Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Report: The Fashion File by Janie Bryant

The Fashion File by Janie Bryant is glued to my hands as we speak. I don't even know how I am typing this. :::gush::: I've made it known before that I have an obsession with the fashion from the show "Mad Men" but now I have a beautiful hardcover book in my possession by the Emmy-winning costume designer herself. The sketches alone make it worth the purchase to me, and this book is going to live with my sewing patterns as inspiration.

The book is full of suggestions on how to take vintage style and use it to enhance your wardrobe, as well as important advice on how to fit your clothes. She talks about essentials for your wardrobe, but also goes decade by decade to show you her inspirations and how you can translate that into your style choices. I opened this book right before I was about to go to sleep, and I ended up poring over it from cover to cover before I could shut my eyes. It's just that beautiful.

Now all I see are 60s-era dresses dancing through my head, and every sewing pattern I buy gives me modification ideas on how I can make them even more vintage-looking.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Band Perry

I'm a bit obsessed with this song by The Band Perry. It's just so beautiful and poetic to me. I could listen to it on repeat all day. They're definitely worth a listen!

"If I Die Young"
If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song


Monday, December 27, 2010

B-town Roundup

I loved my trip home! I just felt like I had the Christmas spirit all around me the whole time. There were so many wonderful things to love about it...

-Nick's English Hut, Yogi's, Lennie's, and Serendipity with old friends, including some Upland Wheat Ale like a good townie
-Cally the cat's 15th Christmas with our family, sitting under the tree just like when we got her for Christmas '96
-listening to Mom and Dad be hilarious, as usual
-FAMILY. Seeing everyone after so long away was wonderful. I'm so lucky to have so much family to fill my life with love.
-Having none of the lottery tickets I got for Christmas be winners... I already spent my luck getting home!
-Two words: Spam Musubi
-Oliver Winery wines... Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chambourcin
-FOOD... all the favorites for the holidays, in Midwest-sized portions
-Presents! Sweaters, accessories, a SEWING BASKET, lots of things I love!
-celebrating Dad's birthday by watching True Grit, because Dad loves a western and Mom loves Matt Damon
-getting my butt kicked in Jazzercise with Mom
-celebrating JM's 28th birthday with Funfetti cake (I can make cakes from scratch, but that's what he wants)
-watching the snow fall, big and fluffy, just in time for a White Christmas!
-buying my first sewing patterns
-shopping with Amy and Mom, a Williams family tradition every time I come home

Every time I come home, I want to stay longer.


Sewing Patterns

Today Mom and I headed to the local fabric superstore to see if we could find anything good on sale. For Christmas, she got me an adorable sewing basket, pinking shears, and all the other little things I need to get started on some projects! I got so much stuff that I'm picking most of it up in January when I come back to get Cally the cat, but I'm looking to finish at least one project before I start working again.

Patterns bought today...

McCall's M5505 Aprons, Simplicity 2884 Dress, New Look 6799 Dress


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mom's Monkey Bread

A delicious treat we enjoyed Christmas morning... recipe as dictated by Mom. :)

-3 tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough
-1/2 tsp + ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/2 c. + ¾ c. sugar
-1 stick margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Tear each biscuit into fourths. Put ½ c. sugar/cinnamon on a plate and roll each piece until coated with sugar/cinnamon.

In a pan, put 1 stick of margarine, ¾ cup of sugar, ½ tsp. Cinnamon, and melt/stir until mixed.

Spray a bundt pan and start piling biscuit pieces into the pan.

Pour syrup over biscuits.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Move to heat-proof plate and “pick apart like a monkey!”

At the Movies

Movies I've Seen Recently...

-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)... LOVED it! But how could I not love it? :::gush::: can't even get into how great it was.

-Tangled... This was an adorable movie. There were annoying parts, the songs were not memorable (it's no Beauty & the Beast), but it was a treat to watch! I was entertained... and I love a Disney princess movie.

-Tron: Legacy... I liked the Daft Punk music, but other than that I didn't understand the hype. I almost fell asleep.

-True Grit... I really liked this one. I'm not always a fan of westerns, but I enjoyed it a lot. Best I've seen since 3:10 to Yuma. If Hailee Steinfeld doesn't get some major nominations for this one, I'd be surprised.

Movies I Want to See...
-Black Swan
-The Fighter
-Country Strong


Friday, December 24, 2010


"Home. I'll go home... After all, tomorrow is another day."
~Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With the Wind~

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Back Home Again in Indiana

They say home is where the heart is, and as someone who has lived all over this planet, home has a lot of meanings for me. It's where I live, but at the same time, Bloomington, Indiana, will always be home for me.

After my Dad got out of the Army, when I was about ten years old, we moved to Indiana, his home state. After a nomadic lifestyle, we were finally settling down. Bloomington, as the place I've lived the longest in my life, will always be home to me. Quirky, both rural/town, friendly, approachable, it's just one of the best towns in the world.

I couldn't be happier to be here for Christmas, for the first time since 2007. There's snow on the ground, gifts under the tree, and that Hoosier Christmas spirit welcoming me home.


Mom wasn't kidding when she said there were enough snow shovels for everyone to help clear the driveway!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Inevitable Kitchen (Near)Fail

As much as I like to cook and post my kitchen triumphs to this blog, inevitably there comes a time that you face the horror of a kitchen fail. Like the time I baked a cake from scratch (take THAT boxed cake mix) but forgot to add vanilla extract (why is this cake flavorless?). Or the time I simply forgot about the cookies I was baking and burned them to a crisp? It happens. And it (nearly) happened tonight.

Tonight I decided that I would attempt Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken Milanese with Tomato and Fennel Sauce. I found the recipe online, then happened upon the episode of "Giada at Home" for it a day later. Serendipity! I recorded the show so I could follow along. Too easy, right? I was all ready to kick it in the kitchen with my girl Giada. (Because we're totally on a first-name basis...)

Things that went wrong with my Chicken Milanese:
(1) I forgot Parmesan cheese. D'oh! I thought I had it in the fridge. No matter, I just added some extra garlic powder to make up for lost flavor.
(2) I lack freakish Giada strength and skill. WHY was it so hard for me to chop that fennel? She makes it look easy! Does she have magic knives?
(3) As I was shaking some Italian spices into the breadcrumbs, the shaker screen fell off and HALF A BOTTLE of spice fell into the crumbs. I had to scoop excess into the trashcan. Such waste.
(4) One of my fennel bulbs was worthless. There was nothing to it but the stalk, the bulb was all green and weird! I didn't know much about it when I bought it, obviously. So I was down a bulb.
(5) I burned myself frying the chicken in oil. How do the TV chefs pull it off? Am I the only one tired of the micro-burns from the popping oil droplets that are magnetically attracted to my arms?
(6) The chicken was burned, but not fully cooked inside. Two of the breasts went into the garbage, and I ended up having to bake the other two to ensure they were safe for consumption.
(7) A cherry tomato squirted all over me when I tried to cut it in half. Like, in my eye. Stupid little tomato...
(8) I was tired. Don't attempt a new recipe when you're tired. It's hard enough to stand in your kitchen for that long, let alone pay attention to what you're doing.

That being said, the tomato and fennel sauce was GREAT. The mascarpone cheese made it so creamy and pretty, and I topped the fried-then-baked chicken with it. Whew!
After I was done making this, I thought I was done with Chicken Milanese for life. But then I tasted it. YUM! JM liked it too. But if I attempt it again, I'm baking the chicken breasts with Shake 'n' Bake instead. The sauce I can handle, those oil-spitting chickens? Not so much.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Baking: Christmas Gifts!

I decided that this year I would give some edible goodies to my friends/coworkers for Christmas, because you know home-baked treats are one of the best gifts! In addition to my red velvet cookies, I made sugar cookies decorated with royal icing (Martha Stewart's recipe) and Whiskey Cakes (BakedBree's recipe). For the whiskey cakes, I used Maker's Mark bourbon instead of Southern Comfort, since Maker's seems to be a favorite of my friends. And, for the record, the liquor does NOT bake off and there's a ton in the frosting. So don't feed it to kids unless you want them to sleep well that night. :)

I found cute little Christmas "takeout" boxes at Target, and wrapped the cakes in plastic with red/green ribbon.

After all that baking, I had big plans to make another new recipe for dinner tonight, but I think we're ordering pizza instead. After spending half the day on my feet in the kitchen, and the dirty dishes that followed, I'm exhausted. But I'm loving the results! Can't wait to take these to work on Monday.


Retro Photo Session!

Yesterday, my friend LK and I journeyed to Atlanta to have a photo session with Pixelette! The road trip alone was an absolute blast, with the two of us singing at the top of our lungs to our iPod playlists, which are virtually identical. Once we arrived, Allison, our photographer, and Lindze, our stylist, made us over in full vintage style for a full day of retro fashion fun! We each got hair and makeup done (complete with false lashes and bombshell lips) and chose three "looks" to play with for our photos. I chose a retro swimsuit/beach look, a '50s housewife, and a Mad Men '60s theme.

I had an absolute blast! I can totally see myself getting into things like cosplay, and this was just super fun. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time, and I love the style of Katy Perry, Dita von Teese, and Mad Men. It's one of the reasons I wanted to start sewing, because I love retro fashion and it's not easy to find those kinds of pieces these days.

I can't wait to see how our photos turned out!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

I love breakfast!

Breakfast foods are my FAVORITE. I could eat an omelette any time of day, brunch is the best meal every invented, and I think the combination of ham, egg, and cheese is heavenly. YUM.

Today was a big day for breakfast. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to eat, then I noticed some leftover hamburger buns from the football party. Georgia is humid, and bread doesn't keep long, so I figured I should use them for something. So I scrambled two eggs and fried them, buttered the buns and added cheddar and ham to make a grilled sandwich of sorts... DELICIOUS. Oh, and I made one for hubby JM too of course. I liked it so much, I might make it again tomorrow!

Then, it was time to make doughnuts. Yes, doughnuts! I found a recipe for Baked Spice Doughnuts on Eat Live Run and was looking to make something to bring to work for breakfast for my friend LK. I didn't have a doughnut pan, so I used a mini muffin pan instead. Everyone at work loved them, though they said since they weren't fried and the shape was wrong they were really muffins not doughnuts. But I maintain that once you take a bite, the shape is meaningless. It's just delicious.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back in the Kitchen

Some of the things I've been cooking up lately, with recipes I've found online...

JLC serves this as one big bake, but since I wanted to make it more of a finger-food, I made individual little baked bries in a mini muffin pan. They were a surprise hit at our Army/Navy party; I thought the brie/raspberry was a little too "fancy" for football food but they disappeared quickly.

SO easy and delicious... the cream cheese frosting is a MUST. Store-bought icing is fine too. I call it my "cheat" cookie because it uses boxed cake mix so I can't quite call it "from scratch." Wouldn't these be adorable Christmas cookies with some green sprinkles on top?

I served this for a group, I skipped the bacon since some people do not eat pork. It was a hit, and super creamy. There's something to be said for skipping the boxed version and doing it up from scratch every one in a while.

I skipped the olives in this recipe, since I was making this for hubby JM/me and we don't really like olives. We served it over sticky white rice instead of jasmine rice, since that is what we had. We both enjoyed it, and it was so quick to make that I was able to whip it up for a weekday lunch. Definitely one I will be using again!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sewing Lessons!

I had my sewing lesson at Fabrika Fabrics in Savannah yesterday, and I am SO glad that I took the class! I knew from the moment I walked into the cozy little shop that I had found the right place to learn to sew. I loved the all-natural, colorful fabrics that they had there, and the retro-inspired patterns and all-around cuteness all over. I wanted to learn to sew with the goal of eventually sewing some of my own clothes, but I needed a class to tell me whether or not it would be something I could get into without the cost of investing in a machine and accessories.

My instructor and one of the shop's owners, Emily, started me off with the very basics: learning to thread the machine. It was a bit intimidating to me, with all the steps, and one of the things I was the most concerned about. But she made it easy, and in the end I felt comfortable with it. She had me practice sewing straight lines, then pivoting, then curved lines, then a myriad of stitching patterns resembling a sewing obstacle course.

Next, we went downstairs to choose fabrics (LOVED this part!) for the tote bag I would be making. She showed me how to cut the pieces, pin the material, and do everything I needed to create my bag. Despite the small imperfections I can see, I am SO happy with the finished product! It's a tote (with small interior pocket) that I love and as dorky as it sounds, I'm proud of it.

After the class, I ordered my first sewing machine (very similar to the one I learned on!), and I cannot wait for it to get here. Emily suggested I start with a skirt as my first clothing item, which is very exciting as I would love to be able to make some fun, patterned skirts. My big goal, which Emily says is achievable, is to make a Hawaiian-print halter dress to wear to my friend LC's Polynesian-themed rehearsal dinner. Wish me luck!


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Gleek Peek: "A Very Glee Christmas"

I know I'm way late in my review of the latest Glee episode, but since there won't be a new one until February, I figured I had a little time. I've been relaxing at home and only blogging minimally, but I'm feeling ready to get back in the game!

The latest Glee episode is the Christmas episode, filled with songs that I love from the Glee Christmas album! I really liked this episode, especially coming off the heels of one that I didn't care for so much. I'm a sucker for cheesy Christmas songs, and I even enjoyed the storyline of Brittany's quest to help Artie walk through her belief in Santa Claus. Sue's Grinch storyline was great too, as she is the quintessential Grinch of McKinley High. I really felt like it was tied together well, and the old spirit of Glee was there for me in the way the kids were all close and working together for something good, unlike the way they were for Sectionals.

As for the music, I loved it all. But today I will leave you with Rachel singing "Merry Christmas Darling," a song that is so sweet you'll want to play it on repeat as you're curled up on the couch by the fire drinking your cocoa.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Report: Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

I recently finished reading Portia de Rossi's memoir recounting her long struggle with eating disorders, Unbearable Lightness. After finishing Hungry by Crystal Renn, I wasn't sure I was up for another celebrity book on body image and eating, but I love Portia de Rossi, as well as her wife, Ellen Degeneres. My friend DD introduced me to Portia via the hilarious show "Arrested Development" this year, though I recognized her as part of the "Ally McBeal" cast.

As someone who has admittedly struggled with weight and self-image issues, these books open my eyes to the dangers of disordered eating and unhealthy means of becoming a certain body ideal. Portia's struggle started at a young age, when she started modeling, and a few pounds quickly turned into a few dozen. Her controlling tendencies in terms of what she could eat (300 calories a day, if that, like plain yogurt mixed with Splenda) and her amount of exercise (sprinting stairs in heels because she worried the 60 calories she ate would show up on film) were extremes. As I read, I felt I was actually watching her weight dwindle... 125, 100, 89, 82. At the worst part of her disorder, she was near organ failure, and showing signs of osteoporosis and cirrhosis. It almost made me feel guilty, reading like a spectator to her struggle and decline.

All in all, it made me reevaluate how I feel about myself. Body dysmorphia is a real thing, and it affects celebrities and non-celebrities alike. With brave women like Portia de Rossi and Crystal Renn, beautiful women we see in ads and magazines every day, it helps someone like me put it all into perspective. We should never hurt our bodies to conform to a societal expectation of what we should look like. Every time I think about skipping a meal because it makes my stomach stick out, or consider purging after an emotional binge, I think about their stories, and it makes me stop. We need to love ourselves, learn to love and appreciate food, and love how we look with or without a few extra pounds here and there. We need to be healthy. And we need to help each other be healthy too.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

What She Wore

The other day, as I was reading PurseBlog, I discovered a new blog that I fell in love with: What I Wore. The author, Jessica, blogs daily about what she's wearing. A simple concept, but presented in such a great way! I love how she puts an entire ensemble together, styling from head to toe. She says on her blog, “I truly believe that the clothes we wear can affect our moods as well as the impressions we give of ourselves to others. Looking your best doesn’t need to cost a lot of money - just a little imagination.” She has some sponsors, so she does feature a lot of their clothes, but among her sponsors is one of my favorite clothing sites to peruse:! Jessica has a vintage, boho style that I really dig, and I get so many ideas from her.

Another reason I love her? She lives in my hometown, Bloomington, Indiana. I enjoy trying to pick out the locations of her photos... Kirkwood! IU Art Museum! Jessica shows that fashion sense and styling are accessible and something we can all do, if we take the time. If I ever see her around B-town, I'll be sure to go up to her and tell her how much I love the site!


Friday, December 3, 2010


I made a wonderful discovery, a website I had never seen before:! I received an e-mail from Hungry Girl with some gift ideas for Christmas, and lo and behold I happened upon this most adorable and cool shopping site!

Some of my
favorite things? Measuring cups in the form of Russian nesting dolls, a glass jar made to look like a ziploc bag, nested prep bowls, and collapsible (disherwasher-safe!) water bottles! There were so many cute and clever things on this site that I went gaga over it for hours. So much color! Interesting inventions! Did I mention the CUTE-ness???

Check it out, shopaholics! :) My new favorite for quirky gifts after Uncommon Goods.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Gleek Peek: "Special Education"

"You are as brilliant and talented as you are irritating." -Kurt, to Rachel-

Okay, so I felt like this week's Sectionals episode was a bit underwhelming. I mean, the Sectionals episode last year was a climax of the season... this one felt like a failed denouement. I thought that Finn's secret hookup with Santana would be carried out differently, and while I'm a huge "Puckleberry" fan I don't buy Rachel's revenge. I also think the Tina/Mike + Artie/Brittany drama was unnecessary and distracting. Finn and Rachel are a central couple and need to have ups and downs to keep it interesting for the show, but this seemed hurried and silly. That, and Emma, Miss OCD and Neurotic, has a Vegas wedding to Carl? Unconvincing. After the emotional pulls of the previous episode, this drama all felt kind of fake. And Sectionals ending in a tie? Come on. I know we want the Warblers to continue to make appearances in the show, but that was silly.

Anyone confused by my crazy Gleek rambling yet? Because that's how I felt after I watched this episode: lost and confused.

That being said, my favorite performances of the night was Rachel/Kurt singing "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and Mercedes/Tina belting "Dog Days Are Over." In fact, "Dog Days" is my new anthem for the week. Also, Rachel and Kurt's scenes were really sweet and touching. I feel like Rachel is finally growing up a little, and I like it.


Hermione who?

Three Reasons I Love Emma Watson:

1. She plays Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, my favorite character. She's been playing the part since she was 10 years old, and she embodies everything I thought Hermione should be. I forgave her years ago for stealing the coveted role from me, as I must acknowledge that I was too old and lacked a convincing English accent for the part. The role made her one of the world's highest-paid actresses, giving her a fortune at her fingertips. And yet, she's amazingly down-to-earth.

2. She makes being smart look cool. Instead of being snapped by the paparazzi as another child star wild child, she enrolled at Brown University. She took a break for filming, but she's now in her sophomore year and fully intends to graduate.

3. She's fashion forward and fearless. After being forced to keep her hair long and curly for the role of Hermione, she cut it all off after the movies were done filming. Bold move, and it looks adorable! She's a fashion muse for designers, and has been feature in a great campaign for Burberry that I love poring over. She's also into design herself, teaming with the company People Tree which focuses on Fair Trade and organic clothing.

Emma is featured in December's issue of Marie Claire. I loved the fashion spread, but the article is the best part! Check it out on your local newsstand.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Sweater Weather

(sweaters from Old Navy)

I love sweater weather! Who doesn't love the soft hug of a sweater in the chilly months? When I moved to the South, I thought that my sweater weather days were over; happily, I found that not only would it get chilly enough for sweaters, but I wouldn't have to hide them under a wool coat or other layers to keep out the chill.

Right now, I love sweaters worn with skinny jeans tucked into boots. It's a great look, and it's really effortless. I can't wait to get home to find some great new sweaters for the season... I have a few old ones, but I'm always looking for a few new 'friends' to keep me warm!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Le Creuset Dreams

So yesterday was Black Friday, but as I was unable to participate in the festivities, I had to settle for daydreaming of the pretty things I would love to have...

Lately, as I have been itching to get back into my kitchen, my thoughts have drifted to cookware, specifically Le Creuset. I have loved Le Creuset since the moment I first glimpsed it in a Williams-Sonoma store. Since then, it seems like I see it on every cooking show, and in every well-to-do household I've visited. While others are ooh-ing and aah-ing over square footage, master suites, and masonry, I'm transfixed by beautiful kitchens... and I have somehow convinced myself that I will have reached my pinnacle of cooking when I am able to whip up my favorite dish in Le Creuset. I don't even care what color, it's that beautiful enamel that makes my head spin with delight! I already have my beloved Kitchenaid stand mixer, I should be satisified... mais non! Je voudrais Le Creuset!

Unfortunately, I am not yet in a position to drop so much money on a set of pots and pans. I don't want to be that person who has no money for groceries but has pretty cookware adorning her cabinets, you know? But a girl can dream...


Friday, November 26, 2010

Doo-Wops & Hooligans

I'm really loving Bruno Mars' debut album, "Doo-Wops and Hooligans" right now! His single "Just the Way You Are" has spent so much time on repeat in my office that everyone must think I'm crazy for listening to the same song for an hour.

Now, I finally got the entire album, and I'm just as into the rest of it. In case you've never heard of Bruno Mars, I can guarantee you've heard some of the songs he's co-written: "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, "Right Round" by Flo Rida, and "F$&# You!" by Cee Lo Green. Two of his songs were covered in the latest Glee episode, "Just the Way You Are" and "Marry You." He has a light, pop sound that is something I just can't get enough of these days. The songs just make me happy. You can tell he has a wide variety of influences, like R&B, reggae, and soul, so it brings more depth to the songs. "Count on Me" sounds like a track Jason Mraz would sing, and "The Lazy Song" reminds me of Jack Johnson. I have a feeling if you like these artists, you'll enjoy this album.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Gleek Peek: "Furt"

I loved the latest Glee episode, entitled "Furt" because Finn and Kurt officially become stepbrothers, and I love their parents' romantic storyline. Also, the bullying theme has been prevalent this season, and in a way I'm glad because it speaks to a number of current issues out there, and Kurt is one of my favorite characters on the show. Finn has never been my favorite... but then suddenly he realizes just what Kurt means to him, and he sings one of my favorite songs, Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are." I got chills, I really did, and misty-eyed. This song just touches me in an awesome way.

I don't have much to say about this episode, mostly because I'm truly exhausted but HAD to post this because it was so beautiful to me. This episode made me happy, and that's what matters to me most!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Shopping Haul

A number of my friends accuse me of being a shopaholic, and perhaps I am. But I'm not all about splurging on big-ticket items. When it comes to trends, I tend to err on the side of frugality, which is one of the reasons I'm a HUGE fan of Forever 21. After a particularly rough day, I sat online for hours scouring the site, filling up my shopping cart.

I had "Fall" in mind, even though it's nearly winter. In Georgia, the winter feels more like fall to me anyways. I thought of layers, which is why I like the blazer and the cardigan. I love the ruffles, because they add something interesting to a functional sweater. The leggings are a key piece in the cold weather, perfect under a tunic and tucked into boots. Covering up is essential. I bought the shorts to wear over textured tights, perhaps with my new black booties.

The necklaces are a look I'm in love with now, multiple strands to add dimension. I'm not the best at accessorizing, so these necklaces are great to toss on and add to an outfit. Accessories make it look like you took care to assemble your outside; without a little something, it just looks incomplete. The belt I bought for a denim jacket I found at Old Navy, again to add to the overall look.

As for the dress and embellished top, I just loved the pleats and sequins. You need something to catch the eye. Who knows when I'll wear them, but considering this Forever 21 haul was under $200, I think I got a pretty good bargain on it all.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Je suis une gourmande.

When I was on my semester abroad in Paris, my French friends nicknamed me the gourmande as I indulged in wine, pastries, bread, and anything else they would encourage me to try. I loved it all; their parting gifts to me were two French books on wine and chocolate! By definition, a gourmand is someone who takes great pleasure in food. Years ago, it had agluttonous, negative connotation, but these days it is something that is embraced. In the U.S., we've started calling these food-lovers "foodies."

What is a foodie? Foodies love watching cooking shows, reading and buying cookbooks, kitchen stores, quality ingredients, food websites, food magazines, food photos, markets, but above all... EATING. We love to savor and enjoy the food we choose to eat. Foodies come from all backgrounds (from vegan to BBQ) and all shapes and sizes (the pleasantly plump to the exercise enthusiasts). We love specific niches but appreciate all food in general.

The internet is a great resource for foodies; I especially love food blogs. Three that I have been following are really great, and all are linked on the right side of this blog.

Eat Live Run has given me some great inspiration recently. I was inspired by the video on making macarons like the ones I enjoyed in France. The author, Jenna, is a culinary school graduate who has a genuine respect and love of food. I also found a recipe for beef tenderloin apricot and olives just yesterday that I can't wait to whip up.

Baked Bree is great because it shows step-by-step photos of what your food should look like as you cook it! The author (the eponymous Bree) recently did Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, and the photos of the process made me drool. It's perfect for those learning to cook who need reassurance that everything looks right along the way.

The Kitchy Kitchen is where I found an amazing recipe for Red Velvet pancakes, as well as some other interesting concoctions in decadent photos (Honey Truffle Grilled Cheese, anyone?) that caught my eye. It's no wonder the pictures are so beautiful; the author, Claire, is a food stylist and photographer!

I hope you enjoy these internet treasures as much as I do! (CAUTION: you may need to protect your keyboard from subsequent drooling.)


A Gleek Peek: The Christmas Album

I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I'm listening to the Glee cast's Christmas album on repeat already! I'm a sucker for a good holiday album (I have 100+ holiday tracks on my iTunes), but this is one that you can buy without hesitation, especially if you're a Gleek like me or need the perfect gift for a friend who is! You can buy it on iTunes or, and a guarantee you won't be disappointed. This cast was made to put out crowd-pleasers like this.

Among my favorites? "We Need a Little Christmas", from the Broadway musical Mame, is one that I can't get out of my head. The mash-up (oh, how I love a Glee mash-up!) of "Deck the Halls" and "Up on the Rooftop", with a beat reminiscent of Beyonce's "Single Ladies", is really fun and danceable. And this group of 'high school misfits' is adorable on "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year" as the inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys. Another song of note: the duet between Chris Colfer and Darren Criss. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is one of my favorite winter songs, and I already had two versions on my iTunes (Dean Martin and Lady Antebellum!). This is the first time I've heard it sung between two guys, and it is super sweet. But the magnum opus of this album is the rendition of "O Holy Night", heavily featuring Lea Michele (a.k.a. Rachel) and giving me goosebumps every time.

Considering I've just rattled off nearly half the album as wonderful (and have to prevent myself from raving about all the rest), it is clear this holiday album is my new favorite!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Prescribed by Dr. Dre

"People aren't hearing all the music." That's what Dr. Dre said when he teamed up with Monster to create his own line of headphones and speakers. I haven't given much thought to headphones in general, until now. I've always been content to use the ones that come for free with my iPod or buy cheap replacements, as need be.

Then my friend RB told me about Dr. Dre's line of earbuds, and how they have enabled her to hear sounds in her music that she never heard before. She raved about these headphones, and then she mentioned two words that are very near and dear to my heart: Lady Gaga. I became intrigued.

It turns out Dr. Dre has allowed both Lady Gaga and Sean "Diddy" Combs to create headphone lines under his own headphone label, allowing that quality sound to stream out through aesthetically different styles. Diddy's earbuds are sleek, all-black, and look very polished. Gaga's Heartbeats headphones are distinctly hers as well, stylistically her own but with Dre's club-caliber sounds pumping through the headphone.

The prices for these headphones are steep; the cheapest model runs around $120. But for those who are so into music that sound quality is everything, that's nothing to spend on some quality earbuds to take with you because your giant Bose noise-cancelling headphones won't fit in your pocket.

So this morning, RB walks up to me with a box in-hand: a silver/white pair of Gaga's HeartBeats! She got them for an amazing deal, so amazing I won't mention it here, and I bought them from her on the spot. Nervous about the sound quality, I immediately tested them out. HOLY COW. I LITERALLY heard things in my music I had NEVER heard before. Beats and notes and background vocals, and the earbuds cancelled out virtually every other sound in the room. I was five feet from a TV but couldn't hear a thing but my music, even on a low volume setting.

I've never been a sound junkie, but these headphones have rocked my world. They come with a warranty, three sizes of earbuds so you can custom-fit them to your ear, and a cute matching carrying case.


Update: My friend DD asked to see what the headphones look like in action. I obliged, and he said I looked like a robot with those sticking out of my ears. I said, "But they're Lady Gaga!"

Mad for Fashion!

I don't watch Mad Men, but I'm a little obsessed with the photos I've seen of the wardrobe! I am in love with the wiggle dresses, A-line skirts, and other looks from this 1960s period show. I think I was meant to wear clothing from another era...

So as I itch to learn to become my own seamstress, I've been searching the Simplicity website to find patterns similar to these dresses that I could hypothetically someday make... the options seem endless, when you think about choosing your own fabrics and tailoring the fit, right? Once again, my cart is before my horse. But a girl can dream, right?


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Boot Pursuit

Today I saw that is having a "BOGO" sale, i.e. all shoes are buy one, get the second at half price. Now, I do love a quality shoe, and I know that Payless shoes aren't Louboutins. But when it comes to trendy shoes, I look to places like Payless and Target, so I can try out a style and enjoy something fun for a season. If I truly like the shoe, I tend to invest in the higher-end pair later on.

I've been looking for an over-the-knee boot in black, as well as a tough-looking bootie, and these seemed to fit the bill! The prices were too good to pass up, and they allow me to save up for what I'm really wanting for this chilly season: a wonderful pair of brown leather riding boots. I've been searching for some in the right style/price range for over a year now... but at least I have some other cute boots to tide me over!

Can't wait to try these on with some skinny jeans.

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