Thursday, December 20, 2012

on peppermint bark.

traditions. we all have them. they have been passed down from generation to generation, maybe your family created then, perhaps you started them on your own. making peppermint bark falls into the latter category for me. my mom loves peppermint bark, so one year i decided to try and make it myself. can't be too hard, i thought. and guess what! i was right. three little ingredients are all it takes.
start with a pound of dark chocolate. you can also use milk chocolate, but i prefer the dark variety. melt the chocolate in a double broiler, then pour the whole thing onto a cookies sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. (you could also melt the chocolate in a microwave but it takes longer and your chocolate can start cooking, like turning back into a solid of sorts but not a hard piece of chocolate. i don't know how to describe it, but trust that it happens. i did it one year.) smooth the chocolate out with a spatula you would use to frost a cake, then throw into the refrigerator to harden. i usually keep mine in there overnight.
the next step is crushing up a box of candy canes. getting the wrappers off the candy canes really takes the piss out of me, if you'll allow me to be british for a second and say that. so my advice is - buy thin candy canes, and snap the top, rounded part of the candy cane off. this allows the wrapper to easily slide off the two parts of the candy cane you now hold in your hands. put the candy canes into a plastic bag and crush, which i usually do with a rolling pin. if you have any holiday frustrations, i find this part of the recipe to be quite enjoyable. post office not deliver your package? crush a candy cane. boyfriend acting like a good for nothing type of brother? crush a candy cane. no one coming to your holiday party? crush a candy cane. pants getting too tight after all the holiday season eating? crush a candy cane.
really, it cures all sorts of ills.
while you're busy pulverizing the candy canes, melt the white chocolate in the double broiler. i usually use a little less then a pound and i make sure to buy baker's white chocolate. white chocolate chips usually aren't a good substitute here simply because they're not as pure of a form of white chocolate, but if you're in a pinch you'll get by just fine. and you know those sayings about a watched pot doesn't boil and all that stuff? it should a watched pot of white chocolate doesn't melt. melting white chocolate is damn annoying. it's nearly impossible to do in a microwave (again, trust me on that one). it melts unevenly. it's thicker than the silky melted dark or milk chocolate. so i say unto you - don't get frustrated. just let it melt for about ten to twenty minutes and that should be melty enough to go onto the last step. but before that step, pour all of the crushed candy canes into the melted chocolate, reserving a tablespoon or two.
now, instead of pouring all the melted white chocolate out at once, do it piecemeal. pour a little out onto the dark chocolate, smooth it out with your spatula, and quickly move on. the heat of the white chocolate will start melting the dark chocolate, so you want to smooth it out as best you can before it starts mixing together. in the picture below you can see some parts (near the edges) where this happened a bit. remember - this is homemade peppermint bark. you aren't packing this up and stamping ghirardelli on it. it can have a few kinks and quirks and swirls. it's what makes it so nice ;)
when it's all smoothed out, sprinkle the reserved tablespoons of candy cane pieces over the peppermint bark and pop it back in the fridge, letting it harden over night. the next day i usually flip it out of the pan, lay it down on a towel with the wax paper still covering the back, and use a rolling pin or, yes, a hammer to break it up. (brian calls it a kitchen hammer. it's just your plain old hammer. used in a kitchen). 
and there it is - peppermint bark! all without turning on your oven. there are many things i like about this recipe, but the most is that you can do it over a course of a few days. melt the dark chocolate on a sunday. crush candy canes on a tuesday. melt the white chocolate and complete the process on a wednesday. it's just nice to not have to do it all at once. and for those people who you really feel like you don't know what to get so you just end up getting them a gift card, pairing it with a little bag of homemade peppermint bark makes it seem more personal and thoughtful. it can also make a great hostess gift. basically - having homemade peppermint bark around the house during the holidays can be quite a resourceful tool. and delicious.
brian recently told me he was about to buy some peppermint bark but stopped himself, remembering that we make our own peppermint bark at christmas. because slowly but surely a new tradition has been set. i couldn't be happier, and the peppermint bark couldn't be more delicious.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

on my boyfriend's jeans.

when i first saw the boyfriend jeans trend i was like - nope, not for me! while my style tends to be all over the place, it's always more feminine than not. big, baggy, ripped jeans were not me.
and then i saw them paired with heels. and i totally changed my tune.
(do you guys have any idea how good boyfriend jeans are at showing off a pair of killer heels? like, super duper good).
and the nice thing about wanting something generic like boyfriend jeans, or a pair of red heels, is that many places sell them at many different price points. and when i had finally found a pair that matched the style and price i wanted, i picked up a fashion magazine that showcased an even better pair from...american eagle. god knows how long it's been since i've shopped at american eagle.
however.
i love american eagle.
why? because i used to work there.
yes, american eagle was one of my first jobs and i loved it dearly and i was devastated when my parents made me quit so i could focus on college applications my senior year of high school. the worst. but before i left american eagle i was promoted to a "jeans expert", which means i memorized every cut and color and design of a jean and could tell you everything you needed to know if you just held up a pair to me.
i like to call myself the jean whisperer.
i guess i'm telling you all this to preface the fact that yes, i got the american eagle pair, and yes i love them to death, and yes i may be a bit biased due to my old ties to american eagle.
all the pairs below range in price, but the american eagle ones are the cheapest right now - on sale plus the company is offering an extra 40% off + free shipping for the holidays (seriously it's like i still work for them. the shameless promotion is too much on my part). so if you're on the fence about boyfriend jeans, you could pick up the most perfect pair for around $20 at american eagle and take that plunge. like i did.
additionally, i think a slouchy pair of jeans goes best with a more structured shoe - the pointy silver heels and flats, a pair of wedges or the out of this world red jimmy choos that look like an architect designed them (i could stare at those shoes all day. but i digress). and yes, that's right, i said flats. i even put in a pair of flats for all you flat-lovers (which is literally all of you). enjoy!
2. {jeans/flats}
3. {jeans/heels}
4. {jeans/heels}
and finally, here's how i wore it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

on a weekend in a picture.

brian and i headed down to philadelphia on saturday night to visit with friends and go to a little christmas party. while we've visited philly a couple of times this year for weddings, we thought it would be nice to be there when we and our friends didn't have so many obligations. when we could spend real time catching up, laughing - just being together. i have friends from elementary school, college and grad school living there, and brian's former college roommate also lives in philly - it's like friendship mecca for the two of us. and it was so, so good to see everyone, to catch up on their lives, to give them a hug. and last, but certainly not least, let's not forget chandler. chandler the cat, whom my roommate and i brought home from the pound in october of our sophomore year and is just the sweetest and weirdest thing on this planet. in the midst of all the fun, we even got him to smile for the camera.
we'll be back in philly for yet another wedding in january, but i'm glad we took time this weekend to head down there, as i was reminded of how lucky i am to have so many lasting friendships from so many different parts of my life. philadelphia - we love you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

on an easier holiday dinner.

sometimes during the holidays we overextend ourselves. and by sometimes i mean all the time. we buy too much, we eat too much, we go out too much. and it's hard to say no - giving to others and sharing delicious food and drink with friends and family we love is hard to say no to (especially since it only comes once a year!) but the worst can be when you promise too much - you'll host this, you'll bake that - and before you know it you're stressing about cleaning and buying ingredients and picking your dress up from the dry cleaners and didn't you promise that you'd go to the gym since you ate that piece of pie? that's where recipes like this one come in. maple-bourbon brined turkey legs - easier to handle than a whole turkey and still festive. in addition to the turkey, maple, and bourbon, you'll need:
salt
whole-grain mustard
black peppercorns
red chili flakes
dried thyme
granulated garlic
bay leaf
cloves
the reviews of the brine seemed to indicate it was salty, so i went by the old rule when making my brine - one gallon of water for every cup of salt. (there are also differences between using table salt and kosher salt because they have different masses, i.e. a cup of table salt weighs more than a cup of kosher salt. i would use kosher salt. if you use table salt, i would use less than a cup.) the rest of the recipe i followed exactly - throw all ingredients, except the legs, into a pot together and simmer until the salt is dissolved. let the brine cool until pouring it into a bag/bucket/bowl that contains the legs. let the legs sit in the brine for 24 hours in the refrigerator before roasting at 350 farenheit in your oven for 90 minutes.
and there you have it - a much easier, less stressful ad juicier holiday dinner. no dry meat on those bones! and let's be real, eating turkey legs is a lot of fun. while i realize that makes it sound like i rarely get out, whatever. it's true. 
enjoy your (hopefully stress-free) holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

you know, you can't do everything together. you can try, sure. but that jig only lasts so long. you don't have to have the same exact interests with your significant other. and for us, brian loves to go to concerts of random bands named the who's it's and the what's it's, while i really, really love chinese food, thai food, korean food, japanese food. any place east of the east coast, which brian has no interest in. and while we try to humor one another now and then, support each other's interests, bob our head along to music we don't know and slurp down some noodles whose name we don't know how to pronounce, we also have these things called friends. that's right, friends! friends who share our interests and who don't have to be left to the wayside simply because you found a person who will do all those things with you AND make out with you (depends on how much garlic is in those noodles). and so saturday night brian went out with a friends to a concert to hear some random band, and i went with tina to check out a chinese restaurant around the corner (also, tina speaks chinese, so it's nice to show her off. hearing her speak chinese with others is always, like, the best).
it can be easy when you're in relationship to start to do every single little thing together. and it's always good to support one another's interests. but you know, sometimes, you can go your own way for a night, reconnect with friends, and eat some damn good chinese food while you're at. there's always a meatball dinner on sunday night waiting to bring you back together.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

on a sunday morning frittata.

when brian's parents came to visit him this year, i made a frittata and it was awful. the potatoes were burned to a crisp, i cooked it too long - and everyone said no no no, this tastes great. please, everyone. do not insult my intelligence. we all know it stinks. and i, of course, should have known better. i should have turned to my old trusty food and wine for the recipe. a recipe that would have people go back for seconds. which is just what brian and i did on sunday morning.
can't be beat.
the recipe calls for gruyere, which i nixed for obvious reasons if you're a reader of this old blog of mine. i used a combo of mozzarella and parmesan and it was delicious, so whatever cheese you may have an affinity for, feel free to substitute it here.
i halved the recipe, using six eggs, two potatoes and four slices of prosciutto. peel and dice the potatoes before sauteing in hot olive oil until golden brown, which on my stove was about ten minutes. while that's happening, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl. it's always frustrating to try and cut prosciutto or thin bacon, so i used scissors this time. i laid the slices of prosciutto on top of one another, cut the stack into long strips, then cut each stack of strips into multiple squares before separating the pieces. i picked up on the scissors idea when i was recently at molly's and saw her do the same with bacon - it pays to watch your friends cook, ya know? (and it's so obvious, i'm a little embarrassed i hadn't thought of it before).
when the potatoes are near done, throw in the scallions and sauté for a minute. then pour in the egg mixture, stirring the potatoes as you pour so they're evenly distributed and covered by the mixture. the sides of the frittata will quickly set, so move a bit fast on that step. let the frittata cook for about three minutes then with a spatula (the kind you spread frosting with), lift the fritatta up a bit to let the uncooked eggs slide under/distribute over the top of the frittata so they're not just sitting in the middle. this step is also important as it ensures the edge of the frittata are not stuck to the pan.
throw into the oven and let it bake for about ten minutes. remove the frittata, turn on your broiler, then broil the frittata so the top browns a bit. this took about two minutes in my oven.
and there you have a wonderful and delicious breakfast. it's really easy and not time consuming at all, which is just how i like my breakfast to be on a sunday morning.
enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

this weekend was a very brooklyn-y and christmas-y weekend (as if those are words). we started it early on thursday by going out and getting my favorite pizza in nyc at motorino (their crust will change your life). during sandy they stayed open by filling the restaurant with candles and serving pizza from their wood-burning oven, so it was nice to go and support them back. that theme continued into saturday morning when we went to red hook after a morning run across the brooklyn bridge. my favorite restaurant in the neighborhood, fort defiance, was back open, truly a feat after having lost their entire kitchen. their breakfast continues to knock my socks off, and being low on supplies they served me sugar for my coffee in a shot glass. how can you just not love it there? after all that deliciousness we set out to accomplish our one goal for the weekend - getting brian his first nyc christmas tree. complete with the one ornament he owns. he's quite proud of his tree and his apartment smells like perfection (of course). all we have to do is get me my tree from my local deli, in true new york style. sunday finished out the weekend with a homemade frittata, which i'll post here sometime this week.
it was another wonderful and delicious weekend, made better by the fact that christmas season is in full swing here in nyc - i couldn't be happier.

Friday, November 30, 2012

on a shoe story: volume IV.

i meant to write this last friday, black friday, as this was the best deal on shoes i have ever gotten (and, trust me, will ever get). but then i ate turkey and pie and fell asleep and it never happened. so here it is now.
at the end of every winter and every summer, barney's has a warehouse sale. barney's is like an extreme upscale department store but with an edge. an attitude, you could say. and their warehouse sale is notorious for being hit and miss and, in general, a huge mess of a bunch of people. but when you do hit it big at the sale - you hit it real big. and here's proof.
***
for a really long time i wanted shoes that had pin heels (really, really skinny heels, essentially). and while the design started to make it's way into stores like h&m, i wanted to hold out for a really well-made version since shoes like this stood a good chance of being really hard to walk in or really painful.
and so, i waited.
at the warehouse sale i always go straight to the shoes, and i always find nothing. then i go look at all the clothes and nothing really interests me or it's still too expensive or i don't feel like stripping down in front of strangers (there are no dressing rooms at the warehouse sale. it's special).
sidenote: in the winter,
wear black leggings and tights
to make it less awkward.
in the summer,
wear an easy to remove dress
and panties with a full seat.
you can always tell who the amateur
sale-goers are. they had no idea 
here weren't dressing rooms.
and they're wearing thongs.
but i digress.
and, when i'm done looking at the clothes, i head back to the shoe section where, miraculously, new shoes have appeared and there is always a pair that catches my eye. so when i saw these pin heels i got really excited. i debated whether the style was really mine, but decided they would go wonderful with jeans and i'd probably wear the hell out of them.
the shoes were originally $1,295. they are made by nicholas kirkwood.
when i looked at the marked down price, expecting them to still be way out of my price range, i had to do a double-take. there was no way the shoes were marked down that much.
so i went to a sales associate, asked to get the other shoe in the pair so i could try them on, and inquired about the price. she confirmed it was correct, noting that the red sticker on the shoe indicated there was a quality problem - the other shoe was probably two sizes bigger than the one i had in my hand. crestfallen, i decided to still try it on. i thought i was so close to the deal of a lifetime! when she brought me the other half of the pair, i tried them on and, surprisingly, they fit just fine. also, just as i had suspected, these incredibly well-made pin heels were incredibly easy to walk in (wear them for hours on end these days with no problem). i still couldn't tell what the quality issue was, so i decided to go for it.
as i was paying my hands were sweating and my heart was beating really hard. i honestly felt like i was stealing the shoes because they were marked down so much. the lady at the register did a double take, called someone over simply to see the discount, not even check that the price was correct, and they both profusely congratulated me on finding such a good deal.
and that's how i bought a pair of designer shoes for $78. or, 94% off.
can you tell what's wrong with the shoes? i'll update at the end of the day to let you know and see if you guessed correctly. good luck :)
***
update - so...the shoes are slightly different colors! when i bought them i couldn't tell, until i read a tag on the box that explained the defect. and in person, once told, you can slightly see it. i tried to edit the picture to make it more obvious but seriously, it's like the tiniest difference in color. i'm glad that barney's strives for perfection, and when they don't get it they mark it down by 94%.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

on gifts for those who keep you guessing.

yes, it's another gift guide! can you believe it?! while i know the git-giving season can stress people out, i love it. and if my boss told me for the next month to just put together gift guides i'd be happy as a clam. so here's a little one i put together that can work for a broad range of people because yes, even i can admit that shopping for your great-aunt linda isn't the easiest thing in the world.
Random Gift Set
1. Cashmere socks ($9.99) - socks! wow, what an original idea! i'm really testing the limits of my creativity here! but let's be real people - these are cashmere socks. and last christmas an aunt did give me some and i thought "oh, well, that's nice i guess everyone can use socks." and then i put them on and pretty much never took them off all winter. looks like my aunt knew a thing or two about gift-giving. if you're really stumped go with cashmere socks - while the receiver might think of it as generic, once they put them on they will thank you forever. it's now a go-to gift of mine, no matter how boring that may seem.
2. Dinner: A Love Story ($20) - perhaps you're friends with a couple who love to cook together? or maybe friends just had their first (or second or third) little one and could use some guidance on how, exactly, to feed their growing family? this is the book. this cookbook cum memoir is one that they'd love to have help them along their way.
3. Bottle of wine (varies) - yup, another generic gift. but really - who doesn't love wine! to make it a little more thoughtful though, look up some nice restaurants in your area that allow you to bring your own wine to dinner and charge a low corkage fee. while in some cities byob restaurants are everywhere and this wouldn't quite work, most places charge a corkage fee. fees in nyc are usually around $10 - $20 (and higher, of course), and it's a whole lot easier to pay that when you didn't end up paying for the wine in the first place. i would note a few that you think the receiver would like and write them on a tag you can tie on the bottle's neck - cards will get lost, that tag will still be there when they reach for the bottle and head out to dinner.
4. Fendi clutch ($820) - i mean it's fucking fendi, did you guys really think this wouldn't be on the list ;) while $800 isn't in most people's price range, this bag has everything - black and brown mixed in shades that complement one another and can therefore be used for many outfits, along with the body of the bag tinted the season's favorite color - oxblood. i would use this as inspiration when searching for a more affordable version - it's a clutch any women of any age can happily use for years to come.
5. Martha Stewart's Homkeeping Handbook ($30) - i admit, this gift is kind of boring, but if given to the right person it can be extremely useful. have a friend just buy or move to a new house or apartment? this 700+ page tome is for them. there are many things that come along with a new house or living space that people won't be *quite* sure how to clean or maintain - this is their answer. and who doesn't like living in a nice, clean house? when my good friend moves into her new house in february, this will absolutely be waiting on her doorstep.
6. Touchscreen compatible leather gloves ($79.50) - my dad is a professional guy. wool overcoats, ties, sweaters - that's how he's dressed most days. and he just got an iphone so i know he'll deal with that old conundrum of taking off and putting one's gloves back on in order to use his touchscreen phone this winter. and while there are many touchscreen compatible gloves out there, most of them are knit gloves or made by some snowboarding company - not really his style. so for the professional guy in your life with their first touchscreen phone, here's your answer - leather gloves that do the same thing. warm and work appropriate. my dad will definitely be getting a pair of these for christmas.
7. Guidebook (varies) - know a friend or couple planning a big trip for 2013? unless it's laying on an exotic beach somewhere, guidebooks can be a great gift (and not something they may go out and buy). most people google a lot before the big trip and cross their fingers on the plane - this will be something filled with suggestions (and, more importantly, maps) for when they're on the ground and don't have a computer to help them out. my favorite guidebook brand is fodor's out of all the options out there.
8. Mistobox subscription ($15 - $150) - of course, we need a gift that keeps on giving. i think giving subscription services is a great idea (i gave three people birchbox last year and they loved it), and there are products out there that can pertain to everyone on your list. this is for the coffee-lovers - they get a few packets of coffee from independent roasters every month, helping support small business and introducing all sorts of coffee they may never have had a chance to try before. best of all, they sell it in 1, 3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions - something for every price range.
happy hunting! and if you have an idea mention it below!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

on christmas decorating.

christmas season is officially in full swing and with that comes christmas decorating, too. as many who have seen my apartment during christmas, i always try my best to decorate every little thing. i swap out my shower curtain for a christmas-themed one, i put away all my picture frames and take out frames decorated for christmas, i fold up my everyday sheets and put sheets that reflect the season on my bed. and while there is more i wish i could add to my christmas decoration collection, unfortunately there comes a time in each new yorker's life when their little hall closet just won't hold any more. but that doesn't mean i can't decorate my iphone! below are some of my favorite covers from society6, and i'm also checking out etsy. i love the second one in the first row, the first one in the second row, the case with all the words on it, the case with blacksburg, virginia's annual christmas tree on it, the case with all the doors on it and the case with the twinkling lights.
do you see my dilemma? what are some of your favorites?
1/2/3/4
1/2/3/4
1/2/3/4
1/2

Monday, November 26, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

here in the good old us of a, many are heading back to work after a long thanksgiving weekend (myself included). my time off was wonderful, if not exhausting, as it also brought brian and i to my high school reunion and a wedding in addition to the thanksgiving holiday. charlottesville to washington d.c. to philadelphia then back to new york. it was quite the tour of the eastern seaboard and while exhausting, totally worth it. i suppose it's fitting that after a holiday where we give thanks for all the wonderful things we have in life i got to see so many friends from places near and far. the few days i did spend in virginia were wonderful and relaxing, with an afternoon at a vineyard with my mom, a quick trip to one of my favorite restaurants, and an absolutely delicious thanksgiving with myself, my parents, brian and his parents, all of which was nicely complemented by lots of sleep and no alarms. and while i could be a little sad that i'm heading back to work, let's be honest - christmas season is officially in full swing here in nyc and i couldn't be happier. here's to another wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

on a wintertime drink.

unless you're a wine drinker, you'd be hard pressed to find an adult beverage in my apartment. if it's not wine, it's an old bottle of bourbon i have on hand for some cooking and baking (check out this awesome bourbon-spiked banana bread recipe from sherri lynn). after a couple of years i eventually work my way through it and i go out and buy a new bottle. it keeps for a very uncrowded liquor cabinet, which conveniently doubles as a boiler room in my apartment.
and while i enjoy a good drink when i go out, i rarely make them at home. i have no desire to buy bitters and elderflower liquor and all the other snazzy things one needs to make various drinks. but like my love for gin gimlets, i believe that low-key, unfussy drinks are for me. so one night, a few weeks ago, when i was served a drink i loved, and it was basically bourbon and apple cider. i thought - i can do this, i can make this.
and so i did.
i looked up a few basic recipes and they called for ginger ale - the kind of ginger ale where ginger is listed in the ingredients. and that search led me to morris kitchen ginger syrup. it was a bit pricey ($15!) but since it's used sparingly, (and their website is filled with other recipes that use the syrup), i decided to go for it.
2 parts apple cider
1 1/2 parts bourbon
1/2 part ginger syrup
shake with ice and strain into a glass.
i would prefer it served over ice in the future, as i take my time with my drinks and i like to keep them cold. this is an easy recipe to play around with - perhaps use that gingerale instead of syrup or add in a touch of molasses and a touch of ginger syrup instead of just all ginger syrup. either way, i think it will be delicious. it's a perfect cocktail to kick off thanksgiving dinner and keep you warm all throughout the winter. and it uses up some of that bourbon when you're not too busy baking with it. gotta clear out that liquor cabinet somehow, right?

Monday, November 19, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

things were pretty quiet on the blog last week. work kept me busy until late and by the time thursday rolled around i rolled right into the weekend. and after that stiff drink on thursday i kept my weekend decidedly low-key too. farmer's markets, long runs, sleeping in, watching the new bond movie - these were the things i devoted my weekend to (and i'm glad i did). and tomorrow i have a fun new (liquid) recipe to share with ya'll, a perfect way to kick off your thanksgiving if i do say so myself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

this past weekend i went down to austin, texas for a girls weekend (or perhaps i should call it a ladies weekend) with my friends from grad school. instead of bro-ing out, we ladied out. it was quite nice, as was expected.
as for austin - it was great. warm, delicious food everywhere, a million things to do and see and hear. i'd like to go back for a bit longer and soak up more of the city (and yes, eat some more of that food).
as for my friends - time is moving on. one is pregnant, the kind of pregnant where it looks like she just ate a big dinner. about to really start showing any day now. another is about to move into the house she bought with her husband. slowly but surely we are growing into our lives.
we talked about our five year plans. careers, babies, marriage. what we want. where we want to live. what we want out of our jobs. i wonder if it will all happen, if it will all fall into place. we'll see. it's nice to know no matter the outcome we will always be there for one another, and that, sometimes, is enough.

Friday, November 9, 2012

on a shoe story: volume III.

one of my oddest childhood memories as is of going to my mother's family reunion one year. it was the only official family reunion i can ever remember going to, and it was held on long island. it was for my pop-pop's side of the family, who was italian. there were perms as far as the eye could see, red fingernails on every hand, and leopard print. oh my word, the leopard print. and while i felt like my family was a bit out of place, we fit right in when it came to that last category. my mother loves leopard print. if all nice italian girls from long island are programmed to make great pasta, well let me tell you, they're also programmed to love leopard print. shoes, bags, clothes, pillows - you name it my mother has bought it or pined for it. and, naturally, i found this to be extremely embarrassing since i grew up in virginia and no one else's mother had a fainting spell over a faux leopard jacket. so my whole life - no leopard print for me. if i ever found myself reaching for it i would smack my hand down and promptly walk away. i would break the cycle!
until.
until i started working. at work i wear button up shirts and loose fitting clothing and i don't dare make fun of hillary's pants suits because i sometimes i have to wear one, too. i often comment that i go to work dressed as a man. people laugh. i die on the inside.
but as time went on and i gained some credibility i "let myself go" you could say. a green skirt every now and then. a few bangles on my wrist instead of a lone one. a v-neck sweater. it was heady days as i loosened my drsesscode. and before the fourth of july, the office dead, no one in town, i stopped into the 30 rock j. crew at lunchtime, a favorite pastime of mine. i monitor sales there pretty well, if i do say so myself, and they had just added the "extra 40% off" to their sale. i wandered a bit until i laid my eyes on these. they were perfect. made in italy, real leather, wedges that make walking at work infinitely easier, fit like a glove.
and they were leopard print.
i knew that these beautiful shoes, at an insanely low price that just happened to be in my size, were a fluke. that they had been lost in a warehouse somewhere and they just shipped them to the 30 rock j. crew because they get tons of tourists and go through merchandise like whoa. and so i grabbed them, palms sweating, heart beating, and put them on hold.
i went back to my desk thinking "is this really happening? am i buying something covered in leopard print?" i knew how good they would look with black skirts and green skirts and everything in between. i thought they would add some personality to an outfit without making it wholly unprofessional. and that afternoon i went back and i bought them and i haven't looked back. if you're on the fence about leopard print shoes i can tell with you 100% certainty - buy them. you will love them. you will wear them with everything. you will even wear them to work.
i guess those nice italian girls from long island really know what they're doing after all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

on necessary evils.

as i walked home in the blizzard from work last night, cursing myself for forgetting my rainboots at home, i also came to a sad realization: i need to buy new flats. and as i've said before, i own two pairs of flats and i resent them both. but on one pair the sole is half ripped off and on the other the sole is so thin it feels as if i'm walking barefoot. while i hate going out and spending money on new flats, it must be done. flats, like a teething baby, are a necessary evil. which makes sense because if babies never got teeth they'd never stop breast feeding and who really wants their kid sucking on their tatas for their whole life (logic, by colleen). and so, i present unto you: flats i would buy if forced to at gunpoint (sounds like a great new lecture series!) and all of these are under $50 because FUCK THAT SHIT i need to spend my money on stilettos y'all.
but in all seriousness i kind of like number 9. putting a tiger on a flat makes it much fiercer.
Flats Under $50
row 1 (l-r): 1/2/3
row 2 (l-r): 4/5/6
row 3 (l-r): 7/8/9

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

on my week with sandy.

yesterday, after i left the gym, i passed by gramercy tavern. the inside was bright and cozy compared to the newly shivering streets of new york. people drank wine, bustled about, jostled for an empty seat. it was your quintessential new york night out. it was also, almost to the minute, a week after my power had gone out. yet here i was, walking home from the gym, bathed in the soft light from a popular restaurant, as if it hadn't happened at all.
via here.
i knew my electricity was going to go out as i monitored the internet last monday - eventually, my power company said, everyone from 39th street on down would lose power. i thought it was a precautionary measure, shutting the system off so if it were flooded there would be little damage. brian and i were in the middle of the godfather when it happened. marlon brando's don corleone had just realized it was brazini all along when his face flickered on the screen and went to black. so we took out my crank radio and flashlight all rolled into one (thanks dad!) and lit a candle as we watched flames spring to life in the windows across the street. we finished our wine, had a mini dance party as the winds blew outside and slowly made our way to bed.
the next morning, already restless, we decided to walk uptown. we walked about 100 blocks to and from my apartment, on the search for a warm meal. when we passed 39th street, stoplights magically worked again, cvs was open, and delis had lines out the door. we didn't find an open restaurant until we made our way back downtown, a diner on 57th street. we were ecstatic. after a huge breakfast, we resumed our walk and while we passed trees that had fallen here and there it mostly looked ok to me. separated from a tv and the internet and intent on saving my phone's battery, we had no idea how bad it was in other parts of the city. we took a nap and as nightfall came we wound our flashlight back up and made our way to dinner - a random bbq restaurant that still, miraculously, had power.
i often tell people that some of my favorite times in cities are when blizzards hit us - the city quiets, it's blanketed in snow, few people are out on the street - it's just a nice change. and even if you've never been in a major city during a snowstorm, you can relate. you've seen snow bathe your lawns in bright white and quiet your towns and homes. so i can honestly say that i don't know how to describe a powerless manhattan. the pitch-black walk down the stairs and through my building's hallways, feeling along a brick wall you think you have memorized, hoping the bang you just heard wasn't anything serious, i dreaded the most. the looming buildings, dark and quiet, the streets empty. no stoplights. no street lights. it was eerie, amazing, creepy, awful and awesome. everyone described it as being post-apocalyptic. and, well, i suppose you could say that. but, like many others, i haven't lived through an apocalypse. i think it's just a phrase people use because they don't know how to convey what it was really like. and there really aren't any words. even reading what i just wrote falls short of allowing you to see what i saw and experience it for yourself.
on the way home from dinner we decided to head to brooklyn the next day. as colder weather loomed it seemed like the right thing to do. when i left for work the next morning, the only person on the street save for brian, hailing down a cab with my flashlight, it seemed like the only thing to do. and when i finally made it to his apartment, i sat down and watched the news and learned of the immense devastation i had been immune to. i saw the homes burned to the ground in breezy point. i saw the death toll rise in staten island. i saw the business owners in our beloved red hook struggling to put back together their washed out stores. and i knew i had it easy. i knew i was lucky. even as i worked from home the next two days, dashing around to find an internet signal and again saved by the grace of friend (thanks tina!), stressed to my breaking point, i knew how lucky i was. yes i lost power for a very long time, but i had somewhere to go. i had people to keep me safe and give me clean water and make me dinner. i had a bed to sleep in and heater to keep me warm. many other new yorkers do not.
***
the power of water hasn't been lost on me for awhile. i know how quick it can move and how strong it is. water cannot be stopped. it cannot be contained. it doesn't matter if you're the financial epicenter of the world or a small town in texas - it doesn't discriminate in it's path of destruction. and just like that small town in texas, the citizens of this city are coming together to help. opening their homes to strangers, feeding meals to those in need and volunteering to help rebuild homes that were lost. but i know first hand from being downtown and traveling uptown and then out to red hook that the disparity between those who are hurting and those who are fine is lost on many. i know after delivering supplies to red hook and seeing lines stretching down the block as residents wait for clean water and food it was lost on me too. if you live in new york - please think of ways you can help or continue to help. if you live outside new york, please strongly consider donating any money your household budget can spare to an organization you trust that is helping in relief efforts. i can't stress enough how bad the loss is in some parts of this city and how long it will take those neighborhoods to recover. any help you can provide will be much, much appreciated and, most importantly, felt by those still in need.

Monday, October 29, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

wedding season marches on for brian and i. this time brought us to a little town called palmetto right outside of atlanta. the whole weekend took place on a big farm/event place, which gave us access to golf carts and farm animals and all sorts of other things new york city doesn't offer. of course the real finds were at the grocery store, which sold pork salted fatback and pork cracklins among other delicacies.
sidenote: my favorite thing
to do when i travel is
check out the local grocery
store. trust me, it's always
a trip.
the wedding was beautiful, it was wonderful to see old friends from high school and yes - i wore the same exact thing i worse last saturday. i'm like the little kid who sleeps in their halloween costume, except i just keep wearing that skirt in public. oh well. best of all we both got back safely to nyc - for all those on the east coast stay safe and dry! hope you remembered to pick up some pork cracklins at the store!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

on thanksgiving training.

one pan recipes are a favorite find of mine. they're easy to make during the week, and they usually consist of veggies and lean meats. on this front, food and wine always seems to pull through, offering another great one pan roasted chicken recipe (here's another favorite of mine). it also involves roasting apples, which as i found out when i made this, is awesome. this is a great, easy recipe for the week, and the flavors and aroma have thanksgiving written all over it - let the training commence!
to start, dice and peel three fiji apples and the butternut squash, and mince a tablespoon of sage. i bought a butternut squash at my farmer's market and peeled and diced it using this helpful guide. i didn't have a vegetable peeler and ended up just using my knife, which lead to many adventures and cursing in the kitchen. if you have a vegetable peeler this should be pretty easy if you follow the guide. if you don't, there's no shame in buying the pre-cut butternut squash at the store (and i plan to do so next time).
toss your apple, squash and sage with a 1/4 cup of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place them on top of your apple/squash/sage mixture. throw into an oven set at 400 degrees, and roast for one hour and 15 minutes.
and that's what you get in return! the recipe calls for setting the pan on two burners after removing from the oven, placing the chicken to the side, and boiling/simmering the veggies for five minutes. i did this, but i don't think it really makes a difference in the end product. and you've already waited an hour and 15 minutes for this, so tacking on another five just seems silly.
it was a wonderful weekday meal and i will definitely be making it again. i'm coming for ya thanksgiving - get ready!
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