Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a magical night on anna maria island.

there are some nights when you just feel like pinching yourself and asking, "is this really happening?" (alternate utterances include, "i have the best job in the entire world.")

last night, for me, was one of those nights.

i was invited to an intimate, four-person dinner at beach bistro on anna maria island, a little slice of beach-town heaven about 35 minutes north of sarasota. it was a cold, clear night, and the starry sky, coupled with the twinkle-light-lined cottages and old-timey ice cream shops and burger joints that we passed on the way to the bistro -- not to mention the gulf of mexico, which traced our path the entire way -- lent an air of magic to the entire evening.

beach bistro, as the name suggests, lives right on the beach; you step out of the restaurant's back door and into the sand. it's a small restaurant in an unassuming location, with low ceilings and nautical, beach-themed decor that makes you feel like you're dining on a ship. the lighting -- which you can see in that second pic above -- is such that, even though you're surrounded by other tables, you still feel like you and your companions are enjoying a meal that's been prepared solely, and specially, for you. service is attentive and friendly and -- in a place where everything is so well-thought out, right down to the cheeky descriptions of menu items -- decidedly un-stuffy. and the first grace note sounds the second you're seated: it's in the ice water flavored with lemon and a sprig of rosemary. (and then in the champagne, the perfectly paired white and red wines, the butter-poached lobster with citrus grits, the sherry-scented tomato with bread, a little pesto and a little olive tapenade, the grouper over fork-tender fingerling potatoes, the bouillabaisse and the desserts that included chocolate terrine, a warm fruit crepe, praline-coated vanilla ice cream and bacon ice cream, also pictured above. sound like a lot? there were two more red-meat options that i didn't try. amazing.)

we left the restaurant feeling so full -- full of food and wine, of course, but also good conversation and laughter. it was an unforgettable night, one that was almost emotional thanks to the food and the company. i'd been to the bistro once before, years ago, and it was wonderful, but there was something different about this experience. saying that i can't wait to go back again is an understatement, but i also love the fact that a meal at beach bistro is truly a treat. it's something i'd want to have once a year, at most. the place is special; you want it to always feel that way.

so we drove home, down longboat key, our quartet quieter and more reflective than we were on the way up, and right as we pulled into the parking lot where we'd parked our cars so we could all drive up together, a shooting star streaked across the sky.


and on a monday night, at that.

Monday, January 30, 2012

scenes from the weekend + committing to...

is there any better way to kick off a monday than with a photo of two cats holding paws? (and yes, those're my two fluffs: zadie -- who i just caught clawing up a chair! -- on the left and oscar on the right.)

i didn't quite feel like myself last week: a combination of hormones and the busy last week of an equally busy month led to intense feelings of lethargy and a strong urge to hole up in my apartment. so that's just what i did, in between pre-planned commitments, and it was wonderful. sometimes you just need a weekend of pajama pants, tea and blankets. (oh, and this soup. soup is pretty great, too.)

this week is starting on a super-busy note, too -- lunches and dinners and post-work appointments have the next few days of my calendar filled -- but i'm looking forward to the beginning of a new week. and, on wednesday, new month -- can you believe it'll be february already?

and speaking of new weeks, here are my commitments for this one:

+ make time for physical activity every day, even if that means getting up earlier, and make sure most of it is outside.

+ speaking of getting up earlier, i need to actually do just that. i've been a little bit better lately, but my goal is to be out of bed and in the shower by 7:30 a.m. (so not that early to many of you, i know) every day this week so i'm not scrambling like a crazy lady to get out the door. i hate that feeling. why do i do it to myself?

+ remember that whole eat-less-sugar thing? yeah, i sort of failed on that last week. back to it tomorrow. (related: fruits and veggies, and lots of them.)

+ wear bright lipstick every day. i make a commitment to do this periodically and it is such a mood lifter.

+ no complaining. i found myself whining about being tired and not feeling well a lot this weekend (sorry, friends). so this week, i'm going to try not to complain at all (a goal inspired by chelsea). it's an interesting experiment, for sure, but one that i bet will open up some new possibilities.

and you? what are your goals for the week? please do share!

photo of my fluffs by me

Friday, January 27, 2012

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, everyone, and happy last weekend of january (!). how were your weeks?

mine was good. a lot happened: a favorite person was here monday and tuesday, i had a work dinner at a great new sarasota restaurant on wednesday and i spent thursday night working on a project and watching a movie from the comfort of my couch. later this weekend i have another big event and next week is already quickly filling up, but tonight i'm looking forward to heading home after work, spending time with my fluffs, maybe taking a bubble bath, and just relaxing. it's rainy and gray here today (as seems to be the case across much of the east coast), so i think that agenda sounds pretty much perfect.

how about you? what are you up to this weekend? let me know, and i'll see you back here monday.

oh, p.s: i also decided to put my long-neglected domain name to use this week; if you haven't noticed, this blog now auto-redirects to blog.megan-ink.com. step one in my resolution to get a website up and running this year? here's hoping.

p.p.s. in other small victories, i am loving blogger's threaded comments feature (which jane also mentioned today), but until this morning hated the way mine were formatting: squishy text, weird font size, etc. i found this tutorial online and am much happier with the way things look now -- check it out if you're experiencing similar formatting issues.

photo: still from the french short film faiblesses via the fantastic le projet d'amour. (click on that second link to read a particularly wonderful post.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

lotions and potions.

i have really sensitive skin with a touch of rosacea that's sometimes dry, sometimes oily and sometimes both, depending on the situation. and of course, it's never kind of any of those things -- no, when my skin decides to be something, it goes all in, much to my dismay. alas.

so, needless to say, i've been honing my beauty-product arsenal since teenagerhood and now have a tried-and-true roster of favorites (see some of them here and here, although i really need to do an updated post soon), with the exception of a good moisturizer. for awhile, i used aveeno's positively radiant moisturizer, and then i didn't like it anymore. i got a sample of some la mer stuff and loved that, but it's way out my price range. and i used kiehl's ultra facial moisturizer last winter, but discovered that, for me, it's too heavy for every day use.

then i read a post on mindy kaling's blog about the wonders of argan oil, and got my hands on some at christmastime (along with some other josie maran argan oil products, too -- thank you, santa). you guys, argan oil is really wonderful. up until this point, i was afraid to put any kind of oil anything on my face, but this stuff doesn't feel heavy at all. it's fantastically moisturizing, it heals chapped skin beautifully and it even gives a little glow. i'm going to keep using it as long as it works, which, hopefully, is forever. plus, it's totally natural. yay!

maran's other argan oil products are really nice, too -- the cleansing wash, ironically, is a little too oily for me, but the gift set i have also includes argan oil lip treatment (so nice for my perpetually chapped lips), lip and cheek stain in a perfect shade of pink and makeup-removing wipes that refresh and remove makeup and smell good. yay again.

what beauty products have you been loving lately? any secret weapons to share?

p.s.: fyi, i kept trying to make the title of this post into something that required a pirate's voice -- like "arrrrrrrgan oil!" be glad i stopped myself.

photo: this elephants

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


another one from our trip to st. augustine in december. this is a shot of the bridge at night, all lit up, and every time i look at it it makes me feel so calm.

happy wednesday, friends.

photo by me

Monday, January 23, 2012

scenes from the weekend + committing to...

this weekend included a very quick trip to central florida to see one of my best friends who's in town for a brief visit from new york city. kaitlin and i went to undergrad together and both got our degrees in english; now she's working on her ph.d. in english lit at cuny.  she's one of the smartest, nicest, most generous people i know and while i miss her all the time, i'm so glad she's in new york doing exactly what she wants to do.

after having lunch at our favorite coffee shop (the scene of many wonderful meals during my four years at stetson), we ended up walking all over downtown deland and the stetson campus. i took photos, of course, some of which you can see above -- they are: 1. the athens theater, one of my favorite buildings ever; 2. the buttercup bakery, which is so cute and yellow; 3. beautiful elizabeth hall, which is sort of the epitome of stetson; 4. pretty windows on elizabeth hall that i would somehow like to replicate in my future home; 5. the stetson quad; 6. architectural details on flagler hall, aka the english department building, aka my former home away from home; 7. kaitlin and me (side note: you can see some of my ombre highlights, which i'm so happy with).

so it was a great weekend (capped off by a visit to my beloved yum yum cupcake truck before i headed back to sarasota on sunday), and i'm looking forward to an equally great but busy week. here are my little goals for the next few days:

1. prioritize. i have a bunch of projects swirling around and i really need to get them in order.
2. continue with the regimented exercise -- now that the holidays are over, it's so nice to be back in a routine and i'm excited to keep it up.
3. try out a new recipe. (any suggestions?)
4. keep the house clean. have not been keeping up like i should be lately.
5. smile.

how about you -- what are your goals (or what are you looking forward to) this week?

photos by me

Friday, January 20, 2012

what are you doing this weekend?

happy friday, friends!

can you believe we're officially more than halfway through january? i can't. i am notorious for commenting on how quickly time speeds by, but really: this month will be gone before we know it.

and what are your plans for this, the second-to-last weekend of the month? i'm heading north for a quick trip to see an old friend (north being, like, north of sarasota, not the northeast), which i'm very excited about, and when i get back i am allotting several hours to housecleaning, because others will be seeing it come monday and tuesday and things are in need of a scrub-down. hopefully a bike ride or a long walk are somewhere in the mix, too, because the weather has been incredibly mild lately and it just feels good to be outside.

let me know what you're up to and i'll see you back here soon.

photo: installation by jeppe hein at the museum of fine art

Thursday, January 19, 2012

bohemian rhapsody.

jane blogged about these pretty clothes from reykjavik, iceland-based andersen & lauth a few weeks ago, and i've been thinking about them ever since. i wanted to share a few of my favorites here, so we can all not only admire the clothing itself but also the styling of the photos -- i love the butterflies on the wall and, of course, the "m" block in the lefthand corner. (and while i have never worn leather pants in my life, i think that fifth look might be my favorite of them all. how about you?)

you can view the entire collection -- called "summer of love" -- right here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

loving: boo and boo factory jewelry.

totally smitten with boo and boo factory's colorful leather jewelry, particularly that necklace in the lower righthand corner. wouldn't it look perfect with dark jeans and a white t-shirt?

Monday, January 16, 2012

scenes from the weekend + committing to...

some photos from a lovely and low-key weekend: 

1. a delicious cappucino (a real treat for my mostly non-coffee-drinking self) with some of my best friends over brunch.

2. one of my favorite alleyways/buildings in town.

3. an inscription on said building that i love and totally agree with ("living well is the best revenge").

and some goals for the upcoming week:

1.  work hard and be nice. (a forever commitment, no?)

2. give the house a good scrub. so satisfying.

3. spin and yoga and pilates, oh my!

4. reconnect with an old friend. (these plans have actually already been made, i've just got to wait until saturday to actually follow through with them.)

5. less sugar. more sleep. (still.)

and you?

photos by me

Friday, January 13, 2012

family mementos + what are you doing this weekend?

when i was in orlando last weekend, my mom gave me a big box of stuff from my grandmother's house that she thought i might like -- including grandma's high school yearbook/scrapbook from 1929 (especially apt since i also have her college yearbook). the box also included things like pretty cocktail glasses and old photos, but the yearbook was far and away my favorite thing in it, and in fact, it might be my favorite thing i own, in general. with the exception of some yellowed pages and a worn cover, the book is perfectly preserved, right down to the dried flowers, invitations, newspaper clippings and dance cards pressed inside.

words can't express what it means to me to have something like this. it makes me feel so close to my grandmother, even though she's not here anymore -- her handwriting in 1929 looked exactly the same as it did last year, and i love the little glimpses this book gives me into her life. it's so special, and i plan on spending some time carefully examining the pages this weekend (and then finding some sort of book-covering material that i can use to preserve them).

and speaking of the weekend, what are your plans for it? i'm staying in sarasota and plan on enjoying the slightly cooler weather we're supposed to have. tell me what you're up to, and i'll see you back here next week.


photos of my grandmother's yearbook, above, by me

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

scenes from orlando: swan songs.

i'll be the first one to tell you that i'm not super-fond of orlando, even though i grew up 10 minutes outside its city limits. it's easy to get bogged down in the commercialism of tourist attractions like disney and universal studios and sea world, there's tons of salmon-colored suburban sprawl and the traffic can be ridiculous.

however. the above assessment is not completely fair, because there are lots of lovely things about the city, all of them located outside the bounds of the tourist traps. you can get some of the best vietnamese food i've ever had in orlando, there's a wealth of antiques shops and independent boutiques and restaurants, and thornton park's lake eola -- where you can ride swan-shaped paddle boats (click the link for a pic! they're awesome) and see both black and white swans basking in the sun and swimming in the water -- is wonderfully walkable.

and that's exactly what we did last weekend, on a 75-degree saturday: walked several laps around the lake, drank coca-cola slurpees, sat on shady park benches and watched swans swim and families play and picnic in the grass. it was perfect and i would do it again in a heartbeat.

maybe orlando's not so bad.

photos by me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

friday + happy 2012.

i've always loved fresh starts, and my favorite fresh start -- the biggest one of them all -- is a new year. i like to think of january as the first chapter in a book of blank pages that we fill in as days and weeks and months pass; each year becomes a volume in the encyclopedia of our lives.

the book of 2011 was happy-sad for me, and i know it was for many of you, too. ultimately, though, i let the year go -- at midnight, with friends and champagne -- with the thought that it gave just as much as it took away. and while i normally begin every new year with a lofy list of goals and resolutions, this year i thought, "i just want to be the best person i can be, across the entire plane of my life." a broad statement? yes. a little marshmallow-y, as my friend kate would say? yes. a little oprah winfrey? also yes, but i still think it's a good plan.

that doesn't mean there aren't little tweaks to be made and goals to be accomplished as i start out: the pesky holiday cookie weight (seriously) needs to come off pronto (here i come, yoga and spinning), and today i'm doing something kind of different with my hair in an attempt to shake things up a little bit. i also really need to work on the oft-committed-to getting-up-early thing, if only for my mental health throughout the day. but whereas previous new year's resolutions always emphasized cutting out the so-called "bad," this year i'm trying to think of every little goal i make along the way as bringing something positive into my life. it all falls under that "be your best self" umbrella i mentioned above. and there's definitely some magic in that.

happy 2012.

photo by olivia; i like looking at it and thinking of crossing over into 2012.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

baked! cinnamon rolls from scratch.

you guys, i love cinnamon rolls. i think it stems from childhood, when my parents would make a pan of pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast almost every sunday and let me (generously) frost the tops and then lick the knife clean.

i made a quickie version of cinnamon rolls a few months ago when i had some extra phyllo dough laying around, and they were good -- and definitely very cinnamon-y -- but i still felt they were lacking. and after making this version, which is molly's by way of emily, i figured out what was missing: that classic bread-like texture and a to-die-for cream cheese frosting.

now, before you think i made a pan of cinnamon rolls and ate all 18 of them myself, i promise you that i didn't: i packed most of them up and gave them to my family as christmas gifts -- little breakfast treats to be eaten on christmas morning. they loved them, and my cousin ended up taking the recipe home with her after christmas dinner. i would make these again in a heartbeat if they weren't so dangerous to have around the house; as we've established, they're delicious and honestly, they come together really easily -- the hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise.

if you'd like to try them yourself, click here for the recipe. here's to cinnamon-y everything!

photo by emily. mine looked exactly the same, i promise, but my photo-taking skills in this case were sadly subpar -- i think because i was so excited to eat one of these confections.