Life Lately | March 29th |

March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

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This week was all about getting back into my routine, on all fronts. Being out of my routine makes me realize how comfort I get from my daily rituals. Things like my quiet coffee time in the morning or nighttime skin routine seem so trivial in everyday life, but when I’m away from those patterns for an extended period of time it becomes very clear how important they are to me. Does that ever happen to you?

Beyond that, it’s Easter! My family’s coming down for an early Easter brunch this Saturday. I’m making this swiss chard and egg casserole, a tossed green salad, and this blueberry coffee cake. Are you guys cooking anything special? I’ve got a few recipe recs below if you’re in need of some! Let’s get to it:

  • Did you know you could poach an egg in olive oil? I had no idea, but am totally hooked on the idea after seeing this drool worthy tutorial on Oh Joy.
  • If I weren’t making eggs, I’d be all over this Nutella Stuffed French Toast for an insanely delicious Easter Brunch.
  • My dear friend Rebecca officially opened her online shop for her new textiles line. I’m so amazed by all she’s accomplished with her new business!
  • As someone just getting into the world of face oils, I loved this roundup the Glitter Guide put together of great oils to make your skin glow.
  • I’m completely obsessed with anything covered in Buffalo sauce, so these Crispy Buffalo Oven Fries are going straight to the top of my to make list.
  • Even though it’s still chilly we’ve had lots of sunny days and blue skies in NYC this week- so thankful for that.
  • I’m consistently inspired by everything that Bri from DesignLoveFest does, but I was particularly wowed by this post and graphic she put together for where to eat in her neighborhood of Silver Lake. I very much foresee doing something fun like this for Williamsburg!
  • And in case you need a little more Easter/weekend brunch inspiration… Spinach & Feta in Puff PastryPomegranate Scones , and Scrambled Egg & Avocado Breakfast Sandwiches.

Have  a great weekend friends, see you on Monday! xx

Image Source: Camille Styles

Sheer Winter Whites

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Sweater: Central Park West (only available in navy), Jeans: LOFT (similar), Necklace: Banana Republic (old), Shoes: J.Crew (old), Glasses: Urban Outfitters, Bag: Boutique in Brooklyn, Bracelets: BaubleBar

Happy Monday, friends! Mixing things up a little today and subbing out food for some fashion. While I’m so ready to throw on fun pastels, prints, and neon shades for the warmer months, this sweater has been the best addition to my winter wardrobe this year. I so rarely shop in actual stores these days but I have an amazing boutique in my hometown upstate (Rhinebeck), that I visit almost every time I go home. The owner curates the most gorgeous selection of pieces. It’s so good I’ve actually thought about doing a blog post on them (on my to do list for this summer…). I picked up this white sweater last time I was home. It’s a little bit hard to see the sheer detailing across the shoulders and neck, but it really makes the whole piece. I love the slouchy feel and the slits on the side. Is anyone as obsessed as me with side slits on tops or sweaters? Oh and it must be said- these are not real glasses, I totally purchased fake ones a few years back and have fun wearing them from time to time. I’m sure all of you who actually wear glasses think I’m quite nutty! Here’s to a great week!

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Photos by Lydia Hudgens 

Life Lately | March 8th |

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

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What I would give for this to be the scene outside my window right now. Instead I’m staring down a blustery snow storm and wondering if there’s some way I can conduct my meetings today from the comfort of my bed.  The chances are not looking good! I love this city but it’s this time of year- this month specifically (I’m looking at you March), where I start to dream about moving to the west coast. Can someone please send me some sun and a palm tree? In the mean time, here’s what’s on my mind and keeping me going!

  • I’m so ready to shed all my winter sweaters and throw on summer clothes. This sweet Camille dress in neon rose from J.Crew will be mine.
  • I’m headed out of town next weekend (thankfully to a much warmer climate!), and I’m really in need of some new sunglasses. I’ve be coveting these Karen Walker ones for so long. Cat eye glasses- yay or nay?
  • My mornings have felt really rushed this week, and I have not been making the best meal choices. Thinking I need a batch of Sarah’s Apricot Pecan Breakfast Bars to fix that habit.
  • I’ve really been drawn back to my yoga practice lately. I love doing the Body by Bethenny DVD at home. I know people have mixed feelings about her, but all that aside, this is one of the best at home yoga practices I’ve ever experienced- I’ve literally done it 100+ times and always feel like I’ve hit the reset button after it’s complete.
  • My hair has been kind of a disaster lately and I think it has something to do with my shampoo (Redken Blonde)- it’s causing SO much buildup. Any recommendations?
  • Did you guys see SMP Living launched? I’m especially loving this gorgeous post about Paris.
  • This was a pretty fun week on the blog- between the fried ravioli and comparison trap commandants– you guys had us smiling non-stop!

Thanks for such an awesome week- for your comments and for consistently supporting us. Hope you have the best of weekends! xx Clara

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Life Lately | March 1st |

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

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It’s amazing what a night with old friends and a few bottles of good wine will do for your mood! Seriously, people. Last night I got together with some of my closest gal pals from college and it was the perfect way to round out a somewhat stressful week. Despite the stress though- there was a lot of good! Here’s what went down:

  • Trust me when I say the road to your significant other’s heart is through these Baked Crispy Hot Wings. They also happen to be easiest thing in the world to make- a total win win.
  • I finally snagged myself one of Meg’s adorable “Lover” sweatshirts. Have you checked out her line- Manifesto Ts? So impressive. Cannot wait for mine to arrive!
  • A co-worker had a birthday this week, but instead of whipping up a dessert, I thought an indulgent breakfast would be a nice change. I made Joy’s Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins (recipe also on Shutterbean) and they were beyond words deeelicious.
  • Wednesday’s Biz Notes topic on balancing career and motherhood was something I’ve been wanting to cover for a long time. I’m so glad I finally got around to it- and loving the discussion that ensued even more!
  • Hmmm clearly a pretty major cooking week- I also made Captain Crunch Granola, inspired by Ms. Madison of Espresso and Cream. The recipe gets its name from the honey and coconut oil flavor combo. This was my first time using coconut oil in granola and I absolutely loved the result. It smelled and tasted amazing, and felt a whole lot better than just using regular vegetable oil.
  • I often feel like my Instagram photos are kinda so so, but I was pretty darn pleased with this one I snapped during a breakfast meeting at the Nomad Hotel. How gorgeous are those cups and saucers?
  • We finally ate at The Commodore– a complete dive bar in Williamsburg that serves the most amazing Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches and garlicky sautéed kale. Yes- dive bars in Williamsburg serve kale. The chicken was also organic. I heart Brooklyn.

I’m looking forward to a weekend filled with lots of TV catch up time, a few hours curled up with some news reads, and a few get togethers with dear friends. Hope yours is wonderful! xx

Ps: How is it already March? But also, can it please be spring already?

Image via wit + delight

Life Lately | February 22nd |

February 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I’ve been meaning to have new pictures taken for both the blog, and my business site for ages, and I’m beyond thrilled to finally share them with you guys! After drooling over the gorgeous shots on Grace and Alicia’s sites, I decided to work with the amazing Lydia Hudgens. Lydia was such a dream- she put me (and Sarah) at complete ease. We’ve already got a handful of other shoots planned that I’m really excited about. I wouldn’t say full on outfit posts- more so day in the life features. That said, I’ve noted all the clothing pieces below since I figured folks would ask!

It’s been a good week, a combo of getting stuff done at home and feeling on top of work again. Here’s a snapshot:

  • I made some really good but super easy dinners this week. The most notable one was a sausage and peppers creation inspired by Tracy. I thinly sliced a yellow onion and two peppers and tossed them in a bit of olive oil, balsamic, and salt and pepper. I threw four Italian sausages on top, cranked the oven to 400°, and roasted the whole thing for 18 minutes . I then removed the sausages and roasted the veggies for another 10 minutes. Served everything over rice with a salad on the side- this was such a good dinner! Depending on the size of your sausages, I’d check the time around minute 15. You could also throw everything in a bun and make sandwiches…. mmmm.
  • The women at Ladies’ Home Journal sent me the most gorgeous flowers. I have the best clients!
  • I found this article about companies recruiting former female employees who left when they started having children pretty fascinating. I think my next Biz Notes post is going to be around some of my reasons on working for myself in relation to motherhood… yep, definitely on my mind.
  • Did you catch Lauren’s first post? She’s got you covered for any at home Oscar party prep on both the snack and outfit front.
  • The importance of relaxation when it comes to being more productive– amazing. Now I just need to book a vacation…
  • Did you know it’s national grapefruit month? I’m planning to celebrate by making Ina’s Pink Grapefruit Margaritas.

Ok I think that should do us. Any fun plans for the Oscars? Thanks so much for reading this week, have a great weekend everyone! xx

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Clothing: J.Crew SweaterJ.Crew Boots, J.Brand Jeans (similar), J.Crew necklace and scarf (a few years old), Michael Kors Watch
Photography by Lydia Hugdens

New Series: Biz Notes

April 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

Hi all! I’ve got a new series to introduce today which I’m really excited about. Ever since mentioning I had officially made the transition to working for myself/starting my own business, I haven’t said too much else about the topic. That is about to change! The truth is, my mind is in such a different place these days. When I first started Channeling Contessa, is was solely a creative outlet for my culinary creations. Nowadays, I (thankfully) have many more creative outlets on my plate (ie: my work!) that go well beyond the kitchen and occupy my brain all day long. Thus it only feels natural to share more of that here.

My mind is brimming with ideas for this series, but I want to start things off in a simple and organized manner. So first things first, I’m going to break it down for you guys and share what a typical day looks like in my world these days. Here goes!

7:30-8 am: Wake up I aim to get out of bed around 7:45 am each day. I actually don’t set an alarm. I have a crazy internal body clock which can prove to be pretty frustrating on weekends, but gets me up on time during the week.

8-10:00 am: Breakfast and Work  Once out of bed I make coffee or tea and start work, which usually consists of emails and blog stuff while I’m still waking up. This is my favorite time of day- I love the morning light that pours into our apartment and I love being able to start my work day from the comfort of my own home. Breakfast usually consists of yogurt with honey and almonds or toast with almond butter.

9:45- 11 am: Prep for the “Office” After taking care of any morning priorities I hop in the shower and get ready to go to the “office.” Yes, office. Last month I started renting shared office space here in Brooklyn. While I love the flexibility of working from home I was starting to feel cooped up and cafés were just too noisy, so now I spend a few days a week here. I love it! The people are so sweet and there’s even a little dog named Sushi who hangs out with us.

11 am- 5:30 pm: Work at the Office These are my usual hours at the co-working space. I’ve found working here to be incredibly productive- more so than any other office I’ve worked it. Not much but work happens during this period- I usually bring something to eat and snack on it at my desk (and pet Sushi from time to time).

5:30-6:30 pm: Head Home & Prep for the Gym The office is a solid half hour walk from my apartment, so I shoot to leave by 5:30 so I can get home and change for the gym, as well as clean up the apartment a bit.

6:30-7:30 pm: Gym Time When I’m not traveling (or suffering from the stupid flu), I aim to make it to the gym 3 weekdays and 1 weekend day. Exercise is so crucial for my mental health, so I really look forward to my workout. Most days I do about 20 minutes of cardio and spend the rest of the timing lifting weights.

7:30 pm- 9 pm: Shower and Prep Dinner At 7:30 I’m hustling to finish my workout and head home to prep dinner. Usually I’m reheating leftovers or making something simple like a big salad and quesadillas, which doesn’t require too much time and effort. We eat around 8:15/8:30 and linger until around 9 pm. Sitting down for dinner is one of my favorite parts of the day- the down time and catching up with Brandon helps keep me sane.

9- 11 pm: Blogging, Light Work, and Prepping for the Next Day The majority of my evening time I spend blogging, but occasionally they’ll be a little work, and often I do a bit more tidying of the apartment and prepping meals, etc. for the next day. Some nights I’ll catch up on my TV shows – I’m currently watching Mad Men, Smash, and Bethenny Ever After (no judging!).

11-11:45 pm: Prep for bed, reading, and lights out! In an ideal world I’m in bed with teeth brushed just a little after 11 so I have a solid amount of time to read. I’m currently reading Spontaneous Happiness. Next on my list- 50 Shades of Grey!

Aaand I think that’s it! Obviously not everyday is like this- at least one night a week I have dinner or drinks with friends or we go out, and some weekdays I’ll take advantage of my work from home schedule and go to the gym in the morning or hit up Trader Joe’s when it isn’t a mad house. As simple as it sounds, this whole work from home schedule took me quite some time to figure out- I just now feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it. If there’s one thing having my own business has really taught me thus far, it’s that I need to be more patient! In time…

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Wait, you’re not on Facebook?

April 12, 2012 § 7 Comments

Earlier this week I caught an awesome Biz Ladies/ Design Sponge post on How to Escape the Comparison Trap. Are you prone to the comparison trap? I fall into it all the time. I’m really good at it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read another blog or looked at someone’s event planning business and thought “Why can’t I be like them? I want what they have!” It’s really productive.

Luckily, I’ve gotten a bit better at stopping these thoughts in their tracks. They crop up from time to time, but mostly I’m able to dismiss them quickly, realizing they won’t accomplish anything, and that in reality, I’m very happy with my life. Becka, the girl who wrote the article, shares some great tips for paring down the online clutter in your life to actively keep from falling into the comparison trap. I follow most of her recommendations, but there’s one in particular I’ve really exercised to the maximum.  And that would be Facebook.

I’m not on it.

This wasn’t always the case. I joined Facebook during college and stayed on until December 2009. If you had asked me in late 2009 or early 2010 why I got off, I probably would have told you it was because I was studying for the GMAT. This was kind of sort of… ok really, not at all true. I said it anyway though, because I was afraid to be honest with people as to why I got off.  But the truth is, the reasons I got off have a lot to do with the comparison issues Becca talks about in the article. Facebook made me constantly compare myself to other people, and because of that, I always felt like I had to “prove” how great and fun my life was on it. If I was posting pictures, it was partially because I wanted to share the pictures with my friends, but also because I wanted it to seem like I had fun! I went out! My life was so great!

Along with the tendency to try and “prove my life,” I also felt like Facebook brought out some of my worst qualities. I can have a bit of a jealous and possessive streak, and by viewing other peoples profiles or seeing other’s activities on Facebook, I would get jealous of people or possessive over weird things that in actuality, I really didn’t care about.

Some people could recognize these tendencies and just decide not to go on Facebook but keep their account. That wasn’t going to work for me. I don’t have that much self control! So I de-activated my account. That’s not as scary as it sounds. Even if you deactivate your account, for a certain amount of time Facebook still keeps all your account info. Still, it was hard. I was very tempted to go back on in the beginning. I remember at one point an old co-worker got engaged, and immediately upon hearing about it I went back on Facebook to check out her photos. But after looking at them I was kind of like, huh, that’s it? So I tried to remember that feeling every single time I was tempted to go back on.

People’s reactions were really funny. Some friends asked me to go back on, though they weren’t the people I was closest with.  A lot of people thought it was crazy that I wasn’t on it, they couldn’t imagine how I lived without it. In the beginning I thought about what I was “missing” all the time, but now I hardly ever do. And the funny thing is, it actually made me invest more in my friendships. Now, instead of writing on someone’s wall or commenting on a photo, I send them an email, catch up over the phone, or send a handwritten note around holidays. Yes, it is more of a challenge to remember birthdays (!), but my friends are all pretty understanding. In the beginning it freed up a lot of my time. Now, between my own blog, reading other blogs, and Twitter, I probably spend more time than ever before online.  Nonetheless, I think not having Facebook in my life is still beneficial, especially when it comes to comparing myself to other people.

The purpose of this post is by no means to tell you to get off Facebook. I think this was something that, selfishly, I kind of wanted to say for a while. Everyone I know is on Facebook, so I’m definitely in the minority. And the truth is, between my blog and business, I may actually need to get back on Facebook for work purposes in the near future. But for now, I’m good without it and hardly ever think about it.

If you made it through, bravo! I’m so curious, have you thought about getting off Facebook or disconnecting from any social media? Have any good techniques for staying out of the comparison trap?  I’d love to hear!

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