thursday pretties

love this gorgeous, girly boudoir. i recently learned that there is such a thing as mirror paint and i'm curious if repurposing an old dresser to look like this is at all possible? 

this picture makes my heart swoon just a little.

i love this idea for a little herb/lavender garden and am now on the hunt for a crusty dresser on the side of the road on trash day.

i want to wear this everyday (those pants!). but maybe with a bright bag for spring.

i must be in to pink interiors today, but how pretty! i feel like this looks like a house i'd see in trendy houston. my next place will have a fireplace with a big mirror above it if i can help it.


double trouble

i love trader joe's. i actually don't know anyone that doesn't love it. it's cheap, it's awesome and it's an exceptionally happy place to do my grocery shopping. i buy everything from moisturizer and toilet paper to produce and wine there. i also really like it when people i know recommend certain items to me because they have so many great options i tend to get a little overwhelmed at times. if only i could just sample everything. tonight i bought two new things and oh.my.gosh. i'm in such trouble...

first up? charles shaw nouveau table wine. i usually just drink mr. shaw's delicious $2.99 cabernet, but tonight this looked interesting so i grabbed it instead. in case you didn't know, charles shaw wines are made from well-known vineyards' surplus grapes, so essentially you're drinking a great wine from whomever at a much lower price. turns out tonight i learned from my very favorite cute tj's cashier, eric, that the nouveau wine is actually faux georges debeouf beaujolais nouveau. this wine, from france, is released on the third thursday of every november and is known as a popular holiday wine for this reason. it's made with very little tannins (so hey! no headache!) and while some people criticize it as immature, i think it's delicious. anyway, charles shaw's knockoff? amazing. i highly recommend.

and then there's this stuff. each christmas, i buy as many limited candy cane joe joe's boxes as i deem appropriate each trip (likely more than actually is appropriate) and eat them, well, like candy. they're like oreos on crack (or perhaps with crack). i wish they sold them year round, but then again, it's probably best that they don't. but then tonight i saw this and nearly took out an employee stocking them in my excitement. it's like cookies and cream, only better, because it's minty. what's more, trader joe's ice cream (as are all of their dairy products) is made from cows that are not treated with hormones. the only thing that would be better is if it was actually christmas right about now and i had both the ice cream and the cookies.

so...can you tell i'm feeling a bit depressed about my jobless life? i think wine and ice cream might be indicative of that. i'll argue that they both make me feel better so i don't really care. i realize that this is now the second post in a row about food. tomorrow i promise i will find something more interesting to discuss, for both our sakes.

images all via flickr


that time i made collards

my friend elizabeth ann knows how to grow things. not just flowers, but cool things like pumpkins and watermelons and collards. last saturday morning in the midst of my crazed yard sale/deal hunting, i stopped at her collard field to not only purchase fresh collards, but pick them myself. i was in the field, wearing my chacos and feeling pretty good about myself when this smug lady watched me for a moment,  tipped her head to one side and said (while chuckling to herself), "aw, honey, you ain't never been in a garden in your life, have you?" ummm...YES thankyouverymuch. manicured ones. with flowers and topiaries. and does the garden section at lowes count? because if so, then definitely yes. i was a little indignant - i was doing just fine picking my collards and tried not to act annoyed. 

anyway, two days later, i attempted to cook them. apparently they can be very tricky, so i enlisted the help of this delicious recipe. i modified it a bit, though, so here's what you'll need:

pasta with greens and tomato sauce via eating well

1 pound collard greens (~12 cups) stripped from stems, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped bacon
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (i used yellow)
2 cloves garlic, minced (i think i did three?)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
28 ounces of diced red tomatoes, not drained
1/4 cup water
8 ounces medium pasta shells
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
freshly grated parmesan cheese (the recipe recommended parmigiano-reggiano. which cost $9. yeah, no.)

the first thing i learned? you don't actually eat the stems. so i got to work stripping. the collards, that is. 

even though i know that elizabeth doesn't treat her collards with anything unfriendly, i washed them anyway to avoid eating dirt or bugs. then i spun them dry in my handy salad spinner. 

in the midst of stripping and washing, i got to work cooking the bacon, one of my least favorite activities. it's messy and greasy and i always inevitably burn myself. i generally prefer the microwavable kind, but i figured for this recipe, i'd go for the real deal. and by real deal, i mean the 40% less fat version.  

the stripped stems. aren't they pretty? collards are lovely. 

a pound-ish of washed collards later, i started chopping. in case you're interested, that's a lot of collards uncooked. i was running out of counter space. 

then it was time to cook the collards in two cups of boiling salted water. the recipe said to cook them for approximately 10-12 minutes. i know cooking collards for the right amount of time is key - under or overcooked, they don't taste good. hopefully i cooked them correctly? i was pretty unsure of myself here - i used a timer and kept tasting them. when i thought they tasted decent, i stopped. i also had to add water twice to keep them from burning, so i'll use more than two cups next time. 

while they were cooking, i chopped the onion and garlic...

...and the bacon. i actually got annoyed with my dull cheap knife and just went at the bacon with kitchen shears. very effective. i wasn't sure how much bacon would yield 3/4 cup chopped, so i went ahead and just cooked the entire package. i would say i ended up using 2/3 of it for this recipe. the rest was great for snacking and blt sandwiches. 

once the collards were finished and cooked down to a manageable amount, i drained them in a colander and immediately rinsed them with cold water. once cool, i pressed the excess moisture from them with a towel and set them aside. 

in a large skillet (in retrospect, i probably would have gone for either a larger skillet than this one or something deeper, like a wok), i added oil and heated over medium heat. then i added onion and cooked until soft, approximately 3-5 minutes. then i added garlic and crushed red pepper. (note: i was thinking 1/8 teaspoon red pepper didn't seem like enough spiciness. it was actually pretty on-target. maybe a hair more would have been good, but i'm glad i didn't get excited and render it inedible. i'm also glad i made the last minute decision to not buy the fire-roasted diced tomatoes. i think it would have overpowered the taste of the collards. i usually prefer my pasta sauce spicy, but this recipe was definitely written to compliment collards' unique flavor.)

then i added the bacon, tomatoes, and water and brought to a simmer, mashing the tomatoes with a potato masher as they cooked. i reduced heat to medium-low and simmered uncovered until thickened, approximately 20 minutes.  (note: i didn't consider the fact that i would be adding the collards and cooked it until it had thickened a bit more than i should have. next time i'll keep it saucier.)

while the sauce cooked, i cooked the pasta in salted water until tender. i drained, but reserved 1/4 cup of the pasta water. i then added the collards and cooking water to the sauce. (the recipe suggested adding the pasta to the sauce as well and letting it absorb the taste, but i refrained in hopes of fresher leftovers and because my pan was moments from overflowing by this point. but i think it would have been good.) then i was supposed to season with salt and pepper and add shredded cheese, but as i'm typing this i realize i got so excited about eating i omitted these last little steps. oops. 

ta-da! the most exceptional meal i've had in a while. and yes, i eat at my coffee table like a single loser. but i'm a single loser that can cook, so hopefully that makes me a bit less sad. the verdict? this recipe was delicious. i loved the flavor of the collards with the bacon and onions - it was really rich and complex. i do have one complaint, however. from the collard prep, to the bacon to the sauce to the pasta, it was insanely messy and labor-intensive for one meal. i think i used like five pans and my kitchen looked like a tornado had come through it. not fun for someone without a dishwasher.  it did make great leftovers and i think it was worth it, but next time i'll probably do some of the prep a little more ahead of time. 

so, now i'm officially a southern cook with successfully prepared collards under my belt. dear annoying garden lady: yes, my nails are painted and i wear make-up. i can still pick and cook collards without your disparaging little comments, mmmkay? thanks.


avant garden

last saturday, i had the privilege of attending yet another lore emelio fashion show, this time at the bechtler museum of modern art. this was the third of lore's shows that i've been able to witness and i can always count on a creative collection, lots of stylish charlotteans, well-selected prosecco and an organized, well-executed event. last fall's show, the hunt, has definitely been my favorite but unfortunately my camera died before the runway began, so there was no blog post about that one. emelio's work is always very unique and unexpected and i also appreciate that it has a little bit of southern influence.

this spring's show, avant garden, featured a lot of dresses, tiny hats, bright colors, and bare backs. with the exception of a few pieces, i can't say that i loved this collection or venue as much as the others, but it's always fun to see what emelio is designing. i'm always thrilled to be a part of this event and am already anticipating the fall show.
my photos leave a lot to be desired, but here are a few i grabbed during the show. for more, check out the observer's great shots (please ignore the awful one where i look like an un-showered giant), wsoc's video, and the observer's article.

this was one of the dresses i loved, although you can't see it too well in the photo.

the southern gentleman look.

this was my favorite favorite dress. it was gorgeous.

my date johanna and i. it would probably be wise to not wear five inch heels when i invite my most petite friend to an event. 

proof that i did not look as disgusting as the observer picture. 

the bechtler is one of my favorite uptown charlotte buildings. gorgeous. 

for more info on lore and her designs, check out her website or check out her lovely wares on etsy.


lucky number 13

two weeks ago at parker + otis, i was browsing the extensive toyko milk collection and lusting over all of pretty packaging. by pure luck, i plucked number 13: song in d minor from their selection of over 50 unique scents. it was a fantastic choice, if i may say so. i liberally doused myself with the free tester and then spent the entire car ride home from durham sniffing my wrists and repeatedly telling sarah how fantastic i smelled. while it was actually rather reasonable (by perfume standards) at $36 for the bottle, i added it to the "things-i-must-buy-once-i-find-a-job" list and went home to my tried-and-true, mr. jacobs.

i was first introduced to the toyko milk brand last year at anthro where i somehow scored a $24 butterfly kisses kissing kit (sweetly packaged lipstick and mints) in the sale section for $0.50 because the mints were missing. (not sure how that happened, actually. i didn't ask questions, i just ran to the register. when i asked for a bag, the cashier rolled her eyes at me. yes, i would still like a bag for my $0.50 purchase, thankyouverymuch.) since then, i've just about used up the lipstick - a natural pink that is the perfect balance of color and shine - and basically become obsessed with nearly everything else in the line. it's just all so pretty and delicious.

(bottle front)

on thursday, lindsey and i took a little trip to shelby to visit a very-pregnant blair once more before baby time and take care of some lindsey lee photography business. after lunch, we stopped in at a local gift shop's 75% off moving sale. while i was browsing shelves of tacky christmas ornaments and traditionally southern boutique gifts, blair happened upon a small shelf of toyko milk items and by some wonderful twist of fate, the only fragrance they had left was my number 13. and the price? 75% off the already 50% off markdown. meaning, i bought two bottles for $4.50 each. markdowns are my favorite kind of math. i was so excited i could barely form complete sentences. since then, i've worn it almost 24-7, and i've even been spritzing myself before bed just because i love it so much and who doesn't want to go to bed smelling fantastic? i would tell you to get yourself to victoria stephen in shelby and pick some up, but blair and i bought them out. so i guess basically, i'm just gloating. and inviting you to join me as i continue rejoicing in my fantastic deal. i wouldn't want to smell great and leave you out, after all.

images: 1.edgeofurge 2.wildandfunk 3.apothica


wisdom for friday

the fortune in my cookie a while back was better than my general tso's chicken and lo mein. i'm always impatient and it was so inspiring to learn the great wall didn't got build in one day. that's true wisdom right there. translate much?


this is not a joke

just yesterday i was mentioning to my mom that i would very much like my next fridge to have an ice maker. i'm really just not a fan of filling up those little trays, so i tend to just go without. little did i know that not only can i have an ice maker, but i can look at prince william and kate middleton's lovely faces every day. and if you think i'm kidding, i'm not. GE just released this baby in celebration of the royal wedding. i mean, i'm pretty excited about the royal wedding and all...but i don't know that this is the type of excited i mean.

image via bitterwallet


spring flowers

oh my goodness i've been an awful blogger this week. i haven't been feeling terribly inspired to sit inside on the computer with such gorgeous weather outside. my doors and windows have been open as much as possible and i'm loving the breezy spring (summer?) temps. that said, i recognize that these pretty flowers i cut in my backyard are weeds, but i don't think that makes them any less lovely. the ones above, despite the fact that the cut stems smell quite foul, remind me of hydrangeas. the ones below have exploded everywhere in my yard and i don't really care that they're weeds, i like them. i can't grow anything on my own, so i'm cool with stubborn weeds that won't die.


♥ for japan

obviously, the last week in japan has been a nightmare. i haven't mentioned it before now because i honestly just don't know what to say. the destruction is unbelievably overwhelming and it's horrifying to me how life can change so remarkably in just one second. my heart hurts for the people there and the long journey they have ahead. it's easy to distance ourselves from the situation and i find myself frustrated because there is so little i can personally do to help. that said, i don't think that's an excuse to just not help at all. i remember learning once in psychology that it's more likely that a large group of people will stand by and watch something terrible happen without helping than it is for a small group. while this seems somewhat absurd, the large group feels safety in numbers. let's not be the person in the crowd who just assumes our own exemption because surely someone else will help. there are so many of us who are able to give that even if we all contribute a little, a great deal can be done.

while i still think it's important to donate directly to the cause, consider etsy's lovely a heart for japan feature if you have upcoming birthdays or other gifts to buy. they have charming prints and jewelry with proceeds going to support the cause in various ways. i'd love to post some of the merchandise here, but i'm hesitant to do so without permission, so hop on over and check it out yourself.

also, allow me to suggest donations to a few of my relief organizations of choice:

of course, the red cross is awesome. in addition to basic relief, they also offer emotional support and counseling and access to computers for survivors to register on a "safe and well" website and contact loved ones.

world vision is currently providing extensive emergency relief and has committed to helping japan through hands-on work and passionate prayer. as a strong christian organization that seeks to end poverty and injustice in countless ways, i am confident my donation will be used well.

and, as always, i support habitat for humanity's relief efforts. as the organization seeks to provide long-term quality housing, they initially partner with other organizations for clean-up and then begin distributing temporary shelter kits for displaced families. the organization's work lasts long beyond initial relief and seeks to rebuild devastated areas by providing families a new home and hope for the future.

events like this are no doubt terrifying, and while i think we'll always have questions as to why they occur, i can do nothing but allow the one who calms the sea to continue holding me, japan, and the world in his ever capable hands. 

"the Lord is a refuge for the opressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." - psalm 9:9

1.imprint 2.etsy 3.flickr


parker + otis

as mentioned earlier this week, brunch at parker + otis last sunday in durham was amazing. i love brunch because it basically gives me an excuse to drink mimosas and eat bacon - two of my favorite things. do you know two of my other favorite things? shopping and eating. parker + otis is three parts restaurant, wine cellar and coffee shop and one part awesome shopping experience. seriously. it's like combining dean and deluca and the sweetest (but most extensive) gift shop you can think of. they have le creuset, meyers clean day products, more cookbooks than borders, every type of awesome candle you can imagine, toyko milk (one of my favorite cosmetic/fragrance lines), tocca and zillions of the most amazing and unique gifts and i-didn't-know-this-existed-but-now-i-can't-live-without-it items. 

we started with food. no mimosas this time, but the oversized cheese biscuits and raspberry peach scone (mine!) made up for it.

cool tea + gorgeous tin = awesome gift

yes, that's all chocolate. please note the bacon chocolate bars on the top shelf. think bacon and chocolate are a weird combination? think again. i had one taste and haven't stopped thinking about that bar for days. 

did you see this bag before? i didn't. now there's a bird. it's flying, it's free! 
(watch the video. it's really funny.)

shopper's paradise.

the case of delicious things and local cheeses was awesome. so were the brightly colored paper mache animals. i was pretty taken with them...

 ...especially this guy. whom i would like to hang in my living room.

 table for three.

the wine cellar. with wine glass chandeliers. very cool.

aaaannndddd more chocolate.

if you're ever in durham, i highly suggest you stop by for a meal, a snack, or just shopping. or, if you're really hungry for the best black bean burger i've ever had, hop across the street to alivia's. who knew blue devil city could be so cool? chapel hill is going to need to step it up.