Archives for category: Good Reads

 

HBO undoubtedly has the best television shows around. Mildred Pierce, their latest mini series has hit the mark. The acting/actors are superb – I love Kate Winslet, she is a delight to watch in this role. This mini series has only furthered my love of 1930’s fashion and Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth.

I am unbelievably sad this show is already over!

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It is my favorite day of the week – Little Luxuries and today we get to hear from Mariah of Quite Continental – a blogger after my own heart. She has style and inspiration for miles and as always on today, she will be presenting you with her most valued Little Luxuries!

When I hear the term “little luxuries,” I immediately think of darling things that add luxury to my daily life without breaking my precious piggy bank.  Living in Manhattan is expensive, chèrie, everyone knows that, but the nice thing about luxury is that it is truly a state of mind.  Luxury is that delicious feeling that washes over you when you take time to indulge your senses and your spirit.  Luxury is an essential!

1) Fancy it up: When moving through my day-to-day routine, I can’t always take extra time for luxury — having to make a mad dash for the subway to get to work on time, will get in the way of any girl’s leisurely morning stroll.  That said, there are millions of ways to add a bit of indulgence about the edges.  In other words, fancy it up.

At home, I always make a point to drink sparkling water out of a wine glass.  Ma chère, I will admit that this came about because for a very brief time at one point in my life, the only glasses   owned were wine glasses.  How very Holly Golightly of me, non? The way you hold a wine glass is just — different — it feels more special than any old glass.  That feeling of “special” is luxury, hiding in your water glass.

I also want to point out that I did this almost subconsciously, for when a gentleman asked me once why I served myself in this manner, the first thing I blurted out was “…because it feels fancy!” and that was completely true.

If you’d like to start fancying up your water glass, I would recommend the Carson Wine Glass by CB2.  The Carson is sturdy, classic in shape and only $3.95.

2) Sweets for the sweet:  I am a bit of an odd bird when it comes to sweets.  I’ve never been one to go completely crazy for chocolate and I could really care less when Girl Scout cookie time arrives.  But there are still times when I find myself wanting a little sugar in my bowl, just like Nina said.  At those times, the perfect sweet is the ultimate indulgence.

I have strong connections to specific sweets from specific places, and so my perfect sweet hails from my hometown.  Born and raised in California, I grew up with See’s Candies, wonderful fruit for pies and cobblers, and the lovely flavors of Mexican desserts such as flan and the churro.  But what has emerged as the ultimate sweet of sweets for me, ma chère, is the Sprinkles Cupcake.

Sprinkles Cupcakes, the first cupcake-only bakery before there was a craze, was opened in 2005 in Beverly Hills.  At the time, I worked just down the street from the tiny sliver of a bakery with the extra-long line that always snaked out of the door and down the street.  I regularly stood in that blessed line — even when doing Atkins with the best of them.  Since moving to New York, I’ve tried to make do with what’s available here, but found it truly lacking.  Imagine my delight when I found out that New York will be receiving their own Sprinkles this May, on Lexington between 60th and 61st!

Of course, my favorite is the classic Red Velvet.  You can tell it’s also everyone else’s favorite because the Red Velvet is the only flavor to also be offered in gluten free and vegan form.  A cupcake from Sprinkles will only set you back $3.50, but that $3.50 transports you to a land of confectionary delights!

3.  Bossa nova bliss:  There is one kind of music that immediately puts me sumptuous state of mind.  Bossa nova, closely related to samba music, but much more languorous and without the accompanying dance steps of samba, is the kind of music that will make you feel like you have somehow slipped down a rabbit hole and ended up on a secret location.

The best place to start when exploring bossa nova music is with the first family of the genre – the Gilbertos: João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, and Bebel Gilberto.  Astrud’s voice is quite possibly my most favorite sound in the entire world.  Her voice is breathy, light and sensuous as it floats over João’s music – it sounds almost like a lazy, tropical river.  She is the most famous for “The Girl From Ipanema,” but you must explore her catalog a bit deeper than that, d’accord! The bossa nova sound is all class, sometimes sung in English and sometimes in Portuguese.  I completely prefer the older recordings, but Bebel, Astrud’s stepdaughter and João’s daughter, a contemporary artist whose trademark is electronic bossa nova, is also worth a listen.

For your first album, I recommend Astrud Gilberto’s Finest Hour.  Only $10.76 on Amazon, and that “Hour” can be played whenever you need to be transported to a sun-drenched, sumptuous place.

4.  Spoil your skin:  One thing my mother instilled in me at a very young age was that it was essential to take care of your skin – leaving aside her love of sun-tanning, of course.  (We’ve since smartened up and we all slather on the SPF, don’t you worry your pretty little head!)  A quick way to feel (and look) lackluster is to under-nourish your skin.  Truly, when was the last time you looked at a raisin and thought of opulence?

As I’ve gotten older, my skin has changed, and it has been necessary to change my skin care regimen accordingly.  Recently, I discovered a fabulous face moisturizer at Kiehl’s: Rosa Arctica.  While Rosa Arctica is an anti-aging and anti-wrinkle cream – which I definitely do not require just yet, d’accord! – it simply is one of the best moisturizer I have ever used.  Rich without being heavy and deeply moisturizing, I felt a difference in my skin in less than a week’s use.

I definitely recommend Rosa Arctica if you are in search of skin as soft as the finest velvet.  While priced at $60, this is the most expensive item on this little list.  If you feel the initial investment is a bit too steep for a product you’ve never tried before, remember that Kiehl’s is wonderful about giving free samples.  I’ll bet you $60 that you go back after giving it a go.  Small price to pay for a lovely bit of luxe!

Isn’t she so wonderful? Be sure to check out QC here!

Woo hoo it is Thursday which means Little Luxuries is back and one of my daily reads is up today to share her finds with us. Not Your Average Ordinary is written by Brandi who I would categorize as a Renaissance woman! She can blog about anything (fashion, love, life, design, etc) and she is currently studying philosophy of science and science studies. Brandi’s blog has this unique ability to always makes me smile.

As a graduate student, I have to be very careful about my money. Or so I tell myself. But in reality, when it comes to weekends at the farmer’s market, I splurge. I can’t help myself. Somehow eating delicious food keeps me happy and sane when the schoolwork piles up. My favorite splurges at the market? Pastured eggs and flowers.

Of course, I had to also buy the farmer’s egg crate from Anthropologie to go with my farm fresh eggs. And the difficulty with Anthropologie is that one little splurge leads to another for the kitchen (like a butter dish) which leads to an apron which leads to a dress (because the dress looks darling with the apron). It’s strange but sometimes it’s these splurges that help us to lead the life we want to. You have to start sometime, I think, and now is always the perfect time.

{all photographs by Brandi Bernoskie}

ps. Happy Birthday Mom!

Blueberry Crisps! …probably one of the easiest and most flavorful yet simple dishes I have made in a while {ok maybe ever}. They are tart, buttery crumbly and soft all at once. What more does a girl {or guy} need? I find that you can eat it for almost every meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner..its all purpose dish. I think we finished it in a single day.

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup butter

3 cups blueberries

1 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix together the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and milk. Cut the butter into the mix, and knead into the flour until it begins to look like course crumbs. Squeeze some of the mixture in your hand, it should stay intact and form a ball, but should break apart easily with your fingers. If it won’t stay together, add more butter. If it won’t come apart, add more flour. Pour half of the mix into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Press down firmly until it forms a crust.

Toss the blueberries, 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice together. Pour the berries over the crust and spread evenly along the first layer. Sprinkle the rest of the crust mixture over top and lightly press into another layer.

Bake in the oven at 350º 30-40 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown. Allow to cool, and then cutheck out the Cozy Kitchen for the recipe.

As you may have read here, one of my favorite books is Water for Elephants and now it is a movie!! I am so eager to see this movie. Have you seen the trailer? Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson look great and were perfect for the role.

I can not wait for this movie.

Today, I am lazy. I am not sure if it is the traveling (not complaining) or re-adjusting back to my normal routine. I am taking tonight to not work and catch up on my reading. Hope you have a wonderful day lovies.

See you tomorrow. Xo

I just love these photographs of handsome Jon Hamm for Details October issue. He just looks amazing, wouldn’t you say? I must admit – I have a bit of a huge crush on him.

The best things usually come in two’s and that stands true with the creators of Chalk + Dot. C+ D was started Brieanne and Erica, who met in architecture school, moved to the bay area, and now enjoy sharing their inspiration for modern finds for the modern family in our spare time. In addition to have a great blog, they also offer their services for creating custom nursery mood boards, designing services, graphic design and photography. I was lucky enough to have a chance to get to know Brieanne better and do a quick Q & A to share. She is funny, nice and creative.

1. What is Chalk + Dot about? Why did you decide to start this website?

chalk + dot is about “Modern Finds for the Modern Family.” We want to help people find affordable modern (and green) design for themselves and their nursery. Through DIY projects, mood boards, announcement/invitation design, we want to provide a place where people can come for all things modern baby. We also hope to start sharing anecdotes and stories from modern moms, dads, and families about the ins and outs of being a parent.

{Her Family}

When my sister got pregnant, I started doing nursery design research and found most resources concentrated heavily on pastel and traditional design, or it was super expensive stuff. When Erica got pregnant and she ran into the same thing, our wheels got to turning. We had our first project together with her baby shower invites and that’s when it all got started. I also got some external encouragement from my friend Crosby who pointed out that if there’s a need out there, why not be the one to fulfill it, or at least contribute? We decided we’d also offer custom nursery design services, graphic design services, and maternity portraits and voila.

2. What is your background?

I graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor of architecture degree and having been working in architecture firms since I graduated.

{Their nursery}

3. What has been the most challenging element of your new business?

Finding time! I work at an architecture firm by day, and then try maintain the blog on nights and weekends. Between the announcements and wedding save-the-dates we’ve been hired to do and the blog, I’ve been pretty zapped time-wise.

4. Favorite room/inspiration board you have created?

Hmm…we haven’t done that many yet, but I think anchors away is my favorite so far. I’ve been into the sailor thing lately. I also really love the tangerine one we just did. It ended up much cuter that I had imagined it would. Has a sort of retro-modern feel (to me at least).

5. What is most important when choosing a nursery theme?

Choose a theme that appeals to you with baby in mind. Design a space that speaks to you and makes you want to spend time in there since you will be spending a lot of time in there…at all hours of the day…and night…

6. What inspire you?

Photo adventures, art museums, exploring new places/cities, Paris Paris Paris (I spent a year there and it stole my heart), my niece and nephew, well designed objects/places, warm summer nights (they’re magical).

{i love this photo}

7. What is your favorite part of chalk + dot?

I love having a creative outlet, and I love being involved in people’s lives during such an exciting time for them (having a baby). The maternity photos are always fun, because I get to see the progression and growth. It’s rewarding to share in the special moments and be able to document it for the growing family.

8. Words you live by?

There are tons of inspirational words I could quote, but truthfully I’d say the two mantras I most often find myself repeating are prepared for the worst, but hope for the best, and the ten-year rule–in 10 years is this going to matter to me?

Wow. Those make me seem pretty pessimistic.

Oh, and don’t take life too seriously. It’s easy to do, but life is much more enjoyable with a touch of whimsy.

9. Favorite book?

Okay, I’m bad at making decisions and choosing favorites, if you haven’t figured this out by now.

Favorite in recent years: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Favorites from childhood: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and No Flying in the House by Betty Brock

Can I just say on a sidenote how much I love books? I love being mentally transported…reading is the way I relax and release.

Have you seen Zagat’s The Essentials Dating & Dumping Guide for NY, Chicago and LA? It beyond funny and smart. The guide includes Zagat’s dating survey (“brains are the No. 1 attribute surveyors look for in a mate,” nearly half think the guy should always pay for the first date, etc.) and a list of date- and break-up-appropriate restaurants.

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