Back to School

By this time in August I’m usually in Georgia with my college roommate, going to Target for school supply shopping, and wearing sweaters in anticipation of September. But since I walked across a big stage in May, I’m not going back to school for the first time in my life, and it’s a weird feeling. My sense of time is pretty wonky at the best of times, but it’s especially bad this year. I moved in with a new (and permanent) roommate in July and the heat index has been 100+ for most of this week, I keep forgetting that the first of September is next Monday. When did that happen? Where did summer go?

Technically summer will still be with me for a while—at least if melting whenever you walk outside counts as summer. But while my new driver’s license might say “Texas,” my brain still says “Virginia and Georgia,” so I’m craving the hints that fall is coming. The chilly evenings, new notebooks, new class schedule, the very first Pumpkin spice latte of the year, and maybe a new sweater because it’s almost September, and September means sweater weather.

I could get away with wearing a sweater in August in Georgia (I’m perpetually cold, so that usually saves me from getting heat stroke), but Texas heat is not so forgiving, making sweater shopping pretty unappealing. But I’d been on the lookout for a cognac bag since I saw the Madewell Tote on Kendi Everyday. I was looking for something roomy with a crossbody strap but didn’t have any luck until a random trip to Target— and at roughly 1/5 the price of the Madewell tote I couldn’t say no. It doesn’t hurt that it feels “writerly” to me. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who needs a little help to get in the writing mood?)

Bags collage1

Now that I have my “writing” bag, I’m all set to “go back to school” – or at least start writing regularly again. I’ve been on a semi-planned hiatus this summer since I finished up my senior thesis in May, but now I’m itching to get writing again. I can pick what I read and write about now, which is exhilarating and daunting at the same time. So let’s go out there and study (or write, or paint, etc). But let me grab my purse first.

Note about the product photos: I’m not sure why, but the lighting for the Target product photo is just awful. Don’t be scared– in person it’s not shiny at all and is a nice brown cognac color.

Madewell Transport Tote
Madewell Mini Transport Crossbody
Merona Tote in Cognac

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Brunch for Two

Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but brunch is quickly becoming my favorite. Since moving to Houston a few weeks ago I’ve made brunch almost every Saturday morning. What started as a thank you to Teddy for making breakfast on weekday mornings (which helps ensure that I’m fully dressed when I run out the door) has now become a weekly brunch for two.

Dutch Baby with Jam

While I would never say no to brunch with friends and a mimosa (or two), when I’m cooking on a Saturday morning I want it to be simple… but just a tiny bit fancy. It is brunch, after all. I had seen a recipe for a Dutch Baby by Emma Gardner of Poires au Chocolat , and it seemed much more appealing than flipping pancakes all morning. Trust me, this will make all your brunch dreams come true.

First Dutch baby

Light and puffy and golden, it was the most perfect pancake I’d ever made. I could hardly believe that I made something that pretty in my pajamas and bathrobe. The best part: if you have a kitchen scale you can make it in one bowl and one cast iron pan. If this hasn’t convinced you to make a Dutch baby this weekend, just go check out the original post here. If you do decide to make it this weekend, will you invite me over?

Some cooking notes:
-As you can see in the photo above, I used a little too much butter for the pan the first time I tried this, so when I poured in the batter the extra butter settled on top and made it shiny and a little extra buttery. Not the worst thing in the world, but I would recommend only using a tsp or two of butter, and swirling it around the pan right before you pour the batter in.
-Last weekend I switched out the all purpose flour for white whole wheat flour, which didn’t let the pancake puff as much as I would like (as you can see in the first photo). Next time I’ll try to only switch out 1/4 or 1/2 of the flour instead.
-Emma has some really yummy sounding pancake topping ideas, but my favorite way to eat it so far has been with raspberry jam and maple syrup. I read about Phyllis Grant swirling jam through her batter before baking it, and it’s a game-changer. (You can see some jam mixed into the Dutch Baby in the first photo.)
-The best part of this recipe? Once the batter’s in the pan, you are DONE. (Try that with traditional pancakes.) What you do with the 20-25 minutes it’s doing its thing in the oven is up to you. Cuddle your cat, curl up on the couch with a book, maybe take a quick nap (not exactly recommended, but I’ve definitely thought about it before). Maybe if you want to get crazy you could sip a mimosa and do your nails.
-Want some more Dutch Baby Ideas? Check out Joy the Baker’s Triple Berry Dutch Baby and Smitten Kitchen’s Cherry Almond Dutch Baby. Both sound amazing!

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Literary Bucket List

I recently found out about I Believe in Story, by Maria Vicente, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs. I read her Literary Bucket List, and it got me thinking about what would be on my literary bucket list.

my bookshelf2

Join a Book Club. This was on Maria’s bucket list as well, but I’ve been wishing I could join a book club for a while now. I never had time during school (although I went to a few writing club meetings my senior year), but I think it’d be so fun to meet up with friends for drinks and snacks and books. I heard that a local bookstore holds a monthly book club, so I might pop into a meeting or two and see how it goes.

Write a novel. This has been on my bucket list since sixth grade, and it’s probably the most intimidating item on my bucket list. Luckily middle-school-me was smart enough not to demand it be the next Great American novel. I’m actually leaning toward children’s literature, since it makes up a good chunk of what I read on a regular basis (I’m on a Harry Potter kick at the moment).

Be a guest on a late-night talk show. This is mostly a goofy goal (especially since I rarely actually watch late night talk shows), but I always thought it would be really fun to get dolled up and go joke around and tell funny stories. Jimmy Fallon would probably be my top pick for this, especially after reading this article. I’d love to do a lip sync battle too, but I could never top Emma Stone.

Write a cookbook. This is actually even more intimidating than writing a novel in some ways. I tweak recipes from time to time, but I’ve never developed a recipe from scratch before. So this is definitely a maybe-sometime goal.

Have my own library. I’m pretty sure I’ve had this dream since I first saw Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Have you seen Jenny Komenda’s bookshelves from Little Green Notebook? They are beautiful, and I love the rolling ladder. These work spaces are pretty inspiring too, although some of them are so messy that I get stressed out just imagining trying to find anything. I tend to be a messy person, but I have nothing on Alexander Calder.

The most feasible item on my literary bucket list is also fairly challenging- write (at least a little bit) every day. It really is all about keeping up the momentum, and I’m doing my best to turn off my editor’s brain and just write. The editing can come later, but for now, I’m trying to just write as much as possible.

So what about you? Do you have a bucket list? I’ve been thinking about all the recipes/ cooking techniques I want to try, so I may have to write out a Culinary Bucket List soon.

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