Summer To-Do List

Happy Friday, everyone! Whew, it’s been a week. I’m so looking forward to the weekend and getting a little recharge in. It’s going to be a fun one with a girls night with my best friend, some easy baking projects, a trip to a new “croissanterie” opening, and preparing for my vacation to Wisconsin next week. I felt inspired by all the activity to put together a list of things I hope to do before the summer comes to an end. Enjoy!

Spend every opportunity by the pool.

This might come as a surprise, but the pool is my favorite form of water to play in/lounge at during the summer months. I have a lot of positive childhood memories of our neighborhood pool during the summer! My apartment building has it’s very own beautiful pool, and I figure it would be stupid not to take advantage of it (if you follow me on instagram, you know I already have been!)

Grill for almost every meal (or almost every dinner).

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Sorry, but it’s scientifically proven that grilled vegetables are better tasting. Also, kebabs are more fun to eat. And burgers. And brat wurst. Oooh, and don’t even get me started on grilling fruit to add to vanilla ice cream!

Go to an outdoor concert.

I bought tickets to see Thomas Rhett with my bff in early August at one of the outdoor venues here in Raleigh, and I’m so excited! I like country music (whatever, haters), but I love it in the summer, outside, with a cold drink in hand!

Visit the lake.

Ahhh, yes. The second best form of water! Going to my summer cabin with my family is always a highlight of the season. There are so many things I look forward to, waterskiing, swimming in the lake, reading on the hammock, biking in the woods, etc. I can’t wait!

Celebrate the Fourth of July.

My family goes all out with a visit to the local parade, a cookout, a bocce ball tournament, and fireworks. It’s the best!

Go to a baseball game at the Durham Bulls.

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I went last night with some friends and thought the park was so cute. It’s no MLB stadium, but it has a lot of good dining options, it’s well maintained, and in an area of Durham I’d love to explore a little more of!

Drink iced coffee on the balcony. 

A real no brainer. Ever since I finished my balcony, I’ve wanted to spend every opportunity out there. I start almost every day off of work with a leisurely coffee out there and it’s the very best!

Make homemade ice cream

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I’m thinking these 90 degree days call for really fun and refreshing ice cream flavors like cantaloupe or key lime pie. Yes?

Have a Harry Potter marathon.

Sure, this might be a to-do list item for every season for me. But the summer is when the new books would be released, it was usually when the movies were released, and it’s the season that holds J.K Rowling’s and Harry’s birthdays (I make it a point to celebrate, as you can see!) It’s time to re-read a book (or sevenand have a movie marathon, maybe on a rainy day?!

Go to a drive-in movie theater (and picnic in the car!)

There’s one in Raleigh I’ve wanted to check out for forever, here! Such a nostalgic activity, it would be fun to pack sandwiches, a cheese board and some wine, and load up on pillows and blankets in the trunk of an SUV!

Read at least 10 new books.

One of my favorite parts of summer is how much reading I get done! Sharp Objects just arrived in my kindle app, and I have loans out for seven other titles that I’m really excited for (I’ll be sharing a summer book review soon!) 

Visit a new spot to eat, drink, or play in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill every week

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I love this city (and it’s neighbors) so much. It seems like every week there is so much to do, something new is popping up or opening, fun events are all over the place! I love using my Offline membership to explore this town, and I want to make more of an effort to do so on a regular basis.

Go on a walk and listen to a really great podcast, at least weekly. 

I mentioned my love for both of these here! Lately the podcasts I’ve been enjoying are Armchair Expert, Asking for a Friend, The Daily, Coffeebreak Italian (see below!), Binge Mode, and The Goal Digger.

Work on learning a new language. 

Recently, I was completely inspired by a coworker who I watched seamlessly transition into speaking fluent Spanish to a client of ours. It was gorgeous and so cool. Mark can do this too, and I’ll admit I’m pretty jealous. I’ve started trying to learn a bit of Italian, since it’s closely related to Spanish (which I’ve studied for years) and because I really want to start planning a European vacation soon. Which brings me to…

Take a spontaneous weekend trip somewhere. 

I’ve had a bit of a travel bug lately, I kind of just want to pack up and fly to Europe and spend the next year there. Since I can’t do that, I figured maybe a semi-impromptu trip to a more adjacent destination might be a good compromise. There are a ton of good destinations in North Carolina alone.

 

 

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake w/ Berry Topping

Fourth of July is juuust around the corner, can you believe it?! Time to get your red, white, and blue on!

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I’ll be making the annual trip to our lake house for the holiday and I couldn’t be more excited about it. There are so many traditions and activities that I look forward to every single year. Picnics on the pontoon boat, swimming in the lake, reading on the hammock, bike rides through the woods, and of course the annual Independence Day festivities!

Last year my family officially took over the responsibility of hosting the bocce-ball-tournament/party for all the neighbors on our little lake. In preparation for this year, my mom enlisted everyone in the family to start brainstorming good, festive dishes we could serve. Obviously, my mind immediately drifted towards desserts.

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Here’s the thing. Flourless chocolate cake is…easy. You can make it ahead of time (it’s better that way, in my opinion!) And fun to dress up. And damn, is it good. Nobody asked for this information, but if you want to know my Official Ranking of The World’s Best Cakes, it’s this: 1st. Carrot cake. 2nd. Angel food cake. 3rd. My family’s poppyseed cake. 4th. Flourless chocolate cake. 5th. Cheesecake.

So, anyway, I figured a flourless chocolate cake that’s been dressed up with red, white, and blue toppings would be perfect. Viola! You’re welcome.

Flourless Chocolate Cake w/ Berry Topping

ingredients:

16 tbsp unsalted butter

12 oz high quality dark chocolate

5 eggs

1 + 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

raspberries and blueberries, for topping

powdered sugar, for topping/dusting

directions:

preheat oven to 350 F. grease a 100 inch cake pan with canola oil and then line it with parchment paper.

in a microwavable bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until completely silky smooth.

in another bowl, whisk together the eggs and white granulated sugar.

add the egg mixture to the chocolate, whisking everything until well combined. pour the batter into the cake pan. bake for 75 minutes, or until a fork that’s been inserted into the very center of the cake comes out mostly clean (no obvious liquid batter).

remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely. i even chill mine in the freezer, so that when you remove it from the cake pan there is no chance that it breaks apart.

carefully remove the chilled cake from the pan. top with powdered sugar, then assorted berries, and again with a bit more powdered sugar. serve immediately, and enjoy!

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How To: A Statement-Making Entryway for Under $150

A big lesson I’ve learned in decorating (especially as a twenty-something on a budget!) is that sometimes putting in the work to do a simple DIY makes all the difference.

Think about how many times you’ve come across the perfect piece of furniture that just speaks to your soul, and then had your heart broken when you saw the price tag. Or, how many times you’ve seen something and thought, “that is so close to exactly what I want, but it’s just not the color”.

It’s happened to me a lot.

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Here’s the thing. You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars or settle for something that isn’t perfect. If you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty, you can have the aesthetic you want at the price point you want.

A prime example of this? Back in L.A, I happened upon a cabinet outside of our apartment one night. It was poorly painted a streaky white, but it had a great shape, was clearly functional, and most importantly? It was free. Almost without thinking, I picked it up and took it inside. I slapped some green paint on it, added some gold hardware, and voilà, I had myself a pretty espresso station + place to store random belongings (you can see it here). It added so much personality and aesthetic appeal to that space, and it broke my heart to leave it behind when I moved!

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Since moving into this apartment, I knew I wanted an established entryway area. Nothing drives me crazier than seeing random piles of mail, keys, headphones, etc. all over my home. The chaos needs to be corralled, and since the entry way is typically the first thing you see when you enter your home, it’s extra important to me and my peace of mind to have that particular space well designed & organized.

My entry way is a teeny tiny little space, but I knew with some creativity and patience, I could have exactly what I wanted! The order was a tall one. I needed a table that fit the actual dimensions of the natural entryway, it had to be tall (not short like typical end tables), it needed drawers so I could hide unsightly items like lint rollers and earphones, and ideally it had to have some design appeal.

After scouring for months, I finally happened upon the almost perfect piece at Homegoods. It was under $90 (unheard of!) and fit all the above specs. Also, it had cute vintage details that I loved. Again, I took it home without thinking twice. The only issue? The color.

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So boring! Luckily, I’m now an old pro at the DIY now. As a little homage to my old coffee cabinet, I used the same green paint, spray painted the pulls the same gold, and suddenly I had a unique, eye-catching, and beautifully clutter-free entryway table. For this project, a sample container in matte finish from my local Home Depot was more than enough (it cost about $10 with the paintbrush, and I already had the spray paint I needed!) The painting project took under 24 hours. So worth it!

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To dress the area up a bit more, I added some neutral-colored books, a candle, a small dish to place my keys (all of which I already owned!), and a vase of fresh flowers. I bought an adorable little mirror and rug from H&M home, linked here and here, and that was it! So cute, no?!

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These kinds of posts are so fun to do. I hope you guys like them! Hopefully it inspires some of you who are designing your own spaces with budgets in mind!