Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to wear a Canadian Tuxedo.

Last fall, I became obsessed with the ultimate classic, the denim buttoned-down shirt. Aka the top half of a Canadian Tuxedo. Since I wasn't sure if I was going to fully commit to the trend, I purchased a lightweight, budget-friendly version from Forever 21. Unfortunately, the shirt is now sold out but there has been a surge in retailers who offer a very similar style. If someone happens to break into my apartment and steal it I would purchase this look alike from J.Crew.

Now that spring is right around the corner, I am preparing to transition my fav denim look to fit into my sunny weather wardrobe. Below are my eight favorite ways to rock my Canadian Tuxedo. And while I'm at it, is the proper style called 'button(ed)-up' or 'button(ed)-down' or Chambray? Does it matter?
Top: J.Crew, Polyvore, ?  |  Middle: ? , ?, ? magazine editorial  |  Bottom: ?, ?, ?

PS. All of these images came from Pinterest, unfortunately with invalid links to the original source. If you recognize or can claim these images, let me know- I'd love to give credit where credit is due! Which is a good reminder for all to be sure to follow the Pin Etiquette to help others avoid this problem in the future.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anything vs. Everything

This quote perfectly captures my current state of mind. I'll keep this short since I don't think it needs much of an explanation.

As much as a cop out answer it may seem to be (especially when interviewing), I believe one of my biggest downfall's can be my superwoman mentality. I am willing to bet a lot of creative, planner, Type A personalities would agree. While it's great to be inspired and want to act on a million ideas, it flat out sucks when all that motivation has a reverse effect and paralyzes you with the inability to make your next move.

These words are a great way to remind oneself to never be afraid to try something new. But to recognize when you have stretched yourself too thin. Have lost your focus and need to reset. Or accept that you have failed and move on. Because finding the balance between trying anything and maintaining everything is hard. And until I find the balance, I'll gladly stare at this little mash up I put together using one of my favorite Ashley Goldberg prints.

PS. To see more of Ashley's awesome art, visit her site Kitty Genius.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A sweet and savory pizza.

As I mentioned in my first post about cooking, I am a novice when it comes to navigating my way around the kitchen. Luckily, my discerning (okay fine, super picky) palette appreciates high-quality, fresh tasting food. So much of what I make is anything but traditional and is always a bit quirky. Normally the words 'gourmet' and 'interesting' don't come to mind when the topic is pizza. Thanks in part to my first job, that is exactly how I prefer my pizzas to be in addition to fun and of course, flavorful.

The last time I had a gathering at my house, I wracked my brain trying to figure out something to make that wouldn't be labor intensive, messy, or too heavy knowing there would be a whole night of cocktails ahead. While strolling the aisles of my favorite grocery store ever, I concocted a recipe in my head, purchased the ingredients and headed home in hopes things would turn out for the best.

I'm proud to say the pizza was a hit! Here is the shopping list and my [attempt] at a cohesive recipe perfect for a cozy meal or to share with friends.
Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 350°

Step 2: Using a pizza stone or floured pan, roll the pizza dough out into a circle (as best you can). Using a fork, sporadically pierce holes into the dough to prevent from it rising too much.

Step 3: Crack that egg, beat it, and egg wash the entire surface of the dough. 

Step 4: Cook the egg-washed dough for approximately 7 minutes. By doing so, you are creating a "shell" to top with the remainder of the ingredients while avoiding a loss of flavor as a result of overcooking.   

Step 5: When your shell is done, layer the following ingredients being sure to leave a 1-inch border around the outside as your crust:
  • A few pads of truffle butter, spread as evenly as possible 
  • A thin layer of baby spinach
  • Very generous clumps of creamy gorgonzola cheese 
  • Thinly sliced peaches strategically placed in array all around the pizza
  • Sprinkle of salt & pepper
  • Very light drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Step 6: Cook for 10-13 more minutes or until you notice the crust getting slightly darker than golden brown.

Step 7: Cool for 3 minutes and drizzle with even more balsamic vinegar. I actually used a BV glaze which added the perfect amount of flavor without being a drippy mess. 

Step 8: Cut into desired number of pieces and serve.

Between Step 5 & 6.

Buon appetito!   

P.S. Let me know if you have any questions or if you try the recipe out for yourself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

BRB. Going to Vermont.

Wow! This was one of the busiest weeks I have had in a very long time. It flew, yet somehow dragged on by. Amid all of the work, meetings, events, and things to do I mentally convinced myself I was at NYFW ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over all the Fall 2012 looks. Though I was in the same state, the reality couldn't be further from the mental happy place I created. Needless to say, I am looking forward to catching up on all of the blogs by the lucky people who did actually get to go!

In other news, I am leaving bright and early to go on my very first ski trip. You could tell from my awesome image, right? I am leaving in just a few hours but I honestly have no idea where I am going. Yes, you read that correctly. I am leaving for four days and have absolutely no idea where I am going. Or staying. Or really what we'll be doing for that matter (besides hitting the slopes). This is my first time giving up all control over a vacation/getaway and just going with the flow. I have to say it feels pretty good and I am excited to see what is in store. Especially considering my most free-spirited friend in the world (Nancy, I am referring to you) semi-planned it and I am just tagging along. Here is what I do know:
  • We are going to Stowe, Vermont. I've never been to Vermont so I am sure the image I have of Ben & Jerry's on every corner and a state that smells of Birkenstocks is completely off base.
  • We are staying in a house that will most likely be way to small for the 12-14 people going. Who knows if Josh and I will even have a bed.
  • It will take approximately 8 hours to get there. Wherever "there" is. Good thing I am not driving.
  • There will be copious amounts of beer, wine, food, and laughter. Honestly, that was the selling point for me.
  • I will be the worst skier, by far, and will probably need to scoot down the mountain on my butt more than I would ever care to admit. But at least I will look cute in all my sweet gear.
  • I didn't pack a single pair of heels. Or 18 different outfit options for the matter. I am also quite proud of myself for not over-packing for the very first time.
 So, if you have ever been to Stowe or know of some great places near by, please leave a comment and let me know.

Happy Friday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The best kind of revenge.

Revenge is a tricky thing. A philosophy that often blurs the line between those who believe in it and those who don't. Those who hold a firm grasp on the phrase "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." Or those who wisely respond back with "An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind."

Given the situation, most of us know revenge morally wrong. Childish. Spiteful. Foolish, even. Which could be why many people are embarrassed to admit that they made a decision that can be deduced to mere retaliation. But we've all done it. And have celebrated the sweet taste of pay back by recounting the story and high-fiving our best friends.

So now that I have written the next introduction for ABC's hit show, I'll get to the point. As I watched Adele collect Grammy, after Grammy, after very well deserved Grammy last night, my stance on revenge became very clear.

Obviously I didn't take this photo, but I did edit it & make the graphic. Link back to me please!

Everyone can name someone who has done them wrong. Who has hurt them. Betrayed them. Pushed them to their limit and driven them to want to seek revenge. But where does that really get them in the end? Are a few moments of instant gratification enough? What if Adele chose to slash her ex's tires instead of re-directing her emotions into heartfelt songs?

The world would be a better place if revenge meant channeling spiteful energy into moving beyond a negative situation through positive, forward motion. To rise above and create happiness from anger or sadness. To take revenge by allowing yourself to shake your head and laugh at the bloke from your past. The one that ironically enabled you to propel into a better future. And it's your little secret if you feel the need to silently flip them the bird behind your new found smile.

PS. If you're like me and can't get enough of Adele, she is gracing the March cover of Vogue. Click here to preview the stunning spread. Oh, and Chuck Palahniuk is the bad-ass author of The Fight Club.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Notebooks with style.

Lately my mind has been swirling with thoughts. Projects at work. Chores that need to get done. Clothes I want to buy. A month full of events. Not to mention, just getting through daily life. Even though my iPhone has become a third appendage, I find myself being most productive when I can write things down with a good old [blue] pen and some paper. And yes, I'll admit, when I am writing a to-do list sometimes I write things down just so I can immediately cross them off and feel a sense of accomplishment.

But I think it's time to graduate from over-sized, neon post-its and upgrade to a big girl notebook. Something that I can carry around and quickly jot a thought down at a moments notice, without experiencing thumb cramps. Plus, it's a great excuse to indulge my stationery obsession. Below is a round up of stylish notebooks that have brought an onslaught of indecisiveness. So please, help a sista out and leave a comment with which one is your favorite.   
1. Lanvin, $19, ARWEY
2. Mon Petit, $16, Julia Kostreva 
3. Field Book, $8, russell + hazel
4. A6 Essential Notepad, $10, russell + hazel 
5. Amazing Ideas, $14, Sparrow Nest Script
6. Medium Notebook, $8, Poppin
7. 1970s Style, $9, Really Good 
8. Big Ideas Notebook, $14, C. Wonder

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Birthday Wishes.

Today marks the first of two birthday celebrations for my very best friends this week. Coincidentally, Lucin was born on the 7th and Valerie was born on the 11th (get it, 7-11? ha!). I hold a special place in my heart for these two amazing girls. Growing up we've made TONS of memories both separately as a duo and over the recent years, together as a trio. I am so grateful to have them in my life for and can't wait to see what the next two decades brings us.
This collage was created on my iPhone using Diptic. Pretty cool, eh?

Happy birthday ladies! xo

PS.  Lucin owns a kick-ass (literally!) company focused on talent management and sponsorships for rising MMA fighters. So if you are into Mixed Martial Arts or know of someone who is trying to break into the scene, be sure to contact her at Be The Weapon Management.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Two things a woman can never be.

After a few happenings last week and my never ending pursuit to decide what to wear, it seemed perfectly appropriate to share this as this week's words to live by.

In reference to being overdressed, of course there are extreme circumstances; like wearing full on bling to the beach or a ball gown to your little cousins backyard BBQ. But I'd like to interpret this half of the quote as being confident with your personal style. The type of confidence that makes people say "oh, she can pull that off"-- no matter what the garment or venue may be. So from now on I am going to make a valiant effort to not concern myself with what everyone else is wearing. And to focus on dressing in what makes me feel comfortably-sexy, thus confident with my appearance.

But over-educated? Don't even get me started. To me that is a cop-out for those who are intimidated. From a business perspective it's simply an oxymoron. What company doesn't want to hire those who are wildly smart and experienced? Sadly, you'd be surprised at the number of companies who by-pass candidates for this very reason. I'm going on record to say if you use the "over-qualified/over-educated card" it means at least one of two things: I don't want to hire someone smarter than me or I can't pay anywhere near what you are worth. Only exception here is if you make it apparent your salary expectations or that you would be bored with what the job entails [in which case you should withdraw your application]. And in a social setting, smart is equally as enticing. Everyone should be able to hold a conversation with substance on a particularly complex subject. If you can can voice your opinion and have conviction on the matter, all the better. 

Moral of the story? Wear your clothes, don't let them wear you. Slip on your favorite pair of shoes, march your butt into that party/interview/new bar, and don't you dare shy away from an opportunity to enlighten others with your smarts.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Deelightful Digs: Wallpaper

Wallpaper has an undeserving bad reputation, which can most likely be attributed to its tedious hanging and dreaded removal. The mere mention of the word makes plenty cringe as images of out-dated fruit motifs or tacky florals fill their heads. Meanwhile others, like me, lust for rooms covered in a bold hue, an eclectic print, or luxe textures.

Truthfully, wallpaper has made leaps and bounds since the days in which I grew up with country-bumpkin geese flocking my mother's walls [sorry Mom, thank goodness your taste has changed]. But as a renter, a splash of paint is the furthest I can push my wall-art boundaries which has left me ohhh-ing and ahhh-ing over images of beautifully designed spaces. Check out some of my favorites bursting with personality and wallpapered pizazz: 

Images courtesy of: Hygge & West // Brandon Barre // Saddie + Stella //Niche Interiors // The Wallpaper Collective // House Beautiful

If you decide to take the plunge, consider these few tips:
  • Choose a palette. Build your space around a set of 3-5 colors. Don't be afraid to create a palette of both contrasting and complimentary colors. Or go the opposite route and create drama through a monochromatic color scheme.
  • Layer, layer, layer. Add dimension to room through a mix of furniture and accessories. If your wallpaper is bold, anchor it with neutral or matching furniture. Think structured couches, a set of matching chairs, or a solid area rug. Once your walls are covered, don't be afraid to hang art such as a well-curated frame gallery or a glossy animal head.
  • Choose an accent wall. Perfect for those on a budget or just want to bring an unexpected punch to their space. Likewise, using wallpaper on the ceiling brings an unexpected dimension to a room.
  • Go big or go home. Unlike an accent wall, covering every wall including the ceiling works best in small, cozy spaces like a powder room or entryway. And for the brave, mix in well coordinated patterns- stripes and florals, anyone?
  • It will only look as good as the quality of installation.  If you can't hire a professional, I recommend reading this post from the DIY Network: How to Apply Wallpaper
  • Get more than you really need.  Even if you use a wallpaper calculator, always invest in an extra roll. You never know when you'll need more and you can always use the extra in a mix of decorative ways.
So if you are a renter like me, try these crafty wallpaper alternatives to help transform your space. Apartment Therapy also just featured an article on Smart Ways to Use Wallpaper in Small Doses for those who are on a budget or just too timid to go all the way. 
  • Decals. Urban Outfitters has a fun assortment if you are looking to add temporary graphics to your walls.
  • Hand-painted murals. Ok, this is NOT renter friendly. But when I saw my friend Emily free-hand paint her closet [with an ikat pattern no less!], I instantly fell in love and had to share.
  • Tapestries. I'm not talking about the hippie tie-dyed things you see in college dorms. I mean beautiful, exotic fabrics. Or how about a roll-up map? You know, like the one your 4th grade teacher had hanging in front of the chalkboard and would pull down for a quick geography lesson. 
  • Washi Tape. To satisfy my wallpaper craving, I created horizontal stripes on one of my bathroom walls using metallic washi tape. It took only one roll and nearly 15 minutes. Best of all, it comes right off and won't leave a mark when I leave. Until I buy a house, I imagine much more washi tape in my future. 
My bathroom
Do you have any other DIY wallpaper alternatives? Feel free to share images of your favorite covered walls! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

10 Gender Neutral Valentine's Day Gifts.

I cannot believe it is February 1st already.

Chances are you've been bombarded with email blasts featuring "discounted" flower deliveries and are growing accustom to the pink and red-lined shelves that have been at your local retailers since the day after Christmas. It's fair to say Valentine's Day is a love/hate holiday, literally. I believe most people's feelings can be generalized into one of four categories:
  1. Those who got shot in the ass by Cupid. Can be overheard screeching about the gifts they are sure to receive, the totally romantic plans they have, and how excited they are to bask in the glory of their love.
  2. Um, it's called Singles Awareness Day. Renaming the holiday helps those who are not coupled-up feel better, or at the very least, included. Don't be shocked if they wear all black and are extremely hungover on February 15th.
  3. It's a bit cliche` but a good excuse to do something special. Hallmark holiday or not, they are willing to shell out a few bucks or spend quality time making sure their loved ones know they care. Even if it's done with an internal eye roll.
  4. Wait, tomorrow is Valentine's Day? There is no doubt in my mind that this is the exact reason cheesy stuffed animals and sloppy arts & crafts projects exist. Luckily for these procrastinators, most recipients default to an "aww that is SO sweet" mentality.
I've always been a #2 or #3 and don't get me wrong, I've had some pretty creative and amazing gifts from past valentine's. But no matter how hard I try, it's a holiday that I will never gleefully look forward to. So to make it easier for others who feel the same way, here are 10 gender-neutral gifts that I feel personally fitting to commemorate the holiday.

Spoiler alert to my boyfriend: Act surprised if you get one of these.

1. Love Letter in a Bottle. Who doesn't want a HAND WRITTEN, heart felt note these days? Plus you can get super creative and DIY. Or you can spring for this irresistible little test tube.
$16, from Terrain 

2. Their Personal Domain Name. If your special someone doesn't have their own domain name registered, get it for them asap. It's an important part of everyone's personal brand and heaven-forbid you share a name with an X-rated star sometime down the road.
$3.95+, from 

2. Kissing Guorami Fish. It goes without saying that this is more of a long term gift so buy with caution. I think it's a cheeky way to get the message across to your loved one. Bonus points if you name them Jack and Rose and include a sunken ship. Although I prefer Axil and Eigil as a tribute to the world's first "registered gay couple", especially since the "kissing" is really a dominance act between males.
$2.95, from Petco

4. A Musical Valentine. Perfect for your beau or a friend, creating a personalized playlist or pre-made CD is a simple and meaningful DIY. Choose an eclectic mix of songs that have a special meaning to you and the recipient. And be sure to wrap it in a well-designed sleeve, like the one shown here on Design Mom or a tutorial found on Pinterest.
Download your music from iTunes 

5. Personalized Map Print. Whether you want to commemorate your hometown(s), long-distance love, or travel destinations, this map print is totally customizable and adds a meaningful pop of color to the art on your walls. Personally, I would leave it blank and invest in some fun stickers to keep it up to date.
$17, from CirclePrints on Etsy 

6. Gorilla Gram. How can you not find this absolutely hysterical? Anyone with a sense of humor would appreciate a costumed gorilla barging into their place of employment to deliver a special V-day routine. Unless you work at a daycare and it just so happens to be nap time.
Check this out if you live in the Rochester, NY area.

7. Philanthropic Shoes. So I kind of cheated. But with styles for both Men and Women, you can't go wrong giving a pair. And with TOMS One for One program, every pair you buy another pair is donated to a child in need so really it's like having two valentines. 
$54, Petal Grosgrain Women's
$79, Light Gray Chambray Men's

8. Sweets with a twist. My absolute favorite sweet of any kind would be chocolate covered strawberries. I saw this and instantly fell in love. Pair it with a bottle of prosecco or red wine for an instant party for one, two, or more (depending on how you roll).
Strawberry Brownie Pizza recipe via I am Mommy

9. Cooking Classes. Spending quality time together and learning how to prepare new recipes (from trained professionals) is a blast. Plus if you book something on the day of you'll feel less pressure to make additional plans. Check your local restaurants or universities to find a class that is right for you. I recommend the New York Wine & Culinary Center if you are in the Upstate NY area.

10. Charmingly, Witty Card. You can't go wrong with a simple, humorous greeting card.
$4.50, Head over Heels by Tom Foolery
$3.35, Biggest Fan by do-de-line on Cargoh
$3.00, More than Cheese, OhGeezDesign on Etsy