Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

Can you say bubbles???  Well, last Thursday I was home packing for a visit to see my familia in Dallas and I ran out of wine.  Tragedy, I know.  Between the earthquake and hoping we'll even get out before the thing called Irene, we just were unaware and accidentally finished TWO bottles of the  Banfi Sangiovese Cabernet.  I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't open a bottle just for the single glass I was craving and then I remembered my super sweet friend CR (and not the CR that is my sister!) gifted me a personal sized bottle of sparkling wine that she brought back from her trip to Mendoza!  I was golden.  But more so was this fantastic and smooth sparkling wine called Uno, made by the famous Santa Julia winemakers.  I loved every sip! 

Santa Julia sparkling wine with fresh strawberries

Turkey Sausage Kabobs

Below I'm posting another amazing recipe shared with us by Jackie.  It's fabulous and perfect for this pre-fall grilling season.  Enjoy!

4 of your favorite veggies: I use 1 PURPLE Onion/2-3 GREEN Zucchini, .5-1 pkgg. BROWN Mushrooms and 1-2 RED bell pepper (LOVE the color!).
“Good Seasons” Italian Dressing Packet
Italian Sausage Links (Note: I use Jennie O Turkey to watch the cals!)
Kabob Sticks (soak before cooking if using wooden sticks)

Quarter/Slice your favorite veggies and put in shallow baking dish.
Sprinkle with ½ packet “Good Seasons” Italian Dressing mix. (the kind you use to make Italian salad dressing).
Toss the mix with EVOO (~3 TBSP) and Balsamic Vinegar (~1.5 TBSP).  (Note: I don’t measure….)
**Secret: I cook my killer asparagus recipe this way..No need to marinate asparagus.., just put on indoor grill, sprinkle seasoning, EVOO and balsamic—delish!).**
Let above marinate for ~30 minutes (Squeeze in a good workout/run here! You can do it!).
Cut sausage links very lightly with very sharp knife (Note: Don’t squeeze or it will come out of casings…That’s right! Casings on!!). 
Arrange your kabob with sausage first, an array of your veggies, sausage, veggies, sausage. 
Heat Indoor Grill (Note: I’m OBSESSED with my All-Clad Double Burner Indoor Grill!  Christmas presents for everyone!!!), spray with EVOO cooking spray and place kabobs directly on grill. 
Cook/turn about 4.5 min/side.  Let cool.
Makes about 8-12 kabobs. (Serving Size: Jackie 2; Joey 4).

Jackie's kabobs cooking on the All Clad griddle she loves (purchase here)

Deliciousness.  The end!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Texas! Texas! Yee-haw!

This Saturday marks one of the best days of the year…OPENING DAY OF TEXAS FOOTBALL SEASON and I’m already scrambling to put together some great Game Day outfits. My favorite go-to outfit is a white dress with cowboy boots and some burnt orange accesories, but here are a few more great looks I’ve found to add to my white and burnt orange Texas girl wardrobe.

P.S. You can’t forget the cowboy boots. Those are the most important!

Hook ‘em! \m/

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest


Monday, August 29, 2011

{We’re Obsessed} Rose Gold

More and more rose gold jewelry and accessories are hitting the shelves and I’m loving it. It’s so great to try something different than the typical silver or gold options. Rose gold has a pinkish or “rose” tint to it that lends to a warmer and more aged look than your standard yellow gold. So many designers are adopting the rose gold trend, check out some of my favorites below. 

Photo: Nadri Hammered Pave Wide Hinged Cuff, Nordstroms

Photo: Alexis Bittar Pebble Cuff, Nordstroms

Photo: Michael Kors Rose Gold Watch, Nordstroms


Friday, August 26, 2011

TGIF. Remember that the best accessory any lady can carry is a smile. I love this quote from Caroline Kennedy and just want to remind all of you to smile today. There is so much to be grateful for!

“Carry a heart that never hates and carry a smile that never fades.” – Caroline Kennedy


Thursday, August 25, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} The Cat's Meow

Interestingly, on my way to grab coffee Monday morning I saw two women pass me with two variations of the same outfit.  I loved the look on the first woman, and loved it again when I saw it on someone else moments later, so I decided to write about it.  They both paired a leopard print cardigan over a simple black dress and added a skinny belt at the waist.  I thought I’d steal the look and was happy to find that Old Navy offers a leopard print cardigan for a very kind price.  

I found inspiration for the complete look online by one of my FAVORITE designer's ever, Milly:

Cardigan, $280

Similar look, all for under $100:

My set created on Polyvore
Cardigan, $30, Old Navy
Skinny belt, $24, Topshop
Dress, $40, JCPenney


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

I've been enjoying the same bottle of vino all week.  From the Tuscan town of Montalcino, Col Di Sasso, or 'Stony Hill' in Italian, is made up of two of my favorite reds - Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.  I came across this wine when picking an assortment of Italian wines to serve at my 30th birthday party.  We had just returned from a wine tasting and culinary trip through Tuscany, so to continue the theme, my party featured only Tuscan wines.  This was one, and I've enjoyed it since.  

The bottle comes from the Banfi family of wines and is one of their most popular labels.  It is not as full bodied as a Cabernet Sauvignon, but still beautifully concentrated yet light enough to enjoy with cheese or light summer meals.  At under $10 a bottle, I am pleased I came across this brand and added it to our collection. 


Shrimp Pad Thai

I'm sad my fish sauce recipes are ending this week, but I've saved the best for last!  This is my favorite Pad Thai recipe and it comes from Cooking Light, so you know it's better than going for take out!  I prepare my version just the slightest bit different from the Cooking Light version, adding sriacha hot sauce and coating the shrimp in the Pad Thai sauce instead of adding them separately.  I hope you love it as much as I do!


8 ounces wide rice stick noodles (Banh Pho)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tsp sriacha hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
3/4 cup (1-inch) sliced green onions
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, ground*

Place noodles in a large bowl. Add hot water to cover; let stand 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Whisk ketchup, sugar, fish sauce, sriacha, and pepper in a medium bowl. 
Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove shrimp from pan, add to ketchup mixture, coat shrimp, set aside. 
Heat 4 teaspoons of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add eggs; cook 30 seconds or until soft-scrambled, stirring constantly. Add sprouts, green onions, and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add noodles and shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until heated. Sprinkle with peanuts.
*I grind my peanuts in the blender

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are you there Fall? It’s me, Cristi.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the hot Texas summers but I’m over this triple digit heat and ready to unpack my riding boots and pashminas. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the cool crisp evening, the trees losing their leaves, and mostly—the fall fashion. 

Photo: Printerest

Photo: The Frye Company (purchase here)

Photo: Printerest

Monday, August 22, 2011

{We're Obsessed!} Esmeralda

... Which means 'emerald' in espanol.  We so crave everything in this hue this season, it's hard not to become slightly obsessed! 

From left to right: cape dress, earrings, top, tote

Friday, August 19, 2011

{Good Grapes Destination} West Palm Beach, FL

Happy Friday Good Grapes!  Today I'm off to celebrate a dear friend with a super stylish bachelorette in none other than West Palm Beach, Florida.  I love this joint and am so happy to be going back with good friends for a great time.  Congratulations to the bride-to-be!

Top images,; bottom image, pinterest

Thursday, August 18, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Sexy Sleepwear

Last night I found myself in the lingerie section and ouch!  How expensive must a little piece of fabric be?  Nothing lust worthy under $85 but if I let myself go crazy I could have easily spent a good paycheck on these pretty little things.  When shopping for sexy nighties you shouldn't always have to feel the pinch - I've managed to find a few come-hither and feminine pieces to add to your collections, or to give as gifts, without feeling like you've blown your budget:

Babydoll nightgowns from top: $19.99, Target; $27.99, Kohl's; $30.00, JCPenney

Splurge on this $85.00 Betsey Johnson babydoll at Nordstrom

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Favorite Marinade

And you guessed it, it contains fish sauce!   This marinade is the secret to perfection when grilling beef, shrimp or chicken.  This weekend  I soaked my beef chunks in the marinade and made skewers by adding strips of green, red and yellow bell peppers and red onions.  I originally found the recipe in my Self Magazine and have used it over and over since.  The original recipe said to puree the ingredients, but I've always just mixed them and let the protein soak in it prior to grilling.  


1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp grated orange zest

1 tsp sriracha

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp brown sugar
vegetable cooking spray

Whisk cilantro, garlic, soy sauce, orange zest, sriracha, fish sauce and sugar.  Add your protein.  Marinade for 30 minutes before grilling. 

prepared skewers.  Photo: My own

To prepare beef skewers, you will need:

1 lb lean beef sirloin, cut into 1/8-inch strips

1 each red, green and yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces

½ red onion, 1 inch pieces

Thread beef, peppers, and onion on skewers, alternating ingredients.  Pour remaining marinade over prepared skewers and grill on high heat until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.  


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Accesorizing Is My Favorite!

Photo: My Own
Accessorizing is my favorite! Every night before hitting the town I love visiting this corner in my bathroom to browse through my accessories and pick out what exactly I'll be wearing that evening. The options are practically limitless. Remember, accessories can make an outfit go from blah to wow in just two seconds. 


Monday, August 15, 2011

{We're Obsessed!} Tie Neck Blouses

This is where I really wish I timed my blogging effectively so that I could dig thorough old photographs and scan pictures to post.  But you'll just have to take my word for it that our mother was the queen of the tie neck blouse.  Must have been a big hit for professional women in the early 80s that keeps coming back to the fall runway shows. This time, they got it right and I'm obsessed!

blouse $68, Ann Taylor

blouse, $53, ASOS
blouse, Halston Heritage, $265, Bergdorf Goodman

blouse, Dolce and Gabbana, $825, Nordstrom


Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Friday!

I hope you have something wonderful in store for the weekend.  As for me, I will spend the weekend priming and painting some furniture for the guest bedroom.

image: Google

And how about these lovely ideas for recycling paint cans?  I'd love to use some cans to add to my herb garden!

top image: Pinterest; bottom image: Martha Stewart

Thursday, August 11, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Faking Antiques

I redesigned the layout of our living room furniture last week and in doing so, created an unsightly blank space against the wall where we once had our sofa.  I needed the perfect piece of furniture, as both the width and depth available would allow only a small piece.  I started looking first for antiques, as they add a sense of old charm that the room lacked and also tend to be smaller.  I found what I was looking for, more or less, on 1stdibs, but thankfully wasn't convinced.  The frame and the curvy legs were perfect, but the style didn't fit and I couldn't bring myself to spend that much on something I had to repaint to fit my decor.   I tried my luck at HomeGoods over the weekend and had I not found the right piece online first, I would have walked right past this beauty!  With one figure already in my head, it was a no-brainer to take the one that cost less.  Let's call it a 90% discount and a lot of saved paint and labor.  

Cabinet, $1800,

My look-alike HomeGoods score, $180

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wine Wednesday!

Cristi had a hilarious status on her G-chat today, which she posted around noon, 11am her time.  It said, "NEED.WINE.NOW."

That is pretty much how I felt all day today!  What's worse is that even though I had a busy day, it draaaagggged (notice the emphasis).  So tonight as I prepare tomorrow's post, I am enjoying an EXCELLENT bottle we opened for an Italian dinner I made Sunday.  It is a 2006 William Knuttel Maritage.  This has a full flavor and a silky finish for a blend.  I've really enjoyed it.  It combines many of my favorite red varietals, making it a great pick for a summer dinner.  My father sent us this wine for our first anniversary in 2008, and I believe it is no longer available since I can't find it anywhere!  Oh well, it was truly enjoyed. 


Fried Rice

I'm holding up my promise today by featuring a recipe that reuses that fish sauce you purchased to make the red curried shrimp recipe from last week.  This not-so-pleasant smelling fish sauce is a basic ingredient in Thai cooking.  While we may not love the smell of cooking with this sauce, it certainly makes big difference in creating the authentic Thai cuisine taste we often crave.  Best part is, once it's cooked in the meal you can't taste the fishiness!

This week's fish-sauce recipe is fried rice.  I was addicted to this recipe when I first read it in my 2008 Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine and have enjoyed several variations of it since.  I've used many proteins, primarily shrimp and also chicken, pork, and tofu, and have added additional vegetables such as sliced shitake mushrooms and chopped red pepper to pack more nutrients and create a 'one bowl' meal.  I've never cooked with the lemongrass, so don't worry about not being able to find that at your grocery store.  It's a fine dish with or without it!
Fried Rice Photo:  Levi Brown, Rachael Ray Everyday
6 cups cooked white rice, at room temperature
4 large eggs
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili paste (I use Sriracha hot sauce)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil*
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
One 10-ounce bag frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
In a large bowl, fluff the cooked rice with a fork. Add the eggs and stir until just combined.
  1. In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, lemongrass, chili paste and pepper. Stir into the rice mixture.
  2. In a large, heavy skillet**, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. (Add any proteins here). Add the peas and carrots and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the rice mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.
  3. *When recipes call for this much oil, I usually start with two tablespoons and only increase as needed from there. 
  4. **If you think you'll be hooked on these fish sauce recipes, consider investing in a large wok pan.  You can get great ones at Bed Bath and Beyond with the 20% off coupon that they circulate.
  5. Makes about 6 meal-sized servings.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ms. Missoni comes to Target

In just a little over a month - September 13 to be exact- we'll be lining up to browse the famous Italian designer's Target collaboration.  I've admired Margherita Missoni as brand ambassador (and style icon) for a long time and was happy to hear she joined her family's business as accessories designer last year.  Now I'm even more thrilled that Missoni will be available at Target and for a great value!  Just look at the pictures.  Would you not own the airline with that carry-on?  And would your work day not be brighter (no pun intended) when your laptop is housed in that amazing sleeve?  The line will feature over 400 pieces- from clothing and accessories to luggage and housewares.  It's all just fab!

Image of the 2011 Missoni for Target campaign obtained from New York Magazine

Do you spot a favorite?


Monday, August 8, 2011

{We're Obsessed!} Painted Dressers

I recently saved myself hundreds of dollars on a gorgeous antique dresser that is in need of TLC.   I had planned to re-stain it, but now that I have dark hardwood floors, I've become enamoured with the look of colorful dressers to contrast them.  The piece I purchased is almost identical to the white piece below, but take a look at the others and let me know what you think would look best in my all-beige guest bedroom. You see, though I'm obsessed with how these pieces look, deciding on a color will take me forever!

All images obtained from Pinterest


Friday, August 5, 2011

{Good Grapes Destination} Walking the Jetway

With our friends and family scattered across the country we often find ourselves boarding a plane after work on a Friday.  I rarely check a bag and I think I have my essentials figured out: I can do without my iPod for the weekends but I need a good book; I take only the amount of jewelry I can fit into my travel jewelry roll; I plan my outfits ahead and around the two pairs of shoes I've packed; I always pack yoga pants and a tank top, sometimes even my resistance bands (you can exercise barefoot, so there is no need to waste packing space with sneakers!); I wear minimal jewelry at the airport- makes security much easier; and I always pack a scarf and an eye mask for my naps.  Oh and a water bottle and snacks.  Weekends are so rushed once we step off the plane, so my number one rule is to travel in something that can be worn anywhere. What are your tips for stylish but comfortable travel?


Thursday, August 4, 2011

{Thrifty Thursday} Getting Organized

I recently discovered Ikea's Kassett storage series and I bought the store out.  Not really, but I've completed organization of our DVDs and CDs in the media room and now I'm on to a more challenging task of organizing my home office.  Remember I decided to open up that closet in the home office?  Well, now that the closet's contents are there for all to see, I've got to get it perfectly presentable!  First, I purchased a set of the large box with lid to serve as a file cabinet.  $10 for a 2 pack and I've already got ample space to store some of that mess you'll see in the pictures.  I also purchased the box with lid for paper to store my jewelry supplies, and a few tiny boxes - one that holds my business receipts and tax records and the other to hold special letters and cards from Z.  

Soon, all of this clutter will be sorted and stored.

Ikea Kassett storage on my shelves

Not only do I win by saving money, but I'll have one very neat home office when I'm done putting my belongings away! 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Moroccan Getaway--sort of.

When Nick was in town a couple of weeks ago we wanted to go out for dinner and I couldn’t think of anything that I as craving—so the options I offered were limited. Nick got on his phone and just browsed the closest restaurants to my apartment. He came across one called Medina Oven & Bar in Victory Plaza. Oh my gosh, what a gem! They serve Moroccan and Mediterranean foods and the atmosphere is wonderful too. It is decorated with a seductive Modern Moroccan style interior design that makes the ambiance feel quaint and romantic. It was the perfect spot!

While there, we also ordered a bottle of a delicious red Moroccan wine, Amazir Beni M’Tir. I’ve never had Moroccan wine but I am definitely a fan. The Morocco soil is known for producing soft, full-bodied fruity red wines. This particular wine had flavors of ripe black fruit with other complex and elegant flavors. I loved it! If you need a romantic date spot—tucked away in a quiet corner of Victory Plaza is this jewel that I highly recommend. 

Medina Interior Photo:

Shrimp Salad CousCous Photo:

Lamb Tagine Photo:

Medina Patio Photo: