Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vera Bradley Sunscreen Organizer


No, Vera Bradley doesn't make something called a "Sunscreen Organizer", but they easily could market it as such. I've been using one of my Vera Bradley Cosmetic Bags to hold all of my sunscreen (lotion, sprays, face sticks, etc.) and it has worked like a charm. Not only is it cute, of course, but it is totally practical with the plastic interior to prevent any accidental spills.

* Image courtesy of Vera Bradley *

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tory Burch Flip Flops



Come summertime, I love my Jack Rogers, but I need something more casual for the pool and the beach. For that, I turn to my trusty Tory Burch flip flops:





* Images courtesy of Tory Burch *

Monday, August 17, 2015

Steak Frites with Peppercorn Sauce

After reading about the sauce feud in the Wall Street journal a few weeks ago, I looked at my husband and said, "We are either going out for steak frites, or making them at home, you're choice." As experimentally fun as it always is, we decided to go with the latter. Challenge accepted.

We've cooked steaks before and homemade fries, but trying to muster a swoon-worthy sauce had my knees quivering. The sauce was going to be the secret to making it a success. But, after much research in French culinary books and Frenchie chef recipes available online, we came up with a sauce that probably wouldn't become a third contender in the sauce battle between l’Entrecôte and Bistro Régent, but it would do the trick for a few Texans looking for their fix. And boy oh boy, was it goooooood.

What you'll need...
4 strip steaks*
2 russert potatoes
3 cups Canola Oil
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon sherry wine
2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 medium-sized shallots
1 garlic clove
Salt
Pepper

Monday, August 3, 2015

History of the Calzone

Since it's summer (a.k.a. grilling season), we've been experimenting a lot lately with the grill, and seeing as how I am the ultimate pizza lover, my husband has obliged in experimenting with pizza on the grill.

But like with many things in life, one must first encounter much trial and error. So, we've had a few successes, but mostly mishaps, some of which have led to searches for new additions in our cookware, like our recently acquired pizza peel. 

As we've learned over the years, creative kitchen tools can be fabulously life changing, but that is if you know how to use them correctly. And well, we're still mastering the removal of the pizza from the peel without a natural disaster that results in the inevitable reach for the phone for delivery of back-up dinner.

Which gets me to one of our most recently conducted experiments, with our pizza not "peeling" exactly as it should have, thus resulting in a new plan for pizza night - a calzone!

Thankfully my well-mannered and well-spirited husband just gave me a smile and said, "I wonder if that's how the calzone was invented." I laughed, a common sensation around this house, and immediately took to my iPad seeking the history of the calzone.

Turns out the calzone was made in days of old for pizza lovers seeking a fork and knife-less dining option, similar to the sandwich. But jump forward many years and more often than not you're likely to find pizza put to mouth by hand (or fist if you're like my 2-year-old toddler). So what happened to the poor old calzone?!

Well, it obviously lost popularity for its originally intended purpose, but skip ye not my friends! Calzones can be just as delicious, and if stuffed right, sometimes even more so than my first true love, pizza.

Nowadays when I look around I see a total role reversal. I don't know about you, but I eat my pizza with my hands and my calzone with a fork and knife (my more sophisticated counterpart uses utensils for both). How do you 'za and 'zone?!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Liberty in London

Liberty is a historic department store located on Regent Street in the West End shopping district of London.

In 1874, with a £2,000 loan from his future father-in-law, Arthur Lasenby Liberty set up a shop on Regents Street selling ornaments, fabric and artistic household objects from various other countries. Eighteen months later, Mr. Liberty had fully repaid the loan, expanding into more and more space along Regents Street, adding carpets and furniture into his shop.

Becoming one of the most fashionable places to shop in London, Liberty launched an in-house apparel line to challenge the fashions of Paris. With these contemporary in-house designers, the store became associated with the new style of Art Nouveau, referred to in Italy as Stile Liberty, after the store of its origins.

Today’s Liberty is housed in a Tudor revival building. It was in 1924 that this new store was constructed from the timbers of two ships. The department store was planned around three wells that formed the main focus of the building. Each of these wells was surrounded by smaller rooms to create a homey feel. Many of the rooms had fireplaces, which still exist today. The wells created a platform to drape exotic rugs and quilts, with side rooms for the display of smaller items.

Arthur Lasenby Liberty died in 1917, seven years before the completion of today’s majestic Liberty home, but his name will live on forever as one of the most prestigious stores in London. Stop by, if only just to browse the multiple floors of clothing and home goods, and the design of the building itself.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Harper Lee's 2nd Novel debuts Today!

To Kill a Mockingbird was first published by Harper Lee in 1960, on the cusp of a changing America. 

There was tension everywhere to be found - racial, sexual, political, and social. Some describe the era as a bubble that was ready to burst after years of hostility on so-called freedoms. So it was only fitting for the time to introduce a book that would challenge the notions of race in America.

To Kill a Mockingbird addresses many socially challenging situations, both directly and indirectly, all through the innocent eyes of a six-year-old girl. Very thought provoking. 

Controversial or not, the book and the movie, which was produced 2 years after the novel's debut, are both still taught in many classrooms to this day. The author, native Alabamian (Nelle) Harper Lee, has received many honors for her only published novel, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Harper Lee would be releasing her second novel, some fifty-five years after her first, one, and only, publication to date. Obviously, due to the popularity of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the fact that Harper Lee was once closely tied to the famous author Truman Capote, which sparked its own controversy of the book itself, this book release is and has been highly anticipated.

So, without further ado, Go Set a Watchman will be released to the public on Tuesday, July 14th. Buy the audible edition and Reese Witherspoon will be reading the story to you, what a treat!

But for those of you that just can't wait any longer, after all fifty-five years has already been a long time, The Wall Street Journal is releasing a sneak peek at the first chapter today! Oh, and if you haven't seen To Kill a Mockingbird yet, go out and get! Book or movie, I won't judge...



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vera Bradley Bags

While useful all year round, Vera Bradley bags just remind me of the summer. Maybe it's the fantastic color combinations or the light cotton fabric, but it's definitely a seasonal transition bag for me.



The signature collections change year after year, and it's hard to beat the vintage originals, but new or old, a classic Vera pattern usually entails a paisley print or some kind of flower motif. The totes are great for every day use, but come the weekends, you can't beat a the duffle for a quick and easy getaway.



Images courtesy of verbradley.com

Monday, June 29, 2015

Eats in Seaside, Florida

School's out for Summer! And with summer, comes many summer vacations. One of my favorite being a trip to Seaside, Florida


As the saying goes, "The new town, the old ways." And it couldn't be more true. Seaside gives the feeling of a trip back in time, an escape from time, and a grand time.

And part of that grand time comes of course with food, starting with Great Southern. One must order the Grits a Ya Ya - blackened shrimp with bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and cream served atop Gouda grits. With so many of the right combinations, the flavor of this classic dish with a modern twist is just divine. The fish of the day is always fresh and local. There's pimento cheese and Po' Boys for lunch. And for breakfast one mustn't overlook the beignets.

With all the wonderful fare, it's no surprise the place is always hopping, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.




For a more casual affair, on those occasions where your shoes are filled with sand and your clothing attire is just a swim suit, stroll on over to Pickle's located steps away from the shore. It's classic boardwalk bites like hot dogs, hamburgers, corndogs, and funnel cakes. Of course there are french fries, but don't forget the fried namesake!


Visit the rooftop at Bud & Alley's for a great view of the beach and water. It's quite refreshing, both the breeze and the drinks.


For a more casual dining affair, visit Bud & Alley's Pizza Bar right next door. The pizza is brick oven fresh and there's also nice outdoor seating on the back patio.


Or want to cook in the comfort of your own home? There's no better place than Modica Market.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Original Bermuda Bag

It's coming back! But did it ever really leave? Not in the world of a true prep.


What makes a Bermuda bag? Two things: First, a classic wooden handle. Secondly, a removable cover. Add a monogram or totally prepster pattern - think whales, tennis racquets, anchors, etc. 


Of course I am a total sucker for the pink and green, but look at these, could you really go wrong?! They're classic, they're timeless, and they're just my style...

* Images courtesy of Mark and Graham *

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mussels at Home

I love going to a French restaurant and seeing mussels on the menu. Serve them up with frites for dipping and I'm even more in heaven. But there are those times, especially after a long day, where all you want is the comfort of home. And what could be better than some fresh, tasty mussels with extra sauce for dipping in the comfort of your own home? Yep, got me too.

Now I know what you're thinking, but yes, cooking mussels at home is actually quite easy! Mussels are foolproof, just keep it simple. Here's one way to do so:

What you'll need...
1 bag of mussels
1/4 cup of flour
2 Tablespoons of butter
3-5 shallots, minced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
3/4 cup of white wine
3/4 cup of cream
1 large saucepan with a lid

What to do...
Clean the mussels: Empty the bag of mussels in a large bowl, fill it with water, and add 1/4 cup of flour. Stir lightly to mix and then let sit for 30 minutes.

Drain the mussels in a colander and give them an extra rinse. Inspect each one for the following:
1) If cracked or already opened, discard.
2) If the mussel has a beard (a blackish grey string looking thing), pull it off and discard.

Melt the butter and Olive Oil in a saucepan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook to your liking.

Add the white wine and cream and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the mussels, stirring into the mixture, and turn the heat to a medium simmer.

Cover and cook for 8 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not pop open. Pour into a serving dish, or keep it casual and enjoy as is.

Serve with bread or homemade frites!



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Peach Picking


As my 10-year-old nephew says, "It can't get much fresher than that."


Now off to bake a pie...