Friday, April 29, 2011

Inspired Princess Style

If everything old is new again, we have to find inspiration somewhere.  For Kate Middleton, there was no better inspiration than Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco.

Kate Middleton, April 29, 2011 - Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

Grace Kelly, April 19, 1956, Dress designed by MGM Costume designer, Helen Rose

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dress Like a Princess, Spend Like a Commoner

For as much as Kate loves Will, I've noticed a few other things that have really caught her fancy.  Among them, tights, boots, blazers, and a great cocktail dress.  Kate has a style that is contemporary and accessible.  She knows her shape, colors, and what works best for a life in the limelight.

She favors deep v-necklines, which I suspect will become less deep after the "I do", cinched waists, and fabric details.

Want the Kate look for less?  Try these on for size.

Like any good Brit, Kate often dons the trench coat, but like any savvy shopper we'll forgo the Burberry for a chic coat for less than $200.
Casual about Town, Top Row: Macks Trench Coat via French Connection, English Rose Kimono Blouse via Anthropologie, Broome Street Jeans via Kate Spade, Calvin Klein Metallic Scarf, Heeled Stretch Boots via Boden.

Kate is often photographed in dresses, like the one in the original engagement photos, the highlight and accentuate her slender waist.  Expect to see more dresses and conservative style in her new role.  She also isn't afraid to shop off the rack - we should be no different!
Dress for the Occasion, Middle Row: BCBGMaxAzria Ruched Jersey Dress via Bluefly, Tahari ASL Sheath Dress via Bluefly, Contrast Tank Sundress via White House/Black Market, Cole Haan Opaque Tights via Zappos, Michael Michael Kors Flex Low Pump via Zappos,  ASOS SUGAR Bow Court Shoe via Asos.

Will and Kate got engaged while on Safari in Africa, and I am sure they will honeymoon somewhere fabulous.  Whenever they get the chance for some R & R, expect more dresses and chic, simple resortwear.
Princess on Holiday, Bottom Row: Free People Tiered Lace Dress via Nordstrom,  Crisp Chambray Blazer via Anthropologie, Off White Anglaise Bikini via TopShop, Sapphire and Diamond Ring via, Melin T-Strap Pump via Nordstrom

On Being a Princess

Tomorrow, Waity Katy will wait no more.  Tomorrow, Kate Middleton, the future Catherine, the Something of Somewhere will be a bride, and the most watched bride of all time.

Kate and William via
I mentioned in conversation the other day that I sort of feel badly for Kate - yea, we're on a first name basis.  It can be tough to be a bride, especially when your every move is scrutinized and then compared to one of the world's most beloved women, your groom's mother.  

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, July 29, 1981via
But, it also got me thinking, how unique is her situation, really?  On her wedding day she will become a princess, and on your wedding day so will you.  Stay with me here...

You might hate the idea of being a princess, and what is stands for: the patriarchy, and pomp and circumstance.  
You might be a beach bride, a ballroom bride, a courtroom bride or a castle bride.  
You might get your dress off the rack, at a sample sale, or have it be the most highly speculated gown of the year.  
You might share donuts with your spouse, cupcakes, or a multi-tiered traditional English fruitcake (*yikes!).
You might have a very small budget, be a DIY-er, or be employing a royal army of vendors for your wedding day.

It makes no difference.  On the day you put on your dress (maybe it's red, "diamond" white, ivory, or somewhere in between) and walk towards your groom, (up the stairs of the courthouse or down the long and storied aisle of Westminster Abbey), you will be the only person anyone looks at, the only person anyone talks about, and the only Princess for your Prince Charming.

Mark and I on our Wedding Day, via
I will be watching tomorrow as William and Kate say "I do" and share their awkward first public kiss as husband and wife.  

If you're in need of more Royal Wedding info, People has done a great job of pulling it all together, and you can watch it live online at 5 AM, EST.  You can also follow the wedding news on Twitter with #rw2011.

Now all that's left is seeing what she wears!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Welcome Back!

Hopefully you're still here, and haven't wandered off.  The last time we spoke we were talking matzah, and soups, and brisket (and man, they were delicious!) and then Mark and I were jetting off to LAX for a week of fun and adventure.

Our Passover Table

We flew into LAX (Los Angeles) and over the course of a week we snaked up Highway 1 to San Francisco.  We stopped in 11 little towns, met up with old friends and made new friends and ate delicious food throughout.  We also took some time to enjoy the view.

Santa Barbara

I will regale you with a full review and recipes from our amazing trip, and share more daily posts on recipes, fashion, and life!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easy Passover Desserts

Oh, did you forget tonight was Passover?  You forgot you were supposed to bring a dessert to your friend's/coworker's/cousin's/mother-in-law's house?  Oh you're supposed to bring a dessert and you don't have like an extra 6,000 eggs lying around, and matzah cake meal?

Do not worry.  Walk away from the bakery counter.  Matzah Toffee to the rescue!

The ingredients are simple, and because its basically sugar, butter and chocolate (and your creativity) it is hard to go wrong.  And you can get ready at the same time!

5 sheets of matzah
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Cover a cookie sheet in tin foil, and lay out the matzah.  

In a medium size sauce pot, over low heat, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar.  While stirring constantly, watch for the sugar to melt into the butter.  When it starts to bubble remove from the heat.  Off the stove add the vanilla, or other extract that you might like - or none at all, and the salt, and continue to stir.

With a heat-proof spatula spread the toffee mixture on top of the matzah getting as close to all four corners as possible.  

Put the entire tray into a warm oven of 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes. (Take a shower).

Out of the oven, sprinkle chocolate chips onto the hot toffee'd matzah and then tent the entire tray with tin foil and let it sit for 15 minutes.  When tented the heat will melt the chocolate and you're free to do other things.  (Go do your make up).

Come back to the matzah and spread the chocolate with a knife or spatula and then be creative, sprinkle with a little sea salt, some chopped pistachios or almonds, or candied ginger.

Put the tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or longer.  (Dry your hair). When you're ready to go, break into candy bar sized pieces.

Enjoy with family and friends - this sweet treat is perfect as a Passover dessert, hosting gift, or a quick snack.

Happy Passover!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Menu Planning for Passover

On Monday night our family will come over for a Passover Seder.  I am excited to start cooking and have been assembling a menu for weeks.

If you were eating at my house, this is what you'd get!

Herbed Salad

Mark's Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
via The Daily Batch
Julie's Charoset

Matzah Ball Soup

Homemade Matzah
via The Daily Batch

Smitten Kitchen's Slow Cooked Brisket
via Smitten Kitchen

Herbed Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus
via Bon Appetit
Roasted Carrots

 Chocolate Mousse Pie in Coconut Macaroon Shell

Knowing myself I am sure there will be a few more items that sneak onto the table...  What are you favorite Passover foods?  If you've never celebrated is there anything you're interested in trying?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Go Green for Weddings

My standout favorite in the color category was the Oscar de la Renta dress with a sage belt and cotton candy like confection wrapping the model's shoulders.  It has since inspired a Green and White Wedding Board with a focus on texture, color and a bit of whimsy.  Green tulle calls for whimsy!

I really wanted to incorporate the satin-bow as seen on the bride, and featured it on the flower girl and the flower "embroidered" cake.  I wanted lots of texture so I loved the olive tree centerpiece for the escort card table and the freshness of the florals and drink.  And of course for a touch of sweetness and whimsy is there anything more whimsical than cotton candy?

Row 1: Oscar de la Renta Spring 2010, Cake via
Row 2: Real Weddings Invitation, via, Real Weddings Florals, via
Row 3: Fox N’ Lily Flower Girl Dress, via, Escort Card Table by David Stark Design, via, Plaza Pinnacle Drink by CPS Events at The Plaza, via, Green Apple Cotton Candy by AIX NYC, via, 

What color combinations are you loving for now, or later?  It's okay to dream (plan) ahead!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Seeing Green, Pink and Blue

This past week was Bridal Market in New York, my invitation was lost in the mail but thanks to the various people I follow on Twitter and I had a virtual front row seat.  A few trends really stuck out to me, and the first was the presence of color in a sea of white.

In a conversation I had last night I told someone there is no right or wrong way to get married, only your way.  These dresses are the visual illustration of that theme.  You can wear whatever you want, and now in whatever color.  Here are some of my favorites:

For Spring I love the bold, and the slight touches of soft sage green.  It is fresh, light and a really lovely take for a bold bride.

Oscar de la Renta - Spring 2012, via

Vera Wang - Spring 2012, via

Two trends that I loved were the surprising supersized stripes on Carolina Herrera's runway, and the ombre dyed Oscar de la Renta in radiant blue.

Oscar de la Renta - Spring 2012, via
Carolina Herrera - Spring 2012, via

In a more classical turn, the runways were filled with swaths of blush, mauve, pinks and lavenders.  The beauty of the bridal bouquet and some ballerina style have influenced the wedding gown.

Monique Lhuillier - Spring 2012, via

Reem Acra - Spring 2012, via

Rivini - Spring 2012, via

Vera Wang - Spring 2012, via
Watters - Spring 2012, via

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Setting the Stage

Normally I think of home decorating and collecting furniture as sort of a piecemeal process; you pick up great pieces when and where you can.  The process is organic as you sort of figure out what works in your space, and what doesn't.

Or, you can do what I did this weekend and stage an entire house in a matter of hours, with the help of our good old friend, the Internet.  I had the chance to stage to coordinate the staging (furniture/accessories) of a newly remodeled DC row home.

This was a great exercise in design, but it's also provided some great tips for anyone setting out to make their first home, especially those with a limited budget.  

In the bathroom: have fun!  The entire concept for both bathrooms came from the towels.  Towels (from World Market) are a really affordable way to add personality in a small space.  Then, because I am like this, I matched the wastebasket and soap to the towels - that is clearly not mandatory. 

Here's a tip: in designing for staging and open houses, or for any high trafficked guest bathroom, skip the soft white floor rug.  I went with gray, it will be more durable underfoot.

In the living room I went with the bold choice of a light colored sofa.  In theory it is safe for a staging house, or a house without kids or pets (like ours, in real life!), but what you forget about is the times when the furniture needs to be moved by movers, and not with your tender loving care from house to house.  No worries, this sofa (also from World Market) is completely slip covered to allow for ease when changing styles, or hiding spills.

In the kitchen allow yourself to make a statement.  For me it was these cute little stacked coffee cups (World Market), that inspired the rest of the color palette and semi-retro aesthetic. 

I had a few challenges: make it affordable, make it fabulous, and make it livable. I am not an interior designer, but I learned a few tricks along the way, that were worth sharing.  

If you're in home set-up mode here were my favorite places to search and shop: 
  • World Market,  great for accessories and unusual items, textiles, that sofa!
  • Pier 1, great for vases, candles, kitchen kitsch
  • Target, great for lamps, rugs, bedding, affordable accent furniture
  • JCPenney, great sales on large furniture, rugs, dining
  • Wal-Mart, great for lamps, affordable accent furniture, bedding
  • Crate & Barrel, great sales on dishes, table linens
  • Amazon, great for price checking
  • Overstock, great for price checking, rugs

Monday, April 11, 2011

Passover Humor

I've got Passover on the brain; I am menu planning, I am planning to clean, and I am writing/revising a Haggadah (the book that is read during the Passover meal).  Least of my worries is what to wear for Passover.

Which is why I got a good laugh when my friend forwarded me this email from Rent the Runway:

Friends, there are few guarantees in life, but of this I can be sure.  I will not be wearing the Diane Von Furstenberg Taste of Elegance Dress for my taste of matzah.  It's a beauty but you'd probably be better off wearing it to the next J-Date "Matzah Madness" Happy Hour.

For more Passover humor, with a techie twist, please watch this, laugh, and talk amongst yourself (in the comments!).



Friday, April 8, 2011

Red Hot, Orange Crush

The other day my colleague swung by my desk to show off her new lipstick.  It was bold, bright and a very happy shade of orangey-red.  I really liked it.  And in my excitement, which fed off of her excitement, I asked, "Where did you get it from?"  She said, "a little boutique called CVS."  Yea for funny girls!

If you look around orange and red are popping up everywhere: the fresh strawberries, the tart citrus, the tulips sprouting in the neighbor's flowerbeds, and the Spring 2011 runways.
LA Racked: Spring 2011 looks from (l-r): Prada, Vena Cava, Halston. Images via

For spring there are endless ways to this bright and vibrant hue; it speaks loudly and with confidence and requires an equally glowing smile. 

Red Hot, Orange Crush From L-R: Rouge Pur Couture by Yves St. Laurent; Acne Pearl Skirt at My Theresa; Tangerine Belted Paper Bag Skirt at Asos; Diane Von Furstenberg Gyls Dress at Bloomingdale's; Lenny Deep V Mailot at Barneys; 811 Mid Rise Skinny Jean at J Brand; Le Prairies le Paris Silk Crepe Blouse at La Garconne; Juicy Couture Fernanda at Zappos Couture; Kate Spade New York Straw Fedora at Zappos; Kenneth  Cole Reaction Slip Around at Zappos; Beaded Bracelet at Forever 21

So how to wear red/orange in real life...  
  • Be confident in the shape of what you're wearing, the silhouette will make a huge difference. 
  • Start with something small and work into larger statements.  In makeup maybe test nails before lipstick, in fashion shoes before a sheath
  • Find the right shade for your shade, and find complimenting shades to pair it with
  • Look to nature for inspiration, this is a color that if you're looking for it you'll find everywhere.
  • Be happy - these are HAPPY colors!

Daily Batch Red Hot, Orange Crush Color Board

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Berry Good Breakfast Muffins

True story, inspired by "If You Give a Moose a Muffin", if you're coming to my house, I am going to make sure that there is coffee.  And if there is coffee you'll probably want something to eat. And if you're going to eat something it might as well be a muffin.  And if people are going to be eating muffins, I am going to be baking them.

That is the story behind these Berry Good Breakfast Muffins, we had people coming over at 7am (*I know!  That is crazy early!) and I thought 7am visits deserve muffins.  But, these muffins shouldn't be cloyingly sweet, or filled with butter and chocolate.  They should be a healthy breakfast is a small paper cup.

Berry Good Breakfast Muffins Ingredients
adapted from Joy the Baker's Raspberry and Jam Muffins
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups dry oatmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg

2 tablespoons raspberry jam (I use no sugar added)
1 cup chopped blackberries

In a large bowl add all of the dry ingredients, flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and with fork blend together.

In a separate bowl add all of the wet ingredients, egg, yogurt, apple sauce and sugar.  With that same trusty fork blend these ingredients.  There is something to be said about a recipe that doesn't require, or isn't made any easier by using an electric blender.

When the wet ingredients are blended all the pieces will be fully incorporated and smooth.  Slowly add the wet to the dry and incorporate together and whisk together so everything is one big batter.

I used blackberries because that is what I had on hand.  I chopped them up so that the juice would flow throughout each bit and because blackberries are bigger and have a stronger flavor than blueberries (another delicious option).  Really any fruit works here.

With each scoop of jam I broke it apart into smaller chunks within the batter and very gently folded it in without turning the batter a pretty shade of pinkish purple. 

Set these little breakfast bites into a 375 degree oven for 16 minutes.  The batter makes 18 muffins, so you might want to invite people over at 7am to share these with and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'll Meet You at the Bar

I am not a big drinker, but I love a bar.  I love a cookie dunking, cheese cutting, drink making, ice cream cone stacking, pie slicing bar.  I love it so much that for our wedding I recruited family to make our favorite cookies which were artfully displayed in beautiful glass domes and trays.  

What inspired my cookie bar - Ariel Yve Wedding via

The Viennese table of my bat mitzvah youth, and the all-you-can-eat buffet of my worst nightmares have been elevated to a chic level of sophistication and grace.  You can blame it on food bloggers, food stylists, but Amy Atlas is the pro who has made it an art.  

Gone are over flowing trays of cheddar cheese cubs and sad excuses for French pastries.  In their places are authentic foods, comfort foods, real foods in smaller portions and beautifully displayed.

Ice Cream is amazing, but how much sweeter do you think it tastes when this is how it looks?  Probably a thousand times sweeter is my guess. 

Ice Cream Parlour Chic by Eat Drink Chic

I don't know too many studs who would be plussed by a spud bar, but perhaps the happy homemaker in all of us would make this for her spud loving stud (or little spud stud baby). 

Spud Bar by Botanic Flowers, Photo by TinyWater

Ahh, the cheese plate has grown into a cheese table!  Is this not the most simple and elegant display of some of nature and man's best creations (honey and cheese)?  

Cheese Table by Sunday Suppers

We see a lot of cookies, cakes and pies, but how absolutely delightful to see fruits and vegetables (and their favorite dips) all beautifully displayed and taking center stage?  This shows that eating whole and healthily is beautiful.   

Fruit and Veggie Bar at Ohdeedoh

As I menu plan for the upcoming Passover holiday I can't help but be inspired by the creative presentations and artful edibles.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

All About the Race

On Saturday night Mark and I went to dinner at Paolo's (spaghetti dinner, you know) and went to bed at around 11:30pm.  I was definitely nervous, nervous about waking up on time, nervous about how cold it would be in the morning, nervous if I had trained enough, or in the right way.  Nervous!

Sunday morning at 5am came earlier than I anticipated.  But, after a night of much interrupted sleep I was feeling a sense of now or never.  I made my pre-race breakfast, oatmeal and almond butter, and a banana and drank, and drank, and drank (lots of water).

If you're wondering what to wear if you're running 10 miles and it is 33 degrees outside, you may follow my lead: long leggings (cotton/spandex), a wicking sports bra, a base layer long sleeve t-shirt, a Marmot zip up jacket, and a headband.  It is cold at 5am, but around mile 3 it really does start to warm up as evidenced by the trail of jackets, gloves, a shirts on the street.

As I have said, this was my first race.  Sometime in the early morning hours as I wandered around the base of the Washington Monument, my nerves dissipated and were replaced with excitement (as well as an urgency to pee - see above about the water).  I felt my muscles warm up and relax, and that sense of fear about not being able to do this thing, this race, turned into excitement as a smile spread across my face.

I didn't run the best race, I got a cramp, I had to walk for a portion.  But, I finished.  I came running into the finish line as my husband and sister watched and cheered me on and finished in just under 2 hours.  

As I ran faster towards the finish line, I wasn't thinking anything.  I was just running (I know, very Forrest Gump).  When I crossed I felt everything.  I felt salt on my forehead, the cold chill on sweat soaked clothes, and absolute joy.  I wasn't tired.  I was proud.

I hope you'll take some time to make a goal, whatever it is, and train towards it.  That feeling at the end, it's amazing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Final Stretch

This weekend I am running the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Race.  I am clearly not the first person to run this race, and I'll be running it with thousands of other people, but I am excited about this race.  And by excited I mean pretty nervous.

I am not a runner.  In fact, when I went to the running store two weeks ago to buy new sneakers, I emphatically told the employee, "I am running in the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, but I'm not a runner or anything".  And the truth is, I wasn't a runner.  I didn't look forward to running the trails near our apartment in Virginia, and I often stood on the side of the track while Mark ran (and fast).  

This past fall, I knew I needed to find a mental and physical challenge to compete with the various other challenges in life.  I needed something to focus on, to aspire to and to complete.

I am generally competitive by nature, but the only person I have been competing with has been me.  Over the course of the last two months, during my training program, I have gone from dreading the 3 miles I needed to run, to saying now, "Oh, it's just three miles."

Before I ever started running I told myself that if I ran 5 miles my gift to myself would be the Maniac pumps from Brian Atwood, it is no longer about the shoes.  It is about knowing that I set a goal, I went after it, and in a few days I will do it.  I am not running for time, I am running for me.

I'll report back on Monday with the results. 

If you need a reason to take on a new challenge, the reason should be because you can, and so you have to.

Have a great weekend.