Thursday, February 28, 2013

On skincare.

So, one of the things on my New Year's resolution/before-I-turn-30 list is to take care of my skin, which has admittedly been kind of a hot mess since I was a teenager—we're talking rosacea, sensitivity, blackheads, unevenness, oiliness and dryness, the works. And--this is kind of shameful—until recently, I've always just ignored it. You know, slapped some makeup on, washed with drugstore products and gone on my merry way.

But recently I've started to think that, since I'm getting older, taking care of my skin is probably not a bad idea. The lady who used to do my eyebrows also does facials and the like, as most aestheticians tend to, and she kept telling me I should consider microdermabrasion (to get rid of dry skin) and a facial. The thing is, she also sold me a cleanser that I hated (it didn't cleanse!), was kind of pushy, and the spa—for being as pretty and as fancy as it is—didn't have the best customer service. So I broke up with it and last week went to see a new aesthetician, who came highly recommended by my friend Megan. She suggested a different cleanser (made with organic ingredients) that so far I'm really loving—I'll report back on it in a few weeks because obviously a couple of days is too soon--and she also recommended using pure witch hazel as a toner after washing my face, which I've been making sure to do, too. (Here's the brand of witch hazel I bought; I got a huge bottle at CVS.) I also made an appointment for my very first facial, which I'm embarrassingly excited about. Let's just all hope I don't turn bright red like a tomato afterward.

Anyway, the point to all of this—and maybe this is weird—is to ask about your skincare routine. I know it's all exceptionally personal, but what products do you use and love? Do you invest in skincare products or do you think it's an unnecessary expense? Please share; I love talking about this stuff and would love to know.

P.S. A few favorite beauty products...

Photo: This Elephants

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to arrange supermarket flowers.

Weekly flowers have become one of my new favorite things (per my "buy more flowers" bullet point on my New Year's resolution/things to do before I'm 30 list). Tulips are everywhere now, so I've been picking them up pretty frequently at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but I can also usually find small bunches of pretty-colored roses in the three-for-$12 flower bins at Publix, and I love those, too. That said, my flower-arranging skills are basically limited to trimming the flowers' stems and leaves and shoving everything into a vase, so I loved reading this flower-arranging tutorial on Cup of Jo the other week. Plus, the photos are gorgeous.

Do you love flowers, too, or could you take 'em or leave 'em?

P.S. A story I wrote about parties, with a big emphasis on the impact of flowers. 

Photos by Alpha Smoot and styling by Kendra Smoot for Cup of Jo

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baked! Lemon-yogurt cake.

Even though I've lived in Florida, a.k.a orange capital of the U.S., my entire life, lemon is by far my favorite citrus. I love the smell (so clean!), the taste—everything. I will add lemon zest to pretty much anything, and I'll never turn down a lemon dessert, be it lemon ice cream, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars and, now, this lemon-yogurt cake from Ina Garten.

The cake couldn't be simpler or more foolproof to make—it comes together so quickly, and if you like lemon like I do, you're in luck, because you not only pour lemon simple syrup over the top of it when it's still warm, when it cools down a bit, you slather it with lemon glaze. It's tangy and bright-flavored and just sweet enough. Make it.

A note: I actually used gluten-free flour in my cake, because even though I don't have gluten sensitivity, some people I love do and I figure it's never a bad idea to cut back a bit on my wheat intake. So I picked up a bag of Cup4Cup flour at Williams-Sonoma a few weeks ago, and although I was a little hesitant about the texture of the batter while I was stirring everything together (it seemed a bit gummy), it baked up really well. That said, Cup4Cup is pricey, so if you're not wanting to spend the money, I also saw gluten-free flour at Trader Joe's last week, although I can't vouch for how well it works.

P.S. Lemon bars, yum. And for more citrus: An amazingly delicious chocolate/orange cream cheese pound cake.

Photo: My own.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Yesterday was oddly foggy in Sarasota, and specifically Siesta Key. As we drove over the bridge toward the island, I kept exclaiming at the fact that the fog wasn't burning off (in fact, it was thickening), and when we got to our destination—my best friend Kate's mom's house—we ended up spending a couple of hours sitting on her dock, admiring the still water and the foggy air. It felt surreal, almost other-wordly, and was such a contrast to Sarasota's normal bright blue skies and abundant sunshine. I loved it.

And of course, I couldn't help be reminded of Carl Sandburg's poem, "Fog"—so simple, but one of my favorites:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Above are a few snapshots I took throughout the afternoon; looking at them makes me feel so calm, and I wanted to share them here in case you're searching for a similar feeling on this Monday morning, too.

Photos: My own.

Friday, February 22, 2013

What are you doing this weekend?

Friends, I am not going to lie: It has been a rough week. There were highs, of course (there always are), but there were some definite lows, too, and I'm feeling a little fragile in the mental department. So I am particularly glad it is Friday, and that the weekend is stretching out in front of me. I have no plans, but I have a pretty big list of chores I want to get done around the house (small things like clean my makeup brushes, but also bigger things like vaccuum, sweep and mop and give the bathroom a scrubdown), so that should keep me pretty occupied. Plus, the weather is beautiful so I'm hopeful for some outside time, and the Oscars are on Sunday night, as I'm sure you are well aware, so gown-watching has immediately jumped to the top of my list for that evening.

In the meantime, if you're looking for some weekend reading, here are three links:

+ My interview with Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter. (Cough, cough; shameless plug.) (Sarasota magazine)

+ I've been thinking a lot about the way I eat lately, so this article--The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food--is pretty fascinating. (The New York Times)

+ And as a huuuuuge Rifle Paper Co. fan (I can't wait for the new iPhone cases!), I loved this profile of Anna Bond on Design*Sponge. What a talent. (Design*Sponge)

Have a peaceful weekend. See you back here on Monday. xoxo

Photo: My own.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Choose joy.

On Monday night, I went to Trader Joe's after spin class. I picked up two bags of frozen peas, a package of shallots and a container of chicken broth, among a few other things. Then I came home, chopped up the shallots and some garlic, sauteed them in some olive oil, dumped in the peas and the broth, boiled and simmered, pureed everything in the blender—and then promptly spilled it.

All over the floor.
All over myself.

I am not kidding when I tell you it looked like I got slimed by Swamp Thing. It was gross. And what did I do?

Oh, friends, I cried. A lot. To the point where I had shaking shoulders, puffy eyes and goo dripping from my nose. It was awful. I cried like my heart was broken, and I cried for a long, long time. Over pea soup. (Seriously. Although, to be fair, there's been some other stuff happening in my life that had probably been bottled up for awhile, and spilled soup was a good excuse for all of it to come out through my eye sockets.)

Poor ACS, bless him, listened to me sob for a good long while, and a hot shower and some sleep also helped me gain some perspective, as did a day spent outside for work on Tuesday. (I mean, how can you be sad when you've got this view right in front of you?) But I still felt off most of yesterday, and so today I've decided to come up with a little happy list—here, in no particular order, are 10 things that are putting a smile on my face right now—you know, as opposed to making me wail like a banshee. Choose joy, like the image above says, right? (Note, however, that the list does not include pea soup.)

1. The little bubbles that float up from the top of the dish detergent bottle when you squeeze it.
2. Glorious February weather.
3. ACS. Always.
4.Sushi dinners with favorite friends.
5. My fluffy felines, who like to touch noses with me (Oscar) and sleep on my head (Zadie).
6. Um, did I mention this view? Lucky to have it nearby.
7. Perfect chai teas in the morning and afternoon: Two Tazo chai teabags, hot water, a glug of almond milk, a splash of agave. Yum. Also, I'm still loving matcha lattes, especially on the weekends.
8. Weekly flowers on my coffee table. This week: pink tulips.
9. New books! Currently reading The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, to be followed by Ian MacEwan's new one, Sweet Tooth. 
10. Wine. I mean, come on.

What's making you happy right now? What's the first happy thought you turn to when you're having a rough day?


Photo: My own, snapped at the fantastic Starfish Company Market in Cortez. "Choose joy"I love it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Baggu.

I've long been a fan of Baggu, purveyor of super cute shoppers, tote bags and pouches, so I was excited to see they've got some new colors/patterns out for spring. Aren't these leather pouches cute? (I'd go for the dots, of course...)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked (sort of): Cardamom quinoa porridge.

Cardamom is one of those spices that just warms the soul. I love it; it's totally the reason I like those Starbucks vanilla spice lattes so much, and I'm always happy to use it in various baking projects. So when I came across a recipe for cardamom quinoa porridge in the January issue of Whole Living (which, as I'm sure you all know, is closing—sadness), I knew I had to make it.

The whole thing couldn't be easier: Combine almond milk, water, cardamom, vanilla and a touch of salt in a pan, bring to a boil, simmer the quinoa until its cooked, fluff with a fork and top with slivered toasted almonds and sliced pear (and if you need a little more sweetness, a touch of agave would be good, too). It's delicious and filling and it's good for you. Win-win-win. Yay.

Photo by Bryan Gardner for Whole Living

Monday, February 18, 2013

Splurge vs. save.

I have a pair of $30 fake-leather boots from Target that I've been tromping around in for awhile now. I bought them because they were cute, they go with jeans as well as they do with a skirt, and they fit my giant calves*. And they've been good to me, for the most part.

But then, a couple weeks ago, I found myself walking downtown with my friend Hannah to watch Nik Wallenda tightrope-walk, untethered, across U.S. 41 (you may have seen this on the news). My office is downtown, less than half a mile from where we eventually ended up, but by the time we walked there, watched Wallenda walk and then got back to the office, the bottoms of my feet were burning. Sadness.

I also have a pair of Frye boots that my best friend Kate found me on a very successful thrifting trip. I have never once felt uncomfortable in them after wearing them for an extended period of time; the same thing can be said for a years-old pair of Miss Albright shoes from Anthropologie that I love (my first major shoe splurge—my finger was literally shaking when I pressed the "purchase" button) and another pair of Frye wedges that I wear all the time.


Obviously, I'm not saying that all expensive shoes are well-made and comfortable, just that, as I get older, I'm wondering if it doesn't make more sense to invest in shoes (and other items) that I know will last forever. Joy recently wrote a great post about this, which is what got me thinking about it, and now I'm curious to know: What do you guys splurge on and what do you choose to save on? (I don't have an unlimited income, so for me, splurges require a fair amount of saving, which means I have to think even more carefully about what I choose to spend on.)

P.S. If you guys have any great boot suggestions—either makers or styles—for my aforementioned giant calves*, they would sure be appreciated!

Photo: Atlantic-Pacific 

Friday, February 15, 2013

What are you doing this weekend?

Happy Friday, friends! What are your plans for the weekend? I'm playing hooky today (eee!) and--as mentioned in yesterday's post—I plan on trying to unplug as much as possible for the next few days. Also on the docket: Making my last car payment (!!!!), quick stop at the Rifle Paper Co. storefront (yay!), lots of walks, cozy sweaters (thank you, cooler weather!), a delicious dinner out and hopefully some sleeping in.

I'll see you back here on Monday, and if you're looking for some reading material this weekend, here are three links just for you:

I interviewed Anne-Marie Slaughter for work this week, and in doing the prep for it I reread her Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." If you haven't read it—or even if you have—do it. It will make you think. (The Atlantic)

I know Lena Dunham can be a polarizing figure, but I am firmly in the "love her" camp. So I thought this piece, by Miranda July, in Interview was a great read. (Interview

And finally, here's a fluffy one: You've Got Mail vs. Sleepless in Seattle. For me, it's You've Got Mail, hands down. (Nora Ephron was so wonderful.) (Vulture)

Have a beautiful weekend! xoxo

Photo by Olivia. I still miss you, Charleston

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day, friends. I actually really enjoy this holiday—Hallmark and heart-shaped boxes of drugstore chocolate aside—because, sappy as it sounds, I can really get behind the idea of celebrating love. Not just romantic love, either—I'm talking about the kind we have for our friends, families and pets, too. Seriously: Some of the most fun Valentine's Days I've spent have been with my friends, and I love whipping up a batch of pink-frosted heart-shaped cookies or cutting hearts out of red construction paper. It's fun.

And Valentine's Day is a good excuse to be kind to ourselves, which is something I think we don't do enough. I have a full schedule today, but I'm taking tomorrow off to get out of town for the weekend and I plan on trying to completely unplug. I've lately fallen into the check-my-email-as-soon-as-I-open-my-eyes-in-the-morning trap, so unplugging—and spending time with ACS, of course—is definitely something I consider a self-kindness.

Whatever you do or don't do, I hope you have a Valentine's Day that's filled with love. xoxo

Photo: Julia and Paul Child's Valentine's Day card from their time in Plittersdorf on the Rhine. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daily dishonesties.

Here's a something fun to start the day: Daily Dishonesty was created by graphic designer Lauren Hom, and is a fun "tribute" to those little lies we tell ourselves every day. Above are the three that I can most relate to (or three that I feel most comfortable sharing publicly, ha!); you can follow along and see new dishonesties here. Man, I love the Internet sometimes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


You guys, I'm going to get straight to the point here: Sweeteeth Chocolate's "Sea is for Caramel" is the most amazing chocolate bar I've ever eaten. Period, hands-down, done.

Read more about Charleston-based Sweeteeth here; shop (they deliver, and the other flavors sound amazing, too) here.

P.S. This post on Sweeteeth's Johnny Battles is fun, too.
P.P.S. My favorite salted caramel recipe.

Photo: My own.

Monday, February 11, 2013


This is one of the best and sweetest things I've seen lately; it's pretty much guaranteed to make you smile and it's a great way to start the week.

Thanks for the heads-up, Eileen.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Charleston: Travel tips.

Oh man, even today, I am still wishing I was back in Charleston—there's so much that we didn't get to see or eat or do, and I'm totally making a mental list for my next trip. In the meantime, here are three little travel tips (in lieu of my usual three Friday links) if you're planning a trip to Charleston yourself—and by the way, if you are, I'm totally jealous.

Plan your itinerary carefully. Next time we go back, we're making time to spend at least a few hours at one of the local plantationsMagnolia, Drayton Hall or Boone, for sure. We didn't have time this trip and I really wish we did. There's also a tea plantation (!) on Wadmalaw Island, just outside of Charleston, and I'm dying to go there, though I did pick up a box of its Charleston-made breakfast tea at a local gourmet store. I'd also like to hit some antiques shops; we didn't do that and I feel like there's probably a lot to be found.

Make restaurant reservations well in advance. I made our Thursday-night Husk reservations two (maybe even three) weeks in advance and I'm glad I did: There's no way we would have gotten in otherwise, or at least not until late at night. I couldn't get us into FIG, Chef Mike Lata's much-applauded restaurant, on Friday a week out, and Fulton Five, an Italian restaurant across the street from our hotel, couldn't seat us until 9:30 without a reservation, which would have been fine if we weren't starving. We ended up getting into another nearby restaurant without a reservation (although at first we weren't sure if we'd be able to), but I have to say that, compared to our other meals, it was by far my least favorite. So my advice: Pick where you want to go in advance (Charleston magazine is helpful for this, as is Olivia's blog and, of course, good old Google), and then make OpenTable your best friend or just call.

Walk everywhere. Seriously, it's worth it. Walk down Meeting Street to the Battery and gaze at the amazingly beautiful houses—seriously, they're jaw-droppingly gorgeous and impeccably maintained—and the stunning water view. Walk up and down King Street and shop. Walk through Charleston City Market, which bustles every day. Walk down little side streets, where you're sure to find tons of gems—I wish we'd done more of that. Walk to the Charleston Museum, or to the Old Slave Mart museum (and enjoy the feel of the centuries-old cobblestones beneath your shoes). Your feet might hurt at the end of the day, but you'll feel good.

Have a great weekend, friends! xoxo

P.S. We're thinking New Orleans for our next trip!

P.P.S. There're more Charleston photos on the Pink O'Clock Facebook page, too! Click here to see.

Photo: My own.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Charleston: Historical sight-seeing.

On Friday, after spending Thursday afternoon and night shopping and eating, my mom and I decided we wanted to do some historic sight-seeing, so I busted out our map (hello, tourist) and...promptly led us away from where we were planning on going. We walked quite a long way in the opposite direction, but it was a happy accident because we ended up being able to look at all the amazingly beautiful homes on Meeting Street and ultimately wound up at the Battery. It was really cold--at least for us Floridians--and the wind was whipping off the water, but the sun was shining and dogs were playing in the park and it was just so cool to stand and look at buildings and trees that had been there for hundreds of years.

While we were in that area, we took a tour of Calhoun Mansion, which is...well, I'll let its website do the talking, but it was amazing. Thirty-five rooms, 35 fireplaces, a 90-foot cuppola, the most incredible woodwork I've ever seen and, oh, 24,000 square feet housing the most eclectic collection of...stuff...I've ever seen--we're talking Egyptian furniture, taxidermy, silver, Persian rugs, Tiffany lamps, etc. It's a private residence, too, so someone lives there most of the year. Totally cool and over-the-top--I mean, you just have to shake your head and laugh at the ostentatiousness of it all--and the landscaping is equally gorgeous. Plus, the history of the house was interesting.

After our stop at Calhoun Mansion, we walked back up Meeting Street to the Charleston Museum and Joseph Maginault House, and then over to Chalmers Street (above--cobblestones!) to see the Old Slave Mart museum. The Charleston Museum is great and gives a great history of the city, especially its role in the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and the Maginault House is amazingly well-preserved, but you cannot miss the Old Slave Mart. It's possibly the only known building used as a slave auction gallery still in existence, and it's incredibly moving to stand within its walls.

You know, it's a really neat feeling--especially when you're used to standing in buildings that were built in 1980 (oh, Florida)--to stand in those that were actually constructed in, like, the 1780s. I'm an inherently nostalgic person, too, so it was really affecting.

Honestly, I could have spent the entire two days (and then some) walking through historic sites and gazing at stately old houses and peeping through gates and standing by the water letting the wind tousle my hair (and then going out for amazing meals afterwards). Charleston, I never thought anything would usurp Savannah as my favorite Southern city, but you've managed to do it--and you've managed to make me want to live there some day, too.

Photos: My own

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Charleston: Fulton Lane Inn.

My mom has a hilariously terrible record of picking hotels, so when it comes time to plan a trip, I'm the one who does the research and ultimately picks where we'll stay. This trip was no exception, so when my time off from work had been approved (and after I made our Husk reservations!), I set to work making Google my BFF.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Charleston: Husk.

To say I was a little excited about dining at Sean Brock's Husk is a bit of an understatement: I made a reservation for my mom and me the day we decided we were taking our trip to Charleston. And man, am I glad I did—that meal lived up to our expectations and then some. Here's my adoring review, if you'd like to read it...

Monday, February 4, 2013


My mom and I had the best time in Charleston this weekend--it was seriously a fantastic trip and I keep finding myself thinking about when I can possibly go back. We managed to make the two days we spent there a perfect mix of historic sight-seeing (home tours, the Charleston Museum, a walk to the Battery), eating (particularly dinner at Husk, which I'll be posting about tomorrow, breakfast at Hominy Grill and treats from Caviar & Bananas and Wildflour Pastry) and shopping (hello, King Street stores!).

Actually, I'll be posting about our trip most of this week, so if you're interested in hearing about Charleston from a tourist-y perspective, stay tuned. But first: How were your weekends? How are your weeks going so far?

See you back here tomorrow. xoxo

Photo: My own, of beautiful white camellias in bloom outside Calhoun Mansion on Meeting Street.

Friday, February 1, 2013

What are you doing this weekend?

Happy Friday, everyone! My mom and I are in Charleston for the weekend, so this'll be a quick post, but expect lots of pictures from the trip next week.

How were your weeks? I hope they were fantastic. Oh, and if you need some reading material, here are three fun links from around the web:

Shameless plug: I wrote an article about how to plan an over-the-top party for our February issue, if you'd like to read it... (Sarasota magazine)

So interesting: What 13 people wore for an interview with Anna Wintour (one spent more than $5,000!). This is fascinating to me. (NY Mag's The Cut)

I am loving Jessica Dang's Single Girl Dinner blog. (This post, in particular, is so sweet and poignant.) Such a fun one. (Single Girl Dinner)

And bonus: The video above made my week. We can all use a little pep talk, right? Thanks, Kid President.

See you back here on Monday.

P.S. Happy February! xoxo