Thursday, October 31, 2013

:: two reasons to celebrate ::

Happy Halloween AND Happy Red Sox win! I'm actually not a super fan of Halloween or baseball but I love that other people love them. And I'm really grateful that we didn't have a game 7 on Halloween day. A crazy city driven just an extra bit of crazy would have sent me cowering to my apartment. All in the name of avoiding getting trampled by the drunken, face-painted masses. Thank goodness I dodged that bullet.

Since I can't really offer any commentary on last night's win, I found this darling video from a very talented baker named Meg. And it still has a Red Sox theme. It's WAY out of my skill level, but I'm betting it's not out of some of yours! Enjoy!

Linking up with All Things Thursday!
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

:: I dare you not to tear up ::

Restoring my faith in humanity, via Gawker. Full story text below.

It's not easy being a single mother, let alone a single mother going through a messy divorce while trying to take care of four-year-old daughter with bullying tendencies, a six-year-old son with Asperger's and ADHD, and a college student who was forced to take a year off from school.

Yet, somehow, one Raleigh mom manages to stick to the family's tradition of going out to a different restaurant every Friday night.

Last Friday, while at a Pizza Hut in Durham with her two youngest, the unidentified woman approached the young man sitting in the booth beside them and apologized in advance for the noise her kids were bound to make.

Her son's medication had worn off, and it was only a matter of time before he acted out.

To her surprise, the man told her not to worry about it, and that, as the father of three children himself, he could relate to her hardship.

As the meal went on, the mother tried her best to keep her kids well-mannered by using "engaging behavior" and other parenting methods she had picked up from books, classes, and experience.

She hadn't even noticed the next booth clear out until she was approached by a waitress and the restaurant's manager and informed that the man she spoke with had left something behind for her. In addition to paying for the entire family's meal and purchasing a Pizza Hut gift card for them to take home, the man also wrote down a lengthy note explaining the reason for his random act of kindness:

I do not know your back story, but I have had the privilege of watching you parent your children for the past 30 minutes. I have to say thank you for parenting your children in such a loving manner. I have watched you teach your children about the importance of respect, education, proper manners, communication, self control, and kindness all while being very patient. I will never cross your path again but am positive that you and your children have amazing futures. Keep up the good work and when it starts to get tough do not forget that others may be watching and will need the encouragement of seeing a good family being raised. God bless! -Jake.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

:: breaking out those winter coats ::

I kinda loathe winter, but I love winter coats. I'm complicated like that. There's nothing better than being super cozy in warm yet stylish outerwear. I have zero room for more winter coats in my place, but that hasn't stopped me from looking (and buying, #noselfcontrol).

Here are a few that I love. That red one with the polka dots is $34! ?!?!?

it's getting chilly!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

:: just got 30 minutes of my morning back ::

Does anyone else love Ricky's NYC? There aren't any in Boston, but whenever I'm in New York, I love to stop in and look around. And that pink plastic bag with the tube of toothpaste on it just makes me smile.

Ricky's NYC 

Anyway, a few years ago, I read about their No-Crease Hair Clips (probably in Allure) and grabbed a few packs. And then I never touched them again. They sat in a dish in my bathroom for literally two years. They look like this: 

No-Crease Pink Leaf Clips 
 Recently, my hair and I have been having some issues. She thinks I'm too controlling and I feel like she won't do anything I ask of her even though I treat her really well. And I spend a LOT of money on her. Ahem. 

Our mornings together involve a hairdryer and The Bombshell, but by the time I get to work I look like I just rolled out of bed. Enter the No-Crease Clips. 

This week, I started washing and drying my hair at night. When it's completely dry, I roll up small sections (without twisting, so they stay flat) and use these clips to affix the rolls right up against my scalp. The only tricky part is making sure that you don't use too much hair per clip or they won't stay. I have fairly thick, long hair and I use about 10 for my whole head. 

The amazing thing is that they don't fall out during the night and when I took them out the a.m. and blasted my hair with some hairspray, this happened. Without a curling iron in sight! My hair and I might not need couples counseling after all.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

:: fingerless gloves: not just for the homeless, anymore ::

I just got a pair of cashmere ones at J. Crew for a steal and I can't wait for them to arrive. And I'm going to wear them even at the risk of someone thinking I should be lighting a fire in a trashcan or lip-syncing "Material Girl." At least in Boston, there's only a brief window of opportunity to wear said gloves without risking frostbite and potential digit amputation. That time is now, and I'm moving on it.

I've yet to find a really stylish pair of gloves that are smartphone-friendly, and there's just something about having my fingertips free to dig through my handbag, inspect my manicure or catch germs on the subway.

Here are a few of my favorites from Polyvore. The buttons, the cableknit, the red. Love them all. 
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

:: roasted chickpeas to die for ::

Ok, so one more post about my recent Boston Organics box and then I'll shut up.

It came with a pound of garbanzo beans from Fiddler's Green Farm and I felt so earthy soaking them instead of getting them out of a can. They soaked for about 24 hours and then I cooked them in boiling water for 10 minutes. From there, I dried them off really well with a paper towel and they looked like this:

A lot of recipes say to pick out those papery skins, but I left them in (out of laziness and hunger) and they ended up crunchy and full of salt (win). Preheat the oven to 425.

In a bowl, mix together some olive oil with whatever type of seasoning you like. I chose kosher salt, pepper and just a pinch of curry powder. But I've even seen some recipes that suggest cinnamon and sugar if you're going for sweet instead of savory. Coat the chickpeas. They should be shiny, but not drippy with oil.

Place the chickpeas, one layer deep, on a cookie sheet covered with tinfoil. Put in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip them as best you can and then back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

You guys, these are perfection. I'm never eating popcorn/peanuts/corn nuts/pretzel M&Ms again.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

:: veggies the size of my face ::

So, last Thursday I got my first crate from Boston Organics. And this happened:

For those who don't recognize those leaves, they're collard greens. I had to look them up myself. After a quick call to a southern friend, I attempted to cook them up. And despite their colossal nature, it wasn't hard at all. The recipe is below. True diehards will be disappointed that there's no mention of bacon or bacon fat, but I'm on a bit of a vegetarian kick right now and I'm also no Paula Deen. So here's a meat free version of the southern classic. Made by a northerer...

  • 1 lb. chopped collard greens
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add collard greens, and simmer 5 minutes. My southern friend says adding a pinch of baking soda to the water will help to tenderize and take away some of the bitterness.

2.  Drain.
3. Heat olive oil in same pot over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Add greens, and sauté 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

:: scarf-lazy no more ::

I posted a while ago about the DKNY cozy sweater and why a video showing me how to wear it was/is essential. Scarves seem pretty self explanatory--I usually just loop them twice around my neck and call it a day. But, "oh, no, no" says Stella and Dot. We can get much more creative and these little splashes of color can take us from fall right into winter.

The video is kinda hokey, but there are some good tips in here. The Twist might be my personal favorite.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

:: patagonia's black hole duffle, please ::

My latest obsession is this shiny duffle from Patagonia. Does anyone have it? It's pricey, but I'm stalking the red 90 liter one on eBay right now and I might be able to bring that puppy home for $80. I get major coupons from EMS, but they don't carry it.

It's waterproof, has three main compartments and is so, SO light. And there are daisy chains on the outside so I could hang my sneaks, or a water bottle or a buff. It would be so perfect to take with me when I learn to dog mush this winter. Yep, dog mush. But more on that later. First I need this pretty gear.

Any other must have duffels out there?

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

:: kohlrabi, here i come ::

 Boston Organics: Delivering fresh organic produce to your door!

Years and years ago, I recieved weekly deliveries from Boston Organics, a great company that brings fresh and organic produce right to your door. But back then I wasn't really cooking a lot, and a giant kale leaf or a few turnips only served to strike fear in my heart. How do I cook that? What do I do with it?? Since then, I've gotten more interested in cooking, and, Boston Organics has expanded to also deliver Taza chocolate, local cheese, tea, coffee, peanut butter and legumes. And for people like, me, they include some suggested recipes so I know what the hell to do with that kohlrabi.

First box arrives on Thursday and hopefully I'll come up with some good, healthy recipes to share!

And in the same health kick sorta vein, this is day two without caffeine. Cold turkey, baby. How long is this dull headache going to be my best friend?
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Monday, October 14, 2013

:: dear mailman ::

Rant begin: 
Thanks so much for completely violating all of my mail, every single day, while you deliver it. I wasn't planning on reading any of those magazines/newspapers/catalogs or watching that DVD, cashing any of those checks or paying those bills. So, yes, feel free to shred, mangle, and crush everything addressed to me in an attempt to force it into an opening that is more than adequately sized to hold the mail of one unimportant person.
Rant over. 

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Friday, October 11, 2013

:: bellinis and brie at bacco ::

Bacco Wine & Cheese on St. James Street in the Back Bay is one of my favorite spots to get, well, wine and cheese. The staff is SO knowledgable and the spot is so inviting. They have wine tastings every day from 5-7pm and when I asked them if they carried any Lindemann's Lambics and they didn't, they started stocking them! So now I go there for my prosecco and my lambics and any kind of cheese they tell me is delicious.

Earlier this week, we had a little gathering at the store. We had expected to just tag onto their existing wine tasting, but they did one just for us. We tried a bellini made with cipriani and prosecco, a white and a red, all paired with delicious cheese and Jan's Farmhouse Crisps, which I've eaten every night since. And macaroons from St. Emilion, which sell out every day and are just about the best things ever.

This little spot continues to be my favorite stop on the way from work to home!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

:: the best thing that ever happened to my under-wardrobe ::

Is "under-wardrobe" a thing? It should be. And these things are the best. They're amazingly one-size-fits-all and they're long on my torso, which is essential for this 5'10" body. They're perfect tucked in under a blazer or left long with leggings and a long sweater.

And speaking of leggings. I have a pair of Tina's in gray and in black and I wear one of them at least once a week. They're pricey, but they're totally worth it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

:: lazy blond brownies ::

On Sunday night I had a sweets craving and a three-quarters full bag of white chocolate chips. Not wanting to just eat them by the fistfull (it happens) but also too lazy to go to the grocery store for additional ingredients, I made some blond brownies with what I had in my cupboards. Despite a lack of vanilla extract and baking soda (now on this week's grocery list), they came out surprisingly good. Going to have to try the white chocolate/almond extract combo more often. Here's the recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature 
  • 1 cup light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond extract 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  1.  Preheat oven to 375°
  2. In bowl of stand mixer cream together butter and both sugars for 2 minutes in medium speed.
  3. Turn speed to low and add in eggs and almond extract. Turn mixer back up to medium and beat until smooth, about 20 seconds.
  4. Turn mixer back to low and add in salt, baking powder and flour, mixing until just combined.
  5. Fold in white chocolate.
  6. Butter or spray brownie pan and pour in batter.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden around edges. 

Linking up with Tell Us Tuesday
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Friday, October 4, 2013

:: fridays fancies: roasted chestnut ::

Just saying the word "chestnut" reminds me of fall. Meaning, I love it and everything about it and everything described as it. But until I went onto Polyvore to put together some loves and lusts, did I realize that exactly what constitutes "chestnut" seems to be in the eye of the beholder. It's a little nutmeg-y here, a little burlap-y there...but everything is still found in that autumn kind of palette and it ALL makes me want to curl up by a fire with a trenta chai tea latte with skim milk. Happy Friday!
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

:: the cutest little coffee shop slash bar... ::

has opened just down the street! I walk by it every day on my way to the subway. But only yesterday did I meet a friend for a drink and a few small plates. It's amazing what Simpli Bar & Bites in Jamaica Plain can do with a really tiny space--a bar for about 10, one big table and two high tops. But they also have an outdoor patio in the front AND in the back. And they have a takeout line for coffee in the morning.

This roma flatbread was delicious:

And the staff was friendly and quick. Sending them good Parkway vibes for success!

Click here to read yesterday's review in the Boston Globe.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

:: best hangover cures ::


A list of foolproof hangover cures isn't something I need. This blog post is just because I like to help others. Truly. Ahem.

Sometimes sleep and an ibuprofen aren't enough. And there are many myths about what actually helps and what makes things worse. Here are a few sure things:

1. Eat breakfast. And not the greasy bacon and eggs kind, contrary to urban legend. Toast, get the idea. I've heard english muffins work well. 

2. Alka-Seltzer. They have a morning relief formula! It's just for hangovers! So if you have the foresight to stock your medicine cabinet, you'll be patting yourself on the back forever.

3. Coffee...kinda. If you drink coffee, you should have a cup so you don't get a double headache thanks to headache withdrawal. But if you don't drink caffeine regularly, skip it. The narrowing of your blood vessels and the boost to your blood pressure might must make things worse.

4. Juice, water, gatorade. If we had started these three things about 24 hours earlier, we may not be in this situation. But better late than never.

5. Gentle exercise. Just kidding. That's ridiculous.

Linking up with Wino Wednesday (obviously).
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

:: recipe swap hop: mac and cheese bake ::

NC Grown // Auteur Ariel
Victoria at Lost in Boston
The best and easiest mac and cheese bake, EVER


  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup light cream or half-and-half (or more milk)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs tossed with 2 tablespoons melted butter


  1. Cook macaroni following package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse with hot water; set aside. Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Stir flour into the butter until smooth and bubbly. Stir in the dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Gradually add milk and cream, stirring constantly. continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add cheese and continue to cook and stir until melted.
  3. Combine the macaroni and the sauce and turn into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the buttered bread crumbs and bake for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly and topping is lightly browned.
  4. I put peas in mine, but you can also add bacon, ham, tuna, you name it!

Welcome to Recipe Swap Hop on Tasty Tuesdays!
Recipe Swap Hop is a fun link-up for all you chefs and cooks out there! If you have a yummy recipe you've posted in the past or have one you want to post now, link it up below! This is a great way to share your favorite recipes with fellow bloggers and to discover new ones! Also, every week we will spotlight our favorite recipes from the previous week so dust off those cookbooks and pick your best recipes to share!
Best Veggie Dip Ever
submitted by Jackie from Jade and Oak
--With football season in full swing, this veggie dip is perfect for game day. Unopened potato chip bags will be jealous of all the attention the veggie platter is getting thanks to this yummy dip. Thanks for sharing Jackie! 
How to join our link-up:
1) Follow the hosts: NC Grown and Auteur Ariel via GFC 2) Follow the guest host: Victoria via GFC
3) Link up your blog post below using the widget [must be recipe/food-related!]
4) Post our button (grab it below) or a text link within your blog post so others can link-up as well!
NC Grown
We are also looking for co-hosts for our future Recipe Swap Hops! Email either one of us and we'll set it all up.
Ariel [] Jessica [] DON'T FORGET TO LINK-UP BELOW! :)
Link Up with a recipe of your choice!
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