Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our House

A few weeks ago I wandered into Arhaus for the first time.  Arhaus is a two-story furniture and home decor store that moved into Phipps Plaza a few months ago.  While I've looked in the windows plenty of times on my way to the movies, I had never ventured inside.  When I finally started to explore it, I was more than pleasantly surprised.  They have an incredible selection that isn't restricted to one style.  While I am a Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel fanatic (it's true, someday I'll show you pictures of my PB/C&B filled apartment) it's nice to have something that strays from that style.  That way your home doesn't end up looking like page 42 of the catalogue.  Arhaus has a great variety with some amazing pieces.  Granted, not everything I would use, but some things are truly amazing.  Here are some Arhaus rooms to get a feel for their pieces.  Enjoy!

(images via Arhaus)

Monday, July 30, 2012

La Dolce Vita

Have y'all seen the Dolce & Gabbana ads lately?  Like for the past year?  Because, they've been amazing.  They've been featuring icon Italian actress Monica Bellucci interacting with some typical Italian characters.  What I love about these ads are that they feature real life scenes.  The photographs are not brooding and pouty with stick thin models, they are full of life and attitude.  True Italian women in my opinion.  These are the kind of scenes (and clothes!) that make me want to be a D&G woman.  For a collection that was full of lots of heavy, dark looks, these photos are completely lively, setting the perfect tone.  The new ads for Fall 2012 feature Bellucci alongside Bianca Balti and Bianca Brandolini in Southern Italy.  Enjoy!

(images via Dolce & Gabbana)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Things I Love ... Kate's Dress

How you can get excited about the London Olympics without thinking of the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton).  While she's always had amazing style, she's only gotten better since her marriage to Prince William.  I could spend hours posting pictures of her most stylist looks (some of which she wears multiple times, which I love, because unlike Hollywood starlets, she buys all of her expensive threads).  But it all started with that dress...
Even though it's been over a year since Kate and Will were married and made their public debut on the royal balcony, her Alexander McQueen gown, designed by Sarah Burton, still takes the cake.  It was classic, elegant and stunningly beautiful.  Reminiscent of Grace Kelly's dress when she wed Prince Rainer of Monaco, Kate's dress was modest perfection.  It's definitely one of the things I will always love...

(images via Time & {this is glamorous})

Thursday, July 26, 2012

London Calling

The Olympics opening ceremonies are tomorrow!! Get excited.  I haven't been to London in a very long time.  In fact, the only time I've been was when I was ten.  I'd love to go back, especially since from ten to now I've become a huge history buff, so there are many more historical monuments I'd like to see.  But I'd also love to get dressed up and have some fun in London.  But since I am not there for the Olympics I came up with some Stella McCartney outfits that I'd love to wear while there.  Stella is one of the quintessential British designers (she did design the British Olympic team's uniforms this year after all) and while her styling is completely sophisticated, it also mixes in some downtown cool.  Here are some staples I would definitely bring to London!

Blazer and pants: Stella McCartney

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In The Trenches

The London Olympics are just around the corner. Well, not even around the corner, they're essentially here!  With the opening ceremonies taking place Friday evening, London, and pretty much anything British, is definitely on the brain.  When I try to think of something iconically British, I immediately think of Burberry.  While the British fashion scene has been extremely up and coming in the past few years (Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Erdem... and um, Phoebe Philo is the one who convinced Bernard Arnault to move Cèline's atelier to London) Burberry is still the strongest standing.  Under the strong reins of Creative Director Christopher Bailey, the 156 year old house is hotter than ever - and the clear leader for luxury brands delving into social media and communicating with its consumers.

But aside from the brand's strength and the innovative designs Bailey presents each season, the house is still iconic.  Namely for the greatest piece of clothing ever invented - the trench coat.  It doesn't get more classic than the trench (which was actually invented as part of military uniforms to keep warm during the trench warfare of World War I).  It's the ultimate piece of clothing that every woman (and man for that matter) should have in their closet, even if it doesn't include the tell-tale Burberry check inside the lining.  To get into a British state of mind, here is Burberry's most current ad campaign for Fall/Winter 2012.  The black and white shots were taken on the streets of London by Mario Testino.  Notice, the photos are not lacking in the trench department.


Fitted trench with a tweed peplum.  Do you every need anything else?? No. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Petit Dejeuner

One of my favorite design inspirations to collect are breakfast nooks.  I love a big kitchen with a cozy banquette or alcove where people can gather and sit for hours.  But this photo has really caught my attention.  It's not a big kitchen, it's actually a very small space but it looks so warm and cozy. With the banquette filled with pillows and the slightly smaller round table.  And I would have never thought to put larger arm chairs on the opposite side.  It makes the space look so homey and lived in. I especially love the big windows with the amazing view.  Oh, and the amazing shelving.  I would love to have an apartment with a space like this before I upgrade to a big kitchen in a house someday.  A girl can dream...

(image via Lonny)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dress Me Kate

I've mentioned I'm obsessed with Kate Spade right? Good.  Sometime in the last coupe of years she has become my go-to for perfect dresses: day time, night time, you name it.  So when it was Tuesday and I didn't have an outfit for the Indian wedding I left for on Thursday, I headed over to Kate.  I picked out the Heleen dress which was perfect.  Gold, tunic top, tweed-like fabric but extra light so as not to get overheated dancing!  What can I say, Kate is perfect in a pinch.

(image via Kate Spade)

I'm also really excited about Kate's fall collection, of which a few pieces are already in stores with more coming soon.   For fall, Creative Director Lloyd and stylist Brad Goreski joined with illustrator/photographer/blogger Garance Doré to create some special prints.  The collection is also inspired by Parisian chic girls, so of course I'm obsessed.  Here are a few of my favorite looks from the KSNY presentation last February.  Enjoy!

Garance Doré's print on the dress

OBSESSED with this shirt! It will be in my closet!


(images via WWD)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Things I Love ... Crystal Chanel

Today's edition is short and sweet.  This week I found a photo of the most amazing Chanel 2.55 bag... covered in crystals!  Now is this practical, no. Would I be terrified to take this almost anywhere, yes.  But it's still stunningly gorgeous and I can't get it out of my head.  It's great eye candy...

(image via Jenna Fifi)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Neiman Marcus + Target = Holiday Fun

I don't know why I haven't talked about this yet... I guess I keep getting distracted... BUT Neiman Marcus (my all time fav!) and Target (my everyday essential) are teaming up! For this new collaboration, out December 1st, Neimans will be working with Target and 24 CFDA designers to put together a holiday gift collection available in Target stores, Neiman Marcus stores as well as Target.com and NeimanMarcus.com.

The designers will create more than 50 products (some in areas different than their expertise) that will range in price from $7.99 to $499.99, most of the items will however be priced under $60.

The 24 designers are as follows (I've bolded my favorites!):
Alice + Oliva
Band of Outsiders
Brian Atwood
Carolina Herrera 
Derek Lam
Diane von Furstenburg
Eddie Borgo
Jason Wu
Judith Leiber
Lela Rose
Marc Jacobs
Oscar de la Renta
Philip Crangi
Prabal Gurung
Proenza Schouler
Rag & Bone
Robert Rodriguez
Thom Browne
Tory Burch
Tracy Reese

Here's also a video that Neimans put together to showcase some of the designers involved in this amazing partnership!  Is it Christmas yet???

Trip to Bombay

Today I'm headed to Louisville, Kentucky for my first ever Indian wedding.  I'm excited to see what will be in store and can't wait to see my dear friend from SCAD in her brightly colored wedding attire (that she got in India!).  To help get in the mood, here are some slightly odd photos from the Chanel pre-fall ad campaign.  Last December, Karl Lagerfeld showed the Chanel collection that is debuting now which he entitled Paris-Bombay.  It's a mix of classic tweeds with Indian embroideries and intricacies.  While I don't support model Daria Strokous' dreadlock hairdo, the clothing details are still stunning.


(images via Visual Optimism)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Taste of France

Last Saturday, in honor of Bastille Day, I decided to make macarons.  Over a year ago I took a class at Sur la Table to learn how to make the delicate French confection and let me tell you, it is much harder than it looks.  It's a time consuming process but with some patience and attention to detail, you may not have the most perfect looking cookie, but it should be delicious!

My recommendations:
Before you attempt to make these, you will need a kitchen scale and some silpats (silicone mats that are used for baking and can be bought at any cooking supply store).  The kitchen scale is necessary because a lot of these measurements have to be exact and are in ounces.  Baking is scientific to begin with but macarons are especially temperamental.  Also, it is very handy to have a stand mixer.  Macarons are basically meringue cookies with almond flour mixed in and to make meringue, you have to beat egg whites for a long time.  Once I felt like my arm was going to fall off before I had stiff glossy peaks.  So a stand mixer can alleviate this and help immensely.

Cassis Macarons

  • 7 ounces powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces almond flour or meal
  • 4 large (4 ounces) egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspon creme de cassis (Note: different flavors of macarons can be created by changing this ingredient to different flavors, ie. vanilla extract, coffee extract, etc.)
  • 3 ounces granulated sugar
  • purple food coloring
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with silpat silicone mats 
  • Pulse one third of the powdered sugar and all the almond flour in a food processor to form a fine powder.  Sift sugar mixture 2 times.  Sift remaining powdered sugar 2 times.  Combine almond flour mixture and remaining powdered sugar.  Set aside.  (It's important that this mixture is as fine as possible to create a smooth cookie)

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and creme de cassis on medium speed until foamy.  Gradually add granulated sugar.  Once all sugar is incorporated, scraped down sides of the bowl, add food coloring and increase speed to high, whisking until stiff, firm glossy peaks form.  

  • Hint: use a lot of food coloring.  When the cookies bake they will become much lighter, so the darker the better.  Also, if you can't find purple food coloring create it using red and blue... a color combo I forgot temporarily, adding green before I remembered it was red that helped make blue purple... embarrassing.

  • The way you know that the eggs are stiff enough is that you should be able to dip a spatula into the mixer and turn it upside-down without the meringue moving at all.  

  • Part of making macarons involves three steps: macaronnage, macaronner and pied.  The macaronnage step is the technique of mixing flour and meringue to make macarons.  For this step, sift almond flour mixture one-third at a time over the egg white mixure and fold using a large spatula until mixture is smooth and shiny.  Once all the almond flour mixture is incorporated, check for the correct consistency - the batter should be nicely firm and drip slowly from the spatula (macaronner).  

  • Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain round tip (#12) and pipe 1 1/3 inch rouncs onto baking sheets.  (Tip:  I did not have a bag the last time I made these, but was able to make a makeshift one from a plastic bag, cutting a hole in the corner.  Also, this part gets very messy.  Be prepared.) 

  • Try to make sure that your rounds are roughly the same size, so that once you add in the cream, they will fit together to form a cookie.  Also, when squeezing the bag, try to keep the tip in place so that the batter is forced to spill out to the sides.  This will help keep the cookie flatter.  
I have papers with identical circles printed to help guide me on making equal sized cookies
  • Tap the bottom of each sheet on a flat surface to release trapped air.  Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes.  Check for slight crust to form - macarons should not stick to your finger when lightly touched.

  • Stack the baking sheet onto another before baking.  Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10-15 minutes.  If the macarons are still soft inside, lower oven to 300 degrees and cover with aluminum foil before baking for a few more minutes.  
  • Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.  
I should have used more food coloring, even the darkest batter can bake light

Rum Cream Filling

This is one of my favorite fillings because in my opinion it goes with almost any flavor.  But if you have a filling or frosting you prefer, go ahead and use it to fill your cookies. 

  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 4 ounces granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • Place egg whites and sugar in a heatproof electric mixer bowl, set over a medium saucepot of simmering water.  Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 141 degrees on an instant read thermometer
  • Remove bowl from heat and attach to a hand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking well after each addition.  Once all butter is incorporated, return to medium-high speed and whisk for a few minutes until fluffy.
  • Switch to a paddle attachment.  With mixer on low, add rum.  Use rum cream immediately or cover and refrigerate.  Pipe between two macarons.  

Recipes from Sur la Table