Thursday, June 28, 2012

out and about: concerts in the couryard, dogwash and top chef:the tour

I hope to be poolside for much of the weekend, but I may venture out to do the following:

Concerts in the Courtyard at CAM.  The Contemportary Art Museum is hosting electronica band performances this Saturday as part of the St. Louis Arts Project conference.  Come hear live music and interact with the bands.  A $10 donation is suggested.

Dogwash.  For 10 bucks, Pets in the City will hose down your dog this Sunday.  All proceeds go to support families in Joplin. 


Bike St. Louis City Tour. Explore St. Louis with other cyclists and bike lovers this Sunday afternoon.  $8 for Trailnet members, $13 for non-members and $3 for kids.


Chicago, the Musical comes to the Muny!  Some seating is free, and tickets run from $10-$70.  Bring fan and lots of water, as this outdoor theater gets very toasty!

Top Chef: The Tour comes to Soulard Farmer's market with demonstrations from former contestants at 10:30, noon and 1:30 on Saturday.  The event is free, but seats are on a first come, first served basis.

Sell Your Sh*t Sunday.  Stop by the Handlebar to buy wares from people all over the city.  If you're looking to sell your wares, clear it with their contact person here first.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

lip-smackin' good: baseball cookie pops

I made these cookie pops last month for a baseball-themed birthday party.  They were part of a goodie bag that each guest received.  The cookies were a hit, and if you read on, you can make them easily.


- cookie dough (I really like this recipe)
- lollipop sticks
- frosting (if you want to make your own, this one is easy and delicious. I used it here.)
- food coloring
- small, clear plastic bags--to wrap the cookie pops and for icing piping purposes (say that 5 times fast!)
- ribbon


1. Preheat oven 
2. Form 1/2 inch balls of dough. 
3. Spear the dough with your lollipop stick, so that the top of the stick is at the center of the dough ball. 
4. Place the uncooked pop on a cookie sheet.  The dough ball will cook into a circle.
5. Most sugar cookies bake for 8-10 minutes. 
6. Let cookies cool.  
7. Spread white icing onto the cookie pops, forming a circle out of icing on the top of each cookie.
8. Mix red food coloring and a small portion of your icing in a small bowl. 
9. Scoop icing into clear plastic bag and cut the tip of one of the bag's bottom corners.
10. Draw the stitching on each of the cookies, using the red icing.
11. Repeat steps 8 & 9, using black icing. 
12.  Write your message on each of the baseballs, using the black icing.
13.  Let icing on cookies harden a bit before wrapping each cookie in a small, clear plastic bag.
14.  Tie each of the bags to the lollipop sticks using ribbon.
15.  Share and enjoy your baseball cookie pops!

I make mistakes so you don't have to:

My first attempt at these pops resulted in gargantuan cookie pops that expanded almost exponentially in the oven and stuck to each other.  lovely.  My advice is to stick to the 1/2 inch balls of dough and increase incrementally if you want bigger pops.  I also painstackingly rolled out the dough and used circular cookie cutters.  While this did eventually result in small and proportional cookies, it is kind of bothersome and unnecessary if you're just going to make a simple circle shape.  The dough ball method works. I have subsequently tried it, and the cookie pops look just as round as the ones I made using cookie cutters.

Monday, June 25, 2012

scenes from a weekend spent gardening, thrifting, lounging

clockwise from top left: happy dusty, another flower from my garden, lamps for my new place, poolside fun, grilling out, thrifted bar cart waiting for some DIY love
The weekend was the perfect combo of  relaxation and productivity, friend time and solo moments, hanging around the apartment and stepping out in the city.  Next week, I'm moving down the road to slightly larger digs so I was able to pack up most of my current apartment and find a few things on my list for the new place.

Hope your weekend was just what you needed, too!

Friday, June 22, 2012

out and about in st. louis: margaret cho, a sustainable backyard tour and more

one of the photographs in Danziger's Transformations exhibit
photo via

St. Louis has a number of things going on this weekend sure to satisfy most everyone.
 For those intrigued by all things post-Apocalyptic:
Avery Danziger imagines what familiar scenes would look like in a world without people in the exhibit, Transformations.  The exhibit runs through August 5th at the Atrium Gallery

photo via
For the socially-conscious humor appreciator:
Margaret Cho will perform twice at Lumiere Place Casino and Hotel on June 23rd.  Shows are at 8:00 and 9:30.

photo via
For the local music aficionado:
STL Loud 4 Showcase release show at the PRIDEFEST this weekend in Tower Grove Park.  Previously unrelased tracks by St. Louis-based artists have been compiled this fourth volume, aptly titled "Pride for Our City" designed to showcase local talent.  The show will include performances by the Big Brother Thunder and the Masterblasters, Jump Starts, and Union Electric among others.

Jeri Villarreal and her sustainable backyard
photo via
For the HGTV watcher/greenthumb hopeful/sustainability aspirant:
The Sustainable Backyard Tour on Sunday takes you on a journey through the backyards of over 50 St. Louisians who have committed to making their outdoor spaces green.  See rainwater collection systems in action, observe the lives of urban chickens and admire lush vegetable gardens in the backyards of your sustainable neighbors.  The tour is free, but you must preregister.

Are you doing anything fun this weekend?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

etsy finds: summer wreaths


A wreath can brigthen up any door, and make guests feel welcome before they even ring your doorbell.  Above are some of my favorite wreaths for summer, and many pictured would work year-round.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

fourth of july party ideas

Whether you're going to a party or hosting your own, these treats and decorations are sure to be a hit with everyone:

1. Red and White Berry Trifle
2. Caprese Salad Kabobs
3. American Flag Berry Pie
4. Patriotic Brownie Skewers
5. Preppy Red and Blue Napkin Rings
6. Fourth of July Wreath
7. Balloon Fireworks
8. Star Sidewalk Chalk

What are you doing for the 4th of July?

Monday, June 18, 2012

girls' night out

ingredients for this successful girls' night out:
  • 5 fun friends
  • 1 birthday surprise
  • a complimentary appetizer and free dessert for our birthday girl from our flirty waiter
  • 2 chocolate chip cookie sundae desserts and 5 forks
  • movie tickets to Hysteria
  • 1 large blanket for the freezing movie theater, shared by 3
  • 1 karaoke dive
  • 4 brave souls belting their hearts out to "Stop in the Name of Love" and "I Want You to Want Me"

Friday, June 15, 2012

out and about: 10 ways to include your dog in summer activities

from left to right: caught mid-smile, a very happy Dusty, best buds cuddling

Year-round I like to include Dusty in as much of what I'm doing as possible.  He goes where I go whenever possible.  Here is a list of fun, dog-friendly activities you can enjoy this summer (and beyond):
  • Patio Dining: I like to take advantage of outdoor cafes on summer days and nights.  Many patios allow dogs to sit out with their owners and some have communal water bowls for their canine patrons.
  • Outdoor festivals and concerts: I take Dusty to Food Truck Friday, art festivals, movies in the park and outdoor concerts.  Most will specify if they don't allow pets at their events, and the vast majority are pet-friendly.
  • Trips to the lake:  I've yet to meet a dog that wasn't at least curious about dipping a few toes in the water.  You can bring a ball or frisbee and play catch in the sand.
  • Camping: Bring your dog to the bonfire. S/he will love hiking the trails with you and hanging by your side when you tell spooky ghost stories.  Just be sure to keep the s'mores at a safe distance.
  • Play dates at the park: Organize play dates with your dog and a friend's pup at the park.  While Dusty's dog training videos discourage taking your dog to dog parks where they can pick-up bad behaviors, I know he appreciates friend time with his own kind, so this is a nice alternative.
  • Sports games: Check out a Little League game with your dog.  Dusty enjoys watching kids play, and kids in the bleachers love to pet him.  This goes for youth soccer games and tennis, too.
  • Time with Grandma and Grandpa: What is a summer without some quality time with the Grandparents?  Dusty loves spending time with my mom and dad and their six pound Maltese.  He really appreciates the extra space to roam around (since our apartment can get a little cramped) and he loves all of the attention my parents give him.
  • Visits to a dog-treat bakery:  St. Louis has a few dog-friendly bakeries with fun snacks just for dogs.  While I have to be on my guard when I bring Dusty in for a treat (due to all the tempting treats right at his eye-level), he loves playing with the other dogs in line and getting showered with affection by the other patrons and store owners.  The promise of a gourmet treat at the end doesn't hurt, either.
  • Backyard fun: Fill up a kiddie pool and splash around with your canine companion.  Fire up the grill and cook a little something for you and your dog.  Throw the frisbee around, or just chase your dog around the yard.  S/he will enjoy the time you spend rough-housing together.
  • Road-tripping: Include your pooch on your next road trip.  He will love feeling the wind on his face as he leans out the window.  Or, if you're like me and can't trust your dog loose in the car, s/he will appreciate being taken along to explore a new place.  Make sure your pit stops are short and that you park in the shade if you have to leave your dog in the car for a minute or two.
To make all of these activities more enjoyable for Dusty and me, I bring the following with me each time I step out with him: a collapsible water bowl, dog food, a bone, a leash, and more doggie bags than I think I will need.  If we're driving, I always schlep Dusty's crate around in the car.

How are you including your dog in your plans this summer?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

quick, fresh, inexpensive lunch for work: part 2

If you've read my blog at all, you know I'm a fan of making pizza.  Up until a few weeks ago, I stuck to making large pizzas.  But, in an attempt to bring my lunch to the office more often, I decided to try my hand at mini pizzas.  I love that you can make a variety of pizzas, bake them and the refrigerate them for future lunches.

Below you can find the ingredients and instructions to make two of my favorite mini pizzas to date.

The Mango & Gouda, Pizza

To make one mini pizza you need:

1/8 bag Pizza dough (I use pre-made whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's)
1 Tbsp Pesto
1/2 slice Gouda Cheese
3 Mango chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out dough into small circle.  Spread pesto on the dough, Tear Gouda into small pieces and place over the pesto.  Add three Mango chunks.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

The Tahini-Pesto Pizza

To make one mini pizza you need:

1/8 bag Pizza dough (Premade whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's is great)
2 tsp Pesto
2 tsp Tahini spread
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 pepper slices
4-6 onion slices

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out dough into small circle. Combine pesto and tahini and spread on the dough.  Cover dough with cheese and add red pepper  and onion slices.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Do you have a favorite type of homemade pizza?

you can read about how to make quick quesadillas for lunch in part one of this series here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

patience bears fruit (or in my case, blooms)

After months of watering and tending to my little potted plant garden, I have about four zinnias and one dahlia blooming.  I started these plants from seeds, so I may have jumped up and down and let out a "woo-hoo!" when I saw the first signs of purple petals unfurling.  It was kind of unexpected as I'd given up on seeing any blooms for a while.  It is a very modest start, but just what I needed to continue caring for my small front yard space.

What little victories have you had lately?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

out and about in st. louis

Pokey LaFarge by Kate McDaniel
What I'm looking forward to this weekend:

Twangfest.  For your bluegrass fix.  This festival started Wednesday and runs through Saturday.  Friday's show has been sold out but tickets are still available for Saturday's show, featuring John Doe, Kevin Gordon, Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers and Rough Shop. Tickets are $15-$20.

FTF logo
 Food Truck Friday!  We are more prepared for round two having lived through last month's FTF.  This time we are taking off early to take advantage of shorter lines and more options.  We still plan to bring a blanket, cushions to sit on, water and a map that shows the food truck lineup.  We're also taking food, bones and water for Dusty.

Unidentified Woman (curly bangs)
The last chance to see Warhol's Polariods: A Method at the St. Louis University Musuem of Art is this weekend.
past All-American Soap Box Derby
The All-American Soap Box Derby is happening this Sunday.  Kids ranging in age from 8-17 compete for a chance to move up to the International Soap Box Circuit.  If that isn't enough, there will also be a classic car show at the derby, and both events are free.

quick, fresh, inexpensive lunch for work: part 1

I am always on the look-out for tasty, cheap lunch ideas that I can throw together in a few minutes or less.  Our office has a fridge, freezer and microwave so I try to bring lunches that I can throw in the fridge when I get there in the morning and microwave around lunch time if needed.

While I'm no stranger to the frozen dinner aisle, there aren't tons of inexpensive and healthy vegetarian options and I often like the taste of things I make myself a little better.

After purchasing, and thoroughly enjoying, frozen Cederlane cheese quesadillas, I thought I could probably make a less expensive and healthier version at home.

While you could make a few for yourself every day before work, I decided to make several and freeze some for next week's lunches.

Here's what I used to make mine:

12 whole wheat tortillas
1 8oz. jar of pimento cheese spread
1/2 bag of mexican shredded cheese blend
1 tomato
20 chive strands
1/4 red onion
2 c red, yellow and green peppers

*makes 12 quesadillas

You can melt these in the microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute or eat them fresh at room temp.

Purchasing 12 Cedarlane Quesadillas, which do not have peppers or onions, costs about $20.  The ingredients purchased to make 12 queasadillas with peppers and onions amounted to under $14, and less expensive substitutions could be made for the pimento spread to make it even more cost effective. 

I really appreciate the ease of grabbing two of these quesadillas from the freezer on my way to work and knowing that I have a tasty, healthy lunch in store for me.  What quick and easy things do you make or pack for lunch?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

lip-smacking good: st louis cardinal's yellow cake with buttercream frosting

Cardinal's cake
Last month I made a mini yellow cake with buttercream frosting.  I wanted to decorate it with the St. Louis Cardinals logo, as those who would be eating it are mega fans.  The cake was for a small gathering and there was a larger get-together later in the week.  So, making a smaller cake allowed leftover batter, which I used to make cupcakes for the larger gathering.

In my search for the perfect yellow cake recipe, I came across Smitten Kitchen's tried and true recipe, which she swears by.  Having used her recipes before with much success, it was clear this was the recipe I would use.  She also had a recipe for buttercream frosting, which I'm sure is amazing, but looked a little too involved for this baking novice.  So I opted for a much simpler recipe that was tasty to boot.

red kiss-like stars surrounded the base and the top of the cake

I tried several strategies to put a Cardinal on top of the cake.  I had read about the royal icing transfer method of getting images onto desserts and thought I would tweak that method using chocolate instead of icing, since I like the taste better.  I printed out a picture of the Cardinal's logo and covered it with parchment paper.  Then I traced the cardinal with melted chocolate in a piping bag, and filled the Cardinal in with the remaining chocolate.  I then placed the chocolate bird in the freezer to harden overnight.  Unfortunately, the bird came off in pieces and was unusable. 

I also experimented with free-handing on a piece of paper, thinking that if I could produce a  good enough likeness, I could freehand the Cardinal onto the cake.  That didn't work so well either. 

after several attempts, I get the logo on the cake
I remembered I had a cookie cutter with the cardinal logo on it.  The cookie cutter was circular and left a raised logo in each cookie.  I first tried filling it with melted chocolate in hopes I would get a chocolate medallion out that I could trace over with colored frosting or dyed chocolate.  The chocolate also came off in pieces once frozen.  Bummer!

So, I finally decided I would frost the cake, and when the icing had hardened a bit, I pressed the cookie cutter into the cake and held in in place for about a minute.  Then I carefully lifted the cookie cutter off the icing.  The cookie cutter made an impression of the logo on the icing, which I was able to trace with colored frosting. Then I used a small, star-shaped nozzle to decorate the cake with red frosting stars.

making a smaller cake means you can make cupcakes from the extra batter
The cake was moist and had a great frosting to cake ratio.  I would recommend doubling the frosting recipe if you want enough frosting for the cake and cupcakes.  I used two 6" round pans to make the cake and was able to make 16 additional full-size cupcakes.

Happy baking!

snapshots from the ozarks

from left to right by rows: boats at lake of the ozark state park, arcade where we had our fill of skee ball, air hockey, motorcycle racing games and hoops, sitting in a mini-truck outside the arcade, taking photos by the lake, kayaks for rent, more arcade fun, a quiet, peaceful spot in the state park, the marina by Captain Ron's, posing outside one of the many caves in the region, a pirate ship near Captain Ron's, dining at the world's only cave restaurant, hollyhocks
We are back from the Ozarks!  It was a great long weekend with a good balance of relaxation and exploration.  I convinced Joe to try horseback riding for the first time, and I went on my first cave tour.  We also played mini golf and experienced our first "Dive-In" movie poolside at the hotel.  It never got above 80 degrees, so while the water was chilly, we were able to spend most of our time outside enjoying all the Ozarks had to offer.

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