New York City

My sister, Suzanne, and I had a truly amazing girls’ weekend in New York City! We went for the surprise birthday party of one of our friends from college, Monica. The party was Friday night and definitely the highlight of the weekend. The birthday girl was thrilled to see everyone; she even started crying when she realized that so many of her out-of-town friends had made the journey. The rest of the weekend was filled with sightseeing, shopping, new friends, and great food. Here are some of my favorites from the trip –

The Vault at Pfaff’s – The surprise party was at The Vault at Pfaff’s in Greenwich Village. Originally a 19th century beer cellar made famous by Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, the re-imagined speakeasy is dark and intimate, with beautiful vintage décor, corset-laced waitresses and menus printed on newspapers. The cocktail names even pay homage to the 1850’s artistic culture of the city – Leaves of Grass, Bohemian, Smoking Revolver. I was easily transported into history…that is, until my bill came.  Definitely worth it though!

The Park – We ventured over to Chelsea on Saturday night for a late dinner at The Park.  Described as ingredient-based Mediterranean, the cuisine seemed more American to me but delicious, nonetheless. (I ordered potato gnocchi with arugula, pancetta, and pecorino.) While the food was great, the ambiance of the restaurant was even better. We sat in the Garden Room, which was a patio (covered in the winter) full of Japanese maple tress decorated with tiny orange lights and bird feeders. It all felt very New York.

Magnolia Bakery – Suzanne and I went on a bit of a cupcake binge, going to three different cupcakes shops in three days.  And while my sister would argue that Sprinkles was the best (although not truly a New York bakery) I thought Magnolia Bakery took the cake (get it?) The classic buttercream frosting that made the bakery a tourist mecca is to die for. I’d skip the red velvet next time though – without any cream cheese frosting, it clearly lacked the calories I was looking for.

Bloomingdale’s – From the first time I ever set foot in a Bloomingdale’s, I was in love. (The absence of Bloomingdale stores in Ohio has only made my heart grow fonder.) And the flagship store on Third Avenue is certainly worth the trip. I could spend all day browsing the displays of brightly colored baubles, handbags, and designer pieces (that I can’t afford). In terms of what I can afford – I adore the Aqua line, exclusive to Bloomingdale’s. The pieces are well made and reasonably priced.  My sister and I spent a few glorious hours there shortly after we arrived in the city on Friday. I didn’t end up buying anything – I wasn’t quite ready to indulge myself in the spring pieces when it was below 20 degrees outside but Suzanne got a gorgeous lime-colored Yumi Kim top that I most definitely will be borrowing.

Despite all of the celebrating, fun, and food, what really made my weekend was experiencing it all with my sister. We only live two hours apart, but our schedules don’t allow many visits, and it’s rarely just the two of us. This weekend gave us a much needed opportunity to spend some quality time and catch up. And even though our bank accounts are suffering the effects of the weekend, the sisterly bonding time was priceless.

Vault at Pfaff's

Vintage newspaper menu at the Vault at Pfaff’s

Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery

Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery

sisters

Suzanne (left) in her new shirt (!) and me at Pfaff’s

Ice skaters at Rockefeller Center

Ice skaters at Rockefeller Center

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Girls’ Weekend

Short post today as I’m getting ready to head out for a girls’ weekend with my twin sister, Suzanne! She got married this summer (to a terrific guy) and still lives in Columbus so I don’t see her nearly as often as I’d like. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with her, as well as some of our other friends, this weekend. I’ll fill you in on the details, including our destination, when we return. Have a fabulous weekend!

Lovely Little Things: The Confetti Edition

During weeks like this – in the dead of winter when we’re daylight-deprived, bundled up from head to toe, and spring break seems a million years away – I always find it helps to add some element of celebration to keep me going. And I’m not talking about a holiday, a birthday, or a cocktail party invite but rather celebrating the little things, those things that we too often overlook or consider mundane. Applauding the end of a long day with a glass of pinot noir and an episode of Modern Family on the DVR.  Celebrating a friend by sending a sweet card, just because. Commemorating the coldest day of the year with bright red Hunter’s (if only i had them!) and lipstick to match. So if, like me, you’re finding yourself with a case of the winter blues, here’s a few lovely little things that will surely make you feel like celebrating –

lovely little things

1. Minimalist Claire White modern art print, Etsy.com  |  2. Twirl by Kate Spade New York Eau De Parfum, Nordstrom  |  3. Collective Concepts Dot Print Ladylike Dress, piperlime.com (sold out but similar here)  |  4. OPI Limited Edition Skyfall 007 Collection Nail Lacquer, The Living Daylights, drugstore.com  |  5. Webster Cheers, Note Card Set, Jess LC   |  6. Kate Spade Market Street Pink Collection, katespade.com

Arugula, Parmesan, and Pine Nut Salad

I’ve never particularly enjoyed salad unless it’s covered with cheese, creamy dressing, or other toppings that would likely make a plate of nachos a healthier choice. However, I discovered a light, healthy option last year at one of my favorite tapas restaurants that may have changed my outlook on salad altogether. I’ve attempted to re-create the salad several times since, never getting the dressing quite right until the other night when I finally tasted victory by altering a basic citronette recipe.

What I love most about this salad is that it’s literally foolproof (yay!) and is easy to put together. It can be served as as simple, elegant side dish or topped with grilled chicken strips for a main course.

Bon appetit!

(Recipe below)

Arugula, Parmesan, & Pine Nut Salad

Ingredients
(Serves 2)

Salad

  • 2 c baby arugula
  • 1/2 c shaved Parmesan
  • 1/4 c pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp minced shallot

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Arrange a single layer of pine nuts on a cookie sheet with sides (so the nuts don’t roll off). Bakes 5-7 minutes or until lightly lightly toasted.
  2. To make the dressing, combine ingredients and place in a tightly capped container. Shake until ingredients are well blended.
  3. In a larger bowl, combine arugula, cheese, and pine nuts.
  4. Pour dressing over salad and toss.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Enjoy!

I Love Your Style: Katie

This week, I’m loving Katie’s style. As one of my closest friends and roommate for several years after we graduated from college, Katie and I know each sometimes all too well. And while I’ve always been jealous of Katie’s size 0 figure, I’m even more envious of her ability to pull together on-trend outfits by accessorizing key staples with affordable statement pieces, such a scarves and jewelry.

Although Katie has at least two closets worth of clothes, she is undoubtedly a smart shopper. But she’s careful not to skimp on quality, especially when it comes to the staples. Her advice for finding great pieces without breaking the bank?

  • Sign up for daily emails on flash sales sites such as Rue La La and Gilt.
  • Visit outlet style retailers such as TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack as early in the day as possible. Most of these stores receive daily shipments so it’s best to get there shortly after the open for the best finds.
  • Shop at the end of the season. It’s a great way to score deals on classics like a trench or a LBD that won’t go out of style.
  • Take advantage of holiday sales, such as the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas. Katie scored her Frye Melissa boots, below, on sale at Macy’s the weekend after Thanksgiving.

For trendy, budget-friendly accessorizing, Katie’s favorites include Forever 21, VeryJane, the sale racks at local boutiques, and her sister’s closet.

Katie_3

Katie and her dog, Rudy

Top: Old Navy   |  Jeans: Citizens of Humanity, Nordstrom  |  Scarf: Old Navy (sold out but similar here  |  Boots: Frye, Macy’s  |  Watch: Michael Kors  |  Sunglasses: Kate Spade (old)

DIY {Faux} Flower Arrangements

I love fresh flowers – especially peonies, hydrangeas, and roses. They bring an instant sophistication and chic vibe to any space. But always having fresh flowers around my apartment simply isn’t doable on my budget. It recently hit me that I could use silk flowers instead. While silk flowers get a bad rap for looking cheap or unnatural, they can be used to achieve the same effect as real flowers if they’re quality and arranged correctly.

I found some lovely silk arrangements on Etsy but couldn’t believe the price tag that came with them ($225 for peonies in a small square vase) so I came up with the DIY version below for under $35.

faux flower diy

Supplies

  • Glass vase (I used a 4” square vase from Jo Ann fabrics)
  • Silk flowers (Depending on the quality of the silk flower you use, flowers can get expensive. However, stores such as Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Ann’s often have 40% or 50% off some varieties of silk flowers, or check online for coupons. You’ll want to make sure to get enough flowers to fill your vase minus the leaves.)
  • Quick Water, or another clear floral setting resin (available at craft stores)
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters

Instructions

  1. Determine the height at which you want your flowers to stand within in the vase and cut the stems accordingly with a good pair of scissors or a wire cutter.
  2. Trim the leaves off or back to your liking.
  3. Mix the floral resin according to package directions. Pour into the center of your vase.
  4. Arrange the flowers in the vase. Most clear resins don’t begin to “cure” for about an hour after mixed, so you can spend some timing arranging. I recommend having at least some idea of how you plan to arrange your flowers before putting them in the vase. NOTE: The resin is sticky! Try not to pull your flowers completely out of the resin (but rather just move them around in it). I did this and things got a little messy! If you do spill any, some rubbing alcohol will clean it right up.

I Love Your Style

As a tribute to one of my favorite books (and one that every girl should own), I Love Your Style by Amanda Brooks, I’ll feature a look I love each week – might be a friend’s killer ensemble, a red carpet home run – whatever inspires me. And while I share my picks, I’d love to see yours too. Send me a picture of what defines your style (with permission to post on my blog) and you might just see yourself in a future post.

This week, I’m loving my friend Emma’s style. As a high school English teacher, Emma has a defined, classic look but is always integrating the latest trends for a style that takes her effortlessly from the classroom to cocktail hour.

My favorite part of Emma’s look? Her hair!

emma

Top: Loft (sold out but similar here)  |  Necklace: Etsy  |  Shoes: LuLu’s  |  Jeans: Urban Outfitters

2013 Calendar Round-Up

Nearly as essential as making my list of resolutions each year is finding the perfect calendar. As soon as the new year hits (or before) I find myself scouring local stationary boutiques and online shops for which one might look best sitting on my desk or hanging on my wall. (And I find it completely necessary to have one at work, one at home, a desk version, a wall version etc. This could be due to my love of paper but more about that later.) Here are my picks for 2013 –

2013 Calendar Picks

a little more lovely | 2013 calendar picks

 

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  (Item currently on back order)

Happy New Year!

While I’m always sad to see the holidays end, I love the start of the new year. No matter how good (or bad) the past year has been, the start of a new year gives us the chance to reflect on what we want to do better. It’s a fresh start and one that I always welcome. For months now, I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting a blog – a place to share the things the (little) things that make me happy each day. Of course, I haven’t gotten around to it (!) but with the beginning of a new year and fresh start, I’m inspired and ready to begin.

Enjoy!