4deeeb7cd680a173601b1846f849ab34a couple of weeks ago, i heard a valuable piece of advice during spin class. inside a dark, candlelit room, surrounded by the whirring of 60 bikes and the distinct smell of lemon-tinted sweat, the following words were spoken:

“treat yourself the way you treat your best friend.”

let’s let that sink in for a moment, shall we? treat yourself the way you treat your best friend. you know how you give your best friend pardons when they do something stupid, or inconsiderate, or how you don’t judge them when they make a mistake, how you tell them, over and over again, that everything will be okay. how you reassure them in moments of fear that they are exactly where they need to be, that it will all work out, that this moment is simply preparing them for something greater. how you listen to them as they reveal their fears and their worries, and how you never, not once, tell them that any of those thoughts are not valid.

what if you treated yourself the same way?

what if, the next time you made a mistake, or did something stupid, or said something inconsiderate, you just let.it.go?

i mean, hot damn, imagine the possibilities, right? such a simple statement, but such an insanely empowering nugget of advice. emily t. (new yorkers, if you like spin, get yourself to soulcycle and take em’s class, she’s the shit) is one of my favorite instructors at soul for this very reason: she dispenses these little magical nuggets of inspiration each and every class. and i tell you, cheesy or not, there’s something incredibly powerful about hearing exactly what you need to hear while you’re drenched in sweat, pushing your body to its limits, and in a blissed out state of zen.

i have a long history with doing the exact opposite of letting it go. i will ruminate for hours, then ruminate some more, over the teeniest, tiniest things – things that the average person would have let go within .5 seconds. i’m quick to blame myself, to feel like i’ve failed (but we all feel that way sometimes, right?), to tell myself that whatever i’ve gone is just plain not good enough.

but what if i didn’t do that? because let’s be real, i’d never, EVER, treat my best friend that way. i’d never tell her what she’d done wasn’t good enough, or that i was disappointed in her because she’d failed, or even that she’d failed at all! NEVER.

so what if i applied the wisdom and the benefit of the doubt that i give my closest friends to my own heart? what if i stopped blaming myself for being single? what if i stopped categorizing every single flaw on my body? what if i stopped degrading myself for not being where i want to be with my career?

what if, even if just for a day, i just let myself be? and instead, i practiced loving myself. being proud of myself. telling myself i’d done a good job when i had. imagine how much more likable we’d all be if we just loved ourselves a little bit more.

some of the people i admire and envy most in the world are those who seem to have been born with this utter sense of self, a knowledge that they are good, if not great, that they will weather the storms life throws at them and come out the other side. they walk with grace, they hold their head high, they command the room not because they like attention but because they possess the confidence that so many of us don’t.

i don’t think i’ll ever be one of those people – i’m too damn sensitive and analytical – but i do think i could practice being just a little bit kinder to myself, and reminding myself that for the most part, i’m doing the best i can.

we all are.

02_LIVING_roomso, i stumbled across this beautiful brownstone on design*sponge a week or so ago and immediately pinned the crap out of it so that i would a) remember to write about it and b) save the inspiration for the day that pigs fly (also known as the day i too can afford a 1900s brownstone, well, ANYWHERE). i have long loved the home tours on DS; grace and her team have an incredible eye – but this one really took the cake. something about all those prewar details (SWOON!) and that INSANE FIREPLACE (hello, gorgeous!) had me having a pre-menopausal hot flash.

i mean, would you look at that light?! those windows? that exposed brick? THESE PEOPLE EVEN HAVE A WINDOW SEAT – something us average peasant folk can only dream of. while the living room design is a bit modern for my taste, i can’t help but fall in love with the entire space. i would move in yesterday if i could.

let’s see a bit more of the space, shall we? that, below, my friends, is a FIREPLACE. like, a real, true, working, santa claus could come down it if he wanted to FIREPLACE. and it’s original hardwood. my heart palpates just looking at it. fireplaces, along with washers and dryers, are on the list of things new yorkers acquire when they know they’ve “made it.” you know how they say in the suburbs that you’ve “made it” one you have a garage? well, we don’t need garages here because we use our own two legs to get around (TAKE THAT, SUBURBIA!//it’s a hard knock life for us city dwellers), but what we do need, and want, more than anything in the world, is a washer dryer unit in our very own apartment, and then, after that, closet space and a fireplace.

07_LIVING_mantel

point being, these homeowners have made it. clearly. i really can’t get over the original detailing on this beautiful mantle. i tend to be more of a painted wood gal myself, but this just screams historical and important and “DON’T YOU DARE PAINT OVER ME!” okay, fireplace. i hear you.

03_LIVING_bookshelf

more beautiful original woodwork, this time on the front door to the home. and would you believe that bookcase is a bunch of ikea expedits stacked together? yeah, me neither, but apparently, that’s the case. i always wish i could be one of those ikea hack geniuses, but every time i attempt to even put a piece of ikea furniture together, i fail miserably. alas, i guess that’s why god invented guy friends who i can bribe with cookies.

08_DINING_tableanother angle of the living/dining room. can we talk about that otomi/saarinen/persian rug situation? heart palpitations, yet again. this room achieves that effortlessly cool, bohemian layered look that so many strive for (and fail to achieve, might i add). it’s simply yet stunning, comfortable yet stylish, and doesn’t even carry a hint of “trying too hard.” color me impressed, there’s a table in here for four. (pretty woman, anyone?)

09_DINING_arrangement

a close up of that amazing otomi. according to design*sponge, the owner found it “hanging behind the table in the dusty back room of an antique store for a steal.” GIRL, what antique stories are you frequently, and can i come along?

14_BATH_wall

let’s talk about this bathroom. simple, yes, but also oh so clean and serene. give me subway tile or give me death, i say. i know it’s played out and i know it’s everywhere, but it’s so classic and beautiful that i still can’t get enough. and when you’re stuck in a rental apartment whose bathroom contains floor to ceiling pinkish beige marble (i just threw up a little bit in my mouth as i typed that), you start to daydream about white subway tile and all the things you’d be able to do if you lived in a clean white bathroom.

ps: as a certified CCL (crazy cat lady) myself, i can’t NOT mention that painting above. there’s something about really weird art that’s so magical and transfixing, and this piece is no exception to that rule. on her own, the woman might be a little bit strange, but add the cat to the picture and VOILA, you’ve got straight up wacky. i love it, i want it for my own. oh wait, i can’t hang it in my all marble bathroom. a true champagne problem.

16_BED_fullroom

last but most certainly not least, the bedroom. small but perfect, there’s even more amazing woodwork in here. my very first apartment in new york (which was more of a $1300/month closet than it was a home, but that’s neither here nor there) contained those same over the closet storage cabinets, and let me tell you, when you’re living in a teeny tiny bedroom, those babies come in handy. out of season clothing, suitcases, all the random stuff you can’t stash under the bed – it goes in those cabinets. at least here, they’re an excuse to highlight those incredible reclaimed wood shutters, which makes the fact that you likely have to stand on a ladder to reach them a little less annoying.

19_BED_closet

if i lived in this room, i’d never leave this bed. there’s just something about crisp white linens that makes you feel like just about anything is possible. george clooney by your side come morning? in a white bed, YOU BET.

okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what i mean. crisp white just never gets old. so, there you have it:  the latest home to inspire some incredible “can i live here” jealousy. harlem might be hella far uptown, but if this is what home looks like on the upper upper west side, count me in.

 

levain chocolate chip cookiesi think it’s pretty sacrilege to admit this, as a cookie lover, but i have never actually had a levain bakery chocolate chip cookie. i’ve seen them on numerous instagram snaps, heard about them ten times over, but i’ve never actually eaten one myself.

which is why it might seem ridiculous that i set out to recreate them on sunday afternoon – how could i recreate something i’ve never eaten? my line of thinking goes like this: what’s so special about the levain cookies is that they are ENORMOUS (6 oz of dough a piece, they weigh them before baking!); crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. and also, i’m pretty sure that my chocolate chip cookie recipe is one of the best i’ve tried (and i’ve tried many). why fix what ain’t broken? why not just use my own recipe, with a few tweaks, to make a doughier (more flour), larger (more dough), chocolate-ier (semi sweet chunks instead of chips) cookie?

so, that’s what i did. and while they may not taste exactly like the levain version, they look BOMB.com. and taste pretty damn good if i do say so myself. of course, they’re best hot out of the oven, so if you have to eat them the day after, reheat in the microwave and thank me later.

levain bakery’s chocolate chip cookies (my version):

what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (I used King Arthur Unbleached AP Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes ( i took mine straight out of the freezer)
  • ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons (6 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, cold, lightly beaten in a separate bowl
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chunks (i got mine at trader joes)

what you’ll do: 

1. line two baking sheets with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

2. mix your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt) in a medium bowl, set aside.

3. in a stand mixer, beat your butter until fluffy, then add your sugar and beat until incorporated.

4. reduce your speed to medium-low and add eggs, then vanilla.

5. gradually beat in the flour mixture, and then stir in your chocolate chunks/chips.

6. divide your dough into 12 equal portions, and shape into circles. place 6 cookies on each baking sheet, and pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes (you can do this up to 12 hours before if you’d like) to chill.

7. bake at 375 for 18-22 minutes in the middle of the oven, then remove to cool. they’ll continue to cook as they cool, so don’t be afraid to take them out too ‘early’ – early is better in this case!

8. eat immediately, if possible, but you can also put them in a tupperware and reheat in the microwave when you want to eat them. they reheat well and taste oh so much better when they’re warm.

happy baking!

maderas-crew-3-x-noaviso, i don’t know what it is about this time of year, but i’ve been feeling really emo lately. like, dress in all black and listen to dashboard confessional on repeat kind of emo (hi, high school self). the holidays are over, my birthday has come and gone, and suddenly it’s a year until i’m 30 and i’m feeling all sorts of unsatisfied.

and rather than addressing those issues head on like a grown up should, i’m contemplating how to get the hell out of dodge, stat. i’m craving a beach vacation, a place where i can unplug my devices and recharge my mind and maybe, just maybe, write something more creative than the pharmaceutical bullshit i write day in and day out. i want to dig my toes into the sand and look up at the exploding stars come nightfall, and i want to drink lots of rum and cokes in between.

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and by that, i mean i want to go back to nicaragua. my trip to nica in december of 2013 was one of the best weeks of my life, hands down. and certainly, a lot of the pure bliss i felt while in san juan del sur (a beautiful seaside village known for its surf scene) was due to the fact that i was spending my days with two of the most wonderful, enlightening, beautiful human beings i know – but some of it was due to just how far AWAY i felt from my everyday life, and therefore, my everyday brain.

sadly, my dear friend martha no longer lives in SJDS, but that’s alright, because i’ve got my sights set on a new location: maderas village, a “idyllic boutique resort just off the beaten path in the pacific coastal hills” of nica. playa maderas is about 20 minutes from downtown san juan del sur, and martha and i actually spent a day there during my visit, watching the surfers ride the waves, making friends while drinking beers at makeshift tables, and laying in hammocks, watching droplets of salt water dry on our skin.

i stumbled upon maderas village on instagram, of all places, and fell head over heels. just looking at their feed makes my shoulders sit a little lower, makes my teeth clench a little less. you can practically feel the relaxation oozing out of their images.

so, in lieu of an actual getaway (though i truly do hope to make it back to nica, and specifically, to maderas village, soon), let’s enjoy some eye candy.

the-maderas-villageAutosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHtumblr_ng9upszwOE1t8dpgoo7_1280tumblr_ndwdbvW2ba1t8dpgoo5_1280Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presettumblr_ncf7jh2hVj1t8dpgoo2_1280tumblr_ndwdbvW2ba1t8dpgoo1_1280

sunday night bologneseit’s no secret around these parts (or any parts, really) that i looove me some carbs. more specifically, pasta. as in, i’m sure i would be really really thin if i gave up pasta. i would look like a miniature version of myself. and i’d probably have b cup boobs (let’s be real, a cups are out of the question). and while both of those things would be really wonderful for my self image, they’d also make me a sad sack of a person, because honestly, WHO WANTS TO LIVE WITHOUT PASTA?!

not i. i think all those people who swear paleo food is delicious and “going gluten free” is the shit are LYING.

why? because there’s nothing like digging into a giant steaming bowl of pasta. pasta is an antidote to sadness, to madness, to anxiety and to stress. it’s like a hug in a ceramic bowl – and this bolognese recipe is no different. comprised from not just one but three types of meat (bacon, italian sausage, and ground sirloin), it’s sure to create a  serious ‘happy in my mouth’ moment. it also makes your home smell incredible while it simmers on the stove, and makes people think you’re an all around domestic goddess.

see? i told you i could never give up pasta.

one of my favorite things to do on sunday afternoons is to wile away the hours in the kitchen. i can dice, chop, and simmer with the best of them, and there’s something almost meditative about slicing onions and chopping fresh rosemary into teeny tiny bits of flavor. this past sunday, i put on spotify’s “your favorite coffeehouse” playlist (the best, i tell you, i listen to it all day long at work) and got to work, and by 7pm, i’d taken a spin class, taken a bath, cooked this amazing meal alongside a batch of peppermint bark brownies (omg, i can’t even tell you about the goodness), and was ready to plop on my couch for an SVU marathon.

a good sunday, indeed.

so, let’s cook, shall we?

what you’ll need:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium stalks of celery, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 lb dry rub bacon, chopped into 1/4 pieces

1/2 lb spicy (or mild) italian pork sausage, casings removed

1/2 lb ground sirloin

4 tbsp tomato paste

1 28 oz can of tomatoes, diced or whole

1/2 cup dry white wine (sav blanc or pino grigio both work well)

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, washed and chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)

1 tsp fresh thyme, washed and chopped

2 tbsp fresh basil, washed and chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)

2 tbsp fresh oregano, washed and chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)

2 bay leaves, dried

what you’ll do:

start by dicing your mirepoix (a fancy french word for carrots, celery and onions), as well as your garlic.

put a large pan on the stove – a dutch oven like this one is great, but you can also just use a large soup pot if you don’t have anything le creuset-like (you just need to be able to cover the pot to simmer it later on.

sauté  your mirepoix and garlic in the olive oil for about 5-7 minutes, or until soft.

add your chopped bacon and auté on medium heat 3-4 minutes, breaking up the chunks.

do the same with your sausage. then do the same with your ground sirloin – make sure it’s evenly browned (but not fully cooked).

add tomato paste, wine, chicken broth, and your 28 oz can of tomatoes* (i like chopped because i’m lazy, but whole is thought to be better – who knows why?). mix thoroughly, add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. things are going to start to smell realllly good.

add your herbs: basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, etc. you can really throw in any herbs you’ve got laying around – they’ll add more flavor; it’s hard to go wrong. i love thyme and rosemary, so i always use those, and bay leaves are sort of like a magical ingredient. you put ‘em in, simmer, take ‘em out, and VOILA, flavor blast.

simmer an additional 10 minutes. remove bay leaves.

at this point, you’re ready to serve – but the longer you simmer this stuff, the better, so long as you do so on really low heat. i let my sauce simmer for about 45 extra minutes, and let’s just say, it didn’t do the bolognese any harm.

when you’re ready to dine, serve over pasta (i love penne or rigatoni to catch all the meaty bits, but spaghetti would look nice too), and grate fresh parmesan cheese atop your delectable dish. now, dig in, enjoy, and try not to guilt yourself for eating so many carbs. what, that’s just me? sunday night bolognese

*some recipes call for no canned tomatoes, just tomato paste. if you omit the canned tomatoes, you’ll end up with a less sauce-y sauce – more meat with a little bit of tomato. i like my meat sauces pretty sauce-y, so i always throw in the extra canned tomatoes (you could use fresh too!)

wishlist fig + yarrowi have a confession to make: i have ugly heels. like, gross, cracked, totally fugly please get those away from me heels. if i had a dime for every time a nail salon attendee has said, “WHY IS YOUR SKIN SO DRY?!” i’d be a millionaire at age 28.

it’s no surprise, then, that i’ve tried nearly ever foot scrub and foot cream under the sun – because all a girl wants is some smooth feet, you know? unfortunately, nothing works like a good pedicure, and despite my very best efforts, my heels still don’t look their best.

enter fig+yarrow’s alpine foot butter: the newest item on my wishlist. the brand bills it as “a velvety smooth alpine fresh whipped butter blend to treat and nourish feet.” i can get on board with that. see, i have a thing for alpine/christmas scented things. specifically, i have a thing for holiday-scented candles, but pretty much anything that smells like a tree makes me happy.

hence, i’m pretty sure that fig+yarrow’s foot butter will be a home run in my book. and since i can’t resist anything with pretty packaging, nor can i get enough of at home spa treatments, i’m also thinking of splurging on the winter herbal steam (at home facial here i COME), coffee + cardamom body scrub, and of course, the alpine foot scrub. HELLLOOO, at home pedicure.

ps: friends, fam, there’s still time to order before hanukkah ends! just kidding. sort of.

gingerbread muffinsLOOK! i still bake things and blog things! i once read this list of things bloggers should never, ever do, and #1 said, “don’t apologize for your absence, people get annoyed when you’re all, omg i’ve been gone for so long, i’m so sorry dear readers. but i don’t have very many dear readers, and WHATEVA, I DO WHAT I WANT, so, here’s my apology: life got away from me. dear god, it’s me, sarah, and it has been over 2 months since my last real blog post. i am here to confess my sins.

i really am hoping to talk to you guys, my faraway + internet friends, about what i’ve been doing the past few months, but that’s a story (or stories) for another post (posts).

we are gathered here today to talk about the deliciousness that is these gingerbread muffins. i adapted them from how sweet eats’ recipe (love her, want to be her), and by adapted i mean i didn’t have enough maple syrup, i was too lazy to walk the 2 blocks to the grocery store and i didn’t want to use the aunt jemima (ew) from the bodega across the street, so i used honey instead.

anywho, this recipe calls for LOTS of molasses, and i love anything with molasses. i always try to lick it out of the jar (TMI?), only to realize that while molasses makes other things taste GREAT, molasses itself tastes, well, bitter and gross and oh my god why did i put that in my mouth?!

i have the same issue with vanilla extract.

i made these muffins on sunday morning, and then i took a pretty picture of them on a pretty tea towel and marveled at my artistry and how perfectly baked they were. then i ate one on the way to soulcycle and resisted the urge to instagram my artistry, knowing that this here recipe would be a good one for the blog.

so here we are, folks. gingerbread muffins! OH MY HOLIDAY!

what you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (use fresh if you have it, i didn’t)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup (substitute honey if you don’t have enough – that’s what i did)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
raw sugar for topping (i used THIS amazing vanilla bean sugar that in nashville last month and it is the BOMB DIGGITY. if you like to bake, ORDER IT)

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. line your muffin tin with liners (pretty ones make all the difference).

whisk together your dry ingredients in a small bowl: flour, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. set aside.

in a larger bowl (i used my kitchenaid mixer, also known as my BBF, my best baking friend), whisk together brown sugar and egg. once those are hanging out, getting to know one another, whisk in the molasses, maple syrup (or honey if that’s the path you chose) and vanilla extract. then, whisk in your melted butter until all is fully combined and right with the world.

stir in your dry ingredients until JUST combined. no overzealous mixing, please.

before they’re fully combined, stir in the milk. now you should have a smooth batter.

fill your muffin cups 3/4 of the way full, and top each with a big sprinkle of sugar. bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until your muffin tops are set. no one likes a jiggly muffin top.

(sorry, couldn’t resist).

now, eat, celebrate, share with friends, bring to your office, etc. most of all, ENJOY!

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