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!