kale & quinoa rainbow bowl

healthy quinoa and kale rainbow bowl kale & quinoa rainbow bowl

 

 

You may not be able to tell from my last few recipe posts (fancy grilled cheese, sweet biscuits or French beignets, anyone?) but I’m actually on a bit of a health kick lately. It can maybe be attributed to the impending bikini season (if winter ever heads out of town), but even more than that, I’m just trying to be more conscious of the types of food I put into my body. More veggies and fruits, less processed foods, dairy and grains. But cheese, always cheese.

 

One of my favorite new dishes (if you could call it that) to pull together is a rainbow bowl. I know this is one of those, “Um, I don’t need a recipe for kale and a bowl of vegetables, thanks…” things, but I wanted to share it anyways because it’s so yummy!

 

Basically, it’s as easy as this: one cup cooked quinoa, one and a half cups kale (raw kale or roasted kale, your choice), then go crazy with the veggies–I topped mine with orange pepper, tomatoes, avocado, carrots and snap peas. Finish it off with a heaping scoop of hummus and call it lunch (or dinner, even!). I always feel super well-behaved, full and energized after eating a rainbow bowl. Plus, they’re so colorful and fresh looking–it makes it feel like spring, even if it’s not quite here yet!

 

 

 

 

easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar

diy grilled cheese easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar

 

 

I like to share my favorite things with people. And one of my favorite favorite things happens to be cheese. When the opportunity popped up to host some of the SELF girls at my house on Monday for a cheesy (figuratively, and literally) game night, the cracked out Ina Garten in me went crazzzzyyyy. I sent out a quick e-mail asking for food preferences and wouldn’t you know it; every e-mail that rolled in said cheese, cheese, cheese. Very SELF Magazine of us, no?

 

selfgame3 easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar

 

I stuck to a pretty simple, fool-proof menu: my famous salted chocolate chip cookies (well, they’re not mine exactly, but you get what I mean), apple cider donuts, mini mac and cheeses (I modify this recipe from Martha a bit and it never fails me) and–my favorite part–a DIY grilled cheese bar.

 

Grilled cheese is one of those foods that instnatly ellicits a content sigh from everyone–it’s just so comforting and yummy. I loved the idea of making it a bit more grown up, so I laid out the spread you see above–really though, anything is fair game when mixing up your GC Bar. You’ll want to stick to a few main groups:

 

| Breads | I stuck with a fancy, crusty white bread, but you could also do wheat, pumpernickel or rye. Maybe even cinnamon raisin if you want to get a little savory and crazy.

 

| Cheeses | The star of the ‘wich, so make sure you get the good stuff! I laid out gruyere, cheddar, mozzarella and goat cheese (not shown), and I made sure to grate them beforehand. The cheese always melts better (and easier!) that way.

 

| Spreads | Here’s where the fun starts. Obviously you know you have to coat the outside of the bread with butter when toasting them up, but the inside is where you can get creative. I gave the option of pesto, sun dried tomato spread and honey mustard for the girls, but something like a sweet chutney or spicy chipotle pepper spread would be yummy too.

 

| Veggies & Fruits | Anything and everything belongs here! Avocado, tomato, onion, peppers, mushrooms, pears, strawberries–you name it, you can probably slap it on some bread with some cheese and call it delicious. I stuck with onions and pears–kind of random, but they ended up in some pretty awesome sandwich combos.

 

| Meats | Ah, the dark horse of the grilled cheese world. You may think that adding meat veers things a little too close to panini territory, but I disagree–really, there’s room for everybody. I laid out a selection of Italian meets like sopressata and prosciutto, but thinking back on it WHERE WAS THE BACON?! Silly me.

 

 

diy grilled cheeses easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar

 

Here’s my GC of choice: pesto, mozzarella and pears with a little slice of prosciutto for good measure. I want to eat it again right now.

 

 

my routine for fresh, glowing skin

fresh skin beauty routine my routine for fresh, glowing skin

 

 

I’ve always had a problem with consistency concerning my skincare routine. I run into two problems–either I don’t stick to an actual skincare schedule (aka, I’m lazy and sometimes will forget to wash my face before bed) or I get so eager to try out new products I get through work that I mix it up too much for my skin to ever get used to any sort of routine.

 

For the past four or so months, I’ve been really struggling with my skin and I couldn’t figure out why. I was suffering from bouts of acne, a trait I thought I left behind in high school, as well as skin that was lackluster and devoid of that healthy “glow” that’s so coveted. I knew I needed to stop trying to torture my skin into submission (I was exfoliating twice a day in the hopes of making my breakouts disappear, which is a big no-no) and develop a routine for myself, so for the past month and a half all my beauty brain space has been dedicated to that–and I think I’ve finally nailed it. The products I’ve included below are what I’ve been using every morning, evening and Wednesday/Sunday (for the masks and such)–these creams and oils, combined with lots and lots of water, have left my skin looking much more fresh faced than I was a few months ago. Do I still get a random breakout? Of course–but things are definitely a bit more glow-y around here! Here’s what has been working for me:

 

The Morning Lineup:

 

daytime beauty routine my routine for fresh, glowing skin

 

 

Murad Essential C CleanserI’ll be the first to admit this is more than I ever thought I’d pay for a face wash, but the amount of change I’ve seen since starting to use this a few months ago is outrageous. It has a nice bright, citrus-y scent that is a great wakeup during my morning shower, is packed with moisturizers and is specially formulated to counteract daily pollutants and free radicals, something that’s super important in the filth that can sometimes be New York City living. Bonus: it lasts forever–I know everyone says that kind of thing to justify expensive products, but I promise it’s true. I’ve already had it for almost three months and I’m not even 1/8th of the way through…and that’s using it daily!

 

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day SerumI’ve been looking to jump into the natural skincare game for a while now, so when a friend sent me some Drunk Elephant Skincare products to try, I was super excited. The daytime serum, which is infused with fruit enzymes and anti-aging ingredients, is definitely one of the favorites in my vanity right now. Can you believe that at almost 25 years old, I’ve never used anti-aging products? I know, probably pretty dumb of me. I guess I just never trusted what they were promising, but I’ve definitely noticed younger looking skin after weeks of using this serum.

 

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Face OilIf you’re anything like me, you’ve probably thought of face oils only as a very expensive way to ensure yourself a breakout, right? I was terrified of skin oil in the past, even though everyone told me not to be. Once I sat down and learned the benefits of it, it was still hard for me to find a face oil that didn’t turn me into a pre-teen again. Truthfully, one of my problems the past few months is that my face has been starved for moisture. Using this oil, or a Josie Maran one (which I’ll talk about a bit later) has made me realize just how parched my skin was. I combo this with the day serum and can usually go without makeup to work (but I don’t know if that’s really saying much, since I typically don’t wear a ton of makeup anyways).

 

Kate Somerville 24-Hour Pimple PunisherYes, using a product called the “pimple punisher” is exactly as gratifying as you’re imagining it to be. I just picture this little cream kicking any blemish’s ass when I dab it on, and that’s just what it does–the stick has an “a.m.” side, which is clear, and a “p.m.” side, which is more of a milky white. I notice that if I spot treat a pimple with this in the morning, it will usually shrink down in 12 to 24 hours. One gripe: the “a.m.” clear cream makes the spot on your skin a bit shiny and obvious, so you still have to layer on a bit of concealor to cover it up.

 

Clinique All About Eyes CreamI call this little guy a miracle in a jar, and I’ve been reccommending it to friends for years. It truly is the best under eye cream on the market, in my opinion. I dab this on with my ring finger (need to be delicate!) in the mornings when I get out of the shower to give it a bit of time to soak in, and at night after washing up (you’ll see it in the photo below, too). It completely eliminates puffiness and reduces the appearance of dark circles–vital for those weeks where I’ve clocked long nights at the office or behind the computer blogging.

 

 

 

The Nighttime VIPs:

 

nighttime beauty routine my routine for fresh, glowing skin

 

 

Murad Clarifying Cleanser and Murad Acne Clearing SolutionAs far as I’m concerned, Murad products are the gold standard when it comes to acne skincare. Their acne-specific cleanser is the perfect wash for my face after I’ve spent the day wearing makeup, accumulating grime and probably putting my hands on my face one too many times. I try to make a point to only use the cleanser at night, since in the morning, there isn’t much “grime” on my face and it can be a bit drying if used too often. The acne clearing solution is a great all-over lotion if my skin is having a particularly rough few days. It significantly reduces the appearance of existing blemishes, and stops new ones in their tracks. Again, it can be a bit drying, so if I’m only experiencing one or two problem areas, I’ll try and contain my lotion application to just those spots.

 

S.W. Basics Toner: I truly feel like toner is the most commonly overlooked step in a nighttime beauty routine. A good toner, like the all-natural version I have from S.W. Basics, a Brooklyn-based skincare company, can help to remove any lingering makeup or dirt post-wash, even skin tone (so you can say bye bye to those dark spots your old blemishes left behind) and balance the ph of your skin, leaving you less oily. This is a step I’m learning I should never skip!

 

Drunk Elephant T.L.C Night SerumTruth be told, I never used to put anything on (besides a salicylic acid cream) my skin before bed time. Like a lot of other women, I overlooked the fact that the 8 hours (ahem, or 7 or 6…) of sleep we get a night is the time where our skin has the biggest opportunity to rejuvinate itself. This night serum from Drunk Elephant goes to work with a bunch of alpha hydroxy acids (fancy speak for little resurfacing tools) to slough away dull, dead skin and reveal the fresh complexion below. I honestly sometimes wake up looking like I just got a facial. You probably don’t believe me, but it’s so true!

 

 

There When You Need ‘Em Groupies:

 

beauty skin savers my routine for fresh, glowing skin

 

 

Josie Maran Argan Oil CleanserSometimes, when I’m feeling in need of a little pampering, I’ll wash with this argan oil cleanser. It smells amazing, and leaves my skin super soft!

 

Kate Somerville ExfoliKateAll I can say is, thank god Sephora includes this little tube in their “you know you wanna buy it” display section leading up to the cashier. I picked up the small version (I believe it’s $17 dollars?) on a whim one day because I had heard good things, and immediately became hooked. I usually do this quick mask (you only leave it on for 2-5 minutes) once a week to breath a little fresh life into my complexion. I haven’t really felt the need to buy the full-sized much more expensive version yet, because really the little guy works just fine for me. I end up going through a tube every four or so months.

 

Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal MaskAnother mask I’ll do probably once a week (usually on a Sunday night). The thick black mask digs deep to remove a whole bunch of gunk and blackhead-forming crap from your pores–plus, it’s really fun to put the mask on, send funny pictures via text and try and scare your roommates. Not that I do that…

 

Kate Somerville EradiKateWarning: this product actually smells horrible. I wouldn’t recommend it for the nights when you’re looking to impress someone special, but if you’re alone and don’t mind smelling a bit of sulfur while you nix those ugly, blotchy, red blemishes (especially the ones that are really deep and painful), then this is the product for you. If you dot enough on your face (using a Q-tip dipped into the jar), you usually look like you’re treating chicken pox.

 

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPFMother Nature hasn’t provided me with much of an opportunity to try out this sunscreen yet, but I’m keeping it on-hand for when the warmer weather hits and I’m looking for an all-natural sunscreen that will protect and heal my skin without any of the irritants that I seem to be extra sensitive to (I always break out in rashes when it comes to sunscreen). I’ve also found that Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen works great on sensitive skin!

 

 

 

 

 

top image, kristina soljo for yen magazine 

 

**Please note, I was given the Drunk Elephant products to try out, but I truly fell in love with the line and have been using them constantly. I recommend them whole heartedly, along with everything else here!

the sunday edition [+ sweet drop biscuits with strawberry butter]

sweet drop biscuits with homemade strawberry butter the sunday edition [+ sweet drop biscuits with strawberry butter]

 

 

Sweet drop biscuits were everywhere when we were in Savannah–I hadn’t had them since I was younger (my Mom made a variation of this recipe when I was growing up), but I came back newly obsessed and had to try my hand at them one lazy Sunday here in Astoria. They were a big hit with my roommates–especially with the addition of homemade strawberry butter (way easier than it sounds, by the way!).

 

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients. Add the shortening, and cut it into the mix (this can be done with your hands) until the whole bowl is crumbly. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until just combined.

 

Plop small balls of dough (a little less than 1/4 cup worth) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook in an oven set to 425 for 15-20 minutes, checking occasionally.

 

For the butter: Combine one stick of unsalted butter (at room temperature) in a bowl with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and strawberries that have been minced or even pulsed in a food processor (about 1/4 cup of these as well, although you can add more if you want a chunkier butter). Whip until combined, then spread onto warm biscuits and enjoy with these links from about the web this week:

 

-Have you guys met the girls of SRSLY. yet? If not, you’re missing out–we worked with them for our Girl vs. Sweat videos for SELF, and their web series is so amazing. Very GIRLS-esque.

 

-Need this genius doormat (don’t we all?).

 

-I’ve put off using anti-aging products as long as I could, but I think with my 25th birthday approaching, it’s time to start. I can’t wait to try out Maya’s suggestions!

 

-I love any dessert with lemon as an ingredient, so Luci’s Nutty Lemon Bars just shot to the top of my “must try” baking list.

 

-Rachelle always has the best working girl outfits. Definitely saving this one for office inspiration once the weather heats up a bit!

 

-I’ve been obsessed with Bailey’s design style for as long as I can remember–I’m super drawn to her amazing us of color and playful take on decor. You have to check out her newest design project.

 

-This recipe for Split Pea Soup with Watermelon Radishes from Liz seems like the perfect way to try and usher in spring.

 

-A “Lip Flip” sketch with Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon. Enough said.

 

 

 

new orleans style french beignets

new orleans style french beignets new orleans style french beignets

 

Happy Mardi Gras! Well I guess technically Mardi Gras has been going on for a bit already, but today is the day known as “Fat Tuesday,” which sounds like all of my favorite things wrapped up in one. And what better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday than with a traditional New Orleans-style dessert recipe–I swear there is no link between the fact that it’s called Fat Tuesday and the fact that I made donuts…they’re not that bad for you.

 

If you’ve ever been down south, chances are you’ve probably found beignets somewhere on the menu. They’re a French-style pastry that’s become synonymous with the Cajun and Creole food that New Orleans is known for, and they are delicious. I don’t even like donuts (or donut-style desserts) and this beignet recipe had me reaching for more than a few of the pillowy dough puffs.

 

raw beignets new orleans style french beignets

 

 

Truthfully, I didn’t know where to start with making beignets, so I searched for a few recipes until I found this one that looked relatively straight forward. I will say this: they are a bit time consuming. The from-scratch dough took about an hour and a half to rise, during which I worked out with my roommates and earned those beignets, baby. It also makes a massive batch of pastries. I didn’t even use up all the dough, but I’d say it would make you at least 30-40 beignets if you use the whole batch. Not that you’ll have a hard time finding people to take them off your hands…

 

fresh fried beignets new orleans style french beignets

 

Frying sounds intimidating, but I assure you it’s much easier than it looks. A few things you should make sure you have on hand: a deep-sided pot (like something you would make sauce in), a slotted spoon to lift the beignets out of the oil, a rack to let them cool a bit on (you’ll want to serve them warm, though) and a newspaper or magazine on hand in case you have to fan your fire alarm to get it to shut off (not that that happened to me or anything).

 

new orleans style french beignets with caramel new orleans style french beignets

 

I served my beignets dusted with powdered sugar and along side a trio of dips: melted semi-sweet chocolate, raspberry preserves (I love Bonne Maman) and my favorite easy-to-make caramel. I cheat when I make it, and combine a melted stick of butter in a sauce pan with a cup of brown sugar, stirring until it’s smooth in melted, about two minutes. Add a half a cup of heavy cream and whisk together for another two minutes, then remove from the heat and add in some vanilla and a good dose of salt. Once it cools it will be perfectly thick and sweet–the ideal partner alongside these doughy, crispy beignets!

 

I promise if you try these out you won’t be disappointed–they’re worth their weight in tacky plastic beaded necklaces.

 

 

 

 

the year of 50 books: 1-5

the year of 50 books the year of 50 books: 1 5

 

I’ve always been a big bookworm, over time amassing a collection of worn-in favorites that I page through again and again. I have pipe dreams of having a library with a sliding ladder and publishing a book one day. Reading has always been part of my life, but truthfully, I haven’t had a ton of time to read in the few years that I’ve been working full-time. This year, I wanted to challenge myself to really commit to reading again–before bed, on the subway, on a lazy Sunday afternoon–and so I’ve resolved to read 50 books this year. I always love hearing people’s opinions on books (it’s how I find some of the best ones!) so I figured I’d share what I read here every five or so books…I will do my best to give very few spoilers!

 

 

fault in our stars the year of 50 books: 1 5

 

The Fault in our Stars, by John Green A word of warning with this one: pack those tissues. This novel (I guess it’s technically “young adult” but I disagree with that) follows sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel through love, pain and fighting for her life. She meets Augustus Waters in support group, and that’s where the real story starts, in my opinion. I love the way Green depicted the love between Gus and Hazel (what can I say, I’m a sucker for romantics)–it was sweet and young while still feeling very honest and real. I think anyone who cracks this book open really kind of knows where it’s heading (I mean, with two main characters suffering from cancer, how could you not?), but I loved that the book wasn’t just a downer about death and mortality. More than that, it really drove home the message of living every moment to your fullest. The movie, starting Shailene Woodly and Ansel Elgort, comes out and June and I cannot wait to see it–but I definitely recommend reading the book first (as always!). Rating: 8.7 out of 10. 

 

cover life after life by kate atkinson1 the year of 50 books: 1 5

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson I have to admit, when I first started Life After Life, I almost stopped. I wasn’t getting it at all–I thought maybe I was dumb, or maybe just not paying enough attention? Either way, I’m so glad I powered through, because let me tell you–this is a good one. Kate Atkinson’s nonlinear story starts off with a bang–literally–as a girl walks into a bar, holds up a gun and shoots Adolf Hitler (don’t worry, it happens in the first two pages, so this isn’t a spoiler). From there we follow the female protagonist of Ursula Todd as she lives her life…and dies. And lives, and dies. As a baby, as a child on the beach, as a teen…the many lives of Ursula Todd carry you through history as you piece together her story yourself. It’s largely a narrative about how our decisions and choices dictate our fate, but also how chance can change everything. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Rating: 9 out of 10

 

9780670026616 p0 v1 s260x420 the year of 50 books: 1 5

The Girl You Left Behind, by JoJo Moyes Jojo Moyes is quickly becoming my favorite author. I first fell in love with her romantic storytelling style in the tearjerker Me Before You (highly recommended!), so when The Girl You Left Behind came out, I was quick to pick it up. The story splits it’s time between present day and occupied France in 1916, focusing on the lives of two women, Sophie and Liv. Moyes’ attention to character development has always been the thing that draws me to her–the people she writes always feel so real, and Sophie and Liv are no exception. While it was a bit hard to keep track of the swapping dates at times, I enjoyed piecing the two women’s stories together to see how the were eventually interwoven. This was one of my favorites of the group, and it definitely makes you think about those pieces of art you browse through at flea markets–you’ll soon see why! Rating: 9.5 out of 10

 

 

divergent the year of 50 books: 1 5

 

Divergent, by Veronica Roth Boy, do I love a good series. Harry Potter? Yes, please. The Hunger Games? Sign me up (well, I mean not literally). The only exception to this rule? Fifty. Shades. Of. Grey. Just please, no. Anyways, back on track here–I managed to sneak in Divergent to my first set of five books this year. I mostly picked it up because I had heard good things and wanted to watch it before the movie hit theaters this March (another Shaliene movie–girl is on fire). For those of you unfamiliar (I feel like everyone has read this by now!), Divergent takes place in a dystopian city (our present-day Chicago), where the population is segregated according to their personality traits. It centers on Beatrice Price, a sixteen-year-old girl who goes through the sorting ceremony only to find out that she’s a Divergent (meaning she doesn’t fit into any one faction). Tris (her nickname in the book) goes through training for one of the most notorious factions (not telling you which!), catches the eye of one of the head trainers, Four, and works with him to uncover the reasoning behind their factions. Divergent was a quick and entertaining read, and the first book definitely got me hooked on the series. I loved the strong-but-flawed lead character of Tris and I felt like I could relate her emotional struggles throughout the book (and the idea of having to be one thing, when you really want to be many). The one part of the book that dissapointed me? SPOILER ALERT That they made Four’s real name Tobias. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but the name really freaks me out. I think it’s because it was the name of a serial killer on Criminal Minds? Either way, I stuck with calling him Four throughout the whole book. END SPOILER ALERT Overall, this was an easy and engaging read–I’ll definitely be seeing the movie and finishing off the series if the final two are anything like the first. If you liked The Hunger Games, you’ll like this! Rating: 8.5 out of 10

 

 

midnightcover the year of 50 books: 1 5

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt I really gave finishing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil before our Savannah trip a good old college try, but it didn’t happen. I started with the best intentions (read it before Savannah, so I could scope out the landmarks in the book while we were there), but I couldn’t make my way through it quickly enough. It was a bit of a tough read for me, because you’re introduced to so many characters in such succession that it’s hard to keep them all straight. The true-crime novel follows a reporter, who splits his time between Savannah and New York, as he stumbles into Savannah high society and the biggest story of his career. What I liked best about the book is what a strong presence the city of Savannah played in it. I didn’t understand it before going there myself, but now I absolutely do–the city completely colors your world, and I have to imagine that your personality is really shaped by living there, as the character’s in the book were. Once I got everyone straight, it was a really fun read–there’s even a Clint Eastwood-directed movie (starring Frank Underwood…uh, I mean Kevin Spacey) for you to entertain yourself with after you read. Rating: 8 out of 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

***I couldn’t find the source of that top photo–if you know it, please tell me!

things that make me zen: the prophet

peaceful mornings things that make me zen: the prophet

 

 

Truthfully, I’ve never been the kind of person who believes in a little thing called “zen.” I haven’t read many spirituality books (although my roommate is turning me onto them slowly but surely), I don’t meditate, I don’t burn incense or focus my breathing–really, the closest I come to getting “zen” is the 2.5 seconds I’m able to quiet my mind in yoga class (if I’m able to quiet my mind in yoga class).

 

But I do like feeling calm–and in a life full of commitments and work and gratifying relationships (that can sometimes be exhausting, as all relationships can), it’s something I really, truly have to work at. Calm isn’t my resting point–reluctantly so, anxiety is. Maintaining or achieving calm is a very concentrated goal–and one I admittedly don’t always reach.

 

In the quest for calm, there are several things that help me–the perfect relaxing playlist, a few laughs over wine with friends, a morning yoga session, a night in bed with tea and a book (or lately, House of Cards)–and one more thing: The ProphetHonestly, I was pretty reluctant to share this here–it’s almost like it’s my little secret safe space that no one else knows about (although I know others have read it)–but in the end I decided I love it just too much to keep it to myself.

 

The Prophet is a book of 26 poetry-style stories, written by Lebanese philosopher Kahlil Gibran. Thinking back, I really can’t remember when I discovered it, but I know I was pretty young (maybe a sophomore in college?). After my first read, I thought it was just destined to be the book that housed my favorite quote (“Passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction” which is still one of my favorites), but as I grew older and continued to re-read it, I found meaning in it that wasn’t initially perceptible to younger me. The book touches on everything from love and marriage, to joy and sorrow and even my favorite–eating. It’s rare that I connect with a book as much as I have with The Prophet. Something about it is just able to ease my mind and worries, and I often find myself flipping through the chapters to look up passages that I know will relax me in the moment. Here’s a bit of one of my favorite passages (it feels weird and holy to call them that, but I’m not really sure how else to refer to them!) on friendship:

 

“For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain
and let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
I don’t know–maybe it’s the writer in me, or maybe I’m way more of a poetry sap then I thought I was, but I think it’s kind of beautiful. Either way, the book (Which is very short. Like 125 pages I think?) is absolutely worth your time. #endzenrant

 

 

image via

a tourist’s uniform

casual vacation outfit a tourists uniform

Chambray, Madewell | Skirt, Madewell (old, but cute similar here and here) | Boots, Nordstroms | Tee Shirt, GAP | Bag, Vintage (Similar here) | Watch, Kate Spade

 

When it comes to my tourist “uniform” I subscribe to three major schools of thought: it needs to be comfortable (that means no tight pants, itchy fabrics or blister-inducing shoes), it has to have layers (especially if I’m outside a lot, like we were in Savannah) and it should be casual (because walking around the city in some fancy dress would garner a few stares).

 

This look, which I threw on for our main “tourist-y” day in Savannah, hit the trifecta. My old faithful chambray kept me warm during the cooler morning hours, and my boots (which I seriously recommend) were comfortable to walk the whole city in all day–quite the feet (HA. See what I did there?).

 

stripe and floral print mixing a tourists uniform natural ombre a tourists uniform classic kate spade leather watch a tourists uniform

 

 

Can we also talk about how I’m pretty sure the whole city of Savannah was specially designed for outfit photos (I mean I’m joking, but only kind of…)? There are so many pretty quiet streets, intricate house facades and ivy-covered walls. Plus, no one gives you nasty stares like they do here in New York City. Definitely an upgrade.

 

leather cross body bag a tourists uniform

 

mussels in a bread bowl

mussels in a bread bowl mussels in a bread bowl

 

 

Do you ever find that, no matter how many times you go out to eat or how many new restaurants you try, you always end up ordering the same thing? For me, that “same thing” is always mac and cheese as a main dish–I like to say it’s because I’m on a quest for the best one in New York City, but really, I think I’m just an addict.  Another dish I’m going steady with? Mussels in a bread bowl.

 

 

fresh baked bread mussels in a bread bowl

 

In. A. Bread. Bowl. Just wanted to make sure you heard that correctly, because how could anything served in a bowl made out of crusty, warm bread not be delicious? Now add fresh mussels and a chunky sweet tomato broth and you’ve got the makings of your new impress-the-guests dinner appetizer.

 

parsley onions and tomatoes mussels in a bread bowl

 

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 dozen mussels, cleaned and “debearded” (see how to do this here)
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped fine
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano tomatoes–they’re the best!)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Fresh parsley
  • Dried oregano

 

fresh mussels1 mussels in a bread bowl

 

In a sauce pan set over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic in a thin layer of olive oil until translucent and fragrant. Add the contents of one can of crushed tomatoes to the pot, then refill the can halfway with water and add that as well. Stir to combine, then cook on medium heat covered, until the sauce is bubbling.

 

Carefully, add the fresh mussels to the pot along with salt, pepper, a few dashes of oregano and 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley. Stir so the mussels are completely integrated into the sauce, then cover and cook on medium low for 20 minutes (stirring occasionally), or until the shells have popped open. As a rule of thumb, any shells that don’t open, you’ll want to discard–this means the mussel was dead before cooking and could get you sick.

 

fresh baked bread bowl mussels in a bread bowl

 

Cut into a loaf of bread with a serrated knife at an angle so that you can remove part of the “top” of the bread. You might need to go back and scoop out some additional bread to create more of a “bowl” to put your mussels in, but just be sure to leave enough of a cushion on the bottom and sides so that your sauce doesn’t leak through/out.

 

mussels with red sauce in a bread bowl mussels in a bread bowl

 

Ladle the cooked mussels and some extra sauce into the bread bowl and serve immediately. You’ll need an additional bowl for the shells, and your hands at the ready for the best part–scooping out all that sauce-soaked bread once you get to it! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

four days in savannah

savannah marquee sign four days in savannah

 

I’ve been staring at my computer screen for twenty minutes just trying to figure out a way to describe Savannah properly in this post. The only thing that’s coming to me? Obsession. I have never been so obsessed, so quickly, with anything in my life (OK, except for The OC) as I was (and am) with Savannah. It took maybe 2.5 seconds for us to fall in love with the city last week and the four days we spent there were pretty near perfect.

 

First, let’s discuss the weather. I knew anything that wasn’t single digits would feel warm, but the Southern Gods were really really amazing to us (Which is actually incredible, given how much I trash talk country music. You’d think I would have earned myself four days worth of rain just for that…). Every day was 70 or higher and gorgeously sunny–I had almost forgotten what it felt like to wear light clothes, but this definitely reminded me!

 

We spent our days taking in the city and its amazing squares (Savannah is set up like a grid and there are dozens and dozens of charming “squares” sprinkled throughout) and our nights having some of the best food ever. There’s really no logical way to arrange this post because I have so many photos I want to share with you guys–apologies in advance for the image dump. But definitely scroll through, because I’ll be calling out bits & tips, as well as our favorite restaurants and details on the hotel we stayed at!

 

savannah 7 1 four days in savannah savannah 2 four days in savannah midnight in the garden of good and evil house four days in savannah

^^ The homes of Savannah were so charming, I could have starred at them all day. This last one you see here is the house from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil if any of you have ever read that book/seen the movie. I tried to take a non-stalkerish picture which involved me crouching behind a bush…like a stalker…^^

 

savannah 6 2 four days in savannah savannah 4 four days in savannah savannah 8 four days in savannah

 

^^ Surely this will be the invitation to our 50th friendship anniversary party, no? ^^

 

savannah 1 four days in savannah savannah cotton exchange four days in savannah

 

^^ Savannah is chocked full of history, and we wanted to hear about it all, so our first day we took a guided trolly ride around the city. It was a great way to get the lay of the land and hear some cool facts while we were at it–we made mental notes of places we wanted to come back to see, like this amazing old cotton exchange building. I definitely recommend it (I can’t remember the name of the company we took, but there are so many you can’t really go wrong.) ^^

 

savannah oysters four days in savannah savannah 5 four days in savannah savannah grilled vegetable salad four days in savannah picnic in the park savannah four days in savannah

 

^^And the food–oh my god, the food. I had never really had much Southern food before, and I’m not sure if what I ordered each night was totally legitimate, but it was all amazing. Our favorite place had to be The Olde Pink House, an incredible restaurant in Savannah’s historic downtown. Yes, it is pink, and yes it is most definitely haunted–according to legend (and hundreds of accounts), a slighted wife who hung herself in the basement still haunts the home–and trust me when I tell you, I could totally see how this is true. The place is eerie in the coolest way (think a mix of The Haunted Mansion and Sleep No More) and is definitely beautiful enough and delicious enough that I’m considering haunting it too.^^

 

Other places we loved: Leopold’s for old-school ice cream, Garibaldi’s for italian, Papillote (which was responsible for that picnic you see up there), Elizabeth on 37th, Vic’s on the River (best fried oysters I’ve ever had) and J. Christopher’s (a local favorite for brunch).

 

savannah steam boat four days in savannah picnic savannah four days in savannah savannah 6 1 four days in savannah savannah 3 four days in savannah cherry blossoms savannah four days in savannah forsyth park savannah four days in savannah spanish moss four days in savannah

 

^^ Predictably, we spent as much time outside as we could. Savannah is full of charming squares to sit in the shade (which I’m sure is a godsend when the hot summer hits) and almost every tree is draped with Spanish moss (it is now my dream to have my own Spanish moss-covered tree). The flowers were just starting to bloom in the city and the wind off the water was cool and refreshing–it felt amazing to our cooped-up New York selves. My favorite place had to be Forsyth park, home of that gorgeous white fountain you see above. It was huge and sunny and full of people walking their puppies. I mean, what else could you really ask for? ^^

 

savannah 9 four days in savannah savannah ice coffees four days in savannah

 

^^ Thank goodness my camera has a self timer because getting a picture of the three of us was not easy. I have this phobia that I’m going to ask someone to take our picture and they’re going to drop my camera, so I settle on propping it up perilously on whatever I can find and hoping for the best. So much safer (not). ^^

 

savannah 6 four days in savannah savannah 7 four days in savannah wet willies slushies four days in savannah

 

^^ Our hotel was right across from City Market, one of the main streets in Savannah full of tourist shops, bars, restaurants and our favorite, Wet Willies. Alcoholic slushies were a daily occurrence (and you could mix flavors you guys–it was pretty awesome).  ^^

 

andaz savannah hotel mint juleps four days in savannah andaz savannah four days in savannah andaz savannah 2 four days in savannah andaz savannah hotel four days in savannah

 

^^ Our hotel, The Andaz Savannah, was kind of amazing. We scored an awesome deal, which was good enough for us, but the service and amenities of the place really blew us away. The location, in the center of Savannah’s Historic District, was perfect for exploring the city by foot (you really don’t need to rent a car) and they won us over immediately at check in with free glasses of wine (the way to my heart, naturally). Breakfast there was great (best lattes ever!), as was the room service dessert selection (which we indulged in one night). There were fluffy robes, amazing craft cocktails (we bellied up to the bar one afternoon for mint juleps) and incredible decor. Seriously, I want my kitchen to look like that someday! ^^

 

 

Well, that about sums it up (in 50 pictures or so…). If you have any questions or are planning your own trip, let me know–I’d love to talk your ear off about my new favorite place!