26 June 2013

being Blair Waldorf

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I have what many people would call 'good hair.' It's curly without being kinky, not too thick that it's heavily weighed down but not so thin that it's a constant mess of flyaways, a chestnut-y brown color, and straightens easily (so long as someone else has the patience to break out the blow drier because I sure as heck don't want to!) But despite the positive perks of my coiffure, I don't always love it like I should. Maybe it's because my hair didn't curl until I was about 13 going from slight beachy wave to full on curl seemingly overnight. It terrified me and resulted in a year of slicked back pony-tails and overly moussed crunchiness. But as the years went on, my style evolved and my ability to bring out the natural prettiness of my curls grew up.

(via Rosie Powers)
Then my life took some crazy turns and I decided I needed a change. And that change was bangs. For the past year and a half I've had a moptop of curls finished off with a thick row of straightened fringe. It was cute, fun and very a la mode. But I'm tired over having every day darkened by a half mask of hair and since I've recently joined the anti-shampoo club, bangs just look greasy and matted; especially in these summer months when their plastered to my forehead while the rest of my tresses are uncontrollably growing and frizzing like Monica's mess when the Friends were in Barbados. Dry shampoo is amazing and serums are great, but neither will salvage my curls in this Mid-Atlantic misery. Baltimore summers are as bad as Brooklyn's, I've merely traded the steaming subway grates for a humid harbor. So choosing to grow out my bangs with all of these factors stacked against me is a daring and grueling challenge in which I'm constantly forcing myself to put down the scissors and resist the urge to give up and trim back the bangs.

There's only one thing to do when the humidity comes on and the bangs are growing out - embrace the headband! Like the calm, collected and ever regal Blair Waldorf, a headband can always be the perfect accessory. Paired with the always classy top knot or ballerina bun, my Summer 'do is done and I'm free to carry on throughout my day without any nightmares - birds nesting atop my head, eating half my hair, being whipped blind when attempting 'windblown.' As the bangs get longer I can attempt a few more looks, even the Katniss side braid. But for now, I'm keeping it sleek and simple, just like Blair. So for today's Wednesday look, I grabbed a purple scalloped skirt from J. Crew, a colorful tank from Target, and a simple black headband. Classy, put-together and chic, just like Blair. What are your go to hairstyles for Summer months or bad hair days? Do you have a favorite hair accessory or hair style icon? Let me know, I don't have the headband storage space of our fab Upper East Sider!

Bonus! I came across this hysterical Buzzfeed list today -- 31 Problems Only People With Curly Hair Will Understand. It had me giggling all morning and sharing with all my fellow curly girlies!

25 June 2013

picnic, promenade & perigee

(via aaron starmer)
Did any of you lovely readers take a moment or two this past weekend to step outside and gaze at the moon? In case you missed it, this past weekend's full moon was the largest super moon of the year. At it's perigee it was bigger, brighter and closer than any other full moons and was a mere 356,991 km from Earth! The view was very much a "Somewhere Out There" kind of sight. I knew I couldn't simply gaze out onto the light-polluted Baltimore Harbor to catch a glimpse of this magnificent sight, a sight that won't be seen again until August of next year. No, I had to venture to a quieter, darker locale to take in the moon in all of it's super glory. So, I packed a picnic and headed to Havre de Grace with honey by my side.

The drive up and down 95 is not an unfamiliar drive to me. Between Baltimore and Brooklyn my absolute favorite spot is the Millard E Tydings Memorial Bridge. The bridge carries you over the Susquehanna River sharing stunning views on either side of water and woods that appear to go on for days. But for as many times as I've driven back and forth over that bridge, I've never stopped to see what lies below it on the shores of the river. Turns out it's the cute little marina town of Havre de Grace, chock full of waterfront parks and docked sailboats. In other words, the ideal spot for an evening picnic and a view of the moon on the water.

The perfect summer evening picnic requires very little. All you really need is your honey, a tasty assortment of snacks, fresh ingredients, a beautiful view, and boxed wine. Yup, boxed wine. I'm not talking about those crummy boxes of wine that we once indulged in while throwing or attending "classier" college soirees, no no no. There has been a recent revolution in the prevalence of boxed wines at my local liquor stores. The boxes are not only easier and more economical to produce and recycle, they are also easier to travel with... and to sneak into outdoor film screenings, on beach outings and camping trips, and bring along on picnics! There is greater selection and higher quality in the boxed wines that are now available making a complete picnic so much easier and instantly swankier. A couple of Little Green Boxes in my basket rounded out the antipasta picnic I had packed - a sliced loaf of crunchy whole wheat baguette, fresh ricotta, fresh mozzarella, salami, roast beef, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms and onions, mussels in white wine and garlic sauce, tapenade, basil pesto, olives, and balsamic heirloom tomato and artichoke salad. It was truly a feast.

We wrapped up our supper and with full bellies, took a stroll along the boardwalk in search of dessert. Of course a cute little town like Havre de Grace would have a perfect little ice cream parlor. Honey indulged in Mint Oreo while I was quickly set on Snickerdoodle after the gal behind the counter responded to my inquiry of it's taste by saying "it's perfect." Boy was she right - sweet cream with cinnamon and bits of snickerdoodle cookies, mmm. Strolling back along the moonlit waterfront, we snapped some photos and imagined sailing off into the night. It was an absolutely wonderful and super Summer evening. Do any of you darlings have a favorite picnic fare? What's your dream picnic? And do you know of any awesome picnic places in the Baltimore area? Share your super moon pictures and stories with me and maybe I'll share my next picnic with you! ;)

09 June 2013

going nuts

Ugh, I'm seriously the worst! Now it's not only my mother who scolds me for my inconsistent blogging habits, my grandma has jumped on the bandwagon, too (love you ladies!) As usual I've got a billion posts pending and another billion ideas for posts floating around in my brain. Unfortunately, I just came seem to find the blogging spirit in myself as frequently as I'd like to and it becomes a bit of a chore to sit down at the computer and spend time click clacking away at the keyboard. But that doesn't mean that I haven't been  in the kitchen experimenting. Though I may not have it in me to brag and blog about my current or recent culinary adventures, I have had quite a few. So let's flash back to a couple of weeks ago when I tried something brand new.

Like everyone else seems to be doing, I've been trying to cut back. Cut back on what, you ask. Everything. Less meat, less dairy, less sugar, less gluten, less fat. Less everything. When giving up so much, it's easy to fall in to a slump of humdrum meals and snacks. I'm not ok with that; no way jose. If I'm going to create a healthy and balanced diet for myself, there better be loads of flavor, creativity, taste and experimentation - I refuse to eat plain, boring kale salads everyday. I want variety. I want dessert. I want... cookies!

Hmm, how to make cookies with less gluten and sugar and dairy. What's the sweetest nut around (other than myself?) Almonds! And since we are forbidden to have peanuts or peanut butter in the house (honey is NOT a fan of peanuts,) I have loads of almonds in pretty much every form: sliced, slivered, buttered, ground into meal, ground into flour, raw, roasted, all kinds of almonds. So I took my go-to recipe for peanut butter cookies and adjusted it to include no flour and almonds. Since almonds are high in fat and oils even when they're ground into flour, subbing almond flour for regular white flour requires a few other adjustments to the recipe including less butter. I've learned from my previous almond flour disasters that a good rule of thumb is to double the flour and halve the butter. Because I like my nut butter cookies a little more on the chunky side rather than smooth, I used a combination of powdery almond flour and grainy almond meal.

Cooking with nut flours, especially baking with nut flours, takes a keen eye more than anything else. You really just need to add the dry ingredients a little at a time to make sure the consistency looks right. And if you've done it all correctly, you will end up with what might just be the most perfect cookies ever. Seriously, honey even said so! Crispy on the edges, chewy and soft on the inside, perfect to soak up milk or a latte or some Ovaltine. And it's gluten free! And has minimal dairy. The sugar is still the same but I think I might try it with agave or honey next time. Experimentation is key when creating a new diet, I couldn't handle it if I weren't allowed to try new things. I encourage you, darling readers, to do the same.

perfect with a side of fresh sweet cherries!
all almond all the time almond butter cookies
1 c packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c salted butter, room temp
1/2 c chunky almond butter
1 egg
1 1/2 c almond flour
1/2 c almond meal
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In the bowl of your mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and blend until completely mixed in. Mix in almond butter.
2. With mixer on a medium-low speed, mix in dry ingredients one cup at a time. Don't be afraid to add more almond flour/meal to get the right consistency. When all ingredients are mixed and the right doughiness is achieved, roll dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and let chill for at least one hour.
3. Form chilled dough into 1" balls and press down with a fork (criss cross like peanut butter cookies usually are.) The dough might seem to be a little crumbly when you're pushing it down; don't be discouraged, it will be fine! Bake on a silpat covered cookie sheet at 375 for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!