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kitchen tips

i like to cook. 

some nights, i'm making it all from scratch. other times, i'm banking on that box of frozen chicken fingers in the fridge. it really just depends on my mood and what we have around the house.

but ever since i started grocery shopping like a champ, i've really tried to cook at home as much as i can. both because i like it and as a way to save a little money.

today, i wanted to share three quick kitchen tips that will make a world of difference in your home-cooked meals. 

1. torch your tortillas - i got this idea from watching the food network. i was more than a little skeptical about just plopping a tortilla directly on an open flame, but it's awesome. it gives you that yummy charred texture without adding fat. i will say that you really need to keep your eyes on it because it'll char up fast. i'm talking less than 7 seconds on both sides. and be sure to flip it with a pair of rubber tongs or something. safety first, guys.

2. add acid to your apples -- for me, acid usually means lemons, but limes and oranges will work also. and while the acid will prevent the apple from browning, it also adds a layer of flavor. baking an apple pie? making a cole slaw for fish tacos? hit it with some acidity to keep the flavors clean and bright.

3. salt your salads -- this one, i have only my grandma to thank. she's a little salt obsessed. as a kid, i remember laughing at how she would salt EVERYTHING--even her trail mix and salads. but grandma had the right idea. because adding a pinch of kosher salt to your dressed salads really boosts the flavor. i throw in pepper too to balance things out.

potw: baby love

there's been a lot of new babies in my life lately.

this past year, so many of my close friends have either become parents for the first time and a few have even moved on to baby number two!

as i was trying to think of a good subject for this week, it hit me that i've never done nursery art before.

so i found a few prints that would make an adorable addition to any baby's room.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

that 'so happy together' print is just too cute.

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looking for more letterpress goods? check out my press of the week series here. a new potw is posted (almost) every monday. but you can always find the latest by following me on twitter.

cold and grey

friday night in takoma
my go-to necklace. goes with everything. 
pot roast craving = satisfied 
salt cellar | i love this thing
outside the hirshhorn 
here's 38 tons of rebar for ya
another view
sangria in the cold weather? why not.

this past week of weather perfectly illustrates why people hate winter. 

cold and wet. grey. gloomy.

after the holidays are long gone, we're still faced with nearly three full months of winter. 

and it starts with you, january.

and even though march can still bring the pain, it just sounds better than january and february to me.

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we made the best of this weekend though: hung out with some good friends, checked out some art (free and not outside!), got some good food.

hope your weekend went well, too! 

buying basics: part II

a few months ago, i started talking about how to approach shopping for basics.

there's nothing sexy about shopping for wardrobe staples like black flats, but looking for something with a special detail makes it a little better.

i mentioned the other day that i've never owned a black coat, but there's a difference between a plain black peacoat and a black coat with some attitude.

i'd wear a black coat with attitude any day. 

the key is to look for teeny details that make the basics stand out in the land of boring. 

here's a visual example of what i mean:

asymmetrical hem | all-over leather detail

scalloped edges | leather trim

sequins | studs

my philosophy is that if you go with a black coat, try to find one with some style.

if you need help thinking of places to actually find said stylish/unique clothing, you can check out my posts about online shopping: part I and part II.

do i do this for all of my clothes?

nope. i own regular no-fuss jeans. and with something like a camisole, there's no real need for it to be special or detailed if you're just gonna wear it as an undershirt.  

but when i'm looking for something like a black dress or a black coat -- something that lots of people will also own -- i try to think differently.

outfit inspiration: ketchup and mustard

i love primary colors.

big, bold, never out of style. 

and in the winter, it can be just the punch of color you need.

i've found myself wearing a lot of ketchup and mustard-colored clothes lately, so here's some other pieces that call to mind some of america's most loved condiments.

1 | 2 | 3 sold out (similar)| 4 sold out (similar
5 | 6 (on major sale!) | 7 (similar) | 8 sold out (similar)

1 sold out (similar)| 2 | 3 | 4
5 (on sale for $69!) | 6 sold out (similar) | 7 

nice, right? you don't even have to worry about stains. 

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full disclaimer on this post: i had originally schedule this to post back in early december, and then somehow forgot about it until today. because of this, there's a lot more stuff that's sold out than normal, but i've tried to find suitable replacements where possible. 

it's all in the details

starting a new series today for two reasons:

first, i used to take pictures a lot more and i really miss it. 

the other reason? 

just an excuse to show off the city some more. dc's so beautiful.

while my 'love for the city' feature focuses on the big reasons why i love this town (the dogs, the fall leaves, the call boxes to name a few), this one will get down and dirty with the details.

a stop-and-smell-the-roses ode to the district, more or less. the little things we see every day, but may not stop to notice.

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the subject of today's first post is probably obvious, but whether you love or hate how dc reacts to cold weather, you can't deny that freshly fallen snow is a thing of beauty.

check it.

i took these this morning while i was out shoveling our sidewalk--a first for this new homeowner. i was an apartment dweller from 2004-2011 so having to deal with the sidewalk is something new.

stay warm, guys!

i'll have more details to share soon.

potw: love

if there was ever a time to splurge on a letterpress card, valentine's day is a good place to start.


because there's so many amazing/funny/"omg that's so me" cards available, you're bound to find something to suit your tastes.

and it's a good bet that these cards will strike a more personal chord than what safeway has. 

_ _ _

i don't usually do anything for valentine's day, but a card is pretty low key, right?

here's some of my favorite ways to say i love you, with a few special picks for sci-fi, science and design nerds included.

from top: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

from top: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

i love a handwritten note. especially a note from someone -- a friend, a significant other -- that makes you feel loved. 

is there anything better?

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looking for more letterpress goods? check out my press of the week series here. a new potw is posted (almost) every monday. 

and don't forget to follow me on twitter!

bitter cold

can i add my voice to the chorus of 'i hate winter' today?

i'll never get used to it. 

_ _ _

we were up in new jersey to visit with my new niece this weekend. and good LORD it was freezing. 

dc felt warm in comparison...until this morning.

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in other news, we used a bunch of wedding gift cards toward the purchase of this rug. i'm so excited to pick it up today. it's been a long time coming. i couldn't make up my mind on one for forever, but this one wins.

here's to a great week!

sheer genius

i enjoy subtle sex appeal in clothes. 

a blouse with a high scoop neck in the front with a back cutout? i'll take that all day.

little peeks of skin, a perfectly tailored dress, and revealing some but not everything is always my preference when i'm looking to vamp it up a bit. 

so let's talk about sheer hemlines. 

besides that subtle sex appeal, they add interest to these pretty basic dress shapes. 

below are three examples i like. 

but all of these are laughably out of my price range, so i also included a skirt option for us normal people.

bebe skirt
(sold out by the time this was posted unfortunately)
rude. here is something slightly similar

other dresses: 1 | 2 | 3

i hope this special little detail makes its way to other retailers this spring. 

we'll see if it does.

but if not, neiman marcus' website has a pretty intense zoom and i can just stare at the details from my screen.

potw: yellow

i've never owned a black coat.

in the winter, when it's pitch black before 5 pm and some days, the sun doesn't even show itself, i need some color. i need to be that person in a bright blue coat. or, even better, a yellow one. (i own both.)

i'm always surprised at the lack people who chose brightly colored outerwear, but to each their own.

anyways, i'm off topic.

it's a warm winter day here in dc, but it's super overcast. it was like this yesterday too. so for today's press of the week, i thought i'd share some cheery yellow designs.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 
(click through to purchase or view larger)

i love that the thank you card comes with a matching yellow envelope, too. it would be fun to get that one in the mail among a sea of white.

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looking for more letterpress goods? check out my press of the week series here. a new potw is posted (almost) every monday.

weekend weather

winter has the most dramatic sunset silhouettes 
taking advantage of the warm weather
i feel partially responsible for drybar's dc arrival ;)
can't wait to go.
in traffic
the trees don't even know what to think 
making a modified version of this recipe

 the weather!

everyone in dc is talking about it, but even for our roller coaster winters, this is warm.

we babysat our one-and-a-half-year-old nephew this weekend, and it was great to be able to spend some time outside at the park with him.

and considering how insanely cold it was for inauguration four years ago (i'm the mummy on the right), it would be pretty nice to have some mild temperatures for that event next week. 

here's to a great week!

the worst words

everyone has words they hate. 

'moist' seems to be a common offender. 

as i tried to come up with my own list of creepy words, it took me a while. it's hard to call to mind a list like this out of nowhere. 

but i eventually thought of a few. and these are some of my most-hated words. even typing them grossed me out. 

what about you? 

any words you can't stand? 

let me take your picture

today, i'm excited to share a new website of mine.

i've been doing freelance photography for a few years now, and for a long time, i was happy with my flickr account for file storage and image sharing. but the other day, a blogger friend (hey nicole!) brought this portfolio site to my attention and it was exactly what i'd been looking for. i also have a society 6 page if you're interested.

bright, simple, clean. i love it.

you can check out andrea sumner photography here. and if you'd ever like to work together, shoot me an e-mail. i'd love to talk.

potw: calligraphy

from top: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

when custom calligraphy meets letterpress, some beautiful stuff happens. combining these two artforms is something i'm always drawn to.

i love the more modern-looking calligraphy too (examples #1 and #4). it has so much personality while still being elegant.

and even though the gift-giving season has passed, those blind gift tags could be used all year to add a pretty touch to birthday or anniversary gifts.

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looking for more letterpress goods? check out my press of the week series here. a new potw is posted (almost) every monday.

eat it

happy friday, people. 

i leave you with this hilariously true (for me  anyways) tweet i found in a roundup funny tweets on huffpo. or something like that. it was before the holidays and i kinda forgot about it until now. most of them were pretty meh, but this one cracked me up.

just eat it.

off the cuff

remember when i was talking about fancy earring backs?

here's another new idea for your ears: ear cuffs.

not this kind of cuff (those always look equal parts painful and dangerous), but i'm talking about something elegant and daring like these guys below.

1 | 2 | 3

now they're not cheap. i don't even know if i'd shell out the money for one right now, but i bet we'll be seeing more of these at lower price points this spring and into summer.

and i always love a new shape, a new idea in jewelry. if you wanna see how it looks on the ear, you can see pictures here.

i love a little bad ass-ness and these earrings bring it. 

neat and tidy

 i hate clutter. it makes me nuts.

this includes cluttered storage. i want it packed away neatly in a non-see-through box, said the obsessive organized lady.

but i've never really had a great way to store wrapping paper. the few rolls i had around the house were corralled in a corner of a seldom-used closet. but the ends always got a little marred up and the paper tends to wrinkle a bit, making it look a little sad. 

over the break, i decided to find a clean-looking way to store wrapping paper. it took me page after page of google image search results before i found one that appealed to my need for neat. but i eventually found it through tina jay's photography blog . 

her solution met all my aesthetic requirements, plus it was majorly cheap and installation was simple. i had to do some sleuthing to find out exactly which ikea products she used, but armed with an iphone screenshot and an extra set of eyes (thanks, boy), i found what i needed.  

check it out. 

 i used a different basket than the original post, but the idea's the same. 

it was incredibly difficult to wedge myself into the teeny tiny basement closet to get a good shot, but i think you can get the idea.

i also added a clip to the bottom of the rolls to keep it secure. and you can see on the red snowflake roll, i actually have two clips at the top. that one was a little heavier than the rest.

the lower rack holds gift bags, gift tags, tissue paper, ribbon and tape.

i only bust out the wrapping paper a few times a year, so it's nice to have it out of the way  and wrinkle-free until i really need it. and i love how you can see everything all at once. 

this took us about 10 minutes to set up. leveling the bars probably took the longest time, but i'm really digging this.

so long, closet floor. 

completely unplugged

well, my break is over and i had to drag myself back into work today. 

vacation was awesome. instead of trying to force myself to blog over the break, i decided to completely unplug (instagram doesn't count, right?) and it was really really nice to forget about the internet for a little bit.

but now i'm back! and i don't know about you but i'm pumped for 2013, even though i'll probably never get used to the post-2000 set of years. they still look weird to me.