Thursday, May 31, 2012

{Thrifty Thursday} THOSE shoes!

You've seen them everywhere.  They've been dubbed "The Aniston" because the actress is seen wearing them all summer long.  We're def not the first ones to blog about the Stuart Weitzman Alex wedge, but in case you've admired them for the last few summers and haven't been able to pay the whopping price, we are happy to tell you that you can get replicas at Target for less than one tenth the price of the Alex!

Mossimo Pam Wedge, $25, Target

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

{Wine Wednesday} Sparkling Red

I have been plagued with oh but the worst of problems lately. Dallas is having some fabulous evening weather lately and I have been frequenting a lot of patios for happy hour. So what's the problem? Well I'm a big red wine drinker and not a lover of white. Jackie keeps telling me that as soon as I turn 26 I will fall in love with Whites because that's how it happened with her. Well, dear sister, I am a mere couple months away from that day and I have yet to fall in love--so we'll see. But I digress....

The problem? A glass of red just isn't as refreshing as you want it to be while enjoying some time on the patio. Beer makes me feel fat (and I have to drink a lot of it just to feel a good buzz), and any sort of cocktail at happy hour renders me completely unproductive (and drunk) by the time I make it home. So what's a girl to do? Drop a few ice cubes in the vino tinto and hope nobody sees you? WRONG.

On a trip to the oh so so so fabulous The Cedars Social I was explaining my dilemma to the ever patient waiter when he assured me he had the answer to all my problems. He quickly reappeared with a bottle of Red Engine Sparking Shiraz. That's right. A sparkling red. I can remember it perfectly, the way the sun hit the bottle. It was almost celestial. With the first sip of the delicious, refreshing treat--I knew my problems had been solved.

So here's to you lovers of red looking for the perfect refreshing summer drink--try some sparkling red. You won't be disappointed!

Oh, and have no fear--our favorite vendor, has a lovely sparking red for purchase on their site. Check out the Fizz 56. I just ordered a bottle (or two!) for myself.

Engine Room Sparkling Red

Alianca Tinto Bruto

Fizz 56 Sparkling Red found on 

Friday, May 25, 2012

{Good Grapes Destination} The Big Easy

I've been extreely fortunate in life to not only be blessed with the best family a girl could ask for (a special shout out to my fellow good grapes J & A) but I also have the best friends a girl could ask for! This weekend I'll be heading down to the Big Easy aka NOLA aka Nawlins aka New Orleans to celebrate the end of single life for one of my favorite ladies--Daniele! You might remember her from when I went to San Francisco last year. 

Daniele and I met at UT where she was in my sorority and it was an instant connection. It's hard to put our friendship into words but she is literally a soul mate. We can have the most intellectual and heartfelt conversations and I literally ask her advice on everything. We like to refer to eachother as sisters of the heart. But Daniele isn't the only one I'm looking forward to seeing--[almost] the whole group will be reunited and I am beyond thrilled to regroup with the girls and have a super fun weekend!

A few of my favorite shots from the last time I was down in NOLA

A few shots of the ladies I am most excited to see this weekend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blooming Tuesday

Don't you love the difference a little pop of color from a floral arrangement makes to brighten up a space?  Last year I had the urge to splurge on annual plants at Home Depot and I asked Z to plant them in our unsightly dirt patch in the patio.  I am so happy that this year those plants are just starting to yield buds and blooms.  I've snipped a few roses from our rose bush and the two hydrangeas that bloomed to make beautiful arrangements in our home. 

What's better is that I see more hydrangeas blooming and our lilies are starting to bud as well.  Soon I can use those fragrant lilies to fill my empty bud vases.

A floral arrangement in my home office makes the workday more pleasant.  Vase: Vera Wang Duchesse for Wedgewood

is it just me or do these roses beat the ones you can find in a store?

Hydrangeas and roses in the living room.  Vase: Waterford's Lismore

All photos: my own

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yogurt Parfait Pancakes

I have to admit, while I've been feeling generally fantastic throughout this pregnancy, my creativity has diminished almost completely.  The house is in disarray (so not like me!), I can't seem to make the nursery look anything but cluttered, and when it comes time to cook dinner, I'm at a total loss.  I usually like trying something new every night and lately, I can't even whip up old favorites.  My whining aside, I've surprisingly been cooking delicious new brunch recipes (last week's French Toast was just one of them).  

I'm on a pancake kick and you already know how obsessed I am with all pancakes (pumpkin, lemon-ricotta, and just about all other varieties).  Well, this weekend I came up with a new pancake recipe - the yogurt parfait pancake.  I looked through all of my pancake recipes and adapted a basic recipe to incorporate some Greek yogurt since I had some on hand.  The result was Heavenly!  I had to share.

Yogurt Parfait Pancakes.  All photos, my own

1 cup flour*
1 tbsp sugar*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp melted butter*
4-5 tbsp milk*
Granola crumbles
Fresh strawberries
Whipped cream

*My suggestions: I wanted to vary the flour, so I used 1/2 c. all purpose, 1/4 cup whole wheat, and 1/4 cup cornmeal for texture, although if you do half and half white:wheat flour you'll also get plenty of texture; I used 1/2 granulated and 1/2 light brown sugar; I used melted Crisco shortening.  I find it makes the fluffiest pancake.  Canola oil and butter are excellent to use as well; I used organic fat free, and it worked well.  I want to try buttermilk next time


Heat griddle iron on medium heat.  Heat oven to 250 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Add yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract and butter.  Mix well.  Add milk, one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.  

flour variety and Chobani Greek nonfat yogurt, vanilla flavor
Mixing flours and sugars for a better-for-you pancake
Spray griddle with cooking spray or melt butter over griddle.  Pour batter onto heated griddle iron, about 1/4 cup per pancake.  Add granola crumbles to raw pancakes.  When they start to bubble, flip.  Let pancakes cook through before removing from the griddle.  Place cooked pancakes on cookie sheet at keep in preheated oven while you cook the second batch.  

granola goes on the batter
 Top with whipped cream and strawberries.  Serve with pure maple syrup.

 Makes 6 large, fluffy pancakes.



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Scream for Gelato!

Get it?  Haha. 

But seriously, if you're a Dallas girl, you know exactly where to go for the tastiest Gelato on this side of the Atlantic Ocean: Paciugo.  It exploded in popularity when it opened it's first location in Dallas in 2000 and so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I learned that since I've moved from Dallas, Paciugo has expanded right into the lower level retail space of my company's headquarters in Arlington, Virgina!  It's been open in Clarendon for only a couple of months and I've already paid multiple visits.  As the temperature climbs and takes us into summer, I can't think of a more perfect cool down than a visit to the all-new Paciugo Gelateria and Caffe. 

Welcome to Arlington!

My picks: a trio of dark chocolate, red velvet cake and cappuccino flavored gelatos
Gelato selection at the new Arlington location.  Photo: from

Monday, May 7, 2012

{We're Obsessed} Mesh Pumps

Um, hello mesh pumps.  Where have you been all of my life and why did I have to find you when I'm about to go on unpaid maternity leave? 

I don't know if' I've been so obsessed over a shoe trend ever in my life, and that says a lot, considering my obsession-inspired shoe collection.  I think and dream about these gorgeous and sexy mesh pumps and since I'll have to wait until I'm back at work to scoop some up, I thought I'd blog about the top runners-up on my list.  Sigh.  I know the reality is that these beauties will sell out long before I collect a paycheck again!  My favorites, in order:

1. Versace, $725; 2. Jimmy Choo, $695; 3. Vionnet, $695; 4. Max Kibardin, $995

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Corn Flake Crusted French Toast

Years ago, I don't remember where I was but I enjoyed magnificent French Toast that had a crunchy outside... like a corn flake topping.  Last month, out of no where I started craving this recipe and found something online that could be just a little better!  Apparently I don't need to go far to enjoy this favorite brunch treat.  They happen to cook these up down the street at the luxurious Lafayette restaurant in the Washington Hay Adams Hotel. Luckily, I found the recipe online so that  I could enjoy this famous brunch dish in the comfort of my kitchen.

recipe source and photo:

1 loaf brioche bread (about 1 lb.)*
1⁄3 cup half and half
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. fine salt
1⁄4 tsp. orange zest
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups cornflakes, coarsely crushed**
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
Confectioners' sugar
Maple syrup

Photos above are my own

1. Slice brioche loaf into eight 1"-thick slices with a serrated knife. Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut each slice into a circle and set aside. (Reserve bread scraps for bread crumbs.)

2. In a shallow dish, whisk together half and half, sugar, cinnamon, salt, orange zest, and eggs. Put cornflakes into another shallow dish. Working with 1 circle of brioche at a time, dip in the egg mixture, allowing brioche to soak for 10 seconds on each side, then coat in the cornflakes. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with waxed paper.

3. Heat 3 tbsp. of the butter in a 10" nonstick skillet over medium heat until just foaming. Transfer 4 slices of brioche to the pan and cook, turning once, until both sides are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Divide the french toast between 2 serving plates. Wipe out skillet, add remaining butter, and repeat process. Dust the french toast with confectioners' sugar and drizzle with maple syrup. Serve with berries and sliced fruit, if you like.


My notes:
* this recipe works well with thick sliced bread.  I've used brioche and sour dough. I've also used pre-sliced thinner sour dough.  Heavenly!  I don't bother using a cookie cutter- more French toast for me, please!
** I've used sugar frosted corn flakes, corn flakes, Kashi honey sunshine and Fiber One honey clusters and all work well on this recipe.  

Last, I find the bread quickly absorbs the batter.  You may have to refill your shallow dish on occasion.