December 31, 2013

2013

A little more than a year ago, Kelsey and I launched Twelfth Avenue together, and man, what a year it has been. I had so much fun with the blog this year, finding new recipes, combing my wardrobe for old items to wear in new ways, brainstorming reading lists and seasonal guides to share with you, and generally just having a good time embarking on this adventure with one of my best friends.

When I look back at my posts from 2013, I must admit, I wish I could delete a few of them (not naming names, but a certain floral skirt look comes to mind). Honestly though, what’s the fun in that? If nothing else, for better or worse, those posts serve as a reminder of my ever-evolving style and will give my future children a good laugh one day.

Of course, not all posts from 2013 are cringeworthy… Below I’ve compiled my top five favorite posts from 2013:

The stationery DIY I posted back in January took soooo long to shoot. By the time I finished the cards, my hands and camera were coated in ink and embossing powder, and I had 100+ photos to edit. Fortunately, I was so pleased with the finished product that I didn’t mind!

I posted a lot of recipes on the blog in 2013, including fresh salads, decadent desserts and a particularly incredible pasta dish, but the nut and seed bread recipe I posted back in March stands out as one of my absolute favorites. Part of the fun in reflecting on the past year in blogging is being reminded of some pretty stellar recipe discoveries. Excited for what’s to come out of the kitchen in 2014!

I am still so in love with the royal blue dress and chunky heeled sandals from this outfit post back in July. (The dress will most likely make an appearance out tonight with opaque tights and closed toe heels.) And hey, remember when I had ridiculously long white-blonde hair? Crazy.

Back in August, I told you guys about my first ever lobster boil, which was everything I’d dreamed it would be and then some. My mouth waters as I think back to those succulent bites of butter drenched lobster meat.

Capping it off with my favorite outfit post from 2013: The embellished chambray shirt and leather skirt combo from November. Phil actually took these photos in about five minutes while we were grabbing a bite to eat downtown. The light just happened to be perfect, I was still sporting my Hawaiian tan, my hair was curling just right and, what can I say, it was magic. Sometimes we spend fifteen minutes snapping and posing, trying to get one good photo, and nothing turns out, so when things come together on a whim, it is a very special day.

That does it for 2013! Hope you all had a very merry holiday season and are looking forward to the new year ahead!

December 21, 2013

j.crew sale finds

 

Doing my Saturday shopping from the couch this afternoon and came across some amazing sale finds on J.Crew (extra 40% off with promo code GIFTNOW). Happy shopping!

j.crew-sale-finds

Gingham flannel pajama set ($95.00 $41.99) – My mom gave me these PJs for Christmas last year and I absolutely love them. Cozy to the max.

Wrap pencil skirt ($148 $70.80) – I’m always looking for stylish business attire, and this classic pencil skirt fits the bill thanks to a wrap silhouette and cobalt blue color.

Crinkle boy shirt in black check ($89.50 $47.70) – NEED this shirt to wear with cropped jeans and pointed toe stilettos or skinny jeans and flat chelsea boots.

Goldsign for J.Crew jeans ($288 $119.99) – I can’t resist a good 1950s inspired boyfriend jean.

Collection beaded toothpick jean ($495 $209.99) – Beaded jeans never looked so good than these ones in a grey wash.

December 20, 2013

gingerbread & chai latte bars, oh my

Holiday Baking Final copyFriends, I have a special treat for you today. Kelsey’s sister, Caitlin, posted a picture of some scrumptious looking gingerbread men on Instagram the other day, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have the recipe. Fortunately for us, she was willing to share, so I’m turning the blog over to Cait and her yummy baked goods. Have a good weekend. (And thank you Caitlin!!)

I have always had a love for baking. I’ll go awhile without baking a thing, and then all of a sudden I have an urge. Next thing you know, there are three different kinds of cookies, flour in my hair and dishes in the sink.

Cupcakes are my favorite. I like cakes and cookies, but there is something so desirable about cupcakes. The perfect ratio of cake to frosting, and there are a million different flavors you can mix and match. My favorite is chocolate peanut butter, but really, anything chocolate will do. My best friend and I started a small (and shortly after rather sad) business called Sarah and Cait’s Cupcakes when we were in high school. My love for baking started here, with a couple of recipes, a Cuisinart mixer and a friend to experiment with.

The holidays call for all types of sweets, but cookies in particular. Each year, I try to bake cookies that I’ve never made before. Twenty-one years old and many years of baking under my belt, I am sad to say I have never once made gingerbread until just the other night. As I was standing there mixing, I felt confused looking down into the bowl. The mixture of molasses with cinnamon and eggs, something about it was foreign to me. Not until the little gingerbread men, or as my mom would cleverly say, gingerboys, came out of the oven did I question why I had never made them before. So festive and aromatic those gingerboys are, two bites of sweetness and I was sold.

The chai latte bars are equally as good and something different from the ordinary cookie. They are easy and simple to make and taste like Christmas, you know, that pinecone, eggnog, spicy kind of taste. Happy baking!

Cait

Gingerbread Men

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large egg yolks
Cooking spray
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
Nonpareils or sprinkles for decorating (optional)

PREPARATION
Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Beat the brown sugar, molasses, melted butter and egg yolks in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat, gradually increasing the speed to medium high, until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes.

Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper coated with cooking spray until 1/8 inch thick. Freeze until firm, 30 minutes.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Cut out cookies using 2-inch cutters; arrange 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Gather the scraps and chill until firm, then reroll once to cut out more cookies. Refrigerate the cutouts until firm, 20 minutes.

Bake the cookies, switching the pans halfway through, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Make the icing: Beat the confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder and 3 to 4 tablespoons water in a bowl with a mixer on high speed until smooth and thick. Transfer to a resealable bag and snip a small corner. Pipe onto the cookies and sprinkle with nonpareils. Let set 30 minutes.

Chai Latte Bars

INGREDIENTS
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons malted milk powder (original or vanilla flavor)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
9 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
Nonpareils, for decorating (optional)

PREPARATION
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Butter the parchment. Whisk the flour, oats, malted milk powder, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a large bowl.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the white chocolate, then return to the oven until the chocolate softens, about 45 seconds. Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate into a smooth layer. Top with nonpareils. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely, then lift out of the pan using the parchment; cut into squares.

December 19, 2013

two things

So sorry you guys – between work and travel, I could not get an outfit post together to save my life, so in lieu of a look of my own, I leave you with two things that are inspiring me right now by way of fashion:

This incredible coat from Etoile Isabel Marant. The color, the length, the pattern – and love it paired with light wash denim. Too cool for school.

This photo of beauty Sienna Miller. Would love to recreate the hair, makeup, everything for holiday parties. Now where can I get my hands on some heavily embellished black and white polka dots?

December 18, 2013

reading list

reading list | TWELFTH AVENUE

Giada’s Feel Good Food by Giada De Laurentiis. I could (and do) spend hours in the cookbook section of Powell’s Books, but I am rarely compelled to purchase anything due to the literally thousands of recipes available on the Internet. This cookbook is an exception. After getting it home, I read it cover to cover (like a novel!) and cannot wait to start putting it to use in my kitchen. Don’t be surprised if you see recipes adapted and featured here on TA in the near future.

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve by Kate White. As we approach the new year, resolutions and personal growth are at the top of my mind. This book might just be the motivation I need to take my career to the next level. Add to cart, please!

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. New York Times bestselling author, Amy Tan returns with a family saga of fate and identity that moves from lavish parlors of Shanghai courtesans to the mountains of a remote Chinese village. A deep narrative of family secrets, the legacy of trauma and the connections between mothers and daughters.

The Darlings by Cristina Alger. Former Goldman Sachs analyst, attorney and daughter of a Wall Street financier, Cristina Alger gives a unique glimpse into the highest ranks of New York society.