friday's fancies / white out wine tasting

May 31, 2013

This weekend some friends and I are getting out of the city for a wine tasting. I am beyond excited to go wine tasting and even more excited that we are going to Long Island. When I first moved up to NYC, my parents and I went to Gramercy Tavern and had the Paumanoak Chenin Blanc from Long Island and were really impressed by it. The sommelier told us that Long Island is on its way to being the new Willamette Valley, which in our speak is basically saying "orange is the new pink." I'll let you know what I think when I'm back.

With wine tasting this weekend, the incredibly hot weather in NY and Friday's Fancies bring all about white, I'm thinking about wearing my white lace dress and pairing it with some accessories perfect for a sunny day. Here is my ideal wine tasting outfit for a warm and sunny weekend.

Follow my wine tasting tour this weekend on Instagram!

Happy weekend everyone! What are your plans?

Halibut with Avocado, Mango, Tomato Salsa

May 30, 2013

When you can't be at the beach, you can at least eat like you are! Cooking sea bass this past weekend got me in the mood for seafood, and excited that I can actually cook yummy seafood without a grill. I had a tomato, an avocado and a lime I needed to use, so this recipe popped into my head. It just reminds me of the beach and with my beach trip coming up in 2 weeks, I really have beach fever.

.5 lb halibut
1 lime
1 avocado
1 tomato
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

Servings: 1-2
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10-12 mins

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the fish and pat dry. Rub with olive oil and add salt and pepper and lay aside. Next, rinse fruit and peel the mango. Cut fruit in small cubes and mix them together in a medium sized bowl. Add cayenne pepper and basil leaves, stir and set aside. Slice two thin lime slices and squeeze the juice from the remaining lime halves on the mixture.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sized skillet until it is about to boil. Add fish to skillet and sear for 2-3 mins, skin side up. Prepare your casserole dish by placing butter at the bottom of the dish. Once half of the fish is a white color, transfer the fish to a casserole dish. Place the fish skin side down on the butter. Add the two thin slices of lime to the top of the fish and cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

When the fish looks white throughout and flakes, it is done. Add salsa to the top of the fish and serve.

Let me know if you try this recipe out and how it goes! I'd love to hear.

hump day home makeover / saavy small kitchens

May 29, 2013

As I get more and more into cooking, I've started thinking about ways to make my small kitchen more functional. Of course my first thought was to turn to Apartment Therapy, because clearly they will have some small kitchen ideas for me! Or not. Their "10 Favorite Small Kitchens" were huge! I would die for any of those kitchens. I mean come on!

And then I found "20 Small Kitchens with Style" and "10 Organized and Efficient Kitchen." Apartment Therapy, I knew I could rely on you. 

Some small kitchen space saver ideas I love:

So far, I'm only using a few of these space saving ideas and have a lot more way that I could maximize my space.

Shelves for plates, spices, etc. is a must in a small kitchen. I'd also go so far to say a kitchen cart or some kind of table dueling as an island is as well. If you don't have space for a table, these kitchen carts are great for storage and extra counter space. Plus, they role. I also really love my magnetic knife rack. I have limited counter space, so one of my main issues is being able to wash dishes and lay them to dry and still be able to use my kitchen. My knife rack duels as a knife holder and dry rack for my knives.

Mixing bowls are great to have and I love this stackable set. It saves space in your cabinets and is practical for cooking. This cookbook holder is my next pick, because 1. It's awesome! and 2. I'm really hoping it would work as an ipad holder too.

How do you save space in your small kitchen?

friday's fancies / memorial day weekend sandal shopping

May 24, 2013

I cleaned out my closet this week and with that tossed a lot of worn out shoes I'd been holding on for a little too long. Every year I struggle with finding the perfect pair of sandals with the right mix of style, comfort and versatility, so I wanted to share my favorites for the season. I am really liking the ankle strap flat sandal and think it's necessary to have a brown, black and colorful pair in your closet.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

green with envy / kelly green kitchenette

May 23, 2013

I. want. this. kitchenette. 


Not just because my current kitchen is pretty tiny, but because the kelly green cabinets, white tiled walls and pink swirly handles are uplifting and inviting. Don't you just want to cook or steal whatever that watermelon juice is?

hump day home makeover / small closet ideas

May 22, 2013

Having a small closet can be tough. If you don't have the space to store all your clothes, accessories, etc. you can end up with a consistently messy closet and room. I've been wanting to get my closet in order and with the start of the spring season it feels like the perfect time.

At this point we know each other well enough for me to share this with you. Until the other day, this was the state of my current small closet. As you can see, I really wasn't maximizing any of my space or keep it organized. I was also trying to make lot of bootleg storage containers work some of which were left over boxes of items the girl who lived in the room before me used.

 Now, my closet looks like this after taking into account a few great tips for small closet storage.

1. The very first tip I suggest is that you use your closet for about a week or so to see how you are using it. For example, the containers the girl before me had must have worked great for her closet, but just didn't  work quite right for mine. In order to organize my closet, I thought about how I used my closet and what I wanted to get out of the storage.

2. First things first, your readily available clothes, shoes and accessories should be true to the season. Once the season changes, wash and pack away the previous season's garb for the next year to open up space in the active part of the closet. During this time I also look at what items I never wanted to wear that season and get them ready to be donated. This keeps the number of clothes down and also makes you feel better about ignoring that shirt the whole season.

3. Purchase matching hangers to allow for more space on the rack. I prefer the skinny white plastic hangers to maximize space.

4. Organize your closet by tops and dresses. This allows you to open up space below the shorter shirts' section.

4. Find a good shoe storage system. I picked up this 6 cubby shoe holder knowing I needed a place for my larger heels and tennis shoes. In addition to this, I have a hanging shoe rack that goes over the door, and store my boots in a repurposed brown box. I have yet to find a great idea for winter shoe storage and didn't want to invest in a holder for these shoes knowing it would get dirty. An upcycled box at the bottom of my closet felt like the perfect fit.

5. Next, store items at the top in the harder to reach areas that you won't need often. This is the perfect place for the down comforter or sweaters you won't need again until the weather gets cold. 

6. Lastly, I take this for granted in my closet, but if you don't have a shelf above your hanging rack...add on. That has been huge in creating space in my closet.

I also used some left over shoe boxes for extra storage and am still trying to make the stackable shelves I inherited work, but here's another look. 

I really love the look of the front open boxes from The Container Store, but am still trying to figure out what purpose they would serve for me. I'm thinking the could live under the shoe boxes and be the perfect holders for my clutches and belts.

What small closet ideas have you tried?

wine & pizza tasting / nyc vintners

May 21, 2013

Wine is my drink of choice and something I really enjoy learning about. In college, I took a Viticulture and Enology class that ended with a few tastings of the wines varietals we had learned about that night. My best friend and I showed up every Tuesday night for our 6-9 class with a block of brie. We were in heaven.

Since I’ve been in New York City, I've been dying to take an actual wine course, but working in Advertising can make leaving the office for a 6PM class impossible. This weekend my friend treated me to a wine and pizza tasting class for my birthday at a boutique wine shop in the Financial District, NYC Vintners. I don't usually think of pizza and wine going together, and was definitely pleasantly surprised. Wine and food pairing is a talent envy and the teachers did a great job selecting the right wines to bring out the flavors of the pizza.

Ever thought about putting Boursin cheese on your pizza? Do it. Tonight. Now. This pizza was my favorite with hen of the woods and oyster mushrooms, truffle oil, mozzarella and Boursin cheese. Out of the two whites we drank, I was surprised my favorite with the pizza was the Tire Bouchon Bourgogne with a buttery nose, since I usually prefer stainless steel aged whites like the other white, Gorleri Vermentino we tasted.

The two reds we tasted were what the teacher referred to as "big ass reds" with a lot of tannin, fruit and jam. This is my favorite kind of red that feels like a bit of a kick to your taste buds. Ever wonder why reds are usually paired with meats? The tannin in them does a great job cutting through the fat in foods.

My favorites were the Tire Bouchon Bourgogne (white) and the Abanico Toro Eternium Viti (red).

If you're interested in taking a class at NYC Vintners, you should check out Groupon. They often have great deals on the class. You just have to make sure you plan in advance.

upcycled / bottles to container garden

May 18, 2013

Have you noticed an influx of gardening DIYs recently? Terrariums, hanging gardens and upcycled container gardens seem to be popping up everywhere. If you've read decor-eat before you know I am obsessed with terrariums, but I am also really into the idea of upcycling where you turn waste materials or used products into something with a new purpose. 

This upcycle project has been my favorite I've seen so far because it solves a problem I'm having with my current plants. The projects uses old inverted bottles that actually water your plants as they need it. With CT and I living in different cities, there are definitely weekends where my plants go unwatered. Just this weekend, I came home to a near death basil plant that I am shocked perked back up after water (it was that bad). These containers are a perfect solve for herbs, which I love to have on hand for cooking in my kitchen.

Steps here on Design Sponge. 

friday's fancies / how to sport horizontal stripes

May 17, 2013

Happy Friday everyone! I don't know about you but it's been a really slow start to Spring this year in NYC, and I am really looking forward to a weekend of warm weather. This week's Friday's Fancies is all about stripes, which I happen to be loving right now. I think Pink Peonies is doing stripes best mixing the pattern with other prints. How cute are these outfits??

Stripes are one of those prints you should choose carefully to flatter your body type mostly when it comes to horizontal stripes. Most fashion savvy shoppers know that horizontal stripes make you look wider while vertical stripes make you look smaller. For apple shapes (larger top than bottom) go for the striped shorts on the left for pear shapes (larger bottom than top) go for the shirt on the right.

Don't wanna mess with vertical stripes? They are super cute as shoes!

hump day home makeover / staining & sealing from apprentice extrovert

May 15, 2013

I first started Hump Day Home Makeover in 2012 when I was moving into a new apartment and needed inspiration for decorating my new place. I love eclectic décor, and think decorating is best when you collect pieces over a period of time rather than picking up everything at once. So, the idea around Hump Day Home Makeover was to keep my decorating momentum going and share home inspiration every Wednesday along with the pieces you need to make that look happen in your home.

This week’s Hump Day Home Makeover, features a DIY project from one of my favorite blogs, The Apprentice Extrovert. I’m not sure when or how I found Courtney’s blog, but it one of my daily reads thanks to its consistent flow of talented vintage furniture before and afters. Like me, Courtney has been in the process of revamping her home and has been sharing her progress along the way. Last week, she participated in my DIY miss to marvelous link up, and shared this awesome before and after of a provincial table. While it's clearly not a DIY miss, she learned a lot about how to stain and steel a dining room table correctly that will help other DIYers get it right in their first try.



The finished product looks amazing, and she has some great tips for other DIYers looking to stain and seal a table correctly. Check it out on her blog here.

Want to be featured in next week's Hump Day Home Makeover? It's easy to link up...just write a post about your inspirations or project. You could be featured in next week's Hump Day Home Makeover!

Arugula, Pears + Candied Walnut Salad

May 13, 2013

Growing up my mom was always the cook, so on Mother's Day I love to cook her dinner for a change. This year, I tried out a new salad recipe using pears, arugula, parmesan cheese, candied walnuts and a simple vinaigrette with salt and pepper. I was a little nervous that the flavors wouldn't mix, but it turned out to be delicious and a new favorite!

1 package arugula
1/2 cup candied walnuts (recipe below)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp scallions
2 pears*
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon

*I also learned how to tell if a pear if ripe or not. Have you ever wondered how to tell? You test the area around the stem of the pear and if it gives the pear is ripe.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15-20 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins max

One of the skills that is most important to refine when cooking is how long each piece of a meal will take, so you can time everything to be ready at once. To plan this side dish with a main dish cook the candied walnuts first, and then lay them to the side while cooking the main dish.

Candied Walnuts Recipe: I referenced Simply Recipes's Candied Walnuts Recipe, and reduced the recipe ingredient amounts for 1/2 cup of walnuts. You will need 2/3 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup walnut halves. I didn't use salt since it would already be in the dressing.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, lay walnuts on a baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes. Pour sugar into a saucepan with walnuts close by. You need to be sure they are close because the process is really quick and you'll have to be careful not to burn the sugar. Stir sugar until it melts and as soon as the mixture is amber in color add the walnuts and stir. Once all walnuts are coated (will be a matter of stirs), remove the walnuts and place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Make sure to break the walnuts apart before the sugar cools. Set aide and cook.

Next, peel and cut the pears into cubes (about 5 mins), and thinly chop the scallions into small pieces. Hand squeeze the lemon into a small bowl and remove the seeds. Once the main dish was ready, add arugula, pears, candied walnuts and scallions to a large salad bowl. Then use a fruit peeler to add shaved thin pieces of parmesan. Next, drizzle olive oil, lemon juice and add salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

a new brunch favorite / boulton & watt

May 11, 2013

With there being a new and different restaurant pretty much every 10 steps you take in the city, I have to give Boulton & Watt credit for grabbing my attention when I walked by. The LES Gastropub's industrial design is cozy yet hip and exudes energy with the open air seating.



At the top of my list of brunch favorites is the sautéed spinach, house-made chorizo and pork sausage, with siracha hollandaise. This is seriously the best benedict I've ever had (beating our Jane's and Friend of a Farmer's crab cake benedicts).

The cauliflower souffle and mixed greens are another favorite.

The mimosas are made with fresh orange juice and only $5 which is a nice treat from the usual $14 price at other places.

I also loved the cheddar grits and CT was obsessed with his braised short rib benedict.

I went the other night for drinks and discovered a new affordable great wine - Alta Vista Classic Malbec. Malbecs are a great choice of red wine when you're out if you want an affordable red with big taste. I loved this wine because it was jammy and juicy at first with a tannic finish.

friday's fancies / weekend wear

May 10, 2013

It's always hard to pack for a weekend trip to a place with a different climate than your home. I can never remember exactly what the degrees feels like and what should be worn then. Lucky for me, New York and Atlanta have exactly the same weather right now, so I'm taking my go to weekend outfit with me. This is my ideal weekend day outfit for Farmer's Markets, antiquing, and lunch on a patio (Bone Garden here I come!).

AG Jeans | Michael Kors Watch | Earrings - sold out; similar 1 & 2 | Leopard Print Shoes - sold out; similar | Bow Detail Sweater | Arrowhead Necklace

This weekend also happens to be my birthday, and I'm a full believer in a new birthday outfit being mandatory. I have been saving the dress I got from Pinky Otto and am hoping the weather is just right for the three quarter length sleeves!

recipe / watermelon caprese salad

May 09, 2013

You know how they say your tastebuds change as you get older?? It's true. I used to hate watermelon, and it has quickly become one of my favorite fruits just like that. With watermelons in season and the weather warming up, I wanted to take a stab at switching up a antipasta classic using watermelon instead of tomatoes in your typical caprese salad.

The watermelon brings a sweet factor to the salad making it a nice treat for an appetizer or dessert.

I bought half a watermelon and cut it myself. This is so I could get the perfect circles for my base. I washed the watermelon, basil and cut the mozzarella into thing slices. Make sure you cut the watermelon thinly as well. Both should be about 1/2 an inch. Cut in line with the rind to remove it from the watermelon slices. Find a glass cup (I used wine glasses) to use like a cookie cutter for the watermelon. This will ensure you get perfect circles (use extras for center or a snack the next day!). Add cheese, basil and drizzle with balsamic, olive oil and salt.

hump day home makeover / diy miss to marvelous link up

May 08, 2013

Have you ever started a DIY project, gotten half way through and realized it wasn't going to work out the way you wanted? Or, even worse finished the project and hated it? As a serial DIY-er, I've had my fair share of projects gone wrong. And as a blogger, get even more bummed out when it doesn't turn out well and I have nothing to share with you all. Which made me think, why don't we share them? This week's Hump Day Home Makeover, I'm kicking off a new link up for those of you who want to join me in sharing DIY projects gone wrong & what you learned or gone wrong and turned right through a whole new idea. Link up here or scroll down!

For my latest DIY endeavor, I took a stab at adding wallpaper to cover the white tracks of my elfa shelves. It was a total miss. I think the pattern is wrong for the place. So here's what I did. I took my picture frame, the foam board used for the backing of the bookshelf and the decorative paper and turned them into a new tray for my bar. The green wood grain printed paper goes a lot better in this instance, and I love how the greens and pinks complement each other.

I have a new obsession with pink peonies. Here's the bouquet I put together, but I have no idea what the other flowers are. The man who owns the shop below my apartment talked me out of the flowers I wanted to buy and into these.

IKEA cabinet (dicontinued); similar | Mint Painting (homemade) | Pitcher (One Kings Lane); similar | Antler | Slate Bottle Tags | Picture Frame Used As Tray | Wine Glasses | Champagne Glasses | Rug

Have a DIY miss you made marvelous or a tip from a miss you want to share?! It's easy to link up...just write a post about your project with what you learned or how you made it right. You could be featured in next week's Hump Day Home Makeover!

friday's fancies / how do you floral?

May 03, 2013

This week's Friday's Fancies is all about May flowers! I really love how far florals have come in the fashion world making a jump from frumpy to chic. Zara is currently my favorite store for modern floral prints. They feel a bit edgier than other florals and still keep bright colors in the mix. I have also really been loving floral dresses mixed with army jackets like I saw on A Bit of Sass, but agree with Long Distance Loving that on the Friday before Derby its gotta be a Derby outfit.

In true Louisville fashion, I'm sure my mom will be cooking up her mint juleps today getting ready for the Derby tomorrow. Growing up in Louisville, shes a true believer in a mint julep tasting better when you make it the day before. See her recipe here.

throwback thursday / costa rica

May 02, 2013

Do you have an escape plan? 

With today being Throwback Thursday and the Anthropologie's new summer catalog showing up on my desk with a dress that channels Costa Rica, I'm reminiscing about CT and my trip to Domincal last year.  One of CT's college buddies did a stint in spring break planning and put together an incredible vacation for about 10 of us to a villa in the town. It was a much needed week of enjoying the outdoors and ignoring the world of laptops and cellphones. To the point that we now have a running joke when either of us are having a bad day the response is always "Ready to go to Costa Rica?"

And how could we not when this was our view every morning?

Costa Rica turned out to be one of our favorite places due to the laid back life style, friendly locals, fresh food, and did I mention the views?! Here's a look at the villa we rented from Domincal Vacations.

We also hired a local chef to cook for the group, which turned out to be cheaper than going out to eat, and the food was awesome! Homemade ceviche and spring rolls were at the top of my favorites list.

See more from our trip here.
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