Friday, December 15, 2017

Gifts for All at Mark & Graham

For Him:

For Her:

For the Little One:

For the Furry Friend:

For the Home:

* All images courtesy of Mark and Graham *

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Sister's Sugar Cookies

It's the most wonderful time of the year. With family and friends and food galore, and of course, cookies!

Here's another family favorite:

My Sister's Sugar Cookies

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extra
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Mix together the first four ingredients and beat until smooth. Combine remaining three ingredients and slowly add to the mixture.

Refrigerate dough for 3 to 12 hours (it is easier to work with the dough once its chilled).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes.

Bake for 5-7 minutes. Allow cookies to cool.

3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
5 tablespoons of butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
Milk (just enough to make a creamy frosting)

Mix together the above ingredients and spread onto of cookies. Add food coloring or sprinkles as desired.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The London Arcades

Not to be confused with the other version of arcades, where kiddos drop coins in a machine to play their favorite games, the London Arcades are much more sophisticated. At the London Arcades, there is shop after shop after shop.

London is filled with these "arcades" throughout the city. Each entrance is adorned with beautiful architecture. And the arcades are even more decorated come the Christmas season.

Visit London. Visit the Arcades.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Harrod's in London

Harrod’s is an upscale department store in the Royal Borough of Kensington, London. First founded in 1824 by Henry Harrod at the age of 25, the business started as a curtains and linens type store. Later, Henry explored the grocery wholesale business with an expressed interest in different teas. The next generation to acquire the store, Charles Harrod, dabbled into the market of perfumes, stationery, and fresh produce. Despite a fire early on in the business, the store continued to grow and thrive, generation after generation.

And here's a bit of trivia... Harrod’s was the first store to debut the “moving staircase” in England, more commonly known today as the escalator. Today, there are many, many moving staircases in the more than one million square feet the store occupies with over 300 different departments. Sadly, they no longer offer the brandy at the top of the staircase, as they did when it first rolled out in order to ease customers' tensions from this futuristic feature. Plus, I’m sure it didn’t hurt to help push sales. Maybe they should bring back that concept?

When in London, Harrod’s department store is a must see. Around Christmas time, it is famous for its lavish decorations and crowded halls during the boxing day sales. Also, there is an extremely impressive food court, one of the more high end food courts with decadent savory dishes, if you can get your hands on something amongst the crowd.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Fall Mimosa

For a fun twist on a classic, try making your mimosa with apple cider! It's the perfect cocktail for the Fall season and Thanksgiving holiday



Fill a glass 3/4 full with Prosecco.

Add a splash of apple cider.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Oktoberfest in Helen, GA

Nestled amidst the mountains just north of Atlanta is the German-inspired town of Helen, GA. A perfect place to celebrate Oktoberfest!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bucatini alla Carbonara

Last night we cooked another wonderful cover of the Williams Sonoma magazine, and it was delicious! Simple and easy. A quick fix to a long day!

Here's the recipe from the website:

  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) plus 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 oz. (375 g) bucatini *
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

*If you can't find bucatini, regular spaghetti works just as well.


Heat a fry pan over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring often, until crisp, about 6 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and add the garlic to the bacon grease in the pan. Let the garlic soften in the residual heat, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to the bowl with the bacon.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl and stir in the 1/2 cup Parmesan. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the bucatini and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the bowl with the bacon and immediately stir in the egg mixture. Add the reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Stir in the 2 Tbs. Parmesan and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Varsity

Formerly known as The Yellow Jacket, a take on the mascot of nearby Georgia Tech, The Varsity continues its legacy as an Atlanta institution from 1928 to current day.

If you order a Hot Dog, it comes with chili, no questions asked. A plain hot dog is just naked. And when they ask you if you want to walk a dog, they aren't offering for you to get in the kitchen and help, or volunteering you for actual dog walking services, it's just a way of asking if you want your order to go.

Their burgers on the other hand come plain and simple, unless you want to add chili of course. Or if you want, you can order your steak "glorified" with mayo, lettuce, and tomato. 

Between their homemade pies and shakes made to order, including the famous FO (Frosted Orange) shake, there's enough to satisfy any flavor of appetite.

And being as how it is located right next to the Coca-Cola hall of fame, rumor has it that The Varsity is also known for having the most annual retail sales of the popular drink than anywhere else in the world.

Tips to Know before you Go:
- Go at off peak hours, they aren't kidding when they say they welcome buses and tours.
- Check out the lingo they have posted on the website because they do actually use it!!!
- Also give some thought to your order because when you're up, you're up!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Southern Custard

There are so many lovely things I am finding in my new town of Atlanta. One of which is Southern Custard, a recent addition (like me) but must visit for those in town.

So custard... It's super creamy, silky, and smooth. I didn't know there existed such a thing that could compare and compete with ice cream.

And according to the owner, a super cool (slight pun) friend of yours truly, it's okay if you call it ice cream, but don't you dare call it froyo! Personally, I'd say to give it the title it deserves... Damn good custard!

Give it a try, bring on a smile. It's happiness in a cup, or cone.

* Images courtesy of Southern Custard *

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Burberry Headbands

Summer is my season of headbands, and here are some of my favorites...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Big Top Candy Shop

When it comes to Big Top, I'm definitely a kid in a candy shop...

The South Congress wonderland boasts over 300 different types of candy available in bulk or wrapped forms. My nostalgia lies in the rock candy, Big League chew, ice cream-less ice cream cones, and that rock hard Bazooka replaced by the much softer Dubble Bubble. 
1705 South Congress Avenue
Austin, TX
* Images courtesy of Big Top *

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Texas Pecan Coffee by Texas Joe

I love the mornings when I wake up to the smell of my husband brewing a pot of Texas Pecan. Whether still asleep or half awake, I know the smell right away. It's heaven.
Brought to you by Central Market

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Krause's Biergarten in New Braunfels, TX

I've mentioned before of the many Texas towns founded by German settlers, and this weekend we stumbled across another that is uniquely the same.

In the town of New Braunfels is Krause's Biergarten, mimicking all one might expect to see in a true German biergarten. Beer is flowing, kids are running around, and food is served like hot pretzels, beer cheese, schnitzel, and more. You feel like you're outside, but you're not really outside. It's perfect for those hot summer days that we all know are right around the corner. And better yet, go on a Saturday when the weekly Farmer's market pops up with lots of local vendors.

148 S Castell Ave
New Braunfels, TX

* Image courtesy of the Austin Chronicle *

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

J.McLaughlin Shirtdress

Without even opening the message, I smiled and let out a happy sigh when my inbox showed a subject line of "Shirtdress Refresh." I LOVE the shirtdress.

**Images courtesy of J.McLaughlin**

Friday, March 31, 2017

Peoples Pharmacy

Peoples Pharmacy is another one of those iconic Austin institutions (founded in 1980!) that you hear so much about and ultimately have to make your way there. And when I heard this holistic pharmacy made sandwiches at their in-house deli, I just had to give it a try.

The curry chicken salad sandwich was perfectly flavorful with complimentary flavors to the chicken, all in the right proportions:

And the veggie sandwich did not come light, it was packed full of goodness:

Pop into one of the six different Austin locations to check out some of the great products on display - from food to cosmetics, all sourced with a natural and nutritional approach. And being the holistic wellness center that they are, Peoples carries Kombucha on draft! with free samplings...

And of course, don't forget to refill your prescription while you're at it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Classic Austin Eatery Instituitions

Austin may have just recently hit the list as one of the top towns in the U.S., but this city has been buzzing for quite some time. And there are plenty of places that have stood the test of time where you can find old Austinites, the true locals. Here are some favorites, just to name a few:

1607 San Jacinto Blvd

Along with some of the other nearby towns, Germans made their way down to Texas in the late 1800s and thus a pop up of German food and beer took over. Some have stood the test of time, and Scholz is no exception. After all, when you're in Austin and you have food inside with a music venue outside, it's hard not to meet your market. Add the campus next door, put the Longhorns on the TV, and you've got a line out the door.

603 Barton Springs Road

There's a reason Sandy's is frequented by well known names, both celebrity and politician alike. Pull in through the drive thru or walk on up, order a good old burger, fries, and a shake. Finish it off with a custard in a cone, and who isn't smiling from ear to ear.

2938 Guadalupe St

In Texas, there are Tex Mex options a-plenty. So when you encounter a Tex Mex restaurant that is over sixty years old, you know it has stood the test of time. And having married into a native Austinite family, I love that there is a place where we can say that family has dined there for at least four different generations. El Patio is well known for the chalupas.

2808 Guadalupe

Then and now, horse carriage aside, not much has changed at Dirty Martin's over the past 90 plus years. When we first moved to Austin, my husband kept telling me that I couldn't call myself an Austinite until I had a burger at Dirty Martin's. So one day we finally went, ordered our food, surveyed the memorabilia on the walls inside, found a seat outside on the back patio, and waited until our number was called. The food came, delicious, and the milkshake was hard to share, although share I did. It was a great experience, memorable, and I appreciated the understanding of why I may now call myself an Austinite.

 5621 Airport Blvd

I find joy in hearing the stories of times past. One of my favorite stories is when my mother-in-law tells me about how her sister used to park herself at the wooden bar inside of Quality Seafood and order oysters on the half shell along with a glass of champagne. So nowadays when we stop into Quality Seafood for some fresh deliciousness, unbeknownst to my husband, I look over at the bar and I picture the young version of the woman I knew as Marcia and it makes me smile. There are many things about Quality Seafood that make me smile, but knowing just a mere glimpse of the previous lives once lived there, I find even more respect in a wonderful place.