Happy Weekending!

Press for Champagne
I need one of these next to my pillow. 

Happy Weekend folks. What are you up to this winter’s-still-holding-on-but-officially-spring weekend? We’ll be hanging with the kiddos and then venturing into DC to see the legendary Rebirth Brass Band with some pals (thanks for the invite Linz!). Sunday, we’ll drive up to a wedding at NYC’s Four Seasons Restaurant (cue Bauhaus geekout- I’m such a nerd for this place). Our friends’ nuptials will be officiated by the incomparable duo of one James Lipton and one Betty Fussell (cue Actors Studio and culinary geekout). I have been dying to meet the iconic Fussell since my friend Amy D. so beautifully profiled her here and here. I pretty much just want to be Betty when I grow up.

Let’s hope the snow and wintery mix weather subsides, this time of year is such a tease. What adventures are you all off to?


What I’m Drinking:

Meryl and Stuart’s Signature Cocktail: “Wedding in Springtime” which, in Meryl’s words, features “bubbly Prosecco, the Italian aperitif Aperol, club soda, and a splash of rhubarb amaro, rhubarb being a harbinger of much-longed for spring!” Sounds delicious. 
A Few Things:

An award winning app that allows us all to catalog the family story. This is cool.

Julia’s trick to poach the perfect egg.

These wedges are both gold and Dr. Scholl’s- that’s my kind of shoe. Win win.

The best and fastest way to make a delicious scrambled egg taco.

What is means to “hold space” for the ones we hold dear.

7 Super Tuscan dishes that will take you right to the heart of Italia.

Just one of the reasons that Jimmy Fallon may be one of the greatest talk show hosts of all time. Love this guy- this is awesome.

The 5 things one woman learned when she said YES to her daughter for 24 hours.

A Lavender Eye for Spring? I like it.

18 Pinterest-staged photo fails- this is pretty funny.

These flowers! Spotted on The Yellow Table- I can’t stand it, so pretty I want to eat them.

I just ordered up this pretty floral skirt for spring. I never wear skirts- giving them the old college try again.

And just to send you off to the weekend the right way, here you go and… you’re welcome.

 

Cin Cin good people. Happy Weekend!

 

{Image: Elle Decor re: Lisa Golightly}

 

 

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Happy Weekending!

flip
We had a little taste of summer this past week in Charleston, this photo seemed apropos for the way it made me feel.

Hello good people of the world and Happy Weekend to you. We have just returned from a whirlwind week of Spring Breaking in glorious Charleston- what a gem of a city, I can’t wait to round up my favorite spots. We stayed at the beach so we had the best of both worlds- town and country- we got charming city, crazy good food (I mean, really kind of nuts- full report to come), and long empty beaches with summertime breezes. More on all of that later next week.

What are you all up to this weekend? Spring may finally be peeking its head around the corner for us here in the Mid-Atlantic. At least it’s raining these days and not snowing, it can’t come soon enough.

What I’m Drinking: 

This amazing Loire sparkling wine I discovered at the cuter-than-can-be Charleston coffee and wine shop, The Daily. It’s so crisp and delicious- tasting note to follow, this one’s worth seeking out.

In Other News: 

London opens a bar where you can pet owls- I’m there.

I love these photos of Japanese dancer, Mickael Jou.

Big sale at the Gap. Use code FFBEST for 40% off little numbers like this.

I’m attempting a paleo-esque diet for the next month starting tomorrow. After all of that Charleston goodness, something’s got to give. We’ll see how it goes. This book on baking with natural sugars seems like a step in the right direction.

And speaking of books, I just ordered this one to inspire me to dig a little deeper in my spring clean this year. Spotted on my pal Rashmi’s Insta.

And speaking of tidying up, this cleaning guru shares her secrets for a tidy home.

Green fondue for St. Paddy’s Day? Maybe. This white chocolate matcha mix doesn’t quite jive with my paleo ambitions, but it sure looks fun (and yummy).

This springy green floral cape just made it to my wish list.

Cafe Clover- on my NYC list. This little West Village spot looks fab.

“This is what happens when you put your phone away for a week.”

This raw kale caesar with beet microgreens and poached egg reminds me of a transcendent salad I just had at Charleston’s The Macintosh- except their’s had tiny little pieces of fried cauliflower- what the what!

This book looks fun. The difference between the Queen’s English and our English.

“The sulfites give me a headache.” Chances are this is probably not the reason you’re getting a headache, so pop the cork on the bottle of red. Thank you Lettie Teague.

These flared high-waisted jeans are rocking my world. Let’s hope this paleo thing works so I can get back to zippers post-bebes.

This documentary looks amazing- Sailing the Sinking Sea.

Bjork and The Secret to a Pop Tune Hit on this week’s Studio 360- I loved this episode.

Cin Cin ya’ll and Happy Weekending!

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Happy Weekending!

pink house
Pretty in Pink- Charleston

Happy Weekend dear readers. It has been a long week with my grandmother passing. I will head home today and try to get back to “normal” life. It’s been a wonderful week of celebrating our Meme and spending time with family and friends, a great reminder of what is most important in life. Our post-memorial reception turned into an all-night impromptu dance party and there’s not a whole lot in the world that a spontaneous dance party can’t cure- my grandmother would have loved it.

What are you all up to this weekend? We will be packing up the minivan and heading down to Charleston for some R&R, beach time with the kiddos and some serious eating and exploring. I’ll be sure to take copious notes and sketch out a great city guide based on our time there. We’re staying at a little beach house on the Isle of Palms, hopefully we’ll catch a few warm days. We’re looking forward to eating here and renting a bike to properly tour the charming city. We’re taking a Low Country cooking class here and taking the kids here. And if any of you all have any recommendations, please send them my way. I haven’t been in years so am really looking forward to some Southern hospitality.


What I’m Drinking: 

Mint Juleps on our Charleston porch- rocking chairs required. Here’s a classic recipe from New Orleans bartender, Chris McMillian. And apparently Charleston’s The Gin Joint’s got one of the best Mint Juleps in the country. I might have to see for myself.
In Other News: 

This Geico ad is hilarious, I want to be in the room when these things are thought up.

How to get the most out of your cookbook collection- great tips from Lauren Salkeld.

A Secret Weapon Stir Fry Sauce- this is awesome.

The new meaning of luxury (read: why Instagram is flooded with so many photos of delicious cups of coffee).

Yay- a new Tina Fey sitcom.

I love this easy breezy long dress for summer.

Headed to South Beach but can’t spring for The Raleigh (my personal fave- that pool!)? Park it at this chic hostel- I promise this is not your momma’s hostel. There’s one coming to Chicago too.

My friend Anna wrote a Food & Wine piece on this mother daughter duo last year. Here they are again, their Burgundy Cook’s Atelier’s is on my list! I’d love to go with my mom.

Tom, Katie and Suri- a Scientology Story. I read the book that this new documentary is based on, it is unbelievable. Can’t wait to see what the filmmakers have done with it.

The Keurig cup inventor feels bad that he ever did it. :-(

Vince Vaughn and pals pose for cheesy stock photos that can be all yours for free- hilarious.

Andrew Knowlton spends 24 hours straight at the Waffle House working as a line cook.

Cin Cin ya’ll and Happy Weekending!

{photo by Doug Hickock}

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Happy Weekending!

citrus scents

Happy Weekend dear readers. What are you up to this winter weekend? I am off to visit my dear grandmother in Texas (if I can get there, seems the winter weather is worse there than on the East Coast). She is fighting the good fight after a long and tedious surgery to remove an aneurysm. She is 90 and my hero. I wrote about her here and feel so lucky to have her as my darling grandmother and source of constant inspiration. My Meme is a woman who fully embraces life and lives with an artful and interested eye- she manages to find interest in just about everything and is the quintessential observer of all things great and small. She inspires me to pay more attention to the world and move at a slower, more interested and engaged pace. She is a painter who works wonders with watercolors and is always effortlessly chic- a woman to love and cherish. Please send well wishes that she may start to feel better soon as she is in a tough place.


What I’m Drinking: 

Whatever my mom’s got in her Texas fridge.

A Few Things:

This just made my day- the definition of true sportsmanship in a Texas high school gym.

One couple’s idea of a retirement plan- hopping the globe one AirBnB house at a time. Sounds like my kind of couple.

He lived long and prospered. RIP Leonard Nimoy.

Life lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

10 Perfect Parisian Food Experiences by Chocolate and Zucchini’s Clotilde Dusoulier.

‘Tis the season to spritz up your home and bring on the scents of spring. DIY Home Lavender Spray anyone?

And while we’re on that topic- these natural DIY home scents seem pretty great and easy to drum up too.

And why have I never thought of this before? My long shower is my down time, this just upped my game.

Spicy crab linguine with mustard, creme fraiche and herbs- doesn’t this look delish!

The Farmer’s Almanac nails it once again.

Want to sound smart, read this- “39 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Bad.”

Want to sound smart in a corporate meeting, read this. Hilarious- I love the fractions.

High impact home updates in an hour or less- clutter-free countertops- my daily goal (it never happens).

“Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert on failure and lightening up already.

Conan Goes to Cuba- is he our next Charles Kuralt?

Coconut macaroons- not to be confused with macarons, now these I can make! Thanks Rashmi!

When you’re in 50 Shades of Grey and your mom’s Melanie Griffith, it’s all just so embarrassing.

20 minute Teriyaki Salmon- why not.

This is a fun way to hang art.

Happy Weekending to you and Cin Cin!
{Photo by: Alpha Smoot Photography}

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The Art of Creatively Retreating

Creatively Retreating
One Nest Project (photo by Rashmi Pappu)

There comes a time- and no better time than the middle of the deep-freezing winter- when your body and brain wish to simply retreat. Retreat- just what does that mean anyway? I don’t know, I guess it can really mean anything from retreating to your bedroom for a quick nap and a think, to going Hollywood and retreating to your Golden Door or Canyon Ranch, with lots of room for variation in between.

As defined by Merriam-Websters, a retreat is:  a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.

So, yes- it’s pretty vague, although it does stipulate “group withdrawal”- Girl Trip! Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter what it is as long your retreat provides a little cleansing and refreshing of the body and mind, right? I’m a big fan of the daily long shower retreat myself. But as for a bit more of a commitment involving a group withdrawal, it’s nice to make the effort to travel outside your local geographical zone and get your retreat on with some like-minded peeps.

Recently, my pal Rashmi Pappu suggested that a few of us creatively-inclined folks get together for a creative retreat. I jumped at the chance, as a bit of simple time spent away in a quieter place with some good folks, food, and drink is always a welcome respite. And if you are the creative type, always dreaming up new ideas and full of old ones that you haven’t quite grasped how to turn into actual creations (I’ve got a boatload of those jumbled in my brain), I highly suggest the retreat of the creative kind with kindred spirits as it’s a great opportunity to bounce said ideas off of one another, and really just enjoy some space, scenery and laughs- because that’s kind of what life’s all about, right? Add in a sustainably designed home, a world class winery, a charming country village and a top rated restaurant and you’ve got the makings for one inspired weekend.

We stayed at the small footprint but big thinking One Nest Project in nearby Delaplane. And when I say nearby, I mean pretty darn nearby. For the record, it took me 47 minutes to get to the house (if you subtract the wrong turn I took up a country lane which just added to the mystique and fun of it all- you have to get lost at least once, right?), yet another point for DC area living- it’s got this vast vineyard/countryside directly to the left of it that sits pretty and beautifully unspoiled. Once I hit Delaplane, VA., my shoulders literally dropped and out came a lengthy exhale. Ahh- country life. Bring on the retreating.

one nest project
One Nest sits on stilts, eschewing a traditional foundation. 

As I drove up the steep and winding road to One Nest, I was immediately impressed by how it is both perched and somehow nestled into its landscape. I was simultaneously wowed by its design and impressed by its respectfulness to its surrounds- it made me want to, I don’t know, bow my head and whisper “Namaste” to it or something. I didn’t do that, but still… One Nest is a residence and project by developer Mark Turner- a thoughtfully and beautifully designed home on a hillside with bucolic views of grazing cattle, horses and sheep, boasting a modern design that embraces its terrain. With soaring ceilings and drool-worthy iron-framed windows, this property is an experimental one- built in under 100 days for $150,000, it feels like a generous sized home but is actually a mere 1,000 square feet. One Nest is Mark’s attempt at a new style of living, one that is more conscious of space, sustainability and community. Read the feature on his One Nest Project in the Washington Post here.

one nest at dusk
One Nest Project 

After a beautiful pesto pasta lunch made by my pal Amy Rutherford of Alexandria’s immaculately edited Red Barn Mercantile, we set off to RDV Vineyards to take in a glorious sunset and a bottle of their ’09 RDV Rendezvous. I don’t normally share the penchant for Points or opinions of critic Robert Parker, but in this case I have to agree with his spirited tweets about this particular vintage and bottle- this is some seriously good stuff. Sold out, you can still buy yourself a bottle at the vineyard. The Bordeaux of Virginia right here in our backyard (well, at least One Nest Project’s backyard and ours for a day).

RDV
Pink skies at RDV

silo
Interior of the Silo- RDV (Photo by Rashmi Pappu)

And as for that sunset, I imagine that the city folks saw an impressive sunset that evening as well, but somehow I think ours wins by virtue of the countryside and the creative retreating and all.

Sunset
Photographer Rashmi Pappu capturing and enjoying the moment. 

Off we went, happily plied with a bit of Bordeaux-esque vino, to the top notch Ashby Inn- an impossibly cozy and charming combination of local haunt meets destination restaurant nestled in tiny Paris, VA. (I had to love that we ventured to Paris, VA. for dinner- that alone just made me happy.) Great food and drink ensued. My favorite dish of the night- a dashi custard seafood small plate, but honestly everything was delicious from the perfectly roasted quail to the house-made ricotta. After some conversation with our friendly sommelier, Stuart Brennen, I knew immediately what our bottle of wine would be. His eyes positively lit up while his hands theatrically gestured as he described the German Pinot he had recently acquired. Sold. The ’11 Baden Huber Pinot was a vino to love- vinified candy, juicy yet refined and light to medium-bodied, it proved a perfect pairing to the array of dishes on the table.

baden pinot
Baden Huber ’11 Pinot at The Ashby Inn. If you can get your hands on a bottle of this- please do so. 

With happy tummies, we headed home to enjoy a bit more conversation and a slice (or two) of Sucré’s delicious King Cake courtesy of one King Cake afficionado, Lindsay Boudreaux. A satisfying end to our first day of retreat.

breakfast and baby king cake
The breakfast of champions- avocado toast, a perfectly fried egg, and a bit of King Cake (not seen here because already ingested). P.S.: Rashmi got the baby! (Photo by Rashmi Pappu)

morning retreating

Paper and pencils in hand- the spitballing session begins.

The next morning provided a perfect opportunity for brainstorming, spitballing, and of course, lounging. Lindsay made fried egg and avocado toasts with a bevy of fixins and we noshed and enjoyed our environs. Hungry from all that brainstorming, we made our way into Middleburg for a cozy lunch at The French Hound. Chef’d and owned by John Gustin Birkitt, a Virginia local who made his mark at Napa’s Brix and Domaine Chandon, later making the culinary rounds in Provence, his menu is just the one you want to choose from on a chilly Sunday in February. We sat next to a roaring fire and dined on salted radishes, pommes frites, burgers and BLT’s. Yum, I highly recommend.

the french hound
Lunch at The French Hound= happy-making

A brisk walk around town and a cup of coffee later, I headed home. Another added bonus of retreating- it’s always nice to return.

I don’t know why we don’t do this creative retreating thing more often. I walked away from this brief moment away full of inspiration and ideas and more importantly, good memories and a bit more space in my usually cluttered brain. It’s always a good idea to gather- both the gathering of one’s thoughts and the gathering of one’s good people- throw in a beautiful backdrop (cue super cool house, countryside and awe-inspiring sunset), add in some good food and drink- and bam- you’ve got yourself a retreat to write home (or on le blog) about.

countryside
I wonder if these sheep are creatively retreating? (Photo by Rashmi Pappu)


The Makings of the Perfect Virginia Countryside Retreat:

THE HOUSE:
One Nest Project- 3 bedrooms (plus loft) from $399/night

THE WINE:
RDV Vineyards- call to book a tour and tasting, $50/pp

THE FOOD:
The Ashby Inn- fine dining in the chic little country town of Paris with new(ish) chef to the Ashby Inn, David Dunlap.
Market Salamander- get your gourmet on here, a terrific little market stocked with lots of yummies.
Home Farm Store- a grand food hall in a stunning old bank building packed with foodstuffs galore.
The French Hound- beautiful French country cuisine in the heart of Middleburg.

THE COFFEE:
Middleburg Common Grounds
- for a great cup of countryside joe.

THE PAPER GOODS:
Creme de la Creme- a busy little shop, stock up on your paper and pens here for your spitballing session or stop in at Amy’s shop on the way out to the country.

THE PEOPLE:
your adventurous, fun and creative pals
Do you make a habit of retreating? What do you do, where do you go? Do tell.

Cin Cin Ya’ll and Happy Retreating!

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Happy Valentines Day!

happy v day

Happy Valentines Day dear readers- I know I know, it’s a Hallmark holiday but I have to admit that I’ve always had a fondness for this lovey dove-ful day. I have such nostalgia (there’s that word again) for the warm and fuzzy memories of opening those little paper Valentines we used to get from classmates at school, and going home with Elmer’s glue-encrusted hands after cutting and gluing those silly doilies to the backs of red construction paper hearts.  This year we made crayon heart necklaces for our classmates and friends. I love paper Valentines but we opted to just melt some crayons, it took some time but we love how they came out.

Yep, St. Valentine’s Day- it’s a good excuse to share some love- true, we should just be sharing such love on a daily basis, but Valentine’s Day for me, is just another reminder. It’s a bright and shiny heart-shaped beacon of light in the doldrums of winter, so I’ll take it. What do you all do for Valentines Day? This year, I think C and I may just go to the movies. We try to do something slightly offbeat and different each year, but this year, we’re a bit overworked (read: tired) and a bit understudied for the Oscars, so we’ll probably just head to the local movie theater to catch Birdman or The Theory of Everything. Have you all seen either? Do tell.


My Valentine Mood
:

André Lanskoy is my new favorite artist. Why have I never seen his work before? If only I could afford to buy one of his prints. The one above is from 1959, I can’t get enough of it.

Chocolate Velvet Beet Cupcakes- seems about right for V day. I might need to make these.

Pink Fiats always make me smile.

Paul and Linda do too. Their expressions are kind of hilarious here.

Plum and Brandy Gelato- yeah, alright, twist my arm.

And Sangria Granita Snow Cones- yes please.


What I’m Drinking:

Rosé Sparkling- was there any doubt? It’s pink, it’s fizzy, enough said. I don’t know, I drink this stuff year round but this saccharine sweet holiday is yet another good reason to pop this pink bubbly’s cork, like we really need one. A few go to’s:

Domaine Jousset “rosé a lies” NV- the great Gamay grape that is way too underrated gets its juicy spritz on in this refined and racy (loads of food-friendly acid) bottle. Always a winner. $21

Domaine Regnier David Cremant de Loire NV- Cremant is a thin-in-the-wallet Champagne lover’s best friend. Made in the traditional method that Champagne uses to produce its wondrous bubbles, you get the same technique from a different part of the world, still imparting those brioche-y, creamy notes but at half (or less than half ) the price. This one’s quite beautiful and finessed with hints of toasted almond, brioche and ripe red fruit, made from the super food friendly and acidic grape, Cabernet Franc. Yum and yum. $23

Graham Beck Brut Rosé Sparkling- a happy little sparkler from South Africa with notes of red cherries, raspberries, wild lavender, and an earthy minerality to boot. $15

Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé NV- Billy Rose, if you want to be a baller. $75

What to Pair With your Pink Bubbly: Chocolate Velvet Beet Cupcakes, of course- duh. Or almost anything really, provided it’s not stick-to-your-ribs meat and potatoes.


In Other News: 

Have you seen this? A documentary about a lost documentary made by Alfred Hitchcock and Sidney Bernstein about German concentration camps in 1945. I stumbled upon it as it is currently playing on HBO, very good.

“The chalky anthropology of candy hearts.”- an interesting little bit of sweet tooth history.

The World’s Most Romantic Hotels- have you been to any of these? Fogo Island Inn- you just went on my list. You too, Hotel Les Roches Rouges.

Kiss-proof lipstick. Is there really such a thing- 9 long-lasting lipsticks put to the test.

How to make a heart-shaped pizza. Be careful with this one. In college, my friend Kristen received one as a Valentine from an admirer which pretty much sealed the deal, but not in the way you might think. Because of that heart-shaped pizza, she decided that that first date would never happen. Know your audience.

My pal Tracy Lynn Olivera is a badass and a fantastic talent. She has a CD. You should buy it because it’s awesome.

Inside the stylish homes of 11 comedians.

The top 5 places to cry in NYC. I’ve done my fair share of late night crying at the local Greek diner circa the late 90s. I might also add the Rose Planetarium and any corner on a rainy day where you might get a tidal wave-sized taxi splash- you’re good to just start crying right there on the spot and it’s perfectly acceptable, just as long as you don’t cry for too long- gotta get back on your game and hail your ass a cab.

Shirley Manson (where have you been Shirley!) steps in and pens an open letter to Kanye.

Speaking of Kanye (and who isn’t- I guess his inappropriate behavior really is working on his ego-boosting behalf), this is hilarious- the hidden texts between Kanye and Beck post-Grammys.

The best and worst first date spots in NYC.

My talented cousin just launched her jewelry collection and it is fabulous. Inspired by her time as an expat in Amsterdam, her pieces are beautiful- this Gwen necklace is calling my name. Use the code EClaunch10 through February 15th.

Staying in on Valentines? Make Duck a Deux if you dare (duck is hard, right!)- a lovely Valentines dinner for two.

If duck’s not your thing (or like me, you’ve just messed it up too many times), look to Julia for inspiration. I always think of Julia Child and her husband Paul on Valentines because they loved celebrating the holiday together and with friends. I had the big idea to throw and Julia and Paul dinner party this Valentines Day, but we just had a Top Chef Challenge birthday party for C and I thought that we were probably good for the month of February. Maybe next month. Anyway- here is a Julia-inspired Quick Coq au Vin Blanc c/o Martha.

I know I’m real late to this party, but I am finally reading Unbroken and wow- it is unbelievable what one human being is capable of enduring while holding strong to one’s will to live. “Inspiring” does not even begin to describe this story.

This should be entertaining- “Who wore it best” on the NYC private school playgrounds?

And can someone please explain to me why The Vermont Teddy Bear Company would put out a 50 Shades of Grey Teddy Bear? What is happening? This has got to be the creepiest teddy bear ever.

Cin Cin all and Happy Valentines Day!

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8 Groovy Things

8 Groovy Things

Just a few things that are floatin’ my boat these days:

1. An outdoor canvas painting free for all. Maybe the cold weather is making me love this but it does looks so fun, doesn’t it?

2. Julia’s always on my groovy list, her preserved Cambridge kitchen at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum is one of my official Happy Places. This article from The New Yorker archives, passed along by my friend Rashmi (follow her Insta- so fun and inspiring), made me smile. Have you read “My Life in France“? -one of my favorites.  I vow to get to Le Pitchoune one of these days for cooking classes in Julia’s Provencal home.

3. My new favorite bauble. I can’t justify the splurge but I’d like to. The designer, Moorea Seal, designed ye olde blog as well, with yours truly. I’m a fan.

4. A Loch Ness Ladle. Just because. (not available until Feb. but you bet I’ll have that little Nessie swimming in my soup pot)

5. A Cheese shirt. Because it’s awesome.

6. An oversized wool blend stripey car coat. Just like a Pendleton only minus the primary colors and pricey price tag.

7. Ahh yes, the Nike Pre Montreal. Why are you not in my closet?

8. Stowe, Vt.  Maybe because the VonTrapp Family has their own lodge there or White Christmas was inspired by the pretty Vermont town and I’m always a sucker for Rosemary Clooney and that silly ass song, “Snow”- I don’t know, I just want to go.

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Happy Weekend!

Henry Miller

Happy Weekend dear readers. I hope you are all of to some fun adventuring. We are playing it low key this weekend. In fact, I cannot even think of what we have planned which is pretty great. The hubs and I are going to get out for a minute to a geeky wine tasting to test our blind tasting skills. A friend in the wine industry is hosting and it will be a $15/$50 party- attempting to guess which wine is worth what. It should prove a challenge because the host himself has some seriously refined tastebuds so the $15 vinos are sure to be tasty. Anyway, should be fun and it’s a good idea for a gathering.

What I’m Drinking:

Lately, in additon to my Orange crush, I’ve been sipping Italian reds. ‘Tis the season for a hearty red and not much floats my boat (or palate) more in the dead of winter than a few sips of some dirt & cherries (aka Tuscan reds). I opt for a Rosso di Montalcino as I’ve written about many a time before on le blog, the baby sister of its older and more refined sibling, Brunello. You can get a lot of bang for your buck here with the Rosso, it still ain’t cheap but it is delicioso.

A Few Stellar Bottles:

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino ’12- a steal for $23 from a wonderful Tuscan house run by a female (gotta love that). Their wines are all stupendo. Dirt and cherries finessed with a bit of wild herb perfume. So good.

Le Chiuse Rosso di Montalcino ’11- killer bottle. $26

Fonterenza Rosso di Montalcino ’11- this one you’ll want to put on your dining table at your next dinner party. The label’s so pretty, you have to show it off and maybe use it as a vase after that. Imported by the legendary Louis/Dressner, it’s simply awesome. Biodynamic, organic, natural and drinking like the land- it’ll put you right under that Tuscan sun and in Jan., that sounds pretty good. $36

Tenuta di Sesta Rosso di Montalcino ’12- not quite as complex as the bottles above but chewy and chock full of dark berries and dirt in the best way, it’s delicious and it’s $16.

A Few Things:

Let’s “cut to the chase”- a look at just what those old expressions really mean.

Need a breath of fresh air, pop over to Anna Watson Carl’s Instagram. She’s been in Sicily for 3 weeks, talk about swoonful.

7 things that will help you stop worrying, says Fast Company. Well, I’ve got #4 down pat. I don’t think I’ll be adopting #7 anytime soon. Tried it, hated it, but the others sound pretty good.

To fall in love with anyone- do this.

A hotel inspired by an amethyst. Interesting and pretty.

I made these Buttery Braised Leeks at the recommendation of my good pal Rashmi and they were a HUGE hit. She made them sans topping and was a fan. I could not resist the crispy, cheesy panko topping and it went over big time. I highly recommend.

Another friend recommends this NY Times Bok Choy recipe. I don’t have enough Bok Choy in my life in general, looking forward to trying this.

Mind your own, err- Make your own beeswax. So easy, even I can do this and makes a great present.

How to make homemade extra flaky crescent rolls.

And while we’re talking homemade, how’s about some homemade Twix? Yes please.

Funny. I love Emily McDowell’s illustrations, just looking at this makes me happy. What do you consider exercise that’s probably not? I’ve personally always done butt crunches while waiting in line. Ha.

I don’t myself used LinkedIn, but for those of you that do, this looks helpful. A little zhush for your LinkedIn profile, why not?

I love these socks and who doesn’t always need a few more pairs of socks especially when they’re comfy, cute, the company gives back and there’s a discount code. Check it.

My pal Rashmi also turned me on to The Points Guy and by the by- you can hook yourself up with a ticket to Milan right about now for $399. Say What!

I will be honest, when noontime hits, I never know what the hell to make. Kitchen scraps for lunch? Ok, I’ll bite.

How to hang your gallery wall like a pro.

We’ve all seen the wood bead chandeliers like this one that might make you feel like you were living in ABC Home (if you had 15 foot ceilings and mammoth Broadway-facing windows) but alas, these babies are pricey. Enter the World Market’s version. It’s not nearly as fancy but for $269, it’s a pretty good compromise.

Speaking of chandeliers, I’ll take one of these please.

I should do this. What a great (and old school) way to keep track of memories together.

What’s IN and OUT this Spring according to Ms. Wintour. I don’t think anyone needs to worry about me sporting a single earring anytime soon, so I guess I’m in the clear.

The top 20 places to buy art online. I have to go with The Tappan Collective, they hail from my alma mater and my best friend Amy and I wish we had thought of this. Well, we sort of did back in the day, but we didn’t do it. Sigh. These ladies did though and I love their style.

Cin Cin ya’ll and Enjoy! Happy Weekending. Stay Warm.

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Happy Weekend!
  

Happy Weekend!

Stella Maria Baer

Happy Weekend dear readers. I love this shot of Stella Maria Baer’s work in progress above. The paint and colors are so chomp-worthy, I seriously just want to eat that entire composition. She’s a Southwest artist living in the Northeast and her work is genius (and P.S., her instagram feed is moody and dreamily delicious, I look forward to her gorgeous posts every day). But back to that work in progress thing- it’s sort of what life’s all about isn’t it. Some food (or paint) for thought.

Well folks, it’s been a hectic week over here in good ole VA., the apex being a full-on attack by the residents of an underground Yellow Jacket nest in our background. After my son stepped on said nest, my husband sprung into survival mode as the wasps swarmed and chased them all around the backyard. He managed to get the kiddos into the house with only a few stings, but those few stings were some humdingers. I was not here when the nest was rattled but saw the aftermath- clothes strewn everywhere and my poor daughter’s eyes nearly swollen shut. But all is well and on we go. Just another day in the Virginia suburbs. Who knew suburbia could be so action-packed?

In any case, we are gearing up for a restful (well, as restful as we can get here with toddlers) weekend. My niece is blowing into the ‘burbs later this afternoon, straight from her high powered internship with a New Mexican senator on Capitol Hill. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of Washington. What must such an adulterated town to do such a mildly adulterated young adult? She went to high school in NYC so she can’t be too scandalized, we’ll see.

What I’m Drinking:

I’m digging Loire reds for this time of year. The Loire Valley is such a steal and some of my all-time favorites come from its flinty terroir. This is my new favorite. We carry a more recent vintage at Waterfront and it’s killer- lots of zippy acid and nice fruit on the palate. Lean and mean and perfect for a hot summer night. Drink it with seared salmon, mushroom and goat cheese pizza or turkey burgers- it’s not picky and goes great with almost anything provided your dish is not too terribly heavy or too dainty and light.

A Few Things:

I cannot wait for this. Meryl Streep as The Witch in the movie version of Sondheim’s Into the Woods? Musicals into movies are tricky but with Rob Marshall at the helm, my hopes are high.

I left my car lights on all night and had to figure out how to jump start the car the next morning. This came in pretty handy- gotta love the interweb.

In this day in Instagram age, I can’t believe it’s so hard to find simple 4×4 frames. If anyone has an answer, do tell. I’m at a loss.

My friend Amy just turned me on to the legendary Betty Fussell and I just ordered her memoir, Kitchen Wars. I cannot wait to dig in.

And ok, I finally gave in to this Magic Bullet contraption that’s sweeping our smoothie-crazed nation and you know what? I love it. It’s so easy and I don’t have to fret about my kids getting their greens, they love these smoothies. Especially when I freeze them and make Green Pops. They love a popsicle (who doesn’t) even if it is laden with kale and baby spinach. My concoctions actually look kind of like these- they are so pretty and taste so nice. It’s not cheap but you literally just throw stuff in a cup, blend it up and go. I’m kind of in love. This is the one I have- totally worth the dough.

I love these portraits. Luis Conejo’s work is sort of like John Currin meets Disney animator. Awesome.

A cute (and easy!) idea for a photo backdrop at my next dinner party from the designlovefest team.

10 Cute Kids’ Rooms. It helps if you live in a loft space with 20 foot walls and giant windows but still…

And these Hockney-inspired children’s portraits are pretty great too.

5 Easy No-Bake Meals- ok, I’ll bite.

And how cute is this- a great way to wrap small gifts.

Nice words to live by.

Cin Cin good people and Enjoy.

Photo: designsponge

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10 For The Host with the most

This time of year brings lots of travel (yay!) and sometimes a night or two or three at a pal’s place. I like to come bearing gifts for my Host with the Most, especially those I wouldn’t buy for myself- tiny cake stands anyone?

 

10 For The Host With The Most

A Perfect Picnic Basket- come on, who wouldn’t want one of these? Especially one this cute- from tastemaker and blogger extraordinaire Sarah Sherman Samuel, comes her new line of artisanal entertaining goodness. Everything is deliciously lovely and I am always partial to a picnic basket.

Some Coastal Coasters- bold and graphic, these hand-painted, non-toxic ceramic babies are the recent collaboration of BottleStock Shop’s Whitney Adams and Rissa Sandman. Evocative of a summer day at bay or just a cool addition to your host’s bar cart. P.S.: She’s having a 30% off sale today on everything but these Coastal Coasters and there are some fancy things to be had. I for one love her corkscrews. Code: HUMPDAY

A Classic Candle- the tried and true hostess gift. Can’t. Go. Wrong. And this one boasts a stylish exterior with an on-sale price tag to boot.

An Awesome Apron- for the stylish cook who’s more French linen chic than Betty Crocker ruffled. I can’t stand how awesome this apron is.

A Tie-Dyed Towel- this Turkish towel is styled up a notch with its tie-dyed detail. The perfect gift as it’s small enough to wear as a scarf but still big enough to use as a beach towel, sarong or wrap. From my favorite shop in Alexandria at Red Barn Mercantile.

A Stylish Soap Dish- Not your Grandma’s soap dish (or maybe it is if she’s into Mid-Century bric a brac), this brass wire beauty will thrill its new owner with its clean lines each time he/she scrubs up.

A Cheeky Print- because who doesn’t want a pretty watercolor of a strutting leopard in their home? If your host is fabulous, he/she will love illustrator to the fashion Gods (Hermés anyone?), Caitlin McGauley’s print. If you’re concerned that it may not “go” with your host’s decor, worry not as Jenna Lyons famously put it, “as far as I’m concerned, leopard’s a neutral.”

A Tiny Cake Stand- if your host is truly the most when it comes to baked goods, he/she will love this mini jadeite cake stand. And even if they suck at baking, you’ll never tell and they’ll still love it.

Some Swanky Stirrers- a great host is a master of the cocktail party and what better tool to help one further master that fête-ing art than this set of glass stirrers. They’ll feel like Sinatra, and what’s a better gift than that!

A Punchy Throw- again, something I wouldn’t buy for myself but would love to receive. This one’s sunny, soft and boldly graphic- sure to punch up any room.

And if all else fails, my tried and true gift for my Host with the Most- a great bottle of bubbly or rosé or even better- bubbly rosé. I recently had this one at my birthday dinner at DC’s Proof which boasts a beyond-killer wine list, including $18,000 bottles of DRC- sigh (who is actually ordering that- talk about a baller move). But honestly, this Legret NV pink bubbly was one of the very best I have ever imbibed and that’s saying something. Get it here, your Host will be psyched and while you’re at it, get a bottle for yourself too. Traveling can be hard work- pop it open when you arrive home. Cin Cin!

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