Sunday, January 18, 2015

Outfit of the Day: Blue Floral

This whole outfit revolved around the watercolor cutout dress. This dress is lightweight but the jewel toned blue makes it perfect for winter when paired with tights, boots, and a cardigan. No jewelry required with the cutout detail at the neckline- everything is kept simple allowing the dress to be the star. (Outfit details below)

Dress: Forever 21 cutout watercolor print dress (currently available)
Cardigan: Target
Hat: Forever 21  wide brim wool fedora (currently available)
Booties: Frye
Tall boots: Bandolino
Lip color: Bite Beauty Brandy matte creme lip crayon

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

holiday pinwheel sugar cookies

This year I took to Pinterest to find the perfect sugar cookies recipe. Two recipes jumped out at me particularly so I decided to do both and compare. It's that time when the classic sugar cookie features prominently in holiday festivities- I'm pretty sure it's Santa's cookie of choice.

First up the recipe which required no eggs. I decided to go with a green pinwheel to differentiate between the two recipes. After making this one I made it a second time a week later and altered it, so I will include the original recipe as well as the alterations in parentheses.

Classic Sugar Cookie recipe, no eggs required:

What you'll need:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks of butter (cold and cubed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (on my second time I upped this to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (on my second go around I dropped this to 1/4 teaspoon)
Food coloring of your choice (I did not pinwheel the cookies the second time, so therefore it didn't require food coloring)
If pinwheeling you will need an extra 2 tablespoons of flour for the colored dough. 
Decorating sugar or sprinkles. 

What you do:

For pin wheeled cookies:

In a food processor or mixer combine flour, salt, powdered sugar and granulated sugar. Add cold cubed butter a few cubes at a time until mixture is like cornmeal. Add vanilla and combine til you reach cookie dough consistency. Divide dough in half. 

Take the ball of dough that will remain white and roll it out flat between two sheets of waxed paper until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate. With remaining dough put back in mixer and add almond extract, food coloring and 2 tablespoons of flour. Once that is mixed roll it flat between two sheets of waxed paper to about 1/4 inch thick and refrigerate.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or if you're in a hurry like I was I put it in my freezer for about 10 minutes)

Once dough is chilled take wax paper off of one side of each slabs of dough and stack them. Trim edges if needed and roll the two stacked doughs into a log shape. In a shallow pan pour your decorating sugar or sprinkles and roll your dough log in it until completely covered. Cover dough on plastic wrap and refrigerate another hour (or use my freezer trick of 10-15 mins). Once chilled again slice dough log into 1/4" slices. Place slices on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees F for 15-17 mins. 

*when I altered to recipe I reduced to amount of almond extract and chose not to pinwheel or divide the dough. I did still roll it into a log and cover it with sprinkles. I reduced the baking time to 13 mins and got perfect, soft sugar cookies. This will definitely be my go-to sugar cookie recipe in the future. 

Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe 2, contains eggs:

This is a more traditional recipe and you use the more traditional method in preparing them. I liked this recipe but it requires eggs and I don't always have those on hand. 

What you'll need:

2 cups butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups of flour

What you do:

Cream butter. Add sugar, eggs, almond, and vanilla extracts. Combine. Add salt and flour.  

Follow the above directions if you'd like to pinwheel the cookies (divide dough, refrigerate, roll, etc...). I chose red food coloring for this recipe so I would be able to tell the two types apart. 

My final thoughts. The first recipe when followed in its original form tasted exactly like Danish butter cookies, after I altered it they tased like traditional sugar cookies. Both recipes are delicious, but in the end I prefer the first, they don't have eggs and require less sugar.

Now get to baking, Santa's on his way!!!

*first recipe found on
*second recipe found on

Monday, November 24, 2014

LuLaRoe Addicts Anonymous

Hi, I'm Leah and I'm a LuLaRoe addict.

My addiction began with the Cassie pencil skirt that I purchased at a LuLaRoe party hosted by a friend and her young daughter. I had never heard of the brand before that invite but I was intrigued when I checked out their website. I thought perhaps I'd find a maxi skirt or maybe a pair of leggings to wear around the house. I tried on a Cassie pencil skirt because I've never been one to turn away from a pencil skirt and I fell in love. I purchased 2 Cassie skirts that night and came home and ordered one more online in a print not available at the party. (scroll to bottom of post for links to photos of the Cassie skirts I purchased).

Since that party I've been keeping tabs on the website for new patterns and prints to come out in the Cassie, but decided that I needed to branch out and get a dress instead of another pencil skirt. I decided on the short sleeved Amelia dress which features pockets and an exsposed zipper in back. I like the look of the zipper, but to be honest I don't like how it feels against my skin- the zipper has no fabric backing it so I'm very aware of it when I put the dress on as well as when I move throughout the day. That is my only complaint about this dress, but it'll be easily remedied with a lightweight tank underneath.  I love the feel of the fabric- it's stretchy and heavy which just feels great when on. I definitley have plans to purchase more Amelia dresses, as well as add to my Cassie collection. Since I gravitate towards stripes I also have my eye on the navy and yellow striped Julia dress- I've already put an outfit together in my head. 

Read on below to see how I wore the black and white striped Amelia dress.

Dress: LuLaRoe Amelia
Cardigan: Target similar
Necklace: Cost Plus World Market. 
Belt: Urban Outfitters similar
Boots: Steve Madden Intyce

(lipstick: Bite Beauty Apricot)

Accessories: Gold Belt from Urban Outfitters. Bracelets from Banana Republic.

Below is an alternate belt choice. Chunky woven belt purchased from local boutique Coverings.

Local to SLO County? Meghan Hoetker (LuLaRoeSlo) will be hosting a LuLaRoe "Lulapalooza" featuring multiple consultants (the number was up to 10 last time I checked!) in one location on Thursday December 11th 6-9 pm at the Ludwick Community Center located at: 864 Santa Rosa Street, San Luis Obispo. 

I, for one will be going straight there after work to spend way too much money! I hope to see you there!!

Want to see my Cassie skirts in action? Links to my Instagram photos here: Cassie 1 (still available online), Cassie 2, Cassie 3.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cozy Throw Blankets

Back in the summer when it was way too hot to contemplate slippers, hot mugs of cocoa, and cozy throws, West Elm had a fantastic sale. I just couldn't resist purchasing some throws since I somehow managed to only acquire one in the last five years and it's not exactly fit for display. With that thought in mind I got click happy and before I knew it my virtual basket had two throws in it and voila, they were on their way!

When they arrived I could only use my imagination in the blistering California heat- I had absolutely no need for throws in August and honestly I broke out in a sweat just looking at them. I set them aside and delayed my gratification for another much chillier day.

Fast forward a few months, we've got one rain on the books so far and the occasional fall like day but for the most part we're still too warm for cozy things. The rest of the world on the other hand is definitely feeling fall and in some places winter is coming early- these blankets will be a welcome friend to you. Even better, they're back on sale!! 

While my little throws have only been used a handful of times so far I know that come January I'll be very happy that I thought ahead and got my hands on them early. Maybe you'll find a little cozy number yourself? Something you can see yourself bundled up in with a mug of hot cocoa?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Coming Home From Big Sur

The last post was about our time camping in gorgeous Big Sur and this post is a part two of sorts. We deviated from our usual route- going back south down the 1 to our home in San Luis Obispo County- and went home via Monterey and from there connecting with Hwy 101 South.  The only reason that we chose to do this wacky route was our poor pup Finnigan. We didn't want to subject him to the twists and turns of Hwy 1 which made him car sick on the way up to Big Sur. Even though our detour took us farther north than we needed to go it took us the exact same amount of time to get home as it did to take Hwy 1 up.  An added advantage to this journey? The Bixby Bridge and rain!!!!!

We haven't seen rain since my husband and I went to Ireland in January. I cannot tell you how thrilling it was to turn the windshield wipers on! Nerd alert!! But in drought ridden, water starved California that business is a big deal!!

Here's a little pictorial of our journey home...

North on Hwy 1:

We stopped at a vista point after crossing the bridge so I could get the above photos. 

Heading South on the 101:


 if you look closely I'm camouflaged with the tree. 

Soledad Mission-

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Camping in Big Sur

 A few weeks ago my husband and I packed up the car, grabbed the dog and high tailed it up the coast to beautiful- one of a kind- Big Sur, California.

I count myself one lucky lady that every summer as a child we went camping in either Big Sur or the Santa Cuz Mountains- both breathtakingly gorgeous places. My husband suggested the camping trip and I got such a nostalgic, warm and fuzzy feeling- it was a round trip ticket to my childhood.

Our first stop along the winding road was lunch at Ragged Point. Ragged Point consists of a casual  take out "snack bar", a sit down restaurant, hotel, gas station and mini market. I've never eaten at the sit down restaurant- we've always opted for the "snack bar", which has pretty decent burgers, sandwiches, and hot dogs. The environs of Ragged Point are beautiful. Uninterrupted views of the coastline in each direction, bright bougainvillea, well kept walkways and if you're lucky- peace and quiet. Definitely worth a stop! 

A little further up Hwy 1 we made an emergency stop for our poor pup. He doesn't like riding in the car- he gets anxiety and occasionally he gets car sick. The little fella couldn't help himself and got car sick in the backseat. We made our pit stop, cleaned things up and gave our pup a much needed break out of the car. At least if you have to stop and wait for things to dry we got to do it somewhere with a gorgeous view. 

Arriving at Pfieffer Big Sur State Park, the regular campground of my childhood (followed in later years by Ventana Campground also in Big Sur, and Big Basin Redwoods State Park campground in the Santa Cruz mountains), was like turning back the clock to 10 years old- only this time I was in charge of the reservation and my husband and I only had each other to set up camp. It was thrilling to roll down the window and breath in those glorious redwoods, knowing that this would be our home for the next 2 nights.

We found out farely quickly that Finnigan is afraid of heights. As we prepared to walk over this bridge, he dug his heels in and refused to budge an inch. The only way that we could get him to cross was by allowing him to walk in the center of the bridge. Drivers were very kind when it became apparent that we couldn't get him out of the middle of the road and went around us, with lots of waves and smiles.

((Yes, this is how you blow up your air matress if you don't want it to touch the ground and get dirty.)

We also found out in short order that Finnigan didn't want anything to do with the fire or the smoke that it produced. The above picture shows how close he would get. Eventually he would get closer but only with the promise of treats.

Our first morning and we set out for Big Sur Bakery. A few friends of mine, who are regulars in Big Sur told me about the bakery. The last time I had been up in the Pfeiffer Big Sur part of the coastline the bakery either wasn't there or we were driving by too fast to notice. Our Big Sur excursions usually entail only going as far north as Nepenthe, about 30 minutes south of the bakery (we chose to skip Nepenthe this trip- it was far too crowded and parking is very limited).  The bakery was both a yummy and odd experience for me (I'll get to that  story in a moment...). It was quite crowded, as it's well earned reputation has spread far and wide, so we waited in line for a little bit. We decided to forgo sitting down to a full meal and just got pastries to go. I was going to get coffee as well but the wait seemed to be awhile and we had the dog waiting for us in the car. Next time we'll leave the dog relaxing at home, giving us all the time in the world to enjoy coffee and pastries and just maybe a wood fired pizza (yum!).

As we waited in line I took some photos of the lovely interior- it's a cozy little place and I just love the exposed beams and wooden bar. It has such a homey feel and I was hoping that would translate through the photos. I also really wanted to get a photo of the pastry case- this is where things took an odd turn.  As we moved closer to the front of the line I lifted my camera to get a shot of the pastry case between customers. The guy working the register behind the counter had a little mini flip out. He dramatically lifted his hands to shield his face and proceeded to embarass the crap out of me. He saidly loudly and dramtically something to the affect of, "No photos, I don't want to be in your pictures." and gave me a death glare. I wanted to melt into the floor- of course people turned and looked at me- if I hadn't wanted that damn pastry and the cookbook so bad I would have turned around and left, I was mortified. Thank goodness there were 2 people working the registers because if he would have been the one to take our order I think I would have cried. The girl who ended up taking our order was so nice, so she redeemed the experience for me and made me feel less like a jerk.  Despite that experience, it's a wonderful place and well worth any wait you may have in both the line and while you wait for your food. Also the cookbook is a recommeded buy as well. Not only does it have recipes for some of their delectable foods, it also has a history of the bakery and a little insight to what it's like to live in Big Sur year round. A great read!

They were out of the pastry that I'd been recommened (the almond croissant) so I settled for the classic glazed donut and my husband got the cream filled. They were rich and delicious- I completely recommend them. Next time I would like to order a meal and sit down outside the restaurant- after having purchased and read through their cookbook I know that amazing, thoughtful food is waiting for us!

(the brilliant and adorable packaging for the cookbook- great way to use a paper bag)

Our next order of business was Pfeiffer Beach. I'm sure you'll be scratching your head and wondering where the beach photos are. Well friends, there are none. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Why? Because the beach of many a childhood vacation memory now costs $10! I could not believe it. We slowly made our way down the badly maintained, narrow- sometimes one lane- road to get to this treasure of a beach. I assured my husband that the ride down was worth the trouble as we dodged pot holes the size of large puddles and other vehicles coming head on from the opposite direction. I have such fond memories of that beach and I was excited to introduce my husband to it and feast on our donuts with the cool breeze and bright sun. It was not to be- as we pulled up to a ranger booth boldly declaring the $10 fee. I wish they had told us that before we embarked on that 2 mile bumpy journey. I didn't have $10 in cash so it was a wasted trip. A  bit of a disappointment. I guess the lesson here is to research- I have since looked it up online and many sites tell you of the $10 fee- I just never thought to look it  up since it had always been free- lesson learned. 

(as a side note I had a similar experience driving up at Jade Cove. I usually stop there to use the restroom on our way up the coast so when we pulled off and I hopped out to run to the restroom, I was bowled over when a ranger literally chased me down and told me it was $10. I told her I was just using the bathroom and she said I would have to get back in my car, drive back around to the ranger booth and pay $10. I told her I wasn't parking for day use and that I just wanted to use the restroom- I'd be a minute tops and she said, "That will be $10." This, my friends is why I normally never go to Big Sur in the summer. I'm pretty sure the rangers have had it up to here- next time we'll head up in early fall and avoid some of this craziness, although I'm afraid my days of using the once free restroom at Jade Cove and the once free beach at Pfeiffer Beach are over, as I think the $10 fee is here to stay. Just be aware of these fees as you head up there and make sure you have cash on hand.)

Big Sur is one of the most beautiful places on earth and even though we didn't get to partake in the beauty that is Pfeiffer Beach we did have beauty all around us. We were limited to walks around the campgroud since we had the dog with us (they are not allowed on trails, even with leashes), but we knew that before we even arrived and I remembered how very lovely Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is even if you can't hike the trails, just walking to the camp store is beautiful. We're looking forward to coming back without the dog so we can hike to Pfeiffer falls and get off the beaten path a little bit. There is also a beautiful watering hole that we used to swim in as children. There is less water than when I was a child so it's much shallower but it's still a lovely spot for a dip- a great place to take your kids! When California is not in a drought and there's far more water in the river it's fun to just lazily float in an intertube. 

Finny's happy place. He was a miserable camper- he hated everything but the walks. Poor Pup. We have vowed not to subject him to this misery again. He loves his creature comforts.

If you have the opportunity to see Big Sur, whether for the day or for an extended camping or lodge stay, please do! It truly is a marvel, with breathtaking nature and can both invigorate and calm the weary soul. Every season has something to offer- I have been when it's cold with mist, raining with fierce weather, bright with sun- each time was beautiful. Of course if you are limited and are not lucky enough to live within driving distance, summer or early fall will probably be your best seasons. You will get the most out of the weather and the striking views.