PW's Hot Chocolate

I'm battling a serious post-holidays cold here, and nothing sounds better to me right now than the Pioneer Woman's Hot Chocolate.
If only I had all the ingredients here at home.....

Last Minute Shopping

Loving these ideas on last minute stocking stuffers for the kiddos....

Things We Love: December

Oy, the holidays never cease to amaze me with the chaos they bring on.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream.  Combating winter dryness everywhere.  Plus, the fun samples you get when ordering online are a  bonus!

Holiday Cards.  The mailbox is such a fun place, lately.  Although, I have sent out 141 cards and received only 21?  Come on, people!  Thank you, USPS for finally issuing a holiday stamp that is both modern and secular (good-bye Holiday Knits!).

Pan Am.  Loving this "new" show.  Almost as good as American Dreams (RIP).
Gearhart's Chocolates.  An assorted box arrived this week - a gift from a client (way to go supporting local C'ville businesses!), I have had to limit myself to one piece per night.  Personal favs include:  Earl Grey and Brown Butter Caramel.

Cheers to Twilight

Breaking Dawn, Part 1 is finally here!  (insert eye-roll from all you non-Twilight fans).
In celebration, work these cocktails in to your weekend repertoire:

New Moon

1 oz. vodka
1 oz. triple sec
1 oz. creme de violette

Stir contents in a shaker and serve up in a martini glass. Garnish with a piece of citrus cut out with a star-shaped cookie cutter.

The Edward

1 ½ oz. Plymouth gin
½ oz. Licor 43
½ oz. Plymouth sloe gin
½ oz. lemon juice

Served on the rocks with a lemon twist

Maybe for a child's room?!

You can find it (and some cool state options) here, at Old Try Press.

Design*Sponge in Richmond

For those of you in the Richmond area, Grace Bonney will be leading seminars and giving a talk during lunch on Wednesday.  The event is sponsored by Richmond Home.  Click here to learn more and buy tickets.

Wedding Wednesday: Fall RD Centerpieces

From this past weekend in Florida.

Skinny Soup

My go-to meal for cooler weather is soup.  This lightened up version of an old-school classic hit our menu plans last week.  At 300 calories per serving, it was a hit!

Light French Onion Soup

2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter (I have also used OO)
2 tbsp flour
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme 
1/4 cup Cognac/brandy
1/4 cup white wine
9 cups light beef stock
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
sliced, toasted, crusty bread (Italian, etc)
sliced RF swiss or gruyere cheese(if you can find it)

In a large pot, sauté the onions with the butter, until soft and golden, about 20 minutes. Add flour, mixing well another 2-3 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf,  wine and brandy, and simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes.

Add the beef stock, salt & pepper to your liking, reduce heat. Cover and simmer gently for about 25 minutes. Remove bay leaf and ladle 1.5 cups soup into oven-safe bowls or cups. Place bowls on a baking sheet. Place sliced toasted bread on top of soup and top bread with cheese. Broil 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese is golden.

Fall Cheese Board

It's been perfect weather lately to stay inside, light a fire, pour some vino, and enjoy something like this.....

Crock Pot Habits

After a good ten years of being advised to utilize a crock pot, I have finally paid heed.  Last night we had sausage and pepper pasta and tortilla soup is on the menu tonight.  I am obsessed with this thing.  So my question you leave your crock pot unattended?  All day?  Usually I'm home but I left it for a while today without really worrying about it.  However, some people do (and, admittedly, that is one of the reasons I never used it in the past).  They say it uses as much electricity as a lightbulb, but I don't put a gallon of liquid in my lamps...

October Birchbox

We're back with another Birchbox review.

This month our box included: a new mascara (really great, although a little odd coming off), an organic facial scrub (great for your travel bag), a Redken shine spray, all natural lip exfoliator, and some fun mints.   I am loving the fact that a lot of the items we've received are great for travel -- things we would buy anyway for our weekends away!

What did you think of your Birchbox shipment this month?

The Red Cups

Living in a college town, I had to share this article.  Solo cups are a college staple, in so many ways. 

I actually once heard of a foreign exchange student who was asked "What are you most looking forward to experiencing during your time in America?" 
She replied, "Going to a party with the red cups!"

Dinner Tonight

excuse the camera phone photo
Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas....Yum.

Baby Boy Gifts!*


*not for either of us

Tailgate Recap

Charlottesville ushered in Fall weather this weekend, and the 'Hoos added another win to their record.

The tailgate was a win, per usual. This week, our menu included:
Crudite with hummus and spinach dip
Fresh Fruit
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Traditional 7 Layer Dip with 6 layers (we are not an olive loving group)
Cedar Planked Grilled Brie with Peach Chutney
Pork, Veggie, and Chicken Kabobs
Pasta Salad with Feta and Roasted Peppers
Apple Slab Pie
Other assorted desserts, and, of course, cocktails!

Do You Birchbox?

Have you heard about Birchbox?  We have.  From one of our readers, actually.  What a great gift (to yourself or someone else on your list).

Launched by two HBS grads, Birchbox brings upscale beauty samples to your doorstep for only $10/month.

This month's delivery brought Befine Night Cream, Jouer Lip Enhancer, Jurlique Hand Santizer, and Ferragamo perfume.  The super-cute packaging is also a plus!


How gorgeous is the new copper collection from Simon Pearce?  It stopped me in my tracks when I was casually flipping through the latest catalogue.

No thank you

One of my friends has the inside scoop on all the big estate sales in the area.  Last week I made plans to meet her at 10am in Scarsdale, NY.  When I pulled up it looked like this:

The turnout seemed impressive for a Friday morning.  Hopes were high.  When we walked in there were some nice linens and pieces of silver.  We got the giggles when we came across four cans of PBR, still in the six pack casing, labeled $2.  However, things took a depressing turn when we went into the kitchen and one of the organizers was labeling food in the pantry.  And we fled when she tried to sell a jar of peanut butter to my friend, with the inside info "it's creamy."  In 50 years you can bet I will tell my children that they are NEVER to sell my foodstuffs when I leave my home.  (Talk about dark humor, right?)

Hopefully we will have better luck this week in Greenwich.

Dog Alert

Farrell and I are what I would call practical dog lovers.  We aren't terribly indulgent- dogs need structure- and we don't lose sight of the fact that dogs are not human.  Which isn't to say our dogs past and present don't have pretty cushy lives- they do and we love and appreciate them very much.  After working in the thoroughbred industry in Kentucky I also think I'm realistic about the overbreeding situation (of dogs, cats, and horses) in this country.  However, I was extremely shocked by some information I found on the website of L.A.B Rescue and Adoption Network.  According to their page entitled About Our Organization, approximately 30-40% of the animals put down in Texas pounds are purebred.  Isn't that crazy?  Can you imagine paying $900+ for a dog only to realize that maybe you don't have enough time for it?  Clearly there are some very uninformed people out there, and I have to say I partially blame the breeders.  I recently called a reputable breeder about a Rhodesian Ridgeback, which is a rather high maintenance dog, and I was shocked by what she didn't want to discuss before launching into her sales pitch.  In addition, this throw away attitude is creating a false market for more purebred dogs and more breeding.  But I'm getting off track.  This information about Texas (and its dog gas chambers) really got to me.  If you live in Texas or Connecticut, please consider working with this organization through fostering, adoption, or donation of goods and services.

Loving for Fall

Essie's new Fall Collection.

My fingers and toes are ready for the change in seasons, for sure!

Hurricane Irene Party

We housed a few hurricane "evacuees" over the weekend.  Cue impromptu dinner party, completely comprised of items we already had in the house.  Not too bad!

We started with baked brie topped with onion jam, rosemary, and pecans, as well as peppered goat cheese, served with flatbread and Trader Joe's Raisin Rosemary Crisps.  Drinks included Pimm's Royales and Pumpkin Ale.

Dinner came together to featured oven-roasted garlicky broccoli, a salad highlighting tomatoes from our garden, and Peach-Whiskey Barbecue Chicken (with a few modifications) over Israeli CousCous.   Red and white wines from Napa were served, as well.
All in all, not too bad!

Distracted by Irene

Farrell and I have been glued to the hurricane coverage today.  With family and friends up and down the east coast and the crazy possibility of a NYC evacuation, we can't turn away.  However, I did take a little time to make my weekly blueberry and peach crumble, adapted from this Barefoot Contessa Recipe.  Here are the differences between her recipe and mine:

For the fruit:
  • 1/4 cup of sugar instead of a 1/2 cup (which I found to be too sweet)
  • About two tablespoons of brown sugar
  • A good sprinkling of cinnamon
For the crumble (I completely scratched her crumble- it seems like a lot of work):
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Whatever amount of butter you like, cubed (I probably use about two tablespoons)
  • More cinnamon if you like
Mash the crumble ingredients all together with a fork/potato masher/whatever works and sprinkle on top of the fruit.  Here are some pictures of the deliciousness in progress.

I just bake in a regular dish.
Now, back to the news.

Heirloom Tomato Pie

In an effort to use some of the bumper crop of tomatoes our garden is yielding (we started the weekend with 23 in the fridge, and are down to 9 thanks to this and a few other recipes), I made this Tomato Pie/Tart this weekend for a lunch gathering I hosted.  I made a few modifications based on what I had on hand, and it was a big hit.  I think we'll be seeing it served around here again soon....


1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

3/4 teaspoon fine salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons shredded manchego cheese (I used Fontina because I had it on hand)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 1/4 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes

Kosher salt

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used fat free)

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme  (I used basil because our garden is producing it at a rapid rate)

Freshly ground pepper


Make the crust: Pulse the flour, cornmeal and fine salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and 3 tablespoons manchego; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-size bits of butter. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough comes together; add 1 more tablespoon ice water if necessary. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.

Put the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 13-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate. Fold the overhang under itself and crimp the edges. Pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the crust with foil, then fill with dried beans. Bake until the edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Make the filling: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Meanwhile, thinly slice the tomatoes; toss with 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a colander. Let drain, gently tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup manchego, the mozzarella, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons each chives and parsley, the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper, and the sauteed onion in a bowl. Spread in the crust. Arrange the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with pepper. Bake until the tomatoes are browned, about 50 minutes. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon each chives and parsley.

Congressional Wedding

We headed up to our old stomping grounds for a wedding last weekend. The rehearsal dinner at Sequoia kicked off the weekend. The ceremony was at the chapel on the grounds of Georgetown Prep, followed by a reception at Congressional Country Club.  It was a great weekend, spent surrounded by old college friends.

RD centerpieces and favors lend homage to our alma mater

the cake was outstanding as far as wedding  cakes go.  almond with raspberry filling.  (same as ours!)

wedding day table decor

butter tastes so much better when in the shape of the capitol

the groom's cake highlighted the groom's signature beverage

The end of summer produce...

Summer is winding down here in New York and I'm trying to take advantage of the ease of throwing some vegetables together for dinner. Last week I picked up one yellow squash and one zucchini without really knowing what to do with them. After a little research I found this recipe for yellow squash ribbons on the Cooking Light website. The result was a colorful step away from the veggies we normally eat. I also made another new favorite- steamed green beans with a dash of olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Yum. What vegetables are you eating now? And what are you looking forward to as the season changes? I can't wait to experiment with apple crisp.

Wine + Jelly Beans

In the last month, we've both hit the big 3-0. Yikes.

While I much prefer to plan parties for others, some pesky family members convinced me to have a little birthday gathering of local friends that involved one of my favorite activities -- wine tasting! 

As part of the weekend, we assembled gift bags for all the ladies that contained "A Few of Farrell's Favorite Things." As you will note from the bag decor, my birthday falls on a certain patriotic holiday.

  Now, we couldn't get queso into the bags (don't worry, we did have it during the course of the weekend), but we did get a few fun treats in there, including these Jelly Bean Wine Shooters

Check them out.  The Jelly Bean Wine Bar (great customer service, by the way) puts together these fun little "test tubes" that contain jelly bean flavors which, when combined, taste just like your favorite vino.  In our gift bags, we featured Blanc de Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris.  So fun. 

I'd definitely recommend these as a fun addition to your next favor bag, girls' weekend, or wine themed event!

Paperless Post

I've been meaning to bring up Paperless Post for a while now.  From the way my email inbox is looking, it seems to be the new evite, with the added dimension of "not just for invitations" -- they do birth announcements, thank you notes, etc.

The cute designs offer something for everyone, although I have heard some unhappy feedback about there being a cost involved.  I love all things paper, so usually default to printed collateral, especially when it comes to invitations, but am always game for exploring something new.

Does anyone have personal feedback on Paperless Post?

A Different Kind of Bar

We are dying to try to the Braid Bar at the John Barrett Salon.  You can read about it here.  Now I just need to come up with an excuse to go before summer ends...

Picture from the John Barrett Salon website.

My New Philosophy

Clearly I'd never give up sunscreen, but this article also indicates a reason (however feeble) not to give up wine, either. 
I'll drink to that!
(anyone catch the gratuitous Broadway reference in the title of this post?)

Sea House

My taste in decorating is very schizophrenic.  I've decided the only way to deal with this is to have a beach house and a country house.  When I win the lottery and buy my house on Shelter Island no scratch that I would never pay NY State property taxes Sea Island, Victoria Hagan will be on my list of possible interior designers.  Look at how light and bright this is:
Okay, fine, maybe she is a bit more Hamptons than Low Country, and definitely a bit too formal for the dogs and children that would be running around.  But since I'm pretty sure none of this is going to happen, it can't hurt to browse her portfolio for fun...

Seersucker: Not Just for Suits

These Kim Seybert napkins would be perfect for your next outdoor gathering or simple summer wedding. 
The color combinations lend a bit of modern to a Southern summer staple. 


I was alerted this morning by Page Six that Martha Stewart is about to turn 70.  How is that possible?  She looks great.  Also, I thought only younger people could make you feel old.  Incidentally, she has the same birthday as both of our husbands.

Jersey Wedding