Monday, October 29, 2012

the perfect storm

happy monday, and happy hurricane! 

i am housebound and happy as a clam due to my pre-storm prep, which included vino, candles, a new book, playing cards,  and the boyfriend's flannel shirt paired with my favorite sweatpants and slippers.

we still have power, but the winds are howling ever more loudly as the hours pass and i wouldn't be surprised if it goes out soon. you can always check out the latest in my hurricane excitement on instagram - i'm @rglevesque :)

to everyone else in the northeast, stay safe and don't get bored! necessity is the mother of invention, as they say...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

fall infusion

farm foliage in northern pennsylvania

it's late october and it FINALLY feels like fall has settled in to stay. i drive 35 miles each way to work down a beautifully scenic parkway and i really get to appreciate the full spectrum of fall foliage, not to mention the small groups of deer that gather to eat grass on the side of the road! we have also taken weekend trips up to vermont and northern pennsylvania, which provided equally idyllic fall scenes.

since the weather has evened out and temperatures are no longer sneaking up into the 70s, i have - at long last! - been able to unearth my cold weather clothes from their storage place under the bed. i did a thorough assessment of my fall/winter wardrobe as i unpacked and found that i would benefit from a few strategic additions. my goal was to add a couple of classic pieces would look current but would also stand the test of time and look fresh for seasons to come.

here are my three new fall additions; i can already tell that they will be in heavy rotation!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

local bites: the whelk

those of you who have been reading crossed & dotted for awhile know that i love food. if you are new, you will quickly pick up on that, too. my instagram confirms my food obsession: look at this! i might have a problem.

since the boyfriend and i both have a passion for cooking, we tend to stay in most nights to try out new recipes. when we do go out, it's a momentous event and i thought i would document our foodventures (yes, that's a thing) 

in my opinion, there's nothing worse than spending a well-deserved dinner out at a restaurant that proves disappointing, so the aim of local bites is to share real restaurant experiences (the good, the bad, and the delicious!) with some candor and a few pictures.

let's kick this off!

local bites:  the whelk westport
occasion: birthday celebration for a dear friend
in a nutshell: seafood with southern flair; emphasis on local ingredients

what we ordered: 
easy rye-der - rye and fig; a very autumnal, masculine cocktail.
the fennel solution - fennel? in a martini? cool, crisp, and refreshing.
barbera d'asti - it was delicious. and a good price point at $40.
oysters on the half shell
bbq clams
country ham with hush puppies
tuna tartare with fennel and jalapeno
hand cut fries with smoked mayo (literally a mountain of fries!)
warm peekytoe crab fondue
gulf shrimp and grits
roasted stonington scallops with farro verde, okra, corn, squash, leeks, and bacon
roasted gnocchi with sunchokes, leeks, warm oysters, and buttermilk (my choice - SO good.)

the verdict: definitely a repeat.
new favorite, special occasion category.
the whelk is fabulous. the atmosphere is relaxed and casual, the food is the definition of soulful and comforting, and everything we ordered was delicious. you could taste the quality of the ingredients, and the portions were perfect. on the downside, it is on the pricier side so we will probably reserve it for special occasions, or for drinks/apps at the bar and dinner at home.

*we're just two people who enjoy good food - these reviews are entirely based on our own experiences and we are not influenced or compensated in any way.

definitely a repeat
decent; i'd give it another shot
meh, i'm underwhelmed


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

lip service

almost everyone i know has a chapstick/lip balm of choice, especially now that the weather is turning drier and cooler! rosebud salve (in the tube!) has long been my favorite, but it's got some company.

i would like to introduce you to eos lip balms (or bombs, since that is what they look like!)
i received one in a gift bag from a work event and tried it for the first time yesterday and i'm hooked!
it glides on smoothly and my lips feel moisturized without being sticky. plus, the packaging is adorable!
my flavor was strawberry sorbet, which would not be my first choice, but i also discovered that they have sweet mint and lemon drop with spf 15!

Monday, October 22, 2012

coffee talk

there has been a lot of coffee table coverage on the blogosphere, and all of these beautiful images really put the emphasis on the important role that this piece of furniture plays in our homes.
 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
there are even styling "how to" posts - the everygirl and good bones, great pieces have great ones.

i have been searching high and low for a new coffee table for ages, but i couldn't find anything i liked that fit our budget. my criteria: large. brass and glass. square or round.
i checked every resource i could think of: west elm. pottery barn. wisteria. home decorators collection. craigslist (of course) but to no avail. 
(sidenote: maybe i should make a resources tab for shopping? i am seriously good at knowing where to look for things!)

and then, one day i took a brief pause from a task to check craigslist just because...
ladies and gentlemen, the craigslist whisperer strikes again: i found this GORGEOUS coffee table a short drive from my office for... $130!
at 15 inches high, i was a little concerned that it was too short, but it was simply too good to pass up.
check out the feet! they're hooves! 

now, time to "style" it - stay tuned!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

high brow

brooke, the original brow gal

they say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, so i guess that makes eyebrows the draperies... or something. i happen to have dark, thicker eyebrows (thanks, dad!) and i am so glad to see that there are some lovely ladies out there embracing their beautiful natural brows in favor of over-plucking.
lilly collins and kiernan shipka - is it bad that i am jealous of a 13 year old's brows?

of course, all brows need a little bit of grooming. i go to a phenomenal indian lady near my apartment who shapes mine just right using threading - for $10! if you ask nicely, i might divulge my secret :) 
otherwise, i just use a little of this brow gel and i am set to go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


zara has long been a go-to for fashion-forward pieces that don't break the bank. 
the much-anticipated launch of zara home went live yesterday, and i was excited to check it out!

here are a few things that caught my eye:
rug / serving utensils / pie plate / throw / tumbler / napkins

check out the entire line here - see anything you like?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

art imitating life

i love cookbooks, as you know, and i love stanley tucci. 
imagine my joy when heard about THIS exciting happening:
i cannot wait to get my hands on a copy (it comes out next week!) but in the meantime, the nytimes did a great article on mr. tucci's culinary family heritage.

read it here, and perhaps rent julie & julia or the devil wears prada for a little tucci time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

recipe: apple gorgonzola crostata

last weekend, the boyfriend and i went apple picking in brewster, ny at harvest moon orchards. it was a gorgeous early fall day, and we came away with 20 pounds of apples! having grown up in new england, apple picking is an annual fall outing, though there was one novelty: a long pole with a metal basket on the end for reaching the apples on the tippy top of the trees (the boyfriend is modeling it, above left.)
i had a hard time wielding it so i stuck to the manual method (above right) and that worked just fine for me :)

what do you do with 20 pounds of apples? well, my first thought was to make crostata.
crostata is one of my favorite ways of incorporating fruit into a dessert. it's a little more rustic than pie with its open-faced style, and this riff on traditional apple pie is sweet with a hint of savory, and quick to put together.

apple gorgonzola crostata

pre-made pie crust (i know it isn't terribly hard to make your own crust, but i swear by these!)
4-6 apples, peeled and cut into thick slices
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup gorgonzola, crumbled
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon of water (for egg wash)

preheat the oven to 425 degrees. line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. roll out a pie crust onto the cookie sheet. place cut apples, walnuts, dried cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, and allspice into a large bowl and mix together until well incorporated. pour into the center of the pie crust. sprinkle the gorgonzola over the top of the apple mixture. fold the sides of the pie crust in towards the center. right before putting it in the oven, brush the sides of the pastry with an egg wash (one egg mixed with a little bit of water.)

bake for 40 minutes. slice, top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

elegant email

i love beautiful stationery, and there is nothing better than receiving a handwritten note in the mail. unfortunately, if there are no stamps around, i have been known to let handwritten notes sit on my desk for months collecting dust (oops.)

the solution? paperless post. it has made jotting off a birthday card or a thank you a snap, and party invitations are a breeze!  they have cards for every occasion, and all of them have a beautiful, letterpress quality that make them so much more than your average e-card.

as you might imagine, i was thrilled to find out that kate spade has collaborated with them to bring dozens of new, adorable designs! 
i didn't even bother showing you the holiday designs - so many to choose from, and i am not quite ready to think about december yet! check all of the kate spade cards out here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a modern apothecary

the more things change, the more they stay the same!
1 / 2

i love sephora as much as the next girl, but i have a new store crush for all things beauty: blue mercury.
there are two locations (across the street from one another!) in westport.
i popped in to pick up some new concealer, and i was blown away by their inventory!
moroccan oil. diptyque. laura mercier. nars. acqua di parma. candles. cosmetics. fragrance. skincare.
just to name a few.
i should probably mention that i am not being compensated for this glowing review; i was simply that impressed and feel compelled to share!

i walked out with the concealer i came for, which came highly recommended by the sales lady: she told me that the entire staff uses it almost exclusively, and that it's the best. so far, i agree!
laura mercier secret camouflage - $28 ($2 less than sephora!)
i also spied the moroccan oil display, and caved to buy the styling cream that tames my wavy locks (mentioned in this post about rainy days) that i have been out of for a few months.

they have a great website, so if there isn't a blue mercury storefront near you, you can still get their great selection of products!

Monday, September 24, 2012


one classic piece i have long wanted to add to my wardrobe is a camel coat.
ann taylor had a gorgeous version last year, and i am kicking myself for not snapping it up while it was on sale! emerson fry also had a beautiful one, pictured below (top left):

 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

 it doesn't matter what you have underneath - the camel coat ties the whole look together, making it effortlessly chic (though i am particularly enamored of 1 and 4!)

Friday, September 14, 2012


happy friday! what a week!
a little morning snapshot - polka dots and leopard and some crispy fallen leaves!
(and i am getting one step closer to doing a real outfit post...) 
shoes - old talbots, similar here / dress - madewell (my first madewell purchase ever!)

this is a bit of a departure from the weekly wrap-up; i know i accomplished a lot of things this week, but writing them down feels daunting, so i will talk about the upcoming weekend instead!
here are a few things i am looking forward to:

see after the jump for a few links i loved this week!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


the always chic sarah of classy girls wear pearls

one of my favorite parts of fall is pulling on a pair of tall boots. whether paired with a dress and tights, or with jeans and a cozy sweater, the look is quintessential to the season, and classic to boot (ha - see what i did there? i'm sorry.)

as i mentioned yesterday, an exciting part of my weekend was a long-awaited investment in some new boots! i have had a fabulous pair of tall brown leather boots from banana republic for about five years now, and they are simply the best, though they are starting to get a little worn, which i love for weekends but not as much for work.

i am a bit picky about boots: i have muscular legs, thanks to years of rowing, so i am always concerned about how the calf area fits, and i really don't like lots of hardware. i also prefer boots that pull on and don't have zippers, and i prefer flat boots because i walk so much. as you can see, i had some very narrow criteria, and i didn't even mention that i would prefer not to spend half of a month's rent on the right pair!

after (literally) years of searching for the perfect pair of tall black leather boots, i have finally found them:
behold, the booker buckle boot from j.crew!
i love the delicate hardware detail, they pull on, and the styling is clean, classic equestrian.
of course, they are only available online so i had to find a j.crew store that had tall boots in stock (a harder task than i thought!) to try on the regular booker boots to check on that pesky calf sizing issue. turns out the fit is great, though i did order a half size larger to better accommodate thick socks and tights.

the best part? i had a 25% off coupon :)
i can't wait to wear them with, well, everything this fall! after i waterproof them, that is!

Monday, September 10, 2012

weekend recap

happy monday! apologies for the spotty posting last week, things have been busy and i have not been alloting enough time for the blog! my workdays have been jam-packed, and my nights have been spent doing bikram followed by delicious late dinners with the boyfriend (and titus, too!) i am proud to say that i have been back on the 4-5 times/week exercise regime for a month now!

given my full schedule, i am really relishing my weekends. here are a few snapshots of how i spent this past saturday and sunday:
mani-pedi with some autumnal colors (i am LOVING the burgundy on my toes - it's from essie, and i think it's called bold & beautiful - and sand tropez is always a favorite.)
an indulgent ladies' brunch after sunday morning yoga.
movie marathon - i am always struck by how well they adapted tolkien to the screen!
homemade pizza with sausage, artichokes, red onion, and basil from our garden.

stay tuned: tomorrow i will be filling you in on a wardrobe investment piece that i have spent at least two years searching for!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

kitchen essentials

un-barefoot contessa from inslee by design (and no, i don't cook in heels!)

cooking is a frequent topic on crossed & dotted. the boyfriend and i cook dinner at home almost every night, and we have streamlined our kitchen arsenal to make any recipe easy to attempt.
i talked about some of my favorite kitchen tools in this post, but i wanted to do a follow-up that covers other essential items, like mixing bowls and pots and pans.

pots and pans: 
i love all clad because the quality is great, it lasts forever, and it's easy to clean. 
the downside? SUPER expensive (that 8 piece set retails for $999. OUCH.)
our solution? the kirkland tri-clad set from costco! for $199 you get 13 pieces and after over 5 years of heavy use, they are still in great shape!
cleaning best practice: use bar keepers friend for tough, stuck-on residue!

non-stick frying pan with cover:
essential for things like eggs, stir fry, and grilled cheese, i love my non-stick frying pan and i really do use the cover a lot.

necessary for draining pasta; also doubles as a unique serving vessel for bread!

mixing bowls:
we have used both glass and plastic mixing bowls, and i always come back to glass because it can go in the oven, the microwave, the refrigerator, and the freezer and they are so durable.
the ones that nest one inside the other are best for maximizing storage space. you can find sets like this one at bed bath & beyond or target, but flash sale sites also have great deals on basics: i just got this 9 piece duralex set from one king's lane for $25!

measuring cups and spoons:
pyrex is my go-to brand for liquid measuring cups, since they are glass, durable, and come in multiple sizes (1 cup, 2 cup, and even 2 quart!)
for dry measuring cups, i love this set from rubbermaid because the cups are tapered instead of round, making it easier to dip into canisters.
measuring spoons in every size make baking so much easier.

baking sheet and muffin tin:
i use baking sheets for many things, like toasting crostini under the broiler, roasting potatoes in the oven, and baking cookies. a muffin tin is also great to have, since it works for both savory and sweet baked goods!

shopping tips: check out stores like homegoods, tj maxx, and marshalls (and tuesday morning, which exists in florida and probably other places, too) before you head to bed bath & beyond. i have found over half of our kitchen essentials at those places. also, flash sale sites like joss & main and one king's lane frequently have kitchen items, and costco is a wonderful resource for appliances and pots and pans.

Friday, August 31, 2012

a labor-less labor day

happy friday, everyone! 
i can't believe that it's already labor day weekend and that tomorrow is september 1! this summer flew by!
unfortunately, i have come down with a nasty summer cold and all i want to do is recuperate in bed with some snuggles from titus (and the boyfriend, too.)

here's my would-be agenda:
my library card has been getting a lot of action!
cozy feet and slouchy stripes!
an old favorite (that house!) and preparations for season 3's UK launch next week!

looks like heaven. now i just have to wait until the end of the day, and then i can spend all weekend recovering :)

happy labor day weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

getting a leg up

this morning there was a slight chill in the air, thanks to a passing storm, but it made me think about fall and, since i was wearing a dress, tights!
i am notoriously hard on tights - they get worn until the bitter end, when my big toe pokes out of one foot and stubborn fuzzy patches have developed on the ankles from rubbing the inside of my boots. to some, 

it might seem a little early to stock up on fall weather legwear, but i prefer to have everything in my drawer and ready to go, rather than realize on that first cold day that my tights from last year are, well, too shabby to wear in public! i also don't like to spend a lot on tights, so while i am sure that wolford and falke make wonderful stockings, they are a little above my price range! 

after much trial and error, here is a round-up of budget-friendly tights that i love:
opaque: urban outfitters opaque tight, 2 for $24 or $12 each - also available in a variety of colors (which i have never been bold enough to try!)
sheer: hue so silky sheer, $8.50
pattern: ann taylor sheer dot tights, $20 - i have not tried these, but i love the subtle pattern!

not pictured, but awesome nonetheless: the back seam tights from duane reade! they lasted several wearings, looked classic, and were under $7!

tights i have tried and don't love: american apparel and j.crew. i found that both brands don't have much stretch, so the tights get all stretched out after one wearing and they don't bounce back. they also develop holes more easily than others i have tried.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

roaring twenties

georges barbier, la gazette du bon ton, 1922

those who know me well know that i have a great love of all things art deco, whether in architecture, fashion, or design. to me, the clean lines, geometric shapes, and symmetry are perfection.
i am waiting with bated breath for baz luhrmann's take on the great gatsby to come out, and i absolutely loved gucci and alberta ferretti's flapper chic lines last spring, reminiscent of great architectural wonders of the 1920s in new york:

i recently stumbled upon rachel zoe's eponymous jewelry line, and its art deco influence is undeniable. i should probably mention that i am not a close follower of ms. zoe, so forgive me if this is old news!
i would love to add one of her pieces to my repertoire:
black, gold, and sparkly? a hint of emerald green? it would be hard to pick just one, though my wallet says one would be more than enough!