Lemon-Berry Shortcake Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Baking a cake is like taking a leap of faith.

Remember those trust falls that you had to do on class bonding wilderness trips? That’s what baking a cake is like. You’re hoping that it’ll be there to catch you when you fall backwards off the table, but what if it doesn’t?

Cue scene in Mean Girls.

It sounds dramatic. But it’s true.

Cookies you can sample before you subject others to them. Brownies can be tried before handed out. I’m a big fan of making sure that baked goods are edible before you force them on your friends.

But a cake?

How awkward would it be to bring out a cake at dessert time and there was a slice missing? The rest of the cake was totally intact, there was just one piece gone?

Super awkward. That’s how awkward. And don’t get me wrong, I’m really REALLY good with those kinds of situations. Hint: just make a joke about how uncomfortable you are. At least then you might get a laugh.

The problem is, cakes are just so DARN pretty. There’s something about the layers and the icing and effort that you know went into it. I’m a girl obsessed when it comes to cakes. I like to fix and fuss over it and I will spread that damn buttercream until I’ve deemed it perfect, even if no one else knows the agony that I experienced trying to get the swirls just so.

Cakes make me slow down. My over-active, thinking, planning, constantly GO GO GOING brain that focuses on fifteen thousand and a half things and ideas and wonders about everything needs to just STOP when making a cake. Real talk time? It’s kind of nice to have a reason to stop.

But cakes are a commitment. You have to have enough people to eat one. You have to have an occasion to bake one. Muffins can show up unannounced. But cakes need fancy stationary and calling cards. They’re kind of demanding like that.

But! I had a reason! I had hungry people! I had an opportunity, and I jumped on it. I think I’ve heard something about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Which sounds like a good idea to me, because I’m not sure horses’ mouths are particularly sanitary or pleasant to see. They have large teeth and I bet they’re smelly. So I didn’t ask too many questions, I just baked. Sometimes you just need a cake.

[keep reading! there’s more here]


Manic Monday

A little Jam humor on a rainy Monday morning.


Nike pointe shoes. I wish there was a commercial for these. Logistically there are some issues, but they’re pretty snazzy looking.

I do this every time I shut off my alarm and oversleep.

Vending machines have feelings, too, you know. I’d be nicer if they gave me stuff for free.

Sometimes it’s great being a grownup. Sometimes it’s super lame. Chelsea Fagan, you know me too well.

Good golly, I think I could probably live on this dish.

RIP Levon Helm. You were one of the incredibles.

This weather app is so adorable. Any extra wardrobe help I can get, I take.

Interesting read about anxiety meds from a few weeks ago.

If I could do #6, maybe more of my students would eat more apples for snack.

Book spine poetry for National Poetry Month.

(Image via the glorious Stephen Wildish)

Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Cookies

These are redemption cookies.

They’re for when it’s been raining all day, and is forecasted to rain for the next two days. Stupid weather.

They’re for when you’ve sat on the couch in pjs and watched 5 hours of Mad Men instead of doing anything deemed “productive.” Stupid productivity.

They’re for when you last posted something that didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, and so you need to produce something to feel good about. Stupid fail bake.

They’re for when the MTA has been so very INCREDIBLY inconsistent in the mornings that sometimes it takes you an hour to get to work. Stupid public transportation.

They’re for when you keep making to-do lists. And then forgetting to look at them. Stupid lack of focus.

These cookies have brown butter AND brown sugar. Those are two of my favorite things right there. Separately, they are magical, and together they automatically erase all the wrong-doings and “I-can’t-believe-that-happened”s and the “why me?” moments that happened in the past 7 days. Maybe longer.

Brown butter used to scare me. But now, whenever I make it, not only does it make the entire apartment smell like a bakery, it makes me want to figure out how to make it into a cape and become Brown Butter Girl.

It scared me because you’re melting butter. And then it turns brown, but if you let it turn brown for too long, it turns black. And then it’s black butter (or buerre nior), which is something entirely different. And not really something I want in cookies.

This transformation happens quickly. One minute everything is a lovely golden brown and the next second it’s black.

Dealing with sudden change. That’s a biggie. It’s rough.

The first time I made brown butter there was panic. There was screaming. There was obsessive checking the pictures online to make sure I was doing it right.

OCD? What? Me? Nah.

I’ve calmed down a bit, and I think I’m willing to take the slight heart-in-the-throat moment if it means I end up with something as wonderful as brown butter.

These are crispy cookies. I’m not usually a crispy cookie kind of gal.

I like chewy. Big, thick, and chewy, with chunks and bumps and pieces.

But these are simple and sugary and quite plain, and there’s something really lovely in that.

I guess change can be good every now and then.

Enjoy these with a cup of tea. Or a glass of milk. Or your morning coffee.

Start your day off right.

Because, no matter what happens during the next 24 hours, at least you had your sugar (and butter).

[keep reading! there’s more here]

Manic Monday

It feels like summer. What happened to spring?

And it’s Monday.

Which means it’s time for Manic Monday.

I know.

It’s been over a week since I’ve posted. Expect more soon.

But for now… links around the web!


Crushing hard on this song.

I really think I’d like this game. Does that make me a horrible person?

He will forever be Dawson. Even if he’s wearing tight jeans.

Always adoring e. e. cummings.

These are absolutely being made soon.

Hey, it’s hard being 26. Sometimes I wish I could do this too.

10 things you can do with one hand.

Apparently, I share a birthday with Carl Winslow.

Now there’s no excuse for ignorance.

As much as I love Pinterest, this is too amazingly funny (and so true).

Famous clouds. 

(Photo via Retronaut)

Manic Monday

April showers all weekend. Even though there was only one day of April. Maybe this means the May flowers will happen even earlier? Blame global warming.

But do you know what’s fun? More Manic Mondays!

My love for princess and housewives have finally been realized.

I’m not usually picky about which wine goes with which chocolate, but this guide helps to break it down if your palate is more refined and you like to know those things.

And I thought my job gave me good quotes.

Girls night out?

I’m so excited for this show to start. Like, so excited. Not so scared. So excited.

If you put an egg on anything, it instantly becomes a impressive looking meal. Try it.


A thank you to real friends.

Date requirement.

I love these lists. My lists are usually just things that probably won’t get accomplished. These are much more poetic.

(Photo by Diane Cordell)

Fail Bake

Let’s talk about fate.

Mega Millions brought up lots of questions for me.

Some were about what I would do if I won a lot of money. After I bought a KitchenAid, because lord knows, that would be the first thing I bought. And maybe a dresser. Because I still need one of those since Istillstoremyclothessinmovingboxes.

Some were about the things I’d never have to do again. Like laundry. If I won lots of money, I’d pay someone to do my laundry. And make sure that when the shirts are folded there are no wrinkles so that when I get dressed on Monday morning, I don’t look like I’ve been sleeping in my clothes for the past 3 days.

Some were about the idea of destiny.

People got crazy into the whole ticket buying thing. Driving to tiny towns, visiting ransacked 7-11s because that’s where the winner ALWAYS buys their ticket from.

Letting quick pick choose the numbers, because then, if you win, it was TOTALLY by chance and it was meant to be.

A bit of perspective: apparently, you’re 176 times more likely to get struck by lightning in your lifetime than you are to win the Mega Millions.

I’m not good with the whole “fate” thing. Shockingly, I like to be in control. I want to be in charge of things.

I wasn’t going to write about this Fail Bake. But part of dealing with control is realizing when it’s ok to let go of it.


How very mature of me.

Maybe this is that whole “growing up” thing that I’ve heard about. Glad I’m experiencing it now as I’m hurtling through my 20s.

I made these outrageous looking brownies. They’re like, 300 calories in one half-thought of a bite.

What? That’s what this day required.

And it’s not that they were a massive fail. They’re fine. They just weren’t the mouth-crazy-explosion-amazing that I wanted them to be.

I’m not going to lie.

I pouted.

Oh man, does that negate the “growing up” that I’m trying to do?

I pouted and I contemplated throwing them out. I also contemplated pouring a large glass of wine.

Neither of those things happened.

Instead, I’m attempting to take a deep breath, realize that if I REALLY want to, I can try them again, make some tweaks, and see if it works next time.

Or, I could just let it go.

Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be today.

Just like winning the Mega Millions wasn’t in the stars.

The KitchenAid will have to wait, and I guess I still have to do my own laundry.

Hello, wrinkled Monday!


This post should really be called “The Quirky Things You Did While You Were Alone In The Apartment For Two Weeks Of Spring Break.”


The list may or may not include:

– Trying to say the alphabet backwards while you’re waiting for the toaster to pop.

– Videotaping to see what you actually look like while head banging.

– Organizing your perfume bottles by scent.

– And then by size.

– And then putting them back how they were before.

– Learning the chords to awful(ly good) songs and pretending to be a pop star, aviators mandatory, towel-turban optional.

– Convince yourself (out loud, preferably), that’s it’s fine to eat chocolate-covered potato chips for breakfast.

– And lunch.

– Seeing just how big you can tease your hair and how much really obnoxious blue eyeshadow you can wear.*


Left to my own devices, I open 27 tabs in my internet browser, start 9 different projects, change songs approximately every 6.8 seconds, and walk around all morning looking like a slightly strung-out strumpet.

And so I made French pastries. It was good that I was alone the first time this happened. Because a talking-to-dough, big-haired, blue-eyesahdowed street stroller is not something that should be on public display. Ever.

I’m not going to lie. These stressed me out. I’m used to cookies and brownies and other predictable baked goods. These things puff up. They’re delicate. The remind you of tiny fancy bakery shops in the winding streets of cobble-stoned Paris (does Paris have cobble-stoned streets?). You may be inclined to lift your pinky finger while eating them. If you do, just go with it.

I made half of the batch using Belgian pearl sugar on top. I should have pressed it in more to the dough, because I watched through the window of the oven, horrified, as much of the sugar fell off during the “popping” process. There may have been cries and screams of agony.

Again, good thing I was home alone.

If you use the sugar, really go to town with it because it’s entirely possible you’ll have the same “problem” I did.

First world problem: The Belgian pearl sugar I put on my French pastries fell off during baking!

The other half of the batch I took David Lebovitz advice in his book The Sweet Life in Paris and added a handful of chocolate chips. Because. Just because. I still haven’t figured out if I was just supposed to press them on top, similar to the sugar, but I added them to the dough. This batch turned out so ugly, but there was chocolate. There are no pictures to prove that this actually happened.

If you choose to add chocolate chips, you may or may not eat the entire batch by yourself. Blue eyeliner suggested, but not required.

* A lot. That’s the answer to both of those questions.

[keep reading! there’s more here]