Tuesday, July 31, 2012

snug as a bug

this summer has been one for the record books: almost every day has been hazy, hot, and humid.
i have already hit the point where i am yearning for fall, for a slight chill in the air and an excuse to snuggle into a cozy sweater.

Monday, July 30, 2012

polished petals

happy monday! hope everyone enjoyed the weekend and the start of the olympics!
our party was a great success, although a bit chaotic to start because i was held up at work and didn't get home until 7:30 with guests due to arrive at 8!

unfortunately, i have no photos - between last minute prep and mingling, i was not a great photographer - but i did learn a few things! 
+ pimm's cup is delicious. 
+ i have an inner italian/jewish grandmother that is terrified there won't be enough food. there was PLENTY.
+ this meatball recipe is a winner.
+ dvr is the greatest invention of all time: i re-watched the opening ceremonies saturday afternoon!

on the subject of the opening ceremonies, i was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the torch. the individual copper petals were stunning, and the effect of each piece coming together to form the larger olympic cauldron was spectacular!

fun fact: the cauldron is codenamed betty, after the executive producer's dog!
the hammered and polished organic shape of each petal is so lovely; in fact, there are a lot of jewelry pieces that pick up on that aesthetic:
bracelet - $98 / earrings - $98 / necklace - $60 / ring - $114

piperlime has some great, cheaper options too! check them out here

Friday, July 27, 2012

that's a wrap

happy friday!
it has been a long, busy week but it isn't over yet... very excited for our celebration tonight, and for the start of the olympics!
i will have plenty of snaps next week, but in the meantime here is a quick wrap-up of rumors about tonight's opening ceremonies!

+ article about danny boyle, architect of the opening ceremonies [cnn]
+ a sneak preview of the 3 hour event, which will include sheep and a lot of british history [huffington post]
+ 10 things to look for (the cast of downton abbey?!) [eonline]
+ perhaps my favorite, a choreographed battle between voldemort and mary poppins. yes, you read that right. [gawker]

happy olympic games! and may the odds be ever in your favor.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

brown bagging it

i'm a bit sleepy today - the boyfriend and i saw joshua radin last night, along with scars on 45 and tristan prettyman! it was a great show in a really intimate venue - very unplugged, if you know what i mean - and the stage had all of these great lamps and mid-century pieces all over it!
this picture is terrible and blurry, but you get the idea.

such a fun night, but i all but fell asleep in the car on the way home and have been moving slowly this morning. luckily, i have my morning routine down to science.
i can be up and out of the house in 30 minutes if necessary, and anyone who commutes can attest that having the right gear to carry everything is essential. as i mentioned last week, i have been making a concerted effort to bring my lunch and coffee to work everyday, so here are my brown bag must-haves:
built lunch tote - it's neoprene and keeps everything cool until lunch (today, beet salad!)
travel mug - sadly the onion doesn't make this one anymore, but i always get comments on it!
almonds - to keep me going when 3pm hits (when robert goulet comes around... anyone? bueller?)
kleenex pocket packs - because i spill. often.
lemon seltzer - fizzy and fresh.
pyrex storage containers - glass can go in the microwave or the oven and they last longer than plastic.
water bobble - staying hydrated is important (and i am terrible at it!)

in other news, it's thursday which means tomorrow is our housewarming AND the olympics! i will be doing a little prep work tonight, including some baking and some cleaning :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

soak it up

sometimes there is nothing better than slipping into a warm bath to soak away the cares of the day.
one of the features in the new apartment that i was most excited about was the clawfoot tub.
when i got home from work on monday, i decided it was time to break it in: i poured a glass of wine, lit a candle, and filled the tub with some lovely smelling bubbles.

aside from a curious kitten who sat on the bath mat the entire time, periodically putting his head and front paws onto the side of the tub to check on me, it was absolute bliss.

my mom later let me know about an incredible detox soak, which i will have to try next time! 
combine one cup of baking soda, one cup of epsom salts, and 10 drops of lavender oil.
dissolve in warm bath water; soak for 20 minutes, and rinse in a cool shower.
a detox for body, mind, and spirit:
baking soda / lavender oil / epsom salts - available at drugstores/whole foods
a fine frenzy / joshua radin (sidenote: seeing him in concert tonight!)
oyster bay sauvignon blanc - from marlborough, new zealand


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

booking it

simply viewed, a place to put books. 
designly viewed, a place to display a carefully curated collection of books and other things.
between home decor magazines and design blogs, everyone has taken a stab at the bookcase!

one design blog i love, i suwannee, has a "bookcase of the day" series featuring, obviously, beautiful bookcases - this is one of my favorites:
while the color-coordinated bookcase is a pleasing visual aesthetic, it would drive me insane because i actually use many of my books and have no idea what color any of them are!

this is designer minnie mortimer's library/living room
sidenote: i went to high school with her! well, she was a senior when i was a freshman and i am sure she has no idea who i am, but i love what she did with this room!

love this room in general, but the bookcase is organized and yet appears real.
while i continue to decide how best to work with our giant floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelf in the living room, i do know that i would love to add some (more) beautiful books to my collection!
here are a few that i have my eye on:

any others i should have on my radar? 
an aside: an entire cookbook about CHEESE! clearly, i need it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

weekend update

happy monday!
i hope you all had a great weekend - mine was spent relaxing with friends and some good food!
here are a few snapshots:
left: a craft beer tasting cruise via living social - AMAZING. god, i love boats.
right: sunday dinners, round 1: a southern feast with friends

now, it's monday. i am sure this week will be lovely, but i am already excited for friday because we are hosting a housewarming/olympics viewing soirée in our new digs!
as you have probably gathered, i love planning parties and prepping the menu is one of my favorite parts of the process! while this can be daunting, i have a few tips that i stick to that streamline the process:
1. pick a theme
for the olympics, there are many routes to choose from: with london as the host city, you could opt for british-inspired munchies and libations. in honor of the USA, you could go with all-american fare.
for our party, we are making a number of things but have also asked others to bring a dish or drink to share, so we decided to make our menu all-inclusive. the olympics, after all, is a global event!

2. have options: not everyone eats everything
nothing is worse than going to a party and realizing that you can't eat any of the food! 
whether you or your guests are vegan/vegetarian or have dietary restrictions or food allergies, it's always a good idea to make sure there is something for everyone. 
when i plan menus, i make columns like so:
this way, it's simple to see what your choices are, whether you have overloaded in one category, and how best to balance things out (hmmm, perhaps a fish option is needed?)

3. make sure your options work for your prep schedule!
i have a full-time job and a somewhat lengthy commute, and this party is on a weekday. therefore, hors d'oeuvres that require hours of prep time are not good choices for me, and while i love to make as much as possible from scratch, i am fine with taking some shortcuts. 

some examples from my actual menu:
caprese skewers require minimal assembly time, and they are so fresh and delicious in the summer - i will add some basil from our garden, but literally all i have to do is put a tomato and a ball of mozzarella on a toothpick.
pigs in a blanket are my brother's favorite, so i had to include them. i would really love to make this pretzel crusted version via cupcakes and cashmere, but this is not the time for testing a new recipe so i will be purchasing frozen ones from trader joe's instead.
nutella s'mores are a delicious variation on the traditional recipe, and you can put all of the ingredients out buffet-style for people to roast over the grill and assemble on their own! plus, the nutella doesn't need to melt so it's spreadable instantly!

you get the idea. stay tuned for some more party posts this week!

(1, 2, 3, 4)

Friday, July 20, 2012

that's a wrap

happy friday!
it is also national fortune cookie day, so you should celebrate with some chinese takeout!
or, extra points if you want to make your own with this recipe (from martha. of COURSE she has one.)

going forward, i have decided that friday posts will be a weekly wrap-up of sorts - one of my 101 in 1001 was to have more regular features on the blog, and this is a great way to start!

this week i...
-  met new animal friends at work (you can see more on my instagram!)
-  completed week 2 of bringing my lunch and coffee to work everyday. hooray, saving money!
-  scored a pair of red pumps on super sale from j.crew. i can't wait to wear them with, well, everything!
-  started planning the menu for our olympic housewarming next friday night - more on that to come.
-  enjoyed a beer tasting/talk at our local historical society with friends.

overall, a great week and i am looking forward to an equally fun weekend.
hope you have a good one!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

feeling autumnal

have you seen j.crew's fall lookbook yet? if you haven't, you are in for a treat!
as one of my friends so aptly put it, "if i can't afford to shop there when it's released, i'm going to start begging on street corners."
i am loving the jewel tones, and the fifties/sixties silhouettes are so chic. 

it might be time to start saving my pennies :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

golden age

as promised, today i will reveal the bathroom with its completed DIY elements!
to refresh your memory, here it is before:

and after!
drumroll, please:
now that i look at this picture, i think a little framed something over the toilet might look nice. thoughts?
obviously we still need a toilet paper holder. the previous one was a nondescript light oak color; i am thinking something along these lines:

now, details on the shelf project.
we started with this:
crate and barrel etagere
ours is actually an older version, scored for a mere $60 on craigslist!
per the recommendation from my inspiration via little green notebook, we hit the metal frame with rustoleum metallic spray paint in brass. 
observation: it is much easier to paint/DIY when you have a legitimate space like a driveway or garage. we painted on newspaper on the street outside our apartment, and had to stand guard during the drying process. with beverages, of course.

next, we needed some storage baskets to hide the dozens of toiletries/inevitable clutter.
i searched high and low, because i wanted something that wasn't see-through, and it was shockingly hard to find narrower dimensions to fit on the shelves. we found the perfect fit at target:
target small milk crate - $12

the last step was to bronze our stainless steel trash can:

the boyfriend joked that we should also paint the toilet, but i thought that might be a little much.
in the end, this is exactly what i was hoping for, but at a fraction of the price!

the other mini DIY was to paint the built-in medicine cabinet white instead of that nondescript oak:
as you can see, titus was a huge help.

the paint did not go on quite as smoothly and evenly as i had hoped, so to camouflage that fact we cut pieces of the map i received upon arrival in florence for my study abroad (yes, i still have it!) and pasted them into the back of the cabinet using wallpaper paste.

i love how it gives a little visual interest to a somewhat boring, utilitarian element of the bathroom.
here it is in use:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

minty lemony fresh

this summer, i am having a love affair with anything and everything citrus and mint. the fresh, cool combination is like air conditioning for your body, and when the temperatures are pushing 100, it's the only way to go!
to eat: ceviche
to drink: citrus mint cocktail
to pamper: everyone lotion in citrus + mint (available at whole foods - i am obsessed.)
to wear: j.crew dress and clutch

ceviche is a great, light summer dish. traditionally served cold, the acid in the citrus juices "cooks" the seafood. i found the recipe below from tyler florence and it sounds divine, especially when accompanied by food and wine's citrus mint cocktail!

scallop ceviche with melon, chili, and mint (original here)
2 pounds fresh bay or sea scallops, preferably with shells
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 3 oranges
juice of 3 lemons
juice of 3 limes
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
zest of 1 lime, finely grated
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small ripe cantaloupe, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into small cubes
1/2 bunch fresh mint, hand-torn, plus more for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh red chili, cut in paper-thin circles

start by assessing the scallops at the fish store. inspect every one just to make sure that they're all in perfect shape, i.e. not torn, and fresh with a sweet ocean smell. the next step is to remove the side muscle that connects the scallop to its shell; it's not hard to miss; just pull it off with your fingers. keep the shells to serve the ceviche in. using a sharp knife, slice the scallops in half lengthwise into discs; the thinner they are, the faster they'll "cook". put the scallops in a glass bowl and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper.

put the citrus juices, zest, and sugar in a blender and give it a whirl to combine. add the olive oil and blend again to emulsify. pour the marinade over the scallops; there should be enough juice to allow the scallops to float freely. cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, until the scallops are opaque, i.e. cooked from the acid in the fruit.in a separate bowl, combine the cantaloupe, mint, and chili; season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine. to serve: spoon the scallop ceviche into the shells with a little bit of the citrus juice, and top with a spoonful of the cantaloupe salad. garnish each serving with some fresh mint.

citrus mint cocktail (original here)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves, plus 8 large mint sprigs, lightly crushed
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves, lightly crushed
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
3 cups vodka
2 cups dry white wine
ice cubes and chilled club soda, for serving

in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and the large crushed mint sprigs with the water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. remove the mint syrup from the heat and let it stand until completely cool. strain the mint syrup into a medium bowl; discard the mint sprigs.

in a large pitcher, muddle the 2 cups of mint leaves with the crushed cilantro, lemon juice and lime juice. add the cooled mint syrup, the vodka and the white wine and stir the cocktail to combine. strain the citrus-mint cocktail into tall glasses filled with ice cubes, top each drink with a splash of club soda and serve.
*the mint syrup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

YUM. cool and refreshing. 
does anyone else have a good summer flavor inspiration?

Monday, July 16, 2012

dog days

good morning and happy monday!
i had a blissfully relaxing weekend and i am all geared up for a productive week. 
here are a few things i got up to:

neon brights to beat the heat
a new recipe (1/25 on #71 of my 101 in 1001 list!)
sunrise over the river
our gallery wall 
living room in its current phase
living room bookcase before styling
the bar cart, stocked and ready to go!
we had two great dinners with friends and got the apartment to a point that feels mostly like home, with only two boxes that need to be handled! i am looking forward to sharing our completed bathroom this week, including the golden DIY project i mentioned last week. stay tuned, and have a great day!

ps - that recipe i tried was martha stewart's potato chip cookies. it came very highly recommended from a foodie friend and they were equal parts sweet and savory, chewy and crunchy - definitely a repeat! try it yourself here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

summer in the city

happy friday!

first, thank you for all of the positive feedback on my 101 things in 1001 days list - i am looking forward to tackling some of them this summer, and will happily share my progress!

we're in for another steamy day around here, and i think i have gotten the hang of sauna-weather work attire!
here's a look at today's ensemble:

i have two knit sheath dresses, and it really is the best fabric for summer: thick enough to hide any lines, but still light enough to be cool and comfortable in the heat.

a must for the office (i am embarrassed to say that i usually have to use my space heater. in july.)

(i know, i know)

statement necklace
mine is old kate spade (scored from one of those crazy 75% off sample sales!)
anthropologie has great ones, and so does baublebar

no need to compete with the huge necklace.

the most comfortable ones i own, and they're on sale!

because let's be honest, who commutes in heels?

simple, classic silhouette, a pop of color on the nails, and a bit of a jewelry statement. 
hmmm, i might have to make the boyfriend come out for a friday night cocktail date to make the most of my efforts!

have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

101 things in 1001 days

here it is, the list you've all been waiting for! just kidding, probably not but i am excited about it!
i am a huge list-maker, both personally and professionally, and i always feel a little rosier about everything that i have going on once i have written it all down, taken stock, and prioritized.

this list is a conglomeration of experiences i hope to have, goals i would love to achieve, places i yearn to travel, and perhaps some silly fluffy things i have always wanted to do. 
here goes nothing!

101 things in 1001 days

1. make a list of 101 things (july 2012)
2. enjoy the tasting menu at momofuku
3. go wine tasting in napa
4. visit kat and jim in beijing
5. climb to machu picchu
6. visit 10 new states
7. re-read classic books from my high school reading list 
8. drink the recommended amount of water every day for a week
9. learn to filet a fish
10. update my computer software
11. take a photography class
12. take a pastry class
13. thoroughly purge and organize all of my papers/bills
14. move money into my savings account from every paycheck
15. build a stock portfolio
16. design calling cards
17. go to the kentucky derby wearing a fabulous hat
18. complete a 30 day bikram yoga challenge
19. invest in a few quality pieces of furniture
20. attend altitude design summit
21. go to a red sox game and sit on the green monster
22. throw a girls' dinner party
23. make duck confit
24. read 25 new books
25. make my own limoncello
26. teach the boyfriend to sail
27. watch 5 oscar winning films that were made pre-1970
28. go to carnival in brazil and carnevale in venice
29. compete on jeopardy
30. complete a design project for someone else's space
31. perfect the art of blow drying my hair
32. finish the nytimes sunday crossword
33. send my parents on vacation - on my dime!
34. get professional photos taken
35. see a broadway show
36. have a sibling dinner date with both of my brothers. no dates, just us.
37. try skiing again
38. go stand up paddleboarding
39. make the perfect sunday brunch
40. redesign the blog
41. eat organic for a week (to see if there really is a difference!)
42. walk across the brooklyn bridge
43. take a day trip
44. go antiquing in brimfield
45.  organize my itunes library
46. have one dinner a week with the boyfriend without technology
47. invest in a car with better gas mileage
48. go skinny dipping
49. find a workout routine that fits my schedule
50. go to dinner at one of thomas keller's restaurants
51. post an outfit of the day on the blog
52. set regular skype dates with friends who are far away
53. run a 5k under 25 minutes
54. learn spanish
55. have sunday roast dinners all winter
56. plan a relaxing staycation with the boyfriend
57. wear my red sox gear to a yankees game
58. attend a black tie event in a floor-length gown
59. buy my mom an apple computer
60. play 18 holes with my dad
61. commit to using eye cream
62. update our dvd library
63. document our decorating process in the new apartment
64. watch the america's cup in newport
65. sail the figawi race
66. guest post on another blog
67. plan a trip around southeast asia
68. own a bicycle with a basket
69. experience the norwalk oyster festival
70. visit the maritime aquarium
71. try 25 new recipes
72. further develop my personal style
73. evaluate and update my monthly budget
74. take a workshop on photoshop
75. go to handel's messiah at christmas time
76. make my own wrapping paper
77. wear nicer underwear
78. achieve a lofty professional goal
79. rent a house on the cape/ack/mv with friends
80. watch every episode of 30 rock from the beginning
81. volunteer at the animal shelter
82. start a local restaurant series on the blog
83. get a bi-monthly massage
84. take more lunchtime walks at work
85. replace cosmetics at appropriate intervals
86. learn to sew buttons back on
87. eat crabcakes in maryland
88. find the perfect eyeglasses
89. have a picnic in central park
90. floss everyday
91. plan an amazing party for family and friends
92. visit the pyramids in egypt
93. moisturize more often
94. share the apartment as a home tour
95. pay off the rest of my student loan
96. plant tomatoes in the garden
97. go to the library more and order from amazon less
98. attend a music festival
99. send birthday cards instead of birthday emails/facebook messages
100. go dancing more
101. say yes more, because life is too short!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


today marks crossed and dotted's 100th post! 

i can hardly believe that i have written that many (all but three!) and i am constantly amazed at how many other post ideas pop into my brain. i do want to take a moment to thank all of you who follow along with my musings - i am so flattered by your comments and compliments!

to mark the occasion, i have decided to embark on a 101 things in 1001 days challenge, as set forward by ms. mackenzie horan of design darling. i met mackenzie back in january when this blog was just an abstract idea, and she is absolutely lovely and encouraged me to just go for it! as for 101 things in 1001 days, i have always loved the idea and its spirit of carpe diem !

more to come tomorrow (which i think is fitting for my 101st post!)
in the meantime, i will leave you with some snapshots of dinner last night:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

tools of the trade

by now, it's no secret to any of you that i love to cook. the boyfriend and i both do, and we each have our favorite recipes, as well as our preferred utensils.

there is one line of kitchen tools that i absolutely love and continually reach for over other similar items in our kitchen drawer: the swiss brand kuhn rikon.

everything they do is magic (cue the police song!) and they come in an amazing range of colors and patterns that make them easy to find. even better, i have picked up almost every kuhn rikon tool in our arsenal at tj maxx/marshalls/homegoods! of course, you can also find them at other places.

here are a few that i can't live without:
piranha peeler (great name!)
garlic press
zebra knife
santuku knife
serrated knife

the knives are made from japanese carbon steel and they are VERY sharp - i highly recommend keeping them in their sheaths so you don't accidentally stab yourself while rooting through a drawer. the green serrated knife is amazing for tomatoes, and the santuku knife has little holes in it that allow whatever you're chopping to fall off onto the cutting board instead of sticking to the sides of the blade.

do you have any favorite kitchen tools?

Monday, July 9, 2012


happy monday! 
after a scorcher this weekend i am pleased to report that it was a mere 63 degrees when i went out for my run this morning! 

much of my weekend was spent puttering around the apartment, and i am pleased to say that i have solved our bathroom storage conundrum!  as you can tell from these pictures, the room is an odd shape and the only storage is a built-in medicine cabinet, which is not very substantial. 
please ignore my awkward photo stance in the mirror!

i really don't care for those over-toilet storage units, and i am hesitant to put a heavy wall shelf in that brick wall, given that it is over 100 years old!  all i wanted was a tall open shelf to fit in the corner between the toilet and the wall that could be fitted with baskets for toiletries, ideally in brass and glass to go with the bathroom hardware. 

i googled and searched every possible place i could think of (i really should add a "sources" tab to my menu bar, because at this point i think i have some incredible knowledge that should be shared!) and the only things i found that fit my mental image were crazy expensive, or the wrong size, or a combination of both. i even tried to expand my ideal to include a wooden shelf, but those were rather pricey as well ($150 for this, ikea? really?) le sigh.

then, by some miracle, the perfect piece appeared on craigslist. steel with glass shelves, five feet high, 13 inches wide, and all it needed was some paint! 
i got the idea from this amazing ikea hack found on little green notebook - how great do those shelves look?
it's incredible what a little spray paint can do! i am not ready to fully reveal the transformation until i get the storage baskets in place (exposed toiletries are not pretty!) but here is a sneak peek:
just call me goldfinger.
sidenote: the stainless steel trash can also got the midas touch!