A farewell, but not a good-bye.



Hi friends.

It’s been a long time since I’ve found actual words to write — since last summer, really. There were several times I put together the posts about my life and what I was working on and going through between last August and now, and the dull, never-ending anxiety within made me delete every single word. I can’t describe it, really… something just hasn’t felt right. And that’s my excuse for the slew of collage posts and the occasional playlist.

Last year, I wrote words upon words about moving to New York. It was whole-heartedly, truly what I wanted (still do, someday). But 2014 was one of those struggle buses of a year — I struggled with freelance projects, the job, the job hunt, friendships, and romance. And most of all, I struggled in balancing all of that with wanting a fresh start… in a different city. Nothing felt like it fit quite perfectly, and I was stuck in so many ruts… ruts that left me feeling slightly off-kilter. And while I was constantly seeking something, making adjustments, that would correct that lack of balance, the solutions I found only seemed to subtract. If this doesn’t make sense, I guess I was just frustrated with lots of things, all of the things, little bits here and there in almost every aspect of my life.



Flash forward to today. There are still several ruts, and it’s easy to get frustrated sometimes. I caught myself, though, in conversation with one of my closest friends, where we both ended up in or on the verge of tears — and I remembered that I have so many things to be thankful for. I’ve switched careers several times, and I have an unbelievable level of independence. I’ve traveled near and far, and will continue to do so. I found a way to turn my passions and my hobbies into the very things that allow me to live and enjoy living. I’ve strengthened the relationships that mean so much to me, and will hopefully build upon ones that don’t exist yet.

A lot of friends have been asking me about the blog lately. In fact, like four of them mentioned it in the past week alone. And this is something I’ve struggled with, too.

In the past few months, I’ve taken on what essentially has been a distant, unreachable fantasy job since I started Sweetsonian (and in DC, nonetheless). There were balmy, stormy evenings in 2009, on my group house balcony where I would eat almond ice cream with Rachel, or smoke hookah with Kristen at unreasonable hours of the night. I loved blogging; it was my creative outlet, and it was fun to think out loud about the prospects of being able to focus all of my time and energy on food. More in the words of “hey, wouldn’t it be cool to get paid to take photos of food all day? Hahahaha. HA.”

And now, I do. It’s weird, and wonderful, and exhausting, and I love it all the same. On the flip side, it’s left me with significantly less time and energy for keeping up a food blog. When I first started, cooking and photography were the hobbies I adopted as my creative outlets, while working in my non-creative jobs. These days, I spend my weekends doing non-creative things, a necessary break. So, I’ve decided to step away from Sweetsonian for the time being. Of course, this site will stay here, but more often than not, I’ll be working on photography for work, samurai sudoku, or spending my free time with those I love, and most of all, resting my brain.


I do plan on starting another space to share my projects in-progress, most likely in the generic “photography” realm. So this is not good-bye. But I do want to thank you for reading, listening, commenting, and eating this food. This blog has given me such a wonderful zone to channel creativity, happiness, sadness, excitement, anxiety, and love. This might be my last post, but who knows. I don’t know what the future has in store for me. I will, however, continue to be on instagram and twitter, and if you ever reach out to me — for planning your trips to DC, for restaurant suggestions, or just to say hey — I’ll be around.

Thank you so, so much. Xo.

Kicking off 2015 right — in Europe.

Happy new year, everyone! Hoping you all were able to spend some time with your family and friends. I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Los Angeles, and then New Years in Oslo with my absolute favorite Norwegian. And, I finally got to see Norway in the snow, and I have to say that I’m smitten. The winter is actually worse here in DC… so I’ll probably just have to move to Oslo at some point in my life.

Real talk, though, I’d really like to just take a couple of months off to live in northern Norway during the winter — chasing the aurora borealis would be my jam.

Itching for more Norway photos? Check out my summer snapshots from Bergen and Oslo.

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all that glitters // gifts 2014


mug // bottle stopper // cord tacos // rose gold letter holder 
prism frame //  metallic trivets // planner 

I’ve always been a fan of pretty metallics, but lately, all I’ve wanted is everything in gold. I pulled together some great options ranging from stocking stuffers to the trivet set (swoon!), basically, things that would work well for a little glam gift swap.

When it comes to jewelry, I love love love these Kate Spade studs, and this Elizabeth and James crossover ring would be the perfect splurge. Topshop for Nordstrom pretty much nails my geometric, graphic-designery obsession with this gold cuff (and who can beat $22), and these Gorjana earrings are pretty much heaven for me. Being the girl who used to be obsessed with the Middle East, this $12 hamsa ring is adorable (and it better be a gift, or else it won’t ward off all the debbie downer vibes from people who wish they had it). Last but not least, this simple little gem would be perfect to wear to a black tie event… White House Correspondents, anyone? Hashtag, DC.

Looking for gold gifts to decorate someone’s home or kitchen? This mug is simple with just a little sass, and these dotted coasters are super cute — and a great way to get your guests to actually use coasters.

Other favorites in my quest for gold: this reversable tote bag, this tiny notebook (because we shouldn’t hand everything over to our smart phones now, should we?) and these perfect strappy heels. I want. It all.

Aurora Borealis

aurora borealis in whitefish, montana // sweetsonian


Hi there! Just had to quickly post this photo — I’ve been traveling in Montana with the lovely Belle, and I managed to sneak outside to take some star photos. I was thinking last week: you know, it’d be really cool to see the Northern Lights. But I pushed it out of my head because I apparently know nothing about them and thought they only came out in the winter.

False. Here’s a shot I captured from the roof of our lodge. If you look closely, there’s also a shooting star on the lower left side of the sky.

Xo! Be back soon.

recently pinning + links i love

links i love // sweetsonian

dress //  dress // truth // read // drink // go

The Summer 2016 Olympics branding (hire me?) for Rio — bright, colorful, and fun!

Prettiest travel pillow ever. This one definitely beats my standard gray one.

How to chill your drinks in under 5 minutes. Also works for chilling your ice cream mixture faster if you make it from scratch on the stove.

My obsession with Norway continues — this beautiful Norwegian home makes me want to hop on a flight for even just a quick weekend on Silje’s lovely balcony. The window views remind me of the gorgeous forests we passed on the train ride from Oslo to Bergen.

How did I never think of this? Why wrap sandwiches in lettuce when I could be using one of my favorite leafy greens in the world?

I’m a big fan of drop earrings, so I might just have to purchase these.

I know it’s still summer, but it’s August… which means fall will be here before you know it. These booties are on my mind.

Interpreting the motifs on Turkish rugs — I didn’t even know this was a thing.

Have you heard of Diner en Blanc? Well, it’s basically a huge flashmob dinner, where everyone shows up at an iconic location wearing all white. It’s coming to DC this September, and I got roped into some logistics. If you’re going too, let me know! And if you need a place to find all of your purchases online, well, I put this together to aggregate all of the white supplies you might need to buy for it.

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

Disclaimer: I promised Shaeda I would wait to make this until she was in my apartment. I broke that promise. But can you blame me?

Toad-in-a-holes take me back to being a little kid, visiting my grandmother. I don’t know if you all remember this, but before the American Girl dolls were a thing, the American Girl books and paper dolls were a thing. And being the bookworm that I was, I powered through all of them. Naturally, I look most like Samantha (most is a stretch) so she was my favorite, but my grandmother, having grown up in New York during World War II with the victory gardens and all, well, her favorite was Molly.

And when I was sufficiently obsessed with the book series and the stories of all of the characters (Grandma read every single book after I powered through each one), they came out with a series of cookbooks. I can’t remember if I had every single one, but I know that I had Molly’s. And, one of the recipes we made — usually for breakfast for Grandpa — was the toad-in-a-hole. A piece of toast with a hole in it, and a fried egg right into the bread. It’s delicious.

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

And I’ve had this idea for a few weeks now. A toad-in-a-hole grilled cheese. It’s been making me salivate. And with all the spin classes I’ve been going to, well, I’ve been letting myself ease into some carbs. So I made this.

But I wanted it to have a kick. So I threw on some sriracha. Obviously, it would be fun to use homemade sriracha, but I haven’t been home much lately, so I haven’t made any of that this year. The classic green top worked out great.

My only regret is that, next time, I’ll add in some slices of avocado. Now that would be perfect.

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian

toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese // sweetsonian


Recipe after the jump. Continue reading “toad-in-a-hole sriracha grilled cheese”

Spinach and Eggplant Gratin


Nothing makes me miss having a garden like eggplant does. Last summer, and the summer before it, I had a few eggplant seedlings that just exploded in the July heat — it was always fun to grill homegrown eggplant and squash with the roommates and friends at our summer barbecues!

Eggplant is one of my go-to dishes for dinners and work lunches — it’s relatively cheap, you can find it at every grocery story, and it makes a great pasta substitute when you’re craving lasagna, but cutting back on carbs.

Anyway, lots of photos, light on words, today.









Spinach and Eggplant Gratin Continue reading “Spinach and Eggplant Gratin”

Bourbon and White Chocolate S’mores Bars


I just want to start off by thanking all of you. Thank you so, so, so much for reading. In the past couple of months, I’ve received more emails and comments from you all as readers than I ever thought was possible for my little blog! I really can’t express how every single comment, every single email and every single Tweet has made me gush and blush. Words cannot express how much I love all of you right now. You make me want to write more and more.

That being said, I’m on a plane to Houston at the moment. My flight was delayed out of Washington for, like, 8 billion reasons, and I’m pretty sure my Houston-to-Los-Angeles flight took off an hour ago. I made a nice friend at the airport, and in typical airport grown-up fashion, we didn’t exchange names. We did, however, camp out on the floor in the middle of a packed terminal, chat about her two-year old son in Chicago, and commiserate about rude travelers. Thumbs up, assholes that block the gate exit when people are trying to deboard our plane. They’re almost as annoying as the tourists who try to get on a metro train before letting people out… during rush hour. I mean, come on… train etiquette is just like elevator etiquette.

But I digress.


Like always, travel gives me time to reflect on what I’m doing with my life.

Lately, I’ve discovered an involuntary urge to reconnect with a few friends that I had lost touch with over the past year or so.

It’s not such an out-of-touch concept – I’ve always focused on surrounding myself with the most amazing, inspiring people I can find (yes, friends IRL, I’m talking about you). But when you’re going through something like a job hunt, relationship transition, or whatever other significant thing might be happening in your life, sometimes you need to just be with people who understand you. So friends fall in and fall out, and you reconnect when you’re all ready.

Many of my reconnections have been because of relationship transitions. More specifically, more single ladies.

And, having been a single lady for far too long, I’ve lost touch with some concepts. I’ve been discouraged, over optimistic, really, I’ve just been all over the spectrum. I’ve been a stronghold advocate of having a healthy relationship with yourself above all else.

And guess what? I’ve been putting my marriage to my job waaaaay ahead of my relationship to myself. And even when I feel like I’m rocking all things career-related, I find myself doubting myself in almost every other relationship.

So when I was chatting up said girlfriends on recent man-related wins and woes, they introduced a pretty amazing strategy: if you feel any negativity for any reason, drop it. Immediately.



It was hard at first, because the crazy cat lady in me wanted to hold on to and overanalyze every little thing.

But this is a healthy challenge. Let go of any negativity. With all my yoga preaching, I’m ashamed I didn’t pick this up earlier.

And thus begins an amazing week with the family. I’ll be camping next week, so enjoy this cast-iron skillet recipe for white chocolate and bourbon smores.

Continue reading “Bourbon and White Chocolate S’mores Bars”

Firecracker Popsicles


My definition of “favorite holiday” has fluctuated over the years. As a kid, the Fourth of July was never really a big deal. It wasn’t like Christmas or a birthday — we didn’t get presents and there wasn’t any special sort of character that came to visit. I actually don’t remember many of my childhood Fourth of Julys… they were always relatively tame.

But in D.C., Fourth of July is the greatest holiday. Ever.

I remember when I was still working at the Department of Labor — there was a little yellow concessions stand right outside the main entrance, facing the Capitol Building and the National Mall. Rachel and I used to schlep outside on the hottest days (it was frigid inside because of the air conditioners) and we’d grab ice cream snacks.

Firecrackers were always my top choice. And when you’re in one of the most American places on the planet, every ice cream cart is well-stocked with Firecracker pops.



I even proactively purchased popsicle molds just so I could make my own Firecracker pops this year — I purchased these ones from Amazon — and they came with popsicle sticks. And, I prefer the classic look.

So, popsicles are pretty easy, right? You make some sort of liquid, fill the molds, and freeze overnight. Well, I tried this with coffee, and the coffee came out so rock-hard-icy that it hurt my teeth. I figured that this time, I’d run each liquid through the ice cream maker so they would soften up. WRONG. Don’t do this. Most of the pops were too soft to be pulled out in once piece.

So I’ve adjusted the instructions below to eliminate what I actually did in practice. Running the mixtures through the ice cream maker actually incorporated too much air into the mixtures, which kept them from freezing solid. Not running them through the ice cream makers should do the trick.





Firecracker Popsicles { Want more July 4th recipes? Check out my Fireworks Cupcakes and my Star-Spangled Tart from previous years }

Strawberry Sorbet, adapted from the Joy of Baking
1/3 cup simple syrup
2.5 cups strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons vodka
1 tablespoon Triple Sec

Blueberry Sorbet, adapted from Simply Recipes
2 cups fresh blueberries, stems removed
1/3 cup simple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream, adapted form David Lebovitz
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole or soy milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons bourbon

First, assemble the vanilla ice cream mix. Combine 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on it, and make sure it doesn’t boil over. Heat them until you start to get a nice froth on top, and immediately remove from the stove. In a mixing bowl, combine your egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract.

While whisking vigorously, gradually pour about 1/4 cup of the milk and cream mixture into your egg yolks and sugar. You really cannot whisk vigorously enough — you need to temper the yolks to ensure they don’t scramble. This is how we make a custard. Continue adding the hot milk in 1/4-cup increments until it is completely mixed. Filter the custard through a fine mesh sieve, and set aside in a jar. If you’re not one to wait around, set that jar in a bath of ice and salt water to speed the cooling process up. When it’s entirely cool, stir in the bourbon.

Then, create the other sorbets. This process is pretty easy — you just take all of the ingredients and pulse grind them in a food processor until the fruit is entirely pureed. Keep the strawberry and blueberry sorbets separate, and let chill in the refrigerator until the vanilla ice cream is cold.

Assemble the popsicles. First, spoon the blueberry sorbet into your popsicle molds. I’d go with 2-4 tablespoons in each mold, depending on the mold size. Go ahead and tap the counter with the popsicle molds a few times to get any bubbles out, and set in the freezer for at least two hours.

After the first layer is frozen, repeat with the vanilla ice cream mixture — spoon a bit into each mold, and tap on the counter. Freeze for one hour.

Then, fill the popsicles to the brim with the strawberry sorbet mixture. Insert popsicle sticks into each mold, and freeze overnight.

To remove, run the mold bases under warm water.