Friday, December 31, 2010

Ahead of the Game

In the dreary winter, it can be hard to stay cheerful. After all, it's so cold and windy outside, the nights are long but the days are short, and shoveling the sidewalk is no fun. Why not give yourself a little pick-me-up in the form of a bright headband?


The great advantage is that every time you look in the mirror, you'll see this cheerful color, and it can help brighten your day. And since it's a simple accessory, there's no need to worry over how you wear it--just put it on and you're done!


Image via Barney's New York.

-Cate-

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Black Ice

If you're looking to spend all the Christmas money everyone ever gave you, you've come to the right place. My outrageous jewelry pick is this David Yurman Graphite Ice Crossover Cuff:


Made of black diamonds, sterling silver, and rhodium, this is quite an impressive item. I love the visual interest created by the cable effect, and the black diamonds are an unusual touch. Plus, I'm just a huge fan of sterling silver, so this is totally for me. Perhaps you'll find it to your liking?


Image via David Yurman.

-Cate-

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Surprise Party

My best guy friend is American, but he spent part of his childhood in Switzerland, and he REALLY loves Kinder Eggs, also known as Kinder Surprise. They are a European candy, and they are just this side of glorious.

The basic concept is this: the "eggs" are made of a thin layer of milk chocolate on top of a layer of white chocolate, and they are completely hollow inside. When you crack them open, you find a little yellow plastic capsule (the "yolk"), which contains a small toy--the "surprise" mentioned in the name.

It's absolutely genius.


The bad news is that they're not really sold in the States (apparently they pose a choking hazard). So they're hard to come by if you're just strolling down Main Street in your favorite town. The good news is that they're totally legit in Canada and you can have them shipped to the United States via a company called Canada Only.

They come in cases of 24, for the most part, and there are multiple options for shipping. The one thing I recommend is ordering them at least a month in advance of when you need them; not only is the process slow on the company's end, but they also have to clear Customs, which can add some time to the process. However, I promise that the end result is worth it. Try some Kinder Eggs today!


Visit the Ferrero website for more information about Kinder Surprise.

Image via Canada Only.

-Cate-

Boxed In

If you've been longing for a box clutch but can't afford the more expensive ones--like a Bottega Venetta Knot clutch, for example--but are willing to spend a little bit of money, there's a great alternative for you: the Diane von Furstenburg Lytton Metallic Minaudiere:


I absolutely adore the little driftwood clasp; it's both unusual and striking. The color is called anthracite; it's sort of a bronzy gray, and I think it would look great next to dark red, forest green, navy blue, and royal purple fabrics. Perhaps you can snag one of these for your New Year's party?


Image via Neiman Marcus.

-Cate-

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time for a Little Fun

When two of my favorite things come together, it's pretty magical. When three come together, it's beyond outstanding. Today, those three things are kate spade, zebra stripes, and sales, which come together in the kate spade Greece heel.

These shoes are totally over-the-top, of course, but that's what makes them so great! They would be perfect for an outrageous New Year's Eve party, a cruise to the Mediterranean (hence the name of the shoes: Greece), or a beach wedding. Pair them with gold jewelry, a black dress, and a white scarf, and you're in business.


Image via kate spade.

-Cate-

Monday, December 27, 2010

Talk Is Cheap

For the girl who just has to plan the most fabulous New Year's Eve party, there are many phone calls to be made. First you have to contact the caterer, the decorator, and the entertainment, and then you'll need to call all of your friends to invite them over. Why not give them a ring with a fun and sassy telephone that's every bit as exciting as the idea of cocktails at midnight?


This is the Licious Lips Phone from Patricia Field (who, you may remember, seems to have a penchant for rhinestones). And it. Is. Fantastic. It's part teenage dream, part bad girl, but the end result is simply fun.


Image via Patricia Field.

-Cate-

PS I have two sale updates to share with you!

- Awhile back, I mentioned in passing the Valentino Sculpture Lace Pump. It's on sale now at Neiman Marcus for $3,149.00, but in limited sizes.

- In May, I wrote about the Cole Haan Air Eve Platform Pump, which is on sale at Neiman Marcus for $219.00, only in beige but in a good range of sizes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Forty Winks

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! If you're exhausted from all the cooking and merriment, you'll probably be needing a nap or two today. Might I suggest accessorizing yourself for sleep with the Henri Bendel Cashmere Eyemask?


Not only will the soft cashmere allow you to sleep in comfort, but the graphic print will let you sleep in style, as well! Go on--you've earned some time off. Just don't pull a Rip van Winkle and sleep through New Year's Eve!


Image via Henri Bendel.

-Cate-

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

May your day be rife with gingerbread and marzipan, or whatever treats you most enjoy at Christmas.

Happy holidays!

-Cate-

Merry Christmas

Rather than share a person I covet with you, I'm checking in just long enough to say, simply, may your day be full of love.

Happy holidays!

-Cate-

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Star

On this Christmas Eve, as you wrap those last-minute gifts, I encourage you to take a moment and consider what Christmas is really about: the coming together of people in peace the way they did over two thousand years ago, with nothing more to guide them than just a baby and a star.



Image via Revolve Clothing.

-Cate-

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Little Sheepish

Shearling is one of those materials that can be used for good or evil. Today, I bring you one of the acceptable applications, designed by the sheep experts themselves, UGG:


I love the straightforward approach: not too little, not too much, no bells or whistles. The lines are clean and the effect is a classic look for winter. How do you wear shearling?


Image via Dillard's.

-Cate-

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chili Today

I'm visiting my family for the holidays, which means that my kitchen time is limited--usually Dad makes dinner, while Mom does the majority of the holiday cooking. I'm left to my own devices for breakfast, but since I eat the same thing every morning, there's not much experimentation afoot, and lunch is covered by leftovers. Yet culinary adventures abound here, often in the unlikeliest places. 

For example, today I went to visit my parents at work. Mom sent me home with a tub of cookie dough, but Dad's office was a little more intense: they had a chili tasting for lunch. Although I showed up with a reasonably satisfied stomach, I was still thrown into the fray and ended up sampling four chilis. 

There was a white chili made with chicken, which retained the chili taste but was creamier; personally, I'm partial to chicken, anyway, so I liked it. There was also a spicier beef chili, which had a nice texture. One guy made a venison (that's deer meat, for those of you who remain uninitiated) chili, very akin to the kind I grew up on; it was somehow sweet--to good effect--and very consistent. Then there was Dad's.

I grew up on his chili, and in fact, for a very long time, it was the only chili I would eat. I still love it very much, whether it's made with beef or venison. This time around, I was a little nervous about eating the chili, though. All the ingredients I'd come to love were there, plus one: bear meat. 

Say what?

Don't worry; the bear used wasn't anything like this guy. But he was surprisingly delicious; in fact, I couldn't tell the difference. The only thing I had to do was tell myself, before chowing down, that it was all in the name of research. Turns out it was totally worth it.

What do you put in your chili?

Image via here.

-Cate-

"Buddy the Elf. What's Your Favorite Color?"

If you're looking to be extra-festive on Christmas day, perhaps you should go the literal route and get yourself a pair of classic elf shoes. You know, the kind with the curly toe and little pom-pons?


If you're looking for a more subtle approach, first let me say that I can't really blame you. Secondly, may I suggest these lovely Marni Mary-Janes?


The bad news is that they don't come in half-sizes. The good news is that they're a lovely shade, great for parties and work alike. Check them out today!

Buy the elf shoes through Meijer for $36.99.

Buy the Marni shoes through Yoox for $102.00.

Images via Meijer and Yoox.

-Cate-

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cozy and Warm

Just in case you haven't noticed, it's December. In Australia, it is now summer (those lucky kids). For those of us living in the States, however, things are getting pretty chilly. For example, right now, I'm in a place where it's 22 degrees outside--but feels like 14. What luck.

The colder it gets, the more I want to crawl into bed with a good book. (As it happens, I'm blogging in bed right now.) And here we have the perfect throw for relaxing:


It's an acrylic/wool blend, great for keeping your body from freezing up on cold winter evenings. My favorite color is the one in the middle, called Platinum--a lovely silver gray that goes with my chosen winter palette of jewel tones. 
 
I recommend pairing this throw with a TRN and enjoying the afternoon. What do you think?

Buy through West Elm for $59.00.

Image via West Elm.

-Cate-

Monday, December 20, 2010

"So Happy Together"

With Christmas less than a week away, I'm reminded that this is the time for coming together. What better way to put that on display than this t-shirt?


Like a girlfriend running into the arms of her boyfriend who's been away on business too long, this donut hole t-shirt is full of the joy of reunion. Let us all be so happy to see our loved ones this holiday season.


Image via Snorg Tees.

-Cate-

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chain Link

If you're into the chain mail look, such as this shirt from Bayeux, you might check out Stephen Dweck's Hand-Woven Bib Necklace. Part Cleopatra, part Middle Ages, it's intricate but not too ridiculous.


If it seems like overkill, take a moment to think about how it would look with a long-sleeved LBD, a simple clutch, and gray booties. I guarantee you'll get the picture in all its unusual glory.


Image via Stephen Dweck.

-Cate-

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Easy Pasta Casserole

My mom belongs to one of those book clubs, except hers is especially for arts, crafts, and homey kinds of things. A couple of years ago, she received some cookbooks and gave them to me. There were four total, all from Better Homes and Gardens. I'm terribly fond of them, as they have some really classic ideas. One in particular has great things in between the covers: Timeless Recipes (previously published as Easy Everyday Cooking). One of the easier--and tastier--things? Ham, Spinach, and Mostaccioli Casserole.

It's really lovely, and filling on a cold night. The recipe appears on page 74 and reads thus:

8 ounces packaged dried mostaccioli, cut ziti, or elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 medium onions, cut into thin wedges, or 5 medium leeks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon thyme, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cups half-and-half, light cream, or milk
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta; rinse with cold water. Drain again.

In a large saucepan melt margarine or butter. Add onions or leeks and garlic. Cover and cook about 5 minutes or until onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour, thyme, and pepper. Add half-and-half, light cream, or milk and the chicken broth all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in pasta, ham, and spinach. Spoon mixture into a 3-quart casserole.

Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir gently before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Well, something went awry when I was shopping and I ended up with chicken instead, which worked out pretty well (I used Hormel pre-cooked carved chicken, available in the lunch meat section). Also, I chose to use the ziti, regular unsalted butter, onions, and milk. The end result looks like this, although yours may be prettier.


As you can see, it's chock full of onions, so you may want to nix one of the three if you're not big on onions. But I think they really added something--substance, taste, and texture. It could have used a little more salt, as well; however, I think that making it with ham would have solved that problem.

I recommend following the recipe closely; I had to cut down on the time for the milk mixture, so it didn't thicken very much, and on the baking process, which again sacrificed thickness. But it was still pretty delicious!


-Cate-

Winter Green

Winter is the perfect time for jewel tones--they stand out so nicely against a snowy backdrop. And while I'm not terribly fond of crossbody bags, I do think that this satchel from ASOS is wonderful--the perfect size, shape, and color for a shopping excursion for last-minute gifts this holiday season.


Just imagine it: cruising around town with your shiny new bag, turning the heads of everyone you see with a great splash of color. Happy shopping!


Image via Asos.

-Cate-

Friday, December 17, 2010

Grinchy All the Way

Last year, my brother called me up about a month before Christmas and asked me, "If you were a pair of slippers, what color would you be?"

Well, how can you possibly answer a question like that? I managed some answer along the lines of green. About a month later, on Christmas Eve, all those words came back to me when I opened a package containing green slippers, like so:


And they are wonderful. They're lined with acrylic fleece, which, while not the real thing, is still very comfortable and keeps your toes warm on cold nights. The green color is very Grinchy, but hey--it goes along with the holidays, yeah? They're also available in an array of other colors. I highly recommend them, especially since they don't cost too much and last quite awhile (mine still look great).

Buy through Cabela's for $29.99.

Image via Cabela's.

-Cate-

PS Look what I found on sale! Not quite the same as these, but much more fabulous.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh, Deer

Quite frankly, I don't even know what the f this next item is, but I love it:


Actually, that's not true. I do know what it is: a nesting measuring cup set. And although I already have a perfectly wonderful set of measuring cups, I think this might be on my list of future kitchen additions, but only in the event that I have a really spectacular kitchen in which to use it. It's wacky, yet totally practical! Maybe someday. In the meantime, maybe you'll find it to be useful in your house?


Image via Anthropologie.

-Cate-

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Not My Gumdrop Buttons!"

There's nothing more Christmas-tasting than gingerbread. And I'm a big fan of it even without the holidays, but as Christmas approaches (a little too rapidly, if you ask me--I'm not done shopping!), I figure now is the time to share some gingerbread love with y'all.

There's a recipe for gingerbread cupcakes in Throwdown!, but to be honest, I wasn't feeling up to tackling it when I was craving gingerbread. So instead, I ran out to the store and picked up some prepackaged mix from Hodgson Mill.


I had some reservations about it, since it's whole wheat-based; because I know that certain whole wheat products taste different than their more processed counterparts, I wondered if this particular mix would seem a bit off. My fears were allayed, however; although the texture was on the grainy side, the flavor was perfect.

But you can't eat gingerbread on its own, of course. You have to give it a lemon glaze! This is a really easy thing, too. All it takes is two-thirds of a cup of powdered sugar and three tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or from the bottle, as long as it's not from concentrate). 


Pour it over the gingerbread while it's still hot and let it sit until the gingerbread is room temperature. It'll look something like this:


It's a simple, fast, and delicious treat that'll bring a smile to your face every time. Enjoy!

-Cate-

Zipping By

Everyone needs a good wallet. Personally, I prefer large zip-around models, such as this great example from Linea Pelle:



Although I've never seen a Linea Pelle wallet up close, I do own a piece from them, and I have to say that I've rarely come across softer, more touchable leather from any company. And their bags and accessories are lined with a great zebra print, which I really love. And since this wallet comes with a wrist strap, you can use it like a snazzy little bag for a night on the town. Check it out today!

Buy through eBags for $99.99.

Image via eBags.

-Cate-

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bitten

I may have mentioned before that I have sensitive ears and can't always buy the earrings I want. But there's nothing wrong with sharing them here. I like to think of it as sublimation, blog style. Today, it's the Cobra Earrings from Patina:


I love that they're so serpentine--really, how perfect is that? And the cobras are hypnotic, in a way, kind of like Kaa in the Disney version of The Jungle Book. Now, if only a Parselmouth would come along and enchant them.

Buy through Patina for $24.00.

Image via Patina.

-Cate-

Monday, December 13, 2010

If You Love It So Much, Why Don't You Marry It?"

Do you remember Pee-Wee Herman? I do, and most of my memories of him are fantastic. For example, there's that great bike of his. (Even the ones where Paul Reubens isn't Pee-Wee Herman but instead is, say, a drug-dealing hairdresser.) So why not buy yourself an environmentally-friendly canvas bag enblazoned with Herman's visage?


Take him with you to the store or the beach, or even the airport. He's versatile and travels well!

Buy through Etsy for $16.99.

Image via Etsy.

-Cate-

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fashion on the Line

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of suede. It's difficult to care for, and although it works best in fall and winter, that's also the time when it's most likely to get ruined by water and salt on icy, snowy roads and sidewalks. However, if you're lucky enough to live in a relatively dry place, you might check out these top-stitched suede pumps from Coldwater Creek:


These are just so lovely. The menswear-inspired styling brings a polished touch to a work outfit or an unusual detail to a night-out ensemble. They're finished with a stacked heel, adding another great dimension to their wearability. Where would you take these shoes?


Image via Coldwater Creek.

-Cate-

PS That Juicy Couture laptop case I shared with you awhile back is also available in black and white via Neiman Marcus!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

WWBFD?: Terri Wahl's Red Velvet Cupcakes

For the first installment of WWBFD?, I wanted to cover one of the recipes from Throwdown! that's not Bobby Flay's. It's my way of easing myself into the project, and I have to tell you, I think I may have chosen the most delicious starting point: Terri Wahl's Red Velvet Cupcakes.

This recipe is pretty intense--when all is said and done, there's enough batter for 12 jumbo cupcakes (or 24 regular cupcakes, or 48 miniature cupcakes, or two 9x13 cakes). It calls for the equivalent of an entire one-ounce bottle of red food coloring. There's a whole pound of powdered sugar in the frosting. The end result is worth all the work.

At first, the batter looks more like ketchup than cupcakes. Since this was my first experience with Red Velvet (seriously, I'd never had it before), I was somewhat alarmed, but a taste test proved satisfactory.


The whole experiment ended well, and the cupcakes were topped with cream cheese frosting, like so:


The recipes for both the batter and the frosting are on page 87 in the Throwdown! Should you choose to tackle these cupcakes as a project, I guarantee you'll love the results.

-Cate-

The Well-Made Workspace

I recently bought myself a new desk. Since my budget was limited, so were my options, but I found many fine specimens while I was looking. Among them was this one, the Homework Desk, designed by Niels Bendtsen:


The way the wood, glass, and metal play off of each other is lovely, and the floating effect of the drawers is especially intriguing. It's modern, yet retro, and absolutely perfect.


Image via Design Within Reach.

-Cate-

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day-Glo to Light Your Way

If you have to wear glasses, you know how frustrating it can be to lose your glasses case in the bottom of your backpack or handbag. For a bright, easy-to-locate alternative to the case that comes with your specs, why not turn to Kitson LA, home of the fun, totally meta neoprene eyeglass case?


Personally, I think they're simply spectacular (get it?) and would make a great addition to anyone's accessory wardrobe!


Image via Kitson LA.

-Cate-

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Perfect Punky Accent

If your style skews morbid but you still want to be irreverent, Nordstrom has just the item for you: the Juicy Couture Skull Pendant Necklace. It's made of white enamel with CZ accents, including an eye patch! It's a simple, fantastic way to bring a little sparkle and fun to your day. (Keep in mind that I'm saying that even as someone who is NOT a fan of Juicy Couture's products, with the exception of this item.) Check it out!


-Cate-

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Faking It?

I have a confession: I like Rachel Ray.

So many people don't. They think she's too cheery, too fakey, too cutesy. But I disagree. Her energy is infectious--seeing only a few moments of her 30 Minute Meals almost invariably hooks me and brings a smile to my face. This is especially true when Ray offers up an easy, time-saving alternative to a recipe I already love.

For example, she has a recipe for Calzone Rolls with Salami, Tomato, and Basil. Now, I love calzones, but putting them together can be daunting, especially when you're me and your kitchen is only thisbig. So Ray's proposed alternative of Kaiser rolls cut in half (with some of the bread scooped out for easier stuffing) totally appeals to me.


Except I wasn't feeling the Caprese salami filling. I really wanted a spinach calzone. But guess what? The next recipe on Ray's section of the Food Network website was for real calzones with spinach-artichoke filling. One flash of genius later, I decided to combine the recipes, using the filling from one and the crust from another.


The filling goes as follows (with my changes):

- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (about one and a half smaller--16-ish-ounce--tubs, or part of a larger tub)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or slightly less ground
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or as much as you like)
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and dried (in the event that you're popping into the grocery store just before dinnertime, pick up a package of fresh spinach, boil it, drain it, and shred it with a fork)
- 1 (15-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or garlic powder to taste, in a pinch)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Large, crusty Kaiser rolls (one time, I couldn't find Kaiser rolls at the store--no joke--and substituted large onion buns, which worked out all right)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Mix up everything but the mozzarella and the rolls in a bowl. Set aside. Cut the rolls, making sure the top portion is smaller than the bottom, and scoop out some of the bread from the bottom portion. Fill the rolls with some of the filling, then add mozzarella cheese to taste and replace the tops.

Spread the rolls evenly across a baking sheet. Heat 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.

The result will look something like this:


And it will be delicious. The best part is that you should have some filling left over, so you can make another couple of rolls for lunch the next day, or use it as dip to go with crackers.

See the original recipes here and here.

-Cate-

A-Shopping We Will Go

Reusable bags are all the rage right now, and with good reason, namely that they keep people from using too many plastic shopping bags, which helps out our lovely planet a little bit. The problem with said bags is that they're sometimes kind of--well, unattractive. But have no fear! The reusable totes over at Layla Grace are pretty enough to carry in public.

My personal favorite is the Petunia Pickle Bottom shopper tote in the Siesta in Sevilla print:


I just love the colors in the print. They're sure to brighten up any quick trip to the corner store! Plus, at such a low price, you can afford to buy one for everyone you know, perhaps as stocking stuffers. Happy shopping!


Image via Layla Grace.

-Cate-

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UGG-ly, yet Fantastic

All right, I know what I'm about to say might be kind of frowned upon by some, but I don't care: I love UGGs.

They're hideous, of course, but it's really worth getting past that, because they are ridiculously comfortable. And here's a little-known fact: UGG sheepskin boots are thermostatic, which means that they will maintain your body temperature, whether it's a warm day or a cold one. Personally, I own a pair of the Classic Short boots, shown here:


Be advised that if you live in an icy or snowy area, you're better off buying the Ultra models, which have soles specifically designed for such conditions; the Classic boots aren't meant for extreme conditions or long walks. They are, however, perfect for running to the store on a windy night or going to class on those days when you'd rather not get out of bed. Plus, if you take care of them--cleaning them every once in awhile and replacing the insoles when they get thin--your UGGs will last quite awhile. I bought mine about a year and three months ago, and they still look almost brand-new.

Buy through Belk for $140.00.

Image via Belk.

-Cate-

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Cutest Couple on the Block

You all know how I love me some salt and pepper shakers. And here's another set to add to my ever-growing mental collection: the Mr. and Mrs. Shakers from Anthropologie!


I dare you to tell me those aren't adorable! Whether you buy them for yourself or as a present (either for newlyweds or lovebirds celebrating their anniversary), they are sure to elicit a smile and a sigh of happiness. Or maybe that's just how it goes in my head because I think salt and pepper shakers are the shit.


Image via Anthropologie.

-Cate-

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lace for a Fashion Ace

Too few people wear hats nowadays, if you ask me. I propose that, as the first step toward reintroducing hats into the wild, we all start off by buying ourselves a nice cloche, such as the Chantilly Lace model, available through Victorian Trading Company:


This lovely style will compliment any classy lady's winter wardrobe, allowing you to travel and shop in a most sophisticated way. Plus, the retro vibe is fantastic! Part Chicago, part Bright Young Things, it's sure to help you turn a few heads this season.


Image via Victorian Trading Company.

-Cate-

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Eating Out: Cook-Out

During my junior year of college, a friend introduced me to the most glorious fast food chain in the history of the entire universe: Cook-Out. They serve the best comfort food of all--the kind you might get at a block party, like pulled pork sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches, French fries, hush puppies, onion rings, corn dogs, and milkshakes, among other things.

Unfortunately for you, Cook-Out only has locations in North Carolina (plus two recently-opened outposts in South Carolina), which means that if you're not in the South, you're not within striking distance of these TOTALLY DELICIOUS FOODSTUFFS. And if that's the case, I feel very sorry for you. But don't worry--next time I stop for a chicken sandwich, I'll enjoy it a little bit more on your behalf.

Visit an unofficial Cook-Out website. (There is no corporate website, but this one lists locations and menu information.)

-Cate-

Shining Travels

If you're traveling this holiday season and need a way to keep your jewelry safe and organized, it may be time to invest in a good travel-friendly jewelry box. My pick is the Vera Bradley jewelry box, which  is zippered and features an open compartment, a stretch pocket, a ring holder, and a small space with a door.

Available in 16 patterns, this case is easy to maintain (the fabric can be spot-cleaned) and will help you transport your treasures safely.

-Cate-

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wintertime Shopping

Not everyone can drop hundreds of dollars on handbags, but living on a budget shouldn't preclude the possibility of looking stylish, which is why I like the Liz Claiborne Perfect Fit Shopper, available through JC Penney.

It's croco-embossed synthetic patent leather, available in a great winter blue. There's an attached pouch to help you keep your things organized, plus long handles and outside pockets for higher functionality. Check it out if you're looking for an early Christmas present to yourself!


-Cate-

PS In the few days since I shared D&G's Tarot-inspired fragrances with you, they've released a seventh scent! It's number 11 (La Force, Strength or Fortitude). Check it out here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crystallized Footsteps

I'm not the kind of girl who gets invited to winter balls, probably because I live in the middle of nowhere and am not acquainted with anyone who might be throwing such a shindig, but in the unlikely event that a hand-engraved note requesting the pleasure of my company at a dance arrives in the next few days, I would definitely blow my paycheck on the Bam satin pumps from Tabitha Simmons, seen here:


I mean, come on--they have a wedge heel, which is better for long-term wear (like, for example, when you're at a party), and they have those smashing little crystals all on the heel! How great would they be under a spectacular gray gown, maybe with a few subdued crystal embellishments to match?


Image via Net-a-Porter.

-Cate-

PS It's sale time again! Saks has so many things on sale right now it's not even funny, including several items I've mentioned in the past, such as

- These Stuart Weitzman booties, but in black leather, on sale for $366.99. (Nordstrom also has the gray suede style on sale for $261.90 and the black ones on sale for the same.)

- The kate spade Book of the Month clutch, in purple (The Importance of Being Earnest) only, on sale for $227.50.

- A Michael Kors clutch, first mentioned in this post, may or may not still be available, per the website, but Saks has a customer service number available for inquiries.

- This See by Chloe bag, but only in blue, on sale for $66.50.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Enjoy Chicken Twice a Week

I've recently discovered something about myself: I really enjoy looking through vintage cookbooks from the '70s and '80s. Everything about them thrills me--the quality of the photography, the colors, the plates and decorations used in the illustrations, and so on. Over the summer, my aunt was doing some housecleaning and gave me a bunch of cookbooks, some of which are exactly the kind I adore. For example, there's this gem:


Although it's not illustrated, the cover is enough to make me smile. And many of the recipes are classics, such as chicken salad, chicken cordon bleu, chicken corn chowder, apricot glazed chicken (or Russian chicken), paella, and my personal favorite, chicken paprikas (which I hope to successfully make someday). There's a recipe for everyone--vegetable lovers, pasta fanatics, and barbecue kings.

As of last night, I was able to find only one copy for sale online. Buy through eBay for $4.98.

-Cate-

Coming Up Flowers

Although I have no scientific proof of it, hardwood floors seem to be growing in popularity. (I watch a lot of HGTV, all right? And you learn a few things from House Hunters.) But, of course, sometimes it's neither practical nor pretty to leave the floor bare, and you have to find a nice rug to complete the look of a room. Why not do that with a statement piece, something cheerful like the Emma Gardner Cosmos Rug:


Just imagine it in a bright, open living room, one with high ceilings and sleek furniture. Pair it with pink curtains and black pillows on the sofa, and you have yourself a seating area with personality.

Buy through Unica Home. Prices starting at $3,500.00.

Image via Unica Home.

-Cate-

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Androgyny in the Air

Last year, D&G launched a line of five fragrances based on cards of the tarot. Included are numbers 1 (Le Bateleur, the Magician), 3 (L'Imperatrice, the Empress), 6 (L'Amoreux, the Lovers), 10 (La Roue de la Fortune, the Wheel of Fortune), and 18 (La Lune, the Moon). Each has a distinct scent, and they have all been formulated as unisex scents, flattering and appealing to both men and women.

Number 10, the Wheel of Fortune.

Although the bottles only come in one size (a 3.3-ounce EDT), I'd say that it's money well spent, as you can return to these scents again and again. While I find that they're best for daytime, you may find a nighttime use for them, as well. Plus, with six to choose from, you're sure to find the scent that's right for you. And besides--the clean design of the bottle will look absolutely chic in your boudoir!


Image via Sephora.

-Cate-

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seemly Wreckage

Alexis Bittar is a pretty fabulous jewelry designer. His pieces are always interesting, at the very least, and at their best, they are transcendent. Take, for example, the Modern Georgian Gold Small Interlaced Cit Hydroqz Earrings:


They're from a line called Miss Havisham, named after the crazy wreck of a woman at the center of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and riffing off of Georgian jewelry. The best part about these earrings isn't even the beauty so much as it's the name of the cut of the pale blue stones: the Drunken Marquis. Awesome, no? At any rate, I think they're lovely and just the thing for a holiday party, or any special occasion.

Buy through Alexis Bittar for $195.00.

Image via Alexis Bittar.
 
-Cate-

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To the Mall!

While you're out shopping this holiday season, you might find it a bit easier to carry a small bag, maybe for safety reasons or perhaps because you know you're going to be buying loads of things and don't want to be weighed down by a full-sized handbag. But of course you'll want to look cute doing it. So, ladies, I propose you find yourself a nice wristlet, such as the Simply Vera Vera Wang Asymmetrical Pleated Wristlet:


It opens fully across the top and has enough room for your ID, credit card, some cash, and even a tube of lip gloss--in other words, everything you'll need for an excursion to the mall. Plus, bonus? It can double as a party wristlet, since the icy blue is the perfect color for winter!

Buy through Kohl's for $19.99.

Image via Kohl's.

-Cate-

Saturday, November 27, 2010

WWBFD?: An Introduction

You all know I love Bobby Flay, right? Well, if you didn't, now you do. So I met him two weeks ago. He was signing books at a Barnes and Noble and I went with my best friend. Turns out he's even lovelier in person than he is on television. And he signed a book for me!
 
Holy crap Bobby Fucking Flay signed my cookbook omg.

It's the Throwdown cookbook, which is cool because it includes Flay's recipes as well as his opponents' recipes. And I've decided to take this cookbook on as a sort of project. Once every six weeks or so, I'll tackle one item and share the results with you. I won't fix every recipe; that's just not practical for my life. But the more accessible ones will definitely find their way here. Look for the first post in mid-December!

In the meantime, please ask yourself: what would Bobby Flay do? (He'd challenge us all to a throwdown, that's what he would do. But in the absence of Bobby Flay, his cookbook--and my use of it--will have to suffice!)

-Cate-

PS Thanks to Kristi, who asked me in a completely different context what Bobby Flay would do.

Lacy Style

As winter approaches and you try to plan your holiday outfits, you might find it's hard to make a decision. Do you want to be sparkly? Sophisticated? Festive? Personally, my style falls on the streamlined end of the spectrum, but I also appreciate great details, which is why I love the House of Harlow 1960 Lillian Lace Overlay Pump:


The black-on-black means that the lace is subtle, but still very ladylike and lovely. And since black is a neutral color, you can pair this shoe with almost any color dress, be it white, silver, red, green, blue, purple, etc. Try adding some pearls to your outfit for a classic touch, or a spiky necklace for an edgier look!

Buy through ShopBop for $198.00.

Image via ShopBop.

-Cate-

Friday, November 26, 2010

"What Elegant Prayer Can I Pray Now?"

I know I recently said I wouldn't make discussions of books a regular part of What We Covet anymore, and I totally meant it. Except within a few days of making that decision, I found out that a poet friend of mine by the name of Nancy Henry recently released a new collection of work called Sarx. When she put out a request asking if anyone might be able to review it for her, the only possible answer was yes.

At 124 pages, this is a sizable collection. Not a single one of those pages is wasted. Nancy's personality comes through in each poem. A few poems call to mind Wallace Stevens, a few Carl Sandburg, but mostly what I hear is Nancy's voice. Lines like, "There's plenty of room on this Olympus-- / okay, so it's a hill, / maybe more of a gentle rise, / but it's what we've got" and "It's like Fantasia on acid / in Surround-sound" bring her slanted world-view into focus through humor. I mean, come on--you have to at least respect a woman who's willing to name a poem "Amazing Rocket Boobs to Mars." And "Talking Dirty" is worth the read just for the line about logophilia. (Trust me.)

But she also has her quieter moments, such as when she writes, "I am waiting / for you to make me a blossom / that will open / into something bright with nectar / from this hard stunted bud." One of my favorite poems in the book, "Hymn," is a prime example of how you don't have to set off all sorts of bells and whistles to convey something poetically. What's more is that if ever anyone truly channeled Walt Whitman in a poem, Nancy is that person and "Hymn" is that poem.

Henry also has a message to share. While it's present in every piece, to an extent, it's stated fully in "Photograph": "and whatever scares you // do it harder." Hearing Nancy say it makes me want to do it. I think you'll feel the same when you read her work.

Buy through Moon Pie Press for $11.00.

-Cate-

Thursday, November 25, 2010

People We Covet: My Family

Today we give thanks, and the act of giving thanks is a deeply personal thing. Maybe you're thankful for your your house, or your convertible, or your XBox. That's totally fine. Me, I just happen to be thankful for my family this year.

I don't mean to imply that I'm not thankful for them every year. What I mean is that it's been a rough couple of months for all of us, and I'm really glad that 1) things haven't gone worse than they have and 2) we've stuck together through it. Not that I would expect any less; we may all be just this side of insane, but we're all pretty legit. And I can't think of a better crew to covet.

-Cate-

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving, Part 2: Cranberry Orange Chutney

To be honest with you, I'm the kind of girl who really loves jellied cranberry sauce in a can. Quite frankly, I think it's a spectacular thing, and Thanksgiving just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving without it, at least for me. Some of you may enjoy cranberry sauce but not appreciate the canned stuff quite like I do. And for you, I have a great recipe that will satisfy your need for tart, sweet salvation: cranberry orange chutney.


The recipe comes from the Fresh Market, one of my all-time favorite stores. And, like Saturday's green beans amandine recipe, I used this one at last year's Thanksgiving dinner. Also, like the green beans, this recipe is very simple. Even I couldn't find a way to screw it up, which means I automatically give it an A-plus. Wait for it:

- 1 bag (about 8 ounces) whole cranberries, as fresh as possible; these are super-easy to come by in November and December, thanks to the holidays
- 1 orange, juiced and zested
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick

Put everything into a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Let the mixture simmer until you have something that approximates a sauce (the berries will burst). This took about 25 or 30 minutes for me, but then again, everything I make on my stovetop takes just a little bit longer, maybe because it's so old. Let the sauce cool in the fridge, and take the cinnamon stick out before serving. 

What I like about this recipe is that it's a great last-minute addition to your meal, and the color is so beautiful that you can't help admiring it. Plus, it's delicious! Try it this Thanksgiving; you won't regret it!

For the official recipe, click here.

Image by the USDA via Wikipedia.

-Cate-

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 12: A Gift to the World

I very firmly believe in giving back, and I feel it's necessary to put our best foot forward at all times, especially in the cold winter months when life can be especially hard on the needy, and donate whatever we can, be it time or money. With that in mind, I encourage you to find a local or national charity whose mission you can support. 

One of my personal favorites is Heifer International, an organization that works to eradicate hunger and poverty through practical education and a pay-it-forward system. They operate all over the world, including in the United States, providing families with animals that can help bring nutrition and income to the community. 


Maybe the greatest thing about Heifer is that they give you all sorts of opportunities for giving. If you have only $10, that's all right; it will cover a share of a sheep. If you have $850, that's cool, too; it will buy a camel. If you have something in between those two numbers, you can buy a pig, a flock of ducks, some honeybees, or even trees, among other things. 

Personally, I hope to someday have enough money to purchase a gift ark, $5,000 worth of livestock that can help dramatically alter the lives of people in all corners of the globe. But I hope that you'll consider sending at least a little bit of money somewhere--if not to Heifer, then to your own favorite cause, be it a soup kitchen, your local fire department, an aid group such as the Salvation Army, or someplace else entirely. (If you're looking for more ideas, consider taking a look at the White Envelope Project, a non-profit that can help you connect with a charity that suits you.)

Check out heifer.org, Heifer International's official website.

Image via Heifer International.

-Cate-

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 11: The Resident Nerd

Plenty of my pals are pretty nerdy. (We used to sit around watching the History Channel on Friday nights. Nothing is nerdier than that.) Surely you're also close with someone who skews toward the history, comic book, sci-fi, or fantasy areas of the spectrum. And here's a gift that's sure to please even the most discriminating nerd out there: a miniature ornament set from Hallmark featuring Boba Fett and Han Solo (frozen in carbonite!).


I can almost guarantee that if your friend has any kind of soft spot for Star Wars, he or she will love this. There are people in the world who are very serious about their carbonite, after all. And besides--it's a generally accepted fact that Boba Fett is a total badass. End of story.

Available through Hallmark stores for $14.95. 

Image via Hallmark.

-Cate-

Monday, November 22, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 10.5: The Maureen

I'm sure you all have been wondering where I am. Well, for the beginning of November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I lost steam after 14,000 words and gave up after 16,000. I am proud of my accomplishments.

But I've had a lot of time to think about writing. One thing I learned was that I get grumpy if I do too much typing. I like sitting down at a desk and writing stuff in cursive and drawing arrows all over the page and doodling stick men in the margins.

I also learned that I am not good at keeping track of my pens. Here is my current, up-to-date pen count: My fountain pen that I lose every other week, and a full Pilot G-2 (I've talked about these guys before), and miscellaneous others that I don't use. I also have no idea where that Pilot came from. None. It appeared as if by magic.

So the obvious solution is to get more pens. Pens like this one:


A member of the Libelle Alphabet Collection, this lovely fountain pen is covered with letters! Letters are my favorite! It also won't break the bank too much if you decide to give this pen to your favorite Maureen, novelist, professor, Luddite, or lover who should write you letters but doesn't. I do not recommend breaking the bank all the way to give a Montblanc to your quiet lover. Perhaps a phone card.


xoxo,
Maureen

Image via Fountain Pen Hospital.

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 10: The Quirky Friend

If you're anything like me, you have an unusual friend or two. (Or, you know, all of them.) And shopping for such people can be difficult--something too common might bore them, but you don't want to insult them with something too outrageous, either. Striking the right balance between whimsy and likability is a challenge! But here we have the Tinysaur kits: miniature models of dinosaurs (either a T. Rex or a Triceratops) that you make yourself.



Made from laser-cut oak, these kits are involved and come with a pair of tweezers and a tube of glue to facilitate assembly. Each kit will keep the stranger buddies of yours occupied and hopefully fill them with glee! I mean, come on--who doesn't love tiny dinosaurs?)


Image via Uncommon Goods.

-Cate-

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The What We Covet Holiday Gift Guide, Part 9: The Decorator

There are few things that say, "Winter is here" like snow on the ground. But for those living in warmer climes where it rarely snows--and when it does, it doesn't stick--or who prefer not to go outside and see the literal manifestation of all things chilly, we have to make the inside of the house a winter wonderland. If you know someone like this, you might want to help them out with an all-white glossy deer head sculpture:


Sure, it looks kind of strange at first, but consider the possibilities! It could go over the fireplace, in a cabin, on the wall at the top of a flight of stairs, or somewhere else, maybe with garland draped over the antlers. No matter what, it brings a certain flair to the wintertime home, and would make a great addition to the collection of any home decorator with a mid-century aesthetic, or even someone with a rustic side.


Image via Z Gallerie.

-Cate-