3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

berries 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

The countdown to Christmas is on, and if you’re hosting, a last-minute checklist is probably running through your head. Wrapping done? Check. Dinner ingredients purchased? Check. Halls decked? Ehhhhh….

 

If you’re anything like a lot of my NYC counterparts, a tree is not always a fit for your lifestyle. But somehow, a holiday home just feels incomplete without it, right? Before welcoming guests over for celebrating over the next few days, DIY one of these easy festive wreaths for an extra dose of cheer—you won’t even notice a tree is missing.

 

If your decor style is luxe, try a…

Gold Accented Magnolia Wreath

magnolia leaf 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

Magnolia leaf is a green that, to me, always screams class. It feels high-end, especially when accented by gold, and is an unexpected way to do the holidays.

 

To start, purchase a couple clusters of magnolia leaf branches from a local florist—they’re readily available this time of year, so you shouldn’t have to special order. Using a wire wreath form (found at any craft store and some florists), wire the branches into the shape of a circle using floral wire (you can catch more of the technique how-to, below).

 

magnolia leaf DIY 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

Pluck a few additional leaves off a spare branch and spray paint them metallic gold, setting them aside to dry. Once they’re dry, wedge them into the wreath form in between their green and brown counterparts.

 

DIY magnolia leaf wreath 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

Wrap a chic, graphic black and white stripped ribbon around the back of the wreath form and secure onto the wall with a tack.

 

 

 

If your decor style is romantic, try…

A Seeded Eucalyptus and Berry Bough

seeded eucalyptus 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

This next wreath is perfect for anyone who favors a more soft, romantic and undone style. I love the look of a bough for it’s droopy, casual feel and this one gets a special holiday twist with a burgundy velvet ribbon.

 

Start by buying a bundle of seeded eucalyptus, as well as a few winter berries, like the white Sorbus that opened this post above.

 

how to use floral wire 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

Using floral wire, arrange the branches in an asymmetrical line, allowing the excess to droop over to one side. Add in the berries throughout, attaching using the floral wire.

 

seeded eucalyptus bough DIY 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

Loop the velvet ribbon around both ends, securing in a knot. Hang with a bow!

 

 

 

If your decor style is traditional, try…

A Plaid and Pheasant Pine Wreath

pine wreath with feathers DIY 3 last minute DIY holiday wreaths

 

If you choose to go the traditional route and pick up a pre-made pine wreath from a florist or tree seller, you can add a few extra cozy touches to make it special. I stuck in pheasant feathers and topped it with a red plaid ribbon for a wreath that screams sophisticated country Christmas.

 

 

Merry, merry all!

 

 

 

3 DIY hostess gifts

juliet roses 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

Is there any guest faux pas worse than showing up to a large holiday party empty handed? I can think of a few, but they all involve one-too-many drinks or setting something on fire. The basic rule of thumb: if you’re a guest at someone’s house and aren’t contributing to the meal (aka brining a killer side dish to accompany the host’s short ribs), you should bring a little something, just to show your host that you appreciate her hospitality. These three easy ideas are perfect for holiday get togethers and—most importantly—you won’t waste a lot of time or money pulling them together.

 

Grocery Store Florals Get Stylish

hostess flowers DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

Grocery store flowers can become instantly stylish with just five extra minutes of your time. Please (I beg you) start by removing that crinkly, tacky cellophane exterior and grooming the stems a bit—remove any leaves not around the bud, trim the stems at least two inches and arrange in an appealing cluster. Place them atop a slice of brown butcher paper—it’s crisp and classic and feels suddenly sophisticated when tied with a graphic black and white striped ribbon.

 

DIY Hot Chocolate Kit

hot chocolate hostess gift DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

hot chocolate kit 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

This is perfect for the hostess who has kids—she may hate you for souping them up on chocolate, but it’s a sweet sentiment that you’re thinking of the whole family. Line a wood crate (mine is from a craft store) with a charming, seasonal towel. Place mugs and instant hot chocolate mix inside, alongside fun add-ons like candy canes and marshmallows.

 

 

Bread and Tea Towel Bundle

hostess gift DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

bread and olive oil hostess gift DIY 3 DIY hostess gifts

 

I love this next gift for the food fan of your group—it’s even a great way to package up whatever appetizer or bite you said you would bring to the party. Select a playful tea towel (this one is from Crate and Barrel last year, but they always have great new holiday ones that come out around this time) and wrap it around two loaves of bread, securing multiple times with red and white baker’s twine. Place a good bottle of olive oil or balsamic atop the package and secure again with string before passing off to your happy hostess!

 

 

 

wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

recipe for wine braised short ribs wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

 

 

The holiday season is all about entertaining—which, let’s face it, can get stressful. You want to pull out all the stops when company swings by, but often that comes at the cost of your sanity. Wouldn’t it be great to find a recipe that was both impressive and delicious while also being a piece of cake to make? Well well well, ask and you shall receive. Allow me to introduce: wine braised short ribs.

 

At first glance, these babies look like the product of a whole day spent slaving in the kitchen. The reality? Practically everything can cook together in one pan while you focus on keeping the conversation—and the drinks—flowing with your guests. Add some truffled mashed potatoes and roasted gray (yes, gray!) squash and you have holiday dinner party magic. Let’s do this.

 

short ribs wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

 

You’ll need:

  • Short ribs, bone in
  • 25 (ish) pearl onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 cups red wine (I used Merlot)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Rosemary sprigs

 

Short ribs are the perfect roasting meat for winter—hearty, flavorful and readily available. Buy them with the bone in (which is typically the most available cut anyways) and coat them thinly with olive oil, salt and pepper.

 

braised short ribs wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

 

 

Put a stovetop-safe roasting pan over high heat and coat the base with olive oil. Braise the short ribs on all sides until they’ve formed a crispy, browned crust. Add the garlic and onions, turning down the heat slightly and allow them to “sweat” a bit.

 

pearl onions wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes wine braised short ribs wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

 

Add three cups of wine, two sprigs of rosemary and top off your cooker. Put it in the oven at 325 degrees for 2-2.5 hours, until the meat is extremely tender and falling off the bone.

 

gray squash wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes oven roasted gray squash wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes oven roasted grey squash recipe wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

 

For the gray zucchini, simply cut them in half, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a pan, flipping halfway through, at 325 for about an hour (or until browned on both sides).

 

potatoes wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes white truffle salt wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

 

To make truffle mashed potatoes (aka the best thing you’ll ever eat), first boil one bag of gold mini potatoes (about 25-30 potatoes) until softened. Drain, then add to a bowl with a half a stick butter, 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 tablespoon truffle salt (I got mine from The Filling Station in Chelsea Market) and a pinch of pepper. Whip until smooth, then taste test (the best part!) to make sure you don’t need to add more salt.

 

wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes wine braised short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes

 

Plate the short ribs atop a helping of potatoes, then finish with some of the cooking liquid and onions from the baking dish. One cozy winter meal, coming up!

 

a little bit of leather

how to wear leather fashion a little bit of leather

 

 

I have this theory that leather can make any woman feel instantly like Beyonce. I still remember how, shortly after purchasing my first leather jacket, putting it on made me feel instantly cooler, stronger and more sophisticated.

 

Up until recently, I’ve stuck to leather jackets and bags, but I’m slowly accumulating a little leather capsule collection for myself—a skirt, two pairs of pants, flats, gloves—the works! And like any good trend, leather is expanding into other parts of my life. I suddenly find myself craving a luxe leather couch (which I cannot afford, naturally) and lighting a leather candle for a cool winter scent (it sounds weird, but it’s kind of sexy and masculine…perfect for cold nights!). I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite ways to do leather, below!

 

leather goods a little bit of leather

 

From L to R:  One Kings Lane Leather jewelry roll case | Marc by Marc Jacobs Watch | Steve Madden Leather Knee-High Boots | BCBG Max Azria Leather Short Sleeved Shirt | Rebecca Minkoff Quilted Purse | GiGi New York Tassel Zip Clutch | Ryder Quilted Navy Leather Jacket | Scents of Land Leather Candle | One Kings Lane Leather Safari Chair

 

 

top image via

shelter: how to layer rugs

how to layer rugs shelter: how to layer rugs

 image via

 

As a magazine home editor, I’m practically drowning in amazing home design inspiration day-in and day-out. My Shelter Pinterest board has hundreds of design ideas I’m dying to try and I have a wish list a mile long of goodies I want to add to my own home—it’s becoming an addiction…seriously!

 

A trend that I’m seeing (and loving) everywhere lately? Layered rugs! It’s an unexpected way to bring color, texture and visual interest to everything from tiny entryways to expansive great rooms and cozy bedrooms. Before rolling out the trend in your own home, there are a few basic tips you should keep in mind. First, you want to use layered rugs to do one of a few things—define a space (for example, setting a seating space apart from the rest of your living room), add some texture or contrast a heavily prevalent design aesthetic (adding a masculine, heavier rug to a lighter, airy space). Second, you have to find the right match—something that seems intimidating at first, but if you stick with a basic formula (a neutral + a piece of interest) it becomes surprisingly easy. Here are a few combos to get you layering up!

 

the neutral shelter: how to layer rugs

To ease into layering at home, just like in fashion, it’s good to start with a neutral—in this case, an unassuming beige rug like this Sisal one from Rugs USA. I tend to like the look of a neutral, natural material (like sisal, jute, rattan or seagrass)—but if “neutral” means white or black or gray for your style, that’s fine too! From here, the type of “accent” rug you add will determine the overall feel of your combo.

 

bohemian edited 2 shelter: how to layer rugs

To bring a little global bazaar feel to your home, opt for a bohemian combo of your neutral base topped with a colorful, ethnic-inspired piece. Try searching for “Moroccan” “Turkish” “Indian” “Aztec” or “Kilim” rugs on some of your favorite sites (I love Rugs USA, One Kings Lane and Etsy for this type of buy). When figuring out placement of your rug, just play around a bit! Centering a smaller, accent rug over your larger neutral is always a safe bet, but sometimes off-center or angled rugs can look even color. Try this combo:

bohemian combo shelter: how to layer rugs

On the left: Maui Sisal Herringbone Rug by Rugs USA | On the right: CB2′s Panja Rug

 

elegant1 shelter: how to layer rugs

If your style is more understated, you may want to stick with a neutral-on-neutral color scheme. A faded vintage Victorian, Oriental or other traditional rug is perfect for a combo like this—it’s not a scene stealer and will compliment almost any room. Try this combo, below:

elegant combo shelter: how to layer rugs

On the left: Maui Sisal Herringbone Rug by Rugs USA | On the right: Rugs USA Beaumont Ivory Rug

 

eclectic rug room shelter: how to layer rugs

I am highly conscious of rooms being overly-feminine. It’s just not my style, so I always try to add a more gender-neutral or “masculine” element to my decor (imaginary or otherwise). And come on, is there anything more manly than a piece of (faux) animal hide? Not really. Plus, it adds a very cool, “Oh I just threw this amazing room together” vibe to any space. Who doesn’t want that?! Try this combo:

eclectic rugs shelter: how to layer rugs

On the left: Maui Sisal Herringbone Rug by Rugs USA | On the right: Joss & Main Clifton Cowhide Rug

Ok, layered rugs 101 is over—go forth and layer!

wine and cheese party with le creuset

wine and cheese party with le crueset 2 wine and cheese party with le creuset

 

 

Hi guys—long time no see! I wish I could say I’ve been missing from these parts because I’ve been traveling or doing something especially awesome, but I’ve just been working. A lot. I apologize for slacking, but I promise I will try to show up more around here!

 

However, I did recently find a little time to sneak in some fun with the girls. This past Saturday, before heading out for a fun painting night in the city (where I think we all learned our artistic abilities haven’t progressed much since elementary school) I pulled together a little wine and cheese spread with the help of Le Creuset.

 

le creuset cheese platter wine and cheese party with le creuset wine and cheese party with le crueset wine and cheese party with le creuset wine and cheese party with le creuset wine and cheese party with le creuset

 

 

As an avid cook (and food obsessive), I was thrilled to hear that Le Creuset was launching a line of wine and cheese products perfect for any holiday party. They were generous enough to send over a few of the new pieces for me to try out—the round cutting board platter, the carafe (perfect for holding your favorite wine) and the compact lever wine opener—and even a little something for you guys (more on that later!). All the dish ware is made in their signature stoneware in bright, colorful options (I love the red I got!) perfect for taking center stage on your table.

 

wine and cheese party wine and cheese party with le creuset wine and cheese party menu wine and cheese party with le creuset wine and cheese party with le crueset 1 wine and cheese party with le creuset

 

 

I picked up a few cheeses from a favorite local shop, Astoria Bier and Cheese. They helped me pick a delicious mix and I have to say we truly loved each of them. One of them, Cacio di bosco Tartufo, was literally one of the best cheeses any of us have ever had—a bit sharp, a bit creamy, and filled with amazing truffle flavor (my favorite!).

 

crispy brussels sprouts wine and cheese party with le creuset crispy brussels sprouts recipe wine and cheese party with le creuset bacon wrapped dates wine and cheese party with le creuset bacon wrapped date recipe wine and cheese party with le creuset

 

I also whipped up two crazy easy appetizers for us to snack on in addition to the bread and cheese—ricotta toasts with crispy brussels sprouts (simply shred and fry the brussels sprouts, then put atop toasts topped with ricotta) and cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon (the perfect salty/sweet combo…stuff dates with a piece of manchego cheese, then wrap in bacon and cook at 375 until browned and crispy). They were both definite crowd pleasers, and so easy that I can’t wait to make them for a larger get-together we have coming up next month.

 

wine and cheese party 11 wine and cheese party with le creuset

 

 

And now, the especially exciting part! Le Creuset is offering one lucky ready the chance to win some of the amazing products you see above from their wine and cheese line—the round platter, a wine lever and foil cutter, Le Creuset corks, place mats and pairing chart! Simply enter through the Rafflecopter widget below any time between now and Tuesday, November 25. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

french onion soup grilled cheese

french onion soup grilled cheese recipe french onion soup grilled cheese

 

 

I’m about to blow your mind with five words, guys: french. onion. soup. grilled. cheese. I wish it was like, three words, because that seems more dramatic, but five was the most I could narrow it down to.

 

This grilled cheese though. I mean—there are hardly words to describe it, but I turned to my roommates (and expert taste-testers) to try and get a few descriptors for you—”Insane”, “Holy sh*t” and “This is the best thing you’ve ever made” are just a few of the phrases that popped up. I know I’m setting the bar high here, but this grilled cheese is maybe the best idea I’ve ever had.

 

onions french onion soup grilled cheese

 

French onion soup is a fall main-stay (check out my soup recipe here), and grilled cheese goes with soup better than pretty much anything else. I actually think it would be a brilliant idea to open just a soup and grilled cheese bar—like all the grilled cheeses would be different and compliment the soup pairings…hm…

OK, back on track. This grilled cheese is basically made of up bread (duh) and the beginnings of my french onion soup recipe. Fear not—I don’t expect you to go searching through the archives for it. Check out the (slightly modified) recipe, below:

 

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

You’ll need (makes about 4 sandwiches):

  • One white or spanish onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons beef stock
  • 4 tablespoons red wine (can be any kind!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt, pepper and thyme to taste
  • One medium block of gruyere cheese, shredded
  • Slices of bread

 

onions for french onion soup french onion soup grilled cheese caramelized onions french onion soup grilled cheese

 

To start, cook your onions on low in your pot with the butter. You want to cook them “low and slow” until they’ve reduced in size, have wilted and become caramelized and browned. The bottom of your pan will get a bit gunky in the process—no worries, this is good! We’re going to deal with that later.

 

gruyere cheese french onion soup grilled cheese

 

While your onions are cooking down, you should shred the cheese for the grilled cheese. Gruyere cheese is typically the type of cheese that is melted atop french onion soup, so that’s what I went with for these grilled cheese sandwiches. As is typical with other cheeses, gruyere melts fastest and most evenly when shredded, so take yours to a cheese shredder for the most gooey grilled cheese possible. Set aside once you’re done.

 

With your pan still over the heat, add the flour over the onions and toss to coat. Add the wine to “deglaze” the pan, scrapping all the browned goodness off the bottom as you stir to coat evenly. Season with salt, pepper and a bit of thyme. Allow to simmer over low heat for a few minutes longer, until the flour has pulled a thick, burgundy-tinted “sauce” together to coat the onions. Keep over lowest heat setting to warm.

 

recipe for french onion soup grilled cheese french onion soup grilled cheese

 

Coat the bottom sides of bread with butter, then lay atop a hot skillet. Add a layer of cheese to the bread and allow it to melt a bit, putting a cover over top to speed up the process if necessary (a fun trick I learned from the Food Network). Once the cheese has melted a bit, add the onions on top, a bit more cheese and a final slice of bread, coated on the outside with butter.

 

french onion soup grilled cheese recipe 1 french onion soup grilled cheese

 

Continue to flip the grilled cheese until it’s browned evenly on both sides and the cheese inside is melted. Eat hot off the skillet and enjoy your grilled cheese nirvana.

 

 

 

 

salt baked branzino

branzino with lemon and rosemary salt baked branzino

 

 

Can you remember the best thing you ever ate? I can—a few of the “best things”, actually. I have a list of about five meals that I know I will never forget, and one of them took place on our trip to Italy this past summer.

 

On our final night in Sorrento, we ate at Ristorante Bagni Delfino, situated right on the water overlooking Mount Vesuvius. The location alone was amazing, but what really made it memorable was the branzino both my Dad and I ordered for dinner. It was killed when we ordered it (I know—insane) and it was so incredibly moist and flavorful, I think I almost cried. I knew that once I came home, I needed to recreate it.

 

fresh caught branzino salt baked branzino salt for salt baked branzino salt baked branzino

The secret to a crazy-flavorful branzino? Salt baking it! It sounds crazy, but crusting the fish in a ton of salt leaves it so juicy and flavorful—it’s a method that makes it look like you spent hours perfecting the branzino, when really it’s the easiest method ever.

 

You’ll need:

  • One large carton of salt (3 lbs)
  • 6 egg whites
  • Two whole branzino fish, scales removed and sliced down the belly
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary

 

salt mixture for baked branzino salt baked branzino

 

 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until light and fluffy. Fold in the salt until it forms a thick mixture, similar to wet sand.

 

salt baked branzino salt baked branzino salt baked branzino before cooking salt baked branzino

 

 

Lay the branzino, stuffed with lemon and rosemary, onto a layer of the salt on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the filets with the remaining salt, ensuring that each fish is covered with a thick layer around all sides of the branzino.

 

salt baked branzino recipe salt baked branzino recipe for salt baked branzino salt baked branzino

 

 

Bake the branzino in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the salt has hardened completely and has browned. Allow the fish to sit for around 10 minutes, then start cracking the salt shell with the blunt end of a spoon, being careful not to bruise the fish.

 

salt baked branzino dinner salt baked branzino

 

 

Brush off excess salt and serve on a separate dish, removing the bones and sprinkling with a dash of lemon and your best olive oil. Hint: it tastes even more delicious if you close your eyes and pretend you’re on the Italian coast!

 

 

let me see your bootie pop

booties for fall let me see your bootie pop

 

 

If there’s one thing I love about fall fashion, it’s the reemergence of booties from my closet. I just stare at them, all summer long, waiting for the day where the weather is finally cool enough to pull them out and rock them with jeans, skirts and dresses.

 

Whether they’re heeled, suede, leather or patterned I always feel like booties add a bit of a “cool girl” edge to any outfit—like you pull them on and instantly you’re the type of chick who hangs with Alexa Chung at coffee shops, has a favorite type of whiskey and DJs recreationally on the weekend. Who says a new pair of shoes can’t change everything? Here are a few pairs of booties I’m dying to add to my closet this fall:

 

booties perfect for fall let me see your bootie pop

Booties, from L to R: Kate Spade Sedgewick Bootie | Vince Camuto Amori Pointy Toe Leather Bootie | House of Harlow 1960 Blaire Bootie | Seychelles Melancholy Bootie | Franco Sarto Haverly Bootie | Kork-Ease Velma Bootie | Michael Kors Salem Bootie | Sperry Top-Sider Ambrose Bootie | ShoeMint Isla Bootie | Michael Kors Salem Cheetah Bootie

 

 

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let’s talk: the jealousy excuse

the jealousy excuse lets talk: the jealousy excuse

 

 

A few months ago, I was riding the subway when I overheard a mother talking with her young daughter, who was probably 6 or 7 years old. They were discussing a girl at school who commented negatively on the little girl’s dress. In an attempt, I’m sure, to make her daughter feel better, the mother uttered one of the most damaging, complex-inducing phrases I can think of: “She’s just jealous of you.”

 

Yikes. Can we just talk about this for a second? I’ve always had an issue with the “jealousy” excuse—to the point where I won’t even allow myself to utter it to friends or dream it up as an excuse for someone’s behavior. To immediately conclude that if someone doesn’t desire your friendship, or agree with your point of view or want to spend time around you means they’re jealous is as baffling as it is laughable. To write any negative behavior from others off as a mere by-product of jealousy is ignorant and counter-productive.

 

“She’s just jealous of you” has been dished out on numerous occasions during a time of need—to convince your friend that the girl making moves on her boyfriend just envies her, to convince yourself that your cut-throat coworker is just after the good graces you have with your boss. It’s just so easy, so simple to say someone is just jealous—there’s all your reasoning, wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow. You’re off the hook—they’re just jealous. Sure, the excuse has it’s moments of validity (everyone does get jealous of others from time to time), but chalking any issue you have up to “jealousy” is just an excuse to not have to examine the attributes or behaviors that have landed you in the position you’re in.

 

Maybe you wrote a blog post that came across as a little arrogant and unhelpful to readers—so view the feedback you’re getting as a chance to grow and correct your mistakes moving forward, not as jealous bots taking out their own envy-induced misfortunes on your blog. In the case of the little girl on the subway, maybe her classmate just didn’t like her dress and said that as any frank, uncensored 7-year-old would. Maybe that group of women aren’t jealous of your wardrobe or your car or your job—maybe they just don’t have any desire to be friends with you, plain and simple. And that’s fine—that’s a situation you can grow and learn from.

 

If you’re not constantly being challenged to grow and change by those around you, if you’re just sitting there excusing yourself from every social issue or tough moment with this one simple phrase, then what’s the point? Until we stop attributing every negative experience with others as “jealousy,” we’ll just be stuck. Stuck not owning our behavior, the good and the bad—the behavior that makes people both love and loathe us. The moral of the story? Jealousy is just an excuse to skirt around the real issue—and a really bad one at that.