Brownie Pops

It’s nearly impossible to pass a bakery or coffee shop these days without seeing an assortment of adorable cake pops. They’re always picture-perfect, in an array of colors, and embossed with the prettiest sprinkles and sparkles. Some are so cute they don’t even look edible! Whether they’re solid colored with intricate patterns or sculpted into tiny animals, they stop me in my tracks every time. And now that I’ve attempted to make my own I have a new appreciation for the pastry chefs and bakers who create them. Because these sweet, little indulgences are not easy to make! I thought by switching to a brownie pops recipe (thicker, easier to roll into balls) and letting the dough chill in the refrigerator overnight they’d be much simpler, but boy was I mistaken. They nearly crumbled upon being dipped in the chocolate and the toppings didn’t adhere to the frosting as easily as I had hoped – people put beaks and ears on these things? Luckily I was able to salvage a few for these shots – and I do think they look pretty darn cute. Nevertheless, in the future I’ll be leaving these to the Nigella Lawson’s and Barefoot Contessa’s of the world.

I used Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix and followed the cake-like directions

It’s In the Bag

Every so often Elle magazine asks a designer, actress, or model to put their makeup bag on display and divulge their favorite products. It inspired me to give you a peek inside of my own bag and reveal to you my can’t-live-without products and tools. While I keep another bag (ok, maybe three) full of less used blushes, brushes, and lipsticks, these are the ones that I use on a daily basis to keep me looking fresh (aka not tired) and flawless. What are some of your must-have makeup items?  

1.  EcoTools Bamboo Powder Brush, $8.99
2.  MAC Fluidline Eye Liner in Dipdown, $15
3.  MAC 209 Eye Liner Brush, $18
4.  CoverGirl Liquiline Blast Eye Liner in Silver Spark, $3.99
5.  Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna, $33
6.  Bare Minerals Full Flawless Face Brush, $28
7.  Vintage Louis Vuitton Cosmetic Case
8.  Revlon Age Defying Moisturizing Concealer, $9.99
9.  Bare Escentuals Maximum Coverage Concealer Brush, $20
10. Nars Blush in Deep Throat, $27
11. Dior Addict Lip Glow, $29
12. Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder, $30
13. Bare Minerals SPF 15 Foundation, $26
14. La Mer Lip Balm, $50
15. Dior Diorshow Mascara in Black, $24.50
16. Nars Lipstick in Dolce Vita, $24
17. Tarte EmphasEyes Inner Rim Brightener, $18
18. Revlon Age Defying Spa Illuminator in Bare Light, $13.99
19. Shiseido Eyelash Curler, $19

Health and Happiness

Nike Free TR Fit Training Shoes, Alternative Apparel Hoodie

I realize the irony in posting a collection of workout dvd’s right after posting a recipe for macaroni and cheese but it’s all about moderation and portion control, right? At least that’s what the celebrities are preaching these days. I’ve always strived to find a positive balance between eating and working out. So far I’ve found that if I stay focused on increasing my energy and the feeling I achieve post-workout then I can usually stay motivated. Oh, and that occasional pint of Haagen-Dazs does the trick as well. If I’m not outdoors hiking or hitting the gym, I rely on these dvd’s to help keep me on track.

Jillian Michaels: Extreme Shed and Shred – This is Jillian’s most recent dvd. Since her last one she’s obviously tried a variety of different sports and activities because this one includes a little bit of everything – aerobics, yoga, kickboxing, kung fu, and capoeria (don’t worry I hadn’t heard of it either). I was little skeptical of the diverse mix, but somehow she manages to combine each move without it feeling awkward. This workout leaves me feeling recharged, not completely wiped out.

Jillian Michaels: Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism – I come back to this dvd time and time again. Here’s why – the cardio moves incorporate strength using only your body weight,  it can be done in a limited amount of space, and it never bores me. It’s a heart-pounding 7 circuits in 40 minutes. I’ll admit I’m usually hurling four letter words at her around the 6th circuit, but I always finish feeling great afterwards.

Bethenny’s Skinnygirl Workout – I really enjoyed Bethenny’s first yoga dvd, Body By Bethenny, which is what prompted me to buy her second one. So far I like this one better. Mainly due to her instructor Mike McArdle. He’s not your typical yogi – he focuses primarily on the athleticism of yoga and doesn’t do traditional poses, he doesn’t ask you repeatedly to ‘find your breath,’ and he’s not overly spiritual (if at all). It’s straight up strength and stretching with him. Which is exactly what I look for in an at-home yoga workout – especially when my dog is usually chasing her ball five feet away from my feet. Stay centered, you say?

The only equipment you need for these workouts – light dumbells

Pre and Post Workout Fuel – Vita Coconut Water and an Apple

White Truffle Mac & Cheese

I knew there would be an abundance of traditional dishes at last year’s Christmas dinner so I was determined to cook something new and different. Surprisingly I’ve never been a huge fan of the all American classic macaroni and cheese, but with truffle oil, parmesan cheese, and freshly chopped herbs, it was unrecognizable. I used a recipe that is much-admired at the Gaslamp Strip Club. It sounded like the perfect comfort food, but a far cry from the Kraft mac and cheese that I ate as a kid. Well, as the clean plates clearly suggested you can never go wrong with this timeless dish. Even my ‘meat and potatoes cousins’ who normally don’t think outside of the box when it comes to holiday fare approved of it. And perhaps the biggest fan of all was me. I might just be a mac and cheese convert!   

A January Day

James Perse Shirt, H&M Jeans, Calvin Klein Heels, J.Crew Clutch, Ray Ban Aviators

Similar to the perfect white tee, I’ve always looked for the perfect white button down shirt. Some are too long or too blousy and others are too short or too tight. This one fits just right. And can be dressed up or down. I paired it with jeans, black heels, and red lipstick for a no-fail classic look. It’s a timeless ensemble that I hope sets a precedent for the year to come.