How to: Cinnamon Crunch Toast Waffles Recipe

I’ve mentioned a few times how, ever since I started working in the city again, Joey has taken on a lot of the cooking.

It’s great for me because I’m usually exhausted at the end of the day, great for him because he actually really enjoys it, and great for us because it saves money and we don’t have to wait until 10 o’clock at night to eat.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a few examples of me braggingsharing the things Joey has made, and because my Kitchen Adventures have become few and far between, I thought it could be fun to start sharing his recipes on the blog.

I’m accepting recommendations for what we should call this segment. So far, all I’ve got is “Joe on the Range.” (Yup, this from a girl in marketing. Sigh.)

We’re kicking off with Joey’s Cinnamon Crunch Toast Waffles, the perfect choice for a day-off breakfast.

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Stop drooling.

When we found out we both had the same day off of work, I requested a lazy-day brunch of waffles. Joey set to work. Here’s how to make ’em.

CINNAMON CRUNCH TOAST WAFFLES

Ingredients
2 cups pancake mix (Joey used Aunt Jemima)
1 cup water
1/2 cup egg nog
2 t brown sugar
1 T cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 c crushed graham crackers
1 banana, sliced
Maple syrup

Instructions
1. Turn on waffle iron. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. Combine pancake mix, water, egg nog, brown sugar, and 1 T cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
3. Once waffle iron is hot, pour half cup of batter mixture and cook waffle to desired crispness.
4. Plate cooked waffle and sprinkle with crushed graham crackers and cinnamon. Top with banana slices and maple syrup if desired.
5. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite lazy-day breakfast recipe?

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The Top 10 Posts of 2013

Similar to my annual sum-uppance, I also like to share a round-up of the top ten most-read posts of the year every December. (Last year’s winners here.) It’s usually fairly amusing — I mean, without this list, we would never have known how much people like reading about narwhals, right?

Let’s do this.

10. How to: Baby Gender Reveal Party
I loved writing this post almost as much as I loved planning my friend Megan’s baby gender reveal party, and apparently my readers have enjoyed it as well. You’ll also be happy to know that Bill and Megan had a healthy, adorable little boy that we all adore.

9. How to: Throw a Mad Men Party
So apparently I need to plan more parties? Our houseapartment-warming party was one of th most successful party I’ve ever thrown. I themed it (because I’m me), and the results were pretty fab. This post shared what I cooked, what we wore, and how I decorated.

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8. Get Your StitchFixMy post from the first time I used the service. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote a follow-up about my other experiences with the company here. I actually did find something in the subsequent fix that I liked, which I have completely forgotten to blog about. But they made things up to me.

7. What Guys Should Wear for Pictures
Listen, dudes. I’m looking out for you. This will hopefully be helpful for any newly engaged folks out there.

6. How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate
Another repeat from last year. You just can’t argue with Nutella.

5. How to: Plan a Bachelorette Party in Chicago
I still think this is one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever written — and one of the best parties I’ve ever planned. I stand behind all of my recommendations, and people who attended have told me that people forward them this blog post when they come across it while Google-searching bachelorette party ideas. That’s some good SEO right there.

4. How to: Create “Disney Princess” Curls
I often joke now that my target audience is little girls between the ages of one and seven because of my cartoonishly large eyes and long blonde hair. But turns out that little joke was a great way to drum up some blog traffic. Go forth and learn how to curl your hair.

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3. So…this happened.
So…this one is weird. I mean, the post is funny. It was a funny thing that happened to me. But this post NEVER got any serious traffic until November 28th, when suddenly it exploded in popularity, getting about 5,000 page views in two days. (A sizeable amount for my little blog.) I know the traffic came from Facebook, but I have no idea why or where in the social network. If anyone knows why, I would love to have this phenomenon explained.

2. How to: Paint a Metal File Cabinet
The tale of how my father-in-law and I took a rusted out file cabinet and restored it like new. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll buy spray primer. Everyone wins.

1. How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for Six DaysIt’s like the little post that could. Thanks to a hefty dose of Pinterest traffic, this post has risen from the fourth most-read post last year to the most-read post of the year. Round of applause (and dry shampoo) for everyone!

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Thanks for another great year! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for this one.

Three Ways to Style a Top Knot

When I posted the final reveal of my Blogger Style Swap on Monday, the strongest reactions went something like this:

“Yeah, sure, the clothes are cute blahblahblah HOW DID YOU DO THAT TOP KNOT?”

Seriously, a bunch of people reached out to me across various media and asked for a tutorial. You guys are way too nice.

BUT ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE.

I’ve actually made a bit of a study of the top knot/ballerina bun (not surprising, I know), so I know not one, but three ways to create it. And today, I’m sharing all my secrets.

First, collect the necessary materials.

materials

1. Goody Spin Pins
2. Pony tail holder
3. Sephora Collection Bunette (comes in blonde or brown…mine isn’t quite that yellow, I blame my camera)
4. Bobby pins

You want to start out with slightly dirty, texturized hair. If your hair is super straight, like mine, I recommend waiting until the day after you’ve curled it or used a bit of product. Dirty hair has more grip, so the bun with stay better. I’ll usually just wash my bangs so they don’t look gross, like so:

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Heeyyyy, it’s my face. Anyway.

The first way to create a top knot is the Roll-And-Twist Method.

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1. Start with hair in a very high ponytail. Think Barbie in Malibu. I usually create it by hanging upside down so gravity can help out.

2. Wrap the hair around the ponytail like a cinnamon roll.

3. Twist one Goody Spin Pin into either side of the bun, ideally interlocking them. You may need a few extra bobby pins for stray pieces.

4. Ta-da!

The next method is a true Top Knot Style.

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1. Again, start with your high ponytail.

2. Separate the ponytail into two pieces.

3. Tie the pieces into a knot.

4. Wrap the ends around the ponytail to form a bun.

5. Use bobby pins to secure.

6. All knotted up and good to go.

And finally, the Ballerina Bun. (This is the style I was wearing in the swap photos.)

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1. Again, you start with the high pony. Thread your hair through the Bunette and slide it to the middle/end of your ponytail. (The more layers you have, the less you will be able to slide the Bunette without hair falling out.)

2. Roll the Bunette forward toward your face. That is very important.

3. Bend the Bunette back into a bun shape. Use bobby pins to secure any loose pieces in the back.

4. Go on with your bad ballerina self.

So there you have it!

Are there any techniques I don’t know about? I’d love to hear how you create this kind of up do.

Thanks to my handsome husband for his help taking these photos at 7 a.m. You’re the best.

Young, poor, and blonde.

As I mentioned in a recent post, this summer was one of a bit of…excess.

This was true when it came to eating and drinking, but I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it also meant spending more than I normally do. I mean, I think it’s fairly common (there’s a lot more going on in the summer generally…now we’ll go back to hibernating), but it still means that now I’m looking for as many ways to save as I can for the next few months.

For me, one of the first things to go are my favorite girly habits. (I swear I’ve blogged about something like this before, but I just searched for about ten minutes and couldn’t find the post.) I’ve started doing my own nails (even procuring a little cuticle trimmer in the hopes that I’ll eventually stop picking at mine), and I’ve been seeking out cheaper ways to maintain my hair color.

As I’ve said before, it is expensive being blonde in New York City. Like, whoa. Since a full highlight can be equivalent to a car payment, anything I can do to stretch the time in between is super helpful.

Which is why I was pretty thrilled to discover these two products.

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Seriously, you guys. Life. Changing.

The first one is John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Spray. (Say that five times fast.) You spray it on your hair (I usually just do the roots) when it’s wet, then either hang out in the sun or simply blow dry. The heat makes the product work it’s magic.

I was a little nervous to try it initially because of a scarring Sun-In experience my brother had when I was a child (I’m a good sister, so I’m not admitting which brother), but the lightening is really gradual and natural-looking. In fact, I’ve had about six people ask me if I had just gotten my hair done since in the last couple of weeks of using it.

That’s a win, folks.

The second product is an even faster quick-fix. I actually discovered it on accident on my way to work one morning. I realized a little too late that I maybe should have washed my hair the night before (whatever, you all know I’ve gone longer without washing my hair) and ducked into a drug store to buy some dry shampoo. When I spotted Jonathan Product Root Touch Up and it promised not only to soak up excess oil but also to hide roots, I was very interested.

And, you guys. It works SO well. Here’s me before using it:

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And here’s me after:

IMG_5590RIGHT? It’s like the roots were never even there. You just dust it on and run a brush through your hair a few times. You should probably go buy this right now.

So that’s how I fight the fade on a fixed income. Any other secrets out there I should know about?

How to: Throw a Mad Men Party

We never really had an official housewarming to celebrate our new apartment. (Probably has something to do with the fact that we only very recently got the apartment in company-ready order.) So a few weeks ago, Joey and I decided to throw a Mad Men-themed housewarming — because what says domesticity quite like Mad Men, right?

The party was a roaring success (if I do say so myself), so I figured I’d share. Here’s a breakdown of how to decorate, what to eat and drink, and what to wear for a Mad Men housewarming party.

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How I decorated:

It will probably shock you to learn that I didn’t really start prepping anything for the party before the day-of. I know — so unlike me. But while I had been thinking about the details, I didn’t even clean the place until the morning of the party.

Fortunately, I was able to score a bunch of free party decorations from work, visible in the picture above. (Get your own MarthaCelebrations here.)

We also played Mad Men episodes on Netflix in the background and played ’50s/’60s music for a little ambience.

What we wore:

Since I have pretty stylish friends, I wasn’t too worried about decorating because I figured their ensembles will fill out the look of the room. They didn’t disappoint.

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My dress is from Etsy a couple of years ago. I’d originally planned on wearing my hair half down/half teased up (a la Brigitte Bardot), but it was mildly sweltering that night, so I opted for a ballerina bun instead. (Tutorial to come.)

What we drank:

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Because I prefer all my celebrations with champagne, I decided to set up a champagne cocktail bar in the kitchen. Here were the recipes:

The Sterling 75
1 splash gin
1 splash St. Germaine (or other elderflower liqueur)

Fill the rest of the glass with chilled champagne or proseco. Add ice.

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The Mad Mojito
For the mojito:
Muddled mint (about 1 1/2 cups) & limes (6-7 sliced)
2 cups light rum
3/4 cup simple syrup

Combine mojito ingredients ahead of time and let sit in the fridge for an hour before serving. For the Mad Mojito, fill half the glass with mojito mixture and the fill the rest of the way with chilled champagne or prosecco. Add ice.

The Don Draper
1 splash cognac
1 splash Grand Marnier

Fill the rest of the glass with chilled champagne or prosecco.

What we ate:

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In keeping with the theme, I served only 1950s-style foods. There were pigs ‘n a blanket, cheese and crackers, shrimp cocktail (provided by my lovely friend Ashli), a mocha pie (from my other lovely friend Natalie), and a deviled egg tasting (inspired by the appetizer at The House. Here’s how I made the eggs:

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Bacon & (Deviled) Eggs
For filling:
Combine 6 hardboiled egg yolks with 1/2 cup mayo and 1/4 cup mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill halved hard-boiled egg whites with yolk mixture. Top with chopped bacon bits. (I used turkey bacon. As far as I know, no one could tell the difference.)

Sriracha Deviled Eggs
For filling:
Combine 6 hardboiled egg yolks with 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup mustard, and 2-4 T Sriracha sauce. Add juice from one lime.

Fill halved hard-boiled egg whites with yolk mixture. Top with a sprinkle of paprika.

Fancy Deviled Eggs
For filling:
Combine 6 hardboiled egg yolks with 1/2 cup mayo and 1/4 cup mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill halved hard-boiled egg whites with yolk mixture. Top with a dollop of low-fat sour cream and a small scoop of black caviar. Because we fancy like that.

And that’s really it! We also gave out a prize to the best costume, which went to my friend Ashli (who in all honestly is ready for a Mad Men party at any given moment).

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Anyone else as obsessed with theme parties like me?

How to: Decorate for Dudes

Y’all know I love a good mood board. (Even though I kind of hate the term “mood board.”)

So when a dude friend of mine reached out to be recently and asked for tips on decorating his new apartment, my response was “I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS.”

Literally.

Because while I love a super feminine space, I also love decorating for dudes. Because, to me, it’s not that different from dressing dudes. And who doesn’t love that?

In fact, both of the mood boards I ended up creating for my friends (who has asked to remain nameless for now) started with a guy’s outfit I loved on Pinterest.

Let’s start with my recommendations for a TV room.

TV Cave

All my friend (who I’m just going to call Anthony because “my friend” gets creepy after a while) told me he wanted was “something in the brown” family that was “masculine” and had a lot of “white”.

So…basically not helpful at all. He dug the above design, though, so everyone wins.

Next, he needed a bedroom. Again, there was minimal direction beyond the fact that he liked “blue…like Yankee blue” and that he needed a place to store a sizable shoe collection.

Again, I turned to some of my favorite guy outfits with blue for a color palette.

Dude's Room

 

And yes, I’m aware I accidentally put a bath mat in there. The point is = navy rug. Make it happen.

So there you have it! I’m pretty pleased with both rooms, and Anthony seems to like them as well.

Now if only I could get my own bedroom in order, we’d be in business.

How to: Treat Your Mom to a Weekend in New York City

My mom is pretty great.

In the last couple of years, she’s dealt with the stress of marrying off two of her children, the addition of multiple grandchildren, and being diagnosed (and beating) cancer.

Like I said, a pretty awesome lady.

So a few months ago, I decided I wanted to do something nice for her. I thought about flying us both somewhere, but ultimately decided I couldn’t afford it. Then I remembered I live in a destination city. Why not just fly her here and have a little “stay-cation”? (For me at least.)

That’s exactly what I decided to do.

With my dad ensuring she didn’t make plans on the weekend I had in mind, I set out making reservations, buying show tickets, and generally planning the ultimate NYC weekend for my momma.

A week and a half ago, I sent her a package of five envelopes:

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As she opened each envelope, she found a clue as to what her surprise was. (Spoiler: It was that she was coming to New York. Have you really not been paying attention?)(yuk yuk yuk)

Once she got the packages, we only had to wait a few days before her visit. And now I’ve decided to share our weekend with you! Here’s where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did.

FridayMy mom got in on Friday around noon. Joey and I both took the day off to pick her up and keep her entertained.

That night, we headed into the city for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Smith.

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Fun side note: The Smith is actually where I first heard of my favorite drink, the French 75. So obviously it’s near and dear to my heart.

My mom had the trout, I had grilled shrimp with jalapeno grits (AMAZING), and Joey had the moule frites. It was all pretty great. We ended the night with the Quarter Pounders, three homemade chocolate chip cookies. If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that there is nothing in the world I would prefer to warm chocolate chip cookies. So…yeah. I liked the dessert.

Saturday
Saturday I had planned the New York-iest day I could think of for my mom. We started out by heading in to the city early in the morning. After dropping off our luggage at our hotel (more on that later), we headed to Union Square. After a quick breakfast (at Panera…not every meal can be fancy!), we took part in a little retail therapy.

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I mean, is it really our fault that our first appointment was on 5th Avenue? No, no it is not.

Speaking of our first appointment, it was at a little place called Drybar. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically a salon that specialized in blowouts. (Which you know I love.)

IMG_4163Within minutes of arriving, we each had a drink (mimosa for my mom, champagne for me) and were on our way to incredibly voluminous hair.

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Next, we headed to Bloomingdales (because why not more shopping?), and then headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner.

We stayed at The Sanctuary Hotel, which was conveniently located near Times Square. The rooms were…compact, but not in a way that felt claustrophobic. More like, in a way that made you feel like you were in a well appointed New York City studio.

Post-primping, we hopped in a cab to dinner at The House, a restored 1854 carriage house in Gramercy Park. We started off with drinks (I had The Ellington, my mom had a gin martini) and a deviled egg tasting appetizer, followed with the tile fish and the sea scallops. For dessert, we had a cookie sundae topped with fresh berries.

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And, you guys. It was so good. Like, ridiculous. We couldn’t stop talking about it.

Then it was time for the highlight of the evening: Newsies!

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We both loved it — the singing/dancing is pretty awesome. Plus, the cast is made up of cute, talented boys. Definitely a good choice to take your mom to. (In case you were wondering.)

SundayThe next day, Joey’s parents and sister joined us for a late brunch at The Thirsty Koala, which I’ve told you about before.

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My mom and mother-in-law had The Three Sisters sandwich, my sister-in-law and father-in-law had burgers (one beef, one kangaroo), Joey had an omelet, and I had a spinach salad with shrimp. We all had mimosas. Because it’s brunch, you guys.

Then it was time to take my mom to the airport. (Sigh.) The weekend was over too fast, but we definitely made the most of it. Can’t wait until we’re together again!

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