Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wisdom from Julia Child

I recently finished reading My Life in France by Julia Child, and oh my goodness I have so much to say. To start, I always knew I would enjoy reading Julia Child's book after watching the ever flawless Meryl Streep portray her in Julie and Julia (which, by the way, could use a little less Julie and a little more Julia, but I digress). Anyway, I was completely right, because not only was I entirely immersed while reading about parisian markets, homes in Provence, and cooking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu, but I was also absolutely inspired by Julia Child.

 When I finally closed the book, I did so with such a strong sense of admiration for a woman who fearlessly dove into a new passion for french cooking at the age of 37. As she recounts the stories of her time in Europe with her husband Paul, it's so hard not to fall in love with her zeal for life and her willingness to work harder than anyone else in pursuit of her goals. 

There are so many moments in the book where Julia shares insights about life, which while reading, I took as advice and jotted down. Below are my five favorite lessons learned from Julia Child's My Life in France.

1. "But is anyone ever completely ready for a new undertaking, especially in a profession like cooking, where there are a hundred ways to cook a potato?"
Julia and her two friends had a few students sign up for their cooking lessons before they felt fully ready to be teachers. Her quote is a nice reminder from that it's ok not to feel 100% prepared for something. Sometimes you just have to dive right in and hope for the best. "Allons-y," as Julia would say.  

2. "I made sure not to apologize for it. This was a rule of mine." 
Julia doesn't believe a hostess should ever apologize for a bad meal even when she was first learning to cook. "Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed- eh bien, tant pis!" Apologizing is uncomfortable for everyone and unnecessarily calls attention to your faults. Learn from the mistake and move on.  

3. "One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed." 
This was Julia's reasoning for filming her first show for The French Chef in one uninterrupted 30 minute take. I love that Julia wanted her show to imitate life in all its imperfection. Mistakes are lessons. Side Note: The French Chef is amazing and I am dying to make this chocolate mousse soon! 

4. "No one's more important than people"
Julia said this was a favorite phrase between her and Paul, and no doubt why they had so many friends. Julia explained it by saying "friendship is the most important thing- not career or housework, or one's fatigue- and it needs to be tended and nurtured." 

5. "The pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite"
No explanation needed. Thanks for the wisdom, Julia. 
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Apartment Style

It's a sickness how much I shop online for an apartment I don't have. The only thing that stops it from being a real problem, is that when I say "shop" I really mean "browse." I never actually buy anything, but let's be honest, I've come pretty close. From whimsical plates, to stylish alarm clocks I would never use, I want it all with absolutely nowhere to put it... yet. 

At some point, I'm sure I'll have an apartment to accent, and on that day a choir of angels will sing because I can finally indulge my obsession. Until then, I'm sharing with you some home accessories I've had my eye on. This way you can have the chicest living space around and I can live vicariously through you. It's really a win-win. 

1. Newgate Covent Garden Alarm Clock // West Elm
Ughh this alarm clock is so beautiful. I imagine it on a bedside table with a few books, a light, maybe a candle, and probably my plugged in iphone that would actually wake me up in the morning. 

2. Nature Table Dessert Plates // Anthropologie
I love whimsy when it comes to dinnerware. Mismatching is one way to do that, which is why I'm all about these dessert plates. I'm especially loving the crane, owl and giraffe pattern. I can already envision the adorable dinner party I would throw. 

3. Utility Kitchen Canisters // West Elm 
I imagine Ina Garten's kitchen being full of ingredients in perfectly labeled canisters. 
My kitchen too will be full of ingredients in perfectly labeled canisters. 

4. Whale Pillowcase Set // ModCloth
I love nautical style and I can picture these pillows looking amazing with my white textured bedding. 
Also side note: this might be the first actual whale related content on this blog which is exciting.

5. Monogram Mug // Anthropologie 
Beautiful mugs and teacups are a weakness of mine. This was inherited from my mother who's something of a mug-addict. 

6. Eucalyptus Mint Candle // Bath and Body Works
I think candles add life and calm to any space. I love picking new scents with the changing seasons. 

7. Bulle Glass Tapered Vase // Anthropologie
I'm in love with this vase.... and I feel like the hassle of having to buy only one flower would be totally worth the look. 
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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Perfect Father's Day Cookies

Still not sure what to get Dad for tomorrow? Nothing says "I love you" like decadent homemade cookies.

Ok friends, so I'm coming at you today with yet another original cookie recipe. I'm pretty excited about this one too, because it just so happens to be my third and most intricate ever. Anyway, with tomorrow being Father's Day I figured why not attempt to create my dad's dream cookie? The minute I had this idea a few days ago, a flavor palette began forming in my head...chocolate, of course (that was a given)... some form of chocolate covered pretzels (his absolute favorite) ... and then the idea of scotch struck-- game changer! My dad loves to drink scotch (something I love that he's passed along to me), and I felt like he would be super excited if I was somehow able to incorporated it into a cookie.

Once I settled on scotch as a major ingredient and dominant flavor, other flavors fell into place. I wanted rich complimentary flavors like dark chocolate and dark brown sugar, and spices like cinnamon. The scotch idea also got me thinking of adding bar snacks like nuts and pretzels for texture.

I wasn't sure exactly how much scotch I would need to make the flavor stand out. But, according to my favorite measuring beaker from Anthropologie that uses words instead of actual helpful measurements, I had exactly the amount for "fun," so that's good I guess. In reality, I only put 3 tablespoons in the cookie dough. 

I decided to add pretzels to the cookie dough as well as make chocolate and butterscotch drizzled pretzels to top each cookie. The butterscotch was a last minute addition in the supermarket, but the "scotch" pun was just too good to be wasted. 

The look of these cookies came out better than I could have ever imagined. They're messy but beautiful. I absolutely love how perfectly imperfect they are. I should also mention that they're super delicious. Flavor wise nothing is too overpowering. There's just a rich combination of flavors that's super satisfying. I'm super excited for my Dad to try them today and I'd be willing to bet you'd like them even if you're not a scotch lover. The true test will be my if my sister eats them...I'll report back. 

Also, before you go, I should probably tell you that, sadly, while these cookies maintain the scotch flavor, the effects of the alcohol burn off in the oven. I apologize for my misleading use of the term "boozy." My fondness for alliteration outweighed my desire for journalistic clarity. 

Boozy Bar Snack Cookies 

(makes 28)


1/2 cup crushed mini pretzels plus 28 extra
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp scotch whisky (I used Johnnie Walker Black Label)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup mixed nuts

Pretzel Topping:

Line a Baking Sheet with Parchment Paper, placing at least 28 mini pretzels in rows.
In two separate bowels, melt milk chocolate and butterscotch chips. 
Drizzle each in turn over pretzels and refrigerate tray. 
Tip: if butterscotch is too thick to drizzle over pretzels all at once, adding a little to each pretzel one at a time. 
Cookie Dough:

Preheat the oven to 350 F
In a medium saucepan over low heat melt together butter and dark chocolate. 
Remove from heat and add sugar until combined. 
Add the egg, vanilla, scotch, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, stirring thoroughly after each ingredient. 
Add flour 1/2 cup at a time mixing until combined. 
Lastly, fold in mixed nuts and crushed pretzels. 
Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie trays lined with parchment paper. 
Tip: Ensure the tops are as smooth as possible as this will make attaching the pretzels easier after 
Bake for 8-10 minutes
Remove from oven and immediately press a chilled pretzel into each cooke while still warm. Press until the pretzel is secure and not merely indented in the cookie. 
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kate Spade on Broome Street

I've always been a little obsessed with Kate Spade and am frequent visitor to the Broome Street Soho store. For a while now, I knew some kind of remodel was happening, but I was only able to walk in and see the full transformation a few weeks ago. 

Well, let me tell you, this post is basically going to be a public service announcement telling you to pop into the new store! It looks absolutely amazing.  If you've seen the old store, you especially should drop by because you'll for sure appreciate the new look. 

The store is still classic Kate Spade chic, but the layout has changed almost completely and there's definitely a better overall flow to the store. 

I have such a weakness for Kate Spade jewelry. I'm currently coveting this fun 5 o'clock metro watch, this eccentric flamingo cocktail ring for summer, and obviously this adorable wishbone necklace

I'm dying over the new bridal boutique section. I need someone I know to get engaged asap so I can shop for the perfect present. 

I cannot get enough of the Kate Spade "Desk and Stationery" section of the website, I check it more often than I'd care to admit. When I'm in the actual store it's even worse. I'm seriously obsessed with this notepad, and these pencils, but most of all, this stationery. Recently, my friend Matt gave me this notebook for my birthday and I basically died. That's why I almost fell over when I saw this quirky new "make a note" addition to the Broome Street store. It's completely free to sit down and write an adorable little letter. You can use all of the stamps and stationery to your hearts content. They also have a Polaroid camera so you can take a picture of your chic shopping day.  

Well done, Kate. Well done. 

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Smorgasburg at the Seaport

South Street Seaport is one of my favorite New York City summer spots and this summer, it's getting even better. That's because the popular Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg now has a new location at the Seaport! It only opened about three weeks ago, so naturally when I was in New York last week, I had to travel downtown to check it out.

I ended up asking my friend Phil to meet me at the Seaport for lunch on my birthday. I forgot how much I love it, with all the shops, cobblestone streets, and outdoor seating. There are even events all summer long, like art exhibits, concerts and a weekend flower market. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the city over a weekend or else I would have totally made Phil go to a flower market. 

This mini Smorgasburg was adorable and features eight food vendors and a bar! Phil and I strolled up and down, perusing all of the options before making our lunch decision. We ended up choosing Cemitas El Tigre, the traditional Mexican option. 

It was our opinion that you can never go wrong with chips and guac. 

[Daniel Wellington Watch] [Loft Raincoat, Old] 

The assorted tacos were also a good choice. 

When all is said and done, this is just an overall exciting development for both the Seaport and Smorgasburg and it is absolutely worth a visit this summer. 
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Birthday in the Park

After a few weeks of serious New York withdrawal, I finally was able to return to the city for a few days, over my birthday. Words can't describe how absolutely wonderful it was to be back in the in the New York air. Over three short days, I saw a show, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, and got to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world. 

I chose to have my birthday dinner with friends at the Park, a beautiful restaurant that will very soon be added to my list of New York favorites. It's one of those restaurants that I've been wanting to try for a while, and it did not disappoint. Our food was delicious and there's an incredible indoor garden full of trees wrapped in twinkle lights. Unfortunately our party was too large to be seated in the garden, but large glass windows allowed me to admire from afar. 

Collectively we must have ordered and sampled at least four different kinds of delicious artisan pizza. 

I took an absurd number of pictures at dinner. I've always loved taking pictures, but I also do it because I want to be able to look back at candid photos of people I love, exactly as they were in the moment. 

My favorite pizza was the prosciutto and arugula. It's absolutely amazing. 

Everyone said they were too full for dessert, but together we devoured this tiny carrot cake.

So much happiness.

All and all it was the perfect little trip to New York and the perfect little birthday dinner. 
Of course, with carrot cake and friends, who couldn't be happy? 
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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Best Birthday Freebies

Oh my goodness, I am such a sucker for free things on my birthday, which just so happens to be tomorrow! What could possibly be better than getting things just for being born?

Of course, I want you to join in on the fun too, which is why today I'm sharing some of the best birthday offers out there. Below are my four personal favorite freebies to collect during my birthday month of June! 

1. Sephora Birthday Gift
Every year, Sephora offers their Beauty Insiders a free gift during their birthday month. This year it happens to be a collection of two NARS lip pencils that I can't wait to try! Becoming a beauty insider is easy and completely free, and trust me that the perks are worth it. 

2. Starbucks Birthday Drink
I live for free drinks from Starbuck. What's great is that when they say "any drink is free" they really mean it. Although, I stand by my statement that "no one needs a coffee taller than their face," getting a $7 Venti latte for free can be a complete rush.  

3. Sam Brocato Salon Birthday Gift
The salon in Soho, where I get my haircut, offers clients a choice between three complimentary birthday gifts. Clients can opt for a free eyebrow or lip wax, 15 minute chair massage or full sized hair product! I personally always go for the product. Currently, the swell volume full body styling clay and the super silk leave in treatment are for sure among my faves, but who knows what I'll pick this year? 

4. Benefit Birthday Brow Wax
Most Benefit counters offer free birthday brow waxing services! All you have to do is call ahead to book your bday appointment and you're good to go. Make sure you bring a few dollars though, because while the $20 service is free, that doesn't include tip!

So be sure to celebrate your birthday right this year by taking full advantage of all of the giveaways out there. I certainly will because, lets be real, it's true what they say, "the best things in life are free." 
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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pittsburgh Adventures

Although I miss New York City like crazy, Pittsburgh is still pretty cool. Even though I've spent most of my life just 40 minutes outside of the Pittsburgh, I would still say I don't know the city half as well as I know New York. For this reason, I think I should try make the most of the Burgh, while I'm here, with a little adventuring. 

This past weekend marked the first summer adventure with my sister Alexandra and our friend Sam. Sam was visiting for the weekend to go with us to Saturday's Kenny Chesney Concert.  So Friday was spent playing tourist in Pittsburgh, since Sam has never been. 

Our first stop was Sienna Mercato for dinner, which houses three restaurants on three floors. We decided to eat at Emporio for gourmet meatballs. Given that the restaurant features four different kinds of meatballs and nine different kinds of sauces, I felt as though it was important to at least try each kind of meatball. So, naturally I ordered 4 sliders. 

They were quite larger than expected. 

If you visit Emporio, I would suggest sticking with the classic beef and marinara. You can't go wrong with "grandma's secrets."

If you venture to the top of Sienna Mercato, you'll find the rooftop beer garden Il Tetto. It's adorable, but I'll say that about any place with bulb string lights. 

I ordered Prosecco at a beer garden and I'm not sorry about it. 

They're cute. 

Our final stop of the day was the Andy Warhol Museum, a must for any first time Pittsburgh tourist. There's currently a new interactive exhibit where visitors can create their own silent screen tests just like the famous painter turned filmmaker. Warhol made approximately five hundred during his lifetime. You can read more about his screen tests here, or just watch the hilariously awkward one Alexandra and Sam basically forced me to make below. "It'll be good for the blog!" 

While I'm sure to be sharing some more Pittsburgh adventures here in the near future, don't think I've forgotten about New York. In fact, while you're reading this, It's very likely I'm on a seven hour bus to the city at this very moment. I'll be there for the next few days to see some amazing friends and to have a little birthday fun. I absolutely can't wait. 

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