Thursday, August 26, 2010

delicious cakes!

last night i met elaine for dinner - sophomore year roomie and one of the craziest friends i have!  girl chats are always needed, and always fun with her :) so we decided to meet in old town and do chinese...with a quick stop to sprinkles (we had to stop before due to their closing at 7pm).  the shop is super adorable- and in a great spot!  and its been recommended by multiple girl friends, so elaine and i thought it was a must try!

look at all that goodness!

treats for your pup while waiting :)

my first box of sprinkles!

white+black and a PB chocolate

i'm a tough critic when it comes to cake.  it has to be light and moist, flavorful, and make you say mmmm! most cupcake places around the city, i've been less than pleased with. they look cute! and then taste eh.

these are different.

cute outside, delicious inside. mmm! best cupcake i've had, hands down.  elaine and i managed to make it through dinner, 2 hours of chatting, and a train ride home before digging in.  once i took my first bite - i couldn't believe we waited. and shortly after devouring my first, i got a message from elaine... she had just done the same!

its really worth a stop. a sprinkles cupcake will make your day :)
do it!

sprinkles cupcakes
50 east walton street
chicago, illinois

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

delicious paintings

i love to bake. i love art. and i love these:

paintings by Paul Ferney via Design*Sponge

aren't they just perfect? they make me crave cake. and more pretty cake stands. my collection of one cake stand must grow - and fast!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

chicago via boat

this weekend matt's parents invited us on a chicago architectural tour for his dad's birthday! so much fun.  i can't believe that i've lived in the city for over 3 years and hadn't done one yet. the weather was beautiful saturday, too - sunny and warm. breezy on the lake... perfect! here are a few shots from the day:


marina city

matt and i on the tour boat
trump tower / chicago river
chicago skyline from lake michigan

what did you guys do this weekend?

Monday, August 16, 2010

eat: cake!

i love to bake. i love the real, simple ingredients, and knowing whats in what i'm eating. i love to mix and measure. and love to share what i make! 

in preparation for a special somebody's bridal shower (you know who you are!), i've been doing some testing. the result of this test was taken to matt's family dinner - and was a success! i think i've found my go-to icing recipe. 

swiss meringue buttercream.
recipe via steph via martha 

2-1/4 cups of white sugar
5 large egg whites
4 sticks of unsalted butter (1 pound) cubed
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.  
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. (i used my hand mixer) Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. 

 after my eggs and sugar had been cooked and whipped! look at those peaks :)

don't be surprised by the amount of butter - its a lot
thanks matt for cubing. and thanks also for those pyrex mixing bowls...still one of my favorite gifts!

my cake! (inside is dark chocolate cake - find it here )

detail of the icing - i finally used my wilton decorator squirt gun mom got me for my birthday in march.

thanks again to steph for the simply delicious recipe. i would have been too overwhelmed by the thought of meringue to even try this one!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


boy, i got to work last night!
here's a quick preview of what's to come at my shop. new listings sometime this week!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

eat: gelato!

mondays aren't always my favorite... especially when i leave a nice, sun-filled, relaxing weekend! so my friend sarah and i took monday into our own hands - we took a trip to black dog gelato.

black dog is a gourmet gelato shop located in a little corner store in ukrainian village - and cute as can be inside.  it was created by jessica oloroso, who was formerly a pastry chef (and who is also just as adorable as her shop!)

(image via

as soon as you walk in the door, you're hit with a cooler filled with mounds of smooth and creamy gelato, and hand labeled notes of what's inside. i liked that everything in the shop is handwritten, especially the menus in large brightly painted antique frames (see above image!).  i was told that i had to be adventurous. no 'plain vanilla or plain chocolate' this time! but i think it's impossible to be safe at black dog. every flavor is a little different, unexpected, and delicious. (free samples of any flavor you want to try!)  after a couple samples....balsamic, lemon ginger.....i went for the mexican hot chocolate - rich chocolate flavor with a kick of pepper, and the goat cheese cashew carmel - really tasty!

black dog gelato
859 north damen ave.
chicago, illinois

cash only!

try it. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010


some of you know, some may not... (which i find hard to believe) that i have an etsy shop!

i began my etsy journey in december-09. i was going to make greeting cards :)
but after a co-worker's robert burns party, and a need for some tartan swag, my store quickly became a theme of handmade accessories.  'prettystanley' the name came about thanks to my sister molly, and in march this year i went for it! etsy makes being creative super simple and exciting! and you get to share your creations with the entire world. it has really been a fun experience - i feel like i make mini friends with each sale! thanks to everyone for their support.

my latest project, which i just shipped today, was a custom zipper purse for a nice girl on the east coast. she had some amazing coral shoes and needed something to match!

and coming up next are new fall inspired accessories. i found some gorgeous gray-ish teal green fabric.  so, maybe some crafting time this weekend?  what are your guys' plans? 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

project: jewelry frame

while visiting home this summer, i raided my mom's stash of real simple magazines. i love when i haven't been back to beardstown in a couple months and have a whole stack to flip through! she splurges for the good reads.

i was sitting on the couch.  bridgette, our dog, by my side.
and i found this:

(image via

love it.  i love the tiny pins holding up each piece.  i love the art in organizing personal objects.  and i had been dying to find a simple way to organize my (small-ish) jewelry collection - without cluttering up my dresser top.  this was perfect.  it just needed to be a bit larger, and a bit more me.  but.  like most of my ideas/projects... i become excited for the thought, then do nothing about it for months.  same for my jewelry frame.

two months later...last weekend... i was sidewalk sale shopping in andersonville with elaine.  we popped in a dirty, floor to ceiling filled antique junk store.  and i found it.

a $5, dust infested, simple frame with just enough detail without being gaudy! it needs a good clean and a fresh coat of paint, but nothing i can't handle in my own little apartment.

the frame:

detail of the detail:

and a sneak peek of the material i found today for the inside:

i was thinking of spray painting the frame black... what do you guys think?

i can't wait to get started.  even though i moved into my new apartment at the end of May, i am still struggling with organizing the little things.  i really think this jewelry holder will help with my 'odds and ends' that float around!  

progress reports to come.  stay tuned.


up and running! semi-spontaneous. but the best time to start something new is now, right? and becoming a blogger has been in the back of my mind for a while, now. (especially after elaine started e.l.p....check it)

so here it is. the plan is to share my favorite things, ideas, projects, foods, trips, and more. you know how i love new projects. and food. especially sweets. :)

first real post will be coming soon! featuring a before picture of my next project. and maybe a batch of blueberry muffins?

thanks for reading.