Saturday, December 27, 2014

What I wore today: 12/25/2014 (Cozy Christmas Day)

Christmas Day Outfit

I'm going to take a stand today and admit something you may find shocking: I like Ugg boots. I'm not ashamed of it. And yes, they are warm as hell, and yes they are comfortable, but here's the real heart of the issue: I like the way they look!

Sometimes you like ugly things and that's okay. However, I think the real thing that makes people react so strongly against Uggs isn't how ugly they are, but the fact that they are associated with being basic. 

But, you know what, I think it's okay to like some basic things and not worry about people labeling you a basic bitch. Just like it's okay to like some hipster things and not freak out if people call you a hipster. Just like what you like. Real people don't fall one-hundred-percent into stereotypes, but they also don't usually avoid stereotypical traits altogether. 

Here are some things I like that I am not ashamed of...

– Polaroid camera
– Taylor Swift's new album
– Vinyl records
– Bob Evan's pot roast
– Thick-framed glasses
– Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co.
– Mason jars 
– Starbucks
– Antlers 

Merry Christmas, everybody. 

Christmas Day Outfit
Christmas Day Outfit
Christmas Day Outfit
Christmas Day Outfit


Jeans – Gap
Lace camisole – Free People
Split-back top – Anthropologie
Boots – Ugg

Friday, December 26, 2014

What I wore today: 12/24/2014 (Cozy Christmas Eve)

Christmas Eve outfit

Not the best photos, sorry. I took them in a rush on the way out the door to the Fohl family Christmas party, and I clearly should have taken more time to select the proper ISO.

That said, I wanted to share this outfit because it is pretty representative of the kind of casual, comfortable look that I've been going to a lot lately. For me, a Christmas outfit should look festive, keep me warm, and feel cozy and comfortable. 

Christmas Eve outfit
Christmas Eve outfit
Christmas Eve outfit

Sweater – J.Crew
Jeans – Anthropologie
Fur snood – Anthropologie
Boots – Jeffrey Campbell, Free People
Socks – Madewell
Ring – Ringly (review post coming soon)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Four Books to Read if You Love the Podcast Serial

Podcasts are having a major moment right now. At the forefront of that moment is Serial, a This American Life spin-off that has shot to the top of the charts and spawned the first major podcast about a podcast.

It’s a good time to be a podcast nerd. The only problem finding a way to get your Serial fix now that the first season is over. But, as usual, books are here to help obsessive nerds like us. If you’re looking for something to fill the void, you can count on one of these great reads to satisfy your Serial craving. (Looking to satisfy your cereal craving instead? I recommend Honey Nut Cheerios.)

A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation by Tal McThenia and Margaret Dunbar Cutright

A Case for Solomon is an expansion of my personal favorite This American Life episode, about a hundred-year-old mystery reexamined. As with Serial, a cast of fascinating people shed light on a puzzling crime and a probably legal injustice. But, in this case, the crime took place generations ago and the question of mistaken identity (one of my personal genre Kryptonites – see also: my second favorite This American Life episode) looms large at the center of the story.

The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm
One of the things that makes Serial so intriguing is that host Sarah Koenig takes listeners along on her journalistic investigation. Beyond being a story about a murder, Serial is a story about a journalist investigating a murder. In The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom investigates another real-life murder mystery and possible wrongful conviction, but she also examines the ethics of journalism and, like Koenig, lets readers inside her investigative process and comments on her own experience.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
One of the questions that comes up a few times in Serial is the possibility that the man at the center of the story, who seems like very nice person, could instead be a “charming sociopath.” I always recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interesting in psychopathy/sociopathy (the terms are interchangeable). Jon Ronson, himself an occasional contributor to This American Life, explores psychopathy in fascinating and highly entertaining detail. This is one that definitely sticks with year years after reading it.  
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Though it’s not exactly lacking for press, I couldn’t compile a list like this and not include In Cold Blood. A must-read for fans of true-crime and narrative non-fiction, this pioneering masterpiece defined a genre and continues to enrapture readers today. Also, though it pains Capote fans to think of it, new evidence suggests In Cold Blood may be an example of very bad journalistic ethics indeed, which certainly gives historical context to Koenig’s very careful reporting and how far journalism has come in the last half century.


Don’t despair, Serial-addicts. There’s a book to fulfill your desires, whether you’re interested in submerging yourself in another true-crime mystery, delving deep into questions of journalistic ethics, or even exploring the spin-off subject of psychopathy (a spin-off of a spin-off, a podcast about a podcast – things are getting really meta around here!) As usual, books have your back.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Recipe: Candy Apple Pie

Candy apple pie

I love trying new pies for Thanksgiving, and I usually gravitate toward classics with a twist. This year I made the pumpkin creme pie I make every year at Ryan's request, and a candy apple pie. The candy apple pie was pretty neat because it had a delicious cider-caramel sauce on the inside and a hot cinnamon candy shell on the outside. If you have trouble choosing between caramel apples and candy apples when you go to the fair, then this is the pie for you. It was pretty hard to cut, though. So, if I made it again, I'd make less hard candy to give it more of a drizzle that a full coat. 

Candy apple pie

Recipe slightly adapted from First Prize Pies

Ingredients:

Crust:
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup whole milk (plus extra for glaze)
1 T. apple cider vinegar
12 ounces or 3 cups flour
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt

Filling:
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 pounds granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

Candy topping:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 t. cinnamon extract
10 drops red food coloring

Candy apple pie

Step 01. Cut butter into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Combine dry ingredients in a food processor with a quick whirl. Add butter and blend until mixture is the texture of rough sand. In a measuring cup, stir vinegar into milk. Turn on food processor, and slowly pour milk mixture through the feed tube. Turn processor off as soon as combined. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Step 02. Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Roll out half the dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Trim overhang to 1 inch and refrigerate crust.

Step 03. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat, boil cider until reduced to about 1/2 cup. Lower heat to medium-high, melt butter into cider syrup, and whisk in brown sugar, cream, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Bring mixture to a gentle boil and cook until dark, thick, and glossy (about 7 to 10 minutes). Remove from heat and cool until just warm.

Step 04. Layer apple slices in pie crust and pour caramel sauce over. Brush edges of pie shell with some of the milk reserved for glaze. Roll out remaining pie dough, lay it over the filled pie shell, and trim overhand to 1 inch. Roll edges of both crusts together and crimp. Brush top and edges of pie with remaining milk reserved for glaze.

Step 05. Back pie on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Lower temperature to 350ºF (175ºC) and back for 30 to 40 minutes until crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Step 06. Wait until pie is cooked to begin candy shell. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, and 1/3 cup water over high heat. Cook until the syrup reaches 300ºF (150ºC) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and whisk in cinnamon extract and food coloring. Use a fork to drizzle liquid candy over pie. Do not refrigerate pie (it will soften the candy crust), and serve as soon as possible. 

Candy apple pie

Monday, December 15, 2014

What I wore today: 12/12/2014 (Black and Tan)

Black and tan outfit: high-waisted black jeans, partial-laceup leather Frye boots, J.Crew camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee, quartz necklace, Madewell black and tan colorblock streetcar coat

Black and tan is my favorite color combination right now. I know some of you are probably thinking that black and tan aren't even real colors, so allow me to explain. 

I've mentioned my love of neutrals (and, by association, Madewell) before, but I haven't really said all I want to say on the subject. You see, I realized recently that neutrals are the introverts of the color world.

Black and tan outfit: high-waisted black jeans, partial-laceup leather Frye boots, J.Crew camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee, quartz necklace, Madewell black and tan colorblock streetcar coat
Black and tan outfit: high-waisted black jeans, partial-laceup leather Frye boots, J.Crew camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee, quartz necklace, Madewell black and tan colorblock streetcar coat

I often hear people express the opinion that colors are happy and neutrals are sad, that colors are exciting and neutrals are boring, that colors express personality and neutrals express conformity. But, all I hear in these opinions is the same extrovert-privileging perspective that saturates all aspects of American society to the detriment of us all.

Yes, colors are loud and neutrals are quiet, but there's nothing wrong with being quiet. In fact, when color is stripped away, it's easier to notice the subtler design aspects underneath, such as silhouette, texture, and material.

Black and tan outfit: high-waisted black jeans, partial-laceup leather Frye boots, J.Crew camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee, quartz necklace, Madewell black and tan colorblock streetcar coat
Black and tan outfit: high-waisted black jeans, partial-laceup leather Frye boots, J.Crew camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee, quartz necklace, Madewell black and tan colorblock streetcar coat

I must admit that, as an introvert who loves neutrals, as a person who invited only 50 guests to her wedding and chose gray bridesmaid dresses, I sometimes take it personally when people bash neutrals as "boring" or "lazy."

I like a certain effortlessness, yes, but I am not a lazy person. Just because I chose a black and tan coat, a beige sofa, or a solid gray linen comforter, doesn't mean I didn't pick those pieces with care, consideration, and a desire to express my authentic self. Of course, there's nothing wrong with choosing color if that's what you like (for the record, my other sofa is purple), but colors aren't inherently superior anymore than extroverts are.

The point is that the world benefits from a balance of color and neutrals, extroverts and introverts, noise and quiet. Don't bash the quiet corners of the world.

Black and tan outfit: high-waisted black jeans, partial-laceup leather Frye boots, J.Crew camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee, quartz necklace, Madewell black and tan colorblock streetcar coat
Black and tan outfit: high-waisted black jeans, partial-laceup leather Frye boots, J.Crew camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee, quartz necklace, Madewell black and tan colorblock streetcar coat

Black and tan "Colorblock Streetcar Coat" – Madewell
Black high-rise jeans – Gap
Camel-colored cashmere long-sleeve tee – J.Crew
Partial lace-up brown leather boots – Frye
Quartz necklace – Forever 21

Saturday, December 13, 2014

November Ins and Outs: What I Bought and Read Last Month


November Ins and Outs

I read Yes Please for book club and enjoyed it a lot. I actually listened to the audiobook, which was great because it has a lot of fun guest stars. I picked up Station Eleven recently because the ebook was on sale, and then someone happened suggested it for our next book-club book. Score!

Ryan bought Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life while we were in New York and has since developed a fierce passion for the local artist. We barely knew anything about him except that his illustrations are all over our public parks, but this collection really shows how incredibly groundbreaking, brilliant, and diverse his work was. He had such an incredible sense for color as well as for the simple shapes that not only create an image but tell a story.

We also read The Ice Dragon together after Ryan requested it from the library. It's a children's book George R.R. Martin published in 1980, and it takes place in a soft of proto-Westeros. It was cool to see him developing some of the same ideas and themes that he would expand on later.

I started Belzhair while in New York the night before seeing Meg Wolitzer at the Bell House in Brooklyn as part of a live taping of NPR's Ask Me Another. I'd read The Interestings already and loved it, so I was optimistic. I ended up loving Belzhair too. It's definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I deeply related to it personally and I think Meg Wolitzer has such a sharp sense of what it feels like to be a teenager and even to just be a human. She was also insanely funny, smart, and entertaining at the Ask Me Another taping. I'm officially a fangirl.

I've been a longtime fangirl of Meghan Daum. I read her debut collection of essays, My Misspent Youth about eight years ago, and it's still one of my favorite books of all time. Since then I've read every book she's published. I liked her second collection and I thought her novel was okay, but nothing compared to My Misspent Youth. Still, I preordered The Unspeakable the moment I heard about it and abandoned all other reading material the moment it came out. Of everything else she's written, this came closest to capturing what I loved so much about My Misspent Youth. Her voice is so distinct and appealing: funny but insightful, full of cultural references and personal revelations. Reading her books is like having the best conversation you've even had with your most interesting friend.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I wore today: 12/02/2014 (Patches)

Patches outfit: skinny jeans, partial-lace-up frye knee-high boots, Topshop blazer with elbow patches, chambray button-down, cashmere pashmina scarf, braided belt

This may be the last you'll see of my red hair. I've really enjoyed it (and I may come back to it), but I've gotten this notion in my head that I want to try blonde for the first time, and now I'm really excited about it. The trouble with hair color is that (unless you're Nymphadora Tonks) you can't change it absolutely every day to suit your mood. There are still some mornings when I wake up and wish I were brunette again, and I'm sure I'll have blonde mornings when I wish I were redheaded, but, right now, most of my days are filled with a deep, desperate desire to go blonde. 

As for this outfit, it's really a classic winter uniform kind of look for me, bundled up but still keeping some semblance of shape. A few years ago I got really into belting blazers after seeing a lot of French women do it, and I remembered recently how much I love this little accessorizing trick. It's the perfect thing for winter because it keeps cold air out (especially if you knot a scarf around your neck and tuck it in) and adds a bit of interest to a simple outfit. 

If there's one thing that defines my personal style it's classic pieces with interesting details. This outfit is super basic, but I think it's still interesting because of the belt, the boot laces, and the elbow patches on the blazer. Ryan bought this blazer for me at Zara in Soho when we went to New York in October, and I wore it on my first day at my new job last month. I think it's lucky. The patches hide just out of my eyesight so I forget about them, and then, when I catch a glimpse of them, I remember that I'm wearing a lucky blazer.

Patches outfit: skinny jeans, partial-lace-up frye knee-high boots, Topshop blazer with elbow patches, chambray button-down, cashmere pashmina scarf, braided beltPatches outfit: skinny jeans, partial-lace-up frye knee-high boots, Topshop blazer with elbow patches, chambray button-down, cashmere pashmina scarf, braided belt Patches outfit: skinny jeans, partial-lace-up frye knee-high boots, Topshop blazer with elbow patches, chambray button-down, cashmere pashmina scarf, braided belt
Patches outfit: skinny jeans, partial-lace-up frye knee-high boots, Zara blazer with elbow patches, chambray button-down, cashmere pashmina scarf, braided belt

Boots – Frye
Jeans – Gap
Shirt – Anthropologie
Blazer – Zara
Scarf – Nordstrom Rack
Belt – Forever 21

Friday, November 28, 2014

What I wore today: 11/27/14 (Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving outfit: Missoni for Target chevron sweater dress, cable knit cardigan, yellow tights, Frye partial-laceup knee-high leather boots, maiden braids

Thanksgiving is always a fun, if somewhat challenging, holiday to dress for. I tend pick out earth-tones, which is a pallet I don't normally wear much of. Add to that the challenges of staying warm, looking nice, and wearing something that facilitates napping on your brother's sofa. 

Our Thanksgiving meal was delicious. My brother made a smoked turkey and a roasted one, and my sister-in-law's mom brought these yams that were cooked with fresh oranges. I made cranberry sauce as usual and two pies. Recipe posts coming next week. 

My niece Claire, who is almost 11 month old now, tried the potatoes, the yams, and even the cranberry sauce. She's an adventurous eater. 

Thanksgiving outfit: Missoni for Target chevron sweater dress, cable knit cardigan, yellow tights, Frye partial-laceup knee-high leather boots, maiden braids
Thanksgiving outfit: Missoni for Target chevron sweater dress, cable knit cardigan, yellow tights, Frye partial-laceup knee-high leather boots, maiden braids
Thanksgiving outfit: Missoni for Target chevron sweater dress, cable knit cardigan, yellow tights, Frye partial-laceup knee-high leather boots, maiden braids
Thanksgiving outfit: Missoni for Target chevron sweater dress, cable knit cardigan, yellow tights, Frye partial-laceup knee-high leather boots, maiden braids

Sweater dress – Missoni for Target
Cardigan – Anthropologie
Boots – Frye

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe: Cranberry Jello Shots

Thanksgiving recipe: cranberry jello shots

I made these for a potluck friendsgiving-style party that we went to on Friday. It was a fun time. Our friend lives in an apartment building-cum-gallery, and she and some of her artist/art-history-buff friends came up with a game called "Drunk Art History," inspired by the show Drunk History, of course. Everyone picked a piece of famous artwork out of a hat and, after some drinking, we gave 3-minute boozy lectures with the aid of a projector.

I got the recipe here, but I used raspberry Jell-O because I couldn't find cranberry. They were delicious. The cranberry juice combined with the raspberry Jell-O for the perfect cran-raspberry taste.

I wasn't quite sure how to roll the cranberries in honey and sugar, so I just drizzled honey over them in a bowl and stirred, then added a few tablespoons of sugar and stirred again. That method worked well, and I'd recommend it if you give these a try. I was able to get 28 shots out of the recipe, so I only sugared about 40 cranberries, saving the rest of the bag for Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

Looking for a last-minute Thanksgiving contribution or a quick way to get your family drunk? Look no further.

Thanksgiving recipe: cranberry jello shots
Thanksgiving recipe: cranberry jello shots
Thanksgiving recipe: cranberry jello shots

Friday, November 21, 2014

What I wore today: 11/20/2014 (La Superbe)

La Superbe outfit: Madewell et Sézane "La Superbe" sweatshirt, skinny jeans, Jeffrey Campbell "Cast & Crew ankle boots," Madewell wooden collar necklace, Madewell "Colorblock Streetcar coat," Noir jewelry Dinosaur bone rib cage cuff bracelet

I wasn't kidding when I said I could live in Madewell. Lately, I've been loving neutrals and tomboy silhouettes with French-girl feminine details, and Madewell covers all those bases beautifully. 

Neutrals are not only effortlessly cool looking, but they also make getting dressed in the morning so easy since everything goes with everything else. 

La Superbe outfit: Madewell et Sézane "La Superbe" sweatshirt, skinny jeans, Jeffrey Campbell "Cast & Crew ankle boots," Madewell wooden collar necklace, Madewell "Colorblock Streetcar coat," Noir jewelry Dinosaur bone rib cage cuff bracelet
La Superbe outfit: Madewell et Sézane "La Superbe" sweatshirt, skinny jeans, Jeffrey Campbell "Cast & Crew ankle boots," Madewell wooden collar necklace, Madewell "Colorblock Streetcar coat," Noir jewelry Dinosaur bone rib cage cuff bracelet
La Superbe outfit: Madewell et Sézane "La Superbe" sweatshirt, skinny jeans, Jeffrey Campbell "Cast & Crew ankle boots," Madewell wooden collar necklace, Madewell "Colorblock Streetcar coat," Noir jewelry Dinosaur bone rib cage cuff bracelet
La Superbe outfit: Madewell et Sézane "La Superbe" sweatshirt, skinny jeans, Jeffrey Campbell "Cast & Crew ankle boots," Madewell wooden collar necklace, Madewell "Colorblock Streetcar coat," Noir jewelry Dinosaur bone rib cage cuff bracelet

"La Superbe" sweatshirt – Madewell et Sézane
Colorblock Streetcar coat – Madewell
Skinny jeans – Gap
Brown leather"Cast & Crew" ankle boots – Jeffrey Campbell, Free People
Wooden collar necklace – Madewell
Dinosaur bone rib cage cuff bracelet – Noir Jewelry 
Mismatch ankle socks – Madewell

Friday, November 14, 2014

What I wore today: 11/11/2014 (Bien Fait)

Bien Fait outfit: Madewell "Delancey Slouch Trousers" Ikat pants, Jeffrey Campbell "Everly" cutout ankle boots, Prabal Garung for Target black button up with lace overlay and leather collar 
When Ryan and I went to Mood while we were in New York (photos, video), I told him how occasionally I'll see the same textile used for wildly different products from different brands, and I like to imagine that Mood was the source for both. Two different designers, each living in New York and shopping at Mood, see the same textile and give it two separate lives, each as far reaching as the other. 

I once spotted a really lovely pattern I recognized from an Anthro top used on a Crosby record player.  These pants happen to share their fabric with an Anthro top as well. When I first saw the top, I loved the pattern, but I didn't really love the shape. I even thought that I would prefer the fabric as pants. Then, a few months later, there they were at Madewell. Thank you, Mood.

Bien Fait outfit: Madewell "Delancey Slouch Trousers" Ikat pants, Jeffrey Campbell "Everly" cutout ankle boots, Prabal Garung for Target black button up with lace overlay and leather collar Bien Fait outfit: Madewell "Delancey Slouch Trousers" Ikat pants, Jeffrey Campbell "Everly" cutout ankle boots, Prabal Garung for Target black button up with lace overlay and leather collar Bien Fait outfit: Madewell "Delancey Slouch Trousers" Ikat pants, Jeffrey Campbell "Everly" cutout ankle boots, Prabal Garung for Target black button up with lace overlay and leather collar

Everly ankle boots – Jeffrey Campbell, Urban Outfitters
"Delancey Slouch Trousers" – Madewell
Lace and leather shirt – Prabal Garung for Target
Necklace – J.Crew Factory
Belt – Madewell

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November Wish List

November Wish List

As the weather turns quickly colder, I find myself coveting leather skirts, wool jackets, cashmere scarves, and plaid everything. I've also been on a bit of a skincare and haircare kick lately, no doubt inspired by the ravage of harsh winds and dry air.

01. Anthropologie, 02. Madewell, 03. J.Crew, 04. Madewell, 05. Amazon, 06. Madewell

Monday, November 10, 2014

Our New York Vacation: The Video


When we travel, I sometimes like to make a short video to keep as a souvenir along with all the vacation photos. This one will give you an idea of some of the sights and activities we enjoyed in New York. And, if you're interested, you can check out a video I made last year of a fun day trip Ryan and I took to the very charming Columbus, Indiana. Find it here

Saturday, November 8, 2014

October Ins and Outs: What I Bought and Read Last Month

October Ins and Outs

Before my Anthropologie discount ended, I scooped up a really cool Scandinavian cookbook and a The Little Prince pop-up book I've thought about buying for years.

The only other book I bought in October was a used collection of Poe stories illustrated for children. It's the perfect Halloween book.

Land of Love and Drowning, and Not that Kind of Girl were both book-club reads. Despite its beautiful language, I found Land of Love and Drowning to be very hard to get through. I think I maybe should have read it more slowly and spent more time just sitting with things, but I had to finish it in time for our meeting.

Lena Dunham's book was about why I expected: very smart and funny in parts and somewhat underwhelming in other parts. 

I absolutely tore through Love Me Back. It's beautifully written, but not for anyone who wants a linear story or a tidy ending.

The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was hugely enjoyable and quite moving. I'm glad I finally got around to reading this often recommended book. 

Cover, Peter Mendelsund's book about his career designing book covers a big ol' tub of candy for anyone who loves design or books. Since I love both, I absolutely reveled in it. 

This is Where I Leave You was quite funny and moving in places, but left me somewhat unsatisfied. I think it's mainly because none of the female characters felt flushed out well enough. I'm still interested to see the movie. 

The Afterlife with Archie was surprisingly substantive. I knew I'd enjoy the art, but I didn't expect to get so hooked into the story. 

I finally finished Sleep Donation. It's taken me forever to get through this tiny novella because it's only available as an ebook and, for whatever reason, I can't download it on my iPad, which means I had to read the whole thing on my phone. Phone reading has worked for me in the past for simpler stories, but it just wasn't conducive to Karen Russell. But, I really wanted to get through it, so I decided to read in on the plane to New York. It was just lovely: very inventive and thought-provoking, and it put me right to sleep.