{Bougainvilleas in my mom's garden... }

I hope you all had a great weekend! While George Clooney was off in Venice getting married, I was home organizing photos that were taken over the summer. Oh the different lives we lead... Anyway, my camera got quite a workout this summer, so there were several photos that didn't quite make the blog. I thought I would share a few of them to you today... Even though my summer didn't consist of stereotypical things like European or beach vacations, these photos remind me of some little moments that serve as great reminders things that make me really happy. I loved being around family in a home that is surrounded by amazing gardens that have been curated by my mom, spending time with good friends who just happen to know how to take good photos, walking the rows of fresh vegetables at the farmers market, and cheese... Ha. I hope your week is full of little things that make you smile... :)

{A photo from my favorite outfit post of the summer taken by my friend and photographer, Paula... }

{ A patriotic view from my parent's front porch... }

{Big beautiful eggplants at my local farmers market... }

{Scrabble on my Kindle - something I spent a lot of time playing over the summer. I ended up beating "Al" that day...}

{ A quick appetizer: Put about a tablespoon of blue cheese on the tougher end of an endive leaf. Top it with a leaf of parsley. Arrange them neatly on a platter. I know that is a strange combination of ingredients, but they taste amazing together... }

{A lone calla lily in my mom's garden... }

{ Cheers to the end of summer and the beginning of fall... :) }
Photo by my friend Paula... 

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So it's Thursday night (last night) and I'm perched in the middle of my bed in preparation for two hours of fall premiers on TV. Scandal & How To Get Away With Murder are on tonight's agenda. So excited! Indulging in TV coupled with early bedtimes is what I have been doing every night this week which is a little out of character for me on weeknights, but being lazy and giving my brain a complete break from its normal activity is just what I have been in the mood for lately. I'm loving The Voice - a show I have NEVER watched before. The judges are hilarious and have great chemistry together. I also caught up on Married At First Sight. When I watched the first show, I couldn't imagine myself doing what those couples did. By the last show, I was considering it... So good. Have you seen it?? Would you do it? Anyway, the plan for the next two days is to work a little, work out a little, and carry on with this relaxation... I hope you have a great weekend!

I had these for my Sunday dinner last week. Then I had them again on Monday & Tuesday. Easy and delish!

I LOVE Ellen because she makes me laugh when I really need a good laugh. This made me laugh...

must read if you are a blogger or if you are thinking about becoming a blogger. So real...

I love a good article or blog post about almighty introverts (like me)...

The girl has great style. Her home proves it.

Cute flats for fall that won't flatten your budget...

And the cutest $149 bar cart...

42 healthy & packable lunches for work...

What a beautiful surprise...

Image via Vogue Russia

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No. 1: Zara Wool Camel Coat | No. 2: Victoria Beckham tote | No. 3: Serena & Lily Sconce | No. 4: Kate Spade Sailor Knot Stud Earrings | No. 5: Commodity Goods "Mimosa" Perfume | No. 6: "Elements of Style" by Erin Gates | No. 7: 'Andora' Over The Knee Boot | No. 8: Bionda Castana d'Orsay Pumps | No. 9: One Kings Lane Brass Bar Cart

Many of you sweet readers have asked me if my Lust Lists have died... It's almost been a year since I posted Number 16, so that question is so relevant! The truth is that I haven't had made the time to create one during the past year. They are SO fun to put together, but take a little time to do. I'm going to try to be a little more consistent going forward, so cheers to a new start!

I love everything here, especially the boots, the sconce, and the book. The boots remind me of these, but are WAY cheaper, which I love. Those sconces are in the running for my bedside lighting for my master bedroom. Once a sale hits, I might be there... In all honesty, I've already pre-ordered Erin's book and will be in line when she comes here on her book tour. If the book is half as good as her blog, then I am in for a real treat... 
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Hi there! I hope you had a good weekend! I made a great cake this weekend. And I ate a big piece of it, so that is one good thing I have to report from the last two days. So I had this goal over the weekend to not spend money on anything other than food (from the grocery store) and shelter (paying household bills). No purchases of clothing, decor for the house, or anything extra was allowed. My bank account needed a little breather... So to make sure I didn't get bored (because I shop more when I'm bored), I decided to bake a cake. Baking a good cake, especially one I've never made before, is usually a two-day process for me. So I figured that would be a good option...

I love a lot of different desserts and carrot cakes are one of them. They have this warm flavor about them that is complex and incredibly satisfying at the same time. They can be made in so many different ways - with or without pineapples, raisins, coconut, maple syrup, etc... This is the first time I've ever made a carrot cake and I chose a recipe that had some of everything. This is Ina Garden's recipe and it is DELISH! I was honestly skeptical about including pineapples in the cake, but they do add this amazing sweetness and freshness to the cake. The cake is incredibly moist, the frosting is amazing, and the coconut shavings on top are the prettiest garnish that add a nice crunch. It's really the best carrot cake I've ever had. I could see myself making this again for Thanksgiving and/or holiday parties that will commence in t-minus 2 months. So excited!

Here is what you need and what to do:

The Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pound carrots, finely grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
Shaved unsweetened coconut, for garnish

The Frosting:

2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners sugar

To make the cake...

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8x3 in round cake pans (I use and LOVE these). An 8x2 in pan would work, but higher sides ensures that most cakes won't spill over as it rises. I speak from experience... Anyway, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the pans.

2. Add the sugar, oil, and eggs to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until the mixture is light yellow - about a minute. Add the vanilla and beat again.

3. In another bowl, sift 2 1/2 cups of flour, the cinnamon, the baking soda, and salt.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 batches. Add the raisins, walnuts, and 1 tablespoon of flour to a small bowl and stir. Fold in the raisin mixture into the batter. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Mix well.

5. Divid the batter equally amongst the cake pans. Bake for anywhere between 30 and 55 minutes. I know that is a strange bake time, but per my experience and the reviews of the original recipe, the bake time can vary that much. The original recipe says to bake the cakes for 55 minutes, but it only took about 40 for my cakes to bake. So start checking your cakes around 30 minutes. Your nose will tell you when they are done. You will also know when they are done when they start pulling away from the sides of the pans and when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

6. Set the cake pans on top of a wire rack and allow them the cool completely in the pan. If you are making the cakes a day ahead (like I did), store them in a cake holder that has a lid. You can also wrap them in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge overnight.

To make the frosting...

1. Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until combined, about a minute. Add the confectioners sugar in 3 batches and beat until well combined.

2. Place one layer of the cake, flat side up, on a cake pedestal. Frost the top of the layer with about 3/4 cup of the frosting using a knife or an offset spatula. Place the second layer on top, round side up. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and the sides of the cake.

3. Top the cake with the shaved coconut.


Images by me

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How incredibly powerful, yet simple is that statement?? I shared this via Instagram earlier this week and I thought I would share it again here today. This is from Oprah's new book. It's really one of the best books I have read in a very long time - which is why I keep sharing it. I'm in the process of making some big decisions in my personal life and this book came along at just the right time. This particular paragraph and chapter has helped me really focus on why and how I am making some of these decisions. It reminded me that I need to make these important decisions for myself without any regard to how anyone else is going to feel or think. That's so much harder to do than it sounds sometimes, but life is so much more real and meaningful when you doing things that truly and solely represent what is in your heart. It just is... Anyway, that's my two cents for today! I hope this is as helpful to you as it has been to me... Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!

I'm still working on the art of meditating and I have found this app to be INCREDIBLY helpful. I do the 5 minute session each night before bed and once during the day. It's getting easier ...

I added this classic pencil skirt (in black) to my fall wardrobe this week. It fits perfectly! It's now 25% off along with a few of my other classic favorites like this, this and these...

I had the pleasure of sharing the vision of my blog here with some other talented bloggers who also shared theirs...

As a woman working in corporate America, I pretty much identified with every single thing in this wonderful series...

I featured her in last week's links and I just had to feature her again. Here is why. So pretty.

Forget more... Such a great reminder.

14 simple weeknight dinners...

Seclusion at its finest...

Image via Instagram: @savorhome

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