Tuesday, May 28

discover [savored]

The weekend is over. Did you spend more than you meant to? I always do. Savored is such a cool tool that you should all be using to save some moolah on date night.

They're owned by Groupon, but don't let that scare you (ha). It's basically an online reservation service for nice restaurants in your city, but you save up to 40% on your final bill. 

It's that easy.

It's free to make the reservation, so there's no penalty or cost. Just make sure your server knows (one time I had to show a confirmation email to prove it, since the restaurant didn't have record of my Savored deal), and you're all set. Every time I've used it, the discount (which you know of before you book) has been 30%. That's some serious cash saved people. 

Friday, May 24

link up

Longgggg weekend everybody. My plan is to check out some museums, do some shopping, eat some great food, and hopefully sunbathe by our just-opened pool!

Some of these are brutal: passive aggressive notes.

Just discovered this blog: pure comedy genius can be found from parents on social media.

I'm inspired by some of these celebrity bedrooms. Gonna have to brainstorm how I can do it all for less...

Some beautiful thoughts from a great mind on keeping a journal.

So youthful and fun for summer gift giving!

Thursday, May 23

mixology [summer sipping]

I'm not officially branding this one yet, but Thursdays have at least unofficially taken on a bit of a mixology theme (last week, and the week before). D and I have no trouble coming up with drinks to try- in fact, sometimes we have more that we want to make than would be intelligent/responsible to imbibe.

That doesn't mean I wasn't impressed and excited to come across the New York Times' Drink Generator this past weekend. If you've been in a boozy rut and need some new ideas, this is the place to go. The Generator lets you plug in what you already have in your liquor cabinet, what you like, or what you'd like to try and will spit out a delicious drink that utilizes your selections. The encourage you start with a "base spirit"; think your heavy hitters, like gin, rum, whiskey, tequila. Then select a "modifier", like Campari or St. Germaine. Finally, they add on a little somethin' extra, and voila, a finished creation.

D and I always joke that we've graduated from the college days of booze plus one mixer (or, a mixed drink) into cocktail heaven, where the finished product is almost entirely made of various liquors plus produce, herbs, or a splash of seltzer. Join us on the adult side of drinking- it's far more complex and rewarding, I promise.

Tuesday, May 21

DIY [wedding table numbers]

I still have a few wedding DIY's to share with you (see the seating chart and the mailbox for wedding cards to catch up).

Rich and Jen ordered a big ol' batch of frames, I think through Amazon. We were going for unfinished, untreated wood, which saved me loads of time in sanding. Here they are, unwrapped and ready to go.

Side question- who are the people that are always in the frames you buy? This little lady was a creep.

This is really a one-step project, after a light sanding. Paint or rub on some stain, let sit for a few minutes, then rub in with a dry, clean rag. How long you leave the stain on depends on the color you want, but I always say start light and add more if needed (check out more staining tips).

I've shared this pic before, so you can get an idea of the scale. I don't remember how many we did, because we didn't do tables in numerical order. Instead, we used numbers that were meaningful to the couple. It was fun to lounge around their apartment with a bottle of wine during a group brainstorm session, trying to come up with enough ideas. Love you two :)

We decided against finishing the frames with polyurethane  Though it would protect them, we preferred the matte, more rustic finish. And it's not like wedding guests were going to be treating them roughly.

And one more up-close. Hope you like!

Monday, May 20

discover [small cool 2013]

How many of you follow Apartment Therapy? It's a pretty substantial design and interiors blog that hosts a "small cool" contest every year to showcase the amazingly innovative ways that some home owners (or renters!) make incredibly tiny spaces work. It's addicting to go through the images and really stocks up the inspiration file.

The sizes include teeny tiny, tiny, little, and small, all under 1,000 square feet and some more like 300. Entries close tomorrow, then voting begins soon. Here are a few of my faves:

Here's a teeny tiny:

Here's a plain ol' tiny (and probs my favorite thus far):

A lovely little:

And a sweet small:

Friday, May 17

link up

Yesssss it's the weekend. If you liked my summer jam from last week, you should watch Mr. Thicke himself performing the catchy tune on Ellen yesterday!

They said it, I believe it: this is the most relaxing song in the world. Please finish reading my post before playing, or else you'll pass out.

If Congress behaved like roommates: this had me dying. They've quoted some of my apartment's email chains for sure.

Go learn how to DIY the coolest chandelier ever.

Would you eat this wacky combo? I'm making one this weekend to give it a roll. Apparently it used to be a "thing", so maybe your parents or grandparents were known to indulge.

D was pretty pleased with this correlation: physical strength and political views.

Set these up in the crock pot this morning for the most delicious Friday night dinner. I'm so impressed with her recipes, not to mention her photography!

I want this so bad, in the walnut burl. Is it crazy to pay that much? #yes

Thursday, May 16

mixology [hibiscus flower punch]

This is a funny story (to me). 

I traveled to El Salvador after my senior year of college as part of a solidarity and service trip with my undergrad's Center for Community Service and Justice. It was incredible, and worthy of another post (or week's worth). 

What I really want to share with you is that since that trip, I've had sealed bags of dried jamaica (hah-MY-kuh) stored with my tea. While in the country we tried an amazing chilled beverage made from the flower, so I bought a bunch, and have never gotten the energy or inspiration to make it again.

Then last week I get an email from PureWow, telling me that Hibiscus cocktails are great for Cinco de Mayo. Yeah, I bet they are, but I don't have any Hibiscus flowers.

Unless jamaica is the Latin American name for hibiscus.

Which it is.

Cocktail time!

Hibiscus Flower Punch
Recipe adapted from Chris Mortenson, La Condesa, Napa, Calif.
1½ ounces dried hibiscus flowers½ cup sugar, plus more to taste
3¾ cups tequila
1¾ cups rum
1¾ cups simple syrup
Juice from 5 limes (about ¾ cup)
Lime wheels, for garnish
1. In a large saucepan, bring 1½ cups of water to a boil. Place the hibiscus flowers in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Soak the flowers for 20 minutes, then pour the liquid through a strainer into a large pitcher. Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved. Add 3 cups cold water to the pitcher and adjust the sugar to taste.2. Add the tequila, rum, simple syrup and lime juice to the pitcher and stir to combine. Fill ten medium glasses halfway full with ice, then divide the punch among the glasses. Serve immediately, garnished with lime wheels.

Wednesday, May 15

Cheap Eats [super soup]

In the market for some summery soups? Soup is one of my favorite dishes. I love the consistency, you can pack a ton of flavor, they are often pretty simple to create something so elegant, and I feel light but satisfied, the perfect feeling during bikini season.

Ms. Martha has inspired me this year. A few of these are on the menu for this week, as D and I have decided to start meal planning again (fun, convenient, time-saver, money-saver, all around good idea). Here's what I have my eye on:

Heck yeah. Sounds like a tzatziki in a soup, and would probably be a great starter to any Mediterranean meal. I would replace the sour cream with Greek yogurt to keep things healthy. It's no-cook, so save this for a day when it's too hot to turn on the oven.

D probs won't join me on this one, since he's not a coconut fan, but I love tropical flavors, particularly in the summer. I've never heard of mixing corn and coconut, so I'm sure it's a unique taste. All of these recipes that call for pureeing are going to be much easier with my Vitamix :)

I am DYING to try this one, and we got all the ingredients last night. This is on the list for our weekly meals for sure. You get a little heat from the jalapeno. Avocado is great in any form, and I love the color contrast of the bright coral shrimp and the creamy celadon. Yes, the design of the meal matters to me, particularly if it's a dinner party!

What a classic. Everyone should have a Gazpacho recipe in their back pocket for the summer months. I ate this obsessively when I studied abroad in Spain, and really enjoyed a green tomato version as well, if you get tired of the traditional red. You can do so much with this as a base- add meat, seafood, add cream, add spice, and on and on. You could even turn it into Spicy BLT Soup (D would be in for that, he told our new roommate that bacon was his favorite food yesterday).

This one interests me because I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand: celery, onion, potato, lemon juice, butter. Too simple. And anything that tastes creamy without using actual cream is a win in my book.

Using frozen foods for the main ingredients makes this soup super quick and easy, and it's another no-cook recipe. D and I just bought a container of Philip's Jumbo-Lump Crab meat, so I may substitute that instead. We really don't have corn on hand all that often, but I think I'm going to pick some up for these recipes!

Any amazing no-cook meals out there I should add to my list?

Tuesday, May 14

discover [uber, sidecar, and the world of taxi apps]

If you live in a city, how do you get around?

Hopefully you're convenient to some form of public transportation, the cheap, convenient, environmentally-friendly way to do it. But sometimes, you need a work-around.

I have two favorites to share with you today, one well-known, one obscure but free (for now). 

First off, Uber. I would truly be surprised if anyone had not heard of them before, so I'll keep it brief: Uber is a car service run from an intuitive and free app that lets you hail a ride, pay for it, and rate the service, all from the phone. It's an on-demand service, which means you can expect to pay more at peak times, like New Year's Eve, but I use it weekly and have never paid more than the base fare. You can select a taxi, a black car, or a black SUV, which elevates the price, respectively. It's perfect for work, as they email you your receipt (including all ride stats and a map of the route). They're even international! This is a great option for DC, where the majority of cabs don't accept credit cards (slated to change in August, yippee!).

The other, that fewer seem to be familiar with, is SideCar. I have a soft-spot for them, since they are offering free services (straight up free people) in cities where they are unable to operate yet due to legal battles with the cab companies. One of those cities is Philly, where I just spent a lovely weekend with my sister M taking free rides. Win! (psst: Boston, NY, and DC ride free)

SideCar connects people who need rides with local drivers who are available. You put in your start and end address, and SideCar offers up willing drivers in the area and a "suggested donation". Based on their car, picture, and ratings, you can select a driver and hop in. You don't have to pay, but the driver can rate you right back, so you're better off not being a dick. This is a cheaper option than Uber for sure, but don't expect the full-on classy experience, either.

Have you tried either? Would you?

Friday, May 10

link it up

It's a light link up for you all today, full of fun and funny things. I need to laugh or else I'll cry: my girl K is moving out (all the way to Chicago!), and this is her last weekend. We are all so sad that our family is breaking up, but we have wonderful plans to celebrate before we part ways.

This is SUCH a good summer jam. Loving it.

Got a good chuckle out of this.

Twitter accounts are so creative these days. For the pop-culture and philosophically minded among us, you should pay this a visit.

Remember when I posted this a few weeks ago on a link up:

And finally, this hit me emotionally. Two people describe the same person to a forensic sketch artist, and here's what happened.

Well, this is the best parody EVER.

Thursday, May 9

mixology [grapefruit, rosemary & gin cocktail]

It isn't Friday yet? Let's get a head start regardless. 

This baby is delicious, and I drank it exclusively for two months this winter. It's similar to a Greyhound (vodka and grapefruit) or a Salty Dog (gin or vodka, grapefruit, and salt rim), but I made it sweet and added some herbs. I like gin with any herbal flavor. Or on it's own. I <3 gin.

Following Martha Stewart's sage advice, I made rosemary sugar for the rim, which I think really added something. Then, 2 shots of good quality gin, splash of campari, and the juice of one grapefruit (around 4 oz) and you're in business. If you're a wimp, top with some seltzer water. Garnish and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7

Cheap Eats [mashed sweet potatoes]

My dear friend J (miss youuu) hosts the most amazing seasonal dinner parties ever. I should say that the highlight is breaking bread with friends, but I'd be lying. The highlight is the food. Kidding.

This recipe is from the fall feast, rather than the spring edition, but I think it transitions well and the ingredients are just as appropriate. Better Homes and Gardens has the breakdown for these goat cheese mashed sweet potatoes with pistachio topping. Although the recipe includes butter and cream, which should certainly be included when you're cooking an indulgent meal for loved ones, I think you could leave them out and just mash up the sweet potatoes with a little skim milk and the goat cheese.

I also think the orange and green color scheme is rockin for spring. Go make this!

Monday, May 6

pinned [rustic cool kitchen]

My favorite roommate (don't tell the others, especially not D) just moved out last week. While I am sad that he's gone, that has been overshadowed by the dramatic drop in available glassware in the house. There's no time or energy to mourn when you're thirsty!

I had my eye on this set of smokey glassware from Target, but D surprised me by being ok with the idea of using mason jars. So practical, utilitarian, rustic but still cool. Love the lids, great for travel, feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder when you sip your sweet tea from one on a summer day.

Since I'm now going to be drinking from these:

I'll need a kitchen to match (if you give a mouse a cookie...). Keep in mind I'm moving sometime in the next few months as D heads to B school, so I may actually be able to create some elements of these.

Here is my inspiration thus far. Can't you see mason jars and a pitcher of lemonade relaxing on the counter?

via Design*Sponge
via The Design Files
via Apartment34
via Design*Sponge

Few things to make here too...that coat rack made with a piece of driftwood is too easy, and the lights in the last image? Pretty much fool proof. Le sigh.

Friday, May 3

link it up

Who is ready for the weekend! By the time this post goes live, I'll be relaxing (or working, but only a half-day!) in Philly with my sister. She happened to have turned 21 last week, so I'm sure this will be the most lively of my visits to her college. Yippee.

All of my presents will now be decorated with these (which is good, since I haven't given D his birthday gift yet. From March. Oops).

Have been making variations of this all week. YUM.

Like BBQ? Live in DC? Then you'll love this. (DC friends, let's do this soon)

Very inspired by the minimalist philosophy of this man. I gotta clean house.

Life, you're so difficult! First world (middle class) problems had me laughing. The images really make it.

Enjoy some sun this weekend.


Thursday, May 2

TED talks

Everybody knows what TED talks are, right? Mini-life philosophy chats from some of the world's most influential artists, philanthropists, academics, businessmen, etc? If you don't, go catch up here.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites here. They're probably everyone's favorites, so if you've seen them already, leave some more obscure suggestions in the comments.

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking

And my all-time favorite:

Sarah Kay: If I Should Have a Daughter

Interesting that I have all women here. I need some diversity.

Huff Post has a "best-of" compilation along a few dividing lines.

Here's a good question: if you were forced to do a TED talk, what would it be on?