Friday, November 30, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Gifts: Getting Cozy


Today's gift ideas are all about getting cozy. For that time from about New Year's Day through at least March (here in the Northeast, at least) when life is slowed by snow & cold and staying cuddled under a blanket with a mug of something warm is a recipe for a perfect evening. So here's a few gifts to help you & yours cozy up this winter :)

A cable knit throw with soft faux shearling on one side (on sale for $99)

Cotton fleece jacket, zipped up to the nose to keep Jack Frost from nipping at it ($129)

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 5.13.41 PM
Moccasin-style slippers, for trips between the couch and the tea kettle ($39.50)

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 5.12.42 PM
For the guys, wool slippers with plaid lining ($69)

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 9.22.22 PM
Fair Isle mittens, since mittens are cozier than gloves ($21)

Screen shot 2012-11-30 at 9.02.21 PM
Hot chocolate & peppermint marshmallows, because winter is best with a hot beverage ($33)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Gifts: Trimming the Tree

Screen shot 2012-11-29 at 10.28.47 PM

For the first day of the 12 Days of Christmas Gifts, I want to share some ornaments I'd love to have on my tree. I love the idea of giving and receiving ornaments as gifts, then you always remember the person who gave it to you when it's time to get it out. I have a simple Lenox snowflake that my cousin gave me when I was too young to really appreciate it, now I love it and love that it makes me think of her.

Screen shot 2012-11-29 at 10.02.29 PM
A little bit of glitz & glamour for your tree from Kate Spade ($60)

Screen shot 2012-11-29 at 9.45.50 PM
A wooden safari to add some texture ($15)

An embroidered reindeer that feels vintage & sweet ($28)

Screen shot 2012-11-29 at 10.07.23 PM
Can't get enough glimmer-y gold ornaments, like these pyrite nuggets ($16)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Gifts


If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you might remember my 12 Days of Christmas tradition. This year I thought I'd change it up and do 12 Days of Christmas gift ideas, a little spin on the traditional gift guide. Check back here daily for fun gift ideas & tips! Up first tomorrow: gifts to help trim the tree.

From Santa tag by Sugar Paper

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

(Thanksgiving) Weekend in Pictures

{a handmade thanksgiving banner}

{rays of light, accented by a slightly smoking turkey}

{parmesan rosemary crackers for cocktail hour}

{thanksgiving christmas crackers & the parade}

{fall colors down the fire escape}

{hudson sours in foxy glasses}

{brooklyn rooftop sunset}

{pumpkin cheesecake, apple buttermilk pie, & french silk pie}

{the perfect plate}

{christmas cracker toys and crowns}

{leftover party on friday}

Thanksgiving! It sort of feels like it was awhile ago, now that Christmas is in full swing. But it was a good one. I went to my friend's place in Brooklyn and we shared cooking duties in her huge kitchen while sipping hudson sours from her cute fox glasses. When dinner was over we rang in the Christmas season with British Christmas crackers in fall colors, wearing our paper crowns for most of the night. Followed by a leftover party combining the leftovers from two dinners, it was a lovely Thanksgiving indeed. Now, bring on Christmas!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Playlist


Are you already checked out this week? I am. I have visions of pumpkin cheesecakes dancing in my head, and I’m ready to get cooking and start feasting. So, instead of the other things I should be doing, I made a Thanksgiving playlist. It’s part songs about gratitude, part songs about fall and home, and part songs that I put on nearly every playlist (like Gold and Tumbling Dice). Listen while pouring your first cocktail or going back for seconds. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving playlist (listen here on Spotify)

I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For - Bing Crosby
Autumn in New York - Harry Connick Jr.
The 59th St. Bridge Song - Simon & Garfunkel
Shine on Harvest Moon - Betty Carter
So Glad That I’m Coming Home - Langhorne Slim
Nothing Short of Thankful - The Avett Brothers
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
Having a Party - Sam Cooke
Sweet Potato Pie - Ray Charles & James Taylor
Multiply - Jamie Lidell
Gold - Interference
The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
Tumbling Dice - The Rolling Stones
Honey Come Home - The Head and The Heart
Winters Love - Animal Collective
Harvest Moon - Neil Young
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing - Sufjan Stevens

Photo by Jen Causey

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Cocktails: Fall Bellinis


This next Thanksgiving cocktail recipe couldn't be simpler: bellinis made with either apple cider or cranberry puree. I've been serving some iteration of this drink at Thanksgiving for the past few years. In part because it's a crowd pleaser, and also because it's easy for guests to make themselves (freeing me up to work on perfecting the art of getting each dish hot at the same time).


You hardly even need a recipe. Simply pour a tablespoon or two of apple cider (the thick, dark, natural kind) into a champagne flute and fill it the rest of the way with champagne or prosecco. For the cranberry, I usually just make a little extra cranberry sauce (or buy some already made) and puree about a cup's worth. Then, just spoon a little of the cranberry puree into the champagne flute and top with champagne.

A few more Thanksgiving cocktail ideas:
The Clove Club's Hendrick's and pear cocktail
Cider Rum Punch

Monday, November 19, 2012

Last Minute Thanksgiving: Decor


Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? I love having a house full of friends for Thanksgiving. One of my favorite parts is adding a few fall-themed decorations to make things feel festive. I'm partial to simple touches with items that I have on hand or that are easy to get (meaning they have them at the bodega around the corner!). Here's a few ideas:


Bittersweet branches, or even some branches from a tree in your backyard (if you're lucky enough to have such a thing) in the middle of the table. The pears are a pretty touch too, if you're doing a formal place setting.


Tea lights nestled in popcorn kernels. Equally simple and beautiful, and easy if you already have popcorn in your pantry. My friends did this in mason jars at their fall wedding and it was lovely.


Apples and leaves. I always buy too many apples for apple pie, so this would be a pretty way to put the extras to use. Most florists will sell you a small bundle of green leaves.


Personalized napkin rings. Use this free printable design to show your guests where to sit, or pile the napkins in a basket for a more casual dinner. I love the sprig of rosemary!

Or, of course, there's always gourds (warning: that link is hilarious but not for the easily-offended).

Last year's Last Minute Thanksgiving ideas:
Last Minute Pies
Last Minute Sides

Photos: gourds, candles, bittersweet, apples, napkin rings.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Cocktails: The Hudson Sour


Somehow, November is halfway over and Thanksgiving is upon us. I've been making Thanksgiving dinner for friends for awhile now (see some of my prep tips here) and I don't change up what I serve all that much, which frees me up to focus on another fun part of the meal: cocktails. I'd love to share two of my favorites with you (today and next week), starting with my take on the whiskey sour: the Hudson Sour.


My friends and I mixed up this take on a classic whiskey sour during our Hudson weekend, hence the name. It blends bourbon, fresh lemon juice (none of that icky sour mix!) and cinnamon-infused maple syrup into a cocktail that tastes like fall on ice, both warming and crisp. We found the maple syrup pictured above in a little general store in Hudson, where the owner told us about his recent trip to the farm to visit the maple trees, making this drink all the more Hudson-y.


The Hudson Sour
This drink is easier thought of as equal parts lemon juice and bourbon, with maple syrup to taste. But I've listed the measurements out here to make a cocktail for one. Multiply as necessary and enjoy while the turkey roasts.

1 1/2 oz. bourbon
1 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. cinnamon-infused maple syrup (recipe follows)

Combine bourbon, lemon juice and maple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and pour over ice. Garnish with lemon zest and a bourbon cherry, if you like.

Cinnamon-infused Maple Syrup

maple syrup (I like grade A dark amber)
whole cinnamon sticks

Over low heat, combine maple syrup and cinnamon sticks. For every 1/2 cup of maple syrup, use one cinnamon stick. Bring the syrup very slowly to a low boil. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow the syrup to cool completely with the cinnamon sticks, it's even better if you allow this to sit for a few days before using.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

By Its Cover


Just in time for Christmas gift-giving, new pretty Penguin Classics! This time, the covers are designed by the wonderful Mr. Boddington's Studio. They'd look lovely poking out of a stocking, unwrapped. I'm not really thinking of giving them away though, I want a copy of Little Women for myself :)

via Matchbook Magazine.

Indoor Snow


New York had its first (ill-timed, early) snowfall last week, but it'll probably be a few weeks more before we see much more snow. In the meantime, there's the new Hudson Lodge at the Hudson hotel. Their park space (insulated with glass and heaters) is outfitted for winter with an "apres ski" menu, cozy decor and...nightly snowfall! Indoor snow! It could be either exceedingly cheesy or wintery awesome. What do you think? There's a hot chocolate bar!

Image via Morgans Hotel Group

Monday, November 12, 2012

Since It's Monday...


Wouldn't you love to write your to-do list in one of these pretty gold notebooks? It might make me a little more likely to actually do the things on my to do list. I'd get this one.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Introvert Alert


Have you ever thought much about if you're an introvert or an extrovert? I joke that if you've never thought about it, you're an extrovert. My friends and I talk about the differences between extroverts and introverts pretty often, and have even turned "introvert" into a verb (as in, "Are you introverting tonight, or do you want to go to dinner?"). I think people often think introvert = shy and quiet, while extrovert = talkative and personable. Really, a better way to think about it is where do you "recharge" - alone, or with other people? You can certainly be a talkative introvert or a quiet extrovert.

I'm definitely an introvert. I love being around people, but I need time alone to feel like myself. During the "lost week" of Hurricane Sandy, I spent an entire week with two friends (who I love being around!) and the only "alone time" I had was in the shower. By the end of the week, I felt like a raw nerve. I needed some introvert time, stat!

So I love this video that Gabrielle posted that uses cute illustrations to explain the differences between the two. The voice on the video is Susan Cain, who gave a brilliant Ted Talk on the subject. What about you, are you an introvert or an extrovert? I'd love to hear, it's one of my favorite topics :)

P.S. This funny introvert/extrovert comic.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012



It's Election Day! That means three things:

1) The grating campaign coverage will soon be over!
2) You get to vote!
3) I made cookies!

For that past three presidential elections, I've made cookies for the candidate I'm supporting. In 2004 I made Laura Bush's cowboy cookies (which are really, really good and about the size of Texas). In 2008 I cheekily made black & white cookies and a creation my sister called "Barackolate chip." Are you seeing a pattern here? My cookies have accurately predicted the election two elections in a row.

I'm not one for luck or superstition usually, but it's sort of a fun tradition, and I'd love for my cookies to predict the election again, so I made more. But regardless of who you're voting for, even if his logo is not on the above cookie, go vote today! Democracy in action, folks.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Weekend Without Pictures


Before Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm Sandy hit, I was planning a lighthearted "Hurricane in Pictures" post. As I hunkered down with two girlfriends I snapped pictures of the movies we watched, the cocktails we drank, and the candles we lit after we lost power. I even took note of funny things we said, like when my friends jokingly told me to sit on the fire escape during the height of the storm or when we remarked on how very dark it was without... light. None of us expected the storm to be very bad, or for the darkness to last very long.

The next morning we took a walk and saw debris lining my friend's neighborhood, the flood waters having come within a few blocks of where we were staying. We saw the damage to buildings that has a friend still without power, water and heat. As we walked to regain cell phone service, news of the devastation across our city came pouring in. A friend's neighborhood under water. Another friend's home destroyed. Neighbors stuck on high floors without elevators and without much to eat. And countless other stories from Sandy's wake.

Thankfully, in the last week I've also seen and heard more encouraging stories. Friends climbing 20 flights of stairs to deliver a hot meal to homebound neighbors. Friends spending day after day cleaning up their neighborhood and helping businesses recover. And people I don't know organizing people they don't know to help total strangers. It's hopeful.

So, if you'll pardon me being serious a little longer, and before returning to our regularly scheduled lighthearted blog posts, I'd like to give you a few ways to contribute to that effort if you feel so inclined.

Apostles Church Hurricane Sandy Relief
The church I attend has set up a relief fund to help New Yorkers affected by Sandy. Funds will go primarily to those in our church hurt by the storm, but also to organizations we've partnered with around the city.

Sandy's Wedding Registry
The Occupy folks (who, I'll admit, I've rolled my eyes at numerous times in Union Square) have creatively used an Amazon wedding registry to register for supplies needed in relief efforts. A great way to give and know exactly where your money is going.

Robin Hood Relief Fund

And if you're local, consider giving your time. You can find volunteer opportunities here, here, and here. Hope you and yours are safe, warm, and dry :)
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