How to Make Your Home the Best Lil’ B+B in Town


Holiday season is upon us, and I love, love, triple love having guests ( I inherited the hospitality gene from my Southern grandparents).  Nothing fills my heart more than having people in the house to bake for and dote on from the minute they put their bags down until the minute they leave. I want every single person who walks through the front door to immediately feel at home, and I’ve got a few tips on h0w to make that happen:


The Amenities Basket: I think this is one of my favorite things in the entire house, and something I’m really proud of. In the past, though it doesn’t happen quite that often, I’ve been at a friend’s house and totally unprepared. I didn’t have my toothbrush, I didn’t have my toothpaste, I didn’t even have a tube of chapstick! It’s a terrible feeling because you find yourself picturing exactly where each item you’ve left is, and wishing that you’d just packed it, just in case. That’s why I came up with the idea for the Amenities Basket. I’ve got every miniature-sized item a guest could ever need: makeup wipes, toothpaste, fancy soaps and body washes, shampoos and conditioners, and even feminine products. Truthfully, my basket is tailored more for the female guests that arrive, but take the opportunity to tailor it to the needs of your specific guests. Maybe they like a certain aftershave, maybe they like a certain lotion. Nothing will make your guests feel welcome like a basket filled with their favorite things. And here’s a good tip: try to double up on products if you can. If you’ve got multiple guests, you want to make sure that you have enough emergency items for everyone.

Baked Goods: Greet your guests at the door with a sweet treat! You can never go wrong with a warm batch of classic chocolate chip cookies like these ones from my favorite cookie lady, Dorie Greenspan!


Candles: Freshen up the guest room (or even the whole house) with a couple scented candles. Make sure to keep the scent warm, light, and crisp to create an atmosphere that is cozy and inviting, not overpowering; You never know what your guests prefer scent-wise until they’ve gotten there, so best to err on the side of less is more. (Side note: You can find a great selection of super inexpensive, delicious-smelling candles at Homegoods and Target!)


Fresh Flowers: Nothing brightens up the home like a bouquet of fresh flowers! Choose bright, seasonal colors to make the whole house pop. And to keep things extra fancy, trim a few and put them in a mason jar or small vase on the nightstand in your guest room.


Bedside Reading Material: You never know the sleep schedule of your guests. While you may be a night owl, they may be early to bed, early to rise. If that’s the case, or they’re just having trouble falling asleep in a bed that is not their own, it’s always nice to provide a little reading material to pass the time. I like to tailor my picks to things I think my specific guest will love. Usually I’ll choose one book that will make them think, one book to turn their brain off when they just want to relax, and one or two magazines for when they want to stare at beautiful pictures. It’s good to have a variety.


Clear Space in the Closet: Depending on how long your guests plan to stay, it’s always a good idea to clear a little space in the closet for them with a few extra hangers. We wouldn’t want a beautiful dress or suit to get wrinkled!


Soft Blankets + Socks: I like a cold house, what can I say? And while this cold-centric gal doesn’t mind putting on extra layers in the house, my guests may not always. That’s why I’m always prepared with extra soft and cozy blankets and socks for when my guests feel a bit chilly. It’s always good to have several available in case your guests don’t want to share.


Fresh Linens + Towels: Wash your sheets, and wash extra towels. You never know when your guests may want to take a shower, or even a quick cat nap after a long journey. Be prepared.

A Beverage Basket: We happen to have a lot of baskets lying around the house from various holiday gifts, so I found a good use for one as a beverage basket.  If you’ve got an extra basket, or don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for a small one, fill it with specialty teas, individual coffee packs, water bottles, and even a cocoa mix or two. It’s good to be prepared for any tastes your guest may have.

Ask Ahead of Time: The most important tip of all is to always, always ask ahead of time. Ask about food allergies (VERY IMPORTANT), ask what snacks they like, ask what kind of movies they watch, ask how they like their coffee in the morning. Nothing shows that you care more than making sure your guests have the best stay possible. The goal is to make them feel as though they never want to leave, but of course they’ll have to eventually! Always ask.


What are your best guest tips? Sound off in the comments below!





Making it My Own: Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


The story really began on Sunday, when my friend Grace and I decided to hit up the neighborhood bakery, after completely stuffing ourselves at brunch. No regrets, the weekends are the days that I feast. My neighborhood has the CUTEST bakery with tons of handwritten signs everywhere, and a really great pastry selection. What I had in mind for a post-brunch treat was a cannoli because hey, if you’re going to have dessert after essentially having dessert, you have to go all out. But these days, I leave cannolis to the experts in the North End, and no where else. Instead, I locked eyes on (well, eye to baked good) a pumpkin raisin cookie. It just so happens that a few days before, I’d heard talk of a pumpkin aatmeal raisin cookie, and I’d been dying to try one ever since. But when I asked the salesperson if the cookie had oats, she shook her head “no,” and sort of looked at me quizzically. Well, whatever, there was nothing else in the bakery I wanted more than that cookie, so I paid, and we left. And, I have to say it: I was super disappointed. I mean, I ate the whole thing obviously, but every bite was a reminder that I may have chosen the wrong thing at the bakery. It was missing one very important element: oats.

Honestly, think about it: had there been no pumpkin, it would have just been a raisin cookie. WHO EATS PLAIN RAISIN COOKIES? It’s oatmeal raisin, or nothing. So as I took my last bite, I looked over at Grace and said, “I think I’m going to remake this cookie.”

So I did.


I started my baking adventure like I always do: running furiously to the store in search of ingredients that I definetly should have collected before I decided to start baking. And I often embarrass myself once I get there. This particular time, after going up and down two aisles twice looking for raisins, I finally found someone that worked there, who told me to go to Produce. And after looking in Produce for .2 seconds, I decided to ask for help. Now, let me just preface this by saying that my trip to the store yesterday was the first time I’d been out all day, so I was still adjusting to being around other people, and also speaking out loud. Here was my interaction with the (pretty cute, by the way) salesperson in Produce:

Me: Excuse me, could you tell me where the grapes are?

SP: Grapes? Sure they’re just——

Me:  OH NOPE. SORRY, I meant raisins! Ha, y’know like OLD GRAPES? HAHA

SP: …Um. Okay, yeah, they’re over here. Follow me…

Me: Yep. okay then…

So yeah, THAT happened. Nevertheless, I got my raisins. And I set to work!

DSCN0316A few hours later, I had warm, chewy, Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin cookies. And better than the bakery’s cookies by a mile, if I do say so myself.


DSCN0340I’m taking these little pieces of Fall goodness to work with me so that my Official Recipe Tasters (aka my co-workers and roommates) can give me the final word. I’m going to share this recipe, I promise!

HAPPY THURSDAY, GUYS! The weekend’s almost here!

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The Time I Made Shortbread

My love for shortbread knows absolutely no limits. It’s buttery (especially when I make it), but light enough that you can eat a few pieces, and it still feels like a snack.


Over the holidays I decided to try my hand at it, and the results were marvelous!

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What I learned:

1. Making shortbread is so simple, and so easy to do! And if you make a mix large enough, you can have shortbread cookies for days and days!

2. Shortbread dough can be a bit tough at times to work with. It is ESSENTIAL that your work space is well-floured before rolling out your dough. If it isn’t, you’ll constantly have to pull dough off your rolling pin. Trust me on this one. It’s sticky.

3. My life motto: The more butter, the better.

These little cookies were perfect for my afternoon tea party!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1  Cup Butter
  • 3/4  Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1  Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 1/2  Cups  All-purpose flour

Check out the recipe here!

Happy baking!

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Before and After: Budget Friendly Creations

So I was browsing through the various sections of Apartment Therapy, as per usual, when I stumbled across the sort of DIY project that stops you right in your tracks. Now, if you’re like me, you’ve always wanted to do … Continue reading


My dream appliance: a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. They are so classic. Did you know that since their creation, the design has not changed? And these babies have been around for a VERY long time.

It’s just one of those things; If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Am I right?


THE DAY I get my mixer, is the day I make these absolutely adorable cookies.



Adventures in Cakeworld

First Stop: Pound. If there is only one thing about me that you ever need to know, it is that when I set my mind on something, it has to happen. The problem with this is: sometimes what I want to do … Continue reading

Learning the Language of Latkes

For three weeks I’ve had one dish on my mind: latkes.

So what is a latke you ask? For those who don’t know, here’s an official definition:

(in Jewish cooking) A pancake, esp. one made with grated potato.

Now here’s my (unofficial) definition:


Circular potato pancake of deliciousness. 

I am officially on break for a month, thus: the perfect time to start cookin’! And boy, was this dish an easy blast!

Here we go!


It took me absolute ages to peel these potatoes, but I made it happen! A good vegetable peeler is an essential tool for the kitchen. Without it, I would have used that knife, and I’d probably still be peeling. (Okay, honestly, the peeler probably just saved me 10-15 minutes tops.  Still!)


Next, in order to fit the onions and potatoes into the food processor for shredding, I had to cut them up into little pieces. I’m happy to announce that the onions did not sting my eyes, as they usually do. I don’t normally have access to food processors at my apartment, so using one definitely saved me some time. If you’ve got one, use it. Some recipes call for graters, which I’m sure work fine, but if you’re planning on making latkes for a dinner party, or planning on having leftovers, a food processor is the way to go.


The recipe calls for 1/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and one large egg, but since I used two potatoes, I ended up doubling the recipe. Adding the freshly shredded and drained potato/onion mixture to the…well, mix, I whisked it all together until everything was coated.


Latke time! Here’s what I learned:

1. When the recipe tells you to scoop a mere teaspoon of latke mix into a pan, do it. I decided to take spoonfuls because I wanted bigger cakes, but that was a MISTAKE. They cooked slower than I wanted, and I just didn’t feel in control at all.

2. Although the recipe called for peanut oil, I found that extra virgin olive oil does the trick nicely as well.

3. You’ll have to use more oil than what the recipe suggests.


Here, I finally started to get the hang of it. (Notice that I heeded the recipe’s advice and lessened my spooning size. )


FINALLY, FINALLY I got it! Perfect size, good crispness. What I learned:

1. YOU MUST WATCH THESE CAREFULLY. These cakes are much smaller, and significantly thinner, so they crisp before you know it. One minute is a pretty solid amount of time, but every cake crisps differently.

2. If you’ve got an electric stove like I’ve got at home, the heat should be at about 6. If you’ve got a gas stove like I’ve got at my apartment, 5 or 6 is probably a good, safe place to remain.


Into the tupperware they go, ready to be eaten tomorrow for dinner!!

Doubling the recipe made a TON, and this is a great food item to make in advance, and they’re great re-heated. What’s also great is that these aren’t just for dinner parties! Potato pancakes can be enjoyed at breakfast, or as hor d’oeuvres with some yummy topping combinations!

Oh! And here’s the recipe from Smitten Kitchen!

1 large baking potato (1 pound), peeled
1 small onion (4 ounces), peeled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Peanut oil, for frying

In a food processor or on a box grater, coarsely shred the potato and onion. For longer strands, lay the potato sideways in the chute of your food processor. Transfer to a colander or wrap in a cheesecloth sling, and squeeze as dry as possible. Let stand for 2 minutes, then squeeze dry again.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, egg, salt and pepper together. Stir in the potato onion mixture until all pieces are evenly coated.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until shimmering. Drop packed teaspoons of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten them with the back of a spoon. Cook the latkes over moderately high heat until the edges are golden, about 1 1/2 minutes; flip and cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.

Happy Cooking!!

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