Monday, December 31, 2012
It seems appropriate to post my favorite moment of 2012 on the last day of the year. There were a lot of moments that I loved in 2012—ringing in the new year with my friends, celebrating the last year of my 20s (I'm going to be 30 in 2013, yikes!), and discovering little things—like French press coffee and buttered toast with honey—that made, and continue to make, life just that much better. But one moment in particular stands out, late one evening in July, when ACS and I stood on a historic street in downtown St. Augustine, listening to a guitarist and a violinist sing and play their instruments. It was one of those heavy, sultry nights that only make an appearance during summer—there was a dewy sheen over everything—but the music was beautiful, fragile, transfixing. We quickly noticed that other people stopped in their tracks to listen, too, but at the same time—at least to me—it felt like we were the only ones there.
In my original post, I wrote, "Do you ever have moments when you're nostalgic for something even while it's happening?" That describes this experience exactly; it was so perfect it was almost heartbreaking.
Here's to many more of them in 2013.
P.S. My favorite album, book and taste of 2012.
Photo of St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos: My own. Talk about a pink moment.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
As this month winds down, I'd like to share some of my favorite things from 2012—things that range from music to books to tastes to those little moments that have stuck with me. Today it's all about taste.
Similar to how I feel about the amount of reading I did this year, I also feel like I baked a bit less than normal, too (or maybe this feeling is just amplified because, thanks to being sick for the past two weeks, I totally neglected my usual Christmas cookie frenzy). But I really liked what I did bake, so there's that, right?
As I was looking back through the archives, though, there was one recipe that I thought about for months after I made it, and that is the pumpkin cinnamon rolls from Smitten Kitchen, pictured above. Dear Deb: I can't thank you enough for posting this recipe; the mere thought of those sticky, pumpkin-y, soft, just-sweet-enough buns is enough to make my mouth start watering. Plus, I've figured out that if you really beat the cream cheese frosting for a good long while, it gets even tastier and creamier—as close to that iconic Cinnabon frosting as the home cook can get, I think.
Here's my original post, which has a link to the recipe; if you make these buns, I think you'll see why they're my favorite taste of 2012 (and why I'll be dreaming up reasons to make them well into 2013).
Friday, December 21, 2012
Happy, happy Friday! I'm so happy it's the weekend, aren't you? And even better, it's a four-day weekend for me—I have Monday and Tuesday off—and it's Christmas. I feel like I've finally gotten a bit of my Christmas spirit back, thanks to present-wrapping with some pretty metallic paper I scooped up at TJ Maxx, our annual office potluck lunch and the seriously decked-out decorations in the awesome orchid shop by my office, where I walked around in a winter wonderland-y haze (that, OK, was probably aided by my meds) yesterday when I slipped in to purchase a gift. Plus, my brother gets in from California on Saturday, and it'll be great to all be together for Christmas.
I'm going to take Monday and Tuesday off from blogging, and maybe all of next week, too, we'll see. But if you're looking for some reading over the weekend, here are three things I loved stumbling across this week:
Missed connections, holiday-party edition. (The New York Times)
Zadie Smith on joy. (The New York Review of Books)
Do you sign your emails or letters "xoxo"? (I only sign them that way if they're to friends and family members.) The discussion on this post by Joanna is fascinating, though, and makes me wonder if there is something to the idea that the signature is industry-specific—although I work in a creative field and would never use it in professional correspondence. Hmm. (A Cup of Jo)
And this morning at 9:30 a.m.: A moment of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy, exactly one week since they took place. (Will it ever be possible to talk or write about what happened without tears?)
Happy holidays, friends—I hope they're filled with love and warmth. xoxo
Photo by Nicole; I just love her sparkly pink tree.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
I am prone to getting really, really chapped lips, especially around this time of year when the air is drier (yes, even down here in Florida!), and honestly, it's kind of gross. The chapping has been especially bad as of late thanks to my stupid bronchitis (oh no, it's not just a cold—thank you, Western medicine, for coming up with the Z-pack), so I've been on the hunt for a really good, ultra-moisturizing balm—and I found it in my own medicine cabinet (yay). Josie Maran's argan lip treatment is amazing—you don't need much, just a swipe, and it's incredibly moisturizing and luxurious but not gooey or thick. Seriously, my lips feel better within seconds of putting it on; I've never had that kind of instant relief with any other product. Highly recommend if you're prone to chapped lips, too, or just need something for the colder winter weather.
P.S. I also love Maran's argan oil for the face...
P.P.S. The argan lip treatment I have came as a sample in a gift box, so it's a smaller size; I know $18 is a lot for a little pot of balm, but trust me, it lasts forever, and I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't think it was amazing. xoxo
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
As this month winds down, I'd like to share some of my favorite things from 2012—things that range from music to books to tastes to those little moments that have stuck with me. Today it's all about books.
I didn't read nearly as much as I wanted to in 2012—the samples of books I've downloaded to my iPad but never purchased always stare at me judgingly when I open the bookstore app. Sadness.
But that said, I really enjoyed what I did read: Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, for example, or Julia Child's My Life in France, which I know has been out for years but which I raced through for the first time in November and loved (what a great reminder that pursuing your passion can truly pay off). Even Gone Girl, whose ending I found really disappointing, was engaging.
My favorite book of 2012 sneaked in under the wire, though, and it is The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. Confession: I actually started reading this book a few months ago and put it down; I guess I wasn't in the right head space to commit to it (does that ever happen to you?). But I picked it back up again and loved it. It's about baseball, yes, but it's also about what happens when you're just about to achieve your dreams, just about to get everything you ever wanted or worked hard for—and then suddenly find it all out of reach and have to figure out what to do, either temporarily or permanently. Certainly something we can all relate to.
I was worried about needing to know a lot about baseball when I started this book, because I don't—but I didn't have to; though I'm sure there are some nuances I missed that an avid fan wouldn't've, I never felt lost or like I didn't understand what was going on. That's due, in great part, to Harbach's writing: It's simple and straightforward, and it makes you feel like you're part of what's going on and emotionally invested in the story without getting too wrapped up in its sentences. I loved it. I loved this book. You should absolutely read it.
What was your favorite book of the year?
P.S. My favorite album of 2012...
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
I hate to say it, but between this stupid never-ending cold and especially the heartbreaking events that unfolded in Newtown last Friday—I can't even glance at a headline without crying; did you watch President Obama's speech on Sunday night? It was so moving—I've lost a bit of my Christmas spirit. I never wound up getting a Christmas tree, much as I wanted to, and I haven't done any holiday baking yet, and that makes me kind of sad. But all of that's nothing compared to what others are going through, and you know, I have an always-fun holiday potluck at work on Wednesday (speaking of baking, I need to figure out my dish, eek), my brother is coming home from California on Saturday and I'm going to see most of my favorite people over the Christmas break, so there's that. There's definitely all of that.
And until tomorrow, I leave you with these photos: my sick-day essentials (tons of Kleenex and green tea with honey in a pretty mug) and my two adorable, fluffy felines (just because).
Hope you guys are well. xoxo
Monday, December 17, 2012
Kate of For Me, For You tweeted a link to this gorgeous Big Sur wedding on Once Wed last week, and I've been thinking about it ever since. The bride wanted an intimate wedding (just 10 guests!) in a place where the environment was conducive to both ocean and woods, and though she'd never actually been to Big Sur before, she knew that it was the right location and made it all come together. And after the beachside ceremony, everyone headed to an intimate dinner at a local bakery and restaurant—how sweet is that?
Photos by Rad + In Love, via Once Wed
Friday, December 14, 2012
You guys, I am not going to lie: I have been a ball of stress this week, and I am exceptionally glad it's Friday. That week before the week before Christmas is always hard, isn't it? I mean, next week I'll have met my deadlines, I'll have a couple of holiday parties to look forward to, and on Friday night I'll be heading home to see my parents and brother for the long weekend (especially delightful now because the Great Christmas Travel Nightmare of 2012 is over—don't ask). But for now, I'm just really glad it's the weekend.
Speaking of, what are you guys up to for the next few days? I'm heading north to spend some time with ACS in his natural habitat, so that will be fun, and I'm making a pit stop at my parents', too.
And if you're in the mood for some reading this weekend, here are three fun links:
36 hours in Sarasota. Decent picks (C'est La Vie: yes! Some others: so-so); reminds me, too, that one day I need to publish my little city guide for this blog... (The New York Times)
Anne Hathaway's Excited Red Carpet Face: Pretty amusing. (Vulture)
I love Louis C.K., and I thought his Proust questionnaire was funny. ("You hips need to get it together.") (Vanity Fair)
Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend. See you Monday. xoxo
Update: I wrote this post last night, before I heard the terrible news about what happened in Connecticut this morning. I feel like a jerk for complaining about being stressed out when it could be so, so, so much worse. Hug your loved ones a little tighter this weekend. I know I will.
Photo: Oscar and me. Did you know that petting cats relieves stress? That's a fun fact I learned this week thanks to this gal.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
As this month winds down, I'd like to share some of my favorite things from 2012—things that range from music to books to tastes to those little moments that have stuck with me.
First up: music. I wrote about The Lumineers in June after hearing their song "Ho Hey" in a Bing commercial, of all things. As I recall, I Shazam-ed the song on my phone, hunted down the album on iTunes, listened to the whole thing one night while driving to my parents' house in Orlando and immediately declared it the soundtrack of my summer. Turns out it's the soundtrack of my year, because I haven't been able to stop listening to it (and this is saying something, since John Mayer also released a new album this year and we all know how I feel about him). The band is getting more and more popular these days, too, which is great because they deserve all their success—"Ho Hey" is on the radio, and I heard the opening track, "Flowers in Your Hair," on Parenthood the other night.
Anyway, The Lumineers' self-titled album is definitely one of my 2012 favorites, and if you're thinking of downloading it, I can't recommend it highly enough. My top three favorite songs from the album are "Ho Hey," "Flowers in Your Hair" and "The Candidate" (lots of hand clapping, which is awesome), but really, it's all so good.
What's your favorite album of the year?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
For the past six months or so, I've been doing a lot of wedding coverage for work, which means I've been looking at a lot of wedding photos, and I have to say: Binary Flips takes some of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen. There's just something about the way the photos are composed...and then there's the light. Stunning.
See more here.
P.S. How to plan a Sarasota beach wedding.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I don't know about you, but salted caramel and I have a very intense relationship. As in, I make it, I use it for baking (salted caramel brownies, for example, or a doomed salted caramel banana cream pie), and then I slowly, over the course of several days, eat the rest of it by sneaking into the fridge, spoon in hand, and dipping into the jar. I'm planning on making an apple pie with salted caramel for Christmas dinner this year (my first apple pie ever; I'm a little scared!), and I already can't wait to make the caramel sauce.
If you're looking for a great recipe, I use Deb's, and it is perfect. Melt sugar until it's copper-colored, add good-quality salted butter (Kerrygold works well, I find), whisk in cream and stir until smooth. Oh, man. Yum.
P.S. Salted caramel—poured into a Ball jar and packaged with pretty gift tag tied with baker's twine, maybe?—would make a great gift, too, for the holidays or for anytime. Also, for the next week or two, I'll tag posts like these—that would double as fun gifts—as "gift guide 2012," in case you're looking for ideas.
P.P.S. This post was totally an excuse to talk about salted caramel sauce.
Monday, December 10, 2012
I am really bad when it comes to my hair. I can do a pretty decent blowout, and I'm OK with a flatiron, but other than that, nope. I picked up a curling iron for the first time this year—seriously—and I've only recently figured out what products actually work for my long, wavy, fine locks.
Also, my hair is pretty much always in a ponytail, but I've realized that if I wash it and blow it dry at night, then sleep on it, I get a pretty nice wave, even if I'm just wearing it up. But the other night we had our office holiday party and I figured I should try and do something with it, so I came home from work, changed into a sparkly sweater, and then—using this Everygirl hair tutorial as inspiration—pulled some front pieces back, bobby-pinned it all (admittedly kind of randomly) and then hairsprayed the you-know-what out of it. And I thought it came out pretty well, so I'm doing it again for a dinner I'm going to this week. (Here's a photo of how it turned out the first time, if you'd like to see.)
Do you have a go-to hairstyle?
Photo via The Everygirl
Friday, December 7, 2012
Happy Friday, friends! The first week of December is over—can you believe it? (I can't.) Though I've spent most of this week trying to fight off a really annoying cold, there were some highlights, the sparkliest of which was our office holiday party last night, which is always fun. This year it was a held in a space that I kept describing as "like a library—but instead of library books on the shelves, there's wine!" Not bad.
This weekend I'm hoping to finally kick the damn cold, spending some quality time with ACS, hopefully getting my oil changed (ugh) and maybe, finally, picking up my little tabletop Christmas tree, which I planned to do last weekend but which fell sadly by the wayside thanks to the aforementioned cold (wah, wah). What are you guys up to?
Oh, and if you're in the mood for some reading:
An oral history of Freaks and Geeks. (Vanity Fair)
I love Chris Messina and The Mindy Project. (Did you know he had a small part in You've Got Mail, my favorite romantic comedy ever?) (NY Mag)
Not an article, but this video—of Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Mariah Carey and some adorable kids singing "All I Want for Christmas is You"—is pretty much guaranteed to make you smile.
And in case you missed it, here's a link to my first-ever holiday gift guide (so fun to put together).
Have a great December weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday. xoxo
Photo: Audrey, via.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
I've told you about the Great Refrigerator Debacle of 2012, right? That week back in October when my fridge decided to die and my lovely landlord didn't get me a replacement for a full week? Those were seven dark days, and I'm fairly certain I went through several stages of grief: Denial (that the fridge was dead), anger (that I had to throw everything away, and then later that the fridge was so delayed in its arrival and I had to spend so much money on takeout), depression (that I couldn't keep basic items, like my beloved almond milk, in the house)...it was not fun. And I complained a lot, as my friends and family can attest. (Sorry, guys.)
Anyway, I now have a new fridge and it works perfectly. But for that awful week that I was fridge-less, I was thinking about refrigerators so frequently that I spent a lot of time on the Internet doing research on them (no, really). That's when I was reminded of my love for Smegs. In my dream house, there is not a stainless steel refrigerator or one that is designed to match the cabinets or walls—no, there is a Smeg. (Probably a pastel green one to match my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer.) I love the fridges' vintage-y feel, their rounded edges, their everything. Now if only I had an extra $2,000 laying around...
P.S. I've typed the word "fridge" seven—now eight!—times in this post, in case you're keeping track.
P.P.S. I was thisclose to titling this post "A Smeg for Meg." You're welcome.
All photos via West Elm.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Sadly, there was no brioche or orange gingerbread with cream cheese frosting to be made this weekend. No, after attending a fun benefit on Friday night (to which I got to wear a black sparkly dress I'd been hoarding for a year), I came home and discovered that my ears and throat were in a lot of pain, and I spent Saturday morning feeling super-congested, nauseated for a period of time and then, finally, just exhausted. The idea of trying to leave the house was totally overwhelming, so I didn't; instead, I let my little cat Zadie snuggle with me (she's a good nurse), slept for hours and ate a lot of toast and tea.
I love toast when I'm sick because it reminds me of my mom; whenever my brother and I weren't feeling well growing up, she'd stick a couple slices of bread in the toaster, let them get brown, then lightly butter them, cut them into strips and serve them to us. Comfort food at its best, I say.
So I did much the same this weekend, only at some point I was inspired to add a drizzle of honey to the buttered toast, and I don't know if it's just my fuzzy head talking or what, but you guys, it was so delicious. The crunchiness of the toasted bread, the creaminess of the butter and the sweet smoothness of the honey are perfect together, and I know the last thing you need is a recipe for toast, of all things, but you should try this. Really. And not just when you're sick.
Photo: Dimity Jones for Simply Breakfast
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Gift guides are a funny thing. On the one hand, I think they promote materialism in a way that I'm not very comfortable with during a time of year when I (maybe naively) think the focus should be on spending time with friends and family. And the really cynical part of me thinks that they're a way for advertisers and the not-so-ethical bloggers out there to make money via affiliate links and sponsored posts. (There are, of course, plenty of responsible bloggers who create sponsored posts and use affiliate links and are transparent about all of it, and they're absolutely excluded from that statement.)
But on the other hand, I really love picking out treats for people I love, and as I've been clicking through my favorite online shops and websites these days, I've found myself mentally cataloging items that would make perfect gifts for specific friends and family members. So I thought I'd share that catalog with you here today, as promised. The following 11 items are things I'd buy in two shakes of a lamb's tail for the people on my shopping list, and I hope you enjoy reading about what I picked. And hey, if gift guides aren't your thing, come back tomorrow, when we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming.