Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rooted in Succulents.

Holy moly: These monogrammed succulent planter boxes from Rooted in Succulents are amazing. I want an "M" so, so badly. Totally awesome, right?

P.S. I don't know what it is, but despite my black thumb, I am really into plants lately. I bought a dwarf Meyer lemon tree a few weeks ago and I'm kind of in love with it, and I'm itching to start a herb garden. Any gardening tips are much-appreciated—I grew up with huge orange trees in my backyard but never actually did anything to care for them, and, um, I've killed succulents before. So yes: tips welcome! xo

(via DesignLoveFest)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Switching from coffee to tea.

If I would have told you, oh, six months ago that I was going to switch from drinking coffee (often multiple cups a day) to tea, you probably would have laughed in my face. I was (still am, let's be real) a girl who loves a skinny vanilla latte, who took joy in pressing coffee on weekends, who was always amenable to taking a meeting at a local coffee shop. 

I actually switched from coffee to tea once before, after a gnarly UTI, and I was successful at it for a few monthsthen I went right back to my old lattes. But this time, a combination of factorsI am a very high-strung person and coffee exacerbates that in me being the main oneled me to the switch, and I have to say, it feels more permanent this time. Sure, there are mornings when I'm dragging, and in fact, the other day I felt like I needed a little something extra, so I had half a cup of coffee with cream and that did the trick. But I didn't even drink the whole thing, which would have been unheard of about six months ago. Coffee feels like a treat now; like something I don't need every day, and I like that. 

(Side note: I do drink multiple cups of tea on most daysmatcha or English breakfast in the morning, green tea throughout the day and decaf black tea at night before bed.) 

Another benefit, I've found,  is that I don't feel the need to dump artificial sweeteners into my tea like I did with coffee; I use strictly agave nectar or local honey now (in fact, I'll tell you about my favorite honey later this week). That's something I knew I wanted to do and I'm glad that the coffee-to-tea switch has been the vehicle for it. Yay for healthy changes.

Are you guys coffee or tea drinkers or both? Any favorite teas out there? I'm dying to try some of the Bellocq brand teasthe Afghani chai in particular.

P.S. Funny story: ACS, who is also on a tea kick, is here this week and he makes me tea when I'm in the shower in the mornings (the sweetest, I know). This morning I took a sip of what I thought was English breakfast tea and was like, "Hmm, this tastes rather floral." So I asked him what it was—turns out it was chamomile. I may be off coffee but I need something a little stronger than that in the morning! So funny. 

Photo by Maxwell Tielman for Design*Sponge

Monday, March 25, 2013

A breath of fresh air.

These photos—of the Hoh Rainforest in the Pacific Northwest—are like a breath of fresh air, aren't they? I swear I can almost smell the earthiness of the trees and  feel the damp ground beneath my feet. To me, looking at them is the perfect way to ease into a Monday. 

Photos by Jordan Voth 

Friday, March 22, 2013

What are you doing this weekend?

Happy Friday, friends! How were your weeks? What are your plans for the weekend? I'm headed to Orlando tomorrow, and when I get back to Sarasota I plan on spending some time in the gorgeous spring weather we're having lately. You can bet good money I'll be complaining bitterly about the heat come August, but seriously--this time of year (actually, November-April) is why I live in Florida. It's gorgeous.

Tell me what you're up to for the next few days, and in case you're in the mood for some weekend reading, here are four fun links from around the web:

I loved this Q&A with animal photographer Sharon Montrose (those're her photos, above) on Cup of Jo, photographed by Laure Joliet.

Old, but: This four-post "changing lifestyle" series on Garance Dore's wonderful blog is a really great read.

19 things to stop doing in your 20s that are actually applicable to anyone of any age. Good read. (via Cupcakes and Cashmere)

And as someone who works in the media (though admittedly not at a daily), this was such a poignant, interesting read:  "Why I Left News."

See you back here on Monday! xo

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Seventh Tree Soaps.

So I pretty much squealed with glee when I saw these adorable owls from Seventh Tree Soaps. Cutest things ever, right? They come in different scents, and in such sweet packaging...

Man, I love soap.

(via Gloria)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Worry wart.

So, it turns out I am a worrier, like, big-time. This is nothing new to me. I tend to work myself up and fret over tiny things—going to the doctor being a prime example—only to experience a huge surge of relief (and drop in adrenaline) when whatever I'm fretting about is over. I hesitate to call this anxiety, but it's definitely anxiety's cousin—and as any of you who experience something similar know, it can be pretty crippling sometimes.

But thanks to my impending 30th birthday, I've kick-started my brain into thinking that it's time to start getting the ducks in my life in a row, and one of those ducks (this metaphor is getting weird) is mental health. Aside from the unavoidable everyday stuff, there are certain, specific things in my life that cause me stress, and so I'm making an active effort to address, deal with and, in some cases, remove them. And I'm trying to figure out ways to deal with my propensity to worry, too.

One of those ways, according to a very wise person, is using a worry journal. At the end of each day, I sit down with my notebook and paper and write down all the things I've worried about or am worried about. The idea is that I get them out, on paper, and then I close the notebook and leave them there. And while I can't say that I'm 100 percent successful at doing that—this is a work in progress—I can absolutely tell you that it's helping, and that I'm much more aware of what kinds of things I'm investing precious emotional energy into. (Often, they don't even deserve the time of day—I'd much rather put that emotional energy into my relationships or other happy, significant things going on in my life.)

Have you ever tried something like this? How do you guys deal with stress? Exercise is my other favorite way—I always feel better after a spin class, some yoga or 45 minutes on the elliptical, but I really want to hear what you all do, too.

Photo by Olivia

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Baked! Perfect buttermilk pancakes.

I'm not sure there's anything that says "weekend breakfast" better than fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Don't get me wrong, I love eggs—Benedict, scrambled, over easy, etc.—and I'll take a bagel with lox and cream cheese any day of the week. But Saturdays and Sundays are perfect for pancakes.

ACS loves pancakes more than anyone I know, and since I often hesitate to whip up an entire batch just for me (three-quarters of the batter inevitably ends up in the garbage), I jumped at the chance to make them when he was here this past weekend. I've experimented with buttermilk (and non-buttermilk) pancake recipes before, but after discovering Martha Stewart's this weekend, I think it's going to be my go-to from now on. The flavor is great, the pancakes are light and fluffy, and there's enough batter that you'll have some leftover for the next day. ACS and I both love plain pancakes, topped with butter and maple syrup, but you could easily add blueberries, chocolate chips or sliced bananas to this recipe and it'd be equally good. (In fact, I just may add walnuts and bananas next time.) Here's the recipe, if you'd like to make them, too. Happy breakfasting!

P.S. Dutch babies. And more breakfast Baked! posts here.

Photo by A Cozy Kitchen.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Signature style.

I've written before about uniforms: I grew up wearing them (Catholic school from grades three-12, baby), and I still tend to wear a sort of uniform every day simply because it's easy—mine's typically jeans and a sweater/blouse (I usually don't wear dresses or skirts unless I have to go to a lunch or event), and it goes from day to night without the blink of an eye. But I'm not always thrilled about my clothes; despite being almost 30, I still struggle a bit when it comes to personal style (see: this post on accessories), although at least I know I prefer vintage-inspired and feminine vs. more sleek and modern—Anthropologie vs. J. Crew, if you will.

But still, I want to take my uniform up a notch.

Enter: The photo above. I love this. I am a huge fan of easy button-down shirts, especially chambray ones (my favorite one has little white polka dots on it), and I love a skinny cropped jean and a great heel. (In fact, a colleague of mine has those strappy heels the woman in the background is wearing, and they are so good. I covet them.) So why don't I wear a version of this more often? I am admittedly note a French Voguette, like these girls, but I don't think these kinds of clothes require you to be. New uniform? Might be worth a try...

Do you have a "uniform," or do you prefer to mix it up?

Photo: Nam/Streetsfn via Net-a-Porter

Friday, March 15, 2013

What are you doing this weekend?

Happy Friday, friends! Did you have a good week? With the notable exception of thinking that I may have broken my toe on Tuesday morning—my cat Oscar was meowing loudly at something at 6 a.m., and in a fit of rage (ha) I jumped out of my bed to see what it was and...tripped and fell over the hem of my pajama pants—it's been a good five days around these parts. My house is clean, my head is feeling clearer than it has in awhile (more on that next week) and in spite of the fact that I hate getting out of bed when it's still dark out, there's definitely something to be said for having an extra hour of daylight. Plus, ACS is here for the weekend—bonus.

This weekend, we're planning to spend lots of time outside and with friends, and on Sunday I'm going on a hunt for a dress for my friend Kate's bridal shower (more on that to come soon, too).

And if you're in the mood for some reading, here are four great links:

Anne-Marie Slaughter reviews Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. I met Slaughter and listened to her speak on Wednesday and interviewed her (here); she was wonderful, but she's very clear that she thinks what Sandberg is saying is "not enough."

Leo Babauta's advice to his kids. This is so sweet and lovely. (via Cup of Jo)

Despite working in digital media, I am still a person who tries to hand-write thank-you notes. So this article—"Disruptions: Digital Era Redefining Etiquette"—was fascinating to me, and not necessarily in a good way. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. ETA: An update! 

And bonus: Why are there so many smart, funny, strong female protagonists on TV right now who also happen to be borderline insane? Good question.

See you back here on Monday!

P.S. Also this week: Schmidt!, the best salted caramel brownies, The Burning House and my favorite weeknight soup.

Photo by minato

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My favorite weeknight soup.

This is definitely not a food blog—nor does it pretend to be—but I just wanted to share with you guys my favorite weeknight soup. I've made a big pot of it on Sunday nights for the past few weeks and haven't gotten sick of it yet, probably because my affinity for peas knows no bounds. Also, it's a Godsend on nights when I get home late and would prefer to reheat rather than cook.

I first saw the recipe for Spanish pea soup on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, which I've taken to DVRing lately because there's something so soothing about listening to Ina talk after a long day at work. But that's neither here nor there; what's important is that soup is so easy to make. Seriously, five ingredients and that's it—and you could easily cut it down to four.

You can find the recipe here, but here's a quick rundown: Shallots and garlic are sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil, then chicken stock and two pounds of peas are added and the whole thing is brought to a boil. Once everything is boiling (and seasoned with salt and pepper), you let it all simmer for about five minutes, then puree the mixture in a blender and serve with a slice of crispy, oven-roasted prosciutto on top and a drizzle of olive oil. I tend to eat it with a big slice of hot, crusty buttered bread on the side, too.  Plus, you can easily make this vegan if you swap out the chicken stock for vegetable and omit the prosciutto topping (which I often do).

Peas, shallots, chicken stock, garlic. To quote the Barefoot Contessa herself, "How easy is that?"

Photo: My own.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Burning House.

You all probably know about this blog (and book) already, but I came across The Burning House thanks to this post on SFGirlByBay last week, and I am fascinated. The site features reader-submitted photographs that answer one simple question: If your house was burning, what would you take with you? Scrolling through the photos is alternately amusing and heartbreaking, but more than anything, it's totally addicting. 

For me, the answer to the question—at least right at this moment—is my cats, my Lamby and Kitty (stuffed animals I've had since I was a baby), my cell phone, my wallet, my computer, a journal and my grandmother's yearbooks,  but I'd love to hear from you, too: What would you take with you if your house was burning?

All photos via The Burning House

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baked! Salted caramel brownies a la Smitten Kitchen.

So, I caved and baked the Smitten Kitchen salted caramel brownies last week. I thought I had a salted caramel recipe brownie down pat (this one—which uses Deb's salted caramel sauce, actually), but nope: These are the ultimate. They take the, uh, cake. And they couldn't be easier to make, which is kind of dangerous.

Unsweetened chocolate and butter are melted together, then whisked into granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Flour (but only 2/3 of a cup) is stirred in, then chunks of faux salted caramel candy (basically salted caramel that's been poured onto a parchment-lined plate, tossed in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to solidify, then chopped into one-inch squares) are folded into the batter and the whole thing is baked for about 30 minutes (closer to 40 if you're using my terrible oven).

The result is totally addicting—a pan of brownies that it would be easy to wolf down in no time, the kind of brownies that make me glad I have hungry coworkers who will take them off my hands. I always say baking is just as much about the creative process as it is about actually eating what I've made—I'm fascinated by the things that butter and sugar and flour and sometimes chocolate can make—but that doesn't mean I don't snack on them if I have them laying around. So thanks, work buddies.

Anyway, these brownies are the real deal. Make them. You won't be sorry.

P.S. If you're in the mood for blondies instead, here you go. And (new feature!) you can find the Baked! recipe index right here.

Photo by Smitten Kitchen 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Max Greenfield for Mr. Porter.

If you know me, you know that my favorite show—well, favorite non-serious show—on TV is definitely, without a doubt New Girl. I've long loved Zooey Deschanel (and I can relate to her character Jess's personality quirks a leetle too closely sometimes), but Max Greenfield's Schmidt is amazing, and I really don't think the show would work without him. So I was excited to come across these images on Mr. Porter. I mean, who doesn't want to look at the occasional picture of a cute, funny boy, you know?

Friday, March 8, 2013

What are you doing this weekend?

Happy Friday, friends! What are you doing this weekend? I'm--wait for it--giving my apartment a major scrubdown. And it has to be done this weekend, because ACS is coming next week and I would like for him to be able to find a place to sit that's not covered in clothes, shoes or cat hair, so there's no excuse. If you need me, I'll be holding onto my Swiffer and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for dear life. (Of course there will be other activities, too, but this is the big one...sigh.)

Anyway, what are your plans for the weekend? If you're looking for some good reading material, here are three really great links:

Nora Ephron's Final Act. If you're an Ephron fan, like I am, this piece--written by her son, Jacob Bernstein--is a must-read. Warning: You may tear up a bit. (The New York Times)

I got to hear Clint Hill, Secret Service agent for Jackie Kennedy and the man who jumped on the back of JFK's convertible after he was shot in Dallas, speak this week in Sarasota, and it was incredibly moving. So I really loved reading this profile of Jackie's sister, Lee Radziwill, in T magazine. Make sure you watch the video footage shot by Sofia Coppola. (T magazine)

And these DesignLoveFest photos really stuck with me this week; I can't get enough of the flowers. So bright and beautiful. (DesignLoveFest)

And in case you missed anything here this week: The perfect spring sandals, delicious two-ingredient (!) healthy cookies, my ideal day and a magical dinner at King Family Farm.

Have a wonderful few days and I'll see you on Monday! xoxo

Photo by Francois Halard for The New York Times

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Farm to table dinners at King Family Farm.

As I mentioned last week, I had the opportunity to attend a farm-to-table dinner at King Family Farm in Bradenton with my coworker Hannah, and it was amazing. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to eat seasonally and locally and know where your food comes from, so the opportunity to have a farm-fresh dinner (with produce literally picked from the fields in front of me) that also happened to be so charming I had to pinch myself was totally awesome.

The evening featured a three-course meal under the stars (plus plenty of extras), a tour of the farm (with samples of the produce) and lots of laughter and good conversation. If you're local and you haven't already, you've got to attend one of these dinners—I promise you'll come away with a new appreciation for Sarasota and all it has to offer. And if you've already gone, well then, like me, you're probably dreaming up excuses to go back. 

More info about the dinners here, and here's a little write-up I did about our experience for work, in which you can also check out a sample menu. (For the record, I'm still dreaming about that biscuit.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My ideal day.

So I don't know if it was Mercury in retrograde, hormones, a series of unfortunate events or what, but two weeks ago I was feeling seriously off. I'm kind of thinking it was a combo of Nos. 2 and 3, but whatever was going on was a doozy. Luckily, the weird mental haze lifted a few days later and I felt mostly back to normal, but also like I needed to think about the way I handle stress and let it affect me. So, thanks to a book I was flipping through at the time, I started thinking about my ideal daywhat I would do (on the weekends and weekdays) if I stuck what is essentially my dream schedule. And then I started thinking about the ways I can incorporate some of those dream items into my actual life. Turns out, my dream schedule is actually pretty darn attainable, and that is awesome. (Now I just have to get myself to do the things on my lists, but motivation—or lack thereof—is a whoooole other post.)

Before I go farther, a disclaimer: I am aware that the off-weeks are going to happen from time to time (and sometimes more often than that), that they're unavoidable, that they're part of the fabric that makes us who we are. In fact, as much as I joke about living in the marshmallow, I wouldn't want to live in it 24/7 (who would?). And actually, I generally appreciate the down days (at least after the fact). There's always something that can be learned from them.


I am a big believer in trying new things and  making space in our lives for activities and experiences that make us happy and fulfilled and more productive. Hence this list. Below you'll find my ideal weekday and weekend day, and I hope you'll share at least a few things you'd do on your ideal days, too.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Baked! Two-ingredient cookies.

You guys, I love cookies. Love. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, and that recipe from The New York Times a few years ago is my go-to (they're especially great for ice cream sandwiches, too). But I love sugar cookies, gingersnapspeanut butter cookies, sandwich cookies--basically any kind of cookie, with the exception of those with dried fruit (ick!).

Now obviously, those kinds of cookies, especially when consumed in multiples, are not particularly healthy. So I was thrilled to discover these two-ingredient cookies on The Burlap Bag via Cup of Jo. All you need to make them is two old bananas and a cup (maybe a little more) of oatmeal--and that's it. I added a handful of chocolate chips to mine, but they're still really healthy and they're irresistible, especially right out of the oven. Yum.

All you have to do is mash the bananas and oats together, then stir in whatever add-ins you like (walnuts would be good, and next time I'm going to add some cinnamon and a dash of salt to take the flavor up a notch). Bake for 10-12 minute and boom: Delicious, healthy cookies that you don't have to feel bad about eating. Now that I can get behind.

Photo by The Burlap Bag

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spring in your step.

You can pretty much wear sandals year-round in Florida (one of the perks of living here), but spring has me thinking about switching up my tried-and-true jeans-and-Rainbows-flipflops routine for something a little more pretty and feminine. These Tory Burch Aileen sandals would be just as sweet with skinny jeans and a T-shirt as they would a flirty dress, wouldn't they? Love.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What are you doing this weekend?

Happy Friday, friends, and happy first day of March! Are you looking forward to the weekend? I am--I'm zipping out of town for a quick little getaway with ACS. It's supposed to be cool this weekend (low 60s during the day, 40s at night!), so on our agenda is a long, long walk around a big lake we discovered and hopefully as much outside time as possible.

In other news, this week I went to one of my favorite things I've ever done in Sarasota--a farm-to-table dinner at King Family Farm with my coworker Hannah--and I can't wait to tell you about it and show you pictures next week.

Oh, and here's some weekend reading, if you're in the mood:

The art of kissing (!). (Brain Pickings, via Eileen)

The Southerner's handbook. (I still miss you, Charleston.) (Garden & Gun)

And speaking of the South, a storybook cottage in Thunderbolt, GA (for a writer named, awesomely, Chad Faries). What a cool house. (Savannah magazine)

Have a great weekend, friends! xoxo

Photo by Joy the Baker.