make, it’s relatively simple. If you make this for your Valentine’s Day dessert, I promise you will not be disappointed (but if you are, I’d like to discuss why your taste buds are so weird).

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse- adapted from this recipe for white chocolate peppermint mousse
Nine ounces milk chocolate, chopped
One heaping teaspoon of flavorless gelatin powder
One cup heavy cream
One egg white
1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract
White chocolate shavings and fresh raspberries (for serving)

1. Create a double boiler and melt the chocolate over simmering water. When the chocolate is smooth add in the gelatin powder and continue to stir.
2. While the chocolate is melting, beat the heavy cream, egg white, and extract until soft peaks form.
3. Remove the melted chocolate from heat and let cool slightly.
4. Take a big spoonful of the cream mixture and add it to the chocolate mixture, folding until combined. Then add the chocolate mixture to the rest of the cream mixture and and stir with a spatula until combined.
5. Pour into serving dishes (I used ramekins) and refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm.
6. Top with raspberries and white chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

chopped milk chocolate whipped cream pouring mousse chocolate mousse chocolate raspberry mousse raspberry chocolate mousse

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simple DIY valentine’s day cards

stamp signatureI love Pinterest as much as any gal these days but sometimes I get a little overwhelmed. Many of the projects seem like they require a Major in Art to complete, not to mention the large amount of time that is undoubtedly involved. I love making crafts and cards yet often feel like mine aren’t adequate when comparing them to the crafty geniuses whose creations rule Pinterest. In case any of you feel in a similar boat, I thought I’d share some of these super simple and basic Valentine’s Day cards I made for my favorites this year. The supplies I used include my favorite set of pens, glitter pens, scalloped card stock and pink envelopes, a heart stamp, letter stamps, glitter, baker’s twine, glitter tape, and pretty paper for envelope liners. The finished products were nothing terribly fancy or complicated, yet definitely portrayed a Valentine’s Day feel of love and, after all, isn’t that the only point?

card supplies zebra envelope liner love in glitter gold glitter tape j'taime cardstock envelope liners pretty paper easy valentine's day card

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marriage monday: valentine’s day

kids kissing{via}

The first Valentine’s Day gift my husband ever gave me was a pink turtle magnet that has “Hawaii” written on it (he was on a trip there on Valentine’s Day). Many years later, it’s still on our refrigerator and I always smile when I see it hidden underneath all of the pictures and toddler birthday party invitations. It reminds me that Valentine’s Day is not about exorbitant gifts, wild gestures, or expensive dinners. It’s about sharing with those you love that you love them whether it’s a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, or family member. I, of course, relish any baking opportunity and February 14th provides a great one, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. It may be due to the fact that I was usually single or most Valentine’s presents seem tacky and forced; I mean, who really needs a teddy bear holding a heart? Since our first one together after just a few months of dating, Nathan and I have settled into a nice Valentine’s Day groove with the only gift genuinely desired being a nice dinner together at home. (And Charlie, too.) With this attitude in mind, I’ve compiled a list of inexpensive, thoughtful ways to express your love on Valentine’s Day if you share the same mentality as me.

heart confetti{via}

  • A homemade card. Super original, I know, but I keep all of the cards Nathan’s ever made for me. His handmade cards are usually a piece of computer paper folded in half with stamps haphazardly put on it, but it truly is about the thought and effort.
  • If “just a card” does not suffice, try writing a poem. I don’t mean a “My love for you runs as deep as the ocean” kind of stuff, but silly, truthful thoughts that happen to rhyme, like “Roses are red, violets are blue; You’re weird and I am too; So let’s have weird little babies; PS I’d love you even if you got rabies”. Nathan really got into my whole poem persona (I write ridiculous poems for everything) and now it’s so fun to share them each holiday. They are always silly, usually cheesy, and sometimes gooey, but 100% meaningful.
  • Pink tulips.
  • Making a more-than-your-average-weekday dinner.
  • Baking a sweet treat. Obviously.
  • A small gift, like a pair of inexpensive earrings. Last year Nathan surprised me with a pair of earrings I posted about here! Bless his heart.
  • A book. I love receiving a beautiful book on design, decor, etiquette, or cooking. Nathan likes receiving books with pictures of wildlife, especially big game.
  • Tickets to a sporting event or concert.
  • A bottle of good whiskey or cigars (clearly this is Nathan’s idea).

Valentine’s Day traditions I try to avoid:

 valentine's day gift basket{via}

  • Red roses. Or roses in general.
  • Going out for dinner.
  • Coupon books for housework, lovin’, or anything else.
  • Expecting grand gestures of love or expensive jewelry (didn’t we just celebrate Christmas?).
  • Stuffed animals
  • Boxed chocolates
  • Slinky lingerie

Regardless of how you like to celebrate your Valentine’s Day, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday that is filled with love. And, perhaps some red velvet whoopee pies, too.

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weekend whats

strawberry milkshake{A classic strawberry milkshake}

Thank goodness it’s Friday! Baltimore was bananas this week in the post-Super Bowl hysteria of their victory. Parades closed down the city streets, everyone rocked their purple garb throughout the entire week, and I quietly nodded and smiled while people expressed their excitement (I was rooting for the 49ers – west coast for life). Now that football is over, I’m excited to read about all of those lucky bloggers who are New York City-bound for New York Fashion Week. It’s unlikely I’ll ever attend one so I like to live vicariously through them and their glamorous lives. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend; I plan to get in the Valentine’s Day spirit while Husband works the weekend away on a presentation. If you need a little help  enjoying the upcoming holiday, here are few not-over-the-top ways to embrace the Day of Love.

milk and cookies valentine's day{Heart shaped cookies + milk (and pink striped straws, of course)}

cashmere heart socks{Cashmere heart socks}

rice kris pie hearts{Rice Krispie treat hearts}

valentine's day printables{Free Valentine’s Day printables}

valentine's boxes{Valentine’s boxes}

macarons and champagne{Glam it up with pink champagne and macarons}

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olé ombré

brown hair dirty blonde hair bright blonde hair Like most gals, my hair style has run the gamut in my life from poorly dyed blonde in high school (it looked orange), to a bowl cut in elementary school (true story), to chin length bobs, long hair down to my low back, blunt bangs, side bangs, long bangs, practically white, and dark brown. I mean, what are we doing if not perpetually experimenting? My once naturally blonde hair has recently morphed into a weird mousy dark blonde/light brown concoction that has now (I’m dying as I type this) sprouted a few grays. I decided long ago I just don’t have the bone structure for a pretty head of brown hair and have kept my hair long and blonde for the majority of my days, but every now and then really need to switch things up. It’s such an easy way to ignite change in one’s life, so last fall when I was feeling down and out with mono I (and by that I mean my wonderful hairdresser) combined my blonde mane with darker roots for an attempt at ombré. At first, I felt like I just looked like someone with horrible roots but after a few weeks (and a touch up) I really fell in love with the multiple colors covering my head. It’s the best of both worlds and didn’t lead me too far from my comfort zone. I now find myself somewhere in the middle from my rainbow of colors above.

ombre haïr blonde tips ombre

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french bistro lunch at home

french bistro lunch at homeI was seriously spoiled by going to Cafe Bonaparte twice within a few weeks of each other. Both times the meal left me craving more of the same, although a weekly jaunt into Georgetown is not quite in the cards. The other Saturday I needed a little luxury without stepping a foot outside of my home so I created my own French bistro to enjoy a delicious salad and (naturally) a Nutella crêpe. The salad couldn’t have been easier, with grilled chicken, dried cranberries, clementines, candied pecans, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette on a bed of fresh spinach. A toasted baguette and San Pellegrino Aranciata sparkling orange beverage completed my meal, just like at Cafe Bonaparte. It was a lovely afternoon to indulge by myself with pink tulips and new reading material.

To make the chicken, coat skinless, boneless chicken breasts in olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin and grill on a panini press to achieve that bistro-like crispy outside. To make the candied pecans, toss one cup of pecans with 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and bake for 10 minutes at 350°, stirring a few times throughout to avoid sticking. I used this recipe for the crêpes, which turned out nearly as good as Cafe Bonaparte (the raspberries were a delightful addition, too).

salad ingredients bread and striped straw french cafe salad pink tulipsnutella crepe salad for lunch

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marriage monday: housework

cleaning supplies{via}

What happens when a Type A neat freak marries a slightly chaotic tornado? First starters, arguments. It’s difficult when two people’s perceptions of what constitutes a clean room is different. My husband notices every particle of dust and strand of Charlie’s hair, while I can go weeks without noticing the vacuuming needs to be done. (Although, if my husband pairs a tie and shirt that don’t go well together? Well, I notice that immediately.) I’ve been messy my entire life; my family used to call me Pig-Pen, after the dirty kid on Charlie Brown who had a cloud of dirt following him around. I just have other ways I’d prefer to spend my time than cleaning. Of course, this leads to resentment that one person is doing more than the other, which is not a good thing. It’s taken a few years to come to a compromise in this area that we achieved by following these eight tips to keep our home clean (enough) and to spend time enjoying each other rather than arguing over the laundry.

    1. Don’t worry about chores being split 50/50, split the chores based on free time. I spend two hours/day commuting for work, so clearly I don’t have as much as time to perform housework.
    2. Assign individual obligations. For example, I am always in charge of laundry and Nathan is always in charge of vacuuming.
    3. Compromise: I’ll always do a little more cleaning than I’d like but the house will always be a little less clean than Nathan’s ideal. We’ve accepted our fate.
    4. If you feel really strongly about a certain area, take care of it yourself rather than expecting the other person to do it.
    5. Get help. So, we may have enlisted the assistance of a house cleaner to come every few weeks to clean the bathrooms. It was the best decision. With both of our busy schedules, it is definitely worth the cost and we no longer argue over who cleans the toilets.
    6. I’m not suggesting a line of tape down the middle of the room, but having separate areas has helped as well. His and hers sinks are quite possible the best invention ever.
    7. Understand that cleanliness registers differently with different people. Accept this fundamental trait will likely not be changed.
    8. Clean together and make it fun (gross, as much fun as cleaning can be).

husband cleaning

Now, with clear expectations we argue less, compromise more, and spend more time enjoying each other rather than debating who cleaned what and when.

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weekend whats

Happy Friday, loves! If you live in Baltimore, the excitement for the Super Bowl this weekend is not only in the air, it’s in your face. My workplace goes pretty bananas for a regular season game so I can’t even imagine what work will be like. Purple hair clips, painted faces, purple mohawks, and jerseys are all considered completely legitimate these days. I won’t be rocking my purple garb but I will take advantage of the free food. Do you have fun plans to watch the game? Are you making tasty treats? Although I am not hosting a Super Bowl soirée, I have been perusing recipes perfect for watching the game. So in honor of this weekend’s event, today’s weekend whats are a few of the tastiest looking Super Bowl-watching delicacies. Enjoy!

mini mac and cheese{Mini French onion mac and cheese bites}

buffalo chicken bites{Buffalo chicken bites}

the-ultimate-whoopie-pies{Chocolate and caramel football whoopie pies}

salmon Sockeye sliders{Sockeye salmon sliders}

chocolate dipped coconut macaroons{Chocolate and coconut macaroons}

Skinny-Guacamole-Layered-Dip-001-522x800{Individual layered guacamole dip}

mocha-toffee-coffee-iceddelight-milk[1]{Toffee mocha mini milkshakes}

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one night in philadelphia

My two favorite things about the east coast are the beautiful, historic buildings that are nearly everywhere and how close the states are together. Last fall Nathan and I took a quick weekend trip up to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in just a 2.5 hour drive we were exploring a new city with the goal (if you love How I Met Your Mother as much as I do) to obviously lick The Liberty Bell. It turns out The Liberty bell is behind glass, so sadly we were not victorious with that task. However, we did manage to pack a lot of sightseeing (and miles of walking) in. We stayed at the newly renovated and beautifully decorated Hotel Monaco, enjoyed greasy cheesesteak sandwiches, ran the Rocky steps, ate breakfast outside across the street from Tiffany’s, and had an amazing Greek dinner at Estia. Since I am kind of in a reclusive rut right now, I like to remember moments of travel, discovery, and exploration. It definitely gives me the travel bug to get out of Maryland again, even if it’s just for a quick weekend trip. Experiencing new places always has the ability to lift one’s spirits.

philadelphia, paeating cheesesteaks pumpkin beer old wrought iron inside hotel monaco pastry and coffee rocky enjoying a beverage philadelphia, pa moose statue rocky pose

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