Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Monday List: Around the Web

I really like the idea of doing an around the web Happy Monday List so here we go again! Enjoy!!

1. A super fun, eye-popping, and yes, very pink, Australian home tour! (How fun is that pink door???)


{images: Made By Girl}

2. I LOVE cobbler, and this berry cobbler had me drooling at first sight. I fully intend on recreating it during my trip to California. Yum!

{Image: Orangette}

3. 15 Food Myths That Can Kill You (so, SO true - thanks, CBS!)

{Image: CBS.com}

4. Being a paper addict and all, I simply cannot WAIT to get my hands on these PaPaYa spiral notebooks. Aren't they gorgeous??
{Image: PaPaYa}

5. And last but not least, a reminder as to why plastic bottles are NO BUENO (click to enlarge):

{Image: here}

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ashley

Love 'em or hate 'em, Ashley and Mary Kate are a fashion force that is here to stay. I personally adore them (and their Elizabeth and James label), and I love how they each rock their own unique style. MK is best known for her oversized clothing, heavy accessories and bag lady chic look. Ashley, on the other hand, is a bit more polished in every way - clothes, hair, makeup. I am loving these shots of her in FASHION magazine, and they make me lust for Fall more than ever...



{all images found here}

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reclaiming My Health

Well, the impossible has happened. I have gained weight whilst living in NYC (something I thought to be impossible b/c hello, you walk everywhere here!) When I first moved, I was eating some of the richest foods around and drinking like a fish and yet still found myself getting lighter and leaner. Pourquoi? Because I was also walking everywhere, all day, every day. Now? I'm eating (somewhat) healthier, cooking more, and yet my pants are getting tighter and tighter. Now, my ravenous appetite is partially to blame (it's been a little ridic for the past couple of weeks - ask my sister, she'll tell ya!), but it's also a combination of a lot of other things, including but not limited to...

- not walking every where (except maybe to Trader Joe's to get more food)
- TJ's vintage root beer (helloooo liquid satan!)
- spending an entire day inside (b/c hello, it's raining!), laying in bed avec laptop and in front of TV
- staying up uber late and snacking into the wee hours of the morning
- eating crap

Well this morning I woke up and felt like... crap. And after a quick glance in the mirror and a step on the scale, I knew my diet needed a major makeover. Now, I'm not going to pull a Carolyn circa 2002-2005 (aka go on a fad diet), I'm just going to do a little tweaking so that I feel better. Eating more fruits and vegetables, laying off the morning croissants, nixing soda (I'll miss you, vintage root beer...), and walking my arse off in addition to running at the gym.

So today, after a morning spent at the Ace Hotel Lounge, sipping insanely good coffee and doing some work, I begrudgingly walked in the rain to the gym and nearly died. Afterwards I headed to TJ's (a reward I'll only allow myself if I visit the gym first) where I picked up asparagus, spinach, watermelon, grapes, mushrooms, celery, carrots, hummus, and COMPLETELY ignored the siren songs of the root beer - woo hoo!

And then I came home and made myself what is quickly becoming my favorite weekday dinner: polenta. Oh polenta... how I love thee. A close sister to grits, polenta is incredibly versatile, filling, and healthy. It's very quick-cooking (huge plus when you're hungry!) and can be topped with just about anything. Here's how I do it:

{Image credit: lemonpi}

Carolyn's Easy Peasy Polenta

Make 1-2 servings (2 if you're moi) of polenta following package directions (takes mere minutes). Like pasta, you'll want to salt the water when it's boiling and right before you add the polenta.

After it's thickened, stir in some butter (I use Earth Balance) and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper. (You can also add cheese! Cheese and polenta go together like bread and butta.) Pour into ginormous bowl.

Top with whatever tickles your fancy: sauteed mushrooms, roasted asparagus, steamed broccolini, garlicky spinach, tomato sauce, caramelized onions... the possibilities are endless. Need some protein? Throw on a fried egg! Feeling more indulgent? Add another slab of butter and sprinkle with parmiggiano! (It only makes it more delicious.) Have nothing in the fridge? Then just eat with a little butter, salt and peppa. It's still delicious! If you're feeling really adventurous, you can pour it into a baking pan, wait for it to cool, cut it into squares, and then fry it. Top with marinara and cheese and hello yummy!

What I love about this meal is that it's quick, comforting, and all fits in one bowl. Also? It's cheap! Seriously, if you've never tried polenta before, I highly suggest you pick up a bag today. It's kind of rocking my world right now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Presque Fall


First, how is it 1:39 AM? I swear, mere minutes ago, it was only 11 PM. Oops. I also have a very early (well, early for moi...) morning wake up time tomorrow because I have a very important call at 10. Ah well, c'est la vie. I think I've gotten enough sleep in the past couple months to last me awhile.

Today the temperature barely rose above 70, and despite the on/off rain, I loved every delicious second of it. I met an old friend for (mediocre, of course) Chinese-style Korean noodles, and on my walk home, I decided to drop off my bags in the flat and then head out again. I was in comfy boots and a long cardi and had a great mix going on my ipod. I wanted to keep walking. So I did... I walked all the way to the west side and strolled along the water. It was lovely albeit a bit short-lived (could've been out there for hours!), as I soon felt raindrops on my head (and was sans umbrella). Tomorrow it's back to the 80's, but this short glimpse into Fall had me all kinds of excited. Tonight's episode of RZP did, too.

This summer heat has kept me in a strict uniform of shorts, lightweight tanks, ponytails (yuck), and minimal jewelry. I can't wait for cooler weather and all that entails: boots, shrunken jackets, long boyfriend cardigans, deep crimson lips, long messy hair, leather leggings, my newish hot pink Uggs (soon to be debuted on my Tahoe camping trip in September) and gobs and gobs of jewelry. After being almost 3 months without, I begged my Mom to send me my boxes of jewelry tonight - I'm dying without them! It's all costume jewelry, no doubt, but it's so fun to pile on, n'est ce pas? It's what I adore best about Rachel Zoe (although hers is decidedly not of the costume variety.)

Things I also adore about Fall besides the phenomenal fashion? The crisp air, the changing leaves (which I will finally be able to experience), inevitable long walks in Central Park, the smell of fire (or the smell of my candles which will smell like burning logs), hot coffee, soups and stews, and most importantly, NOT SWEATING. (Seriously, y'all, I have a sweating problem.) I can't wait.

What do you look forward to the most about Fall?

P.S. I am obsessed with this look on Drew. That belt? That gently tucked tee? That buttery leather jacket? That ombre hair?? I die.

{image found here}


Monday, August 23, 2010

Scenes from Le Weekend


Sorbet and live music @ MoMa Thursday Nights


I really wanted to take this home avec moi from the MoMa store, but it was a bit small.
Sad moi.

On the bathroom wall at MoMa... neat, huh?


Martinis (gratis!) at the hotel bar before dinner


Ma Soeur's artsy shot at Beco (seen below and highly recommended)




Ma Soeur's artsy shot on the streets of Williamsburg


Too much fun at the Museum of Natural History






I had an absolute blast avec Ma Soeur over the past few days, and I cannot WAIT until September when I'll spend a heavenly week in NoCal with my beloved Lola! Hope y'all had a fantastic, happy, love-filled weekend as well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Perspective

As I was watching the Rachel Zoe Project the other night (yay for DVR!), I was reminded of a conversation that Roomie Deux et moi had at the beach last Sunday. First, let me tell you about Roomie Deux. She's from Louisiana comme moi and moved to NYC after getting her MBA to work in fashion. She's brunette, pretty and has the perfect little bod in which she rocks all of her fabulous little outfits. Needless to say, I was un peu intimidated (and yes, tres jelly) by her when I moved in. Luckily, she's amazingly sweet, down to earth, and a genuinely good person.

As we were laying on the beach, I asked her what she did on Saturday. Apparently, she woke up on Saturday morning to go volunteer and serve at a food kitchen for the elderly. It was her first time volunteering but she had wanted to do so for awhile. While she was there, she met a woman who told her that she volunteers 2-3 times a week. When Roomie asked her why she wasn't a "leader" within the group, the woman responded with, "Oh yes... they're always telling me to do that. But to be a leader, you have to organize and sends lots of email, and well, I don't have a computer at home." As in, she can't afford to have a computer at home. Roomie told me that at that moment, she felt really, really bad about being too lazy to volunteer until now. This sweet woman, who was older and worked a full-time job as well, makes time to volunteer 2-3 times a week for those less fortunate than her. And she can't afford a computer. Roomie said, "It just really put things into perspective." And I responded with, "It's really important to do that in this city."

The thing about New York City is... it IS fabulous. But it's also full of sadness that becomes all too easy to ignore when you're in your own bubble of SATC bliss. Working at the corporate office of one of the top department stores in the country, Roomie Deux often loses perspective. Multiple-thousand dollar pairs of shoes, bags, and outfits become the norm, and you forget what reality really looks like. This is one of my greatest fears about working in fashion... it's too easy to get caught up in that world and forget that, at the end of the day, it's just shoes, bags, and clothes. I love fashion... I've loved fashion for a very long time. I read fashion blogs religiously, subscribe to every major fashion publication, and revel in the idea that I live in NYC - home to multiple designer sample sales per week (often occurring in my very neighborhood). But fashion? Is not that important. And it's incredibly important to put things into perspective, especially for moi, especially when it comes to fashion.

Watching Rachel and Brad prepare for the Fashion for Relief Haiti fashion show, freak out over the lack of shoes and the imminent doom of what will happen is x model does not show up, I was reminded of perspective. And then walks in a dashing young male model, who had just escaped Haiti and experienced the earthquake firsthand. And there goes Rachel, running into the next room, wiping away tears. In a small way, I know how she feels. It's easy to get wrapped up in the ease and comfort of your own world and to ignore the reality that is the world. I do it all the time. I've thrown myself many pity parties over the last few weeks, and as I complained about my "life as a poor girl" here in NYC the other night, my friends gently reminded/teased me saying, "Yes, your poor life, Carolyn. You and your pink room and your DVR. Poor you!" They are right. I am privileged, incredibly privileged and have been been fortunate enough to be that way for my entire life. And while things, particularly money, are tighter now, I still have a pretty rich life. I need to remember that.

Also? I need to volunteer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Leftovers

In my opinion, the best cooks know how to cook from the heart, not the head. They improvise, they don't insist on strictly following a recipe, they trust their judgment, and they utilize leftovers! My Mom is this kind of cook, but I have never been so good at this. I've always followed recipes and allowed the leftover ingredients to go bad in the fridge. But after reading The Art of Eating In and seeing how good Cathy was at not letting a single thing go to waste, I've been attempting my own version of this uber efficient and cost-friendly style of cooking. And I'm uber pleased to say that it's gone rather well!

There's really no secret to it besides using your imagination a little bit (and not being a picky eater). Leftover mushrooms from a dinner of sauteed mushrooms and polenta and leftover feta from a homemade pesto/feta/artichoke pizza both became great ingredients from a mushroom/feta/asparagus omelet (using Greenmarket eggs leftover from dinner party spanish tortilla!). Leftover asparagus from omelet made a great and simple side to my leftover spanish tortilla from dinner party, and today, leftover baguette from dinner party became an integral part of a super yummy salad of heirloom tomato/marinated mozzarella/fried bread all drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a sprinkle of freshly ground salt and peppa. (Below is pic of salad sans balsamic.)

Cooking this is not only fun, but makes me feel good about not letting things go to waste. Since I'm pinching my pennies today, it's tres important that I use every bit of groceries I buy. Also, I am proud to announce that I haven't ordered in since that awful time I was in bed with a cold and wanted yummy sides. WOO HOO! My tummy and wallet are MUCH happier.

What've you been cookin' lately?

P.S. I'm reading I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti and am loving it so far. Book review coming soon!

P.P.S. Did I mention that Ma Soeur is coming back to NYC for work tomorrow?? We are staying at the posh Hotel Indigo (home to a fabulous rooftop bar) and tentative plans include visiting the Barneys Warehouse Sale and a hip dinner in Williamsburg. Yay!

Happens Every Day: A Book Review


I'm a reading machine these days. Book club coupled with a library membership coupled with loads of free time = moi happily consuming book after book after book. My best reading happens on those beach days, and when I went this past Sunday, I brought along my newest NYPL acquisition: Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies.

Like most of my books, I found this one by flipping through a magazine (probably O). When I googled it and realized that Isabel Gillies pays Detective Stabler's wife on SVU, I was even more intrigued. This story is a sad one... but the way Gillies writes it feels so alarmingly real (and at times, even funny) that I could not put it down. It's a story about a young, happily married couple with 2 young boys... and about how one-half of that couple (the husband, of course) leaves his wife for another woman.

I'm neither married nor have I ever been involved in an affair, but this story really struck a chord with me, and I was crying and devastated when I finished it (later that same night, bien sur). It's just so... real. It does happen every day, and it's devastating in every sense of the word. You truly feel for Gillies as you see her acknowledge that her husband has checked out of the marriage, as she suspects that the beautiful new female professor in her husband's department is getting entirely too close, as you watch her plead with this woman to leave her husband alone! I think she handled everything with amazing strength and resilience. The story is sad, and it doesn't end with a fairy story ending (although her real life, I think, did), but that's because the story is real. It's truth. It's the reality that happens to women all over the world every single day.

Which brings me to my next point. When I was young, an important female in my life gave me some advice: "You must always be with a man who loves you more than you love him." And to this day, I believe it to be wise and oh so very true. Last night at our dinner party (and over 4 bottles of wine), my friends and I discussed it in greater detail, and most everyone agreed it's good advice. The fact is, it's too easy for men to leave, especially when it involves another woman. Marriage, children, none of that will stop them, whereas women may think twice or thrice about throwing lives away. I realize this is a gross generalization, but I stand behind it 90% of the time. I'm curious, what do you think? Do you think it's unfair to characterize (most) men this way? Do you know a couple in which the woman is more into the man, and the relationship works out long-term??

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Monday List: Around the Web

Gosh it's been an awfully long time since I've made one of these. In fact, I think I was sitting in a dull office wishing I were anywhere but! Enough of those memories, though, let's focus on today. Since many of you are sitting in offices, I thought you might enjoy a Happy Monday List of the world wide web variety. Enjoy...

1. How to be Alone - I think it's imperative that people, namely women, are comfortable being alone. I enjoy my solitude and alone time more than I can say, and this video/poem says it all.



2. Eloise Suite at the Plaza - Speaking of alone time, I would LOVE to spend a night or two alone in this gorgeously pink palatial suite at the grand Plaza Hotel. Too bad I don't have a spare couple thousand buckaroos lying around...



3. Unexpected Pink - Speaking of pink, I spotted this adorable pink A/C and thought wow, if only... My window unit A/C is kind of horribly hideous. What I wouldn't do to replace it with this one!


4. Erasable Sharpie? Yes, please.


5. Mini Shopaholic - I'm probably way too old to still love the Shopaholic series but... I do! Avec passion!! So naturally I am beyond stoked that the next installment in the world of Becky Bloomwood is coming out in a month. *squeal!!!*



Sunday, August 15, 2010

Scenes from Le Birthday

Roomies!

Cheers!
Delicious prosecco...

The pizza! Molto bene!





Friday, August 13, 2010

My Friday Night Lights


I'm having the most divine perfect Friday night. Moi. In bed. Munching on a homemade pizza (pesto/artichoke/feta on TJ's dough... my dough was not the best - I need tips on kneading or spreading it or whatever!), sipping on TJ's vintage root beer (made with cane sugar) and settling in to watch It's Complicated (ADORE this flick, esp. the scene in which chocolate croissants are made... yum). This is, of course, the conclusion to a pretty fantastic day overall: baked biscuits for breakfast, went to a solo matinee of Eat Pray Love (review forthcoming), and hit the gym pretty hard (felt awesome!).

I love days like today, and I never thought I'd be able to enjoy this kind of at-home-nesting-luxury in this city. I thought my room would be too cramped and my kitchen impossible to cook in (it's challenging but not impossible). But it's almost like being back at my darling pink palace in Austin, except I am sans Lola-bear. She would make this night beyond blissful, but at least I can count down the days until I see her. Yay!

I hope y'all have a divine weekend planned. As for moi, I am hoping for the Time Warner guy to actually show up when planned tomorrow, more gym time, and hopefully another beach day. Bon weekend, mes amies!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Happened to the Food Network?

My love affair with the Food Network began my sophomore year of college. Before then, I was so not a cook in any sense of the word. I lived off cheerios, fruit loops, apple jacks, and Schlotzskys my freshman year of college (and yet somehow I was way thinner then... hmm), and the only home-cooked meals I tasted were in my Mom's kitchen in Dallas. Then came sophomore year, and my first desire to learn how to cook. I stumbled across the FN in my tres ghetto apartment at the time and the first show I ever watched was 30-Minute Meals with Rachael Ray. Now, I know what you're thinking... she's the worst (and apparently a huge B in real life). And I agree, she is. Now. But back then she wasn't EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING, and even though she still said things like "EVOO" and "pasta overboard!", I found her charming and her recipes simple enough. Plus, she actually went through an entire meal and cooked it on the show in real time, so I learned how to cook by watching. I actually learned quite a lot, looking back, and so I will forever be grateful to her for introducing me to the wonderful world of cooking.

Soon thereafter I met Giada and Ina. I loved their shows because they were beautifully filmed in gorgeous white kitchens, and their food was fantastically simple. Admittedly, I was mesmerized by Giada's beauty and history (did you know her entire family is/was in the film business?). Her food also looked good, and since I've always been a fan of Italian, I was eager to try her many dishes. Unfortunately, they tend to look better than they taste (for the most part, not all), and it wasn't long before I found her overly Italian pronunciation of words like "spaghetti" and "parmiggiano" irritating. Also, does her cleavage HAVE to be on every single episode??


But Ina... oh Ina Ina Ina. I am in LOVE with Ina. She is everything a good cook should be: warm, motherly, pleasantly plump (I do not trust skinny chefs... AHEM Giada), and sweet as pie. Furthermore, she has an insanely gorgeous home in East Hampton and an adorable husband. And her food - oh the food! It's SO GOOD. I've never been disappointed in a single Ina dish. Ever! Her cookbooks are my absolute fave (note to self: must ask Mom to mail them asap), and I highly recommend them to both budding and seasoned chefs. (My friend Steph even got me an Ina cookbook signed by the Contessa herself!) The only downside to Ina's dishes is that they can get expensive. She insists on high quality ingredients (which is fair), but I once made one of her lasagna recipes and spent, like, $40 on different cheeses. Also, she uses her fair share of butter and cream, but it's nowhere near as obscene as that Paula lady with whom, btw, I have never gotten fully on board. Ina's just my fave, and I literally scream every time I actually catch her show on TV.

Fast forward to me now: my birthday gift to myself was to purchase a used TV off Craigslist for my petite NYC palace. I'm already paying for cable (the apt has a bundle plan), so getting a TV made sense. I've turned on the FN every day since and have been appalled to see that 90% of the shows are either reality/competition-based OR filled with annoying chefs (and I mean even more annoying than RR!) What happened to my FN?? Has anyone else noticed this awful shift? I can't wait to get my DVR (now rescheduled for Saturday... grr I hate you, Time Warner Cable) so I can record every single episode of Barefoot Contessa and never be forced to watch The Next FN Star or Down Home with the Neelys ever again. (No offense if you like those shows...)

As for the boys, well, I am IN LOVE with Tyler Florence and actually met him at the Food & Wine Festival in Austin many, many years ago. (I also asked him if he was single, and yes, my boyfriend at the time was sitting right next to me.) I equally ABHOR Bobby Flay. He's annoying, not cute, way too "I'm a MAN!", and never shall I dine in one of his restaurants.

And with that, I'll leave you with some food porn, Ina-style.

coconut cupcakes

baked eggs with cream

mac 'n cheese

lobster pot pie

asparagus with hollandaise


 
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