Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Brooklyn Bound

Growing up, The Cosby Show was my all time favorite program.  Who didn't want to be a part of the Huxtable family?  They had a sweet, warm but firm mom and a lovable, witty dad (who wore those memorable Tundra sweaters) and they lived in a charming brownstone in Brooklyn Heights.  Cliff and Claire Huxtable were undoubtedly responsible for my affinity to this historic and majestic neighborhood just minutes from downtown Manhattan.  So, when we found ourselves with a refreshingly unplanned weekend, we spontaneously decided to explore The New York Transit Museum and then wander over to the heights only a few short blocks away.

I highly recommend The Transit Museum for both history buffs and families.  Located on the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street (please don't ask me to pronounce that), the museum is housed in an authentic 1930's subway station.  How cool is that?  It contains over 100 years of transit culture and memorabilia.  But, the best part were the collection of vintage trains which included the original ads.  You could picture Don Draper, cigarette in mouth, creating one of these masterpieces.  Later, we made our way over to Montague Street, the commercial strip in the heights known for its' plethora of restaurants and shops.  Tables spilled onto the sidewalk as diners lingered over their early dinners and a glass of wine.  Further down the street were the familiar red brick townhouses with vines running down the sides complete with peek-a-boo gardens, tall windows and regal entrances.  We continued down the leafy street until we encountered the famed Esplanade, which locals refer to as the promenade.  There were two brides (who kindly congratulated one another) having their photos taken against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.  These breathtaking views encompass endless skyscrapers, their reflections seen so clearly in the East River, Lady Liberty off in the distance and the Brooklyn Bridge with its' Gothic arches.  Now I know why this spellbinding neighborhood was home to such notable residents as Walt Whitman, Thomas Wolfe and Truman Capote.  It truly is an American dream.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Watermelon Margaritas


Certain foods are synonymous with summer and for me, watermelons are at the top of that list.  Nothing is more satisfying on a hot summer afternoon than a generous slice of cool, refreshing watermelon.  You can simply enjoy it on its' own or serve it cubed with feta and arugula drizzled with a balsamic glaze.  Either way, you really can't go wrong.  That is why this past weekend, as I ripped open a bag of tortilla chips and poured the salsa, I was inspired to whip up this recipe.  They were such a breeze to make, I even made a virgin version for my eleven year old daughter.  Needless to say, she was thrilled.  Did I mention that they are a mere 105 calories and are fat and cholesterol free?  Plus, watermelons are high in fiber and vitamins A and C.  What's not to love about that?  Salud!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Staples

Chambray Top: Gap/ Toothpick Jeans: J.Crew/ Clutch: J.Crew (similar)/ Ballet Flats: J.Crew/ Sunglasses: similar

Admittedly, I haven't always been the biggest fan of the chambray shirt.  Perhaps that is due to the fact that during the early 90's, I owned a chambray shirt that apparently I felt the need to wear everywhere (and yes, I have the photos to prove it).  I shudder to think that I used to pair it with loose fitting jeans and Bass shoes.  Why didn't anyone stage an intervention?  Fast forward twenty years later to one afternoon when I found myself in the Gap glancing at a mannequin dressed in a chambray button down and white ankle jeans.  There was something so crisp yet relaxed about this look that drew my attention.  This iconic pairing achieves the rare combination of comfortable, elegant and casual attire.  The temperature here in New York finally took a much needed dip this morning.  So, I was more than pleased to substitute tank tops and shorts for long sleeves and jeans.  I love an outfit that can transport me from a morning at the beach to an afternoon at the movies.  Pass the popcorn please.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mad for Mint

A few summers ago, I discovered that we had a plethora of mint growing amongst our hosta plants in the backyard.  A friend was quick to point out that it was probably our neighbor's and seeing that mint spreads like wild fire, it made its' way under the fence onto our property.  I was thrilled at the prospect of simply stepping outside and picking a fresh sprig to compliment my iced tea, particularly when entertaining.  Alas, this year the mint has spread so much that now I've been informed that I need to cut it back.  I will get around to that but in the meantime I have decided to take advantage of the abundance we have of this fragrant and healing herb and rifle through recipes to make the most of it.  Of course, mint juleps are a must and so I have relied upon this trusty concoction.  In addition, I found these unconventional ideas while thumbing through the August issue of Better Homes and Garden.  One was for a caprese salad that swapped out basil for mint and tomatoes for sweet peaches.  The other was a new twist on pesto.  Simply puree a handful of mint and cilantro with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/3 cup of olive oil and a dash of sea salt. I served it with crostini and it was a huge hit.  Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Magnificent Mistake

Recently, I was surprised to learn that the invention of the chocolate chip cookie was actually the result of a missing ingredient.  Say it isn't so.  How could it be that a cookie that is slightly crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside is anything less than perfect?  As hard as it is to believe, chocolate chip cookies did not exist before 1930.  That is, until a woman (or should I say culinary genius) by the name of Ruth Graves Wakefield set out to make a batch of her trusty Butter Do Drop Cookies only to discover that she was missing baker's chocolate.  Ruth and her husband, Kenneth, were the owners of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts.  Ruth prepared meals for her guests and had gained notoriety for her desserts.  When she found herself without the needed ingredient, Ruth improvised by using a semi-sweet chocolate bar cut up into bits.  This seemed like a suitable substitute until she discovered that the chopped up chocolate did not melt completely.  It only softened and hence, the chocolate chip cookie was born.  The chocolate bar had been a gift from Andrew Nestle of the Nestle Chocolate Company.  As the Toll House recipe became more and more popular, sales of the Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar increased.  Eventually, Andrew Nestle and Ruth Wakefield entered into an arrangement.  Nestle would print the recipe on their packaging and Ruth would receive a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate.  Talk about sweetening the deal!

I have experimented with my fair share of chocolate chip cookie recipes but I have found this one to be the best.  The key to a successful batch of cookies is to make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature.  Oh, and let's not forget that warm cookies must be accompanied by a tall glass of ice-cold milk.  If you're like me, you may even take it to the next level and dunk your cookie into your frosty white beverage, combining the two to create a deliciously drenched invention.  Some like to call it the dessert "ying and yang,"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

All American

Top: Converse/ Shorts: American Eagle/  Bag: J,Crew/ Flip-flops: Old Navy (similar)/ Cuff: Kayce Hughes (similar)/ Sunglasses: Michael Kors (similar)/ Tank: J.Crew
After enjoying an ideal summer dinner consisting of hot dogs, fresh corn on the cob and watermelon, we decided to head out to the beach to catch this evening's sunset.  Knowing that it tends to get windy down by the water, I automatically grabbed a white button down shirt on my way out the door.  Paired with my favorite denim cut-offs, this is my ultimate go to outfit.  It doesn't get any more American than the classic combination of a white tee and broken in jeans.  I think Ralph Lauren would concur.  To me, this effortless ensemble defines casual perfection...and yes, there is such a thing.  Trends may come and go but a white top and denim bottoms will consistently signify authentic Americana style at its' best.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Daily Delights

Traditionally, summer is perceived as that time of the year when things slow down and life magically becomes uncomplicated.  School and homework are replaced by lazy days at the beach and warm nights spent chasing after fireflies and hunting down the Good Humor truck.  It's great to be a kid, isn't it?  Ironically, for a lot of adults, it is marked by even more scheduled events and commitments.  This summer has been no camp, swim lessons, swim team, and travel baseball.  While I really don't mind shuttling my children around town knowing they are happy and free, I must admit, I do love that time of the day when they are snuggled into bed and my husband and I can enjoy a peaceful moment sipping on our Gimlets out on the deck.  Here are a few more things that recently brought me pleasure in the midst of our daily craziness.  What's on your list?

Loving my new cherry pitter.  You can purchase an even better one here.

This all in one manicure by Sally Hansen leaves me more time to get outside with the kids.  

I gave my daughter's bookcase a face lift with a few coats of mint green paint.  

This line of skin care is paraben free and works great on sensitive skin.

Who doesn't love a bunch of fresh hydrangeas?

My latest obsession is homemade pizza, especially with basil from our garden.

I recently saw the ABT perform Swan Lake at The Met with my mom and Lara...a perfect way to kick off the summer.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


This past weekend, we were thrilled to celebrate the Fourth of July on Fire Island.  My husband and I had only been there once before twelve years ago.  So, when our magnanimous friends, who recently purchased a summer home in the hamlet of Kismet, invited us to stay for the weekend, we enthusiastically obliged.  It was even more magical than we had remembered.  Everything from the ferry ride to the charming town (the absence of cars immediately transplants you into another world) to the sound of the ocean from our bedroom made for an ideal weekend centered around rest and relaxation.