books lately - summer edition


I have been listening to and reading a lot of books this summer. My addiction to audiobooks started several years ago. I listen to at least one a week. Having a good audiobook to listen to is like having a friend in the studio. I can tuck myself away and work for hours and hours without thinking about it. Listening to books is one of my favorite things.

A few of my recent summer reads/listens:

Don't be turned off by the trashy romance novel title, this book is so good and addicting. This was my first Jojo Moyes book and I am her newest fan. If you want thoughtful and interesting reads, check our her books. I also recently listened to Me Before You which was excellent as well but (in my opinion) not as good as The Last Letter from Your Lover.
by Jennifer Worth
Books two and three in the Call the Midwife series are just as good as the first book (which I read about a year ago). I love this series so much and the show (on BBC and PBS) based on the books is equally amazing.

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
A memoir by a woman who worked as a servant in England. This book inspired shows such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. It is a quick read that completely held my interest throughout its pages. I love reading memoirs, especially ones that took places decades ago. The most interesting stories to me are ones that give a glimpse into the way people used to live.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
I could NOT put this book down! It is a fantastic story about an older woman uncovering something she witnessed in the past and discovering some truths about her parents. Really, really, good.

The Hypnotist's Love Story and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
After reading (and loving) Liane Moriarty's book, The Husband's Secret, I quickly devoured the rest of her books. I absolutely love them. I find the characters well developed and the stories interesting. Any of her books would be a good "beach read" if that is something you need this summer.

What books have you read this summer? Any recommendations?






brand market workshop - l.a.




I recently had the pleasure of attending the Brand Market Workshop in Los Angeles and it was such a fantastic experience.

The Brand Market is run by Anna of In Honor of Design. When I first heard about the Brand Market, I knew it sounded like something I would love. I have followed Anna's blog, Instagram, etc for about three years now and am consistently impressed by her work. She has a business and a genuine positive attitude that I respect and I knew she would impart much wisdom and inspiration during one of her workshops.

When my friend Julie told me she was attending, I knew I had to sign up. No more "I'm too shy" excuses ;). I ended up meeting Julie and Nikki in Orange County and we carpooled up to L.A.



The day was split into two parts - before lunch we heard from the girls behind The Giving Keys and they were so interesting. Their talk focused on product based businesses (that's me!) and was really inspiring. The business they have built is pretty amazing and as they spoke my mind spun with all that I need and want to do to take my business to the next level.

After lunch, we heard from Kelly of Studio DIY. Kelly's talk focused on building a business through your blog. Although I don't make money from my blog, I do have one (obviously....) and I found her tips and insight really interesting.

The workshop was held in Kelly's studio. It was so bright and colorful; it totally made me want my own studio!


In addition to these speakers, we also heard tips from Anna about blogging, social media, making money from your content, and so much more. 

And there was delicious food, photography/styling tips, and one on one sessions. I met with Caitlin and Brit from The Giving Keys and left with a million new ideas and feeling so motivated to make certain changes that have been in the back of my mind.



Whether you are just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, the Brand Market will offer you something of value.

It's so easy to fall into a rut with the day to day work that has to be accomplished. While these day to day/boring tasks still exist, I feel a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration and am excited to put some new things in place this summer.







blueberry + vanilla sugar doughnuts



Doughnuts are the best. I cannot find much wrong with sugary, fried, dough.  My husband claims to "not like them" but he's a huge liar because he ate five of these in under ten minutes.. One of his first jobs after arriving in America was working the first shift at Dunkin' Donuts. I think he only lasted a week and developed a supposed aversion to doughnuts/donuts.

Making fried doughnuts can be a bit messy and time consuming, but it is worth it. A fresh, homemade doughnut is such a treat. I recommend not thinking about the future messy kitchen (or cellulite) and just going for it.


blueberry + vanilla sugar doughnuts (makes about two dozen)
-2 cups all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 medium, over ripe banana (mashed)
-1/4 cup milk
-1 cup fresh blueberries
-3/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (for the vanilla sugar coating)
-canola or vegetable oil for frying (3-4 cups is plenty)

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well combined - about a minute. Add in the egg and mix for another minute. Finally, add in the banana, vanilla extract, and milk and mix until well combined.
3. Next add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is incorporated. Last, fold in the blueberries. This dough is sticky, so it's helpful to refrigerate it for a few hours before frying.
4. While the dough is in the refrigerator, make the vanilla sugar by mixing a teaspoon of vanilla extract with 3/4 cup white sugar. If you have a vanilla bean, use this instead for a better vanilla flavor. Simply scrape out the inside of the bean and toss with the sugar.
5. After refrigerating the dough for a few hours, flour a work surface. I rolled my dough out on floured parchment paper because I find this helpful for flipping the dough over. Also, the parchment paper helps to cut down on the amount of flour you will have to use.
6. Roll out about a third of the dough at a time and cut with a round cookie or biscuit cutter. If you don't have one of these, use the top of a glass or round lid. The circle I made was about 3" wide. Once you have the circles cut out, cut out the middle with a smaller circle. I used the lid from a bottle of olive oil for the hole of the doughnut.


7. While you are rolling and cutting, have the oil heating over medium-high heat. Use a large pot and allow the oil to heat until small bubbles form along the sides of the pot. You can throw in a small piece of scrap dough to test the heat. The oil will be hot enough when the dough quickly rises to the top. Roll out all the dough (combining the scraps once you have cut the circles) and set the doughnuts aside. If you don't have room to lay out all the cut doughnuts before frying, you can roll, cut, fry, repeat - this is what I did.
8. Before frying the doughnuts, it is helpful to set up each "station." Next to the pot of oil, set a plate lined with paper towels. Next to the plate, put the dish of vanilla sugar (a shallow dish is best for this). Next to that, put a clean plate for the finished product.
9. Begin frying the doughnuts. I cooked three at a time by gently placing them in the hot oil and flipping (with a flat wooden spoon) after about a minute.


10. The doughnuts cook fairly quickly. Each one should take less than two minutes. After removing them from the oil, place on the paper towel lined plate in order to soak up some of the excess oil. While they are still hot, place them on the vanilla sugar plate and coat them with the vanilla sugar. When I finished with all the doughnuts, I fried the doughnut holes. So delicious!


In order to make this recipe go as smoothly as possible, prepare! Once the doughnuts are frying you will need to work fast. 

If blueberries aren't your thing, try substituting strawberries or raspberries or fresh, diced peaches. Yum, peach doughnuts sound pretty amazing - I think that might be my next doughnut project ;).









chicago - lincoln park zoo


I am heading to Chicago next week for the Renegade Mini Market, so I decided it was high time I got around to posting the photos from my last trip.

Last time I was in Chicago (visiting my sister, bro-in-law, niece, and nephew) we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I had never been there before and it was really fun. It's a small-ish zoo, free, and has great views of the city.  Also, in the middle of the zoo, there is this cute little farm. It reminded me of the Fisher Price Little People farm brought to life. 


If you ever find yourself in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo is worth a visit!

Until next week Chicago......


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