Thoughtful Thursday

I truly cannot believe that today was my last day of classes. The end of the year really seemed to sneak up on me, and now that it's here I'm realizing how many things I have left to do between now and when I'll be flying home in 11 days, which of course includes taking final exams, and writing a 20 page paper, always fun!

One of my favorite (and very spontaneous) crafts I have made this year is a collection of some of my favorite short encouraging sayings that I strung on a string of twine using the cutest little clothespins (from the Target dollar section!) and hung on the wall behind my desk. It's hung in the perfect spot for when I need a little reminder to step back and view things from a different perspective.

In honor of the coming of finals and the wrap up of my freshman year (crazy typing that!) I thought I'd share some thoughtful and encouraging quotes, in the form of some lovely art prints I have found! 

via Abby Hyslop Lettering
via Abby Hyslop Lettering

I hope you all have a great week and enjoy the bit of inspiration! Sometimes I really need it!
 I've got some great blog posts in the works, stay posted! 


Meeting My Favorite Baker!

Hi Everyone, it's Mary here! I am so excited to post for the first time! I just couldn’t wait to share with you about an awesome event I had the opportunity to attend last night! One of the bakeries/cafes Hannah and I LOVE frequenting in Boston is Flour Bakery, an adorable little café with a diverse menu ranging from freshly baked pastries and cakes to delicious sandwiches (on homemade bread!) and salads. Since its beginning in 2000, Flour already has four locations in Boston, and the owner Joanne Chang, a Harvard grad, has already published two cookbooks! Just yesterday,
Chang released a brand new book, Baking With Less Sugar, which I had been anticipating for many months! Though I love to bake, I have been significantly cutting back on sugar recently, and was so excited to see an entire book dedicated to using other natural sweeteners from my favorite bakery!

Chang (left) and Greenspan (right) sharing some of their best stories!
Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a Conversation and Q&A session not only with Joanne Chang herself, but also with distinguished baker Dorie Greenspan, author of six James Beard Award winning cookbooks! It was amazing to hear the two of them discuss their adventures in baking, from their first jobs to publishing their first cookbooks, as well as sharing some of their best tips and most important lessons! While Chang received a degree in Economics and Mathematics, she always had a passion for baking and became inspired to open up a bakery after a taking a “How to Open a Bakery” class at the same place I attended this event tonight, the Boston Center for Adult Education! What an incredible story!

Joanne Chang and I! 

After hearing many great stories and discussing many delicious recipes, everyone was invited to sample some delicious creations from both chefs! There were lots of little dessert samples presented so elegantly, it was so hard to choose what to try! I sampled Chang’s Carrot Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, a recipe from her new cookbook that is sweetened only with apple juice and the fruit in the cake! It was absolutely delicious, I cannot wait to make it for my friends and family to try sometime soon!

 Limoncello Cupcakes from Greenspan’s book Baking Chez Moi

Mini Indian Pudding Cups (made with Molasses) from Chang’s Baking With Less Sugar
My new signed book! 
I’m so excited to embark upon all sorts of no sugar and low sugar baking adventures this summer! What types of sweeteners have you experimented with and been successful with? If you’re like me and love baking but want to cut back on sugar, I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of Baking With Less Sugar as a great place to start!


Shop Seasonally: Spring Edition

As I am writing this post, the sun is shining through my window and I can hear birds chirping in the background. Flowers are starting to pop up all across campus, and I think from the looks of it that spring has finally sprung! Spring is probably my favorite season (though fall is a close second!) not only for the beautiful weather, flowers, and sense of refreshment that it brings after a cold winter, but also for the great fresh fruits and veggies that are in season during the spring months! Though some of these fruits and vegetables are sold year round, they taste so much better when eaten during their peak harvesting time! I have seen so many great recipes showcasing seasonal spring produce and can't wait to share these with you all! Unfortunately I do not currently have a kitchen in my dorm to try my hand at some of these delicious recipes, but I am already looking forward to doing a seasonal summer post when I will be cooking and baking like crazy in my kitchen! 
1. Peas and Asparagus Pasta- The combination of peas and asparagus is a great fresh spring combo that can be used in so many recipes! Whether it's a green salad, a quinoa or rice salad, mixed with pasta, or simply sautéed together, these veggies complement each other well and make a quick and easy combination! This recipe from Martha Stewart adds avocado to the mix, and the flavor combination sounds great! I would probably opt for wheat pasta or try it with quinoa! 

2. Strawberry Rhubarb Galette- Strawberry rhubarb is such a classic spring/summer combo that is so tasty and can be made into such a variety of delicious desserts! There are so great many recipes for pies, oat bars, crisps, tarts, cookies, and more! I love to make galettes, as they have all the essentials of a great pie but not too much crust! These mini galettes from The Kitchen McCabe are so pretty and calling my name! 

3. Bright Spring Greens Salad- This recipe from Love and Lemons is a wonderful example of how great spring produce combinations can be! It has peas, radishes, asparagus, salad greens, mint, and other great ingredients! I just discovered the blog Love and Lemons, and boy I am in love! Everything looks so tasty and the photographs are beautiful.

4. Broiled Grapefruit with Honey and Bananas- I love all things citrus and grapefruit is probably my favorite of them all. It is always so fun picking fresh grapefruit off the trees whenever I go to Palm Springs, CA for spring break! I love having grapefruit for breakfast, tossing grapefruit slices in salads, and broiled grapefruit is something I need to try! This recipe from She Wears Many Hats looks so tasty! 

I hope everyone has a Happy Earth Day and enjoys these recipes! I'd love to hear if there are any spring seasonal combos or recipes you enjoy!


Lilly for Target Success!

Mary and I really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we made our way to Target this morning for the Lilly for Target release! We did our "homework" looking over the collection and made sure to get to the store about an hour early, and there was already a line of about thirty people (more or less) at 7AM! By the time it was almost 8AM, there were at least 300 people in line eagerly anticipating the opening of the doors! It was both of our first time at a big sale event, and neither of us knew how crazy things could possibly get when the doors opened! 

image via Target
Last night when the collection was released online, I was luckily able to snatch a pair of the navy patterned espadrilles I really wanted, which was a feat in itself! It took lots of tries (and a lot of patience) refreshing the page again and again after it crashed many times and once my order was confirmed I was happy I would have at least one item from the collection! While waiting in line, Mary and I decided that if we both came out of the store with at least one thing we would be happy! Mary really wanted the white crochet tank and I really wanted one of the fun scarves! Though from the moment the doors opened things were much crazier than we thought, somehow Mary and I were lucky and each ended up with four things! It was a mad dash of people grabbing anything and everything, and I think the whole collection had been wiped out by 8:05AM! 

One of the smart things Mary and I chose to do was check out the kids section after I had grabbed two scarves and Mary grabbed the crochet tank and the navy shorts for me (she's the best)! We both fit into the larger kids sizes, and both of the shift dresses were only $26! I still can't believe how great the prices were, and the pieces are really decent quality, especially the dresses! 

Though the colors are a little bright, especially the pink shift I ended up with, all the pieces will be perfect for summer and the price was right! We can't wait for the weather to warm up a little to break out some of our new pieces, and are already looking forward to wearing our Lilly for Target things while in Hilton Head this summer! 

Our fun finds! (Both dresses, pink shorts, and blue and pink shorts are kids!) 
Loving my new scarf!

 Though this morning was insanely crazy and already seems like a blur (everything went SO fast!) we both had so much fun finding such cute pieces! Now I can't wait for my shoes to come in the mail!

Did anyone else grab any great Lilly for Target pieces this morning? I'd love to hear about your favorite finds!


Vacation Spotlight: Hilton Head Island

I am very excited to be sharing a fun guide to one of my all time favorite vacation destinations, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina! My grandparents purchased a timeshare about twenty five years ago, and Mary and I have been going for one or two weeks in August ever since we were born! Vacationing in Hilton Head is probably my favorite of our many family traditions, as I have had so many unforgettable memories growing up vacationing on the Island! I can't wait to share some of my favorite outdoor activities, restaurants, shops, and pictures from my Hilton Head vacations! Mary and I have really gotten to know the in's and out's of the Island over the years, and it almost feels like another home for both of us. 

Outdoor Activities: 
Though Hilton Head has its share of amazing restaurants and shops, nothing beats the amazing outdoor activities that the Island offers! The beaches are gorgeous and yes I could probably spend most of the week simply spending time at the beach, but there are so many other great activities that are so enjoyable, educational, and showcase the uniqueness of the Island! Two of my favorite Hilton Head activities (aside from the beach!) include kayaking and biking.

Broad Creek Marina, Shelter Cove
1. Kayaking: Every year my family takes a dolphin kayaking trip around Broad Creek Marina in Shelter Cove, and we always have the best time searching for dolphins, birds, and enjoying the ocean life! We always take our tours through Outside Hilton Head, a great company with very knowledgable guides who make the kayaking experience so fun and interactive! I think we have seen at least one dolphin on every trip we have gone on, and sometimes the dolphins have come right up next to our kayaks! Kayaking is a must do activity if you're vacationing in Hilton Head!

2. Biking: Hilton Head is a very bike friendly island with countless bike trails and so many places to rent bikes! We rent bikes every year and have lots of fun taking long rides to our favorite spots across the Island! One of my favorite bike trails is the trail through Sea Pines, where you can really get see the beauty of the island and ride among the big live oak trees covered in Spanish moss! The Sea Pines  trail can also lead you to the Salty Dog Cafe, a fun touristy spot with the famous Salty Dog t-shirts! Though the cafe isn't the greatest in my opinion, most people honestly go for the shirts and the ice cream and it's worth a trip!

There are so many other great outdoor activities available on the Island, including lots of golf courses, tennis, boat cruises, parasailing, and zip lining, and many others. Mary and I love heading to the driving range to get some lessons from our grandpa, and each year we love taking tennis lessons at our timeshare! (The tennis instructor actually knows us pretty well now that we've been coming for so many years!)

Cotton candy sky!
Sunset on Broad Creek Marina
Shopping on Hilton Head Island is another one of my favorite activities and they have greatest unique, local stores that we must visit each year! I love shopping in Harbor Town at Sea Pines, and at Coligny Plaza, both which showcase many little shops from which sell anything from fun beach clothing to shells, jewelry and souvenirs! The Lily Pulitzer signature store at Wexford Village is another one of my favorite spots, as they have all things Lily imaginable! Mary and I also check out the Tanger Outlet mall each year, which is right before the bridge you take to cross onto the Island!

Harbor Town Sea Pines Lighthouse

Restaurants: The Hilton Head food scene is so great and I love having both old favorites and also trying some new places that open each year! Here are some of my favorite Hilton Head bites. 
1. Truffles Cafe- Truffles has delicious New American food and really such a diverse menu! The fish options on the menu are all great, and the food never disappoints!  
2. The Crazy Crab- Eating at the Crazy Crab has become a family tradition and I order the crab legs every year! Though there are quite a bit of fried fish options on the menu, not my personal favorite, the crab legs are delicious and fresh! 
3. The Sea Shack- Mary and I found out about this place a few years back, and now try and stop every year! It is definitely more of a "dive" environment-wise, certainly not a fancy place, but the fresh seafood is delicious and you can order it cooked to your liking! It is a very small restaurant and the lines can get very long (the first time we visited we waited over an hour in line!) but if you're strategic about the time you go you can get a great, inexpensive meal with local flair! 
4. Alexander's-  Alexander's is another restaurant we visit every year, located in Palmetto Dunes! The food is great, and our family typically goes for the early bird special which always has a delicious and varied menu! My personal favorite is Alexanders' key lime pie! I don't really eat key lime pie anywhere else but at Alexander's! 

If you're in the mood for ice cream or another sweet treat, Hilton Head has some great local bakeries and ice cream shops! Hilton Head Ice Cream Company is a quirky place with great homemade ice cream that my family loves to visit! Pino Gelato is another favorite located in Wexford, they have so many flavors of creamy gelato! Lastly, Signe's Heaven Bound Bakery and Cafe has really good cookies, cakes, pies, and other baked goods! Last year we bought a Chocolate Raspberry cake from Signe's for my cousins's birthday, and it looked beautiful and tasted excellent! 

Hilton Head is really a great vacation spot with options for people of all ages and interests! Though I've been vacationing on the Island for nineteen years, each year I am all the more excited to check out my favorites and the new experiences and memories the Island has to offer!

I am already looking forward to my two weeks in Hilton Head in August! Have a great week everyone!