February 23, 2015

Florals: Orange Tulips

Let's pretend there isn't 6 inches of snow on the ground. Let's also pretend it's spring. I picked up these lovely orange tulips yesterday afternoon at Trader Joe's. They are a pleasant reminder that spring will eventually come to the Tundra currently known as Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Tulip's are one of my go-to florals because I can normally find them year-round at the market. They have a long lifespan and are usually under $10 (these were only $4). If you're in a much needed defrost like I am this week check out your market for a little dose of spring. 

1 bunch tulips 
1 tall vase 
kitchen sheers 

Start by determining how much you want the tulips to hang above the vase. I prefer mine to have a little height so I give 3-4 inches of leeway. You'll want to use a tall vase to support the stems. Next, trim the stems on an angle. This will allow for greater water flow and a longer lifespan. Arrange tulips in the vase so they are pretty tightly packed. The tulips will help support each other. Tulips need a decent amount of water so make sure to change it daily. 

February 19, 2015

Beauty: Clinique Custom-Repair Serum

I picked up this serum after Christmas when my skin was looking a little dull, and it has been true love ever since. I read multiple articles about the benefits of serums (bright complexion, reduced fine-lines, etc..), and thought this might be a quick fix. I choose Clinique Custom-Repair Serum because I've always trusted their products. I love this product because it leaves my skin feeling refreshed without the greasiness some serums and creams can leave behind. I apply it twice a day, and have noticed an overall smoothness and brightness to my complexion over the last 2 months. It is great for combating winter dryness, but I'll be using this product year-round.

February 18, 2015

Style: Distressed Black Denim

Over the past 3 years I've owned 3 pairs of black denim. Sadly, none of them stood the test of time. Two faded and one pair shrunk. So this spring I'm investing in a new pair of black denim, preferably distressed black denim. I've seen countless girls rock distressed denim. I love the edginess it adds to what could be an otherwise dull outfit. Plus, if they end of fading a little it only adds to the effect. Above are four of my top picks. Do you have a favorite brand when it comes to distressed denim? 

February 17, 2015

In the Kitchen: Texas Chili

There are few things more comforting than cozying up with a big bowl of chili on a snowy day. I joke that my husband was a chili master back in the day (he won a chili cook-off in college). He normally takes on all chili responsibilities so it was unusual for me to get in the kitchen and whip up my own batch. The New York Times posted a recipe for Texas chili last week and it really sparked my entrance. So, this past weekend I gave my chili skills a try. This chili is a great break for the normal ground beef and beans route. The chocolate and toasted spices add a nice roundness, and the beef roast has a great texture. Feel free to add more chili powder if you like it spicy. I'm a wimp and prefer it more mild. 

Texas Chili 
Adapted from NY Times

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds 
2 pounds beef roast 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 yellow onion, diced 
4 garlic cloves, minced 
2 jalapeƱos, minced 
1 corn tortilla 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
6 ounces beer 
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes 
3 cups water
1 ounce chocolate 
1 dried guajilo pepper

Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add cumin and coriander seeds and toast for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from pot and grind in a food processor or mortar and pestle until a powder forms. Set aside. 

Season beef with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to dutch oven, and begin browning beef in batches (it took me 4 batches). Turn beef to brown all sides of making sure a nice crust forms. Remove beef from pan and allow to rest on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. 

Add onions to pot and cook for 5 minute until slightly brown. Add garlic and jalapeƱo and cook for another five minutes until soft. Stir in beer and cook for 3 minutes until beer has reduced by half. Add meat, tomatoes, water, spices, and chocolate. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until chili has thickened and meat falls apart. If chili looks dry, add more water. Remove dried chili before serving. Top with your favorite chili toppings: sour cream, red onion, or avocado. 

February 13, 2015

Cocktails for Two: Blood Orange Fizz

Keeping it short and simple today with cocktail that is perfect for Valentine's Day. Make this for your someone special, or make it for yourself and have two! It's been a long week so may make two for myself tonight. Cheers, y'all! 

Blood Orange Fizz 

2 ounces blood orange juice 
4 ounces gin 
4 dashes bitters (use Peychaud's if you can find them. They have a bright flavor and pink hue) 
1.5 ounces simple syrup 
1.5 ounces lemon juice 
Soda water 

Combine blood orange juice, gin, bitters, simply syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until mixture is cold. Pour into two highball glasses. Top with chilled soda water. 

February 10, 2015

In the Kitchen: Chocolate Pound Cake with Blood Orange Glaze

My love for citrus grows stronger each winter. Grapefruit will always be my favorite, but blood oranges have snuck their way into my friend multiple times this year. I love their bright color and slightly sweet taste. NY Times posted a chocolate pound cake recipe in honor of Valentine's Day over the weekend, and I thought it would pair perfectly with a blood orange glaze. The glaze adds a vibrant boost a color that would be a perfect ending to your Valentine's Day dinner. 

Chocolate Pound Cake with Blood Orange Glaze 
Adapted from NY Times 

Pound Cake
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate 
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup cocoa powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup butter, melted 
1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup blood orange juice 
zest of 1 blood orange 
1/2 cup yogurt 
1/2 cup milk 

3/4 cup powdered sugar 
1/4 cup blood orange juice 
pinch of salt 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (with cocoa powder) a 9x5 inch loaf pan. 

Bring water to a simmer in a small sauce pan, and place a heat-proof bowl on top. Add semi-sweet chocolate and stir until melted. Set aside and let cool. In a medium sized bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large mixing bowl cream melted butter and sugars until combined with a hand or stand mixer (this will take about 2 minutes). Add egg, vanilla extract, blood orange juice and zest, yogurt, and milk. Fold in dry ingredients in two batches. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour until center is set. Remove from loaf pan and let cool on a wire rack. 

Combine powdered sugar, blood orange juice, and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine. Add more liquid if needed. Once cake has cooled, top with glaze and serve. 

February 9, 2015

Style: Sweatshirt Dress

Confession: I wore this sweatshirt dress three times last week. I wore it for a Sunday spent in the car traveling, a day at work, and a Saturday hoping around town. It's easy to throw on with tights and boots, and offers a little more warmth than most dresses in my closet. I'm sure it will see even more wear into spring. 

 Banana Republic Dress // J.Crew Bomber Jacket (similar) // Madewell Booties // Rebecca Minkoff Bag (similar

February 5, 2015

In the Kitchen: Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Crostini

Until recently, I rarely made crostini outside of summer. A perfectly ripe tomato on top of crusty bread with a little gooey cheese: nothing better. But, why reserve something so delicious and simple for only a few months out of the year? These caramelized onion crostini's are a great winter treat. They are easy to make, and the caramelized onions make your kitchen smell divine. 

Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Crostini 

12 slices french bread 
4 tablespoon butter
2 onions, sliced 
1/4 cup fig preserves 
3 ounces blue cheese
salt & pepper

Heat butter in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Once butter has melted and begun to bubble, add onions. Reduce heat to low and cook for 45 minutes until onions are soft and browned. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks. Add more butter if needed. Remove from heat. 

Toast french bread slices until browned. Top with 1/2 tablespoon of fig preserves, onions, and a sprinkling of blue cheese. 

February 4, 2015

February Favorites

ONE Wrap yourself in the cozy silk and cashmere scarf. // TWO The cutest little carry-all pouch for under $30. // THREE Indulge in your favorite perfume for Valentine's Day. // FOUR I plan on staying in my new favorite magazine this weekend. // FIVE One of my favorite Equipment blouses is finally marked down- I will be adding to cart! // SIX This bubble bath helps relieve dry skin, and has a wonderful ginger scent. // SEVEN Sweats you won't be embarrassed to wear outside the house. // EIGHT Treat yourself to lingerie as pretty as it is comfortable. // NINE Valentine's Day was invented by the greeting card industry, right? // TEN Wear it with dark denim now and a midi skirt once it warms up. // ELEVEN My favorite lip-balm in a handy duo. // TWELVE Set the mood with this candle. // THIRTEEN My spring must have: mules.

February 2, 2015

Cocktails for Two: Virginia 75

When we first moved to Charlottesville one of my favorite activities was to stop in one of the many local wineries and breweries for a drink. It wasn't until recently that I discovered cider... alcoholic cider. One of my friends works at Castle Hill Cider and introduced me to their Celestial variety. It tastes very similar to champagne with just a little more sweetness. 

This cocktail is a spin on the classic cocktail the French 75. Using cider and apple brandy I swapped the champagne and gin for a local twist on the classic. 

Virginia 75 

3 ounces apple brandy 
1 ounce maple syrup 
1 ounce lemon juice 
6 ounces apple cider 

Combine apple brandy, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Once chilled over, pour into two coupe glasses. Top with apple cider.


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