Saturday, September 24, 2011

California Cool

As excited as I am to share the rest of my French adventure story with y’all (see part one here), I have to briefly interrupt myself to share the jaw-droppingly amazing fashion of my beautiful friends in California, who I surprised during a last minute trip to Malibu this weekend!

By the way, did you like the new word I just made up? Jaw-droppingly. I’m kind of into it.

Back to the story. How amazingly indie and hip are these people? 

Sometimes I can’t believe I know them. Here’s a group shot of what things are really like when we all get together:

And here’s our totally contrived model moment:

Needless to say, my little visit to SoCal has completely re-inspired my take on fall fashion. Who needs InStyle with friends like these?

Who’s your fashion inspiration? Where do you turn first for a fresh take on style—friends, magazines, style blogs?

More en fran├žais next time, oui? 


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All I'm Askin'

is forrrrr a little respect!

Just kidding, I’m actually asking for your follows, likes, questions, comments, shares, support, encouragement, and prayers. But that didn’t match with Aretha’s lyrics, so you know, I thought I’d list them second.

Y’all, this is going to be me soon!

I mean, I won’t be Selena Gomez. And I won’t be brunette. And I won’t be in Monte Carlo, exactly…I’ll be about 20 minutes away, in Monaco. But I definitely could be wearing a boots & ballgown combo. And I definitely WILL be going on all sorts of amazing French adventures!

In reality, I’ll probably look a little more like this:

Yep, that’s me! Holding a glass of wine, pretending I know what the heck I’m doing when I swirl it, blonde…

I will be leaving from Texas on September 30th, and will arrive in Monaco on the 1st of October. So soon, right? I can’t even handle it!

Originally, I created this blog as part of a school assignment while at Pepperdine. (Read more about that here). Since then, it’s become a very exciting way for me to share my recipes, thoughts, inspirations, fashion ideas, and DIY projects. As I begin this new journey, I’d like to take this post to ask a few things of you.

My beautiful followers, friends, and family:

1. Keep reading. It’s an easy, fun way for us all to “stay in touch” while I’m overseas. Plus, I plan on blogging every day to document everything I’m seeing/learning/experiencing. From coffee shops to open air markets to embarrassing admissions of failed attempts at communicating in French, you’ll find my stories and pictures here.

2. I literally covet your prayers and words of encouragement - please send them my way! They were a lifeline for me while I was in California, and I know they will be the same while I’m discovering France.

3. As a writer, blogging is an amazing way for me to get some practice in “publishing” and to start building a following - and by reading, liking, sharing, and commenting on my blogs, you can help me do that! Pass on the link to my blog, or encourage your non-tumblr friends to follow it via bloglovin! (see the fun eiffel tower link over there? —->pass him along)

The easiest way to become a “follower” of my blog if you don’t have a tumblr is to make an account with This is a GREAT website—it’s how I stay *updated* on all of the blogs I read! Plus, it’s free! To become an official follower of my blog, register an account at Once you have made an account, search “decaf and dessert” in the search bar at the top of the website’s page. This will take you to a page that showcases my blog. Simply click “follow”, and you’ll be informed every time I post a picture or thought for the day!

And that’s all I’m askin’!

Since deciding to take this job as an au pair, I’ve had so many people ask me the same question: how the heck did you stumble into his magical setup?

Well, the answer is really very simple, and it starts the same way that every magical story starts: I met a boy…

For now, we’ll call him the “French Connection.” After all, if I hadn’t met him, I wouldn’t be going to France.
Mysterious, huh? Guess you’ll have to keep reading. :)

In closing, I’ve got one last request for you. (I know, right? I’m greedy.) If you would like to, please consider praying these specific things over me:

1. That I will go boldly into this new experience without fear, trembling, or self-awareness.
2. That I will be a light to this French family and their children.
3. That I will have confidence in speaking and learning French, and establish fun relationships with others my age.
4. That I will make the most of every opportunity.
5. That I will connect with someone—be it a person or a church family—that will encourage me spiritually while in France.
6. That I don’t wreck the family’s car when I drive it into Monaco to buy groceries (really though…)

Thank you all so much for always surrounding me in love. I am immeasurably blessed by each and every one of you!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pretty Things

I’ve started quite the collection of random pdf files on my desktop due to the fact that I’m always clicking and dragging pictures off random websites as inspiration strikes.

I’m tired of having a messy desktop. So, here are a few. All saved and grouped together and organized. You might be thinking, she should have a pinterest for that. Well guess what? I do. But that doesn’t mean I know how to use it…

South of France, September 30th —> !!!

Speechless. via honest aesthetics

Hair? Level of hippie-amazingness I never attained despite living in California for three years? Love love it. via I-don’t-remember, but if it’s you let me know.

Zebra. Planner. Could there be a better way to fulfill my need to write literally everything down than by doing it in an organizer covered in animal skin? Get reallll, I want need this.

Always inspired by the Olsens, but this hair…there are no words. via olsens anonymous

Next craft? Think so! via scissors and thread

Ahh! She rocked this look at the Emmys! Adorable.

Next baking project, hands down. Recipe/image via divine baking

Big Fat Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (72% cocoa)

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Add butter and peanut butter to a microwave safe bowl, and heat in 30 second increments until melted. Let cool completely.

Mix the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, mix on medium speed, the cooled butter-peanut butter mixture and sugars until they are combined. Increase speed and add the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla. Continue mixing until ingredients are completely combined (about 2 minutes). Gradually add the flour and mix until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips on low speed. If the dough is too soft, place the bowl in the the fridge for 15 minutes.

Shape the dough into a balls (I use a 4oz ice cream scoop). Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, two inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. The centers should be soft and puffy. Do not over bake. Let cool on the pan for several minutes and then move to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies.

- - -

Confession: I get really anxious every time someone “follows my boards” (what does that even mean?) on pinterest. There’s all this pressure to find cool pictures and pin things (??) and be edgy and get repinned (??)…

Whatever happened to cutting out pictures from magazines and, you know, actually pinning it to like…a real corkboard?

Here’s to push-pins, bulletin boards, and clean computer desktops. xoxx

Monday, September 19, 2011

DIY: Designer-tize It Yourself!

I’m aware that “designer-tize” isn’t exactly the traditional ‘D’ in DIY (or even a real word…), but I felt that it was a much more appropriate label for my recent fall fashion makeover project!

I recently purchased an amazing camel blazer from the new H&M at Northpark (see this blog entry) for the amazing price of $29.95. This is it, as-is:

Pretty cute, huh?

Needless to say, I cried real tears while standing on the plush red carpet outside H&M as I patiently awaited the moment the security guard would lift the velvet rope, allowing me to burst through the doors and snag something from the store on its inaugural day in Dallas.

But as much as I loved my purchase (not to mention the price of my purchase), I was tormented by a truth I couldn’t escape: the buttons looked cheap. Which is probably because the buttons are cheap, but whatever. You get what you pay for, right?

Wrong. Because in designer-tize it yourself land, we take things from off-the-rack to off-the-chain.

Here is where these guys come in:

Chanel. Earrings. This is why I love thrifting so much. I mean, technically I’m not a “real” thrifter, like the kind that’s always finding this amazing scarf, or that amazing vintage handbag at some hole-in-the-wall that would give most of us an an asthma attack if we spent too long digging through the dust for buried treasures. But there were a few shops off Wilshire that I liked to explore with a latte in hand after leaving the US Weekly office in LA. Which is where I stumbled upon those wonderful, antique Chanel beauties, which the owner told me (in broken English) he had acquired from an estate sale. Meaning I probably inherited them from a rich grandma in Beverly Hills, which I try not to be creeped out by. (*Sidenote: see this blog post for more finds from the shop + old US Weekly stories.)

Anyway, despite the fact that they’re Chanel, the earrings are a little, well, grandma-ish. I mean, they’re clip-ons. But still—I was dying to wear them! Unfortunately, I’m not enough of a fashion maven to rock the granny-chic look thing, so wearing them in the traditional way was out. DING DING DING! Cue the flashing lightbulbs that went off telling me to turn them into buttons.

With the help of pliers…

…and some tacky glue…

I was able to do just that! If you want to try something similar, the process couldn’t be easier.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Use a pair of hand-held pliers to pry off the clip on back (or the post of a regular earring).

2. Find a button in a coordinating color that will fit inside the back of the earring, and secure it to the earring with tacky glue. Allow to dry for at least 4 hours.

3. Remove the buttons on your blazer/jacket/vest/etc with a seam ripper and/or scissors. Whatever it takes to get the stubborn things off.

4. Sew your newly created button onto your blazer/jacket/vest etc by hand, starting your stitch from the front of the garment so that the knot in the thread will be hidden by your button (and not visible if your jacket blows upon on a breezy day/when you’re walking down the runway during NY Fashion Week).

5. Rock it, girl!



CLASSY, baby. Seriously, this project took no time at all. And now I’ll be able to trick everyone into thinking I bought a Chanel jacket! Maybe. If they’re not familiar with the style, look, quality, or fit of couture…which I am totally banking on, 100%.

Have you ever designer-tized anything? Have any other great suggestions for spicing up your fall wardrobe on a budget? Let me know. I’m always up for craft time!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mission Missoni

Long story short? Mission accomplished!

I probably should be ashamed that I participated in the chaos yesterday that will forever be known as #targettuesday (a close relative of Black Friday) on Twitter. But looking back on the events of yesterday, do I regret frantically grabbing an XL sweater from the children’s line? Or hiding merchandise behind my back before the glamazon with the slicked back bun and skinny jeans standing across the aisle could get her hands on it? Absolutely not. It was amazing! 

I will admit this freely—I am a sucker for advertising! Seriously…even infomercials are a weakness. Friends and family have been known to restrain me from running to the phone and ordering Proactive every time dewy-skinned Jennifer Love Hewitt promises me it will change my life—keep in mind that I’m actually allergic to this product! And still I buy into the hype.

So when those mod, James Bond-ish Target commercials started coming out, and when I saw Missoni prints at affordable prices all over my favorite blogs and magazines? Please. I was doomed from the beginning. Let this photo be a lesson to you all—it’s what happens when you have no willpower! 

And yet, despite my new awareness that I need to enroll in/become the president of USA (unwise shoppers anonymous), #targettuesday was an absolute blast! My mom and I arrived at Target ‘A’ with Starbucks in hand, grabbed child sized vests and sweaters and snagged one patterned top from the adult line. Target ‘B’ (we couldn’t stop at just one) was equally successful—I conspired with an employee and scored a coveted pair of size 7.5 patterned flats from the backstock. I paid $29 for those babies—and they’re currently marked up to $130 on EBay, thank-you-very-much! Also in our big take: six Missoni mugs, a darling serving platter, a tie for my dad, and a set of makeup travel bags I plan on using 24/7 in France. 

Please don’t judge me, but I went back this morning and bought a skirt someone had returned. It’s a child’s XL. I saved the receipt in case I feel like taking it back and reclaiming a bit of my dignity. 

But on second thought…it’s just so CUTE. 

… … … .

P.S. a few pics from Fashion’s Night Out this past weekend. There were amazing events all over Dallas, but I celebrated FNO by attending a fashion show/dessert showcase extravaganza with my beautiful mom at the Neimans in Willowbend. 

… … … .

I am so into leopard right now! (Further proof that I’m a sucker for advertising? Don’t answer that). And how about that so-not-totally-forced model face? We were both supposed to do it. Mom backed out.

Look familiar? This is the Alice + Olivia jacket I posted about on my “fall fashion” blog! So obsessed…need to buy…

Waiting for the models to rock the runway

P.S.S. if you’ve ever read my blog before, you may have noticed the name change! I loved writing under Lattes in L.A. - but it didn’t make sense to keep the name anymore since, well, I’m no longer living in Los Angeles! As of September 30th, I’ll be living in France. And after that, who knows? So I decided to stick with a name that will always be representative of me, no matter where I am or who I’m with. I really can’t live without decaf coffee or homemade desserts. So if the shoe fits…(please, you know I’ll buy it). 

Did you participate in Missoni Madness? Need to join USA with me? Let me know—every founder needs a good co-founder (shopping buddy). xo

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sweet Somethings

Sweet nothings somethings.

Since my last foray into baking ended less than successfully (click back two entries for my burned cupcake confession), I decided I needed to take a hiatus from the kitchen to get my feet back under me.

But just a few days after giving myself the take-your-hands-off-the-handheld-mixer talk, I was faced with the sad truth—I just can’t live that long without freshly baked desserts. And now, my family can’t either. I’ve spoiled them!

As it turned out though, I didn’t need to abandon baking. I just needed to find a recipe to help re-build my confidence—one with a lowered difficulty level that still produced amazingly tasty results.

Thank goodness, I found it! These Sprinkles Bakery inspired cupcakes are not just amazing or wonderful—they are divine! Ask my family. I made 18 of them on Friday with the assistance of my two little cousins, and today only one solitary cupcake remains uneaten. (okay, that’s embarrassing…but we did give a few away…)

*Sidenote: a lot of people ask me how I find my recipes. It’s a very difficult and complex process, but I will do my best to break it down for you. I start craving something (i.e. Sprinkles peanut butter chocolate cupcakes). I google what I’m craving, adding in the word “recipe” after said craving (i.e. Sprinkles peanut butter chocolate cupcakes recipe). If I’m feeling healthy, I add in the word “healthy” (i.e. healthy Sprinkles peanut butter chocolate cupcakes). And voila! Google does its thing, I pick whichever recipe has the highest rating/best feedback, tweak it a little and enjoy. Like I said, difficult and complex, right? :)

Sprinkles-esque Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cupcakes


For cupcakes:

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder ¼ tsp salt 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature ¾ cup smooth all natural peanut butter, at room temperature ½ cup packed dark brown sugar ½ cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract ½ cup whole milk 2

cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a bit less…more like 1 1/2 cups)

For frosting:

6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature ½ cup confectioners’ sugar ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup creamy peanut butter, natural (or if you want a smoother, richer taste [me] go with Jif)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract ½ cup whole milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine milk and vanilla in small bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in bowl. Beat butter and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Slowly mix in peanut butter. Add half the flour mixture and blend slowly. When fully incorporated, add milk mixutre. Continue to blend slowly. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add chocolate chips and fold in by hand. Scoop into 12 lined baking cups and bake for about 22 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched and the edges are golden brown.

For Frosting:

Combine sugar and salt in bowl. Combine milk and vanilla in bowl. Beat butter and peanut butter in mixer until smooth and creamy. Alternately add sugar and milk mixture until fully incorporated. Add additional milk for a softer consistency. Frost on top of cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

My 6-year-old cousin Judson loved the cupcakes, although he was a little confused as to why they were having their own photoshoot. So he jumped in and decided to give one some bunny ears.

This next sugary treat is one that is very special to me, because…I created it!

Okay, so it’s more of an adaptation than a recipe I created entirely out of my head. But I made enough significant changes to the basic sugar cookie recipe I started with for me to feel justified in calling it my own! It bakes up with a really yummy, super-moist consistency similar to shortcake. Hence the title :)

(Karley’s) Summer Berry Sugar Cookie Shortcake

My mom isn’t a huge dessert person—correction, a huge chocolate person—but she loved loved loved these. They’re definitely a lighter, healthier indulgence than the peanut butter cupcakes for a couple of reasons. 1. That beautiful glaze criss-crossing the tops of the cookies is made from freshly processed berries, and 2. I reduced the butter in the recipe by half via a substitution of Greek yogurt.

*Note: this recipe is a great way to get rid of any lingering summer fruit you have sitting in your refrigerator. I used raspberries and strawberries for my glaze, but blueberries could be great to throw into the mix, too.

Get creative and enjoy these treats as a last blast of summer flavor before pumpkin spice lattes start rolling into Starbucks.

Ingredients (cookie):
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt

1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
Confectioners sugar
Lemon juice

In a bowl, cream together butter, yogurt, and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and lemon extracts.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture to form a soft dough. Stir in coconut flakes by hand. Place bowl in freezer and let firm for at least 1 hour.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Dice strawberries and stir in lemon juice until berries are coated. Do the same with the raspberries in a separate bowl (these will make two separate glazes). Puree each berry mixture separately in a food processor. Stir in confectioners sugar to taste (at least 1 cup). Re-puree each mixture to thoroughly combine.

Remove cookie dough from freezer and scoop onto greased cookie sheet. Place cookies 2 inches apart, turn oven heat up to 375, and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. While cookies are still on the cookie sheet, crisscross raspberry and strawberry glazes, drizzling with a spoon. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and allow to cool. Cookies will retain a moist, cake-like texture. (yum!)

In closing, here are a few non-food items that made me happy this weekend:

1. Chanel flats at Neimans—I did an instant mental pairing of these beauties with skinny black cigarette pants and a striped three quarter length tee. AKA, I thought of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.

2. A glitzed-out Texas perfume bottle. No explanation necessary.

3. Just call me Karley Kardashian—I got these Kourtney K look-a-likes for $5.

4. Sipping on iced caramel macchiattos while writing at Starbucks.

Happy baking (and Labor Day weekend)! xo

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Things I'm Loving - Fall Fashion ed.

could not be more obsessed. via

It’s the first day of September, and you know what the means: the Vogue September Issue will be on newsstands soon.

Since Vogue started producing the massive fashion reference book (which, let’s be honest, is more of a collection of advertisements than anything else), several other magazines have followed suit. Thus, September has become synonymous with stacks of glossy write-ups on seasonal lipsticks and handbags, so heavy they could rival a Webster on the scale.

If you’ve started to get the impression that I’m above the influx of fall fashion advertisements or don’t buy into all the hype, then I’ve seriously misled you—because I’ll be the first in line to pick up every new copy of People Style Watch, InStyle, Vogue, Glamour. You name it, it’ll find a home in my shopping cart.

Since I can’t exactly overhaul my entire wardrobe (like I’m always tempted to do come September), I’ll be looking for fun pieces this season that accent or update what I already own. Like these two steals I just welcomed into my closet:

no, rhianna’s not in my closet. but her Elizabeth and James feather plume vest is, courtesy of an insanely amazing sale at Neiman Marcus off the rack. camel blazer from the fall H&M line—$29.95.

I’m planning on updating my polished little blazer by replacing the buttons (plastic-y and cheap) with sturdier brass pieces.

Now, to the fun part. My I-so-wish-I-could-have list for fall.


alice + oliva faux fur jacket, via

leopard heeled booties, via

sold-out poppy king for j.crew lipstick, via

stunning chanel flat I snapped at Neiman’s flagship store in downtown Dallas

literally anything and everything Haute Hippie—see their fall lookbook here:

every piece in the Missoni for Target collection (debuts sept. 13)—full collection lookbook here:

Has anyone else been bitten by the fall fashion bug? What’s on your wishlist?

happy daydreaming! xo

Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.