new years' resolution

I know I've mentioned this before, but again I am slacking off...in my defense, I spent all last week in Colorado (with no wi-fi, yikes) and all this week at home with my loving family and friends in Oklahoma.
view from the patio at butte 66 in crested butte
sunset in oklahoma
 I mean...can you blame me? To catch you all up, I have just been taking these past couple weeks to spend with my family and friends I don't get to see much now that I've moved out to California.  I did catch a nasty 24-hour stomach bug while in Colorado, but other than that I've just been indulging in delicious wine and food and lusting over clothes and jewelry--the usual.

enjoying portuguese wine with my dad
a preview of my new years outfit
Thanks to my boyfriend's wonderful mom, I'm now the proud owner of a real camera! My old one is indisposed so I was on the hunt for another.  This new Canon is by far the nicest camera I've owned, and because of that I'm making a new years resolution of going photo crazy.  I can't wait to amp up this blog the way I've wanted to.

This week I'll share a new outfit, my favorite go-to recipe, and some bits from over the holidays. Here's to the end of a great 2011 and the beginning of new adventures in 2012.  Happy New Year!


macaroni and cheese

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love food. I also love cheese--I have a deep appreciation for all the different kinds of cheese and how each one can take a dish to a whole new level. When my metabolism declines...I'm probably in trouble. But for now, I'm enjoying it while I can.  My roomates and I made macaroni and cheese probably three or four times a week in college.  Kraft, Velveta shells & cheese...you name it, we most likely tried it, and frequently consumed it.  Now that I'm an "adult," and have roomates who love experimenting with food as much as I do, we like to get a little bit more creative.

My roomate Lisa brought home this feature from Family Circle magazine one night, and the three of us sat there drooling over the choices for more than a few minutes.  We finally decided to make the goat cheese, fig, and walnut mac. In other words, heaven in a bowl (too much?...nope).
image via family circle
Here's what you'll need (8 servings):
2 1/2 cups of 2% milk
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 pound pasta (we used rotini; gemelli is pictured above)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 4-ounce logs goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried figs, sliced (don't shy away from these, they make all the difference)
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Add milk and rosemary to a small saucepan over low heat.  Cover for 20 to 25 minutes, allowing the herb to infuse.  Remove rosemary sprig.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes (or until pasta is tender); drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle in flour, whisking constantly for 2 minutes (note: make sure you add the flour in a little bit a time, while you are whisking--simply dumping it in will cause it to clump and ruin the result you want). Pour in infused milk, whisking until it comes to a boil.  Simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Crumble in goat cheese, piece by piece, stirring until smooth. Add salt, figs, walnuts and cooked pasta. 

Now comes the best part: eating it! I'm telling you, this mac 'n' cheese will blow your mind.  I'll fess up and say I wasn't entirely helpful with the cooking process...but I did an excellent job ensuring all wine glasses were constantly full.


mix and match

Remember my red jeans?  I couldn't wait to throw these on with some of my favorite pieces for a fresh look.
[h&m shirt,zara vest (last seen here) and jeans,snakeskin shoes c/o target,bracelet c/o lavish,borrowed jewelry by nola ring, essie ballet slippers nail color]

Although I've worn a variation of this outfit multiple times to work, I felt like everything was brand new.  I also felt very festive for the holidays.

You may remember my post about Nola Singer's jewelry line.  I borrowed some of her pieces for work, and she gave me permission to wear them.  I was in love with this ring--she created it using an old vintage piece. I love how the subtle lavender gives an extra pop of color.

Colored jeans are still completely new to me, but I'm so excited to try wearing them in different ways. Happy Monday!


peppermint bark

My roomates Lisa and Kristin (she came in town this week!) made peppermint bark yesterday.  I never knew how to make it, so I watched Lisa as she melted white chocolate chips on the stovetop, stirring in bits of peppermint.  She told me it was relatively simple, once you learn how to melt chocolate correctly.  Her tip is to always use the stovetop, rather than the microwave.  Here's what you'll need to make your own:

For one batch:
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 package candy canes
Wax paper

Melt the white chocolate chips on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring consistently.  Meanwhile, smash the candy canes into small pieces.  Having a friend to help with this part comes in handy. (Tip: put a few candy canes inside the empty chocolate chip bag, and smash lightly using a hammer).  Stir in some  candy a little bit at a time.  Make sure you save a little bit to sprinkle on the top!

Place a piece of wax paper onto a cookie sheet.  Using a spoon or turner, spread the chocolate onto the paper evenly, covering the entire pan.  Sprinkle the remaining peppermint pieces on top. Put the pan in the fridge for about 20 minutes--it will be ready once the chocolate has hardened.  Next just break it all into large pieces, and wrap it up all pretty for your friends.

Now, I've never been much of a baker.  Except for one recipe of my aunt's, everything I bake generally comes from a box.  So, sorry coworkers, you're still getting store-bought peppermint bark this year.  Maybe next year I'll be more domestic now that I have this recipe, but until then I will just enjoy learning from all of my talented friends!

What holiday treats are your favorites to bake?


red jeans

image via zara
I have been lusting after red jeans for months now--I wanted them so badly during the college football season (my alma mater's colors are crimson and cream), but I never did find an affordable pair I liked. I finally managed to snag a pair this past weekend at Zara while I was Christmas shopping. Merry Christmas to me!  I've worn them once already, and I can't wait to style up all of my favorite outfits with a splash of red (similar pair here).  

Also, in case you haven't discovered Zara yet...go. Immediately. I'm still in shock I made it 23 years without visiting one. It is a perfect place for basics and work staples, and they also have many fun pieces. This vest I wore in my last outfit post is from Zara as well.  Most of the merchandise is very affordable, and some locations have clothing for men and children, too.

Happy shopping!


artisan house

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the press party for the grand opening of Artisan House, a new restaurant smack-dab in the middle of Downtown LA.  I was sent by my web editor to write a story about the venue--which is not only a restaurant, but also has a full market.

I didn't know much about this place before my arrival, except their slogan: Break Bread. Share Wine. Feed the Soul. These people really know how to get me.

tuna tar-tar appetizer with the magic ingredient: pistachios

margherita flatbread 

My friend Holli and I sipped on delicious wine, including this amazing Ruta 22 Malbec from Argentina (don't worry, that isn't my hand holding the bottle).  We also enjoyed all--and I do mean all--the tray-passed hors d'oeuvres floating through the room.  My favorite was a flatbread smothered with goat cheese, caramelized onions and Juniper bacon.  I never knew that three ingredients could taste so good.

I also had the honor of meeting both the owner and the executive chef, Jason Ryczek, whose passion for fresh, seasonal food not only came through during our discussion, but in every single appetizer I tried. The best part is he uses very few ingredients, which I think sets Artisan House apart from other LA restaurants I've been to (seriously, how many things can you put in one salad?).

After visiting, I'm dying to go back and sit down for a full dinner.  Now if only I had the dough for one of their four-course tastings...

If you're wondering what I wore to the event, check it out here.  What can I say-- when I discover an outfit I like, I tend to keep wearing it. Have a great week!


playing catch-up

My have I been a bad little blogger lately.  I have been super slammed with work these past couple weeks and have not given ample time to much of anything else.  But hopefully (fingers crossed) all of my hard work will pay off very soon!  Later this evening I want to share with you a new restaurant in Downtown LA, in which I attended their grand opening press party.  But for now, here are some things in the Internet world keeping me inspired:
image via oh happy day!
 How amazing would it be to look out your window and see this? Or live two hours away from Paris in general, like Kristin does now?
image via my style pill
I have been looking for a great clutch, and would love to add this Jennifer Haley snakeskin one to my collection. I just entered a giveaway to win this fun bag--click here for your own chance to win.
image via eat.sleep.wear
I'll take a wall of shoes one day please. And Lela Rose's shoe collection, while we're at it.  I learned recently that she is doing a collaboration with Payless--that definitely seems like something worth checking out.
image via sacramento street
This grilled asparagus and ricotta pizza looks fresh and delicious, and super simple to make. You can find the recipe here.  The best part is that you can substitute whatever toppings you like. My roomates and I have already planned to try it out soon...even if they don't know it yet.
image via i saw today
I love the look of a plain tee, jeans and a blazer.  The detailed buttons on this one kick the entire outfit up a notch.
image via brooklyn blonde
I really love this photo--from the outfit details to how you can see the photographer in the sunglasses lens. She looks super chic and cozy, and that clutch needs to get in my life.
image via blonde bedhead
Nothing is cozier than a big chunky sweater, and when it's a fun, bright hue like this one--what's not to love?
image via sequin harvest
This seems like the perfect time of year for wine tasting.  I would love to pay another another visit to Malibu Wines.
image via lisa leonard designs
If you saw my last post, you already know I'm getting into the holiday spirit as much as possible!

Also, a crazy giveaway.
For those of you who didn't know, many major fashion bloggers have amazing giveaways, in which they partner with brands to gift random readers jewelry, bags, clothes, sunglasses, etc. Check out a few of my favorites for your chance to win an upcoming giveaway!
[the glamourai,Sacramento Street,eat.sleep.wear.,Brooklyn Blonde,My Style Pill,A CUP OF JO]

Good luck and Happy Friday!


it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

Christmas season is in full force, and I am absolutely loving it! I have some exciting things in store so stay tuned!

Note: my apologies for the poor quality of my photos...I'm currently pending a legitimate camera. Just a few weeks until the photos here are amped up big time.


nic's martini lounge

So far I've been pretty open about the fact that I'm relatively cheap (okay, maybe really cheap).  Appreciation for a good deal is something I got from my mom, and it's stuck with me.  But for some reason, when it comes to food, I'm willing to shell out a bit more from time to time.  Of course I'm always on the hunt for a good happy hour, but I tend to be a sucker for good food.  Moving to L.A. has enhanced my love for food and also helped expand my palette.

My latest semi-extravagant outing was a trip to Nic's martini lounge with a group of girlfriends for my roomate Grace's birthday dinner.  Everything I tasted had me in shock because it was that good.  Although it definitely runs a bit pricey, we managed to get a great deal.  Nic's also has a more affordable happy hour.  But what's really important to note here is how great this place is--everything from the food and drinks to the service was impeccable.

Our group began with a special martini crafted with blueberry vodka and strawberry lemonade, garnished with three fresh blueberries.  We also decided to order a couple appetizers before enjoying a decadent three-course meal. Here was our menu for the evening:

Nic's oysters, sautéed with walnuts and garlic
Gnocchi with morels and champagne cream
1st course: sorrel soup with sour cream and croutons
2nd course: Parmesan-crusted chicken with a white bean mash and side salad
3rd course: chocolate bread pudding with chocolate ice-cream and cherry sauce

Everything was incredibly rich, so to wash everything down, we indulged in a birthday cake shot to toast the birthday girl.  This shot was created with vodka from Nic's vodbox, which is basically a walk-in freezer complete with 30 shelves full of vodka in various flavors.  Patrons who wish to go inside are required to wear a fur coat, which is provided by the restaurant.  Don't worry, there's hats, too.

[bottom two photos curtsey of Nic's]
If you happen to be in Beverly Hills anytime soon, I recommend giving Nic's a try! I'd like to try out the vodbox next time.

Note: Ladies, beware of the dudes here.  It's catered for a slightly older crowd, so young girls tend to get a lot of unsolicited attention at the bar.