Coffee Talk

October 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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!

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Five Easy Relaxation Techniques

October 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

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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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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All illustrations by Asia Pietrzyk for Channeling Contessa

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Noodles with Rainbow Veggies

October 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

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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…

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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!

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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.

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