Coffee Talk

October 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was pretty darn PUMPED when Sarah tagged me in this series. My pre-vacation overworked brain is complete mush and my blog inspiration is waning a little. So why not ring in Wednesday and tell you some random things about myself? Proof of my useless brain rests in the fact that I actually played the “Coffee Talk” game wrong and answered the questions Sarah posed to her readers, not the actual series questions. But such is life! They’re random qs none the less. Let’s do this:

1. What is your dream job? Hmmm I do love my current job, but I kind of see dream jobs as the jobs you obsessed over as a kid. Like wanting to be an actress or fireman and astronaut. My brother wanted to be an ice cream truck driver so he could sample all the ice cream, naturally. I, as cliché as it is, wanted to be a Broadway star or ballerina. Both would be preferable. And this is totally still my dream, let’s be clear on that. Apart from that, I’d say having my own product line or store is a bit of a pipe dream right now. We’ll see!


2. Favorite city in the U.S.?  You all know that I love New York, but I though it’d be more fun to share a few other cities I love, and those include San Francisco and Chicago. San Francisco for the food and balance of indoor/outdoor life, and Chicago for its livability. Such a great city and so affordable to live there! Err.. at least more affordable than New York. Also, I’m really hoping to make my way to Austin soon.


3. Favorite Artists? This one’s easy. My dad! Above is a pic of his opening in Italy we attended last fall.


4. Do you collect anything, and if so what? As someone who doesn’t love having a lot of things, I don’t have traditional collections. But I will say I work to collect quality pots and pans, i.e. all Le Creuset and All-Clad. And perhaps one day some Mauviel….

5. Favorite newly discovered band? Ha! I’m the worst with music. I mostly listen to radio stations on Spotify, but “Josh Henegar” who I found via Simple Mom makes awesome playlists. He introduces me to all kinds of artists I’d never find otherwise.


6. Most visited websites/blogs as of late: I’ve been really into Levo League lately, such a good resource for career driven ladies. I loved their recent piece on How to Navigate the Burnout Zone. I get lost in all their articles.

Aaaand now I tag ErinJenJacquelynMandy.  Answer all questions above chicas!

Image Credits: Ballet shoesSan FranciscoAll CladGirl at Desk

On My Bookshelf | October |

October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment


I can’t believe my trip to Mexico has almost arrived! It’s mildly terrifying how fast the year has gone, but if it gets me closer to my vacation, I’ll take it. I’m particularly excited about this trip because I will not be taking my laptop. You read right, no laptop for four whole days! I’m already starting to feel anxiety about this, but I’m going to power through. The world will keep turning without me on my laptop for a long weekend. So between the plane and beach I’ve got lots of time to read. Here’s what I’ve got on tap…

The Light Between Oceans I’m already half way through this one, but plan to finish it during the trip. This book follows the story of a light house keeper who marries and begins a seemingly beautiful life with his wife on a remote island. It’s not the isolation of the island that gets to them, but their method of building a family. I won’t reveal any more, but if you’re into a seductive and mysterious plot line, you’ll love this book. Can’t wait to finish it beachside!

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed Ok this one I planned to read during the trip, but will likely inhale before I set foot on the plane. If you’re not familiar, Carry On Warrior, is the first book my Glennon Melton, author of the blog Momastery. I received this book as a gift and had never even visited Melton’s blog before getting lost in the pages. As someone who has read tons of inspirational/self-help style books, this one really stopped me in my tracks. Melton’s perspective is fresh, uplifting, incredibly real, and consistently hilarious. And despite the fact that I largely don’t share her same thoughts on faith, I found her perspective on life to be utterly brilliant. I’ll be really sad when this one’s over.

By Invitation Only Last week I had the opportunity to hear Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, one of the co-founders of Gilt Groupe, speak on a panel about entrepreneurship. What I loved most about her story was that it was completely relatable. I often think certain entrepreneurs have some sort of “it” factor, something that sets them apart and makes it possible for them to build brilliant companies. Alexandra is most certainly brilliant, but much of her story reflected hard work, persistence, building and leveraging connections wisely, and accepting mistakes (among other things). I can’t wait to learn more about her story in her book, co-written with fellow female co-founder, Alexis Maybank.

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: A Love Story  I’ve never been a consistent follower of The Pioneer Woman, usually only finding myself on her site when Google has lead  me to one of her recipes. I do love her recipes! But I’m really intrigued by her story, and love the idea of reading about her love story rather than solely her career, because I have a feeling the two are uniquely linked. This seems like a very fitting “beach reach.”

Have you read any of these books? Any that you love? And if you’re in need of even more book recommendations, don’t miss the comments on this post!

Image Sources: 1234 

Five Easy Relaxation Techniques

October 23, 2013 § Leave a comment


You know that feeling after you’ve had a massage? The masseuse has just finished, you’re in a complete daze of relaxation- you literally could not feel any better. I always wish there was an add on for a “post massage nap” so I could stay on the massage table for another hour and sleep. Does that exist? Anyway, after my massage Sunday evening I was on cloud nine. I felt so relaxed. I bounded out of the massage room excited to tell my masseuse how much I loved it. She was glad to hear that, but was more concerned about telling me how tight my back and neck were, and how I really needed to focus on decreasing stress and relaxing. Insert palm to forehead motion.

It’s not like she really needed to tell me. I knew my body was a bit out of whack, especially since I was still getting over my first ever migraine which arrived with a vengeance last Thursday. Every few months my body signals that it needs me to slow down, and this would be one of those times. So, in an effort to relax more, I’ve been…focusing on the following five techniques:

Going to Bed Earlier I have this horrible habit of waking myself up early when I’m stressed. I wake up and immediately start agonizing over all the things I need to do that day, and can never get back to sleep. Since I have no trouble falling asleep on the other end, I’ve been forcing myself to go to bed earlier. So far I’ve made it to lights out by 10:30 and am sleeping all the way until 6:30. Progress!

Reading Hand in hand with going to bed earlier is reading every night before bed. My problem is usually the computer and blog work. It’s so tempting to plop down on the couch and continue to browse and work, even though my eyeballs are literally exhausted. I was so tempted to wrap up this post last night, but instead made myself close the laptop, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed to read this book (it’s so good!).

Peppermint Tea I often order peppermint tea in restaurants and it wasn’t until last month I got the novel idea to actually purchase some for at home drinking. Since I’ve let go of my after dinner sweets, I’ve been hankering for an after dinner ritual to serve as a replacement. Though it’s not sweet- a cup of peppermint tea is incredibly soothing.

Bath Am I the only person who can’t remember the last time they took a bath? When my masseuse suggested I take hot baths I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that already. I’m shooting for one per week. Any good bath time music recommendations?

Tennis Ball Massage I feel like I should devote a whole post to this topic- except I shouldn’t write it, Brandon should.  He’s become an expert on using a ball (we have a baseball and golf ball) to perform self massage. It basically consists of positioning the ball between your body and the floor (or another hard surface) to relieve knots in your muscles. This article goes way more in depth, and if you’re considering doing it, I’d read that first. After I got my massage I was still craving some deep pressure to relieve the tension, so I’ve been spending ten minutes or so each day doing ball massage. It really helps me to slow down, focus on breathing, and most importantly- makes my back feel a whole lot better. Has anyone else done it?

What are you go to techniques for increasing relaxation? I’d love to hear!

A Williamsburg Food Guide: Part II

October 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

Over the summer I shared part one of my Williamsburg food guide. I’m so thrilled to release part two today. That would make 20 restaurants in total worth visiting in my neighborhood! Yeah… we’re a little bit spoiled. But let’s get to it- I’ve walked you through the 10 restaurants highlighted above after the jump. First though I want to give a shout out to the amazing Asia Pietrzyk who made all the amazing illustrations for this series. Aren’t they just the most darling things you’ve ever seen?! Asia lives in Stockholm and has some other really incredible work- definitely check her out. I loved working with her!

Café Colette Café Colette ranks as probably my favorite brunch spot in Williamsburg. I love the sweetlittle tables and interior bar, and these people make a mean bloody mary. All the food’s good but I specifically love the breakfast sandwich, Grilled Fish Tacos, and Fried Chicken and Chicory Salad. As obsessed as I am with their brunch- they’re really great for any meal.

Hotel Delmano Oooh how I heart this spot. Such a cool interior bar making for the best atmosphere. They actually limit the number of people who can come in so the space doesn’t feel over crowded- something I really like. Hotel Delmano is where I discovered my beloved drink, the Michelada. They make a really really good one, but their cocktails in general are phenomenal. Get a few drinks and order the fresh ricotta with olive oil and thyme to go with- so good!


Bakeri This place takes the cake for most adorable joint in Williamsburg. As the name suggests it’s a sweet little bakery with delicious coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches. They have a beautiful garden in the back (see photo below) so go on a pretty day if you can. I can’t pass up a pain au chocolat every time I visit.


St. Anslem St. Anslem is your traditional steakhouse turned up a notch. A big notch. It’s owned by the same couple who own Fette Sau (more on that below). They know their meat! I love that all the meat is locally sourced and antiobotic/hormone free. I’m not a huge steak eater, but this is definitely the joint to go when you’re craving a simple but beautifully prepared steak with killer sides. The wait can be long so put your name in and hop next door to Spuyten Duyvil (also owned by the same people) and grab a craft beer and some charcuterie while you wait.

Best Pizza Such a funny name, and while I don’t know if their pizza is necessarily “the best” since I love so many different kinds of cheesy pie, I really love their pies. The menu is simple, and their salads are surprisingly good. We like to come on a casual night when we’re feeling lazy and want some comfort food. I really love their white pizza.

Saltie The name of this spot has stolen my heart, but the food good is really good, too. They serve mostly sandwiches, a few salads, and a handful of beautiful baked goods. Like the kind of baked goods your grandmother would make- simple but so artfully prepared. The sandwiches are really inventive- my favorite is the “Scuttlebutt”- hard boiled egg, feta, capers, pickled vegetables, and pimenton aioli on homemade focaccia. Yum!


Fette Sau Get ready to get your BBQ on! And eat some of the best in NYC. I love the homey feeling of this spot, and the fact that it’s all about the food. The restaurant has a huge counter where you can view all their meats and sides. They pile your order on a massive tray and then you enjoy it at big picnic tables. It’s an awesome spot to enjoy a casual feast with a big group of friends. The menu changes daily but if they have the Berkshire Belly- get it!

Bedford Cheese Shop  This isn’t exactly a restaurant, but I had to include it. I’m in love with our neighborhood cheese shop. It’s got an amazing selection of cheeses, breads, charcuterie, olives, and all sorts of other specialty food goodies. Grab a few cheeses, bread, some dried sausage, and olives and head to the Williamsburg Waterfront for a little picnic. They’ve also got a cool event space where you can take classes in Manhattan.

Radegast Hall & Biergarten I’m not a huge beer drinker, but I love the atmosphere of this big beer hall- it’s definitely a not to miss Williamsburg spot if you do love beer. Sit at one of the big communal tables in the main hall if you can, and get a few of their massive pretzels to nosh on while you slurp down some beers.



Toby’s Estate Coffee I’m dubbing this the most beautiful coffee shop ever. I love working here. The space is big, has really tall ceilings, and a whole wall of windows, which let in a ton of light. The coffee is delicious, along with their baked goods (definitely get the sea salt caramel macaroons if they have them). Bring a book or your laptop and settle in for a productive afternoon!

And there you have it. All the restaurants and their addresses are listed below. I hope you guys have enjoyed this series. Definitely let me know if you make it (or have made it) to any of these places!


All illustrations by Asia Pietrzyk for Channeling Contessa

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Noodles with Rainbow Veggies

October 2, 2013 § Leave a comment


Just over two years ago Brandon and I took a trip to Asia. We had three friends overseas that were sort of dotted all over that general area. It made for one of those “we better take advantage of this now” type trips, knowing they wouldn’t all be there forever. We were scattered across the continent for three weeks total- first inTokyo, then Vietnam, and finally, Singapore. We met up with our first friend in Tokyo, where he had been living for the summer, then met up with our other friends in Singapore (where they were both calling home at the time), all headed to Vietnam for an epic exploration, and rounded out the trip with a solid stay in Singapore. There are some photos from our travels buried deep in the CC archives- here and here.

Last year we made it to Italy, and in a few weeks I’m off to Mexico for a long weekend, but I’m really hankering for a substantial stint far away. Thailand and Cambodia are at the top of my list, with an extended stay in Japan coming in second. Then of course there’s always Greece, Croatia, more time in Paris, etc! The list goes on…


As much as I long to explore more of Asia, my ability to cook Asian food does not go along with that. But I do have one recipe down pat. Granted it’s probably the most Americanized version of Chinese food you can get, but this is my style of ethnic cooking folks. Candidly my devotion to the dish probably has more to do with my love of peanut butter rather than my desire to make more ethnic food. Let’s be real…

Is there anywhere you’re longing to travel to right now?

Ps: The first sesame noodles recipe on this blog… my how my photos changed! Ok- need to do a new post on photo techniques. On it, friends!


Sweet & Spicy Sesame Noodles with Rainbow Veggies adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 3/4 lb spaghetti (regular or whole wheat will work)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced bell pepper (I used a mix of red and yellow, but feel free to use red, yellow, or orange)
  • ribbons from 2 large or 3 medium carrots
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 3/4 chopped scallions (green and light green parts only)
  • extra scallions and sesame seeds for garnish

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon peeled grated fresh ginger
  • 1 medium garlic clove, grated
  • 2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar (I like mine a little tangier)
  • 1 tablespoon Asian toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or Sriracha

Cook spaghetti until just al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to bring to room temp.

While the spaghetti is cooking, prep your vegetables and whisk together all ingredients of the sauce. If the sauce feels pretty thick, add a little more water. If you want it sweet- add more honey, saltier- add more soy sauce. You get the picture. Feel free to make the sauce a few days ahead and just bring to room temp when ready to serve.

Place the noodles, vegetables, and sauce in a large bowl. Toss well to combine. Serve at room temp topped with sesame seeds and extra scallions.

My Method: Weekly Meal Planning

September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment


This is your typical Sunday morning- coffee in hand, pen and paper, and a stack of Bon Appétit magazines. It’s meal planning time! As I was sitting down to do it this week, I thought you guys might be curious to see my process. It’s nothing too complicated, but it makes getting dinner on the table  and not letting the food in our fridge go bad during the week much easier.

I generally let my farmer’s market purchases guide our weekly menu. I like to pick what looks best that week and go from there. I get all our produce at our Saturday market so that come Sunday I know what I’ve got to work with and what I need to buy at the grocery store to round out the week. This week I picked up bell peppers, tons of broccoli, heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, and a bunch of apples. I’ve got two dinners out this week and Brandon is headed out of town so I didn’t want to overdo it.


I start by outlining all the items I’ve got to work with- from veggies to pantry and freezer, and any other little tid bits that will help me figure out what I need to get from the store. Like breakfast and snacks- I want to make sure we have enough to last us through the week.

After reviewing what I’ve got, I start crafting meals. Seeing all the ingredients I have on hand listed side by side helps me create meals that minimize the additional items I need to buy, and plan enough meals for the week. This makes life so much easier! The chicken and broccoli dish was for Sunday. I knew we’d have a few leftovers, but we’d need something else to round out lunches. A quinoa black bean salad was a no brainer, given what I had on hand. I have a ton of peanut butter in my cupboard since I accidentally bought a jar when I already had a full jar, so I decided a big batch of peanut noodles for dinner one night would be perfect. Plus, it’d use up any remaining veggies, and give us enough for leftovers. And the roasted apples are kind of just for fun- a riff on a recipe shown in the first photo!

I’v always got a pile of lettuce or dark greens on hand which become side salads pretty much every night of the week, and help round out a lunch that isn’t too veggie heavy. Three meals (with leftovers built in) seem to be our magic number, leaving us with enough food to get us to the weekend. Weekends we do most of our eating out, hence the Saturday/Sunday planning schedule.

That’s pretty much it! I’d love to know, how do you guys meal plan? Anyone else highlight the ingredients they need to buy? Control freak, right this way!


Life Lately | Salted Maple Pecan Olive Oil Granola |

September 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hot diggity I am soooo done. After going on 12 straight days of working I am ready to unplug, lounge, and just plain old hang this weekend. Do you have a perfect Saturday morning? This is mine: I wake up around 9 am (because I can some how miraculously sleep until that time), make a homemade latte, and curl up on the couch to watch my favorite shows from the week. Parenthood! Nashville! You’re back! (Ssshh don’t tell me what happened.) Then I walk to the farmer’s market and load up on all sorts of goodies for the week. After that I come back home and tackle some sort of household project that has been on the back burner forever. This weekend it’s switching over my winter wardrobe and purging my closet. I’m feeling a major purge and considering doing an online sale of some lightly used items. Would you be into that? Anyway back to the weekend- I then round out the day with a sweaty workout and dinner with good friends. That is exactly what is going down tomorrow and I could not be more excited.

I’m closing the week with an insanely good granola recipe . This was my first time using olive oil as the fat in my granola, and I gotta say- I love it. The flavor is nothing like you would imagine. This will be part of my perfect Saturday, too! Thank you all so much for your support on yesterday’s post. I’m so thrilled you’re just as excited as me about the series. Here’s to a wildly relaxing weekend!


Salted Maple Pecan Olive Oil Granola adapted from Food52

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 cup raw pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans, left whole or coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, brown sugar and salt in a bowl and mix until well combined. Mix together syrup and olive oil in a measuring cup. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine.

Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45-60 minutes (mine took closer to 55 minutes).

Remove granola from oven and  let cool completely before serving. Can be stored in an airtight container up to one month.