Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dress Up - Fall Outfit Ideas from Boden

This weekend is tax free here in North Carolina as parents get their kids ready to head back to school. Binders, legal ruled paper, and number 2 pencils will be bought en masse. As will new outfits for the upcoming school year. Therefore, fall fashions are breaking out all over the place. I've always thought it's hideously inappropriate to be surrounded by sweaters, boots, and tweed in every shop while you still break a sweat in the sweltering heat just coming from the parking lot. There's little worse than finding a great fall outfit then realizing it will be 3 months before it's cool enough to wear it. However, I have been indulging in a little virtual sneak peek at a few fall offerings. Boden's fall line is positively swoon-worthy. If I had an extra 2 grand lying around, I would snatch up every single coat and jacket. They also have really cute outfit ideas. Here are a few that caught my eye.

The green blazer and dark denim is a great combination, especially when paired with little zebra flats. I adore the plaid skirt and red boots, too. The striped scarf adds an unexpected dose of whimsy to the outfit.
How great is the outfit on the right? I wouldn't expect this color palette to work for fall, but somehow it does. The funnel neck textured cardigan is a great piece and could be worked into so many outfits.A polka dot blazer? Be still my heart!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - Reykjavík, Iceland

image from Flickr member Kristin Sig

As the hot hot summer drags on, I find myself longing for cooler climates. This week, I've indulged in a relaxing virtual jaunt to Reykjavík, Iceland. Iceland's rugged natural beauty draws tourists, but for this trip, we're taking it easy in the capital. No running around fording fjords, the most strenuous part of this trip would be collecting your luggage at the airport.

image from Wikipedia

Let's start the day with a trip to the Blue Lagoon Spa. Relax away all cares soaking in the geothermal seawater. In-water massages are also available, to rub out any lingering stress.

Since we're taking it easy, I chose fancier than normal tourist wear for the remaining day. The high-waisted trousers will take you through dinner and the evening, but are comfortable enough to wear all day.

image from Wikipedia

The afternoon brings us to the Perlan. It's located at the site where hot water for the city is stored, and has viewing areas as well as a few shops. It is also home to a rotating restaurant and bar, offering 360 degree views of the city.

image from Perlan

The restaurant offers an a la carte menu, or a four course set menu. Smoked salmon, coconut and ginger soup with grilled prawns, grilled lamb, and a chocolate banana mousse make up the current set menu. I'm not sure how traditional coconut and ginger soup might be in Iceland, but who am I to argue?

image from 101 Hotel

After dinner, travel trip to downtown to partake in Reykjavík's famous nightlife. On weekends, bars stay open until 6AM. If you make it that late, the beds at 101 Hotel will be extremely welcome. 101 Hotel also has it's own (very swanky) bar, and features a revolving art exhibition. But, I must admit, this hotel had me at the stand alone claw foot tub.

image from 101 Hotel

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Recipe - Grilled Vegetable Stacks

Grilled Vegetable Stacks

Here's an easy recipe to use up the bounty coming in from the gardens and farmer's markets right now. Fresh vegetables grilled quickly and stacked up: healthy, pretty, and tasty. Feel free to experiment with whatever vegetables on hand. This made 6 stacks. I served them with pickled shrimp and crusty bread, but they would compliment any grilled meat, too.

1 medium eggplant, or 2 small eggplants
1 teaspoon salt
1 large tomato
1 large zucchini, about 8 inches long
1 large yellow squash, about 8 inches long
6 Tablespoons goat cheese
1/4 cup vinaigrette of your choice

Wash all vegetables very well. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds. You need at least 12 slices total, so a little thinner or thicker than 1/2 inch is OK. Sprinkle each round with a little salt and place eggplant slices in a colander to drain for 15-30 minutes. This helps the eggplant be less watery when grilled. Wipe each eggplant round well after draining and set aside.

Trim the zucchini and squash. Slice each in half leaving 2 halves about 4 inches long. Slice each piece lengthwise into 3 strips.

Core large tomato and slice into 6 rounds. Set aside.

Brush eggplant, squash, and zucchini liberally with vinaigrette, reserve remaining vinaigrette. Grill eggplant, squash, and zucchini until tender, but not falling apart. It will only take a few minutes.

Remove from grill and assemble stacks in the following order:
1 eggplant round
1 Tablespoon goat cheese
1 zucchini strip
1 squash strip
1 tomato slice
1 eggplant round

Drizzle completed stack with a little of the remaining vinaigrette and serve.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Home Style - Shine Home

I rediscovered this link in my bookmark folder today. I don't remember where I first heard of them, but Shine Home carries a selection of pretty adorable, off-beat pieces. They've been in every magazine imaginable, and it's easy to see why. Their pieces have an upscale bohemian feel and would make great focal points in a room. Some of them are a little pricey, but a fantasy splurge now and then is a good thing. Here are a few of my favorite items from their line.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Recipe: Calimocho

Calimocho, originally uploaded by sanpayball.

Photo from Flickr user sanpayball

It's officially HOT this week in the south, which calls for cool and refreshing drinks at all times. I was pleased last month that this article mentioned one of my favorite lighter cocktails, calimocho. A college friend spent a semester in Spain, and returned with the recipe. At first telling, it sounds foul. But I was young and thirsty, so I drank up when presented with a glass. It's not too sweet, not too dry, and very good ice cold. It's also incredibly easy to make. If you're feeling really brave, try drinking it out of one of these. Just don't wear a good shirt the first time you try.

Equal parts:
Cola, I prefer Coke
Red wine, Rioja is best, but any kind is OK

Combine over ice and enjoy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Freebie - August Calendar

My yearly calendar is a lovely lime green leather book, small enough to keep in my bag. However, I also like to keep the current month up on the fridge so the husband and I can see what we have going on at a glance. Sometime I hand draw the whole calendar and fill it in. Sometimes I just print a blank one from the internet. The death of my old computer (and my old copy of Photoshop) has forced me to use Illustrator recently, so this month I did a quick calendar in it for August. I also made it available for free download if you have a similar system.

August 2008 calendar

Nothing too fancy, but it'll get the job done. Follow the link to flickr, hit the 'all sizes' tab above the image, and download it to print at home. Enjoy!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Recipe - Linguine with Clam Sauce

Linguine with clam sauce

Here's a super easy and delicious recipe that's a little special, too. Regular pasta and tomato sauce get dressed up with clams and fresh herbs in this recipe. Quick enough for a weeknight, but tasty enough to serve at a low-key dinner party. This serves 2 heartily with leftovers, or 4 if part of a larger meal. It's excellent reheated the next day.

Linguine with clam sauce ingredients

3/4 pounds linguine, cooked al dente
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
1 can clams of your choice (I like whole baby clams), drained, 3 Tablespoons liquid reserved
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and gently cook garlic until golden. If possible, use a skillet with high sides so you can toss the pasta with the sauce right in the pan.

Linguine with clam sauce

Add tomatoes and break up each with the back of a wooden spoon. You could use kitchen scissors and snip them into pieces in the can after draining. My inner child likes how they burst open when smushed in the pan, though. Canned tomatoes that have already been crushed are another option, but crushing them yourself gives the sauce a better consistency.

Linguine with clam sauce

Simmer over medium heat until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the clams, the reserved clam juice, and chopped parsley and cook until heated through. If the sauce has gotten too thick, add a little of the reserved tomato juice to loosen it up.

Linguine with clam sauce

Toss with hot pasta and serve. Crusty bread for catching every drop of sauce is a must. Try with a slightly sweet chardonnay and a cucumber salad.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Home Style - Peace Industry Rugs

I came across these lovelies in my seemingly endless quest for a new rug. They're all 100% felted rugs designed by Melina Raissnia. She and her husband rediscovered this ancient craft and have resurrected it just before it would have disappeared forever. Now they make these beauties in their own workshop. You can read all about it here.

all images from Peace Industry

I love the organic designs and soft palettes. Their website displays them in a modern setting, but they would work equally well in any decor, even in a children's room. Great story and a beautiful product.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

Enjoy the day with hot dogs and beer, and show some patriotism with footwear!

All shoes from Go Jane

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Movie Love - Rear Window

image from All Posters

Rear Window is one of my all time favorite movies. What's not to love? OK, so the going is a little slow compared to most movies today. Great acting, witty comments, pretty people, and Edith Head's costumes certainly make up for the slow pace, though.

image from Gone Movies

image from Gone Movies

Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart are the main stars, but I also love Thelma Ritter who plays the insurance company nurse (did they really have those?!?). She is priceless and her character reminds me eerily of my late grandmother.

The thing that caught my eye during my last viewing, though, was how nicely the apartment is appointed. For a traveling bachelor photographer, I'd expect home base to be little more than a cot and some books stacked on the floor. I can only assume that his lovely girlfriend did the majority of the work. Perhaps that's why she's obsessed with switching all the stylish lamps on every time she arrives?

Rear window lamps
original images from here

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wednesday World Travel - Washington, DC

In honor of the 4th of July, this week's travel takes us to Washington, DC. In full disclosure, I grew up just outside of DC, so I am particularly fond of the city, it's sights, and it's residents.

Willard InterContinental Washington, image from their website

Dropping a lot of money on lodging, the Willard is a fancy pants hotel up to it's eyeballs in history. My favorite bit is that Allan Pinkerton insisted that Lincoln stay here the weeks before his inauguration.

DC can be hot and sticky most of the summer, but the museums will be chilly. This dress will be cooler during the outdoor sights, and the jacket and camera can be stashed in the large bag until needed.

Arlington National Cemetery, photo by me

The first stop in the morning should be at Arlington National Cemetery before it gets too warm. Stop and see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. It can easily take several hours to tour the cemetery.

National Cathedral, image from Flickr member ehpien

Stop by the National Cathedral afterwards. It is a gorgeous building, and the surrounding grounds are lovely. Make sure to view the 3 Rose Windows in the cathedral.

The Last Judgment Rose Window, from the National Cathedral

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, image from Flickr member SnoShuu

An afternoon exploring the Smithsonian Museum and Natural History is hours well spent. The huge elephant greets visitors in the lobby. Dinosaurs, prehistoric camp sites, and the Hope Diamond are highlights.

Grant' Bar, image from Old Ebbitt Grill

Have drinks and dinner at Washington's oldest bar, the Old Ebbitt Grill.

WWII Memorial, image from Buy Washington Tours

End the day with a nighttime tour of the monuments. The heat will have died down, they won't be thronging with tourists, and the monuments are especially beautiful when lit at night.

As in any major city, there is SO much more to do in DC. Even a week of sightseeing wouldn't be enough. A few of my other favorite places are the National Zoo, the Air and Space Museum, National Gallery, Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Children's museum, shopping in Georgetown... I could go on and on. If you travel to DC, just pick what interests you the most, there is no way to be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Recipe - Faux Pesto Pasta

Day 289

This is one of the easiest recipes ever. It's pesto in half the time and half the mess. The proportions can be adjusted to your taste. This makes 2 hearty portions or 4 side dish portions.

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh basil and parsley, as much as you like, chopped finely or julienned
1/2 pound pasta of your choice. I like rotini and penne
salt and pepper to taste

Combine cheese, nuts, oil, and herbs. Let sit 30 minutes to 1 hour. Cook pasta according to package. Toss with cheese mixture and add salt and pepper. Delicious and easy.