Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Food & Wine Celebration

Image Credit: Racked NY
Ladurée has finally opened a tea room in Soho. The New Potato takes a tour and interviews their president. Vanity Fair also covered it here. Luckily my husband loves macarons even more than I do, so it won't be too hard to convince him to spend an afternoon waiting in line with me this weekend.

PUNCH finds out what Grant Reynolds, sommelier of NYC's Charlie Bird (which gets a lot of attention for it's wine list) drinks when he's off duty.  It's a part of their series called "That Wine Lyfe: a drink diary of America's wine pros."

A Williamsburg start-up called DivvyDown will determine how much food & drink you need for your next party, help you split the cost and/or divide the responsibilities amongst your guests in a BYO plan of some sort, and even have what you need delivered. I'm guessing that the concept is more appropriate for 20-somethings, mostly because I don't fully understand it, which makes me feel old. Do "kids these days" really need an app to have friends over?!

Saturday = March!! Which means it's not too early to start shopping for spring. I've updated my Spring Style board with lots of fun, current options. Did you guys take advantage of Shopbop's big sale this week? I bought this delicate gold necklace and it's my new favorite thing. If you need to refresh your entertaining items, Serena & Lily is having the most incredible sale on Gilt right now. I'm obsessing over these trays in grey.

The Oscars are on Sunday. Yesterday I rounded up some printable & DIY ideas from the web. The Glitter Guide put together some Easy Oscar Viewing Party TipsOscar-Worthy Popcorn & Cocktail Recipes - now you have no excuse not to host a little party!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oscar Party Printables & DIY Ideas

Are you guys hosting or attending an Oscar party this weekend? It's not too late to pull a little something together! (Let's not pretend we all have other fabulous plans besides HBO on a Sunday night). Here are a few printables and DIY projects I've seen around the web that might inspire you. Note: all photos are credited to the site linked in the captions - I did not design these.
Free Printable Ballots via Almost Makes Perfect
Free Printable Ballot via Studio DIY
Free Printable Ballots via Minted.com / Julep
Printable Oscar Bingo via How About Orange
DIY Tuxedo Confetti Poppers via Kristi Murphy
Ballot Envelopes via Studio DIY
Ballot Tubes via Studio DIY (use the 2014 ballot in this container)
DIY Cupcake Topper via Lisa Storms
DIY Star Garlands via Green Wedding Shoes
PJ's & Pearls Oscar Party Printables (for a fee) via Kristi Murphy

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homemade Fudge: Love & Olive Oil's February 2014 Kitchen Challenge

For a while now I've been meaning to take part in Love & Olive Oil's monthly Kitchen Challenge series, so when I saw that this month's challenge was homemade fudge, I knew I had to participate. My grandma used to make fudge for me, starting as far back as my memory goes. Before I was tall enough to see what was happening on the stove, she would let me stand on a chair in the kitchen and watch as she cooked the sugar, milk, butter and chocolate together. I loved knowing that at any time she could whip up this incredible treat using a few basic ingredients that were always in her kitchen. And I was fascinated by the process - never one for technology, my grandma used the soft ball test to determine when the mixture was ready to leave the stove and be poured into the pan to set. This is incredibly tricky - if you don't cook fudge long enough it just makes a thick, sticky sauce - but cook it too long and it forms a grainy, crumbling lump. These days, most people use thermometers to remove the guesswork. I tried using one, once, and despite cooking it to the exact specified degree my fudge came out on the overcooked lumpy side. Which if my Grammy could have seen, I'm sure she would have given me one of her "you should've listened to me" winks. Although she wasn't perfect herself; on several occasions her fudge turned out as "chocolate soup" - but she never stressed about it. She would just blame it on the weather and then serve it over ice cream. I never complained.
This is not my Grandma's recipe, mostly because she didn't use recipes. She would just pour a little of everything into a pot and mix it - because that's how her Grandma taught her. Apparently my OCD came from a different side of our family, because I need recipes. I also developed a pickier palate when it comes to chocolate, so instead of relying on cocoa powder as she did, I use real chocolate. This recipe was developed by a chef I used to work with, which is why it's measured in grams. If you don't have a kitchen scale, this is a great excuse to buy one!
Chocolate Fudge
563g Sugar 
150g Butter
225g Evaporated Milk
13g Vanilla Extract
337g Chocolate
75g Marshmallows
1 Pinch of Salt

A few notes about this recipe: This is not marshmallow fudge. The marshmallows melt and you wouldn't know they were there at all. I'm honestly not sure what purpose they serve, I just know that this recipe makes perfectly creamy fudge, so I'm not going to mess with it. I use mini marshmallows but regular size will work if they are chopped into small pieces. You can use whatever kind of chocolate you like, just make sure it's also chopped or is in chocolate chip form. I buy Ghiradelli 60% Chocolate Chips in bulk, and they're perfect for this.
Method: Prepare a medium square or rectangular baking pan greased with butter; set aside. In a pot over medium-high heat, mix together the sugar and evaporated milk until the mixture is consistent. Add the butter, chopped into small pieces, and the vanilla extract. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Continue cooking until it starts to darken and thicken. Have a few shallow glasses of cold water ready for the soft ball test. I put ice cubes in the water up until I'm ready to test, to make sure it's cold. To conduct the soft ball test: drop a spoonful of the boiling mixture into a glass of cold water. If the mixture sticks together and you're able to form it into a ball with your fingers, it's ready. The three glasses shown below are a ball test at different stages of cooking. You can see the glass on the far left has very cloudy water and not much color concentrated on the bottom - that means it hasn't cooked long enough. The middle glass is still a little cloudy and the test didn't quite form a ball on the bottom. The glass on the right with the most color concentrated on the bottom was last test, when I knew it was ready. The mixture formed into a ball that I could remove, which is shown below on the white plate. (I know it looks gross).
Once your ball test is positive, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the chocolate, marshmallow and salt until everything has melted together. When the mixture is consistent, pour it into the prepared pan and let it cool. It will continue to harden for about an hour. If you're really impatient (like I always was) you can put the pan in the refrigerator - or on your front porch in the winter like we did - to speed up the process.
Check out Love & Olive Oil for information on their monthly challenge. You don't need to have a blog to participate! Anyone can submit photos. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fancy Pants Part 2

We had such a great response to Megan's post about how to style Fancy Pants yesterday that I was inspired to search for even more options. I recently purchased a relaxed pair from Joie (shown top left and middle) and I think they are the perfect hostess pant - pretty & polished, but comfortable and easy to work in. The last thing you want to worry about while you're hosting is a too-tight pant or a too-short skirt.
Top Row: Joie Talina B Pants | Joie Theron B Pants | J.Crew Collection Track Pant in Nightgarden Floral Bottom Row: Tory Burch Alexa Cropped Skinny | Diane Von Furstenberg Susie Honeycomb Pants | Red Valentino Floral Print Pants

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Style: The Fancy Pant

After Valentine's Day, the winter can seem to stretch on with no end in sight and no festive holidays as distractions. So who better to cheer us up by bringing a little sparkle to dull winter days than our fashion contributor Megan! 
Megan: Fancy pants have become a staple in my wardrobe, and I love them not only for holiday festivities (like that gold number I wore on New Year's Eve and the pink pair for Valentine's Day) but also for the times that just call for something fun and celebratory. Like get togethers with friends. Or Tuesdays. In my book, there are very few occasions when a metallic pant would not be welcome. They can be as dressed up or as dressed down as you please, and they make for a memorable outfit without much more effort than jeans. Go ahead, wear the pants.
Megan: Behold the pant that started it all - my very first pair of fancy pants. I bought these metallic brocade pants from J.Crew last year, so I was delighted to see that J.Crew Factory has come out with a similar version this season. I've paired them with a peach merino sweater and layered this gold and pastel necklace with some vintage flea market pearls.
Pants: J.Crew 2013, current J.Crew Factory version here (on sale!) | Sweater: J.Crew | Shoes: Nine West | Necklaces: Banana Republic, vintage faux pearls | Bracelet: similar J.Crew

Megan: Yes, these are the purple version of the gold pants from New Year's. Yes, I bought them in both colors. No, I am not ashamed because when you find what you love, go ahead and buy it in every color. I've paired them with a chambray camp shirt because I like the contrast of the luxe metallic fabric with the faded, casual aesthetic of the denim. The juxtaposition is sort of whimsical because sometimes you don't need to take lamé pants too seriously. Throw on some rhinestones, anchor it with black accessories, and off you go!
Pants: J.Crew | Shirt: J.Crew | Belt: Banana Republic | Shoes: Ann Taylor, similar J.Crew version here | Necklaces: J.Crew | Bracelet: similar J.Crew

Megan: I've found that the topic of animal print is a divisive one, and here's where I stand: there's a broad spectrum of animal prints that ranges from Park Avenue grande dames to the cast of Jersey Shore, and when it's the former, I think it's terribly chic. These pants mean business in a clever leopard / floral hybrid print, and I've paired them with a crisp white shirt and a black cashmere tee. I've kept the accessories classic to let the pants do the talking.
Pants: Ann Taylor | Shirt: J.Crew | Sweater: J.Crew | Shoes: Ann Taylor, similar J.Crew version here | Necklace: J.Crew | Watch: Kate Spade

All images in this post are by photographer Kristin Lance.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Winter Celebration

Brooklyn Heights via Matthew Gulliford
To be honest, I'm not nearly as tired of the snow as I am tired of people complaining about it. To the people who say to me "Can you believe it's snowing again?!" I've started replying "Yes. It's February." Where I grew up, winter weather lasted well into the spring, so a few inches of snow in February wouldn't even warrant a conversation much less a complaint. Now for those of you in the Southern states getting snow, of course I can see your concern. (PS: Welcome to the climate crisis, skeptics). But here in New York, February snowfall should be NBD. So in order to make the most of it, this weekend's links are all about celebrating things that come with the winter months:

Food52 and Lonny have recipes and tips for the perfect hot chocolate. Top it off with the perfect whipped cream.

In my archives: arctic freeze party elements, 3 cookies to bake to warm your kitchen, pasta recipes, brie and rosemary mac & cheese.

Winter weather means you can still get away with super dark nail polish colors, like Essie's Luxedo or Midnight Cami, Tom Ford's Viper, and Deborah Lippmann's Dark Side of the Moon. The same goes for lips: our Beauty Editor Amy Linda recommends Laura Mercier's Stick Gloss in Black Orchid or Nars' Pure Matte Lipstick in Mascate. My favorite winter red is Tom Ford's Lip Color in Scarlet Rouge.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sometimes Pasta is the Only Answer: 3 Go-To Recipes

Image Source: Nylon Pinsky
This basically sums up my week. I returned late Sunday from a weekend in Vegas (which included a dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Bouchon Bistro), and then Monday night I went to a show at City Winery. Both of these places have ways of tricking you into excessive consumption. Does anyone else find it difficult to transition back into a healthy routine after a long weekend of eating and drinking? I'd blame it on the weather, but traveling always throws me off in this way. And sometimes you've just gotta give in. So here are my go-to pasta recipes for days when I just can't force myself to eat steamed vegetables and quinoa: 

1. Ina Garten's Tagliarelle with White Truffle Butter - I first came across this recipe on Big Girls Small Kitchen - so you know it's manageable even for novice cooks. It might seem a little over the top to use an entire container of truffle butter in one dish, but that's kind of the point. I feel like vegetarians are allowed these sorts of luxuries, since we never spend money on overpriced steak dinners. Fair is fair. 

2. I'm considering this one a pasta because it's flour based: Thomas Keller's Herb Gnocchi à la Parisienne - this is actually what I had for dinner at Bouchon on Saturday. I'd never had it at the restaurant prior to that, I had only made it myself for the Joyeux Noel Luncheon I held back in December (which was inspired by a trip to the Bouchon in Napa last summer). So I was thrilled to find it on the menu this weekend and try the real thing. If any of you hosts out there are struggling with what to serve when a vegetarian is coming over for dinner, this is it. Plus it's perfect for dinner parties because the gnocchi need to rest prior to serving, so you can make this up to a day in advance.

3. Not Without Salt's Winter Herb Pasta with Roasted Vegetables - This is a great clean-out-the-fridge recipe for when you're trying to figure out how to make a meal of the sad looking veggies in your crisper drawer. And it's especially handy this time of year when winter produce is starting to seem borrrring. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Your Next Book Club Selection

I'm sure a lot of you are in a book club of some sort (it seems that most women over 25 are). I'm curious - how do you handle the book selection? The club I'm in is small, with a core four members and then invited guests from time to time. So the four of us take turns making the selection, and the person who chooses the book also hosts the meeting - my favorite part. I plan the menu and other details embarrassingly far in advance, though I'm sure that is no surprise. What I don't love as much about hosting is trying to choose a book that will please everyone. To make it easier, I've been keeping a running list of books I hear about so that when my turn comes up I'm not desperately googling "best book club books 2014." So when I read A Cup of Jo's blog post yesterday about B.J.Novak's book, I was thrilled. And a book trailer (are book trailers a thing now?) starring Mindy Kaling, one of my absolute favorites?! This is just too good to be true. Seriously, you have to watch it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Buy Now: The Social Type's Matchboxes

These matchboxes by The Social Type warrant a full post, because I have been waiting SO LONG for them to reach stores. I first caught a glimpse of them in photos from a stationery show, and I have been stalking the website since. A few of the styles have already sold out, but I'm sure (I hope!) they'll restock soon. I did manage to get my hands on the "I'm in Love" and "Cocktails" versions. The black & gold will be perfect for my post-Valentine's / pre-spring bar cart. So far I've found them available at Hattan Home (my latest online shopping obsession) and Leif. Any of these with a mini candle would make a perfect hostess gift, or how about the "Make a Wish" version with a cake as a birthday gift?! Perfection.





Monday, February 17, 2014

NYFW Kate Spade New York Presentation FW14

I was somehow lucky enough to receive an invitation to the Kate Spade New York Presentation during Fashion Week. Their Chief Creative Officer, Deborah Lloyd, explained that the looks this season are about "relaxing the rules, and the silhouette. smashing traditions to make new ones." I loved the bright colors and overall cheerful vibe (especially in the midst of frigid temperatures). I also love the pairing of black & navy, pale pink & gold embellishments. Here's what to expect coming up from ksny...
My current favorite pieces available include the Cordette Dress, Tanner Dress (that bow detail on the back!), and the classic Holly Street Jeanne bag. A lot of fashion bloggers have been sporting this Dorothy Coat lately (more bows!) and of course the Beau Bag.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Weekend Links: The Latest in Valentine's Day Celebration


SEND: Paperless Post thinks you might need help "navigating the day of love," so they've designed this Illustrated Field Guide to Valentine's Day suggesting one of their online cards for every type of person you can think of, from your work spouse to your favorite ex to your actual spouse. They also have several Valentines designed by Kate Spade New York, but my favorite is this "Brie Mine" card. We know I'm a fan of snail mail, but these will work in a pinch. IE: right now as you realize you've forgotten someone.

EAT: Heart shaped meals "for you over-achieving cupids" (Foodily), naturally red colored recipes (Huff Post Taste)

DRINK: The online magazine Punch asks wine professionals which bottles pair best with a makeout session (seriously). And Saveur weighs in on what we should be drinking this Valentine's Day: red, pink & bubbly winesfloral cocktails, and beers to help you drink away the pain.

INDULGE: Chocolate dessert recipes for 2

PROFESS: Clementine Daily details 3 Ways to Write Your Valentine.

LISTEN: Valentine's Makeout Party Playlist by Molly Madfis via West Elm's blog, Font + Main

WATCH: The Glitter Guide put together a list of 10 date night movies to watch at home. Don't see anything you like? Here's another list.

READ: Darling Magazine's list of 5 Must-Read Valentine Classics

SHOP: You deserve a treat. There's a lot of pink on my Spring Style Board. And because you know there's no problem a fresh new lipstick can't fix, try my Beauty//Makeup Board. For last minute gifts: my Valentine's gift guides for the foodiefor the ladyfor the mister.

SAVE: For those in NYC, Brokelyn blog maps out a 100% Free (& Fun) Valentine's Day. Any day that starts with cake works for me, free is just a bonus.

GIVE: 14 Charitable Ways to Spend Valentine's Day

HATE: Just not that into it? Here are a selection of cards for the haters ("Fat babies carrying bows and arrows are creepy anyway"). Food52 guides you though an Anti-Valentine's Day Party, where pork shoulder and something called a chocolate dump-it cake are on the menu. They also have a roundup of decidedly non-sexy recipes for when you "don't give a flip." Still feeling snarky? The 19 Worst Couples You'll See on Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day, Lovers!
                  xoxo

Thursday, February 13, 2014

8 Free Printables for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is TOMORROW! That means you still have time to print out a few of these cards & goodies to give to your favorites. Note: I did NOT design these projects, and all the images seen in this post are credited to the designers specified. Click the link in the image captions to be redirected to the original websites for the instructions and applicable file downloads.
a pair & a spare
Design Eat Repeat
Oleander & Palm
Say Yes
Freutcake
Minted.Com / Julep
Camille Styles
Beautiful Revelry
For even more last-minute Valentine's Day ideas, check out my Valentine's board on Pinterest. Snowed in? Order yourself a treat: Valentine's gift guides for the foodiefor the ladyfor the mister.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY Glitter Heart Swizzle Sticks in Pink, Black & Gold

Today I'm going to show you how to make a very simple DIY project: glitter heart swizzle sticks! You may recognize these from my Valentine's Day bar cart design that I shared yesterday.
Punch out several glitter hearts - you'll need 2 per stick. Then coat the back of one heart in glue, making sure to cover most if not all of the heart. Press the stick onto the heart, like pictured above.
Press the second heart onto the other side of the stick. You shouldn't need anymore glue if you coated most of the first heart.
Press both sides of the heart together firmly, and move slightly if needed so that they line up. Set aside to dry. And that's it! 
For more fun Valentine's ideas, check out my Valentine's Day board on Pinterest. I've been pinning like crazy!