Monday, April 30, 2012

Stray Fashion Observations from Paris

During our week in Paris, I tried to pay attention to what people were wearing for clues about what will be cool for the next few years in the US. Who doesn't want to channel those darling Parisians, am I right?

A few stray  observations:
  • Messy, not-too-straight/not-too-curly hair (how do they do that?!)
  • Lots of boat neck shirts and sweaters with buttons along the collar bone
  • Geeky glasses with large, dark frames
  • Leather - jackets and pants
  • Colored pants - red, pink, orange, green and blue
  • Skinny jeans are still a thing :( I keep hoping these will disappear, ha!
  • Slightly rolled up cuffs on pants, done very casually (like this)
  • Popular color combination: orange + white + tan
  • Oxfords were everywhere 
Do you get tempted to match your clothing to the places you visit? Every summer on Martha's Vineyard, I long for more preppy stripes and florals, and every time I visit a city, I wish I had a stack of timeless neutrals. In my everyday life, I sort of waffle between the two. I so admire people that have a very defined, clear sense of personal style!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pretty Spring Wrap Dress

If I'm approached to review something, it's usually a product I would never use myself, let alone recommend (peach scented laundry detergent, anyone?). But a few weeks back, the cute clothing company Fresh Produce got in touch about their new spring clothing line

My mom has long been a fan of Fresh Produce, so I was familiar with the brand already (and actually already own a few pieces!). But it's not usually a shop that springs to mind for me when I'm looking for new things - I mean, it's one of my mom's favorites, after all :)

Looking through the site, I was stunned by all the cute, young-looking pieces, though. (Either that, or I'm just getting older...Let's agree that they've gotten a bit more hip, okay?) 

I toyed around with a number of sun dress and tunics, but ultimately went with this cute wrap dress in sangria. Wrap dresses are a real wardrobe work horse for me. Work, play; day, night - they can do it all. Unlike some that tie around your body like a robe, this one has fabric sew all the way around (no risk of flashing people!), but all the flattery and versatility of that style. 

It's gotten chilly again here, so I paired it with a cardigan for work yesterday. Cute, right?! I know this dress and I will share many happy days together!

Wishing you all a very happy spring weekend! We are heading to the Berkshires. Hopefully we'll get in some golf, and maybe even a visit to DreamAway. And I'll get to give my mom and sister their little gifts from Paris, yay!

P.S. I so rarely (never?) post photos of myself here, I'm feeling incredibly shy and embarrassed! How do style bloggers do it?!? 

Disclosure: The product mentioned in this post was provided to me by the stated brand for review purposes only. I was not paid to promote or endorse this product and all thoughts and ideas are truthful and reflect my opinion alone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sugar Snap Pea and Cucumber Salad

On our flight home, I flipped through the latest issue of Real Simple. I don't know if it was a week away from my kitchen, or just a craving for balance after all that wine and cheese, but the spring salad recipes looked amazing

During an epic re-stocking grocery trip, I made sure to pick up the ingredients for this sugar snap pea and cucumber salad. It has a super short ingredient list, but it's a combination I had never thought of. Sugar snap peas are sort of forgotten vegetable for me (and actually, I'm not quite sure what to do with the rest of the bag - any suggestions would be most welcome!).

We served this with grilled steak and herb rice - sounds fancy, but it just had butter, rosemary, dill and cilantro. Happy spring salad eating!

Sugar Snap Pea and Cucumber Salad
Courtesy of Real Simple*

You will need: 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 English cucumber (about 3 inches of cuke?), thinly sliced
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced (I didn't have this, so I threw a splash of red wine vinegar into the dressing for a little bit of extra bite)

In a salad bowl, whisk the oil, lemon, ginger, sugar, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar (if using, see above). Add the peas, cucumber and shallot (if using). Toss together and serve. 

*I cut the original recipe in half to make only two servings - double if you need more!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Our Week in Paris

We are back from Paris! I put this travelogue into a single post for a selfish reason - I want one easy reference spot for the future. It's quite long, but I hope you'll enjoy it! A few more little Paris posts will likely sneak in at some point, too. XO

Sunday: We took the RER B line into Paris from the airport, and went straight to our apartment. Up six flights of stairs (102 steps!), we got to see our place. It was a cute little studio with a queen sized bed, a teeny cafe table with two chairs, a kitchenette and a bathroom.* We unpacked quickly, showered up, and headed out to stave off jet lag as much as possible.

We walked down to the Marais (about 10 minutes from our apartment in Republique). This is one of my favorite neighborhoods, and I was excited for Peter to see it. In search of the famous L'As du Falafal, I accidentally led us to a different falafal place down the street. Still delicious!

The Marais is the perfect place to go on a Sunday. It's hopping! From there, we headed over to Notre Dame to take a peak. I loved seeing Peter see it for the first time. He told me it was being built at the same time as the Mayan temples (one benefit to be married to a history teacher - lots of random facts!). We crossed the Seine and wandered around Shakespeare and Co., walked by the Lourve and into the Tuilerie gardens, and passed the Pompidou on the way home. It was Peter's birthday, and I asked him how it was going so far. "Best one yet!" he said.

For dinner, we had a reservation at Le Trumilou. They accept reservations online, so it's a good one for the first night. Many restaurants require reservations, and we were very shy about using the phone, so it was nice to be able to go into the rest in person throughout the week once we arrived. Highlights of the meal included Peter's charcuterie plate (with head cheese!), my crispy duck confit, and our first Paris cheese plate for dessert.

Monday: Before we left, I reserved a spot on the 11:00 a.m. tour with Fat Tire. I had done this as a college student with a bunch of girlfriends, and a few of you recommended it as well. I'm not much of a biker in my normal life, but Paris is a fantastic city to see from this vantage point. The guides are funny and nerdy, giving you cute little stories about tidbit of history along the way. For lunch, we stopped at a cafe in the Tuilerie gardens (cheese and baguettes!). It was a lovely afternoon, so we went to the Luxembourg Gardens after our tour wrapped up (around 3:15 p.m.). We also made a reservation at Le Timbre for our last night - more on that later.

We went to A la Biche au Bois on David Lebovitz's recommendation. One of our absolute favorites! We didn't have reservations, so we headed in early (for Paris) around 8:00 p.m. Highlights included the salade perigourdine, steak and frites, and a giant cheese tray that you get to pick selections from!

Tuesday: We bought four-day museum passes at the airport when we arrived (you can also get them at many museums) and started using it on Tuesday. If you plan on going to a lot of museums and monuments, this is definitely the way to go! I planned the days out by putting things together that were close in proximity.

We started at the Rodin to see The Thinker and the pretty little house inside. It was pouring rain, so we ducked into Cafe de Musee down the street for a bit of lunch before going to Napoleon's Tomb. The rain let up a bit, and we hustled over the Musee d'Orsay. A lovely left bank day.

We weren't so hungry after our lunch at Cafe de Musee (Peter had a hot dog with cheese in a baguette!), so we headed to Chez Prune, a wine bar a few blocks away from our apartment on the Canal St. Martin. Think inexpensive, delicious glasses of wine, four giant appetizers to chose from for sharing, and lots of darling local Parisians. Can you tell we loved it? Because we loved it. Go here.

Wednesday: We visited the Crypte archeologique - a new-to-me museum that's underneath the square at Notre Dame. It was so neat! Filled with vestiges of old houses and streets that were once there. After, we went into Notre Dame and over to the Conciergerie. We would have done Sainte Chapelle then, but it was closed for a long lunch (ahh, Paris.). We decided to follow their lead and headed over to Angelina for their famous hot chocolate and some macarons. This gave us the strength to tackle the Louvre :)

For dinner, we had a reservation at Robert et Louise, based on Ruth Reichl's Gourmet article. The food was good - very good, even - but as tourists, they relegated us to a basement room that lacked charm. Not exactly a disappointment, but definitely not our favorite. It might have been a better lunch time pick?

Thursday: It was a bit rainy early in the week, and this day looked sunny and promising, so we headed out to Versailles (with a quick stop at Sainte Chapelle first - it was near the RER C line we had to take out there anyway). The palace is amazing, but I loved the surrounding gardens most. Everything was in bloom, and so green this time of year.

We were exhausted that night (especially me, for some reason), but we rallied and headed over to Frenchie Wine Bar. It's itty-bitty, so get there early for a spot. It was full when we arrived at 7:20 p.m., but two seats at the bar opened quickly. The wine list is amazing, and the food is clean and fresh and creative. The chef previously worked at Gramercy Tavern in NYC, and the style of food is similar.

Friday: We walked to the Marais to go into the Centre Pompidou - one of my all time favorite museums. Afterward, Peter settled in for coffee at a cafe and I shopped around. Some favorite shops included Les Touristes, Reperages Maison and Compagnie de Provence. We had gelato from Amarino for lunch (eating ice cream for a meal thrills me to no end!).

In the afternoon, we went to Musee Carnavalet - a free museum with old signs from all around Paris, a lovely courtyard garden, and beautiful palace rooms upstairs. Down the street is Place des Vosges, a beautiful square park surrounded by pretty pink town houses.

Dinner that night was at Le Timbre. We've been lucky to have some very special meals out, but this was one of our best ever. The space is charming, the service is lovely, and the food is perfection. Every element of the meal was a highlight, but extra special dishes included Peter's foie gras, my duck breast served over asparagus, shallots and mushrooms, a creamy blue cheese, and rich chocolate creme for dessert.

We ended with a nighttime visit to the Eiffel Tour. It was a fantastic visit, from start to finish. I can't wait to return already!

*If anyone has specific questions about the apartment we rented and our experience there, please feel free to email me!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Paris Planning: Not Quite Packed; Nearly Ready to Go

It is finally (nearly) here! My clothes are laid out in a giant pile on the guest bed (lots of pink and black!), my Kindle is filled with fun new library books, and my travel itinerary is printed off. Tomorrow we go to Paris!

The travel itinerary is a somewhat obsessive carry-over from my days working in book publicity on author tours. I put everything on there - all flight details, phone numbers, restaurant reservations, addresses, daily schedules. It's a bit intense, but I find it to be super helpful :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend (and week ahead!). Au revoir, lovies!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pasta with Shrimp, Scallops and Fennel

For some reason, cooking seafood is scary to me. There seems to be a large margin of error. Under-cooked and it's poison; over-cooked and it's rubbery. Since I started following the four-minutes-per-inch rule for fish, I've gotten pretty good at grilling fillets. But little seafood, like shrimp and clams and scallops? Still scary.

After a somewhat decadent weekend of dining out, a simple seafood supper was calling out to me, though. Peter and I walked over to Whole Foods (a very rare event, though it's just around the corner). Their seafood counter is so fancy and nice! It wasn't that expensive, either. We decided to get a 1/3 pound each of fresh shrimp, cute little scallops and some already prepared clams.

At home, Peter peeled and de-veined the shrimp. He put the shells in a pot of water and let them simmer until the water was half gone (about an hour). After the pasta water was boiling, he started to saute garlic, long strips of fennel and the chopped clams. After a couple minutes, he added a big splash of wine, the shrimp stock, a pile of chopped parsley, tarragon and mint, the shrimp and scallops, and a big squeeze of lemon.

The pasta was drained (that's corn pasta, by the way, and it's delicious!) and tossed into the pan with all the seafood for a final, boozey swim. A few more herbs went on top, along with a healthy sprinkle of salt. Oh my, it was good! And since Peter was doing the cooking, it wasn't scary in the least :)

What foods (inexplicable) scare you to cook? My friend Sarah over at Yahoo! Shine hosts a cute supper club, and the challenge for March was to cook a dish that scared you. Great idea, right? I think it's so interesting to learn what one person is afraid to tackle, and what others will whip up effortlessly!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

House Tour: My Parent's Sun Room + Dining Room

When I was six years old, my parents hired Earl, a seriously old man, to build a summer porch off of the kitchen. Earl terrified my two year old sister. When she would hide and cry around him, he'd point and say, "He doesn't like me very much."

Twenty years later, they decided to convert that seasonal porch into a year-round sun room. They hired another (sort of) old guy to take it down to the studs, add insulation, heating, new windows, move the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room, add cork flooring - the whole nine yards.

It took months. It was never ending! At Christmas - the original estimated time for the project to be complete - they set up a huge long table on the very incomplete porch and we ate on the unfinished floor, surrounded by festive pink insulation.

When we were home for Easter, we finally got to see the new sun room in all it's glory. They did a great job, no?

Most of the furniture is from Puritan and Home Goods, and the rugs are from the tent sale at Pine Cone Hill in the Berkshires. I picked out the sectional with my mom at the store, and we thought it looked so small in the big show room. It completely fills the space, though!

Here's the framed heart print from Rifle Paper Co. Below are the cute floral coasters.

They opened up a wall in the dining room to go into the sun room. I love how light and airy it all is now. My Mom bought those little shades and had them added to her fancy chandelier to modernize it a bit. I love the effect!

Thank you, Mom, for letting me take pictures of your house and share them on the internet :) Hope you all enjoyed this peak into the house I grew up in!

Monday, April 9, 2012

All Kinds of Awesome

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! We had so much fun, I didn't really want it to end. There were visits with aunts and uncles and cousins and parents and siblings. And oodles of cupcakes, jelly beans and board games. Perfection!

That game - 5 Second Rule - is my new fave. Perfect for groups with a range of ages and interests. I need to pick that one up!

My cousin, who hosted us yesterday, is a fabulous entertainer. She set up a lemonade bar with fruit, ice frozen with herbs and berries inside, and three kinds of vodka to chose from. (She's a big Pinterest junkie, and saw the idea there!). With dessert, she put out lemon sorbet, lime sherbet and tequila - a take on a frozen margarita once everything gets mixed up. Genius! There was even a platter of peeps with a sign in the middle saying, "Having Easter with All My Peeps!" Ha!

ALSO she has the best fortune telling book on her coffee table that has sections for palm reading, Chinese zodiac, tarot readings - all kinds of awesome stuff. Such a great thing to have around!

I want my house to be filled with all kinds of fun, funny stuff, you know? I probably need to spend even more time on Pinterest looking for inspiration :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Easter!

(Via The Kitchn)

If I were hosting Easter, the menu would include: 
Instead, we get to be guests all weekend long! I've got boxes of fabulous Italian cookies to share, and all the fixings for a yummy antipasto plate (asparagus wrapped with Prosciutto, marinated artichokes, olives, manchego cheese, ooh la la!). 

Wishing you a lovely spring weekend, filled with endless handfuls of Hebert's jelly beans!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Loving Lately

The Dirty Life was on my summer reading list last June, but I'm just getting around it now. It's just as good - maybe even better - to read it in the spring when everything is waking up and blooming. A warning: this book will most definitely have you saying, "We could totally be organic farmers in upstate New York! Absolutely I could milk a cow at 4:00 a.m.!"

We started watching Terriers on Netflix Instant a few weeks ago, and I'm completely hooked. I know I just told you that I want to become an organic farmer, but if I'm honest, my true secret wish is to be an off-the-grid detective. Fighting bad guys, knowing secrets - that would be the life! The show was cancelled after two seasons, and I'm already mourning the loss of it in my life (and I'm not even through season one!).

I'm a big fan of Lilly Pulitzer, but this murphee scarf has a special place in my heart. It was designed to raise awareness for the Amani Children's Foundation. My all-time favorite professor in college, Dr. Jane Stephens, started this organization with her husband to provide support to infants in Kenya through a local partner, New Life Homes. If you're looking for a special something for Mother's Day, this would be a fantastic choice!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...