Friday, June 28

link it up

This is the funniest video I've seen all week: a man reenacts conversations he's had with his two year old daughter...but his daughter is played by a full grown man. Jeez, toddlers are aggressive!

20 invaluable pie charts.

Lots of giggles over this one: if kids tweeted about TV shows. I saw a toddler at the airport yesterday who was handier on her iPhone than I am, so it may happen soon. iSuck.

Apparently I'm all about the laughs today, but I've adored flipping through this: my imaginary well-dressed toddler. Named Quinoa.

Need some help keeping your fresh herbs, well, fresh? Here's a great tip (via Mint Love Social Club). Use herbs in a nice pasta dish on Monday, and in your cocktails on Friday!

As part of a much belated Christmas gift, D and I are heading out to this WV cabin for a little R&R. We plan on visiting three wineries, catching a casual blues concert, getting a tan, eating delicious BBQ, thrifting, and frequenting the outdoor hot tub at night. Vacation!

Wednesday, June 26

subscription box mayhem (plus coupons)

You already know that I do/have subscribe/subscribed to Julibox (when I can afford it), Birchbox, and Naturebox. I decided to try a few more, because I LOVE getting mail and I love being an early adapter to cool stuff.

Conscious Box: healthy and eco-friendly box 

(use "EARTHMONTH" to get it for $10)
Bulu Box: health, nutrition, and weight-loss discovery box 

(use "DISCOVER" to get it fo free)

Misto Box: fresh coffee of the month. Get four 1.7 oz packages (15 cups of java). These folks were on Shark Tank!

(use "COFFEE" to get it for $5). 
Love with Food: gourmet food samples, and every box covers one meal for a hungry child 

(use"FBGIFT" to get it fo free)
The Goodies Co: powered by Walmart, get tasty snacks for just $7 a month 

(they're in beta, but use "BLOGVIP" to jump the line and subscribe immediately!)

Treatsie: so excited about this one, just funded from Kickstarter. Artisanal sweets each month for $15! 

As always, check out Birchbox and Julibox, my two favorites. Let me know if you give any of these a try!

Tuesday, June 25

cheap eats [vegan dips]

I know I'm supposed to have some lovely images of my re-potted succulents, but I'm working from Chicago this week and didn't realize until today that the images I have are crap. We're holding until I can get home and snap a few good pics.

In the mean time, I have a cheap eats post for ya. While at the Brooklyn Flea earlier this month, I sampled the fare from The Regal Vegan

Just, wow. 

One is Basilicotta and one is Faux Gras and both are delicious. The Faux Gras is listed as containing lentils, onions, walnuts, miso, tamari, rice wine, plum vinegar, EVOO, salt and pepper. Sounds pretty simple. The Basilicotta doesn't have an ingredient list, but it's made from basil and cashews. 

I love the idea of using nuts as the basis for veggie dips so I can get some extra protein. I buy quite a bit of hummus, and I'm always looking for exciting ways to incorporate new flavors and/or save a few bucks. I've done some research for similar recipes, and here's what I came up with:

This almond sauce. The website is a bit weird, which basically just means it's not a pretty blog, but the recipe was too easy and very tasty. Nuts can be high in fats and calories, but certainly the good version of both.

I have some frozen edamame that needs to get used, so this recipe for edamame spinach dip came at the right time. Also raw and vegan, yay?

Roast pepper and walnut dip sounds like an interesting combo.

I don't keep nutritional yeast on hand, but otherwise loved the recipe for this walnut olive spread. So good on a vegetarian panini. 

Have any of you tried creative ways to make dips and sauces?

Monday, June 24

succulents suck

So I had this post ready to go, but the project ended up being a fail a month later, so I'm hesitant to show it. However, since I have since remedied the fail with a herculean effort (good luck), I'm going to share it anyway. Consider it a DIY fail or a how-not-to-plant-succulents. Tomorrow I'll show you my project reborn.

Remember when my sister M visited and we bought these beautiful succulents?

Man they're so lush and lovely here. While we were at it, we bought some rectangular glass jars from Michaels, like these. I thought, with a layer of rocks me and M collected, they would look lovely.

The issue I came across was that the dirt would fall down onto the rocks and make a big ol' mess. If I had smaller pebbles to put on top of the bigger rocks, this would work, but I only had these whopper stones. Instead, I wet a bit of paper towel (bear with me here) and layered it between the rocks and dirt. Weird? Yeah. But a solution none the less.

The succulents went to live on my desk with my retro lamp ($10 from Home Depot). Here it is in better lighting and sans insta filters:

Not bad, right? you can see the paper towel line, but I really didn't feel like it took away from the visual at all.

The issue came when I started to water them. Turns out drainage is VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE. I like this tutorial for how to drill holes in glass, but sadly, I didn't consult this blog when I planted. I ended up with a swamp of water and algae-like growth, it was terrible. I can't even show you a picture of how bad these things got, but it was nasty, they were completely shriveled up and dead.


Come back tomorrow to see how I turned things around. I'm not at this level yet, but I'm getting there.

Friday, June 21

link it up

It's the weekend and I have visitors AGAIN. It's the busiest time of the year with the fiscal closing at the end of the month, so with that and friends/family in town and prepping for D to leave for B school, I've been slacking on the upkeep.

At least D and I have a vacation coming up, and I'm wondering if he'd be willing to try this. A charming way to combine your rental car and hotel stays, no?

Oh, you thought your latte are was good? The Taiwanese are the ultimate story-toppers with this.

German man misinterprets the meaning of party pooper. His face when he goes "really?" killed me.

Loving this Pantone Project. Color is everywhere, just waiting to be appreciated (and labeled).

Wondering if I can make this monogrammed planter (instead of shelling out $100+). Could be amazing as a wedding present, don't you think?

Some of these are in my personal manifesto. Check out their amazing Manhattan digs while you're at it!

And finally, when my worlds collide (philanthropy + Pixar)

Wednesday, June 19

discover [onefortythree]

I had a surprise family visit this weekend, plus a somewhat last minute trip to NYC, so I'm all in a daze. One thing that's making it easier for me to focus? This.

I am totally obsessed.

OneFortyThree is maybe the coolest lighting company I have ever come across. Everything is hand-crafted, everything is beautiful. It all started when an amazingly talented couple decided to make the furniture and lighting they needed for their new home and document the process with a blog. Everyone who saw their stuff loved it and wanted their own and encouraged them to make and sell. So they did, to the glory and benefit of us all. What a great bedtime story.

They recently tweeted about how flattered they were that a couple put many of their products on their wedding registry. Um hello? Best idea ever. This is totally usurping Anthropologie as my number one can't-wait-to-register-there company. If anything is going to push me down the aisle, other than the completely lovable D, it's the prospect of getting some of these products into my abode.

Don't even stress if you're not in the market for lighting; they have chairs too. Also, I can't relate to you AT ALL if you're not always on the lookout for lighting. And rugs. And mid-century arm chairs.

They may be trending right now, I'm not sure. Have you ever noticed that once you become aware of something, you see it everywhere? That's what's happened to me since coming across this company a month ago- they are being featured left, right and center in all my favorite places, but I don't know if it's because they're in a social media boom or because I'm just now paying attention.

Either way, check it out. And then bookmark it for when you get my wedding invites.

One more thing: while we're on the topic of amazing new decor sources, I'm digging this company and their motto: "the minimalist isn't about buying less but buying better". My new mantra.

Monday, June 17

cheap eats [what to do with a watermelon]

Happy Monday folks. If you're like me, you may be in need of some hydration after the sun and booze of an early-summer weekend. I bought a watermelon at Costco because they're SO CHEAP, but I've never picked up a full one on my own. Um, they're massive. But filled with water (90%)!
Step one: how do you cut it up? If you want just the fruit, I'm following Martha's lead and doing it like a pineapple: cut off the top and bottom so you have a steady surface, then slice off the rinds like you're peeling a banana. If you want some rind, just quarter the fruit and go from there.

Step two: make delicious things. I used Epicurious to search for some ideas, and I'm completely smitten with this melon, feta, arugula salad with balsamic glaze and this Thai-spiced watermelon soup with crab.

The easiest dessert is this watermelon granita, but I saw some wonderful recipes for watermelon milkshakes and popsicles I want to try.

While at the Brooklyn Flea, D tried a watermelon agua fresca that I'd like to recreate. This version, with grapefruit, sounds refreshing, or this one with ginger.

P.S. adding salt really brings out the sweetness of the fruit. I know, I thought it was counter-intuitive as well, but it's true!

P.P.S. this grocery store owner is insane. 21 seconds? Now you're just making me look bad.

Friday, June 14

link it up

So, that DIY post you were supposed to get today? Yeah, if you live in DC (or maybe anywhere along the east coast) we had an ABSURD storm rip through, leaving me with no lighting to document said project. For authenticity's sake, here is an (awesome) image my roommate took:

If you want a little head start on Monday, the DIY is based off of this project.

This is a great post all around- unique content, visually interesting, easy to navigate. Find your literary doppelgangers (great for book clubs!). I'm just so impressed.

Gah, someone (everyone) stole my (everyone's) idea! Wedding tattoos.

My favorite on-the-go notebook manufacturer, Field Notes, has the coolest new design ever. I love that they don't charge extra for their artful versions- still just $9 for a 3-pack.

And finally, help me admire this Sonneman lamp I scored on Craigslist:

#YES. It's an ambiturner too, look how nice it looks facing the other way:

Thursday, June 13

discover [Marylou's coffee club]

Since I wimped out on you earlier this week, expect a real post tomorrow involving a muy impressive DIY from the talented D (with a smidge of help from his co-crafter).

So, probably the only person that cares about this has already been alerted (hi J!), but everyone needs to know: Marylou's is now offering a coffee club deal. Pounds are usually $11, but shipping is $10, so it really isn't quite worth it to not pick up in person.

Until now.


For $19.99, you get two pounds per month, ground or whole bean, any flavor, delivered to your door. Naturally I signed up immediately, as any miss-placed Bostonian should do. I talked about MLou's back when I posted about cold-brewing, but the beauty is that the beans are roasted with flavored oils, so the coffee beans and brew itself (still zero calorie) is flavored, rather than adding sugary, syrupy shots after the fact.
All your deets are here, check it out.

My first order is for Kahlua Kreme and Hawaiian Chocolate Nut. Oh yum. Iced coffee at my place all summer, come and get it!

Wednesday, June 12

cheap eats [juicing pulp bread]

Guys, this is just straight weird. If you're unable to think creatively, just skip on ahead to the next post (which will be posted at the regularly intended time, sorry for missing a few days!).

If you've ever used a juicer, you've wondered what to do with all the leftover pulp. It seems so wasteful to throw it out, but it's pretty much just slightly fruity/vegetabley fiber.

When my new roommate L moved in, he brought a juicer and a passion for liquid health. Within the first week I had him showing me how it's done, but I could not BELIEVE the waste. We don't have a compost and I don't have a dog to make treats for, the two most common uses for pulp, but I'll be damned if I'm throwing away all that goodness.

A few good ideas I saw: freeze it and add it to other things. Stir it into tomato sauce, layer it in lasagna, blend it into your green smoothies, mix it into your breads and muffins, your mac n' cheese,  and any soup ever.

The idea of using it in baked goods makes perfect sense to me, as I love me some banana bread, zucchini bread, and carrot cake. I'm trying to be pretty strict about what I eat during the week and when I'm based at home, since my weekends and travel for work can get unpredictable, so I wasn't willing to make muffins-with-veggies. I'd rather make veggies-with-muffins, if you know what I mean. I modified this recipe and got the following:

Beat together
  • 1 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 C Truvia
  • 6 T egg whites (equivalent of 2 eggs), beaten
Sift together
  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • healthy shakes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom
Fold together
  • the liquid stuff, the dry stuff, and 1-2 cups pulp
Pour it into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, put it in a pre-heated 350 degree oven, and sit back for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.

I literally couldn't think of any way to make this healthier, and trust me, it's yummy and satisfying. It'll smell like absolute heaven in your home, but be ready to taste a bit of veggies. If I wasn't being healthy, I'd smear on some cream cheese and call it a balanced meal. Nutrition facts are below. I'm totally blown away by a loaf of bread with less than 800 calories. 100 calorie slices of a baked good? That's a win in my book.

Another win in my book? Topping it with some ricotta (cream cheese if you're D). Mmm mmm fiber.

Pulp BreadCaloriesCarbsFatProteinFiberSugar
Honey, 1 tbsp641700017
Crystal Farms All Whites - Liquid Egg Whites, 6 T50001000
Carrots - Raw, 1.5 C79180259
Trader Joe's - Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 1 T120014000
Trader Joe's - 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 1 C44092216160
Truvia - 1/4 C000000
Whole Foods 365 - Organic Almond Milk, Unsweetened, 1/4 C1011000


Friday, June 7

link it up

Heading to Philly for a wedding this weekend, one of D's fraternity brothers. The couple have the same names as us, and they're blonde, and college sweethearts...basically I'm looking at my (very-distant) future. I'm looking forward to it. Love weddings!

I plan on making this over the weekend, since 1. I'm trying to use up all my dairy (thinking I'll try dairy free *GASP* to see if it clears up my skin) and 2. I found a jumbo tub of nutella in our pantry. Sweet!

I could make this jewelry rack with things I have around the house.

I'm going for simplicity these days. Though I find her blog a little too emotional for me, I really admire the "throw out 100 things" challenge she does, sometimes more than once a year. Now that's exfoliating for you.

I fully, fully support this idea: 8 new punctuation marks we desperately need. Very clever AND made me giggle.

Interactive maps that show how differently American's speak? So fun to click through. P.S. of course it's maple SEAR-up, not SIR-up, c'mon now.

Thursday, June 6

Mixology [it's all in the syrups]

Sometimes I feel like I just don't know enough about flavor profiles to throw things together when making cocktails. Sure, you can count on me for a booze+fruit+herb+seltzer mixer any day, but for a truly complex and satisfying drink, I need some more training.

That's why I'm so interested in experimenting more with flavored syrups. I think you can add a totally new dimension without reinventing the wheel. So your old fashioned includes simple syrup- why not try a brown sugar simple syrup and see what happens? It's a safe way to explore, since the change is slight, but noticeable.

mint simple syrup
Your basic simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar, shaken or stirred on medium heat until dissolved  You can cook it down a bit (but not to the point of caramel  like I've been known to do) for a richer syrup. Like I mentioned above, you can make this with brown sugar or cane sugar as well for a slight differentiation. I read you can add a smidge of vodka to help it last longer, since you really should only keep this for a few weeks in the fridge.

lemon zest simple syrup
I'm interested in trying a chipotle-orange syrup (add 1 chipotle and a few strips of orange peel to boiling water, let simmer for 15 minutes, strain and add the sugar) that would be good with anything whiskey based. I LOVE cardamom and lavender, both of which would make excellent simple syrups. Most herbal syrups are made the same way: place the herb or spice in the water, boil the water, add the sugar, stir to dissolve, remove from heat, cover, let cool, strain, store in fridge. Too easy!

vanilla spice simple syrup
Like fruits? I really like this article on making shrubs (sugar+fruit+an acid). Typically you make shrubs similarly to the methods above, but this article describes a way to cold-brew your shrubs, which apparently makes the fruit flavor brighter and fresher, though it takes more time. Basically, you mix equal parts sugar and fruit in a bowl, and let it sit in the fridge for a few days. The sugar pulls juices out of the fruit, and you mix that strained liquid with vinegar. Voila. 

berry simple syrup
Try these in iced tea or seltzers as well for all you teetotalers out there. What has your experience been with simple syrups?

Wednesday, June 5

bibliophile [lean in]

Well, c'mon. I'm a working woman. Of course I was going to read this book.

Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

This book is good. It's a long blurb, which you can probably skip unless you live under a rock and don't know the premise:

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. 

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home. 
Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.

I think it's a smart read for any woman who's in the work force. I've had this quoted to me by two women in my workplace that I admire. I did hear a recommendation that you NOT read this if you're planning on stopping your career for family, and I guess I can see how it would be a tough read if you were one of the women that didn't "lean in" to your career, but I still think you'd find some tidbits.

One big criticism has been that it's contradictory. Well, of course it is. A book based entirely on anecdotes and previously published research is going to be pulling from many stages of her life, her friends' lives, different jobs, different generations, etc. Sometimes you need to speak up (at the big meeting), sometimes you need to shut up (during salary negotiations). That's true for anything in life, so I wasn't too upset about the conflicting advice.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this and felt like I was dog-earring every page to refer to later. Each chapter deals with another issue, so it's easy to pick up and put down. It really does re-frame the ongoing conversation about women in the workplace, in a valuable and fresh way. Read it, then give it to your little sister or mother. I've even requested that D read it, which he says he will (eventually).

Tuesday, June 4

DIY [canning]

Do any of you can? It's something I've been meaning to get into for years. One of my former co-workers is quite the domestic gentleman, and he cans regularly so as to enjoy the flavors of summer year-round.

I don't know if I'm ready for the full process (sterilizing, sealing, worrying about bacteria) in our tiny and shared kitchen, but I'm looking forward to getting on board in the future. For now, I'll have to stick to easier, simpler methods. These are only good for a few weeks in the fridge at best, but I doubt it will take you that long to consume anyway. Plus, it's an excuse to use the mason jars I'm planning to buy in abundance. Win-win. 

On the savory side, I'm interested in this tomato basil jam. Put it on a cracker with cheese and you've got yourself a mini pizza!

Everyone goes for the quick pickles, and you know I always trust Martha. My family has a generational tradition of pickle making (not joking) that I hope to uphold.

How do you like your blueberries? I want to try this pickled variety, as I already know I'll love this simple sweet version.

A recent trip to Costco left D and I with a huge watermelon and a ripe pineapple. It'll be hard not to devour it outright, but I think this boozy vanilla-y pineapple recipe sounds divine, and what better way to use up the watermelon rinds than this?

Monday, June 3

recap [Brooklyn weekend]

Things have been a bit slow around here lately, as you may have noticed. I spent the past full week in New York for work, capping it off with a weekend in Brooklyn to visit my besties R and D. We kept it low-key (as we usually do) and spent a lot of time drinking, eating, chatting. They're not a jam-pack-your-weekend kinda couple, which was a nice break from my work week run-around.

I gave Dig Inn a try for lunch on Friday, at the recommendation of a colleague who also travels to NY. SO tasty, but a long line and no seating. Think red cabbage with coconut, beets with goat cheese, lemon chicken, salmon salad, gazpacho, quinoa. Affordable for a guilt-free meal.

We did celebrate a recent green card acquisition, with a big party and red, white & blue decor.

D takes America VERY seriously. My bro made a cameo appearance later in the night too!

You may remember my last trip to the Brooklyn Flea over the winter, when it was still indoors. I purchased a bunch last trip and NOTHING this trip (other than a People's Pops #hadto). R and D got a very cool mid-century bar on casters that I will absolutely share pictures of once she refinishes it. This shot shows some cool tables that are similar to a project D just completed...more to come.

DC vs NY bocce ball...DC won, but just barely. We found a chill Brooklyn bar that had two bocce courts, live music (that we missed), tasty bar food, and plenty of drafts. I've decided I really like bocce. It's pretty simple and more social than most bar games, as both teams move together every round. "Bocce" means kiss, I learned. Awwww.

Until next time, Brooklyn.