Wednesday, December 21, 2011

christmas nails

So I have been a slacking blog author - my apologies for the delays in posts!! December has been quite a hectic month. I have been busy every evening since I got back from Paris and spent last weekend out of town. There's been cooking, baking, wrapping, and oh yes, sleeping too!
Last night I updated my nails to get more in a festive mood. I knew what I would do for my accent nail - but I was befuddled about the other four nails per hand. Ross suggested a dark green. But then I thought maybe I'd add a green glitter on the edges... no, that would be too much. Maybe white nails? That would complement my accent. But, no... too dull.
{Photo editing courtesy of ColorSplash!}

I finally settled on going with a neutral Deborah Lippmann polish. My pinkies are done in Cherry Red by Maybelline (this polish is about 5 years old, but still in good condition because I rarely use it!). For the accent I used my thin french manicure brush/polish. It still wasn't right. Then I remembered a silver polish I purchased a few months ago. It really doesn't cover completely so I can't use it as a tip accent but for this it's totally perfect! Sparkly & Festive!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

making it count

I spent my last night in Paris with my friend Natalie. We met after my conference finished and headed to the Louvre! We saw exhibits of French painters, a long gallery of Italian masterpieces, and the Egyptian artifacts and quickly breezed past galleries of statues and the moat on our long, complicated venture out!

  • Rembrandt's works were quite amazing. They also had a collection of portraits of him, creations by other famous artists.
  • Natalie pointed out how white and bright the characters are in the Italian paintings. Afterwards, it's all I could notice! Because surely these people bathed every day and never went outside.
  • We accidentally walked past the Mona Lisa and had to trace back our steps. Of course there was a crowd around it, but I had to take a picture too! But you know what? It looks exactly the same as it does in books! It was behind a wall of tinted glass which I believe protects it from flash photography. In jest, I told Natalie "I bet it's not the real thing. The real Mona Lisa is probably stored in a safe in the basement." But then I realized that could very likely be true. Although, I am one for conspiracy theories (if you have the time, ask me my thoughts about going to the moon!)
  • We really enjoyed the Egyptian mummy and marveled at the figure's frame and resemblance it still had to a person, 4,000 years later! They also had an unwrapped crocodile mummy. We were simply astonished by the state of the reptile. The skin was in tact, it had scales - it really only looked a little deflated! Funny thing is, most of these items were stolen from the Egyptians back in the day.
Onto the Montmarte neighborhood and a fantastic fondue dinner!! We showed up a few minutes late for our reservation, which was really a loose list, so we chatted with an Italian couple outside (I guess those key phrases that popped up all week turned out to be useful). When we got called inside I stepped onto a chair and over the table, then landed in a bench seat! They brought us some snacks to nosh on... 
While eating our appetizers we ordered red wine, sipped our aperitifs, and awaited our cheese fondue!
I believe the wine is served in baby bottles because of the open flames and necessary climbing over tables.
Warm, melty cheese - yummmmmm!!

After our dinner we walked up all the stairs to the Sacre Coeur. There is a funicular (trolley car that travels up a hill) but we opted for a workout. After all, we just ate an entire pot of cheese!! The views from up top were spectacular. The Eiffel Tower's spotlight hits you when it circles around (like a lighthouse). There was a cute Christmas Market (closed) set up that was adding to the festive feeling. Though, the neighborhood isn't very safe - it's known for pick pockets - so we didn't hang around very long. 

My last night in Paris was perfect!! I got to check off the final items on my "tourist must-see" list and drink wine from a baby bottle to boot! You know what, I think I made it count! Though, back down to central Paris and it was time to pack... interesting since my suitcase was packed to the brim when I arrived in Paris and during the week I accumulated a number of gifts... oh dear...

Friday, December 9, 2011

LeWeb day two debrief

The tone of the day was a lot less salesy than Day One, a welcomed change.  Though, keynote speakers were less impressive today.

Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) from Altimeter Group gave a great presentation on "the state of social business." He provided a number of relevant examples including Dell's certification course, McKinsey research, and Chatter software.

I quite enjoyed learning that (@airbnb) started with a group of guys who couldn't make rent so they rented the air mattress on their living room floor to a traveler. Hence, "air bed" and breakfast became airbnb.

There was also a lot of exposure to Evernote (@plibin and @Evernote). This is an intuitive software that talks to your macs, PCs, iPhones, etc. and keeps track of your notes. You can create folders for topics, tag your notes, and take pictures. When you go back to reference your notes it will aggregate similar ones. Evernote also launched two new apps this week; food and hello. Food focuses on taking pictures, tagging the people your with, recording the date, and writing a note about your review. You can even set it up to remind you that there's a milkshake you like nearby when you happen to be in the vicinity of the restaurant! I really like the Hello app. It's a mosaic of people you meet with a photo that rotates between four pictures taken consecutively when you collect their info. I'm certainly excited about the opportunities Evernote will open up for me personally and professionally.

LinkedIn hosted a panel discussion but the moderator was so terrible I could barely concentrate. She was scripted, awkward, and really unprepared, I s embarrassed for her.

The esteemed Bill Gross (@bill_gross) shared his 20 lessons learned from being an entrepreneur.  This was a really insightful presentation that a lot of folks have already covered on blogs. I'm sure you can find one if you Google it! Some of the stand-out lessons, for me, include 2. Master the Demo... Being as prepared as possible to sell your product and 3. Pursue Your Passion... Especially online, authenticity and passion are integral to success!

Day 3 has a focus on enterprise, something I'm quite looking forward to! More to come soon. Au revoir!

dinner, friends, & party at the Louvre

I happened to get off the metro at a different stop to visit the ATM and pick up more Euros, this stop was "Madeleine." I got out and was immediately wowed by the neighborhood. It's clearly upscale, and the shops were quite impressive. There was more than one Fauchon, a French gourmet food company. I believe one was a chocolate shop, another the boulangerie (bread store), and also a cafe! I also spotted the Maille store! They make fantastic mustard which you can buy in the U.S. though their French products are apparently different and better. Unfortunately they had closed shop for the night so I didn't get to purchase anything :(

I had to hurry on my way as I had only 3 hours until my party at the Louvre! But if I find some extra time tonight I think I'll head back to the neighborhood for some more perusing. 

My hotel recommended a local French restaurant nearby. I had a great salad with goat cheese and a filet of beef with potatoes for dinner. They also served a really nice glass of Bordeaux! The table next to me was a mother and daughter from New York! They just arrived in Paris for a weeklong trip so I shared recommendations based on my time here so far. They're going to take the Chunnel to London for a day trip next week... I'm quite jealous as this is something I have always wanted to do. time! 

While at dinner I also met an American woman that recently moved to Paris for her husband's job. She doesn't speak French yet and is having a hard time integrating into the culture here. So I reached out to my friend here and also the nice woman that invited me to eat dinner with her friends and family on Tuesday night. Hopefully something clicks ...I love connecting people!!

I quickly got prepped for the party. Thankfully I threw a Diane Von Furstenberg  dress in my suitcase just in case! It takes up almost no space and it's so pretty, one of my favorites... aubergine, to the knee with a deep V in the front and back. I paired it with a pearl necklace (tripled up at the neck), black cut-out tights from We Love Colors, and my Prada black patent leather peep-toe pumps.

The party was at the Carrousel du Louvre. There was a live band, some really cool DJ's that wore cat masks, and an Absolute sponsored bar! They were making tasty cocktails and had a neat set-up. It was mostly networking, no dancing, but fun none-the-less! I was nervous I'd be more dressed up than everyone else... After all, most people are sporting jeans during the day. Turns out it worked, attire really spanned the entire spectrum and I wasn't the only female in a dress.

It was a late night and it will be an early morning, but I'm looking forward to the interviews and discussions at the final day of LeWeb. Followed by a fondue dinner with Natalie (where the wine is served in baby bottles), and possibly a trip to the Louvre!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

au pied du cochon

Au Pied du Cochon literally means "the foot of the pig". Almost everything on the menu consists of pig snout, knuckles, head, or tail - you name it, they serve it! While I'm open to new foods, like escargot, pig tail is a little much for my taste, which is likely why I did not hear one word of English at the restaurant. There was at least Italian and French, but with all the talking (the restaurant was full with a long line of waiting patrons) I could hardly pick out one language form the other.

They offer a complimentary aperitif which I declined for a small carafe of beaujolais (red wine) instead. The baguette is served with a pork fat butter. Seriously. I tried it, it was rich and flavorful, but I had no interest in eating another bite of it. (Side note - I just said "si" to my waiter instead of "oui" there's that Italian that keeps popping up!)

The famous onion soup was delicious. They use a lot more cheese than in the U.S. I actually used my butter knife to go after it. It was a nice big bowl and so tasty. I could go back for another one right now.

For my entree selection I went with a specialty; pork cutlet. It was served with a potato casserole on the side but given the calories (and cheese) I already consumed I only had a few bites. The pork was served with a brown sauce I'm convinced included some type of pork fat to add to the flavor. The cutlets were thin, pan-fried and served with soft onions. A very traditional French meal.

No dessert tonight, too much food already! But a tea sounds nice - ooh, they serve it with a chocolate! Don't mind if I do.

Tomorrow night I have a party in the Louvre. Yes, a party in the Louvre. Yes, that Louvre. I'm so glad I packed a dress!!

LeWeb day one

I feel that the most precise way to describe my day is to direct you to my Twitter feed (!/LadyXVII).
For those folks not on Twitter yet, the stream is in reverse chronological order with my most recent post on top. If there’s an “at symbol” - @ - I am tagging a person’s name or talking to them. If you see a hashtag - # - I’m categorizing my conversation. Most will have #leweb or #leweb11.
The schedule of speakers, for the most part, was interesting and educational! Those that stick out include;
  • Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel
    • “Personally I promote nothing at all, except being me.”
    • “The easiest thing for me to sketch is myself.” – which he did! On one of his 30 or 40 iPads – he goes through them like sketchbooks - and carries them in a case with his 4 iPhones, a handful of iPods - labeled for date of music upload.
    • “Life will teach you.”
    • “I’m down to earth, just not this earth.”
    • “I know there are more important things in life than fashion, but since we don’t run around naked maybe we should care a little bit about fashion.”
    • We got a preview of a movie he shot for Chanel. Tres chic!
  • Eric Schmidt from Google
    • "If you don’t like the image you see in the mirror don’t break the mirror fix the image problem"
    • On the Egyptian crisis – “Facebook organized, Twitter got people out, and YouTube recorded results”
    • “If you care about security use Chrome. The fact that it’s faster shouldn't matter.”
  • Joanna from Facebook
    • “Sampling is a successful technique for brands to reach out to fans on Facebook. Examples include Nespresso and Burberry.”
  • TaskRabbit – an app that lets you post an ad for basically anything! (e.g., picking up dry cleaning) Apparently the most common task across their network is assembling Ikea furniture!!
LinkedIn was also there. I don’t remember their interview being all that engaging, but I do know that one of life’s greatest mysteries has been solved!! I was always bothered that people type the company name with a capital I, “LinkedIn”. However, the logo has it with a lowercase i, “Linkedin” but the “in” sits within a blue box. For the longest time I thought everybody was writing it wrong – the logo has a lowercase i so that must be the way to type it as well! However, I was wrong. There was a piece of marketing material from LinkedIn in our LeWeb drawstring backpacks and they do indeed spell it out LinkedIn although it doesn’t agree with the logo.

Tomorrow I’m most looking forward to Evernote’s presentation. From those in the know, I hear they’ve got some hot news! Which reminds me, Facebook is developing a new plug-in to follow updates from any other site right in your news feed! Facebook, your one-stop shop. It’s what Mark Zuckerberg always dreamed of!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Paris and sun, again!

Dinner ended early and I wasn’t ready to retire so I stopped in the Irish pub next to my hotel for a glass of Bordeaux. I have now, I believe, frequented Irish Pubs in Paris, Rome, and Siena. There’s a good chance I was also at one in London. Ahh, the powers of Guinness.

I got up bright and early to climb the Eiffel Towers today. Since I twisted my ankle last night walking the Champs-Elysees I thought it prudent to metro over to the Left Bank. Arriving 15 minutes early was perfect, I was about 30th on line! Shortly thereafter I found myself overlooking the streets of a city I’ve come to know over the past two days. Morning in Paris, I’ve observed, is typically dark, gray, and gloomy, though that didn't take away from what I saw at the top!

From the Eiffel Tower I walked to Rue Cler; a traditional market-based street where Parisians do their food shopping. I picked up a couple of clementines, some brie, foie gras, dry sausage/salami, a petit baguette and I was set for lunch! I stopped at a bench on the gardens in front of Hotel de Invalides to nosh a bit, then continued to the Musee d’Orsay.

Note to self: do not arrive at a museum at noon. The line was so long!! Surprisingly, though, about 10 minutes after getting on line I saw the only other co-worker attending the LeWeb conference this week!! I chatted with Chris and his wife during our 30-minute queue. We parted ways when we got inside but it was a nice surprise to see a friendly face!

The Orsay was really interesting. It resides in an old train station so the architecture alone lends something to appreciate. The ground floor was impressive in regards to layout but the fifth floor really caught my eye. I enjoyed seeing the neo-Impressionist galleries; pointillism is a technique I’ll always admire! On the top floor you’ll find some of Degas’ ballerinas, Monet’s water lilies, works from Sisley and Toulouse-Latrec.

The few times I sat down during my rounds in the Orsay I nearly fell asleep. So following my visit I headed back to my hotel room to finish my lunch and take a nap. Apparently while I was asleep it actually hailed! So, weather wise I wasn’t missing much. On my way back to the hotel I stopped at Angelina and scored the last chocolate éclair… “you are lucky!” said my cashier… and three mini chocolate croissants because I couldn’t help myself.

Steak and frites for dinner!! Le Relais de l’Enterecote was recommended by a colleague and is conveniently located near the Champs Elysees. En route I strolled Rue de Montaigne, equivalent to Madison Avenue in New York. Great window shopping included Harry Winston, Balenciaga, Dior, and Chanel. Speaking of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld is presenting at my conference tomorrow morning!! Ahh!

I got to the restaurant at 6:40 and had to wait until they opened at 7 pm. While I waited I met an uber friendly American woman with her kids. After talking for a bit she welcomed me to join her group for dinner! It was such a nice treat not to eat a meal alone :)

The waitress asks what temperature you want your meat. Twenty minutes later plates with small stakes and frites (French fries) come out; followed by round two nearly 15 minutes later. It was so delicious, I ate every bite! The sauce is delectable, though no one knows exactly what is in it. People online have guessed garlic and anchovies. It’s quite a salty sauce, but not fishy at all.

Dinner was great, but now I think there’s a chocolate éclair calling my name… And, precious beauty sleep. After all, Karl Lagerfeld is presenting tomorrow, and I’m wearing heels with a strained ankle!

Monday, December 5, 2011

the day of closure

Sunday is usually a difficult day to plan in Paris because so many businesses are closed. For me, Monday proved to be even more so; difficult, that is.

I decided to check out the breakfast option at my hotel before setting out for the day, just in case it was worth it. Turns out, it was!! Cereal, yogurt, chocolate croissants (yum!), regular croissants and pastries, baguettes, 3 cheeses, ham and salami, hot sausage, and scrambled eggs. Plus they had American coffee and a selection of juice (yes, Ross, I took my vitamins). No, I didn’t eat all of that – those were just the options. But, I grazed a bit :)

My first stop was Napoleon’s Tomb. This site wasn’t originally on my list but a friend and colleague highly recommended it. On my walk over I got some great pictures as it was bright and sunny – an unexpected surprise for December in Paris! Unfortunately, the Hotel de Invalides and Napoleon’s Tomb are closed the first Monday of the month. Not the end of the world since I did get some great pictures of the outside and gardens. Note: I brought my big camera with the telescopic lens today. It weighs about 15 pounds, and worth every ounce.

Next up was the Musee de l’Orangerie. This is a small museum featuring Monet’s Waterlilies in a white gallery designed by Monet himself. I had a really nice time walking the galleries in this smaller museum but was slightly frustrated by the large number of young students attending class trips. The site is small so I finished it rather quickly and strolled through the Jardin de Tuileries on my way to lunch.

I met my friend and trapeze confidant Natalie at Angelina; a patisserie and restaurant famous for their decadent, rich hot chocolate. We both ordered the carrot soup – such a fabulous recipe, I might be inspired for future soups! – and I polished mine off with a hot chocolate that met every bit of its reputation. One of the nice things about France, and Europe for that matter, is the lack of rushing at dining establishments. We had to try and make eye contact with – eventually we nearly interrupted – our waiter to ask for the bill.

Natalie kindly walked me to Saint Chapelle which was closing at 4:30 pm. I was sad because the stained glass windows in the upper chapel on a sunny day like today would be breaktaking. Thankfully I have time in my itinerary tomorrow to squeeze that stop in! We assumed there was a concert at the church this evening, hence the early closure.

After a quick jaunt through the Latin Quarter we stopped for tea at her apartment. Shortly thereafter we stepped out to stroll the Marche de Noel, “Christmas Market”, in her neighborhood and found, to our disappointment, they closed early! Why? For no good reason; likely because it was cold. Oh Europeans! So we headed off in search of a crepes. Favorite creperie nearby? Closed. Alright, onto the next good one a few blocks down. Closed. Seriously?! How does this happen. Why is nobody working? Did I miss a memo? We decided to grab some Lebanese food for dinner tonight – a really good choice, they even gave us free baklava for dessert!!

En route to the metro  I was able to get some Christmas shopping done. That was quite a pleasant surprise. I’m glad that I stumbled across some authentic Parisian “gifts” for friends and family.  By the time I got back to my hotel it was 7:30. For some reason, I thought the Marche de Noel on the Champs Elysees was closing at 8:30pm, so I hustled over to the start of the market!! The stalls are really cute and festive with lots of Vin Chaud (hot wine), fromage (cheese), and saucisse (sausage). There were also plenty of knick knacks. I tried some of the Vin Chaud – a mulled hot wine – and don’t think I’ll be having another glass during my trip. I still had my camera with me so I got some nice photos of the market, locals shopping, and the sparkling Eiffel Tower in the background!! I continued up Champs Elysees – despite my aching back, legs, and muscles – all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. It really is beautiful lit up at night! The walk back down was much easier. I picked up a Nutella crepe, finally!, at a stall and continued through the rest of the Marche de Noel.

I had quite the busy day, despite sites being closed. Natalie and I are going to meet up again for a fondue dinner on Friday! Something I'm really looking forward to. And first site on my itinerary for tomorrow is the Eiffel Tower! I'm quite excited to ride up and see the view of the city :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

my first day in Paris... and what a day it was!

When my flight landed I kept reminding myself it was 11:15 am, despite the few hours of sleep I got on the plane. Luggage took a while to come out – I forgot about that little nugget when flying internationally. And then the train was out of service because there was an accident. I was directed to the “350” metrobus and an hour and a half later I was actually in metropolitan Paris. A short taxi ride from the bus stop to my hotel taught me that the Roissybus will be my method of transportation for my return flight.

I checked into my hotel and freshened up… after all, I did sleep in a cabin with approximately 200 other people breathing the same air for 8 hours, eww! Unfortunately, since it’s Sunday, a lot of restaurants and sites are closed. So I stopped into the closest bistro for a chicken sandwich. Since I’ve heard rave reviews about the French mustard I added a bit. Let me tell you, it cleared my sinuses like wasabi!

A quick hop across the street and I was in the Tuileries Gardens. The afternoon was dark and grey so I decided not to take my big camera with me. (In fact, I wasn’t even inspired to take a picture until the sun went down! That’s when Paris really lights up!!) As I was leaving the Tuileries Gardens I happened to turn around and say something reminiscent of the “London Eye” (unexpected and ugly) and behind that the Arc de Triomphe (unexpected and beautiful). My line of sight quickly focused on the Arc and I was momentarily mesmerized.

My afternoon walk around the Left Bank left me quite happy with Paris. I arrived at the Luxembourg Gardens, my planned destination, to find out they were closing. That was a shame but it’s hardly “garden weather” so I adjusted rather quickly. Down the street is the Pantheon and I continued around and up to Notre Dame. The façade and exterior of Notre Dame is quite breathtaking – especially at sunset when all of the buttresses are lit up. The inside is remarkable as well. There was a service going on, which added to the effect, but this cathedral was breathtaking. The small chapels on each side were quite a site. It brought me back to my days in Italy…
Which reminds me… all day I have been thinking of vocabulary and phrases in Italian. That long lost language I haven’t spoken in three and a half years! I have said “Si” and “Grazie” more times that I wish to admit today. No matter how hard I try, those key French phrases are not sticking in my head.  Although, apparently a number of Europeans think that I do speak French. I was approached by two different people today asking me questions, about 10-15 seconds long, in French. One woman didn’t speak English but the second did so I was able to direct her. However, I was shocked she didn’t try English first. The woman in the Tabac shop thought I was going to send my postcard within the EU when I politely corrected her and said, “U.S., please” (Ellen, you’re welcome in advance!) After these experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am geographically generic. When I’m in the U.S. people can’t place me or my accent. When I’m in Europe people think I am European. Not that I’m complaining because I have encountered numerous friendly, nice Frenchmen/people today and have yet to (despite the woman on the bus that was made my suitcase was taking up a seat) interact with the rude, anti-American French that everybody makes such a fuss about.
But I digress… I continued westward on the island towards Saint Chapelle (a site to visit later this week) and crossed Pont Neuf -  but not before photographing the heads and ornate details on the side. By the time I got to the Louvre courtyard (where the famed pyramid resides) I was losing steam.

Most restaurants are closed on Sunday so finding a place to dine tonight proved to be rather difficult despite how prepared I am for this trip. Finally I hoped on the metro and made my way to dinner. They were booked solid for the night at their tables, though I got a one of the two seats at the bar facing the kitchen which happens to be right inside the front door! I was mesmerized by what I saw… it was more action than a hockey game :)

The wait staff offered me a wine that I had not tried before; Cote de Rhone. My initial reaction was “undetermined” – it had less body than a Cabernet though it wasn’t lacking flavor. It had a lot of tannins and the best way I can describe it was that it was almost sour, but not in a bad way.

My appetizer involved snails in French mushrooms with a butter herb sauce and cooked in a bubbling garlic butter sauce. And yes, I sopped up the extra sauce with my freshly baked baguette after I ate all my mushrooms/snails. Note: that was my first snail experience but I promised myself that I would try to be open to new foods while on this trip!

The kitchen put out dish after dish of a [what looked like] a lamb shank. It must be the most popular dish at the restaurant, and after I saw the umpteenth plate being prepared I became remiss that I did not order that. OH, but then my dinner arrived – a succulent, soft, flavorful filet of white fish; served on top of vegetables with a mesculin green salad. I ate every last morsel. Fish has never tasted so good; this entrée was fan-freaking-tastic.

I trusted my waiter enough at that point to leave the dessert choice to him. Then he lays down a fork, a spoon, and a knife. For dessert?! Whaaat? He said, “it’s a pie served warm, with English cream and caramel sauce!” Okay, I was sold and when it came I sure was glad that I let him choose it. The pie was a Bosc pear and it was fantastically delicious!

It’s been a long day and I’m ready to get some shut eye in a bed. So, au revoir my blog readers!! Stay tuned for another day in Paris…

PS - folks, I have a really slow internet connection for now so I will upload pictures later this week! Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

bonjour paris!

Note: I am currently agitated with the Blogger software. During my commute home yesterday I wrote this post and it was great. My tone of voice was spot on... you know, one of those write-ups that has the perfect bit of sarcasm? And then my iPhone Blogger app lost it. It's not a draft. It's not on my iPhone. It's not in my web account. Needless to say, I'm very irritated. However, I still have the major issue of picking out shoes for Paris so I wrote it again and please please comment!


I leave for Paris in just two days. When I booked this trip back in September, I thought the day would never arrive, now it's almost here!! When I studied abroad in college I chose not to visit Paris because I was convinced the opportunity would arise later in life. Alas, said opportunity is here!!

I have been mentally scanning my closet to select the most appropriate attire for Paris. After all, I will have those fashionably acute, judgmental French eyes staring at me. My mental suitcase currently consists of blouses, sweaters, silk scarves, blazers, peggings (pant leggings - these are awesome!) and then I get to shoes... oh man, I am stumped!! I have rain boots, sneakers, Merrells, Sperry waterproof winter boots with a wedge, and Frye motorcycle boots...

What I really need (okay, "want") for a cold and wet December in Paris is riding boots! Particularly a pair in black and luggage. Then I went on an online mission to find a pair. I came across a "keeper" at DSW and put them in my cart when my common (better?) senses kicked in... did I want to spend that money on shoes or did I want to spend that money IN Paris?! I did not end up purchases the boots. But now I'm left with a conundrum... what do I wear for my three touring days?!

I'm favoring my motorcycle boots for the more muddy ventures (e.g., the Eiffel Tower) and my winter boots with a wedge for the more sophisticated atmospheres (e.g., Champs d'Elysses).

But, I ask you this blog readers... what shoes do I pack for Paris?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

shirt coat

I have a few pieces of clothing that confuse me. And it seems that this is the week I have decided to wear all of them. Yesterday, my ninja pants. Today, my shirt coat. This Elie Tahari top goes to the top half of my thigh, but it only has three snaps in the center so it does open up above the pelvis. Hence, it is not a dress. I wore it to my friend's bridal shower in September and decided to pop it on today because it's comfortable and suitable for the continued warm weather.

I've paired it with a Banana Republic black cami underneath (it does require a tank top of sorts) and Theory black cigarette pants. To complete the look I put on my black suede Jimmy Choos, my Ebel watch (a gift from my Dad on my 16th birthday), a set of 3 Pono bracelets, a charm necklace (complete with Tiffany heart charm, a small cameo I purchased next to the Vatican in Rome, and a St. Christopher charm to keep me safe, a gift from my friend's mom while I was studying abroad in Rome), and some RJ Graziano chandelier earrings (silver with a variety of stones).

The highlight of my ensemble is my hair! I didn't want to take the time to straighten or curl it - so up it went in a sweeping french braid, with a loose tail. What do you think?

Monday, November 28, 2011

ninja pants

Okay, folks - updating the picture here. Too much background space... plus with this version you can just make out my manicure!! It's "Candy Apple Mint" by Essie and "Here Today... Aragon Tomorrow" by OPI with diagonal lines. I was inspired by Penny's nails on an episode of "The Big Bang Theory".

You might remember these pants from an old post in September. I mislabeled them, they're actually Elie Tahari and rather than being referred to as "genie pants" they have now been coined my "ninja pants"! What's funny is that my mom called me as I was getting ready for work this morning (she's headed to the RJ Graziano and Theory sample sales in NYC today!! Hopefully Santa finds me something good to put under the tree!!) and I told her I was wearing my "ninja pants" and she knew exactly what I was referring to!! So apparently the description is really spot on. They're pretty loose on the hips and thighs, and more tapered at the ankles. It has an attached belt which I had some issues tying but figured out something suitable.

Today's high is 66 degrees, unseasonably warm for the end of November so I decided to give these a try. They're cropped above the ankles and a nice light fabric. I've paired them with a tight-ish Elie Tahari tank top, Tory Burch cotton blazer, and Prada black patent pumps. It's a comfortable outfit which is key after returning to work from a nice, long 4-day weekend!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

being thankful

This weekend I was lucky enough to sit back, relax, and really enjoy the holiday. My office was closed on Thursday and Friday. After a long month of late nights at the office and weekends traveling to friends' weddings I vowed that I would take this long weekend as a time to recharge at home. I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to enjoy some time off from a job I love, spend  quality time with family, and indulge my creative side a bit. (The picture above is the output of my creative juices on Saturday night!)

Among other things, I am so grateful for the friends in my life. They have taught me not to take things for granted, slow down every once in a while, and enjoy the little moments. Thank you all for your friendship.

engagement chicken

One of our favorite go-to dishes for dinner is "Engagement Chicken". This is a really popular recipe on Epicurious - which is a great website and app, if you haven't used it to search for recipes yet, I highly suggest it.

I first made it during a dinner party last month and it was a hit. Plus, it's so simple and requires so few ingredients;

  • Chicken (approx. 4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 lemons (1 for garnish)
  • Fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, or sage)

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Wash and pat the chicken dry. Pour the lemon juice over the bird, both inside and out. Use sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper both inside and out. Prick two of the lemons with a fork a few times and put them in the bird's cavity. (You can also put some fresh herbs in the cavity!) Lower the temperature to 350 degrees, rest the bird breast down in a roasting rack and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the bird over, breast side up, and cook until the internal temperature is 180 degrees. It should take approximately 18 to 20 minutes per pound plus 15 minutes for the lemons inside. Let the bird stand for 10 minutes then carve. Place the sliced meat on a plate with a sliced lemon and fresh herbs, don't forget to pour the pan drippings on top!! And voila... so delish!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

tasty noms

I was really inspired by all things in the kitchen this past Sunday!! First I decided to make the spicy bolognese sauce we are having for dinner tonight. The idea was to cook the sausage when it was fresh and then store two containers in the freezer. The sauce is a bit time intensive, so cooking it on Sunday is better than a work night!

While Ross went to the gym I perused our new copy of Everyday Food by Martha Stewart. In here, I came across a recipe for homemade granola. I made it with oatmeal and almonds mixed with honey, oil, butter, and brown sugar. After it baked I added craisins and yellow raisins. So delicious :)

After browsing through our pantry and finding some ingredients I forgot we had I realized I was able to put together the "Buttermilk-Cornmeal Drop Biscuits" also from Everyday Food. They look more like scones since the batter is a little looser than typical biscuits and you don't need to use a cookie cutter. And ooooh these are so good! I made some honey-butter to put on these, but so far have just used raspberry jam.

Then it was time for dinner! We had pork tendeloin in a teriyaki sauce and a whole grain couscous. I thought a vegetable stir-fry was appropriate to add. Just look at all the colors here! We've got Brussels sprouts, red and green bell peppers, onions, carrots and garlic. Nom nom nom.

ooh la la!

I had a lot of fun dressing up for my trapeze show!! You can't see the costume very well in the video so I'm posting pictures from the dress rehearsal. Michelle and I had complimentary versions of each others outfit. Ooh la la!!

 Matching Moulin Rouge Ladies
Long Limbs

Monday, November 21, 2011

the elevator is my runway

Two shots for you today!! 1) Outfit 2) plus coat!!

When I got to work, I was second guessing my decision to wear a turtleneck, but as the day went out this outfit proved to be comfortable, functional, and fashionable!

  • Elie Tahari brown cashmere short-sleeve turtleneck sweater
  • Louis Vuitton belt
  • Theory brown pants (love these!! They are so long!)
  • Cole Haan brown leather ankle boots
  • Michael Kors gold watch
  • Various brown leather bracelets from street vendors in Florence, Italy

  • Burberry white quilted trench coat, mid-thigh length
  • Mulholland luggage collar shoppers tote purchased via Rue La La!
  • Copco orange travel mug :) (Most of my beverage containers are orange!)

trapeze show!!!

Finally, after 10 weeks of practice up high the TSNY DC Fall Show arrived!!! We had so much fun preparing for our entrance, tricks, and exit. Our theme was Moulin Rouge and Michelle, aka "DJ Straddles", hooked us up with some awesome tracks to fly to!

Here's a picture of Rebecca, Shannon, and me before the show in our "dress blacks". Can you sense our excitement??

Here's the video of our entrance... we were so nervous it came out a little sloppy :-P

Doesn't everybody look so great in their trapeze gear?!?!

Here's my trick :) Honestly... I was so nervous that I blacked out before I went into my position. I just remember landing in the net knowing I had caught it!! Lots of adrenaline running through me. Also, I don't mind admitting that I have never before done a split with my left leg forward. Oh well, at least we caught it! (Look how happy I am afterwards!)

And, here is our exit! I just love how Will and Harold say goodbye at the end :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

wine club

Our building just started a wine club!! Last night was our first event. We all met in the building's meeting room with our favorite "go-to" wine, information about it, and a snack!

Everybody shared why they liked the wine, where to buy, how much it costs, and any other interesting details. Ross and I brought Copppola Claret and Mondavi Meritage. The Coppola is my Dad's favorite wine and we can pick it up for less than $13 at the Costco in Arlington!! The Mondavi is a blend that I (thought I) remembered drinking in college. Sidenote: I was not a Franzia fan, I grew up drinking wine at dinner with my family so for me drinking wine in college was a lot different than my peers. At last night's wine club I found out Mondavi was sold to Constellation, the same company behind Manischewitz. Something tells me I won't be drinking any Mondavi for a while.

Of course I brought my very favorite snack to share with folks; apples, cheese, and pretzels. I even wrote a note so that they stacked all three items together :)

daily wardrobe

Wednesday was so hectic - party planner central for me!! I organized a lunch tasting to select a caterer for my company's Winter/New Year party next month. And at night I put together a social for former government executives. I was all over the place so I needed an outfit that was smart and comfortable!! I switched between rain boots, heels, and flats throughout the day.

I did a big relaxed curl in my hair that morning to keep it out of my face and avoid that "falling" look at 5 pm since I would be busy until 9.

  • Black velvet beaded necklace - doubled up
  • Tory Burch white blouse with ruffles
  • Theory gray raw silk skirt
  • DKNY damask textured tights in black/gray
  • Tory Burch black velour flats with grossgrain ribbon beneath medallion

Here's a little snapshot of dessert at Wednesday's lunch. I quickly learned one bite of each was the best method...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

elevator ride

So I'm a stairs kind of girl, which is why my daily outfit posts have been slacking. I'll try harder... I promise.

Snapped this bad boy on a one floor ride and barely got it in before the doors opened up! That could have been awkward :-/

Today we've got:

  • Necklace, RJ Graziano -- sample sale in NYC, these are the BEST!!
  • Rebecca Beeson top, most likely purchased at Loehmann's ;-)
  • Banana Republic skirt - it's a fine black with beige herringbone
  • DKNY sheet black stockings
  • Oscar de la Renta leopard furry flats

charleston: in review

This past weekend Ross and I celebrated our friend's Dave & Erin (check out her blog I Am Quirky) wedding in Charleston, SC. This is such a beautiful town to host a wedding! While not dancing the night away with my sexy groomsman ;-) I kept myself plenty busy...

A delicious lunch at Magnolia's when we arrived Friday afternoon. We tried Cru Cafe and Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.) but the waits were too long and we were hungry!

Shopping at the Charleston City Market!! We were able to pick up a few Christmas gifts here :) (PS - I'm almost done Christmas shopping... I think I'll save the last few items and pick them up during my trip to Paris next month!!)

Manicure and mimosas with the other Groomsmen's dates!! We had so much fun :) The polish is "Sew Actually" by Essie, and I even got the manicurist to add a subtle glitter accent on my fourth finger!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

have your cake...

I was just browsing through the marvelous blog Hostess with the Mostess when I came across this wedding cake!! I'm obsessed, it looks just like my blog/Twitter/YouTube background. Too bad my birthday just passed, otherwise I might actually try to recreate this guy :)

how to post a comment

Some friends have asked how to leave a comment with their name if they don't have an account from the drop-down list! You can choose the "Name/URL" option from the drop-down, type in your name, and leave the URL text box blank. Easy peasy :)

Please leave comments! I promise to answer :)

off center plaid nail art

To achieve this look I used "topless & barefoot" and "wicked" from essie, and painstackingly cutting 40 little strips of scotch tape!

  1. Prep your nails by cutting, filing, buffing, etc. 
  2. Cut out thin strips of scotch tape so they're ready when you are! (This is easier to do with dry nails!)
  3. Use a clear base coat to protect your nail beds.
  4. Choose a base color that will show through as the thin lines of plaid. I went with "topless & barefoot" by essie.
  5. Use a quick-dry top coat to seal the base color. Wait a few minutes so that it is dry and you don't remove polish with the scotch tape.
  6. Create a cross-hatch of tape on the nails of one hand. 
    • Before you lay the tape on your nail, lightly press it on your palm to remove some of the adhesive, this will help to avoid removing polish. 
    • First lay down the horizontal strips of tape, then lay down the vertical strips.
    • I chose to do an off-center pattern. 
    • Using an orange stick, lightly press the tape so that the edges are adhering.
  7. When the tapes are all ready on one hand, use your top color and paint across your nail. Don't paint too roughly because polish can seep under the tape ;-) I used "wicked" by essie for this.
  8. Be patient! Wait about ten minutes for the top color to set.
  9. Slowly peel back each piece of tape individually.
  10. Cover your nail with a top coat.
  11. Repeat steps 6 through 10 for your other hand.

Polish slipped under the tape :( This is still a work in progress, as you can see. When I finished I cleaned up the skin around my nails using a little brush and some acetone!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

vanilla chai lattes

Hot drinks are one of my interests. Sometimes I'll choose a menu option based on my outfit (I think to myself, "If I saw me walking down the street holding a Starbucks cup, what would be in it?"). It's weird, I know. But my outfit is usually related to my mood, which is usually related to my preference for hot drinks. What's that mathematical relationship called? If A=B and B=C, then B=C. Can't remember... thanks high school algebra!

Back to hot drinks... one of my guilty pleasures is the vanilla chai latte. This is not a drink you can order in any coffee shop. In fact, it's not on Starbucks' menu! So whenever I do stumble across it, it's like the most fabulous thing that has ever happened to me :) When I'm in State College I'll head to Saints Coffeshop. When I'm in DC I head to Open City, sort of a glorified diner/wine bar/coffee bar. Haven't found a place in NJ... yet.

Yesterday was really busy, I worked from our kitchen table for nearly 12 hours because I never found the time to get dressed and commute!! I got a chill around 5pm and whipped up a homemade vanilla chai latte. Big Train Chai is the best, and the directions are really easy - printed right on the back!

Got all my supplies, ready to go!
 Measuring out the milk.
 Adding some water to the mix.
 After letting the milk/water get hot, I slowly add in the Vanilla Chai mix.
 Whisk to combine.
Pour and enjoy!! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

UV free gel manicure at home

On October 27th I wrote about the gel manicure set that I purchased from Bed Bath & Beyond! Last week I planned to wear my half moons to Rebecca's wedding however, by Thursday afternoon my nails were chipped and beyond repair. So after going to Junior League, making dinner, finishing some work at home, and packing my weekend bag I took off the polish and decided to try the gel manicure! I was excited since it would dry really fast and I could then go to sleep at a somewhat reasonable hour.

A few short minutes later I couldn't see. Do you react badly to chopping onions? This was 100 times worse. I was squeezing my eyes shut because they were burning from the strong unpleasant odor of this product. When I did open them I had tears streaming down my face. Unfortunately it was nearly 11:30 PM and we were hitting the road at 8:00 AM, so I felt as if there was no other option for my nails at that point. I spent the next 30 minutes applying the Activator and Gel Polish without breathing.

The photo of my finished left hand actually looks pretty good; the nails look shiny. However, I was less than impressed in person. It wasn't a clean, solid, shiny finish... it kind of reminded me of working with old nail polish.

Also, my last note is around the level of skill required to apply this. I've been painting my own nails since high school so I have practice with a brush in both hands and I still found this rather difficult. I did use a little eyeshadow brush (shown in the picture above) with 100% pure acetone to clean up my skin around each nail, but I found that each nail had a different thickness of polish which slightly irritated me.

All in all, I do not recommend this product. It was not worth the pain in my eyes and nose, the frustrating application process, or dealing with chipped nails two days later!! Instead, I suggest you get a Shellac or Axxium gel manicure at a salon... and don't forget to apply sunscreen to your hands before you go ;-)


Whew - Fall is really kicking my butt!! I've got to learn how to say no to some things. Being overwhelmed both at work and outside of work is taking its toll on me. I love being busy, but I think that I'm reaching my threshold. Promise to publish some nail related posts later this afternoon. We've got UV-free manicure and plaid nail art in the queue ;-)

...words to live by

Thursday, November 3, 2011

new dessert to try

Came across this photo on facebook and I'm totally intrigued. Definitely want to try this out, though I need to think of a good event where it works.

The buns are made from yellow cake, and the patties are made out of chocolate cupcake. The "lettuce", "mustard", and "ketchup" are all icing, as are the "sesame seeds". Since there's no icing on the top of it, I think using icing in the middle for the condiments, etc. was a great idea!

These could be fun at a kids party or a bar-b-q, if only summer weren't so far away!

christmas music

This is a debate I hear every year around this time... is it okay to listen to Christmas music in November? Clearly this is a decision of personal choice. I tend to play some of my favorites ("Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" by N'Sync, obviously!) when I see the first snowflake. Sometimes that's October, sometimes that's November. And I usually listen sporadically until Thanksgiving weekend - then it's nonstop, 24/7 Christmas music straight through to December 25th :)

I'm definitely one of those people that can still listen to Christmas music in January. I absolutely love the holiday season and am not overwhelmed by the hoopla of it all. This week, I'll admit, I did set up a Christmas playlist (including Michael Buble's album because his voice is so magical) and was listening to it all day long.

I believe that stores putting out Christmas paraphernalia in September or October is just outrageous - but it has become such a marketed, commercial, American holiday it doesn't surprise me all that much. 

Have you begun listening to Christmas music? What songs are in your queue?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

half moons

I'm almost out of new nail design ideas! I've just got to grab some matte polish, complete one more design, and I'm all out :( Please share your ideas with me. (Tracy - I promise not to do the converse sneakers!)

Last night I got my nails ready for Rebecca's wedding this weekend! Hopefully it doesn't chip, because if it does I'm going to resort to a solid color which wouldn't be as exciting.

I have seen this design on Pinterest a lot lately. However, I also remember seeing it in some high-end fashion ads about eight years ago!! It was also super popular in the sixties. Plus, Phillip Lim's models were seen wearing it back in February! Seems like a design that's been around for a while and will ebb and flow with the trends.

 Avon polish in "Empower"
Essie polish, don't remember the name :-/

This was pretty difficult to do because I didn't use tape or any type of guide to create the "half moons". If you're trying this out for the first time, expect to get better each time you try it, and make sure you have lots of time and patience!
1. Prep nails for polish, including cutting, filing, clipping, and buffing!
2. Use a base coat.
3. Use your highlight color (silver) and swirl the brush around the top of the bottle to remove the excess polish. Carefully create a half moon shape at the top of your nail... It's okay to get polish all over your cuticles and fingers!
4. Using your base color (navy), remove excess polish and slowly trace around the half moon shape, then in vertical strokes fill in the rest of your nail bed.
5. Do a second coat of color, coming as close to the highlight as possible.
6. Using 100% acetone (so much easier and faster than polish remover) dip a small eyeliner or eyeshadow brush (I have one just for nail polish) into the acetone and trace along the outside of your nails to clean up your finger tips!!
7. Finish it off with a top coat!

today's outfit

The elevators at work are completely mirrored. I'm not sure why, exactly, but yesterday evening I was standing alone in the elevator when I thought "Hmm, maybe I should take a picture of my outfit and post it to my blog!" That thought wasn't executed because the doors opened up about 3 seconds later (no time to whip out my iPhone).

This morning, I found myself alone in the elevator with a quick enough reaction time to snap this one! So, on days where I'm sporting fun outfits and/or happen to ride the elevator alone with iPhone in hand I'm planning to post a picture and tell you what I'm wearing!

Theory black wool blend sweater, Theory black cotton and spandex blend pants, Jimmy Choo black suede pumps, Burberry black leather belt with gold hardware, Michael Kors gold watch, Pono gold ring, necklace unknown, Camelbak orange water bottle ;-)

I really like this necklace! My mom gave it to me, so I'm not sure where it's from. The beads look like little nuts, hence the small markings. And they're attached to a black suede string tying into a knot.

Monday, October 31, 2011

i still love snow

Raise of hands -- who was affected by the nor'easter this weekend?! While I was out running errands (aka - picking up my new shoes!) Ross and I returned to a snow-laden road with icy conditions. We drove past a few cars that either turned over, slid into embankments, or got hit by downed trees. New Jersey was certainly hit harder than we had expected.

The snow set me back a little bit because I really wanted to get some work done this weekend. Instead, I found myself chilling in Starbucks stranded from my laptop, iPad, and my dying cell phones' power cords. Not fun. As a result, Monday morning catch-up took a lot longer than anticipated.

Finally a group decision was made to park at a neighbors and trek over the downed trees and power lines to return to a house full of family!! We snacked on cheese and crackers, fruit, cake & ice cream while sipping gin & tonics and wine. Oh, what a night!!

When the flakes began, as I walked down the sidewalk, I couldn't help but think "Oh, I have missed this. I love snow." Despite all the obstacles and changes the snow storm brought on my weekend plans, and after climbing over trees and sleeping with no heat on, I still love snow. Bring it on winter!

hello lovelies

My shoes are here! They have finally arrived... aren't they beautiful?! Jimmy Choo, black suede, almond toe, with a 4" heel. Actually it might be 4.25" - I don't remember. There is no platform so I'm not completely towering over all of my coworkers.

When I sent this picture to my friend she replied "you can dress like that for work?" I responded... yes, with a pencil skirt, white blouse, and fur vest to boot!! Today's outfit is certainly a fun one. Since I'm not client-facing right now I'm not restricted by the "suit rule". Thankfully!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

what's better than chocolates and shoes?

A chocolate shoe!! My fellow trapeze artist and friend, Harold, brought me the sweetest (yes, that's a pun) birthday gift and it was a true homage to the Patent Leather Shoes blog. He used a purse for the gift big, which I thought was uber creative! Inside I found a white chocolate shoe stuffed with chocolate candies from Schakolad.

See how delicious this looks... Almost too pretty to eat. Almost ;-)

I've been super busy and not yet able to break into this puppy, but it's #1 on my list when I get home from Junior League tonight!!