March 31, 2011

Must/Lust: Black Espadrilles

Nine West, $79
I'm always a fan of wedges because they're sky high but also comfortable. With spring in the air my mind is turning toward espadrilles which are always pretty with a sundress. While online shopping I came across this pair from Charlotte Olympia and instantly liked them. But nobody I know can afford $700 shoes so I found a similar pair from Jessica Simpson (love her shoes!). The pink pair above are also cute- my friend Laura featured them on her blog recently. What's your go-to spring shoe?
       Jessica Simpson, $75                         Charlotte Olympia, $710
MUST                                                      LUST

March 30, 2011

Homemade Froyo

Homemade froyo right out of the machine
A lot of my friends have been looking forward to this recipe so I won't put it off any longer. I made my own froyo this weekend and it was ridiculously easy and delicious. If you have an ice cream maker then get it ready! I adapted my recipe from David Lebovitz's frozen yogurt recipe. The great thing about this is that it's super adaptable. Add more or less sugar & whatever flavors you like. I'm excited to play around with it! If the blackberries seem familiar it's because I used the leftover puree from this recipe to make margaritas- yum!

Topped with tasty granola
Blackberry Frozen Yogurt
Adapted from this recipe 

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
To make:
  1. Puree blackberries in a blender until smooth. Strain out the seeds using a sieve or mesh strainer.
  2. Mix together the yogurt, sugar, and blackberry puree. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Top with your favorite froyo toppings! 

March 29, 2011

This Week in Austin

I want to draw your attention to two events I'm involved with that are coming up at the end of this week. Both of these are charity events and I hope you can come to one or both of them!

On Friday 4/1 the Texas chapter of my sorority (Alpha Chi Omega) is throwing their annual fashion show- Faith Hope and Fashion. This is always a classy fun event with a silent auction, snacks & drinks, and of course fashion. This year clothes are being provided from Banana Republic, Francesca's Collections, C. Jane and Texas Clothier. All proceeds benefit Safeplace. The event starts at 7PM at the AT&T Conference Center and tickets are $40.

I'm really excited about this next event the Austin community has put together. On Saturday 4/2 there will be a city-wide bake sale benefiting AmeriCares efforts in Japan: Austin Bakes for Japan. You can either go buy some goodies at one of the five locations or you can volunteer to provide baked goods or man the sale. My mom and I will be baking for the West location. More information on how to get involved is available on the website. If you're not in Austin then no worries- Bakesale for Japan is nationwide! Find the one nearest you here.

March 28, 2011

Blackberry Margaritas

Blackberry Margarita- mmm! 
Now that it's starting to get warmer (in most places) this is a perfect drink. Blackberries are the most beautiful color, especially in drinks. We all know I prefer my drinks pink but it's even better when fresh fruit is involved. I made these with Republic tequila and Republic classic lime spirit blend. Republic is an Austin-based brand and it's not available everywhere yet. If you can get your hands on it then do! It's a super high quality organic tequila- but any 100% agave tequila works well in this recipe. The spirit blends are only available in Texas but they're basically fresh lime juice, agave nectar and water. You can substitute with fresh lime juice and agave nectar for sweetness (so much better than sweet & sour!).
Blackberry Margaritas
Ingredients:
1 pint fresh blackberries, washed
100% agave plata (or white) tequila
Fresh lime juice
Agave nectar to taste
Ice

To make:
Put the blackberries in a blender and puree. Pour the puree through a sieve or mesh strainer into a bowl and use a spoon to separate out the seeds. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Put in one part tequila, 1/2 part blackberry puree, 2 parts fresh lime juice, and agave nectar to taste (depending on how sweet you like it). Shake well and pour into a martini or margarita glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime or a blackberry.

March 26, 2011

Colorful Trendy Bags

Forever 21 Bow Front Bag, $19.80
I usually don't buy handbags at Forever 21. I'm not much for pleather and a bag is usually worth an investment. However I am currently loving the cross-body bag trend and Forever 21 has some seriously cute ones that won't break the bank. They're a trendy colorful pop to add to an outfit. I have the one above and for around $20 I won't be sad if this fad is over in a month.

March 25, 2011

Favorite Friday

"It's Friday, Friday gotta get down on Friday!" Haha OK just kidding. I'm looking forward to a much more laid-back weekend than the last. No solid plans just enjoying the warm temperatures maybe even swimming? Here are some favorites from this week.

DIY Ombre Napkins
I love the look of these napkins and they seem simple enough to make yourself for a dinner party. Pretty.

Homemade Granola
I can't wait to try this recipe from one of my favorite local food blogs, Food is for Sharing. It's by the owner of Fino & Asti- two of my favorite Austin restaurants. This recipe is right from the Fino brunch menu and it looks easy, healthy and yummy.

Margaritas from Vivo
Vivo
Speaking of Austin favorites, last night Chris & I went to Vivo for the first time. We were really impressed with the ambience of the place- very sexy lighting and a great patio area. It's a nice date spot and the drinks were fantastic.

Cheers to a fun weekend!

March 24, 2011

Baked Ziti

Sunday night I wanted to cook after going out to eat so much during SXSW but I didn't have a ton of energy. I wanted to make something easy but tasty! I decided on Baked Ziti which is a super-simple comfort food that is a crowd pleaser. Serve this with a simple salad and some garlic bread and dinner is done! This recipe is easily customizable as well, add in some browned meat, veggies, spinach, etc. Play with your food!
Image from Allrecipes
I'm always too busy eating to remember to take pictures!
Baked Ziti
Roughly adapted from this recipe 

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound dry ziti pasta (or penne, any short pasta will do, whole wheat if you like)
  • 3 ½ cups of your favorite jarred (or homemade) tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream or ricotta cheese
  • ½ pound of mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

To make:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; do not overcook! Drain and return to pot. Add in the sauce and mix.
  3. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, 1/2 of the cubed mozzarella, Provolone cheese, sour cream, remaining ziti, remaining mozzarella and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. Serve immediately. 

March 23, 2011

Drink in the Glamour

I was saddened to wake up this morning and hear that Elizabeth Taylor has passed away. She was an original icon and a total glamour bombshell. Women like her just don't exist as much in today's Hollywood! In honor of her and to inspire you to be more fabulous today here are some pictures of the stunning actress. She will be missed.

March 22, 2011

Hair Flair

Meredith & I with our hair feathers
Have you ever seen feather hair extentions? They're really gaining popularity here in Austin. My friend Meredith and I had the opportunity to get feathers put in our hair during a SXSW party. Scarlett from Hearts and Robots did mine and I chose a bright pink feather- it's a feather in your hair so why not? The feathers are basically clamped into a few strands of hair and evidently stay in for up to 5 weeks. If you get sick of it you can take it out before then. A lot of salons here in Austin are now offering feather extentions. They usually cost around $20. I also found this handy tutorial if you want to try it yourself or see how it's really done. What do you think of this look? For me it's a fun way to change up my hair without dying it or getting a drastic cut but it's not a look I'll always want.

March 21, 2011

SXSW in Pictures

Texas tattoo

SXSW is officially over. It was a magical time- lots of great music, friends, and memories. At the end of it all my feet and voice are sore and I'm exhausted- which that means we did it right. I wanted to show some of the unique fashion and atmosphere so the best way to do that is pictures. Enjoy! 







My friends & I at the Fader Fort


March 18, 2011

Favorite Friday: SXSW Edition!

This week has been so much fun already and it's not even technically the weekend yet! Here are some of this week's favorites so far.
Pink rose <3
"Just because" from my boyfriend :-D
Carousel rides! 
GE Carousolar- Solar powered carousel that was set up during the interactive portion of SXSW. When was the last time you rode a carousel? It was more fun than expected!
Mere & I with her friend Jacob at the Fader Fort yesterday
BFF Reunion- My old college roommie Meredith is in Austin visiting and we're having a blast! Excellent.

Free music! If you're sad you aren't in Austin hearing new bands check out this free iTunes playlist. Cheers!

March 17, 2011

Green Beer for St. Patty's

Green cheers!
Happy St. Patrick's Day! If you're planning to enjoy a green beer at happy hour tonight I thought I'd share some links about beer calories and nutrition facts. I know it's a holiday but it's always good to know what you're getting yourself into (and how many minutes on the treadmill!). Have fun!

March 16, 2011

Congo Bars

Bar cookies are so easy- they take no time and we all love them. These cookies are super sweet and fun to bring along to a party or sleepover (if you still do that type of thing). Last time I made these I packaged them up and shipped them to some friends in D.C. I was thinking about making more today since one of my old college roommates is coming in town. See? Sleepovers still do happen! 
Yummy congo bars!
Congo Bars
Adapted from Bakerella 

Ingredients 
  • 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened

  • 1 lb. light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 cup M&M’s*
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips*
*You could use any combination of candies/nuts for this.  I like the color of the M&Ms and I like the flavor of the chips. 

To make: 
  1. Set oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13 X 9 pan with non-stick spray. 
  2. To begin, sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

  3. Combine butter and sugar using a mixer until blended.
 Add eggs, one at a time to sugar mixture, mixing on low in between each addition.
 Add vanilla and mix. 
Add flour and mix until combined. 
Stir in chips.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. 

March 15, 2011

SXSW Style Preview

Chloe Sevigny being hipster
SXSW is happening right now in Austin and I'll be out and about taking photos of the street style for an upcoming post. For those of you who don't know much about this time in Austin it's basically lots of live music and hipsters. Here are some trends I'm expecting to see style-wise during South By: skinny jeans (for boys and girls), wayfarer sunglasses, converse, rompers, hats, plaid/flannel, cross body bags, neon and facial hair. Some of these looks are cool and sometimes they're just funny- what do you think?

March 14, 2011

Breakfast Tacos Buenos

Image from Homesick Texan
Before I moved to Austin 3 years ago I'd never had a breakfast taco. Insane right? I just didn't know they existed but now I eat them all the time! Breakfast tacos are super easy to make at home (and I do it often) just combine tortillas, scrambled eggs, salsa, & cheese plus whatever else you may have on hand (beans, potatoes, veggies, meats). But a great thing we all love about Austin is going out to get a breakfast taco in the morning with friends (usually after a late night out!). So here are the places I head to for breakfast taco fulfillment- what are yours?
  • Torchy's- All I have to say is "Dirty Sanchez"- best taco in Austin for any meal in my opinion but any taco here is usually a home run. 
  • Tacodeli- This place has a huge variety of breakfast tacos so I try something different every time. Don't forget the green dona sauce which is a super spicy and flavorful addition. 
  • Juan in a Million- You may have seen this spot on Man vs. Food when Adam attempted to eat 8 Don Jaun tacos. The Don Juan may be the best bang for your buck in all of Austin- it's a huge taco (don't think I've ever finished one) and it costs less than $4.
  • Mi Victoria- If you want to avoid the crowds and save some money, this local Mexican bakery offers super cheap and authentic tacos. Plus they also have a large selection of pastries and breads. 

March 13, 2011

Easy Caprese Appetizer

You can find the ingredients for this appetizer year round and it's especially nice during warmer weather since you don't have to use the stove at all. It comes together in minutes and it's a tasty and colorful bite that your guests will love.
Caprese salad on a stick!
Caprese Skewers
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb small fresh mozzarella balls 
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes, washed 
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, washed 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar 
  • Salt & pepper

To make:
  1. Alternate piercing a cherry tomato, a folded basil leaf, and a mozzarella ball on skewers and place completed skewers on a plate. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil & vinegar. Drizzle the dressing over the skewers, add salt & pepper to taste and serve. 

March 11, 2011

Favorite Friday

Hooray for Friday! South by Southwest officially started today and Austin is booming with tourists and hipsters. I'm planning on taking a bunch of photos and posting them here so be on the lookout next week!
Taylor Hanson @ Fader Fort 2009
Fader Fort
Speaking of SXSW this is probably where you'll be able to find me. I love this party and this will be my 3rd year attending. Another tip- Donie from Nails Naturally told me she'll be here doing free Minx manis! RSVP if you're in Austin & you haven't yet!

Beyonce with shiny tinsel in her hair
Hair Tinsel
My new friend Shawn always has this in her blonde hair and it adds a subtle sparkle of fun. I don't know if it would go so well in my hair since it's dark but I like the idea.
New KitchenAid colors!
Raspberry Ice KitchenAid 
The folks over at The Kitchn spotted this new color of KitchenAid mixer called Raspberry Ice. It's such a fun hot pink! Love.

March 10, 2011

Fantastic Workout Gear

We're all guilty of wearing an old sorority t-shirt to the gym and I don't really think there's anything wrong with that! But I do think it's important to have good quality workout gear for when you want to perform your best. Here are some of the things I like to wear when I want to sweat!
Lululemon Pace Setter Crops, $88
Next time Lulu has a sale pick up a pair of these! The fabric is really nice since it completely wicks away all moisture (no sweat marks!). Plus the fit is fantastic and cute. They even have secret pockets to store all your stuff. 

Under Armour Endure Bra, $44.99
A sports bra is a very personal thing so you have to find one that is right for you. That being said I'm a big fan of this bra from Under Armour because it's super supportive and flattering. 

Nike Running Shirt, $20.97
I love this top because it's seamless (no chaffing) and made of dri-fit fabric. It's lightweight and cool and it comes in some great colors. Plus it's affordable! I got mine at the Nike outlet so check there for deals if you have one close. 

I have even more picks but I'll save them for another post. What are some of your favorite things to wear to the gym? 

March 9, 2011

What to Buy Organic?

There's a lot of confusion around USDA organic foods. I'm by no means an expert on this but I do try to stay educated about what I'm eating. It can be nearly impossible to go through all the data and figure out what items to buy organic at the store. You may choose to buy all organic but sometimes it's unaffordable or unavailable. To help with some of the confusion the Environmental Working Group puts out an annual list of the 12 fruits & veggies to buy/not buy organic based on the amount of pesticides found. This is a handy guide for when you're at the grocery store and you just can't figure it out.
If you're shopping for produce in Austin today you may want to check out the Farmer's Market at the Triangle- it's every Wednesday from 4-8. What foods do you prefer to buy organic?

March 8, 2011

Brunch Basics

If a dinner party seems overwhelming you may want to consider hosting a brunch! Brunch is more low-key and relaxed than dinner and people seem comfortable cooking breakfast foods. My boyfriend hosted a brunch a couple weekends ago and it was really fun.

The formula is pretty basic:
Something sweet + an egg dish + fruit + a morning cocktail = success!

We made chocolate chip pecan pancakes, fruit salad, bacon, mimosas and mini-frittatas. The mini-frittatas were so easy and since they bake, the stovetop was free for pancakes/bacon. Next time you make brunch even if it's just a small get together I strongly suggest making these. Feel free to sub out veggies & cheeses. If you want more tips for hosting brunch check out this post from Big Girls Small Kitchen.
Muffin Frittatas
Forgot to take a photo! This one's from Flikr
Mini Frittatas
Adapted from this recipe
Ingredients:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion

To make:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease 12 muffin cups. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. Add cheese and veggies; mix well. Spoon evenly into greased muffin cups, about 1/4 cup each.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees until just set, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes. Remove from cups & serve warm.

March 7, 2011

Why I Love Austin

Kites and people in Zilker Park
Yesterday was the annual Zilker Park Kite Festival here in Austin. It was the most beautiful day and some friends and I walked to the park, set up a blanket and flew 99-cent kites! At first it was tricky since our kites were cheap (they were all we could find last minute) and none of us had flown a kite in years. But once we got the hang of it the afternoon was perfection.

video
After an afternoon of kite and people watching we walked back and stopped for smoothies at Daily Juice. All in all it was a perfect Austin Sunday. Wish you were here!


March 5, 2011

Cool Comfy Kicks

So in case you didn't know- Keds are cool again! There's something to be said for a casual slip-on sneaker as a nice alternative to flip flops. I have a pair of classic white slip-ons that are well loved and my friends used to make fun of me for them (you know who you are!). But now that this sneaker craze is full-on and I won't hold a grudge. If you want some ideas for how to wear this trend check out this site for inspiration. If you're not feeling the clean white look there are tons of fun colors and have you seen all the kinds/colors of Toms? For me slip-on tennies are a must-have for spring. Do you agree?