Friday, September 30, 2011

Polka dots for happy hour:

      On Tuesday I found myself walking down the train tracks to happy hour at El Palomar's taco bar in downtown Santa Cruz. Happy hour includes the most delicious two dollar tacos and $4.50 margaritas on the rocks all starting at 5pm! Our plan was to get slightly shwasted but the margs ended up being slightly sub par that day (typically d'lish though!). The weather was still as sweaty and hot as ever so I thought this transparent polka dot shirt would be a clear winner for the occasion. Also I'm taking a fashion tip from my high school friend and blogger buddy Rheannia, view her favorite fall trends here.

                        Hat: American Apparel
                        Top: H&M
                        Belt: American Apparel
                        Flared jeans: Alloy
                        Bag: vintage Coach

                        Shoes: Dolce Vita
                        Bracalets: Givenchy, Tiffany's
                        Coach, and the evil eye 
                        bracelet was gifted to me
                        Watch: Michael Kors
                        Cheetah Necklace: vintage find
                        Silver ring: Tiffany's
                        Lipstick: YSL

Sunglasses: Oliver Peoples


PS: All photos were shot by my dear friend Sean, he is quite the character, should I do a style feature on him next?! (He always has the best shades!)


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cocktail: Candied Apple

      Several years ago an old friend introduced me to a cocktail called a Washington Apple. The blend of juices and flavored alcohols in this drink combine to create a sweet and delicious adult beverage that tastes like the sugary candied apples (that I love!) found at most carnivals and state fairs. The recipe for a Washington apple only requires four ingredients and is simple enough to prepare on your own without much effort but presents that wow factor that every host is looking for: 

Magic Ingredients: 
-1 lime
-1 shot of crown royal (add more or less depending on your taste)
-1 cup of cranberry juice cocktail (I prefer unfiltered, it give a better flavor)
-1/4 of a cup sour apple pucker
(makes one large cocktail)

Let's get started:
1: In a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice, shake together the juice of half a lime, cranberry juice, sour apple pucker, and crown royal. 

2: Cut an extra slice of lime and cut a slit half way thru the lime as photographed below:

3: Pour liquid mixture into a serving glass over ice and garnish with the lime:

Serve any time, but I like to make this drink around the halloween season when candied apples and other sweet treats are most popular!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The first rain of the season!

      A few days ago we had our first afternoon of rain here in Santa Cruz. Normally I'm not the biggest fan of cold weather but since I have been pulling out all my coats and scarves I was delighted to see such a cloudy day. I put together the following look to stay warm despite the wet weather:

This hat is fantastic, you've already seen 
it featured here as well. The clingy turtle 
neck I've got on is from GAP. Also the hand 
bag I'm carrying is vintage Gucci via Crossroads 
Trading Company (cost me less than a tank of gas!).

This camel colored coat is by Kenneth Cole Reaction. I found it at Nordstrom Rack for 70% off the original retail price!

The skinny jeans I'm wearing are from Alloy. I love this internet company because their pants and jeans come in both petite and tall lengths and their price point is great too, only 39.50! And I LOVE these Bromley boots by Michael Kors, do you recognize them from this post?

                     Hat: Tarnish
                     Faux fur vest: H&M (other styles here)
                     Necklace: vintage Ann Taylor
                     Watch: Michael Kors
                     Purse: vintage Gucci

      Style doesn't have to be coupled with sky high prices. I really enjoy stores like Crossroads, Nordstrom Rack, Marshall's, and even Khol's and Target carry designer collections at a very reasonable price point. Thrift stores and goodwill locations can offer a variety of items to suit your own personal style as well if you are willing to spend the time looking! I encourage you to find those hidden fashion gems at your local discount stores!


PS, all photos are taken by B. Dalke

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Style Feature: Marie

      While grocery shopping I ran into a well put together lady name Marie! Don't you just love all the mixed media in her dress? The mash up of fabric, colors, and embroidery was just too amazing not to ask for a quick snap shot. She found this adorable dress at a boutique while vacationing in Paris (leave it to the French to select the best fashion and Marie to pick the most fabulous item from that selection!). I checked the label on the dress and it said "Frime Frime," but I couldn't find any information online about the brand! Anyway, just a quick look at the street fashion here in Santa Cruz.


Elisemade: A tasty ricotta & tomato tart!

     While seeking inspiration for future blog posts I started brainstorming ideas with my close friend Elise. Elise is also the designer and creative mind behind the brand Elisemade, a modern knittery focused on functional yet stylish knits. My personal favorite item is this iphone sweater case (such a unique concept don't you think? A sweater for your electronics!). Well we got to talking and she mentioned that just yesterday she put together a savory tart (see my take on tarts here and here). As a result we decided to feature her recipe for a lovely ricotta tart with fresh tomato and caramelized onions:

Magic Ingredients:
-4 cups whole milk
-1 cup cream
-2 tbsps lemon juice
-2 tsps of salt
-1 medium sized fresh tomato, sliced
-1 medium sized onion caramelized
-1 premade pie crust (pre-baked for 15 minutes at 375 degrees)
-2 tbsps olive oil
-1/4 of a cup grated parmesan cheese
-1 tsp cracked pepper

Let's get started!
1: To make your own ricotta cheese: boil milk, cream, lemon juice, and 1.5 tsps salt together. Once boiling, remove from heat and let sit (without stirring!) for 15 minutes. 

2:Spoon the curds into a sieve lined with cheese cloth (or a few paper towels) and let the mixture drain over a large bowl. The longer you let the ricotta strain the more dense it becomes however, elise likes the cheese a little more runny for this recipe.

3: Layer tomato, ricotta, olive oil, salt and pepper, caramelized onions, and grated parmesan cheese in the pre-baked pie crust and bake again at 375 degrees until golden and delicious!

     I'm really hoping Elise and I can collaborate on a meal some time very very soon! I wonder what the menu for that meal will be?



Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Essentials:

      With each new approaching season I try to compile a concise list of my "must haves." This list is merely something I refer to whenever I am out shopping so that I always end up purchasing items that actually work into my current wardrobe and also are practical for upcoming weather conditions. For this fall I already own plenty of basic long sleeves, sturdy coats, and sweaters so to build my winter wardrobe I decided to focus on warm weather items that would enhance the plain and simple basics that are already stashed in my closet:

(For additional product info please click here)

Clockwise from far left:

1: Fur vest: Great for layering under a heavy coat or wearing over a simple black turtleneck. 
2: Blazer: I'm digging this shade of apricot brown. It compliments both my dark brown and black neutrals.
3: Printed Scarf: Adds instant dimension to any outfit. I really love leopard prints this year (and basically all year round).
4: Black wool hat: Structured hats just add an instant touch of old school glamour. I have already added a hat similar to this one to my closet and it's already in regular rotation
5: Grey knit hat: If you don't already know, knit hats are the best for looking cute while hiding a bad hair day.
6: Printed sweater dress: The neutral colors of this print make it a versatile option.
7: Green nail polish: I purchased a similar shade a few weeks ago (find my $2 option here) and I have been wearing it repeatedly, adds subtle color but still goes with most of my clothes. 
8: Red Lipstick: Wear to holiday parties for a festive touch.
9: Black wedge boots: switch to these boots when the rain prevents you from wearing your everyday ballet flats.
10: Bold colored hand bag: In winter when most of your outfit is covered up with bulky knits and coats anyway, add some color with a hand bag like this one.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Magic shell" chocolate sauce:

      Remember when you were a little kid and your parents would take you out for an ice cream and of course all you wanted was a chocolate dipped cone? The chocolate shell would magically break away to reveal perfectly cold ice cream underneath, please tell me you know what I'm talking about?! Well, nothing could be more simple than creating this easy whimsical chocolate sauce at home! 

Magic Ingredients:
-1 cup milk chocolate chips (or whatever you prefer)
-1 tbsp coconut oil 

Let's get started:
1: Preheat a double broiler. I used a small pot filled half way with water with a bowl over top (pictured below). Turn the heat on your stove to medium high and when the bowl is warmed it is ready to use:

2: Add chocolate chips and coconut oil to the broiler and stir frequently until both ingredients have melted together:

3: Pour syrup over cold ice cream and garnish with whatever you'd like, I used strawberries:

Perfect snack for today right? A sunday on sunday! 


Saturday, September 24, 2011

A trip to the central valley:

      Recently I found myself taking yet another quick trip out of town. This time I found myself in my home town of Stockton, California to visit family! While I was there I managed to eat a lot of delicious food, check in at my favorite thrift stores, play dress up in my gram's jewelry box, and spend a lot of time with the people I love. Here's just some of the highlights of my trip:

Digging thru bins of old ties at a local thrift store for the two best finds! The red paisley one is by Christian Dior and the plaid tie on the right is designed by Ben Sherman. Both of these together cost me less than a meal at McDonald's!

My Gram's cat just had a liter of 
the most adorable kittens ever:

Yummy home made Spagetti:

Playing dress up with Gram's Gems:

The best thrift store find in Lodi, California! A like new red coach messenger bag and for only $35 bucks! There was one in the same style but in black that I wanted also but I thought the red would add a nice pop of color to most any outfit:


Friday, September 23, 2011

Hibernating for the winter:

      I'm not actually going to be hibernating this holiday season but I have been stocking up on cold weather items. Here's a handful of my style supplies for Autumn:

Black hat adorned with a Macaw feather perfect for covering up dark roots in between salon visits:

Something Old (Marc Jacobs bag, similar here) and something new (Missoni for Target sweater skirt, can't wait to pair it with tights and oxfords):

I have a massive obsession with all things jewelry (see examples here, here, and here). Honestly my adoration has gotten slightly out of hand so instead of looking for new gems for fall, I decided to explore "the archive" (my treasure chest filled with pieces I have collected over the years) and I ended up rediscovering pieces that I think will work perfectly with my winter wardrobe:

I picked up this tassel at Beverly's Crafts for less than $2, when looped thru a zipper pull, this red tassel gives a basic bag a fresh update:

Found a sleek glass jar at Dollar tree recently and have been using it as a "catch all" for my clothing nick nacks. I keep extra buttons from jackets and pants in here (ever wonder what to do with all those spare buttons? and they always go missing when you need them, right?). Needles, thread, and safety pins are kept handy in this location too. A pretty yet practical way to keep odds and ends organized:


Thursday, September 22, 2011

A strawberry celebration tart!

      My dear friends Bridgett and Sara both celebrated birthdays this weekend and to honor the occasion I made a strawberry tart (perfect with an ice cream and chocolate syrup topping). You may recognize this method of making a tart from my Peachy Keen Tart post, this is an extremely similar recipe that is a stand by for whenever I'm in a time crunch before a pot luck:

Magic Ingredients:
-1 pound of fresh strawberries (or you could use frozen strawberries brought to room temperature)
-1/2 cup granulated sugar (use more or less depending on the ripeness of the berries)
-1/2 cup brown sugar (use more or less depending on the ripeness of the berries)
-1/2 Tablespoon Grand Marnier
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1 tablespoon apricot jam
-1 pre made frozen pie crust (you could certainly use your own recipe for crust too!)

Let's Get Cooking!
1: Lay defrosted pie crust on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, preheat oven to 400 degrees:

2: Slice strawberries in half and place into a medium mixing bowl. Add in sugars, grand marnier, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the bowl and combine until strawberries are evenly coated:

3: Layer strawberries onto pie crust leaving a 3/4s of a inch boarder:

4: Fold over the crust onto the strawberries and brush the apricot jam over the top of the tart (including the crust):

5: Bake in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes for a easy to put together dessert (It's even easier to eat!):

A photograph of one of the birthday girls 
being a ham in front of the camera:

Can't wait to celebrate again next year! Happy birthday ladies!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Boon Fly Cafe:

      While on my quick two day trip to Napa with my good friend Sharon, we managed to find time to have a relaxing breakfast at The Boon Fly Cafe. From the moment we arrived and saw the outdoor swings attached to the barn style exterior we knew we were in for a delectable meal! The menu had so many fantastic options, deciding on what to order was the most difficult part! Here is a photo journey of our dining experience:

Bright and vibrant exterior building:

Beautiful interior with gorgeous wood tables, exposed cooking area (so you can see how your meal is prepared!), and industrial style lighting:

I just love the country charm of the 
tractor etching on this water carafe:

Sparkling orange prosecco mimosas:

Beer battered onion rings 
with spiced ketchups:

Sharon ordered the fried chicken and waffles. The crunch of her every bite was enough to make me want to steal a piece when she wasn't looking:

I got the Pastrami Reuben with swiss 
cheese on home made marbled rye bread: 

      Napa was such a lovely destination with utterly fantastic views. I hope I get a chance to visit again in the future, especially to visit The Boon Fly Cafe again! If you ever find yourself in wine country, I highly recommend this venue for a great meal!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Napa wineries:

      While in Napa for a last minute get away I had the opportunity to take a 8 hour wine tour to 4 different wineries in the area. The day was truly a memory I will look back to for a long time. An abundance of yummy wine and food was the focus of the excursion and two of my favorite indulgences! Here are some quick snap shots of my two favorite wineries:

The most amazing petit syrahs I have ever had the opportunity to try, one even had the aroma of bacon (the first love of my life)! Tastings are $15 dollars for 6 samples of various wines or free with a purchase of a bottle! I have to say, the tawny port they carry was worth the 15 bucks for a taste all on it's own (One bottle for $90)!

Limited edition "goes both ways," bottle of the tawny port (most wine bottles are just straight):

Surplus of medals for Dominari wines:

Wall of wine barrels crafted 
from neutral oak wood:

      This venue had a wine tasting room that felt more like my own home. Complete with massive leather couch and big screen TV, I was instantly enjoying a glass of merlot in my own living room (or at least it seemed like it!). Marcus, the tasting host was such a character and had lots of information to divulge. Tastings include six wines for $10 or free with a purchase of a bottle of wine. I would recommend this to any wine lover that is looking for a more casual environment. 

Stellar view of the grape vines. Had a chance to enjoy lunch here with the great scenery!

     After composing this post, I'm kind of hankering for a glass of wine. Good thing I brought home a couple bottles as souvenirs!