Product Spotlight: Mode de Vie Vanilla Lip Balm


When I was working at Bare Escentuals in the late 90’s they sold a yummy shea butter-based lip balm. It came in a giant tube and was the perfect Tahitian vanilla. I loved it–it was my Holy Grail lip balm.

A few later when I started working natural foods stores I realized that the lip balm was made by Mode de Vie and must have been private labelled for Bare Escentuals. I was happy to have it readily available again, and it was still in the giant tube.

Now they have downsized to a regular tube, but the creamy shea butter balm is the same. And I don’t care what the packaging is like, I am just still happy that I can get this delicious, soothing, hydrating lip balm.

It’s available at Whole Foods and other natural markets, and online.

It also comes in red tango: a slightly tinted berry balm, and cappuccino–a warm espresso flavor. I like to use red tango in place of lipstick with just a bit of mascara and brow pencil on casual makeup days.

*Here is what the color of the tint in red tango looks like.


Cost: About $7

What is your favorite lip balm?

Cold Weather Survival Tips: Cherry Pillow


Winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin and hair. When night falls and the temperature dips in your house, it’s tempting to crank up the heater. But once you are asleep you body temperature should stabilize. There’s nothing worse than waking up parched and sweating in the middle of the night because you overestimated your heating needs.

Overnight is when your skin regenerates and regulates oil production. If you lose surface moisture, that will cause your skin to pump out more oil, and excess heat will dry your skin, leading to clogged pores and overall congestion.

I love hot water bottles and have two that I like to put under my blankets before I get into bed: one at the foot of the bed and one at the head. I have covers on them so they don’t get clammy when they cool down. I do get nervous at the idea of falling asleep with them, so I try to kick them out of bed before I fall asleep. I’ve always been paranoid that I will roll over and somehow puncture one, flooding my bed. (hasn’t happened yet, thankfully!)

I’m always happy for it to be cool enough to pull out my cherry pillow.

The cover is made from organic cotton and it is filled with cherry pits leftover from making cherry liqueur. Three minutes in the microwave gives me the perfect amount of heat to warm up and fall asleep. I also like putting it in my lap when I’m feeling chilly but no one else is–when I am messing around online, or watching a movie or reading a book.

I’ve had my pillow for thirteen years and it still looks great, and I love the way the cherry pits smell when they heat up.

I’ll Show You Mine…


…Kitchen work space that is. I love that I have a corner of my kitchen that is separate from where my husband cooks, so we can both do our thing and not be in each others’ way. Behind my baking table is our bookshelf where we keep all of our cookbooks. Be sure to check out my favorites!

Your turn! I want to see pictures of your kitchen! Show me your favorite tools, favorite apron, favorite cookbooks!

Like my apron? Get your custom apron, skirt, dress or other clothing item here!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Campfire Cookies

This seemed like the perfect recipe to jump back in with. It’s cold and dreary and the perfect time to bake. Plus, I DO need to narrow down some  recipes for cookie swaps this season. I was really excited to bake what I thought were going to be perfect cookies.

These were easy to put together:
(I know there are two eggs in my picture, but I just used one)


and I love my new(ish) cookie scoop:


Child Labor:




One of my boys’ teachers had a birthday and I was happy to have a treat to share with her. The shape turned out a little weird because of the marshmallows, which bummed me out, but I still felt hopeful.


Unfortunately, even though I only baked my cookies for 14 minutes, when they cooled they were hard as a rock. I had 37 cement cookies. I didn’t have time to bake more so I sent a dozen to school with my son and received a very nice thank you card. I feel terrible because they were NOT what I expected. I know not everyone hates crunchy cookies and I hope she really did enjoy them.

I was bummed that a recipe I was so excited about turned out so terrible so I decided to try again. I was inspired by a fellow baker and decided to put the cookies in a muffin tin with the marshmallows on top. I also hated the cinnamon–it’s all I could taste in the first round–so even though I doubled the recipe this time I only used 1/4 teaspoon.


I don’t have a torch (sadly) so I pulled the cookies out when the marshmallows darkened and the cookie looked done. The cookie stayed soft and the marshmallow didn’t burn off the way they did in the first round. The chocolate chips melted well in the center and helped anchor the marshmallow.

They turned out great this time. My family loved them, and all the flavors I was expecting in the first batch were there–not drowned out by the cinnamon. I would be proud to take these to a cookie swap and will have the chance since I am hosting one next month!

Go see if the other bakers had more luck than I did!

Next up!: Date Squares

Baked Occasions!!

Next Sunday I’ll post about the first recipe I’ve made for Baked Sunday Mornings for the new Baked book. (the second for the group)

I had so much fun test baking for the book and I was so bummed to not be able to go out to NYC for the launch party. I’ll make it out there one day!



Milk Bar Love!

While I was off neglecting my blog all kinds of stuff happened. But since I can’t spend all the time it would take to catch up completely, I’m going to just write about a few cool things that happened.

My awesome friend from NYC sent out some Momofuko Milk Bar treats for my boys’ 9th birthday.

Everyone knows how much I love Milk Bar and how many of their recipes I’ve baked, so it was amazing to finally get to see how mine measured up. I’m happy to say I was pretty much on the mark! The boys, of course, loved everything.





3rd Grade Bake Sale


My boys’ grade had a bake sale to benefit Heifer International. They were hoping to buy a goat or maybe a cow for a family in a developing country.


We decided to make milk chocolate chip cookies with sea salt and sugar cookie with sprinkles to donate.


We had fun baking them all up. The kitchen aid definitely got a workout mixing ten dozen cookies to sell.


The sale was so successful during the two days it ran that they decided to extend it to a third day. We had fun baking and selling cookies and I’m so happy to be a part of a school that supports such great causes.



Chocolate Cinnamon Soufflés


I have never made a soufflé. But it turns out to be the perfect recipe for procrastinators, so now it’s pretty much my favorite thing ever.


Butter and chocolate get melted together. Egg yolks and cinnamon are whisked in. Egg whites get beaten to stiff peaks and gently folded in.

My ramekins were only four ounces instead of the six listed in the recipe, but I had just enough to fill them. I liked the cinnamon-sugar coating that was added before filling, it provided a nice contrast to the deep chocolate flavor.



I baked mine for eight minutes and checked on them. They seemed pretty set but had not risen quite as much as I had expected. I pulled them thinking they might be ready, but dipping a spoon in showed that they weren’t quite done yet. I didn’t want to poison my children so I baked them another six minutes and they got a nice cracked crown and looked puffier. The inside was more dense and melty as opposed to mousse-like as well.

Four were a perfect amount for my family of two adults and three kids, but if we were expecting company I would double the recipe. I agree that this would be the perfect fall pre-holiday treat, but since it’s already getting pretty warm here in Texas I don’t think I’d make it again until the end of summer.

Go see how my fellow bakers fared!!

Next up: Classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Now that’s perfect for this time of year, can’t wait!!

I Had the Time of My Life


Back in August when my awesome boys were turning eight I found the perfect gift: a hearse limo tour of some of the haunted spots in Austin.

I was so super excited and I couldn’t wait to take them on it. But a few days before our scheduled tour, the original limo was in a car accident and totaled.

Heartbroken, I took the boys on a walking ghost tour instead. That was really fun and we had a great time together but I still couldn’t wait until Haunted ATX had a new limo that was ready to go. Recently I noticed an Amazon deal (a Groupon-style coupon) and I jumped at the chance to finally go on the tour.

*photo from HauntedATX

The one downside to our tour was that it started at 11 PM. I had a long day at work and I was tired and the boys had been at school all day, but we were all so excited. I wasn’t sure if it would be able to stay up until 1 AM but somehow we made it. (even though they fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept until noon the next day)

First up on the tour was the Clay Pit Indian restaurant, haunted by the ghost of two young boys and a lady of the evening, all of whom died there many years ago.







Our next stop was the Tavern, an old bar haunted by a ghost named Emily whose shoes are kept behind glass on a wall upstairs:




After that we went to a spot covered on the walking tour: The famously haunted Driskill Hotel:

















Our last spot was a ride out to the Texas State Hospital, haunted by the ghosts of tortured souls institutionalized many years ago:





So the tour was a big hit for my littles and we all had a great time munching on snacks from Whole Foods and waving at astonished drivers in cars behind us as we cruised around Austin in a hearse.

If you’re ever in the mood for some spooky fun, I highly recommend it.

Fleeting Moments of Happiness


My favorite part of being married is seeing my sweet man’s secret sides, and letting him see mine.

I get to see him with bed head and unshaven. Barefoot and making our morning coffee. I get to his face illuminated by the screen of his iPad when we watch a movie late at night after we put the kids to bed.

We have mumbled conversations in the middle of the night when one of us has a bad dream. We fall back asleep with my head in the spot that fits perfectly under his shoulder.

I’ve seen him cry. I’ve seen him laugh so hard he can barely breathe. I’ve seen him so angry I thought his head might explode. I fall asleep to the rhythmic sounds of his snoring breathing.

I sit next to him at the kitchen table when he is wearing nothing but a t shirt and boxers. I wash and fold those same boxers. He pulls my long hair out of our bathroom drain. He makes my coffee and tea ridiculously sweet, much sweeter than he would ever make for himself–because he knows I love it.

He pulls out my balled-up socks, tangled in our sheets. He knows that I wear them because I go to bed with freezing feet that somehow turn burning hot around 4am. He lets me tuck my freezing feet in between his ankles. He thinks my toes are cute. (they’re not)

He sees me with no makeup, smeared makeup, bleary-eyed. He sees me under-caffeinated and flustered. He doesn’t care which outfit I choose because he thinks I look pretty in anything. He has willingly bought the same brand of flip-flops as me every single year for five years. We somehow stumbled upon an unspoken agreement to shop for them right as the wildflowers start to dot grass next to the Texas highways. I see him slip his feet into them as he cooks us dinner or chases one of the kids.

Everyone else sees us showered and focused and guarded. They get ‘everything’s fine’ and ‘what can I do for you.’ They don’t us sick or sad or sobbing. When we are out in the world we are able to be our strong public selves because we know when we get home we can fall into the sanctuary that we have created together.

Never settle for someone who will hold your soft sides against you…