Friday, July 30, 2010

Cooking with chiles

Growing up in California, I feel like I was spoiled with some very good Mexican food. Whether it's from a mobile restaurant, a Western Blvd staple, or from the home kitchen, I'm always up for the intricately spiced yet welcoming cuisine. I'm sad to say that while I love this food, I've never really tried cooking anything that dives deep into the chiles and spices, so when I saw this Spicy Surf-N-Turf trio recipe, I decided to put an end to that. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients and yes, the directions appear long, but beyond the chopping, nothing is too hard here...and the aroma of dried California chiles, Mexican oregano, and fresh ground cumin in the kitchen smelled pretty authentic to me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slightly obsessed with

...these Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne Truffles. A combination of words that never sounded better together.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Little white dress

1. Erdem, 2. Aryn K., 3. L'Agence, 4. Catherine Malandrino, 5. Alice & Olivia, 6. Topshop

Last weekend's wedding inspired events got me thinking about adding a little more white to my closet. If I'm going to wear something a bit dressy for nighttime, I always turn to black. In fact, my closet has it's own little selection of black dresses just to remind me that I can't buy anymore of them. These refreshingly light options are perfect for any cocktail event and would easily stand out in a sea of black.

Monday, July 26, 2010

DIY wedding bouquet

This weekend Paul and I were part of a wedding photo shoot for our friend (and engagement photographer), Julie Hanna. We spent the entire afternoon creating our own faux wedding day complete with hand tied bouquet and mini veil. Since we didn't quite have the budget for a full fledged florist, I prepared my own flower arrangement and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I started with three types of flowers, roses, limonium for a bit of filler, and my new obsession "billy buttons".

Start by removing all of the leaves from the roses, then one by one pick up each bloom and gather them together while rotating the bunch.

Add the Billy Buttons on one side, then fill in the open spots with the limonium. Cut the stems evenly to the desired length.

Tie the bouquet together with a hair band to hold in place, then wrap the length of the stems with a wide grosgrain ribbon.

Pin the ribbon with a straight pin, then wrap the center with a smaller silk ribbon to conceal the end.

The bouquet was the perfect accessory for the photo shoot and after the day was over, I used this little arranging technique to turn the bundle into a sweet smelling table top centerpiece.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Clearing the head

After a long week my head is usually fried and the creative bits need a little time to relax. Last night, with a minor summer storm approaching and a chilled bottle of champagne in the fridge, nothing sounded better than curling up on the couch and toasting to a weekend full of nothing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The top of the bed

I've always had dreams of owning the perfect bed frame complete with foot and head board, but I think subconsciously I've been waiting to complete my room with something a bit more unique. I've compiled a few of my favorite out of the ordinary boards that add the right touch of style to any slumber session.

1. A beautiful set of antique doors is an unexpected and stylish way to frame a simple bed. Seen here in Giambattista Valli's Italian home.

2. Replace a recognizable silhouette with an uncommon material, like wood for a fabric frame with Vivaterra's Gustavian Vintage headboard.

3. Don't worry about blowing the whole budget on the furniture, get a stylish shape for under $50 with a high quality wall decal. Seen here is Mina Javid's, Nessa headboard from Whatisblik.
photo credits from top to bottom: Elle Decor, Elle Decor,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Museum wear

A little while back, while Paul and I were visiting home for a weekend, we ventured over to the west side to spend the day exploring The Hammer at UCLA. The museum has a great layout that allows you to stroll through each exhibition space while also enjoying the bamboo filled courtyard, perfect for a bright sunny day. We were there to see Outside the Box, a great show covering the work of master printmaker Jacob Samuel. Producing 43 artist portfolios that he crafted with master artists within his Santa Monica studio and abroad, Jacob has produced beyond 550 individual prints. The exhibition is a wonderful homage to a lost art and an exciting look at original work from some of the greats. A few to look out for are Barry McGee, Guillermo Kuitca, and Matt Mullican.

Zara silk shirt, Gap jeans, Urban Outfitters shoes

To compliment the relaxed day, I threw on one of my favorite over-sized silk shirts, cuffed denim jeans, and a trusty pair of buckled heels (just so I looked a little presentable). One of the easiest ways to appear both casual and polished.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coconut rice

Whenever it hits me that I don't have a topical getaway planned for the summer, I like to make my home feel a bit more exotic, even if it's just through a few small touches. Last night, I prepared an incredibly easy batch of coconut rice that had the perfect aroma of sweet coconut milk, fit for a warm (imaginary) ocean front dinner.

All you need is 1 cup of Basmati rice and a can of light coconut milk. Prepare the rice according to the package, but instead of water, substitute in the milk. The creamy rice needs a dash of salt and it's ready to accompany any sort of fresh fish or stir-fry of your choice. I went for a pepper, onion, and chicken combo, sauteed then simmered in ginger sauce.

...and for another little rice cooking spruce up, add a few tea bags to the boiling water (like jasmine or lemon tea) for a lightly flavored twist.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tame my hair

I've always enjoyed long hair, the styling possibilities are endless, the sun provides free highlights, and after a long day you can mound it on top of your head and still feel polished. I don't however like living with the long strands during hot days. The moment the weather changes and my morning showers feel more like a trip to the steam room than a refreshing experience, I know the frizz filled days are upon me. After coming to terms with the fact that I have particularly wavy thick hair, I've been on a mission to find the styling product of my dreams (a.k.a. one that actually combats poof ball hair). After putting my locks through some rather violent actions (heat, irons, hair bands, verbal abuse), I've finally armed myself with a rather result producing line of hair care goods. Three serums (to rotate of course) and a dry shampoo later, my hair and I can once again love each other on hot days.

What's currently caressing my hair:
1. Moroccanoil Oil the creators of Moroccanoil, there are no words, just my undying love.
2.. Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Spray...doesn't leave a dirty residue, but rather a silky powder you spray on the roots then tousle out.
3. Living Proof, No Frizz, Straight Styling Cream...this little cream isn't a silicone, so the oil that usually leaves hair dirty is replaced with a just cleaned feel.
4. Warren-Tricomi Style Blow Dry Lotion...this serum has a great scent and works well before and after blow drying.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Asparagus and mushroom quinoa

I've mentioned my love for roasting vegetables before, honestly i'ts the most low maintenance way to prepare veggies and this week I stumbled upon another great combination. When I cook, I don't ever really think "wow, this is amazing" because I try to hold onto that little humble thread, but this week after concocting a roasted asparagus and mushroom quinoa, I declared "omg, I'm good". Yup, this tasted good and the fact that most of my cooking time was spent catching up on emails and blogs made the meal even better. To plate, I scooped a little mound of the grain into a deep bowl, arranged the mushrooms and asparagus, then shaved a few long curls of hard Parmesan over the top...then ate within 5 minutes.

Roasted asparagus and mushroom quinoa
1 carton baby bella mushrooms
1 pack (or 15 spears) asparagus
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees f.
Break the ends off of each asparagus spear and place in 9x9 roasting dish.
Place mushrooms in separate 9x9 roasting dish.
Sprinkle each with salt, pepper, and olive oil to coat.
Cook 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

In the meantime, cook quinoa according to package, set aside to cool slightly.
Remove vegetables and cut each asparagus spear in half.
Scoop quinoa into bowl, top with mushrooms and a handful of asparagus spears.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave a few curls of hard Parmesan.

*With the leftover quinoa, I tossed in diced chicken and a few tablespoons of red curry sauce (Trader Joe's) and had a tasty cold lunch the next day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meet me in the middle

Vintage top and H&M Shorts

I've never really been a fan of summer clothing. While I will make an exception for flowing dresses and tiny strapped tank tops, I've always had a little but more fun layering sweaters, scarves, and jeans. Because of this, shorts have never really been on the top of my list of wardrobe musts...until I found the perfect pair of the high wasted version. The silky fabric feels like a skirt and the the exaggerated height hits right at the natural curve of the waist. I pulled out a big silky bow and a ruffled blouse to tie everything together. For something similar, try these from Elizabeth & James, Alexander Wang, and Urban Outfitters.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Italian cookies

The best part about having people over is buying the desserts that end the meal. It's always something you never buy for yourself and because I like to think those indulgences don't effect anything on the healthy eating plan, I tend to end the night a little more jittery than earlier in the day. I've enjoyed some delights from the Eagle Rock Italian Bakery before, but never experienced an actual visit to the classic bake house. The scent wafted down the street and through the front door and I quickly learned why patrons actually enjoy standing in line longer than expected.

A few boxes of cream filled cakes later...and a little packages of Italian cookies for the ride sweet tooth was preparing for quite an eventful night.

The classic flavors that run through all of these traditional cookies is usually anise, lemon, or almond. For a fun bakery experience at home, try making pizzelle. They can be flavored with any of the common extracts and have a perfect lacy crunch. I made these last winter using the antiqued and flour coated recipe card from my Grandma's one and only pizzelle, you can't find the recipe online...anywhere... but try this one for a similar taste.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wrapped flowers

One weekend away and I'm already struggling to catch up with normal life. This weekend I made a much needed trip back home and spent the days visiting with friends and catching up on some familiar LA sights. Early Saturday morning my mom and I headed downtown, past the stylish lofts, beyond the nighttime haunts, and into the marts. This trip was for the flower mart specifically and upon entering The Los Angeles Flower District I was guided among rows and rows of wholesale flowers. I fully played up the role of fresh-faced designer plotting which hydrangea bunch would look better propped upon the buffet table for later that night, but among the sea of other early risers, my excitement just added to the buzz of the market.

After carrying six or so newspaper wrapped bundles of hanging amaranthus, spray roses, baby's breath, and a very interesting fuzzy coral-like specimen, I came across the billy ball. A yellow pom pom on top of a stick, these skinny blooms are like sunny lollipops or playtime drumsticks. It was the perfect touch of quirk and I immediately designed my future arrangements around them.

The LA Flower District is open at 8am MWF and 6am TThS for non trade people (2am for you wholesalers out there). Next time you're throwing a party or just want to test out a new flower for fun, these prices are the best.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Every once in awhile I get the urge to go a little tropical, imagine I'm looking out at the blue ocean, sitting in some open air restaurant, snacking on something caught minutes before it hit my plate...ok, pull it together. This weekend happened to be one of those moments and to celebrate my wanderlust, I decided to mix up the perfect exotic beverage, the caipirinha.

This drink is really a glass of cahaca, a Brazilian rum made from sugar cane...also known as a rum that forces the liquor store guy to climb a ladder to retrieve, that is garnished with a bit of lime and fine sugar. It's strong, but incredibly tasty and oh so tropical.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cocktail rings

First three beginning from the left, forever 21. Last on the right, birthday gift

I tend to wear the same jewelry everyday, a simple gold chain, two rings, and the occasional pair of earrings, but every once in a while, it's nice to throw on something a little different, just for fun. I always go for rings, big, shiny, and often very sparkly rings. I think they stand out in the right way and are often noticed only after a second glance.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Frozen orange

When I was younger, my mom used to freeze orange juice in ice cube trays then pop them out for little snacks on hot days. I thought they were ingenious little treats and always felt that there was some secret behind their simplicity...nope, it's really just orange juice in ice cube trays. This weekend I revived the vintage treat and indulged in a simple frozen cube to cure the stifling heat. Try it with a little dab of fruit on the top (I went for raspberries) or layer different juices like lemonade and blueberry juice for an undiluted way to cool drinks.

Friday, July 2, 2010

ruby lips and sparkles

Here's to a wonderful holiday weekend filled with fireworks (something I will never get bored bring on your massive hour long light displays). Paul and I did a mini celebration of our own with some simple sparklers and to get into the Americana feeling I slipped on an old baseball shirt (Dodgers of course) and swiped some bright red on my lips. Hope you all have a fabulous 4th!