swatching the paint dry.

If you've never checked out Inchmark, may I recommend that you do? Formally the senior art director at Martha Stewart Living, Brooke could whip out a color story that would make Martha herself cry. I ran across her blog in the fall and have been hooked since. This Christmas color story is so lovely...I just want to call in sick, snuggle up on the couch and sew beautiful little swatch-sized creations all day.

That's what Saturdays are for, I guess.


sweet deal.

I am not a baker. Occasionally I experience baking whims, and quite often they turn into baking flops (as in...flop into the trash). I spend time buying odd ingredients (cardamom? root beer extract?) and then waste hours trying to devise ways to use them in the future. But when I spotted these Chai-Spiced Tea Loaves, it just felt right. I threw caution to the wind and turned out pleasantly surprised. Nearly every ingredient was in my cabinet and the process was a lazy baker's dream! Not to mention they were easy on the wallet and look awful cute tucked into a little gift box all tied up with string...

Chai-Spiced Tea Loaves

1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon water
1 black tea tea bag (I used french vanilla black tea)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons chai spice blend OR 6 TBS of powdered chai mix*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
5 large eggs OR 1 1/4 cup Egg Beaters
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Yield: Six mini loaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour six mini metal loaf pans. I only used five-which made for pleasantly plump loaves.

2. Heat 1/2 cup water until it boils. Place tea bag in water and set it aside to steep.

3. Combine flour, chai spice (or alternate!), baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. In small bowl, mix yogurt with 1/3 cup cooled tea; discard any remaining tea. This is a very scary looking mix, but I promise-it will be delicious.

5. In large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in granulated and brown sugar.

6. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well blended. Mix in both flour and yogurt mixture until combined. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans.

7. Bake loaves until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Mine took about 35-40 minutes. Cool loaves in pans for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and allow to cool for another 30 minutes.

8. Mix confectioners' sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon water until it creates a smooth, thick glaze. Place glaze in Ziploc bag; snip opening from corner, and drizzle glaze over loaves. Let stand until glaze sets, about 20 minutes.

Enjoy! Delicious with peppermint tea :)

*Now, I love chai. But I've never seen "chai spice". I substituted for 6 TBS of Pacific Chai powder. Not nearly as classy, but it got the job done.



Not crafty nor cute, but I love this shirt (only available today!). I'm such a bottled/filtered water snob. I have a really hard time drinking sink water, unless it is from my own sink. Like somehow my own tap water isn't brimming with flushed medication and irony pipe bits. Sort of like how you'd eat something that fell on your floor, but not someone else's? (Wait. Did I just admit that?)


cup o' cheer.

We've been eagerly awaiting the switch of the Starbucks cup. It never feels like Christmas until I've held a toasty red Starbucks cup. I realize that's so...consumeristic of me, but in all honesty, it's true. Somehow that switch from your basic white cup to the jolly, holiday-tiding-filled, make-your-Christmas-dreams-come-true red cup releases an immense amount of endorphins in my brain. So, I fulfilled that urge immediately the day after Thanksgiving. Helloooo, Chai Nog!

Anyway...this is going somewhere. Handmade-esque Starbucks Christmas decor. Do you love that goodness? I do, too!

Just a tip: Last year, I simply asked the friendly barista what was done with the decor once the season ends. Turns out, since much of it is paper, they recycle it and send what isn't recyclable back to corporate. Recycle it, ladies! Then...I did what I rarely do...slipped my phone number across the counter and said, with a cheery Christmas smile..."I would absolutely love to recycle it for next Christmas."

And, come January 3rd, I had a voicemail from Starbucks inviting me to stop by and take whatever I'd like (!!!).

(photo found here)



Since I work a normal 9-5 job and Gabe works later into the evening, I typically find myself with five blissful hours alone to craft, read and clean. Usually as the evening passes by I'm quite aware of the time, and try to tidy up before Gabe swings by my apartment on his way home.

Last night, I became wrapped up in my project-sorting through old Martha Stewart Weddings, In-Style Weddings and Modern Brides that I've stored. Carefully finding the dogeared pages, cleanly cutting them out, marking them with labels lest I forget why I saved them, then filing them into my alphabetized wedding hanging file box.

Yes. My wedding file.

This is about the dirtiest of all dirty secrets I might possibly possess. I have a wedding file box, which I keep stashed behind the pasta and canned goods in my kitchen cabinet. Not married, not engaged, not planning a wedding anytime soon. It's disgusting, isn't it?

Somehow, last night the hours flew and time escaped me. Suddenly I heard keys fiddling at my door...I fumbled frantically to hide the evidence that I'd frittered away five hours filing photos of cake toppers and centerpieces. But it was too late. The door opened and there I was...like the fat kid in the ice cream at 2am. Spoon in the carton and freezer hanging open. Only with clippings sorted by subject and alphabetical hanging files.

...and all I could manage to let out was a weak, "Don't judge me!"

Please tell me I'm not alone. Did you or do you keep a wedding file??

(this sweet couple is filed away in my virtual wedding file...)


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