Saturday, January 31, 2009

Apartment Find

I'm constantly on the hunt for black and white photographic prints for the walls of my new apartment. I'm really excited about this recent purchase, a gallery-wrapped black and white canvas print (thank you, Target). I think it'll add some flair to my kitchen.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday = Good Food (and Drink)

In August, I posted a little series called "A Girl's Guide to the College Football Season" (click here to read the series). With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, I thought it'd be fun to post the quick, easy and football-friendly food and drink recipes that I included in the Guide. Enjoy!

Buffalo Wings

  • 1 package of frozen chicken "wingettes" or "drumettes"
  • 1 bottle of buffalo wing sauce (I like Ken's Steakhouse's buffalo wing sauce & marinade)
  • 4 tbsps of barbecue sauce
  • A spicy seasoning blend (I like McCormick Grill Mates Spicy Montreal Steak blend (it's delicious on chicken, too!) and McCormick's Grill Mates Mesquite Seasoning)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide the chicken pieces into 4 medium-sized ziploc bags. Drop about 1/4 of the bottle of buffalo wing sauce and 1 tbsp of barbecue sauce in each bag. Close bags tightly, then shake each vigorously to coat chicken pieces. Place bags in refrigerator for about 5 minutes while you line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Line the chicken pieces in a single layer in the pan. Season with spicy seasoning blend before placing in oven. Cook for 45 minutes, turning the chicken over after 20 minutes and again when 5 minutes of cooking time remain. Serve with blue cheese dressing!

Guacamole (I find that people have strong reactions to avocado. I happen to love it. And it's really good for you.)

I found this great recipe at

  • 3 avocados - peeled, pitted, and mashed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately. (Don't forget the tortilla chips!)

The Game Day Cocktail: Frizzante Mojito

This recipe comes courtesy of the Martha Stewart Show and Allen Katz, Sirius Satellite Radio host (click here for more details on this and the other cocktails that Martha & Co. recommend for game day). I'm partial to mojitos...follow this recipe for a great one:

  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce Simple Syrup
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum, preferably Cruzan
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces Champagne or Prosecco, chilled
In a pint or mixing glass, muddle together mint, lime juice, and simple syrup to release mint oils. Add rum and bitters; shake over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe; top with Champagne.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Homage to the Super Bowl

I heard a rumor that some guys are getting together in Tampa Bay on Sunday for a little scrimmage. Okay, so maybe I'm not that clueless, but as I have confessed, college football is my game. I leave professional football to, well, the professionals. Nevertheless, in honor of Super Bowl XLIII, I offer these tidbits:

1. Former Republican presidential nominee and current Senator John McCain has learned to use the internets. He's been using Twitter to show his support for the Arizona Cardinals. ( I still can't believe they advanced all the way to the Super Bowl...)

2. If the game turns out to be a bore (let's hope not!), Essence offers this list of Super Bowl "hotties" to watch for ...

3. And finally, football is dangerous. Really, really dangerous.

Chair Dilemma

I've been on the hunt for a chair to complement the secretary desk that I scored during a "40% off the sale price" event at West Elm's Chelsea store.

Here's the desk (This picture is from the West Elm website, not my apartment. How great is that exposed brick, though?):

Here's chair option #1 (the "zebra chair," on sale for $49.95 at

Here's chair option #2 (the "envelope chair," on sale for $99.95 at

I'm leaning toward the zebra chair (it has more personality), but the envelope chair would match the desk perfectly...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Domino Magazine: 2005-2009

The March 2009 issue of Domino magazine will be the last. I'm still in shock. How could this be? I'm staring at my small collection of Domino magazines right now and wishing I had started subscribing sooner...

More on this sad news here, here, and here.

So That's Why I Had Trouble Using J.Crew's Website Today

I think that Michelle Obama is absolutely fabulous, and I am so excited about her turn as First Lady of the United States. I respect that she is an Ivy League-educated attorney and the mother of two beautiful girls. I also appreciate that it is more important to focus on her professional and personal accomplishments than to focus on the clothes she wears and the decorating decisions she makes at the White House. So, as much as I love fashion and interior design, I am going to make a conscious effort to honor that focus (but not totally neglect the fashion and design angle, of course!).

With that said, I have just one tiny anecdote. For the past several days, I've attempted to make some "final sale" purchases on the J. Crew website. Without fail, the website has crashed every single time I attempted to make these purchases. It appears that ever since Michelle Obama wore J. Crew gloves to the inauguration festivities last Tuesday (in addition to wearing very stylish J.Crew outfits during several public appearances over the past few months), business at J. Crew has increased 400%. I guess the website wasn't prepared for the increased traffic. Amazing.

To Touch or Not To Touch?


I'm seeking some advice here. I am finally getting around to seriously thinking about investing in an iPod Touch (I know, I'm late!), and I would appreciate advice from current iPod Touch users. Right now I'm using a (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition iPod nano that I received for Christmas a few years ago (a portion of the proceeds from each sale of one of these iPods supported AIDS research). I love it, but it has no video display screen and my brother tells me that I'm living in the Stone Age.

Touch Users: Do you like it? Do you love it? Should I upgrade?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good News, Bad News.

The good news: The sewing class that I've registered for at the Fashion Institute of Technology is the "best fashion class" in New York City.

The bad news: I'm nearly four years late to this party.

New York Magazine's "Best of..."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sports Round-up

It's been a while since I blogged about sports. Let's fix that.

1. A tragic story from Kentucky: Can a high school football coach be held liable for the heat-related death of one of his players?

2. Several unbelievable stories from former Yankees manager Joe Torre. Or maybe they're not that unbelievable?

3. And finally, now is about the time I usually start paying attention to college basketball. Apparently, the Duke Blue Devils have found their way to the top of the AP 25. Hmmph. I'm not a big Duke fan, but I'll refrain from making any negative comments about Duke basketball being entirely overrated (although I will say that I really respect Coach K -- particularly for the way he was able to reign in some serious NBA egos during the Beijing Olympics). It also appears that the Florida Gators have managed to fall out of the Top 25. Sad? Yes. Okay? Yes again. There's still plenty of time (and opportunity) between now and the championship game. That's the beauty of a playoff/tournament system. (Yes, BCS. I'm talking to you).

Apartment Find!

I love it when I find a piece that I just know will be perfect in my apartment. And this white stool from Z Gallerie is one of those rare finds. How great are those interlocking circles? I love this stool so much, I may even dig deep into my apartment design budget to order two ...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You Say Pilates. I Say Ouch.

This morning, while sitting at work (that's right, on a Saturday) sipping a caramel macchiato (grande, extra caramel -- I'm trying to quit) and gearing myself up for the big project that stood between me and the rest of the weekend, I found myself reminiscing about the Saturday morning in October when I woke up at the crack of dawn not for work, but for a beginner's class at Real Pilates in Tribeca. After recovering from nearly knocking myself out as I attempted to use the big, scary, Pilates bar, I felt pretty good about the experience...until the next morning, when I realized that Pilates had rendered me immobile.

Traumatic memories aside, I think I'm going to give Pilates another shot. Not because I want every part of my body to ache again, but because if I'm not careful, the only exercise I get will be my morning walks to work. And my walks to Starbucks, of course.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vogue Patterns

Three reasons why I need to learn how to sew:

This Girl's Gonna Learn How to Sew.

I did it. I took the plunge and registered for "Learn to Sew Like a Pro I" at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The class meets on 4 consecutive Sundays beginning February 8. I'm stoked. My goal is to learn how to sew a shift dress by the summer -- a dress that I'd be comfortable wearing to work. That means that I really need to pay attention in class.

I can't wait!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Change Has Arrived.

Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday. I'm not sure that I even have the words to describe what an incredible moment in history this is. I was in DC over the weekend (sadly, I had to return to New York for work on Tuesday), and the excitement that swept the nation's capital in the days before the inaugural festivities was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was contagious, and I'm still on cloud nine. So is my little brother, who braved the DC cold on Tuesday to witness history being made, and who took tons of pictures with my digital camera, and who promises to send me the copies of the pictures, and who promises to return my digital camera to me via priority mail. (Love you, Tommy!)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kitchen Success!

Today I braved the cold and made a trip to the Home Depot to pick up the perfect shade of blue paint (Glidden's "Jazz Blue"). The kitchen mini-makeover was a major success:


Prepping the Wall

The Paint!



Friday, January 16, 2009

Can't Sleep; Must Blog.

So, um, work was a little hectic today. I actually made it back to my apartment nearly two hours earlier than I did on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. (Translation: I got home at 10:30 p.m. tonight. Sigh.) But of course, by the time I made it home I was entirely too wound up to put myself to bed immediately. Instead, I talked to my dad and brother on the phone for about an hour, unpacked my new pillows from Z Gallerie (which are, by far, some of my favorite apartment purchases to date -- I'll be sure to post pictures tomorrow), and I even watered my plants. Oh, and I decided that on Saturday, I will paint the back splash in my kitchen a lovely shade of blue. I know exactly what shade I want, too -- something halfway between the blues of the Bliss Body Butter packaging and the Fiestaware pictured below:

That shade better be at the Home Depot.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Until We Meet Again. Plus, Flickr Fun.

I've done a lot of blogging this weekend. And as much as I'd like to blog a little more (especially about Tim Tebow's announcement that he's returning for his senior season, the NYT article on President-Elect Obama's basketball game, and Congress' most recent attempt to declare the BCS an unreasonable restraint of trade), I think I'm going to have to call it quits for the evening. I've got to get ready for my day job! But before I go, I wanted to post a link to my flickr slideshow. That's right, I learned how to use flickr today. I've already posted all of these pictures to the blog, but I couldn't resist posting a link to my new favorite web toy.

The real world will be re-introducing itself to me tomorrow morning. This week is shaping up to be a busy one at work, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow, I may make it home in time to catch The Bachelor (the original guilty pleasure ...).

Dinner (Plus a Few Very, Very "Before" Shots of the Kitchen)

My mom has requested that I post photos of my kitchen. Truthfully, there's really not much going on there yet. I envision creating a more retro-looking kitchen, with the unique pieces that I have collected and continue to collect on display. I'm not exactly sure how to do that (perhaps all the more reason to post pictures -- ideas, anyone?). But before I post those pictures, here are a few pictures of tonight's dinner preparation (spicy sausage and kale yummy on a cold winter night!).

The ingredients. (Fresh! I made a trip to Whole Foods this afternoon.)

Italian sausage, browned and seasoned with crushed red pepper.

White onion and pepper bacon, sauteed (ignore the bits of Italian sausage loitering on the sides of the pot).

Red potatoes simmered in (organic) chicken stock with the onion and the pepper bacon.

The main ingredients -- Italian sausage and kale -- added to the broth.

Dinner! (And yes, I realize that my bread plate and spoon are not on the correct sides of the bowl. I was starving when I took this picture, and I literally threw the soup, bread, and spoon down on my kitchen counter just long enough to snap a quick picture before I moved everything to my coffee table, where I proceeded to eat and watch the opening minutes of the Golden Globes.)

And now for the pictures of my kitchen. Not much to see here. Just looking at these pictures makes me want to pore over the pages my Domino Book of Decorating for ideas on how to rescue it.

More "Before" Photos of the Apartment

My little blog is proving itself very useful for communicating with my mother and grandmother about the ongoing apartment improvement project. Here are some more "before" and "in-progress" pictures (this time, taken not at 9 p.m., but in the middle of the afternoon and with the benefit of natural sunlight).

Above: Several shots of my secretary desk (yes, the one that will be exchanged for another on Wednesday), my Toni Morrison hardcover book collection (a Christmas gift from my grandma last year) and my growing collection of Real Simple and Domino magazines, now neatly stored in the magazine crates that I bought at the Muji store in Soho for $5.75 each earlier today!

Above: A few additional shots of my living room, plus another shot of my dresser (which I love more and more with every passing day) and my wall of family photos.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Minor Snafu

My apartment improvement project hit a little snag this afternoon. Apparently, the delivery team that assembled my framed secretary desk yesterday left one of the screws loose; the loose screw caused one of the levers that allows the surface of the desk to be pulled up or down to dig a deep scratch in the surface of the desk! Tragic. Reluctantly, I called the West Elm store to explain my dilemma and to see if there was anything I could do about it. And there was -- West Elm will be delivering a brand new secretary desk to my apartment on Wednesday. So, sad news: scratch in secretary desk. Good news: excellent customer service from West Elm.

Overall, my apartment improvement project has been moving more slowly today than I would like. I did finally move my clothes from the bright orange craft crates that lined the floor of my bedroom to my newly acquired dresser. And I did purchase these pillows (in chocolate) from Z Gallerie, 15% off and with free shipping. I think they'll brighten up my couch and complement the lamp shade and rug in my living room perfectly.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Making My Apartment a Home ("Before" Pictures)

Yesterday's highlight, of course, was the Gators' victory in the BCS Championship game. Today's indisputable highlight was the afternoon delivery of the narrow leg dresser (in acorn) and the framed secretary desk (in chocolate and white) that I purchased at West Elm last weekend. At last, I feel like I have all the essential pieces I need in my apartment. Now, I just have to pull the whole look together. I'm posting "before" pictures here so that I can enlist the help of friends and family (hi Mom!) to make that happen.

I took this picture at 9 p.m., so the lighting isn't great, but this a shot of my living room. The cream couch is from Macy's (it's microfiber and incredibly easy to clean). The throw is from Z Gallerie, the telephone pillow is from West Elm, and the white coffee table was a great find on The lamp shade and the black and white canvas prints of Big Ben and the Arc de Triomphe are also great internet finds ( and, respectively).

A better shot of the canvas prints (Big Ben and Arc de Triomphe) and the infamous Thanksgiving weekend "greige" paint job (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

The "circles" rug is another West Elm purchase. The white media console might be my favorite piece in the apartment (I waited almost 6 weeks for it to arrive after ordering it from Crate and Barrel, and my mom spent most of Thanksgiving day putting it together--hi again, Mom! And thanks!). The 32" LCD flat screen is fromVizio (and it was rated a Consumer Reports "Best Buy"!). I found the blue vases to the right of the tv at the Old Time Pottery store in Melbourne, Florida the day after Christmas.

My dresser! A steal at $180 from West Elm (regularly $549). And even though I was a little uneasy about the "acorn" color, I think it's already grown on me!

I found my bedding at Tuesday Morning. I fully intend to decorate my apartment using the colors in the patchwork pillow. My grandmother is graciously working on a beautiful cross stitch piece for me that will match perfectly (thanks, Grandma!)

How cute are these fish knobs? I found them at Anthropologie for less than $2 each and replaced the standard-issue knobs on the cabinet underneath my bathroom sink with them. Lurking in the background is my shower curtain (DKNY; I found it at Bed, Bath and Beyond).

This dining table nestled in the "nook" between my living room and kitchen. I'm on the lookout for a table setting to give the table a little more personality. That's my newly acquired secretary desk (and my laptop) in the background. Here's a better shot of the secretary (I'm still brainstorming ways to maximize its potential):

It's hard to tell from this picture, but the desk is quite sleek and compact.

Finally, the London Underground map that disguises the circuit breaker box in my apartment. And a housewarming gift from my brother that reminds me that every day is a good one.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, and the rest of the Florida Gators, I love you all. xoxo.

Today was a crazy, busy, stressful day (for both professional and personal reasons -- I honestly felt like a character in a tragically hilarious sitcom for most of the day). And then, just a few minutes ago, the Florida Gators won the BCS National Championship game, turning my crazy, busy, stressful day into a wonderfully happily ending day.

( I should note that work prevented me from blogging during this year's college football season as consistently as I would have liked. Thankfully, my beloved Gators did not hold this against me. Man, I love those guys.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Post Script on a Successful Weekend

A managed to snag a few minutes to blog (on a weekday!), so in between watching The Bachelor (the secondhand embarrasment I'm experiencing may force me to stop) and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, here I am. Two stories from yesterday require updating. First, I spoke too soon when I announced that by digital camera would be in working order by yesterday evening. Turns out I removed the memory card from my camera when I last used it over the summer, and I couldn't find any of my spares in my apartment, and the very kind sales associate who helped me at the Duane Reade earlier this evening informed me that I actually do not want to purchase a replacement memory card there (way overpriced; I will be forever grateful to that sales associate), so I am still without a working digital camera. I plan to correct this (read: buy a new memory card at a fair price) by Wednesday.

Second, I'm starting to have buyer's remorse about the secretary desk that I purchased from West Elm yesterday! Isn't that awful? I got a really good deal, and I've been eyeing that piece for months, but now I'm afraid that I don't have enough room for it in my apartment. I'm pretty sure that I actually will have room for it, and with everything else going on in the world, it's pretty ridiculous for me to be worried about this. For now, I think I'm just going to clean the space where I plan to put the secretary. And maybe shop online for a vase or two (on sale, of course) to place on top of it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Successful Sunday

It's just after 3pm -- Sunday is far from over, and I've already accomplished several important goals. First, I purchased a replacement card reader and charger for my digital camera, so in just a few hours, I will able to use my camera again. This is very exciting. Second, (this is even more exciting) I found a dresser! And I found a lovely secretary that will look great near the entryway of my apartment (fun images at the left). I found both at West Elm. I wasn't a huge fan of the dresser's "acorn"-colored wood, but I was a huge fan of the drawer pulls, which I can switch out with my own, and I was also a huge fan of the price tag - $179.99, reduced from $549! Plus, I think the acorn color may grow on me. The secretary was also a steal, reduced to about $348, from $799.

I've got clothes in the wash now, and most of my other Sunday cleaning chores are done, so the game plan now is to charge my camera, treat myself to a manicure, and get geared up for all new episodes of Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters tonight. Yep; it's been a successful Sunday.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Successful Saturday?

I always set grand goals for my Saturdays, and typically end up going to bed Saturday night (more like early Sunday morning) disappointed in myself for not living up to my expectations. With a few notable exceptions, most of my Saturday plans have revolved around self-improvement or home-improvement projects. Or work. Today, my goal was to find a dresser (I have been living without a place to store my folded clothing since September...who knew that finding a dresser that I liked would be so hard?). Needless to say, I didn't find one. Well, actually, I found this rather extravagant piece at Z Gallerie, and while I contemplated paying $699 (I know) minus 10% for the only dresser that caught my eye during my months-long search, I absolutely drew the line at the $110 delivery charge. I mean, seriously? I did, however, pick up a giraffe-print throw for my couch. It's a little wilder than what I would typically go for, but it was soft and different and at 60% off, much more affordable than the dresser! I also managed to get a little work done. Oh, and I finally picked up some trouser socks and tights that are appropriate for both the winter months and the workplace (don't ask me how I made it this long without appropriate hosiery).

On deck for tomorrow: Replacing the AC adapter cord and USB cable that came with my digital camera and became casualties of my move out of campus housing at the end of the summer so that I can continue to document my life in photos. Painting one wall in my bedroom the same "greige" color that I pained several walls in my living room. Giving myself an at-home manicure with my new favorite nail polish color, O.P.I.'s Bubble Bath. Figuring out how to hook up my TIVO box to my cable box. And taking a nap.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Can I Teach Myself to Sew for Less than $225?

Today I researched sewing classes at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. I've always wanted to learn how to sew, and I'm even more excited now that I've discovered Vogue patterns ( I happily discovered them during a day-after-Christmas trip to the Jo-Ann Fabrics in Melbourne, Florida with my mom and grandmother). Apparently, Learn to Sew Like a Pro I will teach me all the essentials, and I'll go home with a pair of cotton pajama bottoms to boot. All for a princely sum of $225.

I'm pretty sure that I could buy a starter sewing machine and some fabric and use the Google to guide me through making my own cotton pajama bottoms at home for less than $225. Sure, one leg with probably be longer than the other, and my stitches will probably be visible from the inside and the outside of the pajama pants. Then again, maybe not. Just a few months ago, and after several failed attempts (spanning approximately five years), I finally taught myself how to knit...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! Plus Resolutions (Sort of...)

I'm resolving to blog more this year. I usually don't like to make New Year's resolutions (too much pressure), but this is one that I think I can keep. I started this little blog in the fall of my final year of graduate school, hoping that it would become a creative outlet in my otherwise (temporarily) non-creative life. And it has been that outlet, albeit somewhat inconsistently, for the past 15 months.

I still can't believe that the holidays are over and that it's even time to start talking about New Year's resolutions. This holiday season was a quiet, relaxing one. I spent Christmas in Florida with my family, and in addition to home cooking and quality time with my family, I was treated to 80+ degree weather every day. This morning, I woke up in Manhattan, to 15 degree weather.

Today, in addition to brainstorming ways to stay warm (cranking up the heat and doing housework ended up working well), I've also been thinking of ways I can make 2009 a good one. So far I've come up with becoming a bigger risk taker and a smaller worrywart. And a more frequent blogger, of course.