It’s something about the colder temperatures and the month of December that makes me want to get in the kitchen and bake. Whisking, whipping and folding is what I want. Last night was one of those nights where I couldn’t sit still so I took to the kitchen and looked around for something to make. I found the below recipe online but tweaked it by adding espresso powder, which amps up any chocolate recipe. I also decided to make it at least somewhat healthy by subbing in wheat flour, olive oil and Splenda.

I decided to make the icing by hand, which is no easy feat if you’re familiar with icing. The recipe is the standard one on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder box. But again, I tweaked it by adding in an extra teaspoon of vanilla.

The cake turned out wonderfully moist and chocolatey. The icing, fudgy and smooth. Everything I look for in a cake. Enjoy!

CAKE INGREDIENTSchocolate cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour ( I used wheat flour)
  • 2 cups sugar (I used Splenda)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil ( I used olive oil. Make sure it’s a very light one)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 12 pan by spraying with baking spray or buttering.
  2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  3. Add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  4. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

FROSTING INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup Cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.  Makes about 2 cups of frosting.

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1When one of your favorite beauty-focused internet-reads announces a surprise project, you pay attention. That was definitely the case for me when Into the Gloss announced Glossier.

Founder Emily Weiss, a former assistant at Vogue, created the internet destination for all things beauty in a matter of years. And just a few weeks ago she released products under a new ITG-sister company called Glossier (pronounced glossi-yay). It’s motto: “Skin first. Makeup second. Smile always.” Glossier’s kick-off starts with four products that focus on creating a perfect foundation (without actual foundation). The “Phase 1 Set” includes: Soothing Face Mist, Priming Moisturizer, Balm Dotcom (bonus points for that name!), and the Perfecting Skin Tint.

Here’s what Glossier did right: everything. From their marketing strategy to their products, the brand is curated to perfection. I, along with many others, followed Glossier on Instagram (@glossier) for a month-long of photo teases. In fact, Weiss crafted the brand’s launch very carefully via Instagram.

Besides her marketing strategy, Weiss created a brand for girls and women alike. It’s fun, functional, and let’s the “real” you shine through (i.e. no cake face found here). It also instills a feeling of empowerment with the “I woke up like this” attitude. Glossier preaches that beauty is defined and relative to you as an individual. It’s products are for the modern woman who is free and imperfect.

The Phase 1 Set includes four products and the cutest little sticker set. Never a letdown with these guys!

The Soothing Face Mist is magical. Magical in the sense that it’s exactly the kind of product I want to use to refresh my skin during the day and just the perfect base after cleansing and before makeup application. If I am feeling a little dry, I’ll spray the mist on and my face feels hydrated and soothed.

I got the Perfecting Skin Tint in Light. It’s a very close match to my skin currently. I was unsure if I’d like this due to how light and watery it seemed on the back of my hand but alas, I was wrong. I love the application (just use the tips of your fingers) and the finish is gorgeous. It’s light but not too light and it looks very natural. Not to mention how dewy it is. This stuff is on daily rotation.

Aside from the fact that it’s called the Balm Dotcom, I have to say that this little tube is kind of the bomb. I started using it on my cuticles and moved onto my lips. It’s a staple on my bedside table and I know I’ll need a second one for my handbag. In one word; it’s amazing. Super moisturizing and hydrating; it lasts extremely long and my lips are still moisturized come morning.  This is one of those products that I need to be carrying with me at all times.

I’m picky when it comes to moisturizers, you should know this. It’s so hard for me to find something light enough for my liking that also provides my skin with some real hydration. PSA: I love Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer. It’s light, it feels fresh on the skin, it fully sinks in and doesn’t leave me feeling greasy. My face feels more supple and soft and I’m hoping that with continuous use, I’ll see a little less redness too.

Glossier knocked it out of the park with Phase 1. Weiss hinted at some colorful holiday releases coming soon! In the meantime, I’ll sit back, moisturize my cuticles and wait patiently.

You can purchase all Glossier products here.

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rive dambre tom fordBeing nice will get you far in life. It will also get you a boatload of Tom Ford samples. This past weekend I took myself out on a perfume date. Given the proximity to Fall, I figured it was time to find a new scent. After trying out a half-dozen, I landed upon Tom Ford’s Rive d’Ambre.

“In reading about the Orient’s rituals and history, I became entranced with the refined art of gift-giving. Rive d’Ambre in inspired by the tradition of presenting precious citrus fruits as gifts. True to my nature, the sparkling fruits are wrapped in rich and warm sensuality.”

– Tom Ford

The Notes

Bergamot, Lemon, Bitter Orange, Tarragon, Cardamom, Moroccan Spearmint Oil, Benzoin, Pear Wood Accord, Cognac Oil, Tolu Balsam and Amber.

How Does it Smell?

Rive d’Ambre possibly sticks out amongst the others in the Atelier d’Orient collection simply because it is the least heavy, dense or spice laden perfume in the bunch – in fact it is positively refreshing and effervescent in comparison.

Opening with a blast of zesty orange, mandarin and a sprinkle of bergamot, Rive d’Ambre is a sparkling and almost drinkable citrus cologne in its opening stages with a nice balance between the bitter and sweet facets of fruit – but it isn’t just a cologne – in fact it is so much more.

Sitting just beneath Rive d’Ambre’s surface is a palpable layer of sweet, gauzy benzoin which adds to the proceedings a comfortable layer for which those citrus notes can bounce off. As the citrus dies down the benzoin becomes richer but it never transforms in to a fully realized amber accord (there is no creamy or plush vanilla to bolster it), meaning that it keeps the spirit of the cologne alive.

Rive d’Ambre is a delightful perfume that takes the age-old style of cologne and turns it into something warmer and deeper. This is by far one of my favorite Tom Ford private collection scents.

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