2013 Holiday Gift Guide For Him

December 14, 2013

1 - Copper Embossed Moscow Mule Mugs
6 - Ludlow Wingtips - J.CREW (30% off)

Happy Saturday everyone! Thanks to everyone who voted in the last gift guide poll. Today's gift guide is for the men in your life, which is super fitting since CT is sitting here watching me create the gift guide now. Good news is, I managed to get his present over Thanksgiving and won't be giving away any hints on his present (although I'm sure he wishes one of these awesome picks would end up under our tree). We are getting our first real snow in New York today and while the rest of the East Village is somehow still managing to celebrate Santicon, these two southerns are calling it a movie day. 

With Christmas and the New Year quickly approaching, I will be taking a blogging break until the New Year for some much needed R&R. I'll still be posting holiday cheer and travels on Instagram, so you can follow along here
Until 2014, Happy Holidays and have a great rest of your 2013!

Holiday Gift Guide for Her

December 10, 2013

Christmas is a mere 15 days away, which means Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song and All I Want For Christmas Is You are officially blasting on repeat for...well, the next 15 days, and shopping for gifts is in full blown effect. This is absolutely my most favorite time of the year and giving someone a gift that they are really going to love is a close second to the top of the list of what I love about Christmas. This week, I'm kicking off a gifting series to help you find a great gift for all the people in your life.

So here's to ladies first!

The Explorer
The Art Patron
The Jewelry Lover
The Entertainer
The Cook
The Fashion Fiend
The Music Junky
The Vintage Enthusiast
The Decorator

Help pick the next gifting guide!

The Next Gift Guide Should Be For...
The Explorer
The Art Patron
The Jewelry Lover
The Entertainer
The Cook
The Fashion Fiend
The Music Junky
The Vintage Enthusiast
The Boys
Poll Maker

Chicken Kale Salad with Peanut Vinaigrette

December 04, 2013

There's nothing like a few too many helpings of Thanksgiving to jump start an attempt at healthy eating before the oh so debaucherous holiday season. 

Have you heard of Houstons or as they are now calling it, Hillstones? Houstons was a staple in Atlanta that I first got hooked on their homemade spinach dip. Now, it's their kale salad. It's nutty, sweet and tangy, all in the same bite, and evidently super easy to make. I took a stab at mimicking their dish and it turned out to be great! I added chicken for some protein to turn this side dish into a main meal.

Salad Ingredients
2 cups rotisserie chicken, sliced 
4 cups curly kale, chopped
1 cup green cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 scallion, minced
1/4 cup roasted and salted peanuts, chopped

Dressing Ingredients
3/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 lemon, squeezed
10 dashes cayenne pepper

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 mins
Inactive: 30 min
Total Time: 45 mins

1. Chop kale, cabbage, cilantro, scallions, peanuts and sliced chicken. Combine in a bowl.
2. Mix peanut oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy, honey, lemon and cayenne pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Poor dressing over mixture and stir. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Your Trash Is My Treasure // Chippendale Chairs

November 26, 2013

Wow, it is amazing how much easier DIY is in Atlanta than New York. You find a cool piece of furniture on the side of the road? You pick it up...and put it in your car. You don't lug it two avenues and ten blocks and then up your four flights of stairs. Atlanta, you're on to something...

I was lucky enough to be able to fly home early for Thanksgiving this weekend and found these Chinoisserie/Chippendale chairs out on the curb. When new (and I will admit, more intricate) Chippendale chairs cost as much as $600, I was thrilled to find these for free! They have clearly been sitting outside and need some cleaning and TLC, but a bath, a new paint coat and seat cushions, and they'll look brand new! 

I'm trying to decide how to redo the chairs and would love some help. I'm somewhere between a statement color for the frame and pattern play for the cushion or white and neutral with a pillow to make it versatile.

What do you think?

images via:
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Farm-To-Table Frenzy

November 20, 2013

I spent the past weekend in San Francisco visiting my best friend from college and celebrating her engagement. On Saturday, we walked a short few blocks from her Financial District Apartment to The Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. I live close to Farmer's Market in Union Square in New York, so I was expecting this market to be much like the one at home. Let me just say, California doesn't get its reputation for being healthy and green for nothing. I was totally blown away by the amount of fresh producel, fruit, seafood, and earth-friendly eat ware. Everything seemed to be compostable and plastic bags were not an option, which I loved. We had the most amazing lox on sourdough with fennel, capers and pickled onions, and I came back convinced I must have a rosemary plant much like the one of my friends balcony.

Today, Mashable posted a video about a fast-food chain called Sweet Green that I wanted to share. The company was started by a few entrepreneurs who saw a need for fresh and healthy food during their time at Georgetown in DC and started up the company. The built the company on lifestyle offering good music, healthy food and a fresh outlook. I really respect the type of food these three friends turned business partners are offering. They are now up to 21 locations offering farm-to-table food from local farms and change up their menu based upon seasons like fancier restaurants. From a Marketing standpoint, they are doing a killer job. It’s hard not to like or identify with a brand that’s culturally relevant and funny.

Plaid, I Love You

November 18, 2013

There are some prints that just don't go out of style. They may go in and out through out the years, but they always come back. I really love that plaid is making a strong comeback this year. It's a great print for the winter and who doesn't love a good flannel?? Here are some of my favorite plaid outfits this season from glamorous to preppy casual. 

Scroll down for where you can get some of my favorite plaid picks, and get the recipe for the best casserole you'll have this Thanksgiving here.

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A New York Weekend

November 15, 2013

My family and I used to plan a yearly trip to New York in December for a weekend full of Broadway Musicals, trendy restaurants, and well, winter. It’s no secret that Hotlanta isn't a winter wonderland, and heading up to New York every year for the holidays was the perfect fix. Now that I've been in New York for over a year and half when my family comes to visit they want me to show them the ‘real’ New York. In the past few months out of town guests have been such a treat, but continuing to find new places can get tough! 
So where did I take them?

Brooklyn has really done a number on its reputation since its SATC days as a place no taxi would take you or a place that Miranda’s friends would visit. Thanks hipsters. So this weekend, CT and I took my Mom and Dad to Bedford Ave to do something a little different than their previous trips. We had brunch at Sweet Chick and walked around popping in and out of shops along the way. We also tried out Brooklyn Oenology Winery Tasting Room and went to the top of the Wythe Hotel for a cocktail and city view.

What To Order At Sweet Chick – 100% Chicken ‘N Waffles and French Press Coffee
What To Order At Brooklyn Oenology – Red or White Social Club
What To Order At The Wythe – Dirty Martini or A Moscow Mule

Dinner was one of the hardest things for me to choose. I had made the mistake of waiting too long to make a reservation at the usual suspects  - The Standard Grill, Spice Market or Catch –  and wanted to try somewhere new. Since moving here, I have not made it to Rosemary’s in the West Village. If you aren't familiar with Rosemary’s it’s an Italian farm-to-table or roof-to-table in this case that doesn't take reservations and is continuously packed. After this weekend, I can see why. The food is too die for!!

How To Get In:
 If you don’t mind eating early, I’d recommend getting there at 6. If you don’t mind standing (their bar has tables but no seats) you can get there at 7 and be sat by 8 or 8:30.

What To Order: 
This is tough. Everything was really good, but I’d have to say the Orecchiette with broccoli rabe and homemade sausage. We tasted two different reds to find the right pairing for this and the Frem was the perfect match.

Sunday we mixed brunch at Gramercy Tavern with a Broadway Matinee. Gramercy Tavern my Dad and I actually discovered right around the time I moved up and we can’t get away. The doors open at noon and there is always a line waiting to get in, it’s that good. The food is complex and seasonal so you really can’t go wrong with what you order. On Broadway, we scored tickets to Newsies. I have heard a lot about Newsies being a Tony Award Winner, and it didn't disappoint. I loved that the story was based on a true Newspaper Strike from 1899, and the cast was on. 

Do you have go-tos for out of town visitors?

Pomegranate Thanksgiving Table Linens

November 12, 2013

How amazing is this Thanksgiving Table set up? 
It just screams fall with the mix of greens, oranges, browns, wood grain plates, pine cone candle holders, fall floral arrangements and gold accents. I love the table cloth fabric and matching apron, and it turns out I'm luck!  Waiting on Martha has partnered with Pomegranate to giveaway a $460 Thanksgiving Table Setting!

Enter here.
Shop the pieces here.

Canopy Beds / Hump Day Home Makeover

November 06, 2013

My parents have this fantastic hand carved cherrywood canopy bed. Despite loving to swing around the bed posts or jump on the bed as a kid I never really gave canopy beds a second thought. But they must have been all the rage in the 80s/early 90s, because now that I think about it my sister had one too...

With the size of my bedroom, a canopy bed is only something I can dream about having. But until then, I'll lust over their dreamy appearance that really makes me want to rejuvenate and hunker down in bed.

image sources
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How-To / Roast Butternut Squash

October 31, 2013

Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall ingredients. I spend all summer dodging enticing seasonal meals with yellow squash (I'm allergic), that by the time fall comes around I am really looking forward to some butternut squash! I kicked off my first squash of the season this week (my version of Halloween carving this year), and wanted to share a helpful how-to.
Step 1 - The first thing you want to do is wash and dry the squash, and cut the top and bottom edges off. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and follow these steps below.

Once it's roasted you can use it in a lot of different recipes. I'm working on how I can pair roasted squash with kale. I tried it with a peanut butter vinaigrette early this week, but still need to work out the right mix of flavors. 
My go-to is a butternut squash puree with milk and butter. You can eat it as a side all week.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Ikea Hack From Little Green Notebook

October 29, 2013

Have y'all seen Jenny Komedas from Little Green Notebook's feature in Domino Magazine? I knew I loved LGN, but man, LGN + Domino Mag + an IKEA hack?? 
Love at first sight.

I love a good IKEA hack, and this one blows it out of the water. Jenny took three "Pax" wardrobes, painted them, added trim/molding, mirrors to the doors and personalized hardwood making these pieces unrecognizable as IKEA purchases.
I also love the organizational pieces she chose. The red woven baskets are an awesome pop against the dark gray, and I think she's convinced me to try a shoe tree rack.

I also love a good vanity and place for jewelry storage. A decorated chest of drawers might just be my favorite piece of bedroom furniture. The gold mirror brings some glam to the wardrobe and the bust is a fun way to store necklaces.

See the how-to here, and the Domino Mag feature here.
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How-To Cook Steak on the Stove Top

October 28, 2013

Despite being a semi-vegetarian and keeping red meat off my plate for 12 years, I LOVE steak. My mom always tells me how shocked she was when I decided to follow my older sister’s vegetarian proclamation as a 4th grader. As a 2 year old, I would eat mine and hers. This Friday, CT’s flight got in around dinner time, so I wanted to have a nice home cooked meal ready. First off, I want to say that I have never cooked steak before in my life or purchased red meat to cook at home, and have only ever seen steak cooked on a grill. 
Friday, I cooked steak on the stove top and it turned out great, so I wanted to share for those of us who don’t have a grill and still love a good steak.

Before you even start cooking, you need to know these three steps.

Step 1 – Buy Quality Meat
As a never before steak buyer, I immediately dialed my mom for help. The Whole Foods meat counter in Union Square is pretty intense, and I had no idea what to buy since nothing said “Filet Mignon.” I ended up buying two 1 ¾ inch thick pieces of a Beef Tenderloin Roast that the guy had to cut for me. You want to make sure that you get two pieces that are pretty much the same size so when you are cooking you don’t overcook a smaller one and under cook a larger piece.

Step 2 – Invest in a Grill Pan
The trick to cooking steak on the stove I learned was to have a pan that is evenly heated. A grill pan is great for this because it’s in a square unlike saucepans and has ridges to give you a grill-like cook. This kind of pan is also generally oven-safe so you can throw your steaks in the oven if you just can’t cook them as much as you like.

Step 3 – Use Your Hand As A Guide To Tell When Your Steak Is Done
The few times I have watched my dad or CT cook steak on the grill really paid off. My Dad always talks about this hand trick to tell how much you've cooked your steaks so you don’t overcook them. If you look at your hand palm up and relax your fingers, the part of your hand just below your thumb is how the steak should feel when it’s rare to medium-rare. Chart here.

Servings: 2

2, 1 ¾ thick Beef Tenderloin Roast pieces (a little under a lb)
1.5 tbsp Olive Oil
1.5 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Pepper

  1. Remove steak from the fridge and bring to about room temperature.
  2. Rinse steaks and pat dry.
  3. In a bowl, mix 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir together. With a brush, apply to each side of the steak, cover and let sit until you’re ready to cook.
  4. Coat the pan with the remaining olive oil (This should only be a thin layer). Heat pan of high heat. You want to make sure this pan gets really hot before you start cooking. Once the pan starts to emit light smoke, it’s hot enough to start cooking.
  5. Place both steaks on the pan and sear each side for about 3 minutes each.  
  6. Once you’ve cooked the tops and the bottoms, cook the sides. I used a spatula and knife for this step to hold the steaks on their sides. This step is to ensure you are cooking the meat thoroughly on all sides without burning the top or the bottom.
  7. Use a sharp knife to cut a small slit in the top to judge if it’s cooked to your liking. Red in the middle is rare, rosey pink is medium rare, and pink is medium.

I cooked my steaks flipping them from side to side and top to bottom for about 15 minutes all along doing the hand test to reach medium rare. 

Inspiration Junky #12

October 25, 2013

Happy Friday Everyone! This weekend is one that I have been looking forward to for a while now. CT and I are spending back to back weekends together, which in long distance dating is pretty much unthinkable, AND one of my good friends from work is getting married!! She is also being featured in the Times this weekend - Congrats Tif!! 

This week, New York has gone from pretty much summer to the freaking dead of winter. It was 39 degrees outside this morning. What. Is. Up. With. That? Despite the ridiculously cold weather, I am not ready to give up on Fall. I am loving a chunky sweaters and blankets (the cold weather helps), pumpkin flavored food (who isn't, plus funnel cake is my fave) and am really into eucalytus in home decor. 

Link For Your Weekend - What State Matches Your Personality?
Turns out, I belong in Georgia...

Homemade Halloween Decorations

October 23, 2013

Forget dressing up, I am loving these clever DIY Halloween decorations floating around the blogosphere. I love decorating for the holidays, but it can get really expensive or cluttered trying to store all your decorations from one year to the next. These DIYs use inexpensive materials or everyday items that you can reuse out of the season.  

I love this spooky idea from House of Earnest. It's a really fun and clever way to add some Halloween spirit to your home without over doing it. The trick is solvent based ink that washes the spiders off after you use the plates letting you use them year round.
This bar cart from The Simple Swan is amazing!! I love the mix of gold and black and the chalk board bringing Halloween into the mix with a scary quote. Looking more closely, this bar is decked out in a lot of chic Halloween gear from the subtle skeleton on the cup stem to the black matte pumpkin!

No carve pumpkins from Lovely Indeed are a great idea for keeping your pumpkins longer from Halloween into Thanksgiving.

Lastly, I'm surprised that I love these undead pumpkins from Martha Stewart. They are totally creepy but cute in a weird way and totally original.

Gift Ideas For Him

October 21, 2013

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. This weekend, CT came to visit and we celebrated his birthday. It's also been 10 years since met each other, which is pretty crazy!

Last week, I was running around like a crazy person trying to find the perfect gift. After 10 years of birthday and Christmas presents, finding a good gift was insanely hard. Throw long distance dating on top of that and I can't even go for my usual - tickets to some kind of activity we can do together. I pulled together some of my top items in case some of you are struggling with gifts for the men in your lives too!

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