Tuesday, January 31, 2012

decorating with a man in mind, part two

welcome back to the adventures of decorating with a man in mind! part one covered the living area, but this time we are moving to the bedroom.

bedrooms, in my opinion, should be safe havens from the hustle and bustle of everyday life where you can fully retreat for much-needed r&r. i would love to do an airy white bedroom with subtle pops of color and metallic accents, perhaps something like this:

sigh. doesn't it look cozy? 

since i share my bedroom with the boyfriend, there were two opinions to account for and we had to compromise (no fluffy bedding; i even showed it to him, on the off-chance that he might go for it. he did not.) 

behold our actual bedroom:

titus photo-bombing
we built those shelves!
paisley pillows add a gender-neutral pattern
my little corner

i think we achieved the cozy retreat feeling here, although you can see it is a bit of a departure from what i might do if left to my own devices! 

there are some keys to decorating a bedroom with a man in mind:

1. bedding: this can be especially challenging; practically everything is flowered, or only comes in girly colors, so striking a gender-neutral balance involves some legwork. the boyfriend really wanted blue sheets, but i prefer the white ones because i can bleach them - it makes them look fresh, even after a year or two! to compromise, we chose this blue duvet cover and i added paisley pillows for a dash of pattern. 

2. furniture style: we chose pieces with modern silhouettes, since the vintagey traditional angle can trend towards too romantic for gentlemen. the dark wood theme is carried over from the living room for some visual continuity, and the dressers fit both our budget and the dimensions of our smaller-sized bedroom.

3. adding flair: we ladies have no trouble finding tzotchkes to enhance our personal spaces, but men tend to lean towards simple, or even bare, decor. if you are sharing a bedroom, i would recommend discussing any large decorative accents, like mirrors or artwork, to make sure the room is a comfortable retreat for both parties. for example, the boyfriend used to have a poster from the movie the boondock saints hanging above his bed. that really didn't work for me, but we both loved the idea of framing some postcards that i had sent him from venice.

marshalls, tj maxx, and homegoods are wonderful for buying bedding on a budget- they stock sheet sets with high thread counts that won't break the bank, including some designer labels like ralph lauren, donna karan, and calvin klein. west elm and the company store also have great options that are affordable and aren't overtly feminine.

ikea furniture is good for small budgets, and they even have some nice wood pieces that hold up over time better than their particleboard counterparts. i love their picture frames: they're inexpensive and come in sizes that fit most pictures and prints, with a few different frame colors to choose from.

lastly, never underestimate the power of a good sale. i have found treasures from some of my favorite stores (ahem, west elm) at incredible discounts, so it never hurts to check back periodically!

Monday, January 30, 2012

weekend kitchen recap

i had a busy weekend in the kitchen, but in a good way. on saturday night, the boyfriend and i hosted a belated chinese new year gathering and we made a variety of szechuan dishes inspired by one of our favorite restaurants (szechuan gourmet on 56th between 8th and broadway in nyc - if you haven't been, you need to go! it is incredible, and their menu includes a section called "gourmet gourmet," so you know it's good.)

on the menu
ginger margaritas
avocado spring rolls
szechuan pork dumplings
twice-cooked pork belly with chili leeks
stir-fried shiitake mushrooms and broccoli

pork belly is harder to find than we had anticipated, but our search led us to the discovery of an amazing butcher in westport that focuses on locally sourced meats! it's called saugatuck craft butchery, and i am thoroughly impressed.

yummm pork belly

the butchers at craft cutting the pork belly to our specifications

ginger margarita fixings
the finished product: delish.

avocado spring roll filling

crispy spring rolls fresh out of the pan

the boyfriend hard at work on his dumplings

all ready to go in the oil!
shiitake and broccoli stir fry

twice-cooked pork belly with chili leeks!
recipe sources
for the margaritas, we made a simple syrup infused with fresh ginger and red pepper flakes, tossed it in the blender, and then strained it. combine with tequila and fresh lime juice for a spicy twist on the classic.

avocado spring rolls are essentially mashed avocado, salt, pepper, and i added chinese mustard for a little kick. spoon some filling in the middle of the (store bought) spring roll wrapper, roll, and fry in peanut oil until golden brown.

the stir fry was simply steaming the broccoli, cooking off excess water, adding the mushrooms, and finished by tossing with cilantro and soy sauce.

twice-cooked pork belly with chili leeks (recipe here - we omitted the bell pepper) 
szechuan pork dumplings (recipe here - you can buy wonton skins at the grocery store)

Friday, January 27, 2012

rainy friday

on this very rainy friday, the last thing i wanted to do was leave the house. in fact, this is all i want to do today:

coffee in pjs

warm and fuzzy in bed (he arranged himself this way, btw. he thinks he's a person.)

downton on DVR

instead, my morning looked like this:

coffee on the train

warm and fuzzy in my wellie socks

oh well. on the positive side, it's friday and they have carrot ginger soup for lunch in the staff cafeteria! have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

blazing edible trails

as a self-professed foodie, there is nothing i love more than trying a new restaurant. last night my brother was in town for business and we seized the opportunity to do some sibling bonding at mario batali and joe bastianich's new place in westport: tarry lodge enoteca and pizzeria.

the low down
decor: dark wood shelving stocked with bottles of wine; amazing pendant lamps over the bar; tough to get a good look at the entire room because it was so crowded.
service: friendly, although a bit disorganized.
food: excellent, as was my glass of valpolicella. we split a salad, a pasta, and a pizza and it was the perfect amount of food.
impact on wallet: quite reasonable, even given the famous names attached.

overall, definitely a repeat - there is a clam pizza that i need to know about :)

tricolore salad with white bean dressing (must learn to make this dressing!)
pumpkin "fiore" with brown butter and sage
pizza with burrata, pancetta, and chili oil
how cute are these round business cards?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

in living color

say hello to tangerine tango, pantone's color of the year for 2012! red is my favorite color, and this vibrant red-orange has a wonderful warm tone, making it a great accent color for both personal and home style!

1. coral crewel pillow
2. essie in clambake
3. nars matte velvet lip pencil in red square
4. eva franco dress
5. anthropologie latte bowls
6. perhaps a trip to san francisco is in order?
i especially love that dress, not in the least because of the polka dots, and a tangerine tango manicure might be just the thing to combat the midwinter grayness!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

decorating with a man in mind, part one

moving into a new apartment is always exciting: you have a great blank canvas that will serve as a backdrop to your life. paint colors, rugs, bedding, a statement sofa... the possibilities are endless.

my dream living room (this week) might look something like this:

<via my pinterest/apartment therapy>
love the accent wall, the pop of yellow, the mixture of classic and modern. the thing is, i don't live by myself. i live with a boy who tolerates my quirky, artsy aesthetic but decidedly does not want to live in an apartment that screams, "A GIRL LIVES HERE!" upon walking through the door. a number of my friends are facing the same challenge, and i thought i would include a series of posts about the conundrum of decorating with a man in mind. 

now that you've seen my dream living room, let's take a glance at my real living room:
apologies for the awkward tight angle! brownstones = long narrow spaces!
my favorite things: the gallery wall, the classic/modern blend of new pieces with antiques passed down from parents and grandparents, and the overall cozy feel of the room. it definitely does not feel girly, but at the same time it doesn't come across as a bachelor pad.

we used these three guidelines when we were making decisions to stay focused:
1. practicality for your lifestyle. we went with all dark woods, since we already owned a few pieces with that aesthetic. i gravitate toward white, but it is VERY hard to keep clean (boys make messes. period.)
2. budget. we both work for non-profits, so we got creative with sourcing. we are huge fans of craigslist, and IKEA has some great pieces that don't look cheap. 
3. space limitations. our apartment is small, so we have limited storage and needed to capitalize on the vertical wall space. we also couldn't have any oversized furniture.

our first major choice was seating. i absolutely fell in love with this sofa from west elm: great neutral color, amazing tufting, perfect size, reasonable price.

west elm elton settee
unfortunately, my selection was vetoed (apparently boys find tufting to be old-ladyish.) after scouring other sources, we came upon another west elm sofa that was on sale! i didn't love it as much, but the boyfriend liked it and it did have a classic modern silhouette, was the right size for the space, and the gray-blue color tied into some of the artwork we had in the room. 

west elm sutton sofette (old color)
we later found this amazing leather slipper chair (also west elm; yes, i am addicted to their stuff.) on craigslist! i love the way the sofa and chair have similar lines, but provide different textures so the room looks more curated and less matchy.

titus on "his" chair
you can also see our dining table in the background: we opted for something high to play on the room's long and narrow dimensions, and i loved the idea of mixing brushed aluminum chairs with the wood table (you get a clearer view of it in this post.)

finishing touches: our bar area. the boyfriend found this marble-topped rolling bar cart on craigslist, as well as the mini-fridge, which we use for mixers, juices and beer. i love having people over, and it's helpful to have all the fixings for a nice cocktail at the ready!
that's our kitchen in the background - one of the huge selling points of our place! we love the open plan, so if you're cooking you are still part of the party! we added counter space with the rolling butcher block cart, also found on craigslist.
so, there you have it: decorating with a man in mind. we created a living space that reflects both of us by balancing one part masculine with one part quirky artistic flourish, and the outcome is a living room that we both love to come home to! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

nail biter

of course, i am talking about the patriots game yesterday! the game was totally stressful up until the very last minute, but i am thrilled to have a patriots/giants super bowl rematch! not to mention the scores of ace ventura "laces out!" comments following the ravens' failed field goal attempt.

tom brady's diving touchdown! photo credit: boston globe

after the game, i decided it would be nice to put some color on my nails, which i believe adds a bit of polish to everything you touch. i used essie in carry on: a deep purple. now i'm set for the week! happy monday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

weekend outlook

happy friday!

this week has flown by! i was wrapped up all week finalizing an event for work that took place last night. we tried some new hors d'oeuvres: my favorites were whipped ricotta crostini with basil, nectarine and chili oil, and mini black truffle and mushroom grilled brie sandwiches. YUM. i was also thrilled with the teal table linens: the color was amazingly rich and felt wintery in all the right ways, especially with the flickering light from the votives! sorry, i didn't get any pictures :(

my outlook for the weekend includes a friend's birthday drinks, hosting a little dinner party, tackling thomas keller's quiche lorraine for sunday breakfast, and watching the patriots take on the ravens! GO PATS! i also plan to do a bit of snuggling with this guy:


Thursday, January 19, 2012

frosty weather uniform

1.  gold pyramid studs (i found mine on gilt groupe; these are similar)
2.  red belt (ann taylor)
3.  brown boots (mine are very old banana republic; similar ones here)
4.  silk dress (found this at a j.crew sale pre-holidays! here's their current version)
5. red bag (old ann taylor; similar here)
6. black cardigan (similar here)
7.  gray scarf (i actually knit these; i love this one, but it's very pricey. check out etsy for affordable, handmade versions!)
looking put together and polished can be a morning obstacle year-round, but winter puts a bit of a wrench in things. there are wrinkle issues, static cling issues, hat head, chapped lips, and inclement weather sent from the universe to ruin your shoes. what's a girl to do? (i should add at this point that if i have not figured out what i am wearing before i get out of the shower, my entire wardrobe will end up strewn about the bedroom as i try in vain to pull something together. don't laugh, you know you've done it, too.)

someone recently pointed out to me that i have a winter uniform: dress, black tights, tall brown boots and a scarf. the more i reflected on this, the more i realized how accurate it was! i do gravitate toward easy silk dresses that fit well under a heavy coat, and i never leave the house without a scarf. the boots may seem like a style-forward choice, but i really like them because they are flat and reduce the possibility of wiping out on slippery sidewalks!

the outfit above is my best attempt at replicating one of my favorite winter "uniforms" - most of my pieces are older, or were found on sale, but you can certainly locate similar versions of these items out there. i love to add a pop of color via a matching belt and bag, and red is my favorite: classic and chic!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

winter skincare essentials

1. boots no.7 quick thinking 4-in-1 wipes
2. boots no.7 rebalancing day fluid
3. boots no.7 rebalancing night fluid
4. boots no.7 protect & perfect eye cream
5. burt's bees herbal blemish stick
the weather this winter has been all over the place: warm then cold, dry then wet. needless to say, my skin does not know what to make of it, and i have had to institute a new regime to combat the dry, flaky and red area that is was my face.

finding products that work on my face has always been a challenge. i have what they call combination skin, which is a euphemism for skin that does whatever it wants, whenever it wants. when i was in london for grad school, I fell in love with boots pharmacy and all of their skincare products. of course, i then moved back to the united states and quickly ran out of my supply. since then, i have dabbled with the wexler line from bath and body works, as well as regular drugstore essentials like cerave, aveeno, and olay with middling results.

so, you can imagine how thrilled i was when my mom told me about this great new skincare line she found at target called no.7 from boots pharmacy!

i use the cleansing wipes because they are quick and easy and amazing at removing eye makeup. I follow up with either the day fluid or night fluid, and i also use their eye cream (let's face it, i'm not getting any younger!) i also discovered that burt's bees has a wonderful roll-on blemish stick that works wonders for breakouts.

the best part? the price! i am sure that all of the super-expensive creams are miracles in a jar, but they are not (and probably will never be) within my budget. the boots line is all under $20 per product, and i could not be happier about how healthy and un-wintery my skin looks! do you have any skincare products you can't live without?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

lazy long weekend

1.  thomas keller bouchon cookbook
2. le creuset dutch oven
january and february have these sneaky, wonderful public holidays that amount to several three-day weekends. this weekend, i was thrilled to stay in and get acquainted with two fabulous christmas gifts: my parents gave me thomas keller's bouchon cookbook, which is chock full of amazing bistro recipes, and my boyfriend presented me with a le creuset dutch oven, which i had been lusting over for years! clearly, this is a match made in heaven, and they didn't even coordinate their gifts - pure coincidence! i made tk's (tk = thomas keller. clearly we are already on a first-name basis...) french onion soup and roast chicken for dinner last night - definitely a repeat!

weekend highlights, brought to you by my new obsession with instagram:

last night's dinner :)
new wall shelves from IKEA
morning coffee in my pjs

Sunday, January 15, 2012

fulfilling a resolution


happy new year! i have this feeling that 2012 is going to be a year filled with excitement, and instead of the usual, abandoned-in-february resolutions of years past (work out more, stress less, etc.) this year i have decided to stick to three simple, attainable goals:

1.     do one thing every day for myself.
2.     call/text/email my brothers once a week.
3.     drink more water.

the last one is seriously hard! i have at least 2 cups of coffee a day, but rarely do i manage anything close to the recommended 8 cups of water.

the second one is pretty self-explanatory: i have two brothers. we don't see each other much, and boys never call. we are citizens of the modern world with cell phones and email. there is no excuse for this.

the first one is an effort to be good to myself, because we all need to do that! it can be all too easy to give yourself a hard time about the little (and big) things in life, and i personally would like to be a bit nicer.

on that note, one of the first things that i am doing for myself in 2012 is launching crossed and dotted. this stems from my need for a creative outlet outside of my professional life: i work in fundraising for a museum in new york city, and while i love my job and find it very rewarding, i have been feeling for a while that i need a place where my inspiration can run unchecked.

so, welcome to the place where i will share my passion for style, design, food, and the other good things in life, all wrapped up in a neatly edited package to satisfy my penchant for organization and tying up loose ends. t's crossed; i's dotted.

*disclaimer: i am new to this game, so suggestions are welcome!