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  • HOWDY.

    Thanks for stopping by sweetfrenchtoast!

    I'm Sabrina, and I love to make pretty things, visit inspiring places, eat really good food, and take lots of photos along the way. Though I live with my husband in Atlanta, GA, I consider the world my home, and I can't wait to see more of it.

take the time for gratitude

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling some friends a story from my childhood—a story about a memory from the first grade. As an Army brat who moved around all the time, sometimes my early memories get jumbled up, but this particular moment is crystal clear.

Once I’d shared the story with my friends, I realized I needed to find my first grade teacher and share it with her too. So after putting on my detective hat and flexing my Google skills, I narrowed my search to a woman I found on Facebook. I unearthed my first grade report card and sent her this message:

report card

After sending it, I eagerly checked my Facebook messages, and the next morning I’d received a reply!

Yes, I did teach first grade at Polk Elementary, and that is my writing and signature! I am speechless! I hope all is well.

I was ecstatic! I wrote her back immediately and said:

Yay!! I’m so glad I found you! I was telling some friends a story recently about my only clear memory of first grade. It was recess, and as all the children ran out to the playground, you asked me to stay behind. You gave me two reading books to keep—a 4th grade book and a 5th grade book. I loved reading those books and read them over and over. I’m so grateful for that moment! As I was sharing the story, I realized I needed to find you and tell you what a difference you made to me.

I went on to tell her that I’d moved around to several Army bases, even living overseas for five years of my childhood. I always did well in school, and I was eventually accepted to several universities, turning down an Ivy League school when my state university awarded me a full scholarship. I earned an English degree and have had a successful career.

I finished:

THANK YOU!! You have always meant a lot to me, and that memory has stayed with me for over 30 years!! I really wanted you to know. I hope you are well.:)

Later that evening, my heart was full as I read her response:

Sabrina, this message from you has meant so much to me. To read that you have been so successful in life truly brought tears to my eyes this morning as I read it. Your message could not have come at a more perfect time. I am still teaching but switched this year to 2nd grade after teaching 5th grade since 1992. This morning was our first day of school and I was so nervous. Reading your message about your achievements helped confirm that I made the right decision to move back to “the little guys”! My husband was also in the Army which was why we were at Ft Polk. The year you were in my class was the year that my son was born. He was actually born the last day of school unexpectedly, so I never had a chance to tell your class good-by. … I will always treasure your message. YOU are my inspiration!!!

I’m still glowing from the warmth of our exchange. To think that after all these years, one message from me could have made a difference in her day is simply amazing.

Do you have someone in your past who made a big difference with a small gesture? If so, have you told them? I’ve learned that taking the time to express gratitude is so incredibly rewarding. I wanted to share my story in the hopes I might inspire you to do the same.

nina garcia quarterly box: #ngq02

I recently subscribed to Quarterly, which is billed as “curated packages from people you care about.” My decision to subscribe to Nina Garcia’s box was an easy one — as the creative director of Marie Claire magazine, she is a tastemaker and style expert beyond compare.

Once I subscribed, I excitedly tweeted about it, and Ms. Garcia replied:

I was thrilled when the package finally arrived a few days ago. And man oh man, it’s amazing!

Nina Garcia Quarterly box

Nina has curated a “celebration box” in honor of her fifth anniversary as Creative Director at Marie Claire. It includes several lovely items, including some full-sized products and special edition creations just for subscribers.

Nina Garcia Quarterly box

Nina Garcia Quarterly box

The contents and their estimated retail value include:
March issue of Marie Claire – $4.99
Special edition oversized tee by SPƎNGLISH (ñ) with Nina’s signature on the tag – similar tee here for $55
Sara Beltran sterling silver shark tooth necklace – $100
Special edition Greenade by #NG O.P.I. nail polish created just for subscribers – $9
C Wonder bangle – $34 (I am obsessed with this piece!!)
Revive’s Moisturizing Renewal Serum (6ml) – $47 based on full-size product here for $235
Charming Charlie wallet – similar wallet here for $15
LAFCO soap – $17
Sample of Tom Ford’s latest perfume, Jasmine Rouge
philosophy’s time in a bottle serum – $74
Laura Mercier Bonne Mine compact – $48
Special edition Donkey Co. Prêt-A-Porter Nina tea – similar tea bags here for about $7
X-Pen ballpoint pen with Nina’s signature – $20
Graphic Image Pocket Notes “Fashion Notes” notebook – $36
Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler chevron picture frame – $15
Illustrated Fausto Puglisi collage

That’s nearly $500 value in this $100 box, plus all the unique touches like Nina’s special edition items. And you’ll find several of the items in the pages of the March issue of Marie Claire!

If you’ve been considering a Quarterly subscription, I highly recommend checking it out. They’ve recently launched a single box option too, which is great if you don’t want to subscribe or want to test out a curator first.

This is my first time subscribing to a box like this. I think I picked well! Have you tried a subscription before, like Birchbox or the Popsugar box? If so, what did you think?

March 24, 2014 - 9:54 am

Bianca Buckridee - Holy curation above all other curations! I will be testing this out for sure, thanks for the write-up.

kiss me, I’m sweetfrenchtoast

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I actually remembered to wear green today. This calls for celebration!

I’m also reliving the St. Patrick’s Day photobooth my coworkers and I did a couple of years ago.

So. Much. Fun.

St. Patrick

I even wore green yesterday, when LS and I went to the mall to visit Sephora and Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Um, can we take a minute to acknowledge the fact that Sprinkles has a CUPCAKE ATM? Brilliant!

at the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM

Did you remember to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day?

March 18, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Diane @ Vintage Zest - I heard about but have never seen the cupcake ATM. I imagine there are tiny elves baking away inside it, you know Keebler-style!

chocolate therapy

It’s been forever since I’ve spent an afternoon in the kitchen having fun, so when I found the time to do just that this weekend, I was in heaven.

I baked one of my favorite treats: brown butter madeleines. And I tempered chocolate for the first time! I used Valrhona bittersweet chocolate fèves and a variation on Alton Brown’s food processor method for tempering chocolate. Yes, I tempered chocolate in the food processor! I didn’t use the stove at all. It was much easier than I thought it would be, although it was a little messy.

I dipped long stem strawberries and some of the madeleines in the chocolate and set them on wax paper while the chocolate hardened. I sprinkled some sea salt flakes on a few of the strawberries too.

chocolate covered strawberries and madeleines

I’m not sure if I did the tempering exactly right as the chocolate had some streaks in it once it cooled, but everything tasted delicious. And the chocolate had such a wonderful snap when biting into it! I’m looking forward to trying my hand at tempering chocolate again. Until then, I’ve set the wallpaper on my iPhone to a photo of the strawberries and madeleines. It makes me happy every time I see it.:)

February 20, 2014 - 9:54 pm

Diane @ Vintage Zest - How pretty! Did the sea salted chocolate strawberries taste good? At first, I thought it was sprinkled with white chocolate shavings!

February 21, 2014 - 11:34 am

Sabrina - Thanks, Diane! While I really liked the chocolate-covered strawberries with sea salt, RH did not. I guess it’s a matter of personal taste!