Winner Of The 18th Blog Giveaway and Cravings

Congratulations to Impracticalinnorth for winning the gift card to Nordstrom Rack! I hope you get something good! : ) Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! You have me so excited for fall with the things you are looking forward to wearing. It has been in the 100s here in my neck of the woods and it is hard to see ahead to cooler weather. But I am trying…

I am on a clothing shopping ban for September (and since I had unexpected expenses arise, October’s clothing budget is looking bleak as well). This is okay, because quite honestly, I have enough clothes. And it is so much fun pulling out items I have stashed away for this changing weather. This, of course, does not mean that there are not items I am drooling over and waiting patiently for sale on:

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H&M’s Short Dress. I love the blank canvas of this dress. The mustard color is rad. The price is great. So many patterned tights would look fantastic with it. I also think the shape would look good on a variety of body types.

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I all ready have this Free People’s Shadow Hacci Top in grey. It is one of my favorite tops (a sneak peak of it styled can be found in this post). It layers over slips and fun bras beautifully. Over long maxi skirts, jeans and leggings. I want it in navy, too. It is great. Beware, it snags easily. I typically wear a small in Free People and a medium in most other brands. I tried both the small and the medium in the grey color and kept the medium for a looser fit.

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I am in desperate need of some black boots. My other black boots are going on twelve years old. They are a size nine. I wear a seven and a half. Needless to say, they do not get worn. I see a donation in their future. I am really picky about black boots. I want a small heel made of brown wood and a rounded toe. I am leaning towards these Frye boots at an incredible sale price in most sizes (there is also a wide calf version here).

I also love the Dolce Vita Amoux Boots at Anthropologie. Of course they are all sold out, but they are my favorite.

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I think the best thing on Anthropologie’s site right now is the Ruffle-back Sweater Dress (besides this dress I own and this vest I drool over in grey). It looks beautiful online. I cannot wait to see it in real life.

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For the home, I will be watching these pillows until they hit sale.

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Finally, the accessory I am currently lusting after is this scarf from Three Bird Nest on Etsy. I swoon. The colorways vary. If you know me, you know I want a colorful version. Getting the neutral scarf colorway would break my little ol’ bohemian heart. It is so fabulous, though.

What are you craving this month? Besides rich chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream oozing over the top, melting faster than you can scoop it and bring it to your mouth. Or is that just me? Ahem.

Bohemian Polka Dots

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I never thought I could incorporate polka dots into a bohemian look. Polka dots are fun. They are unstructured. But for some reason, I always think “preppy” not “hippie” when I see them.

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I underestimated Free People.

When I saw this maxi skirt hanging out on the Free People rack at Nordstrom Rack, I loved it, but I thought it had been put in the wrong place. I checked the tag, and low and behold, it was my beloved Free People.

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Of course, being at the rack meant a significant discount. I believe it was originally $128 and I paid $50. The skirt is sold out, but I have seen it on eBay.

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Once again, I ended up on an ant hill. You guys. I am beginning to think this is not a coincidence.

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I do not have ants in my pants. Or skirt as it were, in this picture. I simply wanted to see the skirt blow in the breeze. There is absolutely nothing I like better than a maxi skirt. And a maxi skirt with polka dots? Forget about it. I paired it with a simple white tee from Forever 21.

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I thought if I added some color and fun to the skirt, I could make it more “me.” So, let’s talk accessories: The belt was one of my favorite purchases in January of 2013. It is an Obi belt from Free People (similar here and here). The necklace was a neat gift from Free People for participating in Free People Me (similar here). And the shoes are Anthropologie’s Atlas Sandals.

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It is also not an accident that the shirt is being worn backwards. The seam is supposed to be worn down the back.

But someone decided to eat chocolate in bed before this photo shoot.

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Don’t worry. Nothing will happen. It is just a bite… Whoops!

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So, I flipped it around and put my hair down. Tricky. This did not help with the ants, by the way.

Do you love polka dots like me? Would you rather wear a maxi or a short skirt? Or a maxi and jeans? Have you ever gotten chocolate on a white shirt? Please tell me it comes out.

*These photos were edited using the Whim filter on the app afterlite. I love the pinky hue.

Root Beer Chocolate Cake

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Mmmmm. Hmmmmm. Ohhhhhh. Yeeeeeaaaaaaa. That is what I thought to myself when I watched Carla from The Chew (I love that show. And I love her. Anthropologie lovers, Carla wears a lot of clothes from there, on the show) make her chocolate root beer cake. I went online to get the recipe and I was disappointed to see that the recipe for the cake part differed from the one she made on t.v. I gave it up until I saw that someone in the comments had geniusly used a boxed cake mix and substituted the water it called for for root beer.

I can do that, I thought.

But then I didn’t.

I drank the root beer and ate some chocolate cookies and considered the flavor craving dealt with.

I had forgotten that I know myself well enough to have purchased two bottles of root beer. So when I came across the other bottle sitting unsuspecting on the shelf. Minding its own business. Not knowing that soon it would be meeting its soul mate, chocolate. No need to tell it about the part involving the oven. And then my mouth. Let’s be kind… I had to make the cake.

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This is my new favorite cake. I am so excited to share this recipe. The best part about it is that it is incredibly easy to make. Well, and it tastes good. Our cake was gone in two days. We are a family of four. Two days. The math adds up to gluttony deliciousness.

Time to unite the star-crossed lovers…

Cake Ingredients:

1 devil’s food boxed cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup root beer plus 3 Tbsp. root beer reserved for cooled cake rounds

Frosting ingredients:

1 cup root beer
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup white chocolate melted (I used Merckens melting chocolates because I had it but she said to use white chocolate chips. Either will work)
A pinch of salt (I just added three shakes of my salt shaker)
1/2 cup (1stick) softened salted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you have a convection oven, preheat at 325 degrees F convect bake. Generously spray two nine inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.

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In your mixer or with a hand mixer in a bowl, beat together melted butter, eggs, cake mix, and one cup of root beer until mixed together. This is about one minute.

Pour cake mix evenly into the two cake pans. Give them each a gentle tap on the countertop to rid them of extra air bubbles. Put the cake pans in the oven and bake cake according to directions on box. Because of the fluffy mix produced from the root beer, my cakes needed two minutes longer than the longest baking time on the package (I baked mine thirty one minutes on convect bake).

Remove cake rounds from the oven. Let cool for five minutes in cake pans.

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After five minutes, run a butter knife gently around the edge of the cake and the cake pan. Flip cake over onto cooling rack. Repeat with other layer. Allow to completely cool.

In the meantime, pour the one cup of root beer for the frosting into a small saucepan. On medium low heat simmer the root beer until it reduces to a third of a cup. I actually was overzealous with my simmer and reduced it to a quarter cup. This still worked out fine. This should be about five to seven minutes to reduce.

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It will look like this. Turn off burner. Allow to cool.

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Now that the cakes are cool, you are going to brush the cake layers evenly with the 3 Tbsp. of reserved root beer (not the reduced stovetop product! That is for the frosting) with a basting brush. Yep. Give the two lovers a wet root beer kiss.

Melt white chocolate (I put mine in a bowl and microwave for thirty second intervals, stirring each time. Usually takes 90 seconds to melt).

In your stand mixer or with your hand mixer in a bowl, beat together softened butter and powdered sugar until fluffy about two minutes. Add salt and mix. Add white chocolate and beat for a few seconds until incorporated. Add reduced stovetop root beer, and vanilla extract and blend until smooth.

I, very helpfully, do not have a picture of this part. I do, however, have a picture of me posing with the frosting. Which I have been told has nothing to do with is very important when baking a cake.

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Place one cake round with basted root beer side up on a cake stand. Spread one third of the frosting on the layer towards the middle, leaving a little room at the edges because when you put the other cake layer on top, it will push the frosting further out.

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Place the other cake layer on top of the frosted bottom layer. Frost top with remaining frosting. I like to place it in the middle and then gently ease it towards the edge until it barely goes over.

Cover or immediately serve.

Now eat the mingled lovers. Why does something that sounds so wrong taste so right? Don’t try to analyze it, just enjoy.

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My daughter has requested this cake as her birthday cake coming up in October. She doesn’t even usually like cake. My husband woke me up the day after I had made this at 9:00 in the morning holding a plate with a half eaten large slice of the cake that he could not resist for breakfast (this is not a breakfast cake. He just has as much self control as his wife). Maybe he was feeling the ingredient love.

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I promise, a bite of this cake , and you will feel the romance, too.

P.S. My Giveaway ends tonight at 9:00 PST. Please do not forget to enter.

Bert & Ernie

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For whatever reason, last year my children stumbled upon Bert & Ernie’s “The Ernie & Bert Book” in a pile of old children’s books from my own childhood. I had no recollection of the book. Minutes after discovering the book, they both came running into my room holding the book and squealing with laughter.

“You’ve got to read this book, Mom,” my oldest proclaimed.

“Um, not so much,” was my response because having all ready proven that I am such a fantastic mother that at the age of thirteen and ten my children had just discovered Bert and Ernie…And a pile of children’s books they should both have read many years before, I was content continuing with my parenting ideal: avoidance.

“No, really! I promise it’s funny.” They both had excitement bursting through their skin. I was surprised they did not explode into a Sesame Street Muppet pile of fur.

I contemplated the mess that would make.

I examined the book. It was very thin, but what if that was an illusion? I weighed the time it would take for me to read it versus the time it would take to argue about reading it.

I opened the book.

It started off innocently enough.

Bert and Ernie, being the loving roommates that they were, were in a bit of a pickle. You see, Ernie had lost Bert’s cowboy hat. And in a series of unfortunate events, Bert worries through questions that pop up with each crazy item Ernie produces to him.

It is like that book, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.”

Except with two roommates and a cowboy hat.

It starts with this line: “Ernie, why should I put a pot on my head?”

My husband has asked me that exact same line before. Just go with it Bert. It will all work out for you.

Ernie then proceeds to lead Bert through their house and they both examine the ridiculous ways Ernie has fabricated objects into doing tasks they were not produced to do. The tension is building.

It builds up to the best line I have ever read in a book:

“Now what am I going to wear when I play cowboy?”

Oh, how many times have I asked myself that very same question, Bert.

Giddyup!