Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Want it Wednesday - Jersey Wrap Dress

I am a tomboy and a nerd.  I associate better with crowds of boys than I do with girls.  From about puberty to my mid-20's, I never really wanted anything to do with anything super girlie--save makeup and nail polish.  Since I was pretty artistic, those things caught my eye, but I would try colors and patterns that no one else did.

Growing up that way, I kinda feel like I missed that day that everyone was taught how to be a grown-up lady.  I'm pretty sure my skincare routine is at least 3 steps too short, I'm still not 100% sure my foundation matches my neck, and I usually own only one pair of high heels at a time (and I always bring back up flip flops or my Doc Martin sandals--just in case).

This dress, though... it looks like if I put this dress on, I would suddenly look like a grown-up lady.  It looks comfortable enough, and reasonably flattering.  It looks like the kind of dress that's simple enough that if you put on a different necklace or wore your hair differently each time you wore it, people wouldn't notice that you were always wearing the same dress.  If this dress is as magical as I think, I'd be able to walk perfectly in heels, I would figure out how self-tanner can not look orange and actually make me look thinner (or whatever it's supposed to be good for), I would figure out how to properly blow dry my hair with one of those round brushes, and maybe even how to properly shave my legs without nearly needing a blood transfusion.  (I'm kidding, but only just.) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Want it Wednesday - Bamboo Dry Erase Board

It's nice to have somewhere to write notes, and while I'm still kinda into the whole chalkboard paint craze, some rooms need just a bit more.  I'm loving how this board seems like a super minimal piece of art when it's got nothing on it, and I would definitely play that up. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sleepy Sunday - Organic Sleep Balm

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people take a nice, long vacation from work, and when they get back, they complain about how terrible it is to be back at work or how hard it is to get used to working again.  Mostly because I am not going on those nice, long vacations.  I had two whole weeks off because of construction at work.  They were cutting off the electricity for a while, so we were "encouraged" to take our time then, or be forced to work from home ineffectively.  I did thoroughly enjoy my time off though, I met up with a friend from Taiwan, I went on a trip with my mom for a few days (and I will show you what adorable antiques I got!), played with my new puppy, and did a lot of gaming and Netflix--did you know they have "Family Ties" on there now!?  I used to think Mallory was the epitome of cool.  

After all that, Sunday night before work, I had the hardest time sleeping.  Went to sleep long after I wanted to, woke up in the middle of the night, etc.  Next night, still got to sleep late, but had terrible dreams instead.  I don't know about you, but to me, having terrible dreams is about as restful as not sleeping at all.  And this one was really bad...I was in a really bad mood, so I was being REALLY mean to people for no reason.  And even in my dream, I was like "Why did I just say that, that person has a great husband and I just said something totally rude and untrue about him!"  I'm a really nice person, so saying something really mean and watching people get sad because of it is really terrible for me.  

Later in the week, I'm still not caught up on my sleep, and I'd love to just have a magical potion to help me fall asleep fast, and stay in a restful sleep.  I think that is what this "mysterious" sleep balm is.  It "calms, cheers, encourages and relaxes" so that you can fall asleep.  It's sort of the magic button that turns your thoughts off so you can finally go to sleep.  And dream of awesome things, like drive-through malls, getting stuck in Anthropologie and accidentally having a sleepover there, camping out with friends and then sneaking into a hotel's swimming pool for late night cannonballs...

Organic Sleep Balm from Badger, .75 oz. for $5.50, 2 oz. for $10

Friday, September 9, 2011

Food Friday - Drinking Chocolate Elixirs

I know I've just said how much I favor caramel to chocolate.  There are certain times when chocolate just trumps caramel:  eating dipped fruit without getting too messy, caramel-chip muffins wouldn't work, and of course, hot chocolate.  There's nothing that caramel has in her arsenal that can compare to the comforting, familiar, soul-warming drink that is hot chocolate.  It's like a hug in a cup.  For me, it was whole milk and Hershey's syrup heated in the microwave just long enough to form a skin.  I don't have a lot of great childhood memories with my dad, but this I remember fondly.  Sometimes on Sunday mornings he and my mom would be watching some Sunday morning news program.  I would head out in my PJ's and mimic the opening credits where they showed the Statue of Liberty and my dad would jokingly try to get me to stop (I cannot remember at all why that drove him crazy... just putting my arm up and pretending to be Lady Liberty would drive him into a jokingly frustrated and annoyed fit).  Then sometimes during a commercial break, if I asked nicely, he would make me hot chocolate. It's always better when someone else makes it, isn't it?

Since then, my palate has changed and I prefer making hot cocoa from scratch over the stove, adding flavors like my beloved caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder, mint, toasted marshmallow syrup (thanks Devin!), vanilla, or almond.  I always use the Hershey's cocoa recipe on the side of the box, but I use Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa.  (Also, panic attack-- they changed the packaging since the last time I bought it and I couldn't remember the name offhand... I thought they stopped making it, but crisis averted!) Anyway, hot chocolate or hot cocoa is something you drink to feel nostalgic and comforted, no matter how you change how you make it over the years.

If you are REEEEEALLY old, or a historian, or a food historian, or just like interesting old-fashioned foods, I have found via cakespy a line of historically accurate drinking chocolate elixirs.  From Kakawa Chocolates, this line of elixirs dates back all the way to a thousand years ago and goes up to contemporary blends.  Each blend is historically accurate, therefore not as sweet as we're used to, and includes the traditional chilies, flowers, herbs, spices, and sweeteners of their time.  So it's kind of like you're reminiscing over the last thousand years.  My advice-- crack open an interesting history book and read about what was going on from the time from which your drink has come.

Kakawa Chocolates Contemporary Havana Rum Elixir, with chocolate, cane juice, rum, orange zest, and cinnamon; $16.95 for 3 wafers, which each make 6 oz.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Want it Wednesday - Natural Stone Platters

These gorgeous Kiva Platters from RabLabs are hand-polished by craftsmen in Brazil, edged with silver or gold, and even has little protective feet so it won't scratch your table. I'm not normally a "gold person," but I think there's a warmth and richness that really make these stand out.

Found via Lonny.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sleepy Sunday - Barnwood Hanging Bed

This Barnwood Hanging Bed from Anthropologie is so whimsical and fun!  It looks to me like some sort of cross between a hammock, a swing, and a bed, and there have been studies showing that you get to sleep more easily in a hammock.  Sharing the bed with an early-rising husband, I'm not sure if the rocking would keep me up or lull me into a deeper sleep.  I've gotten used to a waterbed, so I think it would be a similar movement.  I'd love to try it out for a night, maybe at a hotel or friend's house, or better yet, just leave me in an Anthro store all night!  It could make an awesome slumber party.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Food Friday - Salted Caramel Spread

Hi, my name is Aimee, and I'm a caramel-holic.  I was in denial for years, thinking how could my favorite flavor not be chocolate? I mean, who could turn down a chocolate cupcake, chocolate ice cream, or even just a good piece of chocolate-- even if there were other options.  

As my tastes matured, I realized I didn't want such heavy desserts, and as I strived to find the best chocolates to eat or use, I noticed how much better everything was with caramel.  For a little while, everything was chocolate and caramel.  Starbucks had (ages ago) a caramel mocha, and for a while that was my drink of choice, but I kept tweaking it...something wasn't quite right.  I added a shot or two, fiddled with the number of syrup pumps, eventually my order got so complicated that only my husband could remember it.  (Venti Iced Mocha with 3 pumps mocha, 2 of caramel, and an add shot--yikes!)  

In an attempt to simplify, I pared down my drink order to feature only one at a time and when it was just caramel, I realized I didn't miss the chocolate at all.  So now, with a simplified drink order (Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato), I leap ahead with faith that everything is indeed better with caramel and you don't need to pair it to be satisfied.

After calling myself a "Chocolate Person" for so long, I really like what being a "Caramel Person" says about my personality:  I'm complex, I play well with others, if you're patient I get better and better, and depending on my mood I can have quite a bite.

When I think of perfect caramel, I think of something buttery, smooth, slightly salty, and with a texture that's not too runny but not too thick.  After seeing this recipe by photographer and pastry chef Kathrin Koschitzki for "Confiture caramel au beurre salé" on Design Sponge, I knew it would be pure caramel perfection.  I hope it will make caramel converts out of a few of you as well.