Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guacamole Salad!

You say Memorial Day!  I say Bar-B-Q!

Any holiday that is dedicated to thanking and remembering our troops, is an obvi favorite of mine!  And of course, we Americans celebrate everything with…food!  So, I, of course, latched on to American tradition and tried a new recipe for this year’s BBQ from my favorite Food Network chef, Barefoot Contessa!  The recipe is called “Guacamole Salad”, and it’s a perfect combination of beautiful, great tasting veggies that will make any celebration come that much more to life!  Enjoy, and GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS!  

Photo courtesy of food.com

Jackie’s tweaks:
  • I couldn’t fathom the idea of adding canned black beans to a recipe full of beautiful, fresh ingredients, so for my starch/extra “crunch”, I used fresh corn instead of black beans.  (Peel the corn—toss the husks, brush with EVOO, S&P, wrap in foil, and grill on low for about 25  min.  Slice and add to salad… 
  • Add a splash (about 1/8 Cup) Red Wine Vinegar for more of a flavor-added acid kick…Gives it more of a “fresh salad” taste…
I had all the spices and dressings in the pantry, so total cost for beautiful salad was about ~$7, and made for about 8 hefty servings (less than $1 pp)! 

I served with my secret turkey burger recipe (later post!)—delish!  


{May Book Review} Water for Elephants

This book really pulled at my heartstrings.  Author Sara Gruen does a fascinating job capturing the essence and feeling of depression-era America while telling the story of a traveling circus from the voice of Jacob, a 'ninety or ninety three year old' man who lived through it, though is shy to talk about his past life in the circus.  

Ms. Gruen paints a lively picture of the circus cast and in it includes a story of the inevitable love triangle.  But her main focus remains on Jacob and his story of youth, loss, love and coming to his own.  All of this brilliantly summarized by taking us back and forth through a narrative by now-Jacob detailing his adventures back then, and how he met and fell in love with his Marlena.  You grow to adore the characters, including the circus crew, animals and the staff at the nursing home, where we first meet Jacob.  

One of the better books I've had the pleasure of reading all year, I suggest if you haven't read this one yet, you're in for a great summer treat.  

For June we will be reading My Father's Daughter, a recipe collection by one of our favorites, Gwyneth Paltrow.


Friday, May 27, 2011

{Good Grapes Destination} Clearwater, FL!

Taking off this morning for a holiday weekend with my in-laws!  That means a weekend of (weather cooperating,) poolside vino, homemade pizzas, crystal beaches and what we love most about going home, sleeping 8+ hours/night!  As for what to wear, just recycled variations of what I packed to Dallas last weekend (and didn't get to wear thanks to weekend storms).  

Hopefully your holiday weekends are planned with fun, family, beaches, relaxation or preferably, all of the above!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Where do you find 'Happy?'

Happy Thursday!  Today I want to write about one of my favorite ways to save money while being social in a city that is more expensive than most: Happy Hour.  The sun is out, the weather is warm and before long I'll start to see crowds packed at some of my favorite bars and restaurants, trying to score a half-priced deal before the hour runs out. 

Yesterday I enjoyed a delicious happy hour and dinner salad with some very good friends.  Lovely company, a restaurant that specializes in none other than delicious and greasy bacon, AND $5 wines by the glass until 8 p.m., I was in heaven.  Where is your favorite place to unwind with friends for happy hour?

Restaurant Three, Arlington, VA

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

Good evening!  It's a beautiful evening in the District and I've decided to enjoy a glass of refreshing Chardonnay.  My parents sent us a bottle of Parker's Run 2007 Chardonnay a while back and it's just what we need to enjoy on this long sunny night.  Strong bursts of citrus fruits with hints of oak and a semi-sweet finish, it's just what my day was asking for! 


Caprese Salad

From D.C. to Dallas, there was one salad we were all craving: the always refreshing Caprese.  The three of us have marveled in the beauty of Capri off the gorgeous Southern Italian Coast and its thanks to the jet set that fell in love with this salad and brought it to the States that we even know what it is, how its made and can enjoy it on a regular basis.

Jackie had a lot of extra basil on hand and didn't want it to go bad and I had a week old block of fresh mozzerella to devour before leaving town again this weekend.  Solution?  Insalata Carprese.  So simple and ever delicious: slice fresh tomatoes, slice fresh buffalo mozzerella, garnish with fresh basil and add a pinch of cracked black pepper and sea salt.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and you have yourself a fresh and delicious salad.  I like to drizzle the smallest bit of balsamic vinegar of Modena on mine as well, although traditionally this is not a part of the salad.  Enjoy!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Dress Shopping

Due to my guest bedroom revamp, I'm on a temporary shopping hiatus.  I may not be browsing the boutiques, but I still find myself  'window shopping' online, often starting with celebrity style and ending up browsing similar looks at the discounted stores. 

Tonight while 'window shopping' for a black dress for an upcoming cocktail party, I came across a picture of a super chic ensamble on darling Aimee Teegarden.  I instantly fell in love with the look and just as I was thinking to myself, "But you don't need another black dress," I remembered that I might have something almost just like it.  How happy was I when I realized how close my rehearsal dinner dress was to imitating her look?  My dress was a Christmas gift from my parents in 2003 and I wore it once a year later, again for my rehearsal dinner in 2007, and then to a wedding in 2008.  It's time this pretty black number comes out of the closet once again! 

The same details I loved on Aimee's dress- a belted waist, a delicate overlay on the top, and the scalloped edges across the chest, are all present in the dress I almost forgot I owned.  I love shopping in my closet!

Aimee Teegarden, photo via instyle.com


{We're Obsessed!} Michael Kors Swim Collection

A man after my own heart! Let's face it, unless you're a Sports Illustrated model, nobody likes swimsuit shopping. Finding the right suit that is both flattering and stylish can be a daunting task. But today ladies, we have a gent to help every damsel in distress (of swimsuit shopping). Michael Kors' 2011 Swim Collection has me swooning and spending! I've already purchased two suits from his collection for my upcoming beach vacation. His styles are glamorous, chic and oh-so flattering for this girl's hourglass figure. Thank you, sir. I've fallen in love! Check out some of my favorites!


Friday, May 20, 2011

{Good Grapes Destination} Dallas!

I am homebound this weekend!  There are hundreds of reasons I love the Big D.  I really hope to maximize girl time with my mom and sisters, since my hubby is away on another trip and didn't get to join me this time.  We have a lot of things planned for the day while my sisters and father are at work and I think I'm most excited about mani/pedis and fabric shopping with my mother this afternoon!  I'm having pillows for my home office custom made and I'm thinking I'll need brilliant bright  printed pillows in that black and white room.

I am also dying to see the newborn twin daughter and son (4 weeks this week!) of one of my BFFs, C.  They are the most delicate little things, having been born weighing just 4 lbs and 4 lbs, 4 oz respectively.  I am just thrilled for C, her husband P, and their 'Babies C.' 

We planned a little girl's night at a new bar (this place boasts bubbles on tap throughout the bar!!!) by Cristi's amazing glass-walled apartment right in the middle of the down town action and of course, we'll enjoy many family dinners with great wine.

Have a lovely weekend!!!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Poolside Chic

So this is how the story goes: you're planning your annual beach vacation and you pull out last year's favorite cover ups & swimsuits only to realize they've lost their shape or their colors have faded. Yes, girls, even those designer swimsuits can lose their value in just one summer in the sun and sand. It is so frustrating to invest hundreds EVERY summer in designer swimwear that will only last ONE season. So, I've been researching some thriftier but still stylish options--we must never sacrifice style! Old Navy just announced swim sale for up to 40% off ALL swimwear. I pulled some of my favorite looks from their current collection. Check out these super chic looks all ranging from $7.50 - $29.94 At these prices, you surely won't be sulking in buyer's remorse next summer.

Photos: Old Navy


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Refreshing Recipe: Avocado Buttermilk Soup

When I came across this Avocado-Buttermilk soup recipe in Cooking Light a year ago, I tore it out and made it that week.  It's perfect for enjoying outside on a sunnny evening, glass of vino in hand.  Sometimes I even prepare just the crab salad portion and eat it with crackers. 

Why do I love this recipe?  It combines so many of my favorite flavors - avocado, tomatillo, serrano pepper, garlic and crab to make a deliciously thick and savory room-temperature soup.  Second, it's incredibly quick and easy to make and the end result looks pretty impressive, doesn't it?  Last, it tastes amazing paired with a buttery chilled white wine. 

I took some pictures to share, don't mind that they came from my phone and aren't the best resolution!

Simply cinch: add fat free buttermilk and chicken broth to a blender of 5 ingredients, puree and serve.

Delicious crab salad topping, or dip paired with crackers on a light supper evening
Photos my own

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guest Bedroom

I've been on a major redecorating kick lateley and the most recent victim of my attention goes to my poor neglected guest bedroom.  It was only in doing some 'research' and looking for inspiration from my go-to decor magazines that I realized how embarassed  I am of this bedroom.  What if someone were to judge my entire taste from a glance of this one room?  I would die.  And so, the new project begins.  

Part of my procrastination in this project was that I was desperately searching for a color scheme and, commitment phobe that I am, I never decided on one so the room makeover got shelved.  Having dusted this off and brought it back to my list of must-dos, I've asked my close friends and family, the ones who will spend the most time in this room, what they envisioned for it.  My friend C put it best, and with her simple advice the search for the pop of color was abandoned and the project is now well on its way to completion.  Her advice?  "Color?  Tranquil and serene, as a guest bedroom should be."  Keeping those two adjectives in mind, I've pulled a few inspiration bedrooms from House Beautiful and Elle Decor and would you believe what I ended up with?  NO color schemes!

Desired 'after' outcomes:

House Beautiful pics: While I'm drawn to the middle and bottom left and right pictures for threir inclusion of a second neutral tone as the room's 'pop' of color, something about the all-white serenity of the bedroom on the right is captivating.

Elle Decor pics: that's it!  Whatever I do, there WILL be seating at the foot of the bed!  Maybe even accented with vintage books!

And I know what you're all thinking.  Where is the embarassing shot of my guest bedroom?  Well clearly I can't post the 'before' until there is an 'after!'  Stay tuned! 


Monday, May 16, 2011

{We're Obsessed!} Rachel Bilson in Chanel

No wonder the legandary Karl Lagerfeld has chosen beautiful Rachel Bilson as his muse for the Chanel collections.  Is there anyone else who makes the brand look feminine, classic, edgy, rock, and flirty all in one outfit?  As evidenced in this photo snapped in celebration of Chanel's 2012 cruise collection show on the French Riviera last week, she does it magically.  And how about those ombre locks?  From head to Louboutin, I love this.  I want it.  I'm obsessed!

Photo via Just Jarred, www.justjared.buzznet.com


Friday, May 13, 2011

{Good Grapes Destination} San Francisco!

This weekend I'll be heading to San Francisco to visit my best friend from college, D. She'll be getting married in the next year and we're soaking up the girl time before she moves to the LA LA Land with her hubby (who I totally love BTW). I LOVE girls' weekends and can't wait to be reunited with her in the fabulous city of San Francisco. Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend and don't forget to call up one of your friends to tell them you miss them or better yet, go meet a friend for a drink!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Shopping in Your Closet, Rediscovering old Pieces for a New Look

My favorite part of planning a trip is usually shopping for the new wardrobe I’ll be strutting on the streets of whatever city I happen to be visiting. Well, while out shopping with my mom on Monday, she challenged me to “shop” in my own closet for my San Francisco/Napa getaway. Challenge accepted. Check out these outfits I threw together for my mini vacation. Re-discovering your wardrobe can be just as exciting as shopping for a new one, and definitely thriftier! 


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

Today we bring you a special edition of Wine Wednesday, in anticipation of Cristi's upcoming trip to Napa Valley.  Our friend Carissa, a Napa resident, guides us through America's famous valley and offers insider recommendations in a special two part series!  Thank you, Carissa!

My parents moved to Napa when I was a senior in college, which means going home is a wonderful treat!  Each trip brings new adventures, and I can’t wait to share my favorite places and new discoveries from my April visit. I’ll start with my favorite wineries and then fill you in on my preferred dining locales.  I told Ana I have about 100 “favorite” places, so I tried to narrow it down to the places I would be deeply saddened if they closed.

Best wineries for sparkling wine (because let’s face it, there is always a reason to celebrate):
·         Mumm: Mumm is one of my favorite wineries to go in Napa, especially on a nice day.  There is nothing better than sitting outside enjoy a glass (or two) of bubbly.  My favorites include the Brut Prestige and the Santana Brut.  Mumm also has an amazing photography exhibit, including a great collection of Ansel Adams.
·         Schramsberg: While Mumm is great enjoying the sun and the breathtaking views, the Shramsberg cave tour is unforgettable.  Richard Nixon first started serving Shramsberg (the first American wine served at any White House event), and their wines have been served by every subsequent presidential administration.  As an FYI the road up to Shramsberg is incredibly narrow, windy, and steep.  I have to close my eyes every drive up (and down) the hill, but the wines are worth it!

Best wineries for the view:
·         Sterling: One of my favorite things about Sterling the aerial tram you take to the winery.  The views are to die for!  The tour at Sterling is self-guided, and I adore walking around and enjoying the sun.   I often bring visitors to this winery because the views from the top of the hill are just stunning.
·         Artesa: My other go-to winery to bring guests is Artesa, which is also located atop a hill.  Artesa has a resident artist, who does gorgeous glasswork. 

Favorite winereies for the wines (1/2):
·    Frog’s Leap: Nothing makes me smile more than a Frog’s Leap cork that reads “Ribbit.”  Frog’s Leap is a gorgeous property with divine wines.  Frogs Leap’s is very green, and I adore the L.E.E.D. certified building that utilizes gorgeous reclaimed materials.  If you have the chance to visit, make sure you hear about the Frog’s Leap label. 
·    Cakebread: While they are famous for their chardonnay, I loved their merlot during my April visit.

Famous Frog Fountain

Now to move to my favorite places to eat, starting with the casual and moving to the more formal.  While everyone obsesses over French Laundry, I’m going to tell you about the places I love to go again and again (and can afford to do so!)

Casual eateries:
·    Bouchon Bakery: The bakery is owned by Thomas Keller (one of his many places in Napa).  The tuna salad sandwich at Bouchon is my second favorite in the country.  The hazelnut macaroon is fantastic.  Makes me want to eat Nutella as I type!
·    Oakville Grocery: This place is great for picking up food for a picnic.  The salads and sandwiches are great for a quick lunch, but we warned it will be swamped!

Fancier dining locales:
·         Bistro Don Giovanni: By far my favorite Italian restaurant in town.  The fritto misto is really good, but I need a trip to the gym before I indulge in this treat.  The silk handkerchiefs dish sounds a bit odd, but is amazing pasta.
·         Bistro Jeanty: My option for fun, French dining.  It’s a bit loud, so beware!  The mussels are excellent.

After all of that eating and drinking, you will certainly need to relax.  I recommend a mud bath and then soak in a mineral pool at Calistoga Spa Hot Springs.  I’ll raise a glass to having fun in Napa any day!

All photos, Carissa's own.

Thank you, Carissa for your thoughts on how to properly enjoy a trip to Napa!  Z and I agree that Cakebread is fantastic!  We even joined their wine club to remind us of our beautiful visit!  The winery also offers amazing recipes if you're planning on pairing something special with your wine!  Stay tuned for more of Carissa's recommendations, previewing Jackie's visit this summer! A.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In Search of an Organized Life...

I needed a set of pouches because as most fashionable women do, I carry an assortment of bags to work, depending on the day (or my outfit).  Switching bags causes me to lose time in the morning and inevitably, there is always something left behind.   I finally found the perfect three piece set by Le Sportsac and it happens to be one of the best every day accessories I have ever purchased! 

These clever pouches allow my things to move from work bag to gym bag to weekend purse without fuss.  Taking a pouch out of one bag and dropping into the other in a matter of nano seconds has put me one step closer to a more organized life!  I store the following everyday 'purse' items in each of the pouches:

Smallest pouch holds my small wallet, phone, chapstick, lip gloss, travel kleenex, mini manicure set, travel wet ones, cough drops and travel sewing kit with room to spare! 
Medium bag stores my kindle (with case), office ID/badge, keys, pen, daily planner, small hand lotion, travel-sized sanitizer
Large bag: flip flops and also travel shampoo and, travel conditioner when I plan to shower at the gym

We told you about our love for the latest Targer designer collection...  Well, this is just one more reason why we're loving the Calypso St. Barths collaboration.  Gorgeous zipper pouches!

Which essentials do you carry at all times, regardless of which bag you're using?


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

We love you, Mami, and hope you have an amazing time celebrating all that you are! 
Lizzie, Jackie and Cristi

Friday, May 6, 2011

{April Book Review} Climbing the Career Ladder in Louboutins

I know this review comes a week late, but we just had so much royal wedding fever to gab about.  And yes, that wedding lived up to all of our expectations!  Anyway, as we mentioned in our previous review, April's book was Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success.

As a self-defined career success (what else can you become after landing your dream job a year out of college?), I appreciated that a successful woman took the time to speak to other female peers on terms we can ALL relate to, regardless of our places in our careers. 

Author Nicole Williams draws parallels from a book all three of us keep close, The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right.  A friend loaned me this book in college and I immediately ordered three copies to gift as stocking-stuffers for Jackie and Cristi (who were still in high school at the time), and to keep for myself; I am referencing this book as I write this post.  While some may consider the latter book outdated and outlandish by today's standards, the common theme in both books is self respect, knowing your self worth, learning how to play the games that the guys have become so good at, and of course, not settling for less that what your heart desires.  Lastly, I love a woman who can tell us how simply being a woman can help us get ahead (and no, not in THAT  way!).   Visit your library or amazon.com and pick up a copy!
Photos from http://www.amazon.com/


Thursday, May 5, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Saint Barts Style Comes to Target

Nobody ever said you had to break the bank to look fabulous. Target's latest collaboration with Calypso St. Barth is the perfect way to look like a million bucks at just a fraction (or fractions' fraction) of the cost.  And just in time for beach vacation season!  Check out some of my favorite pieces from the collection, all ranging from $15-$40. Can you believe it?

Friends A&E also blogged their faves, and the verdict is... WE LOVE their picks too!  So there you have it, go to Target, buy from collection, and look like an island princess.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

Greetings!  Well, I won't tell you the embarassing amount of wine bottles in my trash bin, but let's just say it was all justified!  What I was craving: a fresh, crisp chardonnay with subtle flavors of citrus balanced by faint notes of spices and oak.  So I went to one of my go-to brands for whites, Chateau Ste. Michelle.  The wine: 2009 Columbia Valley Chardonnay.  Perfect to wash down a light dinner and the stresses of a five-alarm work day. 


Derby Party Prep: Dusting off my Julep Cups

I previously mentioned my love for Kentucky and as we prepare to watch the Kentucky Derby from our house this weekend, I'm making sure we have everything in stock for delicious Mint Juleps.  First on the list is dusting off our Mint Julep Cups, which FYI - make amazing decorative pieces during the off season!  As for the juleps, we made these last year and they were a hit! 

Mint Julep (divide by 8 for single servings) 
2 cups water  (1/4 cup for single serving)
2 cups white sugar  (1/4 cup for single serving)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves (1 tbsp for single serving)
32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon (we prefer
Woodford Reserve) (4 oz for single serving)
8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish (1 sprig per julep)

Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool, approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves
Fill eight cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person's sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups. Serve juleps on a silver platter.urce: allrecipes.com.  Full recipe makes 8 Juleps.

source: allrecipes.com

And... for when the horses aren't running


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shoe Swoon!

Um, so I just discovered "the Coveteur."  Heart. Melting.  I feel like I have been hiding in  a kitchen cabinet all my life for missing out on this brilliant collabortive fashion site for so long!  Coveteur is the coolest kid on the web, as far as I'm concerned.  The blog gives you sneak peaks at the closets and favorite closet possessions of real people (fashion editors, celebs, authors, party planners, and anyone else worthy). 

Upon my daily routine of admire|sigh|and-back-to-reality, I came across The Coveteur's collaboration with Elle Magazine and found Khloe Kardashian's enviable collection of stilettos.  Girl after my own heart! Since you all know about my love affair with shoes, you can understand how my heart just about skipped a beat as I narrowed in on this picture, spotting 25+ Louboutins, YSL Platform Pumps, Manolos and Nude Jimmy Choo Private Sandals (I've had these on my list for sooooo long!). 

You really get to know the star of Khloe and Lamar though these pictures, as she gives you a story behind each one.  My favorite quote:

“My hubby [Lamar Odom] is such a sneaker king….and I am a stiletto queen!  He always wants to see me in sneakers, but I believe I can do anything in heels."

I love this so much because MY hubby [zds] says the SAME thing about me wearing sneaks!  Yuck!  You rock your heels, Khloe, and I'll rock mine!  Heel power!

But seriously, doesn't this closet make you want to die?  It's Heaven!

Photo: Elle, via the Coveteur

Monday, May 2, 2011

{We're Obsessed!} Marc by Marc Jacobs 10th Anniversary Collection

Happy 10th Anniversary to a colorful and comfortable American design label, Marc by Marc Jacobs.  To celebrate the occasion, the designer has released a limited edition collection of tees, cargo pants, jackets and dresses of the most memorable and most desired prints from his collections over the last decade.  As a bonus, just when this label has ascended into the "can no longer afford" category, all of the designs for the 10th anniversary collection can be purchased for under $300.  You won't see these prices on this label once the limited edition pieces are all scooped up! 

Since I have a few celebrations of my own to mark (no pun intended) throughout the summer, I decided to purchase a simple silk dress in a classic silhouette and bold stripe print.  The dress is available in a variety of prints (seems like I tried on at least a dozen of prints in the same dress, but the collection offers seven) and can be purchased at marcjacobs.com, shopbop.com, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales stores.

Happy Shopping!

My pick, http://www.saks.com/

other versions available from the collection


{We're Obsessed!} Ombré Hair

Summer temperatures have hit us in Dallas and if you’re like me you’re getting the “I need to change my look” itch. I’ve recently become obsessed with the ombré hair style. As a virgin to all hair coloring (all three of us are) I feel this low maintenance style would be a great way to lose my hair virginity. Gasp! Ombré hair is accomplished by creating a dark root and then extending downward to a lighter tip. If you grow tired of it, you can simply cut the tips out and let your roots grow out! And it looks absolutely gorgeous with those summer beachy locks. So what do you think? Should I go for it? Check out these celebrities who make the ombré look sexy and savvy!