cake me

As could be predicted, I’m not a huge cake person. The perfect cake, for me, needs to be light and airy with frosting that’s sweet but not stiff or overly processed. In short, I have some demands, and they are firm.

One of those demands is a cake that’s aesthetically pleasing. I think that TV show Cake Boss really did a ton for the baking industry because now everyone wants custom cakes beyond what you can pick up at the grocery store. If you’re entertaining, getting a custom cake with a lot of detail is beautiful for guests but also can be an entire decoration on its own. People eat that up- literally.

City Cakes in New York looks amazing. And I love that it’s a small business. There’s nothing wrong with going to Magnolia Bakery or similar chains, but as the daughter of small business owners I appreciate it more. Plus in a city like New York there’s more options so why not try them? Might have to order the below for my father’s sixtieth:

cakeme3im
[via citycakes.com/collections/custom-cakes]
Another favorite is Cade’s Cakes. I’ve seen many on social media and from friends but have never actually tried one. The owner is a twenty-something who just knew that baking was her passion and went for it. Honestly, it shows, and her age is nice because her cakes are really fresh and nothing like your grandmother would pick out. She also goes way beyond the frosting to include toppers, which are the icing on the cake (I hate myself):

And if you’re looking for a cake that for sure tastes good, then bake my favorite BHG chocolate cake. It’s ugly as sin, though. Just warning you.

xx

instantblonde

 

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congo bars

Recipe post number three is nearly as decadent and involved as my first, best-ever chocolate cake, but way less healthy than the second, strawberry muffins.

This was another pin that I’d had saved for ages and finally decided to try. Honestly, the picture is all that roped me, a huge chocolate chip anything lover, in. I don’t know why they’re called congo bars, because they’re essentially chocolate chip cookie bars. I wouldn’t say they’re as thin as cookie cake- the batter is much more dough-y.

While mine did not turn out as photo-ready as the ones below, they were incredible. I cooked for my parents tonight and baked these as a dessert. Even though they both said they were swearing off dessert in favor of binging on college football, both had two bars.

chocolate cookie bars
[via iheartnaptime.net]
Just like I did last time, I’ll spare you the copying and pasting of the ingredient list and instructions in favor of just sending you to the exact website, which is called “I Heart Naptime”. You can’t make this shit up. The bars are worth the trip, though, and the full recipe is here. And, again, I’ll outline a few little tips I picked up baking this an entire one time.

  • The batter is suuuuuper dense and thick. Don’t expect to use your Kitchen Aid or mixer beyond adding the first cup of flour.
  • I added a little over two cups of chocolate chips because I like a lot, even though the recipe suggests two cups max.
  • Definitely flour your hands and the pan a lot before pressing the batter in. It made the process infinitely easier.
  • In a nine by thirteen pan the batter spread about an inch or so thick, but it rose a ton, so the final product is pretty thick.
  • The instructions do mention cooking times varying by oven, but in an older oven that I used it took twenty-three minutes, not twenty. You could easily go twenty or so for a more gooey bar.
  • For how intense the batter is, it really wasn’t a time-consuming recipe, nor did it use a ton of dishes.
  • I also had every single ingredient on hand, which was extra easy.

Make these for your next party, potluck, girls’ night, or basically any other event. They’re all the same appeal as chocolate chip cookies without the stigma of being that uncreative.

xx

instantblonde

 

healthy strawberry muffins

Almost two weeks have past and I’ve posted nothing. Yikes. Let’s chalk it up to just enjoying the end of summer, okay? But coming back with my second-ever recipe is an accomplishment, so it evens out. (The first one was my favorite chocolate cake!)

I first found this recipe on Pinterest over a year ago and finally got around to trying it last week. It’s from Dashing Dish, and the full recipe is on their website. They’re called strawberry shortcake muffins, but I didn’t find them as sweet or decadent as true strawberry shortcake so it felt more natural to just call them healthy strawberry muffins.

I actually did take photos of my finished product, but my muffins did not look nearly as good as these. For the sake of your own eyes, used to the glitter, gorgeous clothes, and pretty people I feature here, I’ll use someone else’s photo.

healthystrawberrymuffinsim
[via recipe4living.com]
Instead of copy-pasting or retyping the whole recipe, you can just view it on Dashing Dish.  I thought it would be far more useful to share my tips and observations from this easy recipe:

  • Leave your KitchenAid in the pantry. This basically only requires a mixing bowl and a blender, which I liked a lot. Less cleanup = less wasted time.
  • In case you’re like me and can’t quickly convert ounces to cups, I used nearly two 5.3 oz Greek yogurts and that was enough to fill my measuring cup.
  • With an older blender, all my old-fashioned oats were not nearly pulverized. This made almost whole oats visible in the muffins, and it gave it a heartier texture, so keep that in mind if you want your batter to be smooth like the pics.
  • I did not have Stevia or another sweetener, so I used plain old white sugar and it worked out fine.
  • As the recipe suggests, I would definitely advise putting extra diced strawberries on the top of each muffin for that extra pop of color.
  • Definitely do follow the instructions to use foil liners with the paper removed. They would’ve been glued to paper, so I’m glad I listened.
  • Again, this may be a product of how un-blended my oats were, but I found that only 25 minutes, not 30-35, worked to bake them all through.

See? I promise I don’t only eat chopped salads, breakfast food, and Chick-fil-A.

xx

instantblonde

summer linens

Every year, come about April or May, my mother would always switch out certain items in our home in favor of more summery options. While I used to resent this for the amount of chores it generated for me- think changing sheets, hauling pillows from our basement, and laundry, laundry, laundry- I now think of that change as a nice segue into summer.

With my bedroom windows wide open, I’d remake my bed on laundry days, changing the heavy flannels for purple gingham cotton sheets. That image is so vivid and idyllic. Now, I do the same, but these days with my more grown-up flannels in neutral hues for nautical starfish sheets.

I think they’re absolutely adorable and that they add a perfect nautical flair to my relatively adult bedroom. They’re white cotton with perfectly tiny little embossed coral starfish. I love thinking about the ocean before I go to sleep. That reminds me, don’t you just love when you’ve been on the water all day and you lay down feeling like you’re still in the waves? God, that’s the best way to fall asleep.

And, for the love of God, put fresh sheets on any bed a guest will stay in, even if you’re like eighty percent sure you changed them six months ago after Aunt Milly was visiting. Dust is real, y’all, and no one likes to wake up sneezing.

I couldn’t find pics or a link of my exact starfish sheets, though they came from HomeGoods. Here’s a similar set at HSN, but none others that I found were as small or understated as the ones I have- and love!

Or, if you’re looking for a little more display, I love this bedroom with starfish accents and clean neutrals:

summerlinensim
[via pinterest.com]
And this starfish shadowbox, something my Aunt K would definitely have done in her home on the Cape.

summerlinens2im
[via blisshomeanddesign.com]
Bottom line: nothing beats fresh, clean, bright linens after a long summer day.

summerlinens3im
[via jillianharris.com/the-evolution-of-my-bedroom]
xx

instantblonde

 

 

 

gossip girl art

Besides featuring show stopping fashion, cameo appearances, and makeup, Gossip Girl had some amazing sets. The entire show was, of course, filmed in New York City, and the Waldorfs’ and Van Der Woodsens’ apartments, as well as their Hamptons homes, were beautiful.

As Lily Van der Woodsen was an art aficionado herself, her apartment was, naturally, decked out with amazing pieces. One of my favorites, and probably a lot of fans’ favorites too, was the piece hanging next to their stairs. It added life to the otherwise neutral room, and mirrored the glamour ever-present in Gossip Girl.

gossipgirlartim
[via blogher.com]
After a little digging, I found that it’s Spectrum by Richard Phillips. It’s a pretty high-end piece, but if you’re interested, art.com offers it in a few sizes along with a cool feature to see what it’d look like against different paint colors.

Serena’s room is just like her: eclectic, bold, and effortlessly beautiful. It mixes metals and prints easily, much like her personal style. I love the canvas above her dresser so much- what’s better for New York’s it girl than an excess of sparkle?

gossipgirlart2im
[via christinatonkininteriors.com]
The sparkly eye is Marilyn Minter. I found most of her work available to view on artnet.com, and, like the Richard Phillips, it also is quite expensive. Amazing work, though!

Chuck’s room, naturally, is a reflection of his moodiness and broody ways. It’s masculine and dark, but still polished. The art actually isn’t the full piece… the original goes down to feature a topless girl!

gossipgirlart3im
[via gossipgirl.wikia.com]
The painting is Scout, also work of Richard Phillips. Again, the full version is topless, so definitely do not google at work. It debuted in 1999, but the huge red frames and tousled hair make Scout timeless.

I hope- and genuinely believe- that in thirty, forty, or fifty years, people look back on Gossip Girl as an iconic time capsule of the 2010’s and all its cell phone obsessed glory. If not, at least the sets are incredible!

xx

instantblonde

 

 

best-ever chocolate cake

I mentioned in my ’15 things learned in 2015′ list and post from yesterday that knowing at least one recipe like the back of your hand is invaluable. People, especially men, love food.

The recipe isn’t mine… it’s directly from Better Homes and Gardens. I found it in this cookbook, a favorite of my mother’s both for its classic recipes and enlarged gingham print. I have never met someone who loves gingham or buffalo check more than my mother.

best-everchoccakeim
[via amazon.com]
Miraculously, I found this gem on their website too, so definitely take a look if you like chocolate. The cake is incredibly rich, thick, and just decadent. I would say it’s usually thicker and denser than traditional birthday cake you’d find at a bakery, but my family and friends don’t seem to mind.

I think it pairs best with the sour cream frosting they list or even with a ganache type frosting, which is what I tend to do. But my frosting secrets will have to be pryed out of my cold, dead hands before anyone gets them.

Happy baking! Don’t light the house on fire!

xx

instantblonde

 

back in the game

In true instant blonde fashion, I’m back from my ridiculously dramatic and emotional post last week to detail something equally important: entertaining.

Sadly, the last year, between classes, trying to get over the Ex and, in turn, win over the Old Favorite- even though I ruined that, HA- and, you know, deciding my direction and essentially entire course of the rest of my adulthood for late 2016, I haven’t been keeping up with a ton of the things I used to.

One of them is family, which breaks my heart to admit. But, the fact that it’s almost been six months since seeing cousins that live in the same city as I do is, in my book, inexcusable. So, on Friday, I picked up cousin J and got ice cream, which we proceeded to eat in my bed while catching up. I love that girl, y’all, and not just for her suggestions of throwing some sort of get-together to get over my spring blues (read: deep depression at fucking things up with the Old Favorite, seeing that girls are bitches, and being more confused than ever at my life direction into housewife or socialite).

This summer should, hopefully, mark being back in the game with a lot of things- dating NORMAL guys, seeing my family more often, working out, not giving a shit what people think of me, and so on- including entertaining, one of my favorite things to do. Thanks to a recent Pinterest and Tumblr spree with J, here’s everything I want to use in a dinner party or just plain party recently:

backinthegame1im
[via frenchyfancy.com]
backinthegame2im
[via sarah-sol.tumblr.com]
backinthegame3im
[via sarah-sol.tumblr.com]
backinthegame4im
[via addapinch.com]
backinthegame5im
[via bubbelsoda.tumblr.com]
Sorry to hit you with something grossly, excessively riddled with emotion and then a post about cake. But, hey, sometimes that’s the way things go around here.

xx

instantblonde