French Feast

Delicious recipes for the curious cook!

As I recently mentioned, two of my Christmas presents were Ina Garten cookbooks, which is always a great gift to me.  My collection of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks is now almost complete, with one of my newest additions being Barefoot in Paris.  Ina notoriously loves Paris and often features recipes inspired by French cuisine.  French food is something I enjoy, but rarely cook myself, mostly because it seems intimidating.  This cookbook, however, is full of mouth watering recipes ranging in complexity but, thanks to guidance from the Contessa herself, are actually manageable.  

For a recent Saturday night in, my fiance and I craved a warm dinner, full of flavor, but unlike anything we recently made.  I turned to Barefoot in Paris for inspiration and we were not disappointed.  I whipped up a full French meal of chicken with garlic, creamy cauliflower gratin and a fresh vegetable tian, which all complemented each other so well.  The combination of the cheesy cauliflower, tender roasted veggies and garlicky chicken was just what we needed on a cold winter night.  It was almost like being in France…almost.

Ready to try something different for a weekend meal? Give this a try!

 

DANCE PARTY

Motivation to get you through hump day!

As a challenge to myself and as part of my resolution to try some new workouts in the new year, I’ve recently started taking some dance classes.  Different from barre, these are cardio classes that are exactly what they sound like- full of dancing.  Basically, each class begins with learning a dance routine, which consists of a few combinations of moves that  target your arms, abs and glutes, and then repeats the routine numerous times.  The class I’ve been taking also works in sections, doing a dance routine followed by a strengthening section for each of the aforementioned muscle groups.  

These workouts have become increasingly popular, especially with the well known Tracey Anderson Method, which features a streaming service for those who aren’t close to a studio.  My barre studio offers this type of dance cardio class as part of its class schedule, but many other studios also feature similar classes.  If you’re looking for a way to spice up your workout in the new year, why not give dance a try? If you can’t find a class near you, check out http://tracyanderson.com/programs/ for streaming opportunities.  

Winter Time Blues

Inspiration for the new week!

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In the grey days of winter, sometimes you need a pop of something unexpected to spice things up.  This plaid does just that by adding some much needed color to an otherwise quiet outfit.  Paired with a navy coat and hat and some black leather leggings, the colors of the plaid- red/white/blue- complement the simple hues of the rest of the outfit, which keeps the plaid from feeling too patriotic.  For an afternoon at the movies, this offers comfort and style while still keeping things colorful.  

P.S. J Crew is having a pretty big sale on most of their site, including winter staples like this plaid!

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Fashion Note: I’m wearing a JCrew shirt, a Gap pea coat (similar here), leather leggings from Victoria’s Secret (similar here) and a hat from Athleta.  

WEEKLY WRAP UP/WEEKEND COUNTDOWN

What got me through the week and what I’m looking forward to this weekend!

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Starting the day off on the right foot

Let’s be honest, the first few weeks after the holidays can be a bit of a bummer.  All that buildup and anticipation, and suddenly it’s gone so quickly.  In an effort to beat the wintertime blues, I always try to make a list of things I want to do during the season, things that are best to do inside, whether it be visiting a new museum or attempting a DIY project.  Here’s a list of what’s been getting me through the post-holiday season and what I’m looking forward to.  Have a great weekend!

  1. Postcards from the Edge: After the recent passing of both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher I’m more intrigued than ever in learning more about their special and complicated bond.  Fisher wrote this book, which eventually became a movie, and I have it on my “must-read” list.  
  2. Free Museum Days: A trip to the Art Institute has been on my to-do list for a while, and there’s no time like the present to make a visit.  I love checking out museums in the winter, since it’s a great way to spice up a weekend while still being indoors.  I’ll also be making another trip to the history museum this weekend, while my fiance’s parents are in town, and I plan on using this guide to the free admission dates for my future visits.
  3. Awards Season: I’m a huge fan of awards shows and luckily for me, all the major ones occur in the winter, right after the new year, which always gives me something to look forward to.  The Golden Globes took place this week, followed by the SAG awards at the end of the month and it all ends with the Oscars next month.  In preparation for Oscar night, I try to see as many nominated films as possible and just started my research seeing La La Land last weekend (I highly recommend it!).  One of my favorite sources for all things award season is the podcast Little Gold Men, from the writers of Vanity Fair.  It gives all the insight to the major awards categories and offers some much appreciated insider knowledge.  
  4. DIY project: I’m the first to admit that I’m not all that crafty.  DIY projects usually give me anxiety because I truly feel like if I attempt to do it myself, the final outcome will look nothing like how I pictured it.  But a while back, like over a year ago, I saw a cork board at one of my favorite restaurants that was made entirely of wine corks.  Ever since then, I’ve been hoarding corks, all the while delaying actually doing any crafting.   I finally reached the tipping point and decided to give this project a try, so I ordered some wood and a glue gun from Amazon and plan on starting this project this weekend.  I found this tutorial to use as a guide and will share my results in the future…if it turns out well!

Images via here and here.

Maple Roasted Carrot Salad

Delicious recipes for the curious cook!

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This time of year- right after the holiday binges, during the peak of the dark, cold nights of the winter- we all crave something both hearty and healthy.  I was gifted two more Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for Christmas, thanks to my sister and fiancee, and both have not disappointed.  In her newest cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, I discovered a recipe that was just what I was looking for in a winter weeknight meal.  

This maple roasted carrot salad strikes the perfect balance thanks to it’s leafy greens, caramelized carrots, creamy cheese and juicy vinaigrette.  If you’re looking for a healthy dinner that keeps you satisfied, this is a great option.  On a cooking note, I substituted the maple syrup for agave nectar, which did the trick just as well.    

Hopefully this is one way to help you stay on track with your resolutions and healthy choices in the new year.  Enjoy!

NEW YEAR, NEW ROUTINE

Motivation to get you through hump day!

 

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New swag is always motivational

Many people make resolutions at the start of the new year, but unfortunately, not many people keep them.  But why not? We commit to so many other things throughout the year, why does it seem so hard to make a change and stick to it?

Perhaps it’s laziness, or maybe we get afraid to try something new or maybe it’s a combination of reasons, but the truth is most of those reasons are actually just excuses.  Making and keeping a resolution doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems and in fact, resolutions can be a fun way to change up a rut.  Here’s how I’m going to try and shake things up in 2017:

  1. Try a new fitness class: Maybe you already have a great exercise routine and are looking for something new to challenge yourself, or maybe you’ve been inactive and are looking for motivation to get back into shape.  Whatever the reason, everyone can use inspiration to stay active.  Personally, I think fitness classes are the best way to get in shape and stay on track, because they force you to go a little out of your comfort zone and break through plateaus.  Now is the time to hop into a class, whether it’s a form of exercise you haven’t practiced in awhile or trying a brand new fitness class that you’ve been wanting to explore.  I’ve challenged myself to take a few adult ballet classes, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
  2. Make a commitment: Sure, a drop in class is a safe way to try out an exercise to ensure you like it before you waste a lot of money on something you end up hating.  But truthfully, I think drop ins are the wrong approach, at least in the beginning.  Exercise is hard and in the beginning of any new exercise routine it’s often even more difficult, which is normal since you’re most likely using muscles you haven’t used in a while.  It takes time for the body to adjust and it will typically take a few classes before you begin to feel acclimated and can truly appreciate whatever exercise you’re doing.  I believe it’s better to commit to a package, even if it’s a smaller package like 3 or 5 classes.  This helps to ensure you give the new routine an honest effort and are able to make a better decision if it’s the right form of exercise for your body.  
  3. Treat yourself to some new gear: The last thing anyone feels like doing after the holidays is shopping, but sometimes you need something to really get you motivated to workout.  What better way than to treat yourself to some new fitness gear? Now’s the time to buy the sneakers, the headphones, the boxing gloves or whatever you need to get your booty to the gym.  Besides, how can you maintain your resolution if you don’t have the necessary tools? I finally ordered my first workout set from Outdoor Voices, which is great timing since they’re having an awesome promotion ($100 for a warm up kit, which is a $50 savings!).

    So now you have some tips to stay on track in the new year and there are no excuses to stop you from getting curious and get moving now!

Image via.

 

Festive Feels

Inspiration for the new week!

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The holidays are winding down but I’m still loving a festive outfit for winter.  I grabbed this metallic skirt for a recent outing to the ballet for The Nutcracker.  It’s the perfect thing to wear when you want to look cute but also need to stay warm.  It’s great for simple layers, like a basic tee and leather jacket, tights and a warm scarf, but the metallic adds a much needed spark.

The holidays might be over, but this outfit will be a sure thing for 2017!

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I’m wearing a JCrew skirt, a Madewell tee and scarf, a leather jacket from Nordstrom and Tory Burch boots.