Thursday, March 31, 2011

It Won't be Cold Forever, Spring Will Come

Say what you will about the traffic, the economy, the politics; Florida is a special kind of place, it is sunny, fresh, embraces rhinestones and diamonds for daytime, has a lot of love, and takes pride in its sunshiney-ness with streets named after flowers, fruits and tropical birds like Flamingo Road and Orange Drive.  

Hollywood Beach

As I mentioned I spent the weekend at home visiting my parents.  I flew in Friday evening and had dinner with my parents at home.  Saturday morning I went for a training run for my upcoming race (it's 3 days away!), and then I spent lunch with my dad's parents for lunch and a baking lesson, recipe coming soon.  

Lunch at Nanny and Poppy's

On Sunday I went to my mom's favorite place, the beach.

Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach

I haven't been in 80+ degree weather in quite some time, and I haven't been to the beach since Thanksgiving.  It was a good reminder of what is to come.  So, my friends in cold locations, please know it won't be cold forever, the rain will stop, you'll be able to put your coats, scarves, and wellies away.

The sun will come out soon, and it will be beautiful.

And when it does, please don't forget your sunscreen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lucky Charms

I like stars, horseshoes and rainbows in the marshmallow form, but I love evil eyes, wishbones and clovers in silver, gold and platinum.

What can I say? I have a sweet tooth and like nice things!

With Yoga, Kabbalah, and good fashion superstition sharing the limelight with the ancient and traditional faiths, the way we find luck, good favor, and a little bit of blessings now comes with bling.  

These tokens and charms veer from the traditional and favor the fashionable, so they are more Saturday errands than Saturday's sacred texts, but I love finding a personal way to accessorize.  Here are some of my favorites:

Lucky Charms from L-R: Jennifer Zeuner Long Skinny Good Luck Hamsa Necklace at Singer22, Alex and Ani - Lifetime of Luck Expandable Wire Bangles at Couture Candy, Anna Beck 'Gili' Clover Necklace at Nordstrom, Jennifer Zeuner Mini Hamsa Curb Bracelet at Charm & Chain, Ileana Makri Evil Eye Bracelet at Barneys New York, Dream Mullick Wise One Bangle at Max & Chloe, Jennifer Meyer Wishbone Studs at Ylang23

Where do you find your luck?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crab Cake Appetizers

"Crab cakes and football, that's what Maryland does!" - Wedding Crashers

To live near Maryland is to know (and love) crabs: steamed, dipped in butter, made into cakes.  When I was home for the weekend I made a crab cake appetizers for my parents and grandparents.  It was so fun to cook for people who have cooked for me my whole life, and to make something that doesn't show up too often in South Florida.  Florida is all about stone crabs, not Maryland crabs.

Crab Cake Appetizer, makes 14
2 containers of 8oz crab meat (I used lump and claw)
1 egg, gently beaten
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay (this is not exact*)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
3 cracks of fresh black pepper
sprinkle of salt

2 tablespoons of mayonaisse
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 lemon juice
chopped chives

In a medium sized bowl empty the crab and with a gentle hand and wooden spoon mix the different kinds of meat together.  You can use all the same kind of meat, but generally one is considerably more expensive than the other, and they have a different flavor, so I combine for more depth.

In the empty crab cup, beat the egg and then add it to the crab.  Add the mustard, and a couple of squirts of the Worcestershire sauce, the lemon juice and the Panko.  

You're probably noticing that the measurements for these ingredients are not overly specific, that's because we're cooking and not baking, and because flavor and spice is personal.  Mark loves Old Bay so I tend to go stronger with that, and I don't care for salt so I tend to go lighter.  If you want spicy crab cakes, add more red pepper - it's that simple!

Again with the wooden spoon, very gently incorporate all of the ingredients, being careful to not pulverize the crab.  A great crab cake is full of big, pump pieces of meat.  I usually take a sniff of the crab mixture to see if it seems balanced, and then maybe add more spices if necessary.

Now, form small balls of the crab mixture is the well of the palm of your hand.  These just need to be gently formed, not packing them too tightly.  Place all of the uncooked cakes on a plate and cover with plastic to refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  Refrigeration lets the crab cakes firm up before they are cooked.

In a large pan over low/medium heat add a touch of butter and get to cooking.  Each side takes 3-4 minutes.

When the crab cakes are out of the pan, give them a few moments to cool and mix up the sauce (mayonnaise, lemon juice and Old Bay) and chop up some chives.  For an extra kick you can add a dash of Tabasco to the sauce.

Place all of the crab cakes on a platter and give some (or all) a small dollop of sauce and a sprinkle of chives, serve with fresh lemon, oh and Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2011

First Signs of Spring in DC

I spent the weekend in Florida with family, and I have lots of recipes and photos to share of what is perenially 85 degrees and sunny (my hometown).  

But, before I left I snapped this picture of cherry blossoms along Logan Circle in DC.  The arrival of cherry blossoms, a gift from the Japanese, is the highlight of the year because it is a reminder that even though it is still 40 degrees, that spring will come and it will be lovely.

Wishing you a pink filled, lovely start to your week!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Be Engaging

So, you're engaged.  Mazel Tov!  Now what?

I was once engaged, and now have friends who are or who will be, and maybe you are, or you have friends/sisters/daughters who are or will be.  Here is where I am going to share some frank advice.

When you are engaged to be married, that is the time between "Will you marry me?" and "I do".  You might have one of these on your finger, or a string, or maybe you're not a ring kind of girl - hey, Carrie wanted a closet, no judgement.

Ali Fedotowsky's Neil Lane Engagement Ring via
Anyway, after you move beyond the proposal and calling your parents, siblings, friends and families, there is a lot to do and consider.  The first thing to remember, tell people before posting on Facebook - some news is worthy of a phone call!

Take the time to enjoy your engagement.  Before buying a magazine, looking at dresses (this might be hard to resist), before even booking a date, take time to enjoy your engagement.  

Be silly, take kissy face pictures, talk with your hands more than normal, tell people you're affianced, introduce your "fiancee", get a manicure.

Happily Ever After by Essie
Taking time helps get you ready to plan, which can sometimes feel like the other definitions of "engaged" such as:
  • having ones attention or mind or energy engaged; "she keeps herself fully occupied with vendor phone calls and magazines"
  • involved in military hostilities; "she was engaged in a heated battle for the perfectly pink peony bouquet"
  • booked: reserved in advance; "she has engaged a room block at every hotel within a 10 mile radius of her reception"
  • busy; "she was engaged in all the planning, she forgot to work out, see friends, relax"
To the newly engaged meet some of my favorite friends on the Internet:

And when you're ready to start planning and talking and looking for inspiration, don't forget to come here!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lovely Lavender Eyes

Yesterday, Hollywood star, human rights activists and beauty legend Elizabeth Taylor passed away.  I have to admit, I have only ever seen one of her films, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  However, I think her beauty, her marriages and her grand glamour have become the things of legends - so much so, that people "knew" her without ever really knowing her.

Taylor's most standout beauty feature were her eyes, often called lavender or violet eyes they sparkles and seem to be the centerpieces for all of her beauty photographs.  In a very Old Hollywood way, before colored contacts, fake tanning and botox, a young Taylor was lovely with lavender eyes.

To bring a little bit of that color into your own life, and just in time for Spring, here are some favorites:
Lovely Lavender from L - R:  Plissé silk-chiffon dress by Alberta Ferretti at the Outnet; Brian Danielle Pink Amethyst Pendant Necklace at Max & Chloe;  Lavender Bloom False Eyelashes by Shu Uemura; Waterford "Alana Prestige" Pitcher at Bloomingdale's; Sweet Lavender Silk Top by Catherine Malandrino; Color Design by Lancome; Natalie bandeau bikini by Lisa Marie Fernandez at the Outnet; Dried Lavender in Clay Pot at Pottery Barn; Barbet Long Dress by Odylyne at Shopbop; Williams Sonoma Essential Oils French Lavender at Williams Sonoma

May we all have a reason, even if it is a rainy Thursday, to be glamorous - just like Liz.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Full Moon

This past weekend there was a "Super Moon" - the moon was 17,000 feet closer to Earth than it normally is, so it looked that much larger than normal. Sometimes the moon makes you do crazy things, this is one of those times.

(The picture, though a great study in contrast, does not fairly portray how big the moon really looked.)

On Saturday, we went with friends to Haine's Point, the spot where DC's two rivers meet and it must have been the full moon because we were inspired to try some new food choices, far beyond our normal menu selections.

First stop: Capitol Hill for DC-3, an aviation inspired, boutique hot dog restaurant from the guys that brought Matchbox to DC.  Each dog is inspired by a different location, the Cincinnati, West Virginia, or mine the Californian (no hot dog, just falafel and avocado).  

DC-3's California "Hot Dog"
To be fair, hot dogs really should be eaten on the spot, either steps away from the grill or still within smelling distance of a street vendor.  Our hot dogs had to travel a little bit, so by the time we dug in, the bun had lost some of its bounce and the toppings melded together.  I wouldn't recommend these for on the road food, but if I did go back, I would definitely indulge again in their fried pickles; the thick cut pickle coins were battered and fried and delicious.

Post moon viewing we looked at each other and wondered, "So, what's for dessert?"  Never mind that between four people, six hot dogs, two orders or fries and a order of pickles had already been devoured, we were on the hunt for something sweet.

Perhaps it was the thrill of the moon, or the allure of sugar and butter, our next stop was Dangerously Delicious Pies in the H Street, NE.  Dangerously Delicious is a Baltimore import, and while pie seems homey, this is by all accounts homestyle pie with a bad-ass baker attitude.  No gingham, or girly cake plates here, we're talking pies and skulls and cross bones, and rock and roll.  

Between the four of us we ordered, and shared the cherry pie (very tart), the mixed berry (perfect sweetness and bite), the chocolate chess and the Baltimore Bomb.

Baltimore Bomb
Baltimore Bomb is evidently a local specialty and has been highlighted on the Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate" as a favorite of the Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman.  The cake is a custard cake with Baltimore's local Berger's cookies "melted" on top.  It tastes like melted, ooey, gooey cookie dough - which is to say, pretty out of this world.  It is worth sharing with a friend.  While it was definitely a treat, I think if we went back that is what I would order again - I can bake a mean pie myself, so I like to try things that I don't have the recipe for and that are, well, the bomb.

So, while normally I'm talking oatmeal, whole wheat flour and root vegetables, this weekend was one to indulge in and we took some time to howl at the moon, and quiet the growl of our stomachs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Difference between Boys and Girls

On Sunday I woke up to see the following email exchange between Mark and his friend Nima, and then eventually Mark, Nima, his girlfriend and me.

Here is the difference between boys and girls:

Mark sends a date and a one word question.  Nima replies with a one word response.  And so now we have plans.  Needless to say my commentary in the email took more words than the entire planning process.

This email chain did two things, get me excited for dinner and make me laugh.  It has also made me start thinking about where, what we'll do for dinner - but again, that might be difference between boys and girls.

Happy Monday friends,  look for a moment to laugh wherever you can find it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Shop till you drop - and save

I'll be working this weekend, but if you're not, and you find yourself at the mall - don't miss out on these great gear up for spring sales:

Great time to stock up on the "in today, out tomorrow" trendy styles for Spring
Nine West

Still lots of cute pieces up to 50% off and good to transition into a slow coming Spring at J. Crew, plus free shipping over $100.

Fall into the Gap (and Banana Republic and Old Navy) Give and Get is Here!: Enjoy 30% off from March 17-20 at Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy plus we'll make a 5% donation to a non-profit.

Also, take 15% off when you buy one pair of jeans, 25% off when you buy two or more pairs at Bloomingdale's Denim Days 

Have a fashionable weekend - see you Monday!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kiss me, I'm Stylish!

Emeralds have favor with today's leading ladies and have for long before (and presumably after) St. Patrick's day.  The richness of emerald stones complement the complexion of today's hottest stars. 

Most famously first seen on Angelina Jolie at the Oscars in 2009:
Angelina Jolie in Lorraine Schwartz via InStyle

They have since graced red head Julianne Moore at the Golden Globes in 2010
Julianne Moore in Bulgari via InStyle

And, a very blond Reese Witherspoon at the Oscars in 2011
Reese Witherspoon in Neil Lane via InStyle

These looks get their movie-star sized wattage from the simplicity of the design: a stud and a drop, and the mega-size.  In this case, (and with jewelry isn't it often the case?), bigger is better.

So, perhaps you don't have velvet rope access to Neil Lane - here are some looks for less:
Go Green, From L-R: Noumea Emerald Pierced Earrings at Swarovski, Courtney Lee Collection Emerald Brittany Earrings at Max & Chloe, Lata K Illusion Green Onyx Long Earrings at Max & Chloe, Nicky Hilton Sterling Silver Bullet Earrings with CZ and Green Enamel at, Diana Warner Emerald-Cut Crystal-Drop Earrings at Max & Chloe

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Light as a Feather

Inspiration can come from anywhere, a song, a season, and as we've seen here a dress.  Lately I have been piqued by the Beyond Vintage Feather Dress; in silk and dove gray it might be the perfect dress for spring and it would transition seamlessly, with the ease of a feather, from day to night.

Beyond Vintage Feather Dress at Barneys New York

Let's see how a feather inspires an entire wedding scheme.  With the hues of dove gray, creams, golds and the softest shade of pink the look is elegant, sophisticated, soft and airy. 
Dove Grey Feather Wedding
Here are some key items that stand out and are easy to replicate for any space: the sweet gilded bird cage for cards, or best wishes; the long table shrouded in twinkle lights and branches; soft and feather light peony flowers; the soft glow of candle light; a feather detail on a boutonniere; the wisp of silk chiffon on a wedding gown; dainty feather earrings as a gift for the girls.

Inspiration can come from anywhere - I hope you are surrounded by things and people that inspire you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Fashionable Reality

So, last night brought us the conclusion of Bachelor Brad's search for his forever.  Whether or not he found forever is yet to be seen.  What we did get to see over the last few weeks was the unique and very different styles of the contestants on the Bachelor.

As I mentioned to Julie last night, these girls are marketing themselves from day 1; they all have an angle, a story, a voice, a look and the wardrobes they assemble for the show are meant to highlight all of that.  

Here are the sartorial standouts from a season of "real girls" looking for reality love.
From L - R: Michelle Money's favorite brand, Wildfox; Every contestants favorite accesory the drapey scarf; Shawtel's ridiculously short Las Vegas shorts; Chunky turquoise jewels as seen on Michelle and Emily; Replicas of the Christian Louboutin pumps that Emily wore with a Forever21 dress; Michelle's favorite accessory (besides a black eye, and sass) a purple zip up; Silk shirt dress a la Emily's last day date in South Africa; The infamous Red Bikini, as styled for the Sports Illustrated shoot.

For an episode by episode run down of what the contestants wore and where to find similar items (the show was filmed months ago, many things are sold out) you have to visit The Possessionista, she has been a Bachelor fashion fiend.

Monday, March 14, 2011

(Texas) Pecan Shortbread Cookies

I watch the Bachelor.  

I watched when Trista met Ryan, the formerly chubby comedian, Jen, the football player, the actor's brother, the British guy, Brad, Deanna, Jason - paused after Jason because it was so gross - Ali, and now back to Brad.  

I watch with my husband and my sister.  It has become something of a Monday tradition; three otherwise normal people completely engrossed in some producers' idea of fantasy dates, and hanging onto every clue giving goo-goo eyed look, and promise of "I'm here for the right reasons".

Mark likes to call it from the very first episode and on more than one season he has been right.  Julie and I watch for the subtleties (if you can call them that) in each date.

Tonight is the finale, and tonight Brad will follow his heart back to Texas with one girl as happy as can be, and another girl heartbroken - or at least reality tv broken.

Texas Pecan Shortbread Cookies
*Did you know that the Pecan Tree is the state tree of Texas?
1 stick of butter 
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup pecans (ground up in a food processor after 45 seconds)
3/8 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinammon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

First I poured the flour into a pan and sort of toasted it a la Dorie Greenspan's Roasted Flour Shortbread cookies.  Whole wheat flour tends to have a nutty flavor and fuller texture than traditional flour but the 5-8 minutes of "toasting" on medium heat seemed to really highlight that flavor.

With the flour off the heat add the the salt, cinnamon and processed pecans.  Pecans add even more flavor, they're a good source of antioxidants and are low in cholesterol.  Hey, when you're making cookies you look for the goodness anywhere you can.

In a medium size bowl cream the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.  When the butter is sweetly yellow and fully incorporated and smooth add the flour mixture. 

When the flour and butter are fully blended form the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.  Truly, I don't think an hour is necessary - it was late on Sunday night so 40 minutes worked just fine.

With the dough out of the refrigerator is going to be firm and perfect for cookie cutters.  Here is a tip, layer the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and first use your hands to massage it flat and then use a roller to make it thin (about 1/4") and uniform.  The heat of your hands will warm the dough a bit, the roller on the dough, when it is right from the fridge, will crack it up too much.

I chose hearts, you know, Bachelor finale and all.  Set the oven to 300 degrees and bake for about 18 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown.

Allow to cool.  Then you can dip into chocolate, drizzle with chocolate or eat plain. 

I have my favorite in tonight's finale, but I'll tell you what these cookies taste a lot better than a rose and come with a lot less heart ache.  Enjoy the show and the cookies (they can both be a guilty pleasure!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bright, Left: Bright Shoes Make a Statement in Spring

Carrie, Dorothy and Carly all have an affinity for bright colored shoes.  Carrie's pair went down the aisle, Dorothy's went down the yellow brick road and my pair went everywhere.

Yellow Slingbacks via J. Crew, Photo

For spring I am seeing a variety of bold and bright colorblocked shoes, let's look at the favorites presented in order of boldness!

There are not for the faint of heart, they are wild, and will definitely turn heads.  Luckily, they are also under $100, so if you're ever in the mood for a wow statement making shoe, that will only be worn a few times, let me introduce you to Jessica Simpson.
Vadio by Jessica Simpson at Macy's

I spotted these yesterday and I was in love.  They have a tropical feel to them, a la Miami Vice, and I really appreciate the sturdiness of the heel.  If you're wearing shoes like these you need to be able to walk, dance and show them off without breaking an ankle.
Wide Heeled Satin Sandal at Zara

These shoes by Nine West caught my eye in an ad in Glamour while killing time in CVS - with all of that sensory overload they still stood out.  I again like the sturdy heel, thick straps and what looks like soft leather in sweet, fun colors.  Do these colors remind anyone else of a belini, mimosa or margarita?  No?  Just me?  Moving on...
Stylin at Nine West

I have been admiring this pair for a little while now.  These are so simple.  A short heel, a black patent leather t-strap.  Oh, but what is that?  Peeking out in the back?  Hot PINK!  These are perfect with the season's maxi dresses and skirts and a fabulous pedicure.
Dacia by Dolce Vita at Bloomingdale's

Spring is looking fabulously bright!  Have a wonderful, fashionable weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rainy Day Cravings: PB + J AAF

Welcome to Day 2 of rain in Washington, DC.  Here is the thing, when it is raining I feel like blech.  I don't want to run, I don't want to think about how my hair is growing (wider/frizzier) by the moment, and I don't want to get wet (and in DC, cold).  All I want to do is read, watch, eat.  

Some might say this is the perfect weather for grilled cheese and soup.  Even that sounds too time consuming...  I want salty, crunchy, nutty peanut butter and sweet, fruity jelly.  

Here are some hometown favorites:


Please note, if you are ever making a PB + J sandwich, treat yourself right and do the trick my dad taught me: Toast some fresh Challah,  egg bread/brioche, and then slather both pieces with peanut butter and then both pieces with jelly.  The warm bread ups the flavor and out of this world comfort of this food and pairs amazingly with a cold glass of milk.

Bite courtesy of yours truly

How about this for breakfast?

 Pillsbury Waffle Sandwiches are nothing short of brilliant.  We do this a lot for breakfast or a mid afternoon/night time snack.

This clever design comes from  Serious Eats and NY's Peanut Butter Co - a restaurant that serves up so many PB & J sandwiches that they created one for every day of the year.  Photos of the clever creations are now on display at the Nutropolitan Museum of Art!

High Class PB & J?
This clever idea come from Bon Appetit's new blog the Kookery.  The clever concept was for choosy mom's with ever choosier kids.  Frankly, I think this works for 26 year old kids too..

Decadent PB & J
These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups might be the most brilliant thing ever.  The deliciousness of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Heavenly...

What do you crave for comfort foods?  How do you like your peanut butter and jelly time?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Denim Days in a Variety of Ways

Denim is perhaps the most ubiquitous part of the American wardrobe; Marilyn and Jackie both wore denim, and today the style that the president wears gets attention and critique.  Denim also played a major role on the Spring 2011 runways, with a heavy influence from the 1970's.

Elie Tahari Spring 2011 via Harper's Bazaar
While denim is truly seasonless I am excited by the crop of fun ways to wear it into Spring and Summer.  Here are my top picks.