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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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i can count the number of tv spots that have truly moved me (whether by laughter or by tears) on one hand. they include this one for the olympics, this one for toyota, this one for google, and as of today, the one below, which was created by ogilvy for dove’s longrunning “real beauty” campaign.

i don’t make ads like this – yet. i hope i will someday. campaigns like dove’s ‘real beauty’ are the reason i wanted to work in advertising. they prove that the industry isn’t just about moving product. sure, sales are of utmost importance, but they’re not everything. the best ads awaken something inside you. they make you chortle awkwardly at your desk, or cry while curled up on your couch. they make you devour an entire pack of oreos and search for flights to paris. they make you believe in others. they make you believe in yourself. like great books and great movies, great ads capture the human condition.

these dove ads do just that. they play off the idea that women are constantly doubting their own beauty – that we don’t see just how wonderful we are. sadly, i find this to be the case with most women i know, myself included. i am at all times my worst critic, and i scrutinize my looks more than i’d like to admit. i consider all of my close girlfriends to be the perfect manifestation of the female form. while different, they are all insanely gorgeous in their own ways, personality included. and yet, each of them has had her moment where she felt she wasn’t good enough. she wasn’t tall enough, wasn’t thin enough. her hair didn’t curl, her hair didn’t straighten. the hair above her lip was too noticeable. her eyebrows weren’t thick enough. if only she were blonde. if only she were brunette.

what amazes me about these dove spots is just how poorly we see ourselves – and how different that image is from what others see. while i’d love to be as dismissive of looks as to say they don’t matter, i know that for most of us, they do – sometimes very much. these spots serve as a reminder that could we only see what everyone else sees, we’d know we were as beautiful as can be. and that, ladies, is something we could stand to remember.

Imagegrowing up, i was always a chocolate person. i have this vivid memory of baking brownies one day and offering one to my next door neighbor scott, only to have him tell me he didn’t like chocolate, he liked vanilla. i’m pretty sure i almost dropped the brownie, i was so shocked. i mean, what kind of person doesn’t like chocolate? was scott an alien? was he trying to pull a fast one on me?

turns out, the kid just didn’t like chocolate. last summer, when he got married, there was no chocolate in the cake. he’s all vanilla, all the time. we’re no longer five years old and playing hopscotch on our driveway, and as i’ve aged, i’ve come to appreciate the simplicity of vanilla. vanilla extract is my secret baking weapon. i always add extra to everything i bake, and the results are pretty much always spectacular. i derive great pleasure from gutting vanilla beans and scooping out their fragrant insides. and yes, i even eat (and make) vanilla ice cream. which is what prompted this ice cream escapade, which utilizes recipes from david lebovitz’s the perfect scoop

the man is practically an ice cream god, so rest assured, this recipe is quite good. i’d never made cookie dough ice cream before, and so initially, i searched for a cookie dough ice cream recipe. turns out, there’s no real recipe for that. what you’re supposed to do instead is make your favorite vanilla ice cream, and then add special cookie dough (sans eggs) into it at the very end. well, color me educated in the ways of the ice cream elite.

i took both the vanilla bean ice cream and the cookie dough recipe from the perfect scoop, though i found an abundance of recipes on google that are probably just as good. the result is ice cream that’s so creamy you swear it’s melting the second you put the spoon to your mouth, and cookie dough that tastes pretty damn close to the real thing (hard to achieve without any eggs, let me tell you).

so, shall we? note: you’ll need an ice cream maker for this recipe. i have this one from cuisinart. it was dirt cheap, and works like a charm.

The Recipe: Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup white sugar

2 cups heavy cream

pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

6 large egg yolks

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

to make, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. you don’t want it to boil, per se, so keep the burner somewhat low. scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk, and add the bean in there as well. when the milk is warm, cover, remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.

go give yourself an at home mani, or watch 1/2 of the latest episode of nashville while you wait. done?

good. now, pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top of it. in a medium bowl (i do this part in my stand mixer), whisk together the egg yolks. slowly pour the warmed vanilla milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly (this is where the stand mixer comes in handy; you can just set it on low), then scrape the warmed egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan. take care not to dump all your warmed  milk into the eggs at once, the last thing you want is for them to cook.

stir the egg/milk mixture over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. in my experience, this takes anywhere from 3-7 minutes. wondering if the mixture is ready? run your finger down the middle of the spatula. if the mixture parts like the dead sea and doesn’t run, it’s ready. not running? congratulations, you’ve just made custard!

pour your custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. put the vanilla bean into the mixture, add the vanilla extract, and put your bowl over an ice bath, stirring until cool.

chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge. usually, this takes about an hour or two. that’s enough time for two episodes of chicago fire or one episode of the voice’s blind auditions. there’s really no bad option – you either get hot firefighters or two hours of blake shelton wearing the hell out of a really great vest.

when the mixture is cold and ready to churn, pour it into your ice cream mixture and freeze according to your machine’s instructions. when the ice cream is almost done, add your cookie dough…

…which you can make by following the instructions below.

The Recipe: Egg-free Cookie Dough

5 tbsp salted butter, melted (if you only have unsalted butter, just throw some salt in it)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 semisweet chocolate chips (in retrospect, i wish i’d used mini chocolate chips)

to make, stir butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl until smooth. stir in the flour, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. form the dough into a 1/2″ thick disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. once chilled, unwrap the dough, and chop it into bite size pieces.

and there you have it, folks. now, go forth and make ice cream.

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my first summer in new york, i interned at an ad agency and lived in an NYU dorm in the heart of chinatown on lafayette and white street. my morning commute consisted of pushing my way through angry salesman yelling HANDBAG HANDBAG LOUIS PRADA GIVENCHY at the top of their lungs to get to the 6 train. the area smelled like pineapple scented fish, but i loved every second of it. beyond my study abroad experience in london, it was my first time living in a big city. the apartment my friends and i lived in was outrageously large, with a common kitchen, multiple bathrooms, and sky-high ceilings. at night, we shimmied into mini skirts and flowy tops from forever21, and applied red NARS lip pencils and hailed cabs to the east village. on our way home, we’d stop at mcdonalds for french fries  and mcflurries, which we’d eat in our living room (sans furniture besides the one couch that came with the apartment), sitting cross-legged on the floor in our pajamas, glittery eyeshadow still caked into our lashes. on saturday mornings, we’d drag ourselves out of bed at 11am, and walk a single block into the nail salon next to our building. that’s when i learned about the miracle of the $7 manicure. our salon offered an incredible deal: a mani pedi for just $17. i mean, that’s less than 4 starbucks lattes. i hadn’t really painted my nails since i was 14, but all of a sudden, i became one of those girls who gets a fresh manicure every saturday.

when i moved back to new york for real after graduating college, i ditched chinatown for the east village, where manicures were still cheap – but not as cheap. on my meager budget, weekly manicures began to add up, so i started painting my own nails. at first, my fingers were a hot mess, but as they say, practice makes perfect, and slowly but surely, i began to perfect the at home manicure. since i was saving so much by skipping out on the salon, i began investing in funky polishes from butter london, a brand i discovered online. that was my gateway drug to fancy nail polish, and before i knew it, i was a full on addict. Image

these days, i have a large box full of my favorite colors, and each season, i replace the goopy ones with seasonally appropriate polishes. a few years ago, while sneaking around backstage at the tents of mercedes benz fashion week, where i was “covering” the shows as a blogger, i stumbled across deborah lippman, who might as well be the queen of backstage color. lippman does all the best shows, and her colors, which are often the result of collaborations with celebrities such as cher and SJP, go on smooth, rarely chip, and always come in the most gorgeous shades. plus, the woman makes the BEST glitter polishes out there. and you all know how i feel about glitter. Imageall of which is to say, lippman collection recently revealed its spring and summer shades, and i’m positively smitten with the the ones pictured here. mint and lavender with crushed glitter. mama mia, color me happy, there’s a sofa in here for two. snag a few shades for yourself here. don’t blame me if you develop a full on polish addiction.

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you may have already seen this incredible home floating around the blogosphere, but i couldn’t resist sharing a few of my favorite photos from this southampton abode, which belongs to designer kate spade and her husband andy. the photos come courtesy of steven sclaroff’s website, and mimic the eclectic, slightly preppy and totally quirky style seen in the couple’s manhattan townhouse. while the bones of the two residences are totally different, there’s a good deal of overlap between the two – the spades clearly have a soft spot for stripes, and they’re avid collectors: of books, of art, of barware, of matchbooks and family photos. the two homes, while undeniably chic, don’t feel overly designed or at all stuffy. they’re comfortable homes that actually feel lived in – a feat that’s harder to accomplish than one might think. creative people often tend to have the most beautiful and interesting homes, and such is certainly the case with the places where the spades lay their heads. i’ve never been to southampton, but boy would i love to spend a few nights at the spades. kate, call a sister up, will you?

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how cute is this little bar area? exhibit a of the spades’ fascination with stripes. i love that this is the grab and go station for the house. running out to the pool? take a towel. need a drink? they’ve got that in spades (ha). Image

i mean, can we talk about these beamed? i die for that little reading nook. can’t you just see yourself sitting there re-reading pride and prejudice with a freshly squeezed cup of orange juice as the morning light streams through the windows?

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i am just BLOWN away by this room. those windows! those beams! those pendants! i’d imagine the light they cast at night is positively spectacular.

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this little room appears to be off the main living room, and it’s so cozy that you just want to cuddle up on that couch and light the fire. exhibit b of stripes. i love all the built-ins in this room. i bet the space smells like old books.

Imagehow cute is this little powder room? exhibit c of stripes – paired with a gorgeous antique gilded mirror and a cute little pedestal sink. i would absolutely fix my makeup in here.

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i love this warm, cozy family kitchen. that farmhouse table paired with the glossy red bentwood chairs is screaming for a big ol’ pile of pancakes, and the amount of available counter space in the room is staggering. it looks they went with subway tile for the backsplash – be still my heart!

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gah, what a guestroom! from the faded persian rug to the dark linen walls to the mirrored side table and the suzani quilt, there’s just so much to love about this space. i love the juxtaposition between dark and light in the space.

Imagei mean, can we TALK about this bathroom? that floral wallpaper is off its rocker, but somehow, it works. i love it! i’d never, ever design such a busy bathroom for myself, and those rugs don’t match the wallpaper in the LEAST, but damn, so i love it. the lines of this space are a bit weird, and i love that they went full out quirky in the design to emphasize the insane architecture of the room.

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and finally, the exterior of the house. can you imagine driving up that circular driveway (probably in a vintage mercedes) and saying to your kids, “we’re here!” – insane.

Loeffler Randall Starlalast summer, i fell in love…with a shoe. i’m a metallic addict with a hankering for anything celestial, so it’s no surprise that i fell hard for loeffler randall’s starla sandal. of course, by the time i saved my pennies to make the splurge ($175 for a sandal is a bit pricey for me), they were sold out. EVERYWHERE. Loeffler Randall Starla

but now. now loeffler randall is making them for a second season, and i don’t intend to let them get away again. i know, $175 is a lot. a LOT. for a shoe. that doesn’t even have much leather on it. but here’s the thing: i’ve had many a case of “why didn’t i buy that?” remorse, but rarely do i purchase something and wish i hadn’t. so this season, i’m taking no, and ordering these babies as soon as i get paid. summer here i COME.

i’m pretty sure i’m late to the game on this passenger song, but we’ve been stretching to it at bar method, and i’m certifiably obsessed with it. i love singer mike rosenberg’s soulful but slightly ragged voice, and the twinkly piano at the beginning is perfect. the lyrics ain’t half bad either. go ahead, try and listen to it and not put it on repeat.

it makes me want to do one of two things:
walk along central park with my hands in the faded jeans of someone who knows my idiosyncrasies like the back of his hand

snuggle with a big cozy blanket and a steaming mug of tea in a log cabin while snow falls softly outside and christmas lights sparkle in the windows

let’s see which one comes true first.

living in new york, you learn to make sacrifices when it comes to interior design and what you want in your home. you have to truly love something before you bring it home, because chances are, unless you kick another piece to the curb (literally), you won’t have space for it. apartment living requires you to deal with the fact that you probably have to store all your kitchen appliances atop your cabinets, where they’ll collect dust until you need to use them again. there’s only so much wall space, so you can’t go crazy with photos. often, you don’t have tons of natural light, so you have to make due with less than optimal lighting. extra seating? fuhgettaboutit. enormous bathrooms with walls of subway tile? sister, it ain’t gonna happen unless you’re a millionaire.

but someday, i hope to move out of the city, and into a house that i can tear down and rebuild and make into my perfect oasis. in my mind (and on my pinterest board), i call it my “someday home.” it’s where i file away all the ideas that won’t work with my 1950s parquet floors and my temporary walls – but that might just work in my someday home. you know, when i get there. these images below fit that bill.

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i’m in love with this stairwell, designed by emily henderson. the framed family photos, the contrast between dark and light, those incredible pendants. it’s not quite my style, per se – but i love the idea of pendants in a stairwell, and a gallery wall framing your walk up to bed.

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there is little i love more than classic subway tile in a bathroom. my current bathroom is “redone” in large rosey beige marble tile, and while i’m sure that some people find this form of marble very chic, i can’t stand it. we have a nice pedestal sink, and if i had the power to change it all out, i’d put penny tile on the floors, subway on the walls and as the shower surround, and hit up chelsea flea for a gorgeous gold gilded mirror like the one above. medicine cabinet be damned! someday.

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i don’t really want a home like this, per se – though i do love those thonet chairs and that giant bed. but let’s be real: those WINDOWS. i’d love to live in a loft space before i leave new york, if only to have windows like that. too bad williamsburg is so expensive now that it’s out-priced manhattan proper. this shot (as well as the one above) are of the wythe hotel, an uber-stylish space on the williamsburg waterfront.

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when it comes to new york kitchens, i’m actually quite lucky. i have granite countertops, and tile floors, and a good deal of cabinet space. the design isn’t really my style (i’d prefer white cabinets to oak, and brass handles to the little knobs i have), and of course, i’d ditch the white appliances for stainless ones – but i have a real kitchen, which, for many new yorkers, is something that hangs precariously out of reach. and thank god, because i do a hell of a lot of cooking. my little galley kitchen gets a LOT of love (and a weekly deep cleaning). when i first moved to new york, i splurged on a kitchen aid, and let me tell you, once you go stand mixer, you never go back. i love my kitchen aid THIS MUCH. but seeing alaina kaczmarski’s mint green one above has me rethinking my “white will go with everything” color choice. alas. hindsight is 20 20. maybe mint will be my accent in my next kitchen…

to see more of my “someday home” picks, check out my pinterest board.  

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one of my favorite things about spring in new york is how it reinvigorates the farmer’s market in union square. the market never quite disappears in the winter, braving those chilling days when it feels like the wind could cut straight through your cheeks and leave you wounded – but in the spring, it truly comes alive again. the square bustles with people: moms pushing double strollers and dads carrying babies and baggus. teenagers skateboarding past the strawberries and young couples picking out fresh flowers one by one. this past weekend was the first one in the city that truly felt like spring. i went to sleep on friday night, and when i woke up saturday morning, the sun was shining bright. the clouds were so fluffy it looked like if you jumped high enough you could land in them, sinking into their softness and squeezing in a 20 minute power nap. it was the perfect spring day: crisp air, highs in the upper fifties, the promise of something new and beautiful to come.

weather like that, it makes you forget that someone puked on the subway before. it’s like someone colors the city with a hazy, rose tint, and all of a sudden, everything is wonderful and nothing bad exists. it is, in other words, the perfect time to go shopping. and so shop i did. i came home from the farmer’s market with a slew of fresh fruit and veggies and on sunday afternoon, i took to my kitchen and went nuts. i made homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream (recipe to come later this week), and then decided to meld all my fresh spring veggies into one delicious spring pasta. it was so delicious that i thought you might want to make it for yourself. what’s that? you do want to? great. the how-to is below.

The Recipe

2 cloves of garlic, diced

2 cups assorted sliced veggies – i used asparagus, zucchini, green beans and spinach

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/3 box of penne (i like barilla)

2 tsp of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan to taste

Make it

this recipe is insanely easy to make. it’s so simple, in fact, that i’m not even really sure it counts as a recipe. but whatever. it’s my blog and i can lie about recipes if i want to. so, let’s do this thing.

to start, slice all your veggies. you can use whatever spring veggies you’ve got around. i threw some frozen peas in at the last minute, and damn, were they good. your veggies should be cut into approximately 1″ pieces. they don’t have to be baby bite size, but you also don’t to be shoving an entire asparagus stalk in your mouth at one time. and if you do, well, you’re not allowed to eat at my house.

put a pot of cold water on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. when it gets there, dump in your pasta and add a pinch of salt. while your pasta is cooking, saute your veggies. put your olive oil into a pan and give it about a minute to heat up. add your diced garlic and give that a minute to get all fragrant and wonderful and garlicky. now, dump in your veggies. if your pan is too dry, feel free to add a bit more olive oil. a little more EVOO never hurt no one. while your veggies cook, zest your lemon into the pan. mmm, smell that lemony deliciousness. SO GOOD. don’t juice it just yet. that will come later.

when your pasta is done, drain it and reserve a tiny bit of the pasta water. pour it into a pretty bowl. now, add the sautéed veggies on top of it. take a fork and mix it all together for good measure. now, juice your lemon over the pasta and mix again. smells good, doesn’t it? season with salt and pepper to taste, and grate some fresh parm on top.

et voila! a delicious spring dinner.

note: if you’re looking to even this dish out, i’d recommend sautéing some shrimp with a bit of lemon juice, or grilling up some chicken to slice on top of it. protein’s great and all, but man, sometimes a girl just wants CARBS.

now, go forth and make something springy!