Midwest Mermaid Bakes: Fat Tuesday Pączki!

The Great Pączki Recipe
(poonch-key, or poonch-ka as my great grandma called them)

The back story:

The day before Lent, the Polish Catholics have been known to make the sugary delicious donuts known as the pączki.  This day, known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras is the day before the time of fasting that's to come.  From my understanding, this kind of caught on and now pączkis are a hugely popular Fat Tuesday tradition!  

If you buy them from a store or bakery, sometimes they're literally just jelly-filled donuts.  But the way my great grandma used to make them was with golden raisins, no fruit filling.  No idea if this is a traditional way or not.  Nevertheless, this is the way my fam has come to love them.  She would make them on Fat Tuesday and deliver them to our doors, still warm!

They require a lot of time and patience to make, because you spend most of the time waiting for yeast to activate and for the dough to rise.  And then you have to deep fry them.  We accidentally made 6 dozen, so it took like a reaaaaaaaaaally long time.  I came out smelling like a fresh donut though.

I wanted to share her recipe with you, the world, so that everyone can enjoy the deliciousness.  It's at the bottom.

First, here's a little photo diary of the process!

Waiting for dough to rise:

Punch dough and make donut balls:

Wait for them to double in size:

Deep fry:

Sugar them:

Enjoy your pączki!

Great Grandma's Pączki Recipe:


  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 pkg Quick Rising Yeast
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • Golden Raisins
  • 4 1/2 cup flour
  • canola oil
  • extra sugar for coating

1) Scald the milk and remove from heat, add butter and sugar.
2) Let mixture cool to lukewarm, then add yeast, beaten eggs, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla.
3) Add as many raisins as desired.
4) Add one half the flour and mix briefly.
5) Add remaining flour and mix until all flour is incorporated.
6) Punch down for a couple minutes and then let dough rise in warm place until doubled.
7) Place dough balls on lightly floured surface in warm place.
8) Allow balls to double in size.
9) Heat oil to 375 degrees.
10) Fry each ball for 2 minutes on each side (the amount of time will actually depend on how big you make the dough balls).
11) Drain on toweling.
12) Roll in sugar while still warm.

Outfit of the Day: A Thing for Gingham (and My Signature Color)

Pink Metallic Gingham Off the Shoulder Top: T & J Designs // High Waisted Denim: kate spade new york // Pink Trenchcoat (old from last summer, similar here from Chicwish): Charming Charlie // Merona Lindsay Criss Crossed Heeled Quarter Strap Sandals: Target // Whimsies Happy Bangle: kate spade new york // White Set in Stone Enamel Hinged Bangle: kate spade new york // Charm Bracelets: Alex & Ani // Pink Chandelier Earrings (olddddd) : Jessica Simpson (I think?) Majesty Ring in Rare Nebula (this color is sold out, but tons more colors and styles here): Sparkle La Vie // Deandra Cat Eye Sunglasses (old from last summer, similar here from Target): kate spade new york

I'm ready for spring.  

I always get really antsy for the seasons to transition so that I can wear a whole new set of clothes.  I have a thing for gingham, clearly, and I feel like fall/winter just doesn't do that pattern justice!  Same goes for all the bright colors that come out in stores in the spring.  Namely my signature color, pink.  I am a color lover at heart, so spring and summer style is where my closet truly shines!

We have had a weird streak of nice 60-something degree weather in Milwaukee this weekend, so I definitely took advantage of it!  I busted out this pink gingham top that I bought from T & J Designs, an online boutique with the cutest apparel!  I also bought another top for my NYC trip next month.  They were having a great sale when I purchased, but this top is actually only $20 anyways (on sale)! 

My jeans are the new kate spade denim for the spring.  I have the dark wash from the fall/winter, but I love this lighter version.  I have them pin-rolled because basically all jeans are too long on me because I'm so petite (5'2").  Nothing fits right in allll the places.  Plus I like the rolled jeans look!

These sandal heels are going to be my favorite for the warm weather, I just know it.  I saw them at Target and knew that I'd regret it if I didn't buy.  They make you feel fancy, but the heels are still pretty low so they're actually comfortable.  I love everything about them.

The trench coat is something I bought right before London last year.  I saw that Charming Charlie had it, but it was like $70, so I passed.  But then I was thinking about it a month or two later and it had gone on sale for $40!  So I literally called my store right then and there and had them put the one they had left on hold...it was my size.  Yippeeee!

For accessories, I wore my usual Alex & Ani charm bracelets and kate spade white enamel set in stone bracelet.  I have a good feeling about my kate spade whimsies happy bracelet for spring too, lots of colors.  My earrings were something I bought years ago but hadn't busted out in a while, they matched perfectly with my gingham!  The sunglasses are a favorite, which you'll know if you've been around my blog for a while.  I love a good cat eye.  Finally, I purchased this pink iridescent Nebula ring from an online shop called Sparkle La Vie.  She sells theeeee PRETTIEST jewelry, I mean gorgeous.  I bought the last one in this color and style, but there are tons of other great options and things I want.  You'll have to take a look!

Can't wait to show you more of my spring style!

My Favorite Books of January

Last month, I was lucky enough to actually have time to read a couple books!  This month...not so sure!  But I personally love reading more than any other leisurely activity, so I'm going to start sharing my monthly favorites.  Let me know if you've read them or plan to read them, or if you have your own recommendations that you think I might like!

Last month I didn't read any novels, but I read one inspirational book and one book by one of my favorite celebrities.  Aside from reading novels, these are probably my other two favorite genres to read.  Funny-ish self-help and funny celeb memoirs.

I know I mentioned this book one other time, in my New Years post.  But it was just so great that I'll talk about it again.  

When I read books like this, I always end up feeling like I should go out and accomplish big things! Which is awesome.  I loved her book because it had a lot to do with finding your calling.  Plus, I was reading it right at the beginning of the year, so it put a lot of ideas into my head about creating goals/other important stuff like that.  I love Jen Sincero's conversational tone and her real-world analogies that went along with the advice she was giving.  Basically the point of the book (in my opinion) was that you're probably the one standing in your own way when it comes to reaching your true potential.  And then she goes on to explain ways to stop doing that thing you're doing that stops you.  It is PACKED with info!  Totally worth buying to keep around.

If you like when authors use bullet points/numerical order and lay everything out really simply, this one's for you.  If you like books that will make you change your ways in order to be successful in your endeavors, this one's for you.  But if you hate that style of writing and only want to read books that tell you what you're doing already is perfectly fine behavior, don't buy this one...crazies.

Favorite quotes and passages:

On your calling:
"Much of the time we pretend we aren't clear on what our calling is when what's really going on is that we're horrified to face it because it seems too big or too impossible to make a living at or completely out of the question for us. 

But what if you had the audacity to leave your excuses and your shame about wanting to be huge and famous behind and really went for it full-on anyway?  What if you decided to do the most outrageous, most exciting thing you ever dared to fantasize about, regardless of what anyone, including your terrified self, thought?

THAT would be living."

On making it happen:
"If you want something badly, even if you don't have any evidence that it's possible for you to attain, believe it is anyway.  Fake it until you make it.  Do it in spite of yourself. Act as if."

On making money:
"You can't charge less than what you're worth and expect to flourish, because you'll be pissed off."

On what's in the way of your calling:
"Procrastination is one of the most popular forms of self-sabotage because it's really easy."


Soooo...I wanted to read Clinton Kelly's new book even before I met him.  Of course, I had watched him on What Not to Wear and now watch him on The Chew, but I didn't realize how hilarious he actually is.  Luckily, Boswell Books was hosting Clinton for a book signing and (yay for me) I went.  He told me he loves my name.  And wants to hang out.  
I made ONE of those facts up.

Celeb memoirs can go either way for me. I generally only read the ones of people that I already like, so that helps, but his was truly funny.  He tells the stories of basically the most pivotal moments of his life through entertaining anecdotal tales.  He also hops around in time, from childhood, to when he met his husband, back to his teen years, to the beginning of his career, and so on.  There were a couple points where I laughed out loud, and I don't do that super often when reading.

If you are a fan of Clinton Kelly, you'll love his book.  Even if you're not a super huge fan and just watched What Not to Wear or The Chew a few times, you'll probably still like it.  It's just funny.  And spirited.  But if you don't care for any of those topics and are really picky about what you find to be funny, then maybs you should steer clear of this one.

Favorite quotes and passages:

On proper grammar:
"If you and I strike up a conversation at a cocktail party, will I notice if your subject is singular and your verb is plural?  Of course.  But I won't mention it, at least not to your face.  I'll just tell all my friends that, to maintain their own high social standing, they should avoid being seen with you in public."

On being President (post medicinal marijuana ingestion):
"CLINTON:  Oh, when I'm president, I will institute a Contraception On-Demand program the second I'm sworn in.
RENEE:  Can you explain what you mean by Contraception On-Demand?
CLINTON:  Drones."

(same conversation, later)
"I've got a real problem with Chinese restaurant-style religion. 'I'll make two choices from Leviticus and three from Deuteronomy, and ignore the rest because they inconvenience me.'"

On "the Switch":
"The second time I met Damon was the first time I felt the switch, one of those moments when someone, or perhaps something, bigger, in the cosmic sense, pulls a little lever and - CLICK - the track you've been traveling on is no longer your track.  The old track just disappears behind you, as irrelevant as yesterday's train schedule.  CLICK.  You're going somewhere else now.  CLICK.  There's no reverse.  CLICK.  Your reality will never be the same."

If you read either of these because of my recommendations, let me know!  I'd love to hear what you think.

Til next month, when I bring you my favorite books of spring!

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Outfit of the Day: 50 Shades of Red

Grey Mock Turtleneck Dress (sold out, but similar linked here):  Target // Pointed Toe Lace Up Ballet Flats: Target // Cedar Street Jensen (in mahogany): kate spade new york // Ice Skate Key Chain: kate spade new york // Fleece Lined Tights (similar linked here): Apt 9 // Tassel Earrings (similar linked here from Ann Taylor): Forever 21 // Maroon Wrap Coat: Bought at a market in London last summer! But here's one from Target you might like!

Just a quick OOTD because our usually unpleasant winter weather was actually pretty decent!  I found the perfect red wall to match the earrings, coat, bag, and shoes I was wearing!  We walked around the Third Ward and had lunch at Bavette.  It was my first time there and it was DELICIOUS.  I'll write a post on it over on Female Foodie hopefully sooner rather than later.

It was still definitely a bit chilly out, so I couldn't go without this fleece (I think?) coat that I bought at Spitalfield's market back in London last summer.  There's no label or anything so I have no idea where it originated (except for the tag that claims it's from Italy) so I can't give more info than that!  But I linked one from Target because they seem to be very in right now.

Other than that, this gray mock turtleneck dress is super comfortable and a great winter option.  I've been pairing it with tights and wearing it all over the place because it's perfect for so many occasions.  Another great Target find was this pair of lace up ballet flats.  I have these in a couple colors and will probably buy them in others if the opportunity presents itself!  

My tassel earrings were from Forever 21 last fall, but tassel earrings are another trend I think we'll be seeing a lot more of.  So keep an eye out and I'm sure you'll be able to find them in just about any color!  

I've talked about my mahogany Jensen kate spade handbag before, but I'll just mention again that it's still on sale.  So is the ice skate keychain that I have attached!

Talk soon, k?

Outfit of the Day: the Stacy Dress from Devlin

Stacey Two-Toned Fit-and-Flare Scalloped Lace Mini Dress: devlin // Cameron Street Sima: kate spade new york // Mossimo Black Suede Platform Pumps (old, similar linked here): Target // Deandra Cat Eye Sunglasses (from last summer, similar linked here from Target): kate spade new york // White Set in Stone Hinged Bangle (I wear this daily): kate spade new york // Charm Bracelets: Alex & Ani // Earrings (old): Forever 21 // Smashbox Always on Matte Liquid Lipstick (in Driver's Seat): Sephora 

I was lucky enough to be able to add this lovely two-toned Stacy dress from devlin to my collection this winter!  I actually won it on Instagram, so thank you devlin!

This exact dress is available right now at Dillard's, but Nordstrom also sells Devlin apparel.  I think the colors are perfect for the season.  It's also such a flattering fit!  My favorite part is the fit and flare skirt that is so flouncy at the bottom.  This dress is perfect for a nice dinner or your final winter parties of the season!  In my experience, the dress runs a little big, so keep that in mind when shopping.

They also have a top made of the same lace and colors, which I also adore.