Friday, March 30, 2012

singing in the rain

ballet flats (love these as a warm weather alternative to boots!)
the art of racing in the rain (great read!)
moroccan oil (to avoid the inevitable rainy day curly-fro)

i can't believe march is almost over - this month has blown by! 
they say that april showers bring may flowers, and according to the forecast for my area we will already be seeing some rain this weekend.

here are a few picks that would brighten any rainy day, perfect to pair with a trench coat

happy friday, everyone! have a lovely weekend and stay dry!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

pretty as a picture

audrey [tautou] channeling audrey [hepburn]
i just adore this photo, not to mention both of the audreys. these two women epitomize classic elegance in their style, and i was inspired to recreate the look from this photo with items from my own closet and makeup bag:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

be our guest

i think i have mentioned the room in our apartment that drives me insane: the second bedroom, which we have attempted to use as an office. it currently contains a desk, a large bookshelf, and a couple wall shelves. it also doubles as titus's room, particularly when he thinks that 3am is an appropriate playtime. 

one thing we are missing by using the second bedroom as an office is a place for overnight guests to sleep. we had been using an air mattress in the middle of the living room, but it now has a serious leak and, let's be honest, it wasn't really the best arrangement anyway.

i was in anthropologie over my vacation (obviously) and while i left without a single purchase (shocking!) they had a fabulous daybed/window seat display in one corner of the store. i keep coming back to that idea when thinking about how to better utilize the office and provide a sort of guestroom.

the room is small, so there isn't space for a substantial frame. after looking for simple options online, even the most basic metal frame was over $150! as usual, i turned to pinterest for inspiration and found all of these great daybeds made from wooden shipping pallets - genius!

has anyone done this? any words of advice? i will have to see if costco wants to part with a couple pallets :)

[images via pinterest]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

currently reading...

... and i can't put it down: shantaram by gregory david roberts. SO GOOD. it's the story of a convict who escapes from prison in australia and flees to bombay.

i had the opportunity to travel to india a few years ago, so it is particularly compelling to have a visual reference for some of the places described in the book.

a busy street in bombay (i think this was near the train station, Victoria Terminus)

the colaba waterfront

lin, shantaram's protagonist, befriends a local guide and moves into a hut in one of the city's massive slums, where he quickly learns the language and opens a free medical clinic. the book continually remarks on the vibrant, optimistic demeanor of the slum inhabitants, who are incredibly poor but have an incredible sense of community.

 during my trip, we visited a pavement school in dharavi, one of the bombay slums, and i, too, was struck by how happy and welcoming the people were. these pictures don't really do the experience justice, but needless to say, it was eye-opening in the most positive way. 

a pavement school in dharavi
students from the pavement school
laundry hanging out to dry in the sun

all photos (except for the book cover) were taken by me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

make it pop

popcorn is hands down my favorite snack. in fact, i have been known to eat it for dinner when the boyfriend is out of town (a very balanced meal, i know.) we don't have a microwave, so the whirley pop is essential to my popcorn preparation. in my opinion, popcorn tastes so much better when made on the stovetop, not to mention that you have total control of the ingredients!
1. orville redenbacher original popcorn kernels (check the nut aisle in the grocery store!)
2. whirley pop stovetop popcorn popper
3. antica dispensa truffle oil from williams sonoma

all you do is add a little oil, heat it on high, throw half a cup of kernels in, spin it around and wait for the popping to slow down!

i usually use olive oil and season generously with salt, though given my proclivity for kitchen creativity, i like to doctor it up here and there! one of my favorite variations is adding a drizzle of truffle oil to the oil in the popper to infuse each kernel with truffley goodness. finish with salt, pepper, and some minced parsley! 

i also like to make kettle corn as a sweet-savory dessert: after adding the kernels to the heated oil, wait for the first ones to pop and quickly add two tablespoons of sugar and one tablespoon of salt to the popper. the sugar caramelizes each kernel, and the salt gives that savory kick!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

another candle on the cake...

happy birthday to me! 

my day has been off to a phenomenal start, between a lovely gift from the boyfriend, the lady at the coffee shop who gave me a free coffee and called it "birthday morning champagne," and thoughtful wishes from friends, family, and colleagues!

thank you for all of the birthday love!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

out of sight, out of mind

our bathroom, tiny under-sink area in partial view.
our under-sink area in the bathroom is out of control. i was vaguely aware of the situation before yesterday, but my rummaging for a new tube of toothpaste caused an avalanche of half-used products, q-tips, and band-aids all over the floor.

this got me thinking about ways to consolidate all of our odds and ends, since we have a rather limited space for two people and their assorted beauty paraphernalia (and yes, i should probably part with half-empty hair products that i have abandoned for new ones that i like better!)

obviously i am partial to the anthropologie option: chevron? yes, please. 
my wallet would probably prefer any of the other options...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

just add water

as you know by now, i spent the majority of last week unwinding in naples, florida. of all places on earth, i absolutely love the beach; i grew up spending the summers on cape cod, and between my job teaching sailing and spending weekends on the outer beach, i lived in a bathing suit. 

nauset beach and orleans yacht club - ah, memories! 

the salt, sun, chlorine, and sunscreen really do a job on the material after a season (or two... or in one case seven!) and it had been awhile since i had invested in a couple new suits. i was excited to try the retro silhouettes that have cropped up everywhere! typically i favor a halter top and tie-side bikini, so this was certainly branching out! 

here are the two i picked:

ann taylor (sadly almost all sizes are sold out - hopefully they'll restock!)
j.crew (which you may remember from this post)

being a bit short-waisted, i wasn't sure if the higher rise bottoms would be flattering. i was pleased to find out they look great on, and they stay put while in the water! i was also very impressed with the quality of the material with both of these suits. the ann taylor suit is silky and surprisingly lightweight, and j.crew's tulle suit dries nicely and holds its shape even when wet.

just add water, an essie clambake mani-pedi, and a margarita and you're in business!

Monday, March 19, 2012

back to reality

hi there! i am have returned from the land of sun, sand, and cocktails! fortunately the beautiful weather in new york has made for a relatively painless reentry!

well, almost painless... this was a pretty great way to spend my days!

i will share a few more scenes from my trip later this week, but i wanted to tell you all about the fabulous dinner that we made upon returning to our apartment last night - it was cheap, quick, easy, and so delicious!

we got up around 5am to make the trek back north, which literally involves planes, trains, and automobiles, so understandably we were both exhausted. since we had enjoyed so much amazing seafood in florida, we decided to continue that trend.

sautéed shrimp over israeli couscous with fresh tomato and lemon
this recipe is loosely based on one that i love from the kitchn - i love the silky texture of israeli couscous, and the flavors are very fresh and bright.

1 pound of shrimp (not pre-cooked)
1 cup of fresh tomato, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of israeli couscous
2 cups of water
juice from 2 lemons
lemon zest (optional)
olive oil
white wine
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
basil (for garnish)

prep steps:
peel and devein the shrimp. rinse in cold water and place on paper towel to dry.
chop tomatoes, mince garlic, squeeze lemons (do you have one of these gadgets? if not, you should look into it - it literally turns the lemon half inside out, getting all of the juice! it also comes in handy for making margaritas!)

for the couscous:
in a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of salted water to boil. add 1 cup of israeli couscous, return to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. drain couscous and return to saucepan. over low heat, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the juice from one lemon (and some lemon zest if you like) and a splash of white wine over the couscous and stir. add the chopped tomato (we used multi-colored heirloom cherry tomatoes, but any sort will do.)
season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
remove from heat.

for the shrimp:
heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. add minced garlic and stir until golden.
add shrimp and turn frequently until pink and firm (about 4 minutes.)
pour in a splash of wine and the juice from the other lemon and reduce for another minute.
remove from heat.

spoon some couscous into a bowl and serve shrimp on top. garnish with the basil chiffonade (instructions on chiffonade here)

bon appétit!

Friday, March 16, 2012

luck of the irish

hi everyone!  my name's mk. 
renee and titus are still on holiday so i'll be tending to renee's lovely blog this afternoon.   

this week has left me equal parts sleepy and excited.  when it's light out past 4:00 pm and the temps climb into the 70's, it's hard not to spend every second outside doing something, anything - forget sleep, spring has sprung.  st patrick's day is almost upon us and, truth be told, im fearing the drunken/touristy/green mass of people that is about to descend upon manhattan. don't get me wrong - i'm as pale skinned, freckle faced, blue eyed and irish-american as new england is making these days - but at the end of this long week, something has left me underwhelmed about the traditional st patty's day m.o.

one of my favorite movies, starring my favorite actress, was on tv earlier this week - that would be leap year featuring the goregous amy adams - and it got me thinking about my celebration strategy.  everything about that movie is perfection - great clothes, transatlantic shenanigans, a cute male co-star, and love (at long last), set in the picturesque emerald isle.  talk about luck of the irish, amy adams - where do i sign up?  
pretty lady, handsome guy, the mother country
(scenery via

  this year i'm skipping the trashy tees and marathon bar crawls, and channeling leap year on st patrick's day.  my saturday will be filled with pretty views of the water/central park, spring duds, a few irish refreshments, a touch of mischief and a cute man friend. 
how will you be celebrating? 

sunnies & clothes; shoes; pictures


Thursday, March 15, 2012

guest post: sometimes, a lady likes to leave her blazer on

dear loyal x'd & .'d readers,

unless you've been hiding under a giant kate spade cobble hill leslie-shaped rock, you know that the lovely renée is currently busy in/around naples, florida. i suspect her time is being spent floating in a pool and dining on randy's mayan fish tacos (you had me at chipotle and shredded cabbage, randy's!). 

like renée, i too am a professional fundraiser. in fact, the two of us shared an office for about six months and became fast friends (based largely on our borderline obsessive love of symmetry, grammar, and cornichon & shaved parm for dinner). however, i recently switched jobs and am finding my new environs slightly more formal than the last, so i thought i'd "piggyback" (as we say in corp-speak) on renée's recent work-wear post

and so, dear readers, a humble contribution:

 in my internet quest for the most suitable office-lady items (featured above), i came upon the following. 

this is a "look" that j.crew wants me to "shop," though i am loathe to do so. okay, i'll come clean: i am terrified of mixing prints. i know, i know, it's the cool thing, but where i'm from (florida), this just isn't done (unless, of course, you're mix&matching two bikini pieces because its your laundry day underwear you own more bathing suits than you do actual clothing). i'm mostly afraid that my pattern mashing will end up looking like the above photo: insane.

what do you guys think?
me? i'm all like... 

♥♥ anna.

Friday, March 9, 2012

happy weekend!

TGIF! not only is it friday, but i leave for my crazy road trip vacation tomorrow morning! since i am operating on very little sleep (the event was fabulous, by the way!) i am leaving you with a tranquil photograph of the beach that makes me yearn for the sand between my toes and the sun on my face (and isn't it amazing? vintage national geographic sourced here.)

there may be some haphazard posts next week, and perhaps a guest post or two... stay tuned!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

the longest day

it's thursday and i am staring down the barrel of a 15 hour workday. we have our junior benefit at the museum tonight, so there will be a lot of smiling and a lot of standing after a day at the office. 

here is a smattering of things that are getting me through this marathon of a day:

breakfast of champions (seriously, this yogurt is amazing and is packed with probiotics. YAY health!)

my dress for tonight's event (theme is bright and bold... i think i got it.)
window shopping jcrew new arrivals: cheetah, stripes, cork, dots
this website (be warned: you will actually LOL)

have a lovely almost-friday, everyone! if you're in nyc, please go lie in the sun in central park for me!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

basic black

perhaps this seems boring, but i am constantly in search of a good black shoe. as much as i love color, i default to basic black for work wardrobe purposes and it can be hard to find flats that look polished and heels that aren't too high for the office (platforms really only work on tv... my job requires a lot of walking around, and standing at events in uncomfortable heels is the WORST.)

most of my current black line-up is in very sad shape:
exhibit a: my most comfortable heels. they need some cobbler tlc!
 i happen to LOVE ann taylor's shoes - their perfect pumps really are perfect! unfortunately, they are a bit pricey for my budget, so unless there is a phenomenal sale i have to look for alternatives. ever the bargain hunter, i traditionally source many pairs from marshalls and tj maxx, though the selection can be rather hit or miss. 

all of these office-appropriate picks ring in under $100, and they run the gamut of materials and styles!
flats: aldo / talbots / me too / madewell / bloch
heels: nine west / ralph lauren / bandolino / aldo / urban outfitters

personally, i love the d'orsay patent flats from talbots!
does anyone else have budget-friendly work shoe sources?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

jet set

i am having a hard time getting down to business because i get to go on vacation starting saturday!!! it's been a little while since i have gotten away, so i am a bit overexcited.

this trip is intense, and let me tell you why:
it involves a road trip from connecticut to florida. with my boyfriend. and my dad. and titus. 
yup, this is happening.

1,427 miles and 11 states... 
how did this come about? well, my parents relocated from the boston area to southwest florida about 6 years ago and they still have a few things in storage in massachusetts. my dad decided he might as well empty the storage container, but some things are fragile and would fare better in the back of a vehicle instead of shipping them. and obviously 24 hours in a car is best shared with others.

we will be driving the first leg from connecticut to north carolina to stay overnight with the boyfriend's family. we will then commence leg #2 from north carolina to florida and spend several days recuperating from the experience on the beach.

here are a few things i am planning on packing to stay comfortable - and amused! - during the 24 hour drive.

ps - i am taking road trip playlist suggestions! leave your thoughts in the comments :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

spring [closet] cleaning, part one

first, some inspiration:

since we are now in the month of march and spring is thisclose, i have been feeling compelled to evaluate my closet and do some spring cleaning.

right now, our bedroom looks like a tornado hit it: clothes hanging everywhere but the closet, folded piles that have tipped over because they never made it into drawers, drawers burping their contents out into view... you get the picture.

i am, by all counts, a very organized person so you can imagine that this is driving me crazy. that said, i have learned that this is really a three-step process and is best attacked in manageable chunks. 
part one: inventory and purging

1. do your laundry/dry cleaning first
even if you plan on selling or donating something, it needs to be clean..

2. know your options: consign/sell, donate, tosskeep
consign: there are great consignment shops in almost every area - do a quick google search to find a few options and look for one whose merchandise fits your style (consider their age demographic, what brands they prefer, if any, etc.) 
most consignment shops require an appointment to look over your items and select the ones they feel will sell. you typically receive a percentage of the sales proceeds, but all of the legwork is done for you. 

sell: selling items online (think ebay or craigslist) is also an option, though a bit more work (i personally have no experience doing this, but know friends who have had success.)

donate: donations to goodwill, the salvation army, and local church thrift shops are always needed. google to find some in your area (plus you get a tax write-off! ask for a receipt for your donation!)

*you should inventory your clothing, but don't forget accessories! i know i have a handbag or two that are just gathering dust and taking up space...

3. establish your criteria for each option
this can vary; this year, i am going to purge anything that i haven't worn in over two years, even if it still fits. consignment/saleable items should be in good condition and not too trendy (especially past trends.)

items for donation should be in decent condition (no major holes, tears, or stains) and anything that is very shabby should be tossed.

stay tuned...
part two: putting everything back but in an organized way!

[images via pinterest search using 'closet']

Thursday, March 1, 2012

the cat's pajamas

maybe it's all the rainy weather we've been having, but all i want to do is curl up with a good book or a movie in my pajamas! i have been longing for a pair of menswear-inspired pjs for quite some time: i love how they take loungewear to a crisp, put-together level that my sweatpants just can't reach!
brooks brothers / l.l. bean / j. crew

the brooks brothers and l.l. bean options are both actually men's pajamas, but you can certainly size down for a comfortable fit. the j. crew women's version will be a more tailored, slim fit. 

now i just need a new book suggestion and i am set for the weekend! any thoughts?