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rock your tuesday: travelin’ tunes.

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Greetings from 30,000 feet, somewhere over Washington State. After a glorious week in Idaho, I’m headed back to civilization via a long cross-country jaunt (my fortune for a teleportation machine). I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I would go absolutely bonkers without a soundtrack (and I don’t mean crying babies and hacking coughs). Seriously, forgetting my headphones is up there in my top five travel nightmares; I spend way too much time curating my playlists for them to go to waste.

And when it comes to my music preferences when traveling, I gravitate towards any music that makes me feel like I’m on an epic road trip…which usually means some form of 70s classic rock (I told you I had a thing for the Eagles). It just makes me feel like I’m in a Jeep on the open road, sun shining and wind in my hair, miles to go before I sleep (even when I’m actually stuck in a stuffy flying tube that smells like salami next to a guy who has a death grip on the armrest and is an overly loud mouth breather). Life, man.

So while I’m bouncing back and forth between coasts (jaunt number two of four in the next week, uf), I’ll be grooving to the below and wishing for the wind in my hair. Hope your Tuesday is a-rockin’!

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sunday brunch: spinach & bacon strata.

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Greetings from Idaho! And Happy Easter to all. I can’t tell you what a few days in the wilderness does for the soul, but I’m a whole new woman. I’m sleeping like a rock and I’ve got this peaceful, easy feeling (I could write like 67 posts about how much I love The Eagles…but I won’t).

And since I’m feeling rested and renewed, I’m switching things up over here on the blog. We’re doing BRUNCH today. What?! Yes, that’s right. Brunch. It’s my favorite meal, what about you? Easter is kind of like the Superbowl of brunches, so it seems rather appropriate. And when I reach for my go-to brunch recipes, I tend towards the savory and I like me some eggs. If it’s easy to pull together and also delicious, even better. Which is why I love this recipe for a Spinach and Bacon Strata. Homey and eggy and bacon-y, and it’s ready to go in the oven in under 15 minutes.

Spinach & Bacon Strata, adapted from Martha Stewart

You will need:

1 teaspoon olive oil
10 ounces spinach
4 slices bacon, chopped
3 cups bread cubes
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups sharp white cheddar, grated
coarse salt and ground pepper

A little note on this recipe: it is the most flexible brunch recipe that I know. You do not need to use spinach and bacon if you don’t want to. If you’d rather mushrooms and ham, do it. If you are feeling asparagus and turkey, go there. If you want to make it veg, get after it. You do you, this recipe is made for alterations.

OK, back to the main event.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread your bread cubes out on a baking sheet and toss them in the oven while it’s preheating. This will dry them out slightly so they both absorb the egg custard and keep a bit of structure.

Next, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the spinach and cook (or whatever veg you’re going with), stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander and drain, removing as much liquid as possible. Using the same skillet, sauté the bacon until it is fully cooked but still chewy (side eye to those of you who prefer crispy bacon, I just don’t speak your language).

Take your toasted bread cubes and spread in an even layer in the bottom of a pie plate. Spread the spinach and bacon over the top and set aside.

Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, the milk, and about ¾ cup of the cheese. Season with  salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, spinach, and bacon in the pie plate and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake the strata until it is set in middle and golden brown on top, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve immediately, potentially accompanied by some fresh fruit and an aggressively large mimosa. Just a suggestion. It is, shall we say, brunch-erific. Enjoy!

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a little cute for your saturday.

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Introducing the new love of my life — Bill the Dog. A new addition to the family, he is 12 pounds of adorable and a total snuggle slut to boot. He came to us via Wings of Rescue, an organization of pilots who save small dogs from kill shelters in California and fly them to shelters in other parts of the country where they are more likely to be adopted. I heart him and his sweet face, don’t you?

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quick tip: what to wear when you travel.

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Vacation! Huzzah. It’s about gosh darn time. I’m heading out to see the parents (affectionately referred to as Barb and HTRP — Hal the Retired Plumber) in North Idaho for a full week of relaxation in the wilderness. Idaho is the anti-Manhattan in the best possible way. The air is clear and there are no taxis honking wildly and a ‘traffic jam’ is only ever like five cars slowing down because there’s a moose in the road. It’s a glorious adventure in great sleep and days spent in the kitchen and dinners at the picnic table in the back yard. I. Can’t. Wait. I love me some city but I’m a country girl at my core.

Getting from New York to Idaho, as you can imagine, is a bit of a trek. Multiple flights and a significant drive are par for the course, which is why when it comes to my travel wardrobe; comfort, longevity and multi-purpose use are at the top of my list. No one needs to look like a total schlub when they’re traveling (don’t even get me started with the people who wear their pajamas to the airport), but your wardrobe should be thoughtfully selected — this isn’t the time for a ball gown either. You can meet the needs of your travels and do it stylishly with a few simple tips.

A few things to consider:

Planes and airports are dirty places. Like really dirty. Choose an outfit that can handle that. Stick to dark colors and durable fabrics in case your seat mate decides that some of their red wine would look really great on your jeans. Leave your whites and pastels at home.

Temperatures tend to fluctuate greatly during travel. Who hasn’t been on a flight that was stifling one minute and freezing the next? Come prepared with layers to ensure you’re equipped for whatever temps come your way. Stick to natural fabrics that are breathable and are less prone to wrinkles. And factor in the weather at your destination — do you need to bring a jacket? Does your outfit translate easily to different climates? Don’t forget your sunglasses!

You carry a bunch of shit with you when you travel. You know you do, so invest in a stylish yet durable travel tote. Don’t bring your entire apartment with you, but have a bag big enough that it can easily carry your wallet, a bag of travel-sized toiletries, your laptop/tablet, a snack for the plane, and anything you’re taking to entertain yourself during your flight or layover.

You’re basically going to get naked going through security. With security protocol the way it is these days, keeping it simple is key. I’m loving the gladiator sandal trend for spring, but if I can’t slip my shoes on and off with ease, they’re not my day-of travel choice. This applies to clothing as well — choose pieces that are easy to take on and off and limit the amount of accessories you wear. This will save you time getting through security and will limit the serious side eye you’ll get from other travelers when it takes you 20 minutes just to disrobe.

Below are a few favorites from my travel wardrobe (incidentally also what I’m wearing today, minus the Givenchy tote — but isn’t she pretty?). These get me from Point A to Point B with ease, and I look good doing it. Onward to Idaho!

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makeup monday: how to make your lipstick stay all day.

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Y’all know how much I love lipstick. I really, really do.

But what I love even more is lipstick that stays all day. I picked up the following method a few years ago after an embarrassing amount of internet research and I’ve never looked back. The Two Coat Method is simple and genius and ensures that your kisser stays quite kissable from dawn til dusk. The use of a highly pigmented lip color is key here; this won’t work for a sheer formula or a gloss. Those are not meant to stay all day, so no matter how many coats you apply, they’re going to be gone by the first sip of your morning latte. If you use a highly pigmented color (Nars, Stila and Revlon all have great options), however, this trick will work beautifully. All you’ll need is your lipstick of choice, a tissue, concealer, and some translucent powder.

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Here we go.

  1. First things first. A key step to ensuring your lipstick looks great and has staying power is to start with lips that are moisturized and smooth. You can do this several ways — if you have a lip scrub, like Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, use that. If you don’t, a wet washcloth is a great substitute. Rub the washcloth vigorously across your lips to exfoliate, then moisturize with your favorite lip balm. Mine is this one.
  2. After you’ve given your lips a chance to absorb the balm (I usually do the rest of my makeup during this time), blot any excess balm with a tissue. Then grab your lipstick, smile at yourself in the mirror (hey you!), and begin to apply the lip color onto your bottom lip. You can do this either straight from the bullet if you have a steady hand, or you can use a lip brush for a bit more control.
  3. Once you have a good layer of color on your bottom lip, press your lips together a few times to coat your top lip and to get some of the color to sink into your lips, creating a stain of sorts. Fill in the rest of your top lip to your liking, make any necessary adjustments to your bottom lip, and press your lips together again. Don’t forget to get into the corners!
  4. Now, take your tissue, and with your mouth slightly open, blot your lips. Don’t be afraid to get in there; you want to really push the lipstick into your lips. When you’re done blotting, discard the tissue.
  5. Grab your lipstick again and apply a second coat of color. You can be a little less precise with this layer, the goal is just to add color where you need it, but the shape should be set at this point.
  6. The final step is the awkward but effective ‘stick a finger in your mouth and pull it out again’ trick, which will ensure that none of your lip color ends up on your teeth (oh, the horror).
  7. The final final step, if you really want staying power, is to brush your lips lightly with translucent powder. You may want to skip this step if your lips tend to dry out easily, but otherwise it really seals the deal.

If you have a shaky hand and need to do a few touch ups, concealer is your best friend. Grab a small brush (or your finger) and a bit of concealer and brush it just along the lip line. Then using your finger, lightly tap to blend. This will hide any mishaps and help to further define and highlight the lip color.

If you’re a gloss girl, now’s the time to pop some on, focusing just on the center of your lips for maximum plumpage (horrible non-word). Do one last check to ensure your lip line is smooth and your teeth are smudge-free and you’re ready to go. You may have to do slight touch ups during the day, but the Two Coat Method ensures that your perfect pout has staying power. Go forth and conquer your day!

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sunday dinner: spring vegetable pasta.

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Oh, weekends. Let me count the ways you are wonderful (why you gotta be so short?). It is glorious in fair Brooklyn today; the sun is shining, the air is light, and there’s a beautiful lazy quality to the day. I just don’t want it to end because this is living, people, and I want to live it right.

This spring vegetable pasta is perfect for days like these — comes together quickly, packs a lot of flavor into just a few ingredients, and is easily alterable to suit whatever your vegetable fancy. Not feeling peas? Use asparagus instead. Don’t like asparagus? Throw in some artichoke hearts. Any ol’ vegetable will do. You can have whatever you liiiiiiiike (just ask T.I.).

Spring Vegetable Pasta with Lemon & Ricotta

You will need:

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ stick unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white & pale green parts only
2 lemons
½ pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half (you can use frozen peas as a substitute and/or literally any other vegetables)
¾ pound dried pappardelle pasta (or other flat egg noodles)
½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
¾ cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

Before you start cooking, the first thing you need to do is prepare the leeks. And by prepare, I mean clean them because they are dirty, dirty vegetables. The last thing you want is to bite into your delicious spring pasta and get a mouthful of dirt instead, so this is a worthy step. To clean them thoroughly, first take a sharp knife and cut off the dark green stalks on both of your leeks (you only want to cook the white and pale green parts). You should be left with two 4 to 6 inch long stalks that resemble giant green onions. Cut each of these stalks in half length-wise (you should now have four 4 to 6 inch long stalks that are half-moon shaped). Next, thinly slice each leek across the stalk into small half-moons about 1/8 inch wide. Grab a large bowl and fill with cold water, then place all of your sliced leeks in the water. Swirl them around with your hands to clean. The leeks will float, and as you stir them, the dirt will settle in the bottom of the bowl. Leave the leeks in the water to soak and clean further until you’re ready to cook them. 

Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, take a large skillet and melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is fully melted, add the leeks (I usually just grab them from the water and shake them a bit before putting them in the pan, but you can use a strainer or a slotted spoon too) and a pinch of salt. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, and continue to cook until very tender, about another 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and finely grate zest of the two lemons directly over the leeks in the skillet, followed by a generous seasoning of pepper

When the water is boiling, add the peas and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Transfer peas to skillet using a strainer or slotted spoon. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes (you want the pasta to still have a little ‘bite’ to it since it will cook more in the skillet). When the pasta is cooked, transfer to the skillet using tongs or a strainer, but do not drain the pasta water. 

With the heat still on low, gradually stir in ½ cup pasta water, followed by the ricotta cheese and about half of the pecorino, followed by up to another ½ cup of pasta water if it’s looking a little dry. Toss the mixture until the pasta is coated and the sauce is creamy. Turn off the heat, and dish the pasta into a serving bowl, topping with the rest of the pecorino and another grind of fresh pepper. Serve immediately. 

Maybe enjoy it barefoot on your patio with a glass of wine and the last golden light of the day. That’s where I’ll be. Come on over, I’ll save you a seat. 

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low/mid/high: dry shampoo.

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Happy Friday, readers! Who’s excited for this week to be over? Me. I am. It’s been a doozy. Spring is making an angsty teenage entrance to New York City, happy and bright one minute, bitter and dark another. Also, my entire office has contracted the plague, so the week has been an exercise in avoiding wayward germs. I was only half successful. Coughs and fevers and stomach bugs, oh my.

Ah well, the weekend is upon us. And with the weekend comes a new feature on the blog: the low/mid/high series. A fun adventure in which I find my favorite versions of products at low, mid, and high price points. I am always on the hunt for the best price-value relationship for my purchases, knowing that sometimes the cheap thing works and sometimes you gotta throw down some cash for the quality goods. I’m here to guide you on what’s best, then you can decide what you want to spend. Easy peasy.

Today’s feature is all about dry shampoo. Despite my self-proclaimed obsession with beauty products, sometimes I’m lazy. Dry shampoo allows me to be lazy and also still look polished. It’s also great for extending a blowout to day two (or three) or adding a little volume to a hairstyle that might have fallen flat.  Whatever your needs, dry shampoo is a great tool to have in your hair arsenal.

Here are my faves at every price point:

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Low: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo, $5.99.

This was a lucky drugstore find that turned into a major win. It’s great at reducing excess oil in your hair and has a pleasant scent to it, which is somewhat rare for dry shampoos. I find your hair stays fresh all day, although it doesn’t add as much volume as the more expensive versions. The bottle goes by pretty quickly for the size, but for the price, it’s a solid choice.

Mid: Ojon Full Detox Rub-Out Dry Cleansing Spray, $13 for travel size, $24 for full size.

First of all, let me just say that for such a great product, I cannot stand the name. It’s like 27 words long and uses the phrase ‘rub-out’. I can’t even. Other than that, it’s fantastic. It keeps your hair looking clean and polished all day long and adds great volume from just a few quick sprays. The smell can be a little strong at first, but that fades quickly. I also like that it comes in two size options; I keep the travel size in my desk at work for touch ups and have the full size version at home.

High: Sachajuan Volume Powder, $32.

This is the Cadillac of dry shampoos, both in terms of features and price. It’s fancy. It’s Swedish. And it is THE BEST dry shampoo I’ve ever used. It usually lasts more than one day, it adds amazing volume and it is the closest thing I’ve found to actually washing your hair. It’s not my every day go-to, mostly due to the price tag, but if I need something with staying power, this is what I reach for. I also sometimes use this as prep for a formal event or a night out. If you want your ‘do to stay fresh all night long (especially if there’s dancing involved), this is a lifesaver.

So there you have it. Go forth and purchase. I hope you enjoyed my first low/mid/high series. What other products should I test drive? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!