Wednesday, August 29, 2012

End of Summer 2012 Playlist!


Lazy days at the beach, popsicles, homemade ice cream, fireworks, vacations, music festivals, and BBQs are just some of the lovely things about super hot summer days. I can’t believe summer is almost over and fall is just around the corner (seriously cannot wait!). Stores are already stocking up on fall decorations and Halloween candy … think this starts earlier every year. And while it makes me smile, I think we might be jumping the gun just a little bit as unfortunately, there are yet to be any signs of fall whatsoever …well at least not here in Texas anyway. The ridiculous heat is still making me crave massive amounts of iced coffee (cold brewed coffee to be specific, try it, now.) and rockin’ summer tunes…which come to think of it, doesn’t sound so bad after all. ;)

My Summer 2012 Playlist ~

Summer Playlist2 by Krystal Rodriguez on Grooveshark

These are the songs I’ve had on repeat and have been dancing around to all summer long. Hope you enjoy listening and that you’ve had an awesome summer! :)


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Key Lime Pie

What's better in the summertime than a nice slice of a classic dessert like Key Lime Pie? It’s cool and refreshing plus it takes very little prep and bake time. As much as I love baking sometimes the last thing you want to do is spend too much time slaving away next to a hot oven in the sweltering heat. Though it is nice to have a pretty pie that gives off the illusion that you did. Seriously this took like 5 minutes to whip up!

I made this around the 4th of July when I was on a weird key lime pie kick. I blame one of my favorite restaurants called The Local, about hour away from my town; they have an awesome key lime pie! And for some reason after I taste a really good dessert at a restaurant I always seem to have to attempt to make it myself…it’s a sickness, I think. ;) 

Key Lime Pie -

008 - Copy

I might as well admit, yes,  I used a … store bought crust {gasp}. This is probably one of the only times I will advocate store bought over homemade; it’s really just as good and makes the process even simpler. But you can make your own if you feel so inclined. On this particular evening, I just wasn’t. This semi-homemade pie turned out really delish; creamy and tangy with a little crunch from the graham cracker crust.

One thing I didn’t skimp on was homemade whipped cream to pipe on top. It takes a little extra effort but it’s so worth it! Trust me, once you make homemade whipped cream you’ll never go back to the store bought stuff again. I personally don’t really care for the taste of Cool Whip and Ready Whip melts like 2 seconds after you use it (learned this the hard way when it basically destroyed a dessert I had made). This whipped cream recipe is simple, only take a few ingredients, doesn’t melt too fast, and tastes amazing!

I also garnished the pie with a slice of lime and a little zest. Happy pie making people! :)


pre-made graham cracker crust (or you can make your own)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup lime juice

4 egg yolks

pinch of salt

lime zest


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, egg yolks, and salt and whisk until smooth. Pour into crust, leaving 1/8 inch at the top. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until filling is set around the edge; slightly loose in the center. Allow to chill in the fridge for a few hours then garnish with whipped cream, lime slices and zest.

Basic Whipped Cream Recipe -

(Recipe found @


1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Mix the liquid ingredients in a bowl. Mix any additional dry ingredients with the powdered sugar then mix the dry ingredient mixture with the liquid ingredients.

Whip the mixture with an electric hand mixer until raised peaks form in it and hold their shape. It should take about four minutes (or much longer if using a manual hand mixer or whisk).

Serve over your dessert and enjoy! (Makes enough for at least 8 dessert servings.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekly Inspirations

Sometimes inspiration comes from the most random places. I love stumbling onto things that spark my creativity and imagination. Especially on the days when inspiration and creativity seem to have run dry it can be a breath of fresh air to happen upon a beautiful video, song, or quote. So I thought I’d share some of the things that have been inspiring me lately. May make this a weekly thing. Hope you find some inspiration here as well! :)

Fell in love with this cute and whimsical lookbook from Closet Case Vintage. The clothes are adorable and make me want to buy everything from their shop. But also love the song and just the whole look of the video. Plus any video that has kittens and cupcakes in it is a winner in my book lol. ;)

This lovely home tour by blogger, Casey Wiegand. Her home is so pretty! Love her style!

sweet boutique

This yummy looking cupcake display from The Sweet Boutique in Sugarland, Tx. I just discovered this bakery when I went to pick up my bridesmaids dress for my sisters wedding and saw this place close by. Let me tell you, I fell in love with this place! I tried their Salted Caramel cupcake and one of their chocolate macarons; so delish! Probably one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had! It was so moist and the frosting was a fluffy and pillowy heaven! The macaron was also amazing, it was the first one I’ve ever tried and now I think I’m hooked.

If you get a chance, give this place a shot. Now because of this bakery I’ve been inspired to try and make my own macarons (which I’ve actually wanted to make for a while) and Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which is what they use on their cupcakes. Hoping to try my hand at them soon! :)

So I just stumbled onto the wonder that is Kate Bush. I don’t know how in the world I never knew about her music. This music video came out when I was just a year old and I’m barely discovering it now. Why did no one ever tell me about the awesomeness I was missing out on?! This song and music video are amazing. I love the dancing in the video, it’s so beautiful. I’ve been loving this track as well as “The Sensual World”. Kate’s music is so unique, beautiful, and slightly weird lol, but I love it!

This blog written in honor of Julia Child’s 100th birthday, Life Lessons: What I learned from Julia Child. 



How beautiful is this quote? I found it so lovely and inspiring. It’s a good reminder to always keep our heads up.


Just saw this movie last night for the first time (think I was the only person in the world who hadn’t seen it yet) and loved it. It was so easy to get lost in the story and the characters. I finally see what all the hype is about. Actually thinking about reading the books now.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review for Milo Greene’s Self-Titled Debut Album


Milo Greene, contrary to what it may sound like, is in fact not a real person but a 5 piece indie/folk band hailing from Los Angeles, CA. The band, made up of Robbie Arnett, Andrew Heringer, Marlana Sheetz, Graham Fink, and Curtis Marrero, got their moniker from a fake booking agent they created in college to help their then individual bands book gigs and sound more professional. So when they got together to form this band, they decided to pay homage to the “booking agent” that helped them get their start.

I first discovered Milo Greene last fall when I heard their song “Autumn Tree” on a music blog and fell head over heels for it. I must have pushed the repeat button at least a hundred times that night… and thus, my love/obsession with their music began. I’ve followed them ever since then, listening incessantly to their bandcamp and watching live performances on YouTube. For a band that did not have an album out at the time they created quite a buzz and quickly developed a cult following.

I think I can speak for all Milo fans when I say we were all beyond excited when July 17th rolled around and they finally released their self-titled debut album (Chop Shop/Atlantic). Let me tell you, it was worth the wait! I don’t think I’ve been this excited about an album release in a long time. What Milo Greene has created is a cohesive album that is stunning from start to finish. It hasn’t left my cd player since I got it in the mail.

The album instantly captivates your attention with ethereal sounding bells and the bands signature harmonies as it leads into “What’s The Matter”. I love the haunting sound of this track which is carried by the smooth and rich vocals of Robbie Arnett, who has a voice you could seriously get lost in. Next up is “Orpheus” which is one of the four instrumental interludes on the album. The interludes, which also include, “Wooden Antlers”, “Moddison” and “Polaroid”, are a nice surprise that add to the dreamy vibe of the album. My favorites being “Wooden Antlers” – which features pounding percussion and a great guitar riff, and the atmospheric but all too short, “Moddison”.

“Perfectly Aligned” is a soft and romantic track that builds to dramatic cymbal swells and gang vocals. It also features the pretty and pristine voice of Marlana Sheetz. It should be noted that one of the things that makes Milo so unique and interesting is that they have no lead singer. All of them except for drummer, Curtis Marrero, take turns singing lead. They are also multi-instrumentalists who are known for switching instruments from song to song during their live shows. So it’s really cool to get to hear each vocalist individually as they all have pretty distinctive voices.

The mellow “Silent Way” has a melody that sticks with you and lyrics that feel nostalgic, “When when when we’re older can I still come over”. Fan favorites “Don’t You Give Up On Me” and “1957” are highlights on the album; with the latter having you randomly break out in song, singing along to the infectious bridge, “I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go I” all. day. long. (yeah, might be speaking from experience here) . “Cutty Love” which features Graham Fink on lead, quickly became one of my favorites with the sweet lyrics always sticking in my head, “Even if your heart stops I will be there to hold you up. And even as the world turns I will be there to watch the fire burn, burn us both alive”. Other favorites include “Take a Step” – can’t stop listening to this almost sultry sounding song, and the sweet and comforting sounds of “Son My Son”.

The album comes to a beautiful close with “Autumn Tree”. This song is seriously just as breath taking to me now as it was when I first heard it last fall. It’s still the track that I will stop whatever I’m doing just to savor every single note. The song, featuring Andrew Heringer on lead, starts soft and sparse, with haunting lyrics, “Under the autumn tree, the chair where you would swing. A yard so full of leaves comfort me”. It ends with Robbie’s soulful vocals which is the highlight of this song to me. Everything in my world seems to get peaceful and quiet when this song plays. And I can’t think of a better way to end the lovely journey this album takes you on.

Since the album has released, Milo Greene has been on quite a whirlwind, playing Lollapalooza, landing at #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, and not to mention rocking it out on David Letterman, where they played hit, “1957”. They’re also about to add film making to the list as they will soon be releasing a short film entitled, “Moddison” (click to see the trailer). The album acts as a soundtrack to the film which they have been releasing clips of as music videos for certain songs. You can click here to see the band talk more about it. They are currently on tour with Family of The Year and have been playing to sold out crowds. If you get the chance to see them live, take it, from what I hear they put on a show that’s not to be missed.

Rare is the gem of an album where you don’t want to skip a single track but so is the case with Milo Greene. With melodic, dreamy tunes and beautiful harmonies it sweeps you away to a different place. Even the album cover, which is actually a painting hanging in Andrew’s house, adds to the artful vibe. It’s an album that stays with you long after you hear it. Be sure to buy it a.s.a.p and let it become the soundtrack to your summer… or maybe even your life.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Art Journaling…a Hobby/Obsession

Hey lovelies! Today I wanted to stop in and talk about one of my favorite past times, art journaling! I feel like the idea of art journaling and smash books are becoming so popular lately, and with good reason, they’re super fun! If you’ve never heard of it before, art journaling is kinda like a cross between journaling and scrapbooking. Holding all of your thoughts, photos, doodles, paintings, and more.

I will confess though, it’s true, I may have become slightly obsessed with this hobby. Which may be evidenced by all the admittedly strange things it’s made me do… such as incessantly pinning art journaling ideas, racing to craft aisles to buy paint, stamps, washi tape, and lots of scrapbook paper. And maybe the strangest of all…  collecting receipts, ticket stubs, magazine clippings, and even wrappers from Starbucks to use on my pages. Okay, so I’m fully aware that it may sound a little nutty … but trust me, it can be addicting!

I was first introduced to the idea of art journaling and mixed media arts from blogger/crafter extraordinaire and owner of Red Velvet boutique, Elsie Larson. When I first started following her blog, A Beautiful Mess a few years ago she would talk about art journaling and show pages that she had done, and I was always so intrigued by the creativity of it all.

I’ve always loved journaling and have boxes of journals and notebooks I’ve kept through out the years, so this idea totally struck a cord with me. Actually, looking back at my old journals from when I was younger, I sort of did dabble in art journaling. I of course wouldn’t have thought to call it that at the time, but I would sometimes add photos, magazine clippings, and ticket stubs to certain pages.

In January, after having wanted to do it for a long time, I signed up for Elsie’s Art Journaling All Year E-Course. It’s a collaboration between her and her long time friend and fellow Red Velvet girl, Rachel Denbow.  They have both mentioned how art journaling was a shared hobby that they would do together when they first became friends years ago (this is one of the many e-courses they offer, so check out them all out here). It’s a series of prompts that you can do through out a years time. I really love it, there are so many creative and fun prompts to tackle. However, while I’ve done a lot of them, I don't do them as often as I used to.

To be honest, I just fell in love with the whole creative process of art journaling and started letting my imagination take over to make my own pages. There’s just something so freeing and so fun about sitting down with all your art supplies and a blank sheet of paper and going wild with it. Making it whatever you want it to be. It’s a really great form of self expression. I think one of my favorite things has to be putting on some good tunes, sipping on iced coffee, and spending a couple hours art journaling. It’s just really fun and relaxing to me; to cut, paste, paint, stamp, and write. To create something that’s beautiful and special to you.

So I thought I would share some photos of my art journal pages and supplies with you guys! Now, disclaimer, while I adore art journaling I’m not claiming to be great at it. I’m still very much an amateur. But I try very hard not to focus so much on things looking perfect because that just sucks the fun out of it. I just want to keep it about self expression and creativity. These are some pages that were fun to make and are special to me, so I hope you enjoy getting a peak at them!

My Art Journal ~


My jumbo journal that will now barely close, ha! I just embellished it with some scrapbook paper, doilies, and buttons. Not super fancy but I like it! :)

My Art Journaling Supplies ~


Cigar box filled with found papers and other ephemera to use in journaling, and a bowl filled some supplies. 



A few photos of my growing collection of art journaling supplies… the beginners kit, if you will. Mod Podge, paint, sponge brushes, washi tape (I have a love affair with washi tape!! Need more!), scrapbook paper, stickers, stamps, buttons, pens, markers, paint chips, ect. All of this stuff is super cheap at Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby. In fact, I got some of this stuff for 97 cents in the Wal-Mart craft section.


A couple folders filled with magazine clippings and printed papers to journal with.

My Pages ~


Some of these pages don’t have any writing on them yet as I sometimes just enjoy making the pages and filling them out later.


The page with the photo on it is of me, my cousin, and my sister. This is a page that I made to document a really fun and goofy “photo shoot” that we did one night in 2008, I believe. I mod podged the photo onto a paper I printed out that had that quote on it. Oh so fitting for us! I even pasted in a little picture of a flower my cousin drew a long time ago that I saved; I think it gives it a nice touch. :)


I made a cd of the songs I’m listening to this summer, pasted a cd sleeve into my journal, and slipped the cd in. That way I can always go back and listen to what songs were my summer 2012 soundtrack.



Iced Coffee & Good Tunes ~


Okay, so iced coffee is a must in the art journaling process… well, at least for me anyway. It just makes it so much more relaxing to me. Art journaling and iced coffee just go together in my book. I made this Caramel Macchiato by brewing two shots of espresso, filling a glass with 1 cup of milk (leaving room at the top for the espresso), 2 tbsp. Torani’s Caramel Syrup, 2 tbsp. Torani’s French Vanilla Syrup, and 2 packages of Splenda; stir and fill with ice. Then top it off with espresso, mix, and drink up! Trust me, this is delish!


And of course, I always need good tunes to listen to while art journaling! Milo Greene, The Civil Wars, and a couple summer mixed cds.

Hope you enjoyed looking around, and consider picking up art journaling yourself! I’m actually gong to be taking part in another art journaling class over at the blog, Everyday Is A Holiday. Blogger/designer, Jenny Holiday and her husband Aaron are avid art journalers (is that a word? …spell check doesn’t like it apparently) and will be giving the classes every week.


They also have a link up so everyone can show off their finished pages. So stay tuned as I will sharing my progress from these classes! And click here to take part in the fun!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chocolate Espresso Shaker

If you’re looking for a delicious drink to cool you off during these scorching hot summer days and happen to be a chocoholic like me…you might want to keep reading.

I’ve never been much of a summer person; even after living in TX all my life I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the humidity and triple digit heat. So I can’t deny that I’m counting down the days till happy pretty fall… which for us Texans doesn’t usually show up till late October. But if there is anything that can make the rest of these summer days bearable it just might be chocolate and espresso shaken over ice, poured into a glass, and topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Can I get an amen? ;)

I got this lovely concoction from a new cookbook that I bought called “Chocolate Bar” (and for those who know me I’m sure it’s no surprise that I instantly gravitated to this book). It was written by Matt Lewis and Alison Nelson who are the owners of a chocolate shop of the same name in New York City’s West Village.



(Yes, a bar of chocolate can double as a very delish book marker when you need it to. ;))

This shaker is the shops most popular summer drink and after you taste it, you’ll understand why. So may I suggest putting on some awesome summer tunes, relaxing in your favorite lawn chair or hammock, and cool off with a Chocolate Espresso Shaker on us! :)

Chocolate Espresso Shaker -


(Adapted from “Chocolate Bar” by Matt Lewis and Alison Nelson )

This drink is a rich, creamy, and frothy treat. It takes very few ingredients and is really easy to whip up.


It starts out with a base of Versatile Hot Chocolate. Owners, Matt and Allison have actually nicknamed it “Liquid Candy Bar”, “Melted Chocolate”, and “Party Pick-Me-Up in a Cup”… so that should give you an idea of just how decadent this hot chocolate is. And trust me, it lives up to those names. This would be awesome all on its own in the wintertime but since it’s summer, we’re going to put this baby on ice.


Next comes the happy shot of espresso! I picked up some ground espresso at my local bookstore/cafĂ© and used my sister’s espresso machine that she got for Christmas like two years ago and only used once. Which I believe we named Preston Jameson … for reasons that I just simply cannot recall right now.


Once the espresso is brewed you toss it, along with the chilled chocolate, into a shaker with ice and shake it till frothy. Then if you want to get a little fancy with your chocolate (and who doesn’t?), you pour it into a pretty cocoa rimmed cocktail glass! Which I did by first dipping the rims of the glasses in water then in a mixture of cocoa and sugar. Last but not least, finish this lovely off with some whipped cream and chocolate shavings (yes, because what this drink really needs is more chocolate, right? ;))!

My only complaint about this drink is that the espresso could have been more prominent… two shots next time maybe? Other than that, you have the perfect  drink to keep you cool and impress your dinner guests this summer! :)


Versatile Hot Chocolate:


3 ounces bittersweet (60% to 70%) chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp. light brown sugar


Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring water to a boil and pour over the chocolate pieces, making sure all the chocolate pieces are submerged. Set aside for about 3 minutes. While waiting for chocolate to melt, place cream and milk in a medium saucepan and bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in brown sugar.

Whisk chocolate and water mixture until smooth, then pour immediately into milk and cream mixture. Whisking constantly, bring mixture just to a boil.

Take off heat and let it chill in the fridge. Yields 2 to 3 servings.

The Shaker -


1 shot of espresso

8 ounces of chilled chocolate

handful of ice

whipped cream and chocolate shavings (optional)


Place the espresso, chilled chocolate, and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake over ice. Strain the ingredients into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desired. Yields 1 serving.