Happy Monday!

Black Sesame Ice CreamBlack Sesame Ice Cream, anyone? Yum. 

Well, I missed my weekly Weekending post, so here’s a Happy Monday for you all. In the midst of being a bit overwhelmed with work/life balance (what’s new, right), I have been slowly and surely finding my way to a more simplified way of life, it’s on my mind a lot lately. After accepting too many gigs here and there that have left me exhausted and feeling like I rarely my family, I have decided to study and learn the art of the graceful decline. The problem is- I’m a city girl with a built-in hustle. You can take the girl out of the city but…, well you know. I need to learn to shake the hustle off because the truth is, since having my kiddos, I don’t love the hustle like I used to. I’m actually starting to hate it. I’m in the fortunate position of not having to work full time, but I do work part-time. It’s a constant balancing act of figuring out just how much is enough- financially, logistically and emotionally. You want to do what you love but you also want to be with those you love- the ongoing conundrum.

Whew. I’m exhausted just writing that but it’s Monday morning, it’s a new week and it felt apropos to do so. If you, dear readers, have any advice- please send some my way.

In the Meantime:

What I’m Sipping: Cue the Angels, Go on the Spotlight- AHHHHHH! (read in Soprano)- it’s officially Rosé season folks. Truth be told, I drink the pink nectar of the Gods year round, but spring feels especially ripe to start popping the tops on the pink stuff. Here’s my all-time favorite, it’s a pretty penny and a bit more than I’d like to spend for a Tuesday night wine, but the beginning of a season only comes once a year, so what the hell- Tempier Bandol Rosé it is. Trust me, one sip of this stuff and you will totally get it- it is such a special wine. Maybe I’ll get really motivated and make a proper Bouillabaisse- the perfect pairing for this wine that boasts bright fruit, hints of dark chocolate and tangy spice- a most delicious and unique rosé from a most royal family in wine (The Peyraud/Tempier family has supplied Alice Waters’ go-to juice at Chez Panisse for decades and is responsible for getting their local Bandol grape officially classified in France. More on this stellar family here. P.S.: Lulu Peyraud is a personal hero, she is 90+ and takes a daily swim in the Meditteranean every morning, her cookbook is one of my favorites too.

In Other News: 

I got a kick out of this. Noel Gallagher on Beyoncé, “artistry”, how Apple is ruining youth culture, being a pussy, and much much more.

“25 Expressions You Should Have in Your Vocabulary”. I don’t know about everyday use- unless you don’t mind ostracizing yourself from society at the risk of sounding like you are speaking in tongues- but these are some pretty cool words.

GAP is still having that crazy ass sale at 40% off. Use Code: HOP

Tuscany’s Villa Lena looks pretty dreamy.

Mackenzie Horan’s NYC guide, if you’re due for a trip anytime soon. Good stuff here including some of my favorites- Palma, Rosemary’s, Buvette and Cafe Cluny- the stuff of dinner dreams.

How fresh are your eggs? A quick little test to find out.

Mix yourself up a fresh whiff of spring with this yummy maple syrup lemonade.

A day in Point Reyes and Tomales Bay- one of my favorite spots on the planet, this post sent to me by my pal Amy- she and I explored this pretty part of the world last September. My personal favorite stop on the bivalvian blessed coast is Hog’s Island Oyster Co. in Marshall- I wrote about it here.

I’m digging the Finns.

I love this outfit. This chick is just constantly shopping- it’s enviable.

Which led me to these pretty necklaces. A bit pricey for me at the moment, but so cool.

A day in the work life of Ira Glass.

Ahhh- I need to try this app but am a little scared of what it will reveal. Have you tried it?

This wallpaper! Happy-Making.

The Surf Lodge- Montauk. Another one for the list. Let’s get real- anyone that knows me well knows there’s no way in hell I would ever get more than shin-deep in Montauk waters. Hello Carcharadon Carcharius- but I’ll put my toes in and am happy to soak up a little Montauk goodness anytime.

Silver Espadrilles- yep! Just nabbed a pair of these- will wear through September.

Elizabeth Banks solves all your problems in 68 seconds.

Easter Brunching at home? Here’s a few great recipes.

Put that swiss chard to use.

Cin Cin ya’ll. Have an awesome week!

Related posts:

Happy Monday
Happy Weekend!
Westward Ho
  

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!

Related posts:

The Shop Around The Corner- Literally
Find of The Week
8 Groovy Things
  

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}

Related posts:

A Cocktail Sandwich
Birthday Blooms
Happy Weekend and Happy Oscars!
  

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!

Related posts:

Happy Neewollah!
Happy Weekend!
Some Some Summertime...
  

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!

Related posts:

Valentine Tweets & Treats
Couch Tripping: Hotel Endémico
Hear Ye Hear Ye- The Little Prince Arrives!
  

Let Them Eat (King) Cake!

Sucre King Cake
Sucré’s glittery gold King Cakes

Or rather, let US eat King Cake. Until last weekend, I had never had the pleasure of sampling a proper piece of Mardi Gras King Cake. Boy was I missing out. A few friends and I took to the Virginia countryside for a little retreating over the weekend, and my pal Lindsay Boudreaux brought along this perfect little creation from the New Orleans patisserie, Sucré. She assured us that Sucre’s King Cake is the most delicious thing going and as a New Orleans native, she would know. To hear her compare the sweet subtleties that define a New Orleans King Cake like a true Nola-gal, Lindsay says that Sucré’s cake is “not as dry as Haydel’s, and not as sticky sweet as Randazzo’s.” Cream cheese can be a major component of the Mardi Gras cake and for Lindsay, Sucré’s reigns supreme as, “the cream cheese is more subtle than any other filled cake I’ve had and I love the simplicity of only one available flavor.”

There you have it, straight from the mouth of a Nola babe. Lindsay’s also a designer and owner of the DC area design studio, Shotgun Double, so of course this King Cake is chic and stylish to boot, bedazzled in effervescent gold glitter. It really is so pretty, you almost don’t want to eat it, but then… you do. Basically a big, round, flat, refined cinnamon roll- a slice or two of Sucré’s King Cake is pure heaven with your morning coffee, and then again for dessert.

The King Cake came about as an offering in celebration of the Kings- those Three Kings who came to Bethlehem bearing gifts on “Epiphany” or “King’s Day”. Mardi Gras borrows heavily from European tradition, so this celebration of the Kings stuck with Louisiana natives around 1870 or so when the first official day of Mardi Gras was deemed “King’s Day”. Seems reason enough to bake a delicious, festive cake and hide a tiny plastic baby in it, right? Tradition states that whomever gets the baby in their bite, buys the next King Cake, so… Rashmi, you’re up!

Sucré is new school in the old school world of Nola bakeries, but the kids there are definitely doing something right. While most of the mainstay New Orleans bakeries charge a pretty penny (upwards of $60) for their King Cakes, you can score one of Sucre’s for just $20 plus shipping. And let me tell you- one bite of this pretty little thing and you will be ordering yourself up one of these beauties for years to come. I know I just joined the Sucre tribe- our little slice of heaven should be arriving just in time for Fat Tuesday.

The Sucre King Cake is only available until February 16th, so order up.
Sucre King Cake, $20 (plus shipping) and freshly baked to order.

 

Meet Our Contributor: Lindsay Boudreaux

 

And for the true King Cake afficionados:

image001

 

{Images: King Cakes- Sucré, Lindsay Boudreaux headshot- Rashmi Pappu, graph}

Related posts:

According to Jess: Fells Point + A Momma's Mocktail
Happy Weekend!
Happy Weekend!
  

Toddler Bling: The Crayon Valentine

My Crayon Valentine

A couple of years ago, I posted about my friend Natalia’s ingenius Crayon Valentine necklaces. Since this is my kiddos’ first year in preschool and they will officially be doling out Valentines to their friends, I decided that rather than make paper Valentines, we’d go for the gold and melt some old crayons into toddler bling.

This project is very easy but it did take us a little while (the better part of an afternoon). Full Disclaimer: If you are not into crafts in the least, this is not for you. My pal Natalia is such an artist that her projects, no matter the time or detail involved are usually 100% pure fun for her. I will admit that peeling the paper from the crayons and stringing the cords through the holes (that were a bit too small and needed to be wangled- yeah, I just made up that word- a bit bigger), was a bit time consuming. All that to say, despite the minutiae, I highly recommend. If you have a couple of hours to kill and want to make some unique homemade Valentines, this is your project my friends.

What You Need: 

The Crayon Valentine- What You Need

1. Silicone Heart Mold Pan
2. A few boxes worth of old or new crayons
3. Cord (we used parachute cord, this can be anything)
4. Scissors
5. Matches (to seal the frayed ends of your cut cord)
6. Wooden Skewers
7. Tekton Stamp Set (this is totally optional if you would like to personalize your Valentines)

What You Do:

The Crayon Valentine- What You Do

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Peel the paper off the crayons. I enlisted my kiddos in this part of the process, but they didn’t last long. This was really on me and honestly, a bit tedious.
3. Break up the crayons into pieces and put into heart-shaped inserts (this was the kiddos’ favorite part). Fill them a little more than half full if you have a tray with 2 1/2 inch molds like this one.
4. Place into the oven for about 15 minutes. Just watch (this was the kiddos’ 2nd favorite part) and take out once the crayons have all melted and are liquid.
5. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
6. Gently take out each crayon heart from the mold.
7. Poke a hole in the corner of the heart using a wooden skewer. Make sure that the hole will be big enough for your cord to easily string through. (this is where i went wrong and then had to go back and make all the holes larger).

The Crayon Valentine- What You Do

 

*8. Personalize each heart with your nifty Tekton stamp set (this was my favorite part). I bought mine here at Amazon, you can find them at most local craft stores.

THE CRAYON VALENTINE- WHAT YOU DO

 

9. String a cord through your heart and tie off.

THe CRAYON VALENTINE- WHAT YOU DO

 

10. Voilá- homemade Valentine bling.

Valentine Bling

Thank you Natalia Goldman, for your endless creative inspiration!

Cin Cin and Happy Valentines Day!

Related posts:

Clever Girl's Scratch and See Valentine
Clever Girl's Easter Bonnet
7 Things for Spring
  

Happy New Year Good People

 

Happy New Year1

It’s a brand new year and I’m really a lot less upset about the end of the holiday season than usual. I’m jazzed for a clean, bright and fresh new start. Of course when I’m in the humdrum of my daily routine I don’t feel so fresh and so clean but still- it’s a new year and with a new year brings new ideas, new opportunities, new friends, new bites, new sips and new experiences. Bring it. I’m pretty much psyched for every moment I can get.

I’m not making a big resolution this year mostly because I never really see it through- lose 5 pounds- whatevs. I’ll do it if I do it. No, mostly I’m all about the fun this year. I just want to be present and have a blast with my kiddos, my family and friends. I’m inviting the fun people, let’s make some memories.

The first day of the year proved to be pretty predictable for me as I set to my calendar to start planning parties, getaways and full blown vacations. Sound trite? Maybe but all this planning business around food, friends and family is my happy maker. My 40th is this year and I’m taking a much awaited trip with my best girls. 7 of us from college, we are all turning forty within the year so we’ll celebrate together though we are geographically far apart. We span the globe living in Hong Kong, San Fran, Vail, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana and DC. We try to get together at least once a year but it’s rare that we can all gather together in the same place, this will be special. We cannot decide on where to go. It will be late July and we all have kids, so we can’t get away for too long (that means staying in country) and we probably don’t want to go anywhere south of the the Mason-Dixon line to avoid the heat factor. We are going back and forth- if you have any big ideas, please post them below. We’re thinking Northern Cali. or Nantucket…

What I’m Drinking:

This is E11even Wine. An awesome Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir for under $20. My new favorite from badass winemaker Andrew Murray. I had a glass of this last week at the famed Rose’s Luxury here in DC- by the way, we waited a whopping 3 hours for our table and I have to say, it was well worth it. The wine list is so good, I wanted to crumble it up into a ball and eat it. This was a great addition to our meal and a new fave plus it’s named after a line in This is Spinal Tap. My hubs and I modeled our 11 day rule after that very scene (we try not to be away from each other for more than 11 days at a time- we’ve kept to it in our 6 years of marriage). But I digress, this stuff is great.

A Few Fun Things:

These Leopard Flats. I know it’s winter but a girl can dream.

This Coq Au Riesling. I love a good chicken and I love a good Riesling. Win. Win.

This Poutine. French Fries and Gravy with Cheese to boot? Come on now.

This Blood Orange Shrub. I’m making this for my next dinner party- the better to awaken my guests’ palates with, my dear.

This Movie. I’m a big Rob Marshall fan- the guy is masterly in his musical theater ways. I think his Into the Woods is aces, plus I just love listening to those Sondheim lyrics. Talk about masterly. Die hard Sondheim fans have their panties in a twist about the changes made, but guys- it’s the film adaptation not another stage production. I think he done good. I laughed, I cried- it’s good stuff.

This Food Passport. I’m stealing this idea pronto. I love lists. The only thing I like more than a list is a Passport- so this is a duh.

This Wine Gifting Idea. Who doesn’t want a cute tea towel with their bottle of vino? Not just for any old host, this one’s for the one with the most.

This City. Because it’s always a good idea. My good pal Alana Stone just put out her Analogue Guide to the great city and she knows the deal. You bet I’ll be looking for some last minute deals to the City of Lights- winter is a good and cheap(er) time to visit.
Cin Cin and a very good start of the year to you!

Related posts:

Happy Weekend!
Dear Mom,
Make This: Fall Figs with a Dollop and a Drizzle
  

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to you all! We are gearing up for a rollicking Christmas Eve over here. We’ll sit down to a dinner St. Lucia style in honor of our Swedish friend, Anna, who is staying with us. We’ll be donning our candlelit head wreaths and all and enjoying some Swedish meatballs, traditional herring and some Italian goodies thrown in the mix for good measure (St. Lucia was afterall an Italian so boom goes the pasta!). We’ll finish the eve with our annual Blind Bubbly Tasting followed by a showing of The Ref- the world’s greatest Christmas movie. The holidays are particularly fun this year with the kiddos as they are beyond excited for tonight and tomorrow. They don’t quite know what is in store but they are wound up and have had their share of cookie making, gingerbread house building, holidays teas and the like. Good stuff- surrounded by my people- ’tis the merriest.

May your days be merry and bright dear readers. May you find a moment of quiet amidst the hustle and bustle. May you enjoy the laughter and joy of your loved ones. May you eat and drink well my friends and may you have the merriest of holidays. These are the best days. The happiest to you all and to all a good night.

XO and Cin Cin!

Related posts:

10 For The Host with the most
Happy Valentines Day!
Let Them Eat (King) Cake!
  

What Winos Want

I do this post every year and honestly, it doesn’t vary much. What we winos want is the good stuff, not the bric-a-brac gift shop schlock of keychains, charms and ridiculously complicated wine openers. Nope, we want wine keys that are honest and good with maybe a stylish little case to boot (because why not!?), farmer fizz (aka grower champagne- because who doesn’t?), good stemware and maybe a fun set of blind tasting glasses to better our tasting skills with or just entertain to our pals. So here it goes… we’re a little late in the game (read: super last minute here) so get to it if you’ve got a wino in your list whose name has yet to be crossed off. Cheers.

What Winos Want

1. Functional Yet Stylish Wine Key with its very own 2. Leopard Carrying Case- but of course. This is one pair we don’t leave home without.

3. Bottle Stopper- this one’s a vacuum sealer too. Not fancy, just efficient.

4. Vintage Champagne Ice Bucket: because it’s awesome, here are a few others.

5. Farmer Fizz- a great bottle of grower bubbly is always the best idea ever. Vilmart & Cie is one of my favorites. Other go-to growers: Lanson, Guy Larmandier, Eric Rodez, Andre Clouet, Egly-Ouriet and Jacques Selosse.

6. No-Spill Tiny Picnic Table- for when said wino is actually at said picnic- so that delicious juice won’t spill on the grass. Let’s do this right people.

7. Reflections from a Wine Merchant: tales of Italian winemakers tasting in their centuries old cellars, French fathers and sons carrying on the family tradition, and how some people can get a whiff of wet wild hare in their glass. This book will make you want to quit your job and run off to the mountains of Italy to make wine and live off the land. Any self-respecting wino will love it.

8. Metro Wine Map of California: the better to visualize with, my dears. I love these Metro style maps because they’re stylish and real helpful. The French metro map is great too.

9. R. Croft Blind Tasting Glasses- the better to test our tastebuds with. Added bonus- whip these out and you’ve got yourself a shindig. People love a blind tasting, winos and pseudo-winos alike.

Cin Cin!

Related posts:

7 Things for Spring
Happy Weekend!
Westward Ho