Wednesday, February 29, 2012

neon flash

unless you've been living under a rock, you have noticed that neon is EVERYWHERE this spring! i for one absolutely love it - such a fun way to brighten your style and your home! shocking pink? a shot of chartreuse? it's all out there! check out a round-up of frugal finds that are all under $50 (aside from the shelf... but even that is only $109!)
polish / scarf / earrings / belt / bracelet / bag / vase / bra / iphone case / top / shelf

for me, the ultimate neon acquisition would be a neon sculpture a la the mario merz on the garden wall at the peggy guggenheim collection:

i probably should have the garden first, and a larger bank account, but a girl can dream!

[image source: peggy guggenheim collection]

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

i'd like to propose a toast

somewhat by accident, i have started a little collection of champagne flutes. they are currently on display on our new living room shelves, and i love the delicate femininity they add to our more gender-neutral apartment.

greenish flutes on bottom: anthropologie sale! / tall clear flutes: inherited from my parents' move!
one of the blogs i love, hip hip gin gin, touts that every day is a special occasion, and i am completely in agreement. why not have your cocktail in style, even if it's just a tuesday?

i like the idea of having sets of two or four in all different styles, and for my next acquisition i would love to find a set of coupes: very roaring twenties! there are a few great thrift shops near my office that frequently have beautiful glassware in the window, so i have been on the lookout! 

here are a few glasses i found online as inspiration:  
1 / 2 / 3

clearly i am loving a gilded rim!

Monday, February 27, 2012

in good company

since it's monday, and since i always feel like the week after a short week lasts forever, i wanted to start off on an inspirational note. i stumbled upon this quote on pinterest and i love the message!

on a separate note, it's meatless monday once again!  i think i am going to make this old standby from one of my favorite sources for new recipes, the kitchn: orzo with caramelized fall vegetables (recipe here!)

it is so flavorful, and it's even vegan! it's also pretty easy: most of the work comes in during prep time when you have to chop the veggies. lastly, it involves kale, which i absolutely love and it's so good for you :)

[image courtesy of the kitchn]

Friday, February 24, 2012


sorry for the lack of post yesterday - i was feeling a bit under the weather :(

like so many others, i have fallen down the hunger games rabbit hole. i am not usually into trendy literature (like twilight. ugh. sorry vampire fans, that stuff just does not appeal to me!) but these books are totally addictive. they're one part lord of the flies with one part fahrenheit 451: a futuristic dystopian society with an olympics-like televised death match for teenagers. 

even better, the movie comes out in less than a month! i love film adaptations - i like to see if the director's rendering even comes close to what i have envisioned in my mind's eye. notable successes include the entire harry potter series and the girl with the dragon tattoo. most notable failure? tom hanks as robert langdon in the davinci code. so tragic. 

the writing in the hunger games pays incredible attention to detail, particularly on the fashion/clothing side, and one of my comedic favorites, elizabeth banks, is playing a high-strung PR person with a wacky fashion sense. there is already a tumblr dedicated to the movie with sneak-peeks, and an OPI line featuring miss banks:

elizabeth banks as her hunger games alter ego, effie trinket. 

the hunger games books are super quick reads, so if you are looking for a little downtime this weekend (or you commute like i do and need a new book) you can blow through the first one in a few hours... and then you will be dying to get your hands on the other two!

happy friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

in the trenches

after a lovely, sunny weekend, the weather has taken another drastic turn toward an early spring: almost 60 degrees in new york today and tomorrow! time to throw on a lighter jacket, and for me that means a trench! 

j.crew / banana republic (on sale!) / target (comes in many colors!)

i love the fact that this coat is perfect for both work and the weekend, and that there are versions to fit every budget (i purposely did not include burberry... their trenches are gorgeous, but let's be serious!)

i can give a personal recommendation for the banana republic version - i purchased it before my move to london for grad school and it is still in great shape over three years later! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

an ode to the bar cart, part two

following up on an ode to the bar cart, part one, stocking your cart is just as important as finding the right one!

tumblers / similar cocktail shaker / ice mold
 a good guideline for stocking up is to keep in mind what you and close friends of yours like to drink and start from there. 

i always have vodka, gin and bourbon on hand, as well as seltzer, tonic water, and ginger ale for mixers. i have also accumulated other liquors and liqueurs over time, usually from specialty cocktail occasions.

bar utensils are essential to mixing a good drink: i love this vintage-inspired penguin cocktail shaker, and those polka-dotted tumblers are so cute (although all of my glassware comes from pier 1 - great for the budget!) silicone ice molds create perfect cubes, and their flexible material takes the work out of emptying them!

now that we've covered the bar cart and the stocking basics, let's mix a few drinks! since it is mardi gras, i picked a specialty cocktail from three festival hubs: new orleans, venice, and rio!

bourbon street, new orleans
french 75 (with or without a dash of st. germain!)
ingredients: champagne, gin, lemon juice, a sugar cube or powdered sugar (st. germain liqueur optional)
carnevale, venice
ingredients: prosecco, aperol, seltzer

rio carnival, brazil
ingredients: cachaca, lime juice, limes

[images courtesy of penderyn, the glamorous gourmet, the leather district gourmet, mardi gras new orleans, rio de janeiro travel source, carnevale di venezia]

an ode to the bar cart, part one

happy mardi gras!

or, happy tuesday in most of our worlds. i am sitting at my desk drinking a coffee, though i am keenly aware that new orleans, venice and rio are alive with celebration. while we can't all travel to these great cities to experience the party firsthand, we can certainly mix a festive drink at home!

in honor of this occasion, i will offer my ode to the bar cart.

i love the resurgence of the bar cart in home decor: whether it stems from the workday cocktails on mad men or an increase in at-home entertaining, there is a cart to suit every style and space. 

cupcakes and cashmere
society social
[via pinterest]

as you can see, i tend to gravitate to bar carts with two levels of storage. since i live in a small space, i greatly appreciate the opportunity to free up some cabinet real estate by putting glassware and bottles out on the cart, not to mention the fact that some bottles are beautiful decorative accents in their own right!

you can find a great cart at a number of places, bearing in mind that your perfect bar cart might not be advertised as a bar cart! i love the industrial look of this one from cb2, which is billed as a three-shelf table. society social, pictured above, has the most adorable bar carts in several different styles and colors. folding tray tables are also great options, like this one (on sale!) from ballard designs.

up next: stocking the cart!

Monday, February 20, 2012

meatless monday

happy monday! i am at home enjoying another lovely long weekend, courtesy of presidents' day. the weather has been gorgeous here, and i am pleased to announce that i ran all the way down to the beach yesterday!

since i am endeavoring to get back in shape, i am putting an extra emphasis on eating healthy. i am very lucky that the boyfriend usually cooks dinner, given my long commute home. the only downside is that he loves pork products of every variety (and they are delicious!) so they typically make an appearance in our dinner menus.

to balance this out, i have instituted meatless monday. we have only had one so far, but it's a fun way to try out new recipes, or to revamp favorites with a veggie focus.

last week's meatless monday: risotto with mushrooms and arugula
risotto is one of my favorite meals to make and to eat: it's easy, hearty, has rich flavors, and makes for great leftovers! there are endless delicious combinations to try, so here's a basic recipe to use as a starting point, and some creative ways of dressing it up!

basic risotto (serves 4 people)

1 cup of arborio rice
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup of white wine
5 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1. heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. add the onion and cook until soft and translucent (about 5 minutes.)
2. add the rice to the pan and stir for about two minutes to toast the rice. add the butter to the pan and stir until melted.
3. pour the white wine into the pan and stir until mostly absorbed. reduce heat to medium.
4. start adding the broth 1/2 a cup at a time and stir continuously. you always want to have some liquid in the pan, but you want it to evaporate slowly. after incorporating all of the broth, the rice should be thick and creamy, and should be soft when you bite it.
5. mix in the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

now for some variations! 
for mushrooms (i like to use baby bellas, but any kind will do) you can add them into the pan when you have almost finished incorporating the broth. this gives them time to cook without overcooking the risotto. i love to finish mushroom risotto with a drizzle of truffle oil!

to use greens, stir them in after you add the grated parmesan: the heat of the risotto will wilt them perfectly!

for lemon risotto, add the juice from one lemon and some lemon zest before adding the grated parmesan. i love this flavor with peas and shrimp!

of course, these are just a few options! time to go figure out what i'm making for meatless monday tonight!

Friday, February 17, 2012

let's fly away

as i mentioned in an earlier post, winter is not my favorite. last january i discovered vacationist - a flash sale site for vacations - and it quickly became my kryptonite. every morning i would get their sale email and then log on to see these fabulous destinations, like a hotel in costa rica where your room is a treehouse, or suites in phuket with private plunge pools, or turkish villas originally built into a rocky hillside hundreds of years ago. needless to say, many faux-cations were planned.

i have a travel bucket list that's a mile long, so here is one place that i hope to check off in the near future: 

the dalmatian coast

bag / suit / sandals / sunglasses / earrings / dress

the dalmatian coast has an array of lovely coastal resort towns, and its architecture has an italian influence dating from its history with the venetian republic.

wish this were my plan for the long weekend! i will be hitting the gym instead... wish me luck and happy friday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

winter white

i love the pristine look of white in winter, and these two ladies certainly got it right! i have been dying to put together an outfit like this, but i am a teensy bit concerned about the potential for disaster given my rather lengthy commute and the many perils along the way: subways, coffee, dirt from brushing against the side of my car...

perhaps i will try it out instead on my vacation in florida: i have a great pair of white wide leg trousers found at marshalls a year or two ago, paired with a white top, some metallic sandals and a bright bag. 

earrings (they're on sale!) / bag / pants (old h&m) / sandals / top / sunglasses
most of the pieces in this round-up are under $100, so you can replicate this look without substantial damage to your wallet (which is always a priority for me!)

also, i have a crush on that bag.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


i saw this little gem on facebook: definitely accurate. 
i am WAY out of shape. it's the middle of winter, and i am the champion of dreaming up excuses to skip a workout: it's too cold. it's too dark. it's too early. it's too late. the gym is expensive. i think i have a sore throat that might turn into a real illness, so i should rest.

you get the idea.

being out of shape isn't just a vanity statement; sure, my clothes are fitting a bit tighter than i might like, but the more noticeable symptom for me is the constant sluggish feeling, coupled with the build up of stress from daily life that usually gets worked out during a workout.

since i have to be in a bathing suit in less than a month (yikes!) and since i don't want to have a psychotic break during my commute (seriously. have you been on the metro north?) i need to get back into an exercise routine. my standards are usually running and yoga. i hate to run, but it does get the job done and you never regret it afterwards, even if the entire time you are chanting: i-hate-this-i-hate-this-i-hate-this-is-it-over-yet? yoga is great, although studio memberships in my area are insanely expensive.

my solution? this weekend i am going to bite the bullet and join crunch fitness in my area: it isn't that pricey, and they have great classes including yoga. also, i can run indoors without getting frostbitten ears and fingers. as added incentive, if i manage to make it to the gym 4 times a week for the next 3 weeks, i might treat myself to some new running shoes, which i desperately need.

have you been on the nike website where you can design your own shoes? way too much fun.

anyone else hitting the gym after a rather    l  o  n  g    hiatus?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

mr. cummings said it best

i had a lovely weekend catching up with a dear friend whom i hadn't seen in years. it isn't often that you have time to sit down with someone who knew the 14 year-old you, and it is really amazing how much we both have accomplished (despite looking more or less exactly the same!) 

amongst other things, we talked about how taking the big steps to pursue your passions can be daunting and scary, and i love how eloquently  mr. cummings sums it all up.

here's to a courageous week, and happy valentine's day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

three day weekend...

and i am still out of town! i have been enjoying a snowy getaway in rochester, ny catching up with an old friend whom i hadn't seen in an embarrassingly long time. she just opened an amazing gallery space, and i have really enjoyed seeing all of the great food spots in this area! here are a few snapshots of what we've been up to:

Friday, February 10, 2012

how to say i love you in chocolate


as promised, today's post is the recipe for the very best chocolate cake i have ever had. anywhere. period.  the end. my mom has baked this cake for more family birthdays than i can count, and i have made it for parties, valentine's day, and anniversaries with the boyfriend (as seen above.)

the recipe originally comes from the splendid table, and there is a secret ingredient that really makes this cake the egg mcmuffin of cakes (sorry... it just came out): peanut butter. i can tell you're even more excited now!

without any further ado, here is the recipe! you now have the weekend to gather your ingredients, and i expect a full report (and pictures!) of your efforts if you make it :)

torta barozzi (from the splendid table)

½ cup almonds, toasted
2 ½ tablespoons confectioners' sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces sugar, plus an additional 2 tablespoons sugar
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
4 large eggs, separated
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
½ ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons instant espresso granules (or instant coffee), dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 teaspoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for garnish:
1 tablespoon cocoa
½ tablespoon confectioners' sugar

butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with the 1 tablespoon of butter. cut a circle of parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan. butter the paper with 1/2 tablespoon butter and line the pan with it, butter side up. use the 3 to 4 tablespoons flour to coat the entire interior of the springform, shaking out any excess. preheat the oven to 375 F, and set a rack in the center of the oven. 

making almond powder: 
combine the almonds, the 2-1/2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar and the 1/4 cup cocoa in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. process until the almonds are a fine powder.

making the batter: 
using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed 8 to 10 minutes, or until almost white and very fluffy. scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during beating. beating the butter and sugar to absolute airiness ensures the torta's fine grain and melting lightness. still at medium speed, beat in the peanut butter. then beat in the egg yolks, two at a time, until smooth. reduce the speed to medium-low, and beat in the melted chocolates, the dissolved coffee, and the rum and vanilla. then use a big spatula to fold in the almond powder by hand, keeping the batter light.

whip the egg white to stiff peaks. lighten the chocolate batter by folding a quarter of the whites into it. then fold in the rest, keeping the mixture light but without leaving any streaks of white.

turn the batter into the baking pan, gently smoothing the top. bake 15 minutes. then reduce the oven heat to 325 F and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few streaks of thick batter. the cake will have puffed about two thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. cool the cake 10 minutes in the pan set on a rack. the cake will settle slightly but will remain level. spread a kitchen towel on a large plate, and turn the cake out onto it. peel off the parchment paper and cool the cake completely. then place a round cake plate on top of the cake and hold the two plates together as you flip them over so the torta is right side up on the cake plate.

torta barozzi is moist and fudgy. just before serving, sift the tablespoon of cocoa over the cake. then top it with a sifting of the confectioner's sugar. (for a whimsical decoration, cut a large stencil of a letter or a heart out of paper or cardboard. set it in the center of the cake before dusting the entire top with the confectioner's sugar. carefully lift off the stencil once the sugar has settled.) serve the cake at room temperature, slicing it in small wedges.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

any excuse for a party: valentine's day edition

isn't this amazing?? 
going out to dinner for a valentine's day date is a great chance to let other people do all the work so you can focus on one another. on the other hand, having a nice dinner together at home is equally romantic.

i remember my first valentine's day with the boyfriend; he made me a spectacular meal featuring roast duck breast with a cherry reduction served with asparagus and risotto, followed by homemade tiramisu! needless to say, he's a keeper! we have continued that valentine tradition each year, only now we enjoy planning a menu and cooking dinner together.

whether you are preparing a surprise dinner, or working to produce one as a couple, here is a menu full of red and white colors that will set the tone for your evening (candles and mood music not included.)

hors d'oeuvres:

first course:

flourless chocolate torte (recipe coming tomorrow - stay tuned!)
cheesecake-stuffed strawberries
that's me with said chocolate torte on valentine's day a few years ago!

to drink:

before (and after) dinner: 
something bubbly! prosecco is crisp and dry, and more affordable than champagne. look for bottles from the veneto area (valdobbiadene is a great region!)
if we're going with champagne, my pick is veuve clicquot :)

with dinner:
we all know red wine is great with steak - i love pinot noirs and cabernets, and an italian red like chianti would also pair nicely.

a festive cocktail:
i love the sound of these pink grapefruit margaritas (plus, they're pink!)

<images courtesy of the cooking channelepicuriousepicurious,, martha stewartthe sweets life>

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

spring is in the air

Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884 (Art Institute of Chicago)
despite having spent my entire life in the northeast, i am not a big fan of winter. it's fine for a month or so, to snuggle into cozy sweaters and make hearty soups and such, but i am usually ready for spring right around the beginning of february. when i think of spring, i think of shades of green and lunches outside; of wearing dresses without tights and fluttery fabrics. this painting captures the essence of the season, and i can't wait for the arrival of warmer days.

my modern interpretation of a promenade a la seurat?
the painted veil / madame bovary / shoes / dress / sunglasses / bracelet / purse / umbrella
the painted veil and madame bovary are two excellent classic reads (as a commuter, i read a lot and i tend to be particular about my selections!) i always tuck a small umbrella into my bag, especially in case of a spring shower. this one from moma has a surprise inside: the underside is a blue sky with happy white clouds!

also, i am obsessed with this dress... perfect for work under a blazer, or a saturday night date. ahhh, wardrobe dreams!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

boy hearts girl

valentine's day is right around the corner! finding the right gift for that special someone can be a challenge, so i navigated the minefield of love-themed items and came up with a few ideas for her and for him!

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

1. a good read with recipes
2. something shiny
3. red hot kitchen tools
4. a gift certificate for a mani-pedi goes nicely with a new polish :)
5. everyone's favorite period drama
6. love for her desktop
7. a passionately painted pillow
8. mentionable unmentionables
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

1. fuzzy slippers
2. heart boxers
3. bacon chocolate (yes, really. and yes, it's awesome.)
4. whiskey stones for chilling nightcaps to perfection
5. comfort food, courtesy of mr. thomas keller
6. needlepoint flask (add your own maker's mark!)
7. a heartfelt, but not too mushy, print
8. mr. eastwood - the ultimate manly man

of course, flowers and champagne and chocolates are always solid choices! what are you getting your other half for valentine's day?

Monday, February 6, 2012

weekend kitchen recap

good morning and happy monday! despite the patriots loss yesterday (congratulations to the giants - you earned it!) i had a lovely weekend filled with tasty treats.

friday night:
an amazing hunk of aged cabot cheddar from saugatuck craft butchery 

spiced nuts for a cocktail hour snack (recipe here)
the boyfriend's homemade BBQ sauce (yes, there is bacon in the sauce!)
ribs from saugatuck slow-cooked for hours in the oven

the finished product, with shoestring fries and tricolore salad with white bean dressing (my take on the tarry lodge version! simply puree 2 tbsp of white beans, add lemon juice and olive oil, and whisk until emulsified.)


pancetta and cinnamon waffles - delish, but i felt like going back to bed afterwards!

super bowl chili simmering away (we didn't follow a recipe to a T, but this is similar to what we did - we used stew meat instead of ground chuck, and sprinkled cocoa powder and cinnamon to add another dimension of flavor!)
the spread at our friends' party - you can see our chili down on the end of the table!

i am looking forward to a happy, productive week - i hope you're off to a good start!

Friday, February 3, 2012

the world is your oyster

i found this print on etsy, and decided i deserved a little midwinter present to myself! during a hectic work week, it's easy to get bogged down in minutiae and lose sight of the big picture, so i can't wait to frame this and hang it as a reminder to take a step back.

to me, fridays feel like the gateway to possibility and the best time to remember that the world really is our oyster. this weekend, take the opportunity to do something that you truly look forward to, whether it's trying new recipe, putting on those running shoes after a lengthy hiatus, or breaking your usual routine and going on a mini-adventure to unfamiliar places in your neighborhood.

here are a few things i am planning on (other than the super bowl!):

hot chocolate at belgique in new canaan (so rich and creamy, and i haven't been since last winter!)

trying out these pancetta and cinnamon waffles (recipe here!)

making more kale chips (a healthy snack to make up for said waffles... recipe here!)

and maybe a long walk to calf pasture beach!

happy friday - enjoy your weekend!

<images courtesy of  exlibrisjournals, belgique, food network, and foursquare.>