Monday, December 23, 2013

One Outfit Three Ways

Our weekends usually fill up pretty fast, so social engagements inevitably fall to weeknights.  With an unpredictable work schedule, I never know if I'll get off in time to go home and change.  As a solution, I've started to look for work pieces that I can easily dress up or down with just some quick styling.  When I was brainstorming for this post, I pulled out this exact outfit, but all in black.  While it was a safe option, it is no revelation that black goes with everything and it left me feeling completely uninspired.  I was staring at my closet in despair when I realized that I could just recreate the look with monochromatic pieces and suddenly it was much more interesting to me.  I happened to have everything in this plum wine color but this could work in virtually any color.  

This post is a great example of how simple styling can completely change the look of an outfit.  Whether it be a casual dinner or a work-related social event, I can be ready with just a quick change in the car.

I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the lovely Vero of Vero Suh Photography.  We had planned a double date with the hubbies and managed to squeeze in some pictures beforehand.  Having my creative and incredibly talented friend behind the lens made taking outfit pictures a really fun experience, instead of the usual awkward posing and feelings of self-consciousness.  Mr. J was also appreciative to be relieved of photographer duties!

Daytime Work

Peplum sweater: Ann Taylor (old). Silk cherry-print blouse: Equipment (old). Wool tapered slacks: J. Crew 'Minnie'.  
Trench coat: Burberry 'Buckingham'. Necklace: J. Crew (old). Leopard print flats: Madewell.
Leopard print heels: J. Crew (borrowed from Vero).

Weeknight Casual

Cargo jacket with leather sleeves: Zara (old) (similar here). Leopard-print scarf: from Rimo (old). 
Over the knee boots: Stuart Weitzman '5050'.

Weeknight Formal

White blazer: Zara (old). Pearl necklace: gift. Jeweled drop earrings: Banana Republic (old). 
Purse: Chanel Medium Classic Flap Bag in Black Caviar. 
Nude pumps: Christian Louboutin. Bracelets: Hermes and J. Crew.

All photography thanks to Vero Suh

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Peppermint Ice Cream

I love seasonal food items.  There's nothing like a frozen lemonade in July or a pumpkin spice latte in October.   As for December, I love me some peppermint infused foods, and peppermint ice cream is no exception.  I'm not quite sure why it's not a year-round commodity since it's quite tasty! I brought a batch to a girls' night in with my co-residents.  This particular recipe calls for a custard base made with egg yolks cooked slowly over the stove.  The custard makes the ice cream super creamy.  Really you could take the same ice cream recipe base and create your own "add-ins."  Next time I'll be adding some chocolate shavings!   

Peppermint Ice Cream
From by way of David Leibowitz
* Requires ice cream maker 

2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy

Pour the cream into a large metal bowl, and place this bowl in a larger bowl of ice.  Set a mesh sieve on top.  Place the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and heat on medium so the sugar is dissolved.   In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks.  Then scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.  Using a wooden or heatproof spatula, stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so that the egg yolk does not cook.  Once thickened, pour the custard through the strainer.  Stir the mixture until cool, and then chill in the refrigerator thoroughly (usually a couple hours, but can be overnight).  

Once the ice cream mixture is thoroughly chilled, add the peppermint extract a 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the desired amount of peppermintiness is achieved.  Then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Fold in the peppermint candy once the ice cream is formed and soft.  Scrape into an airtight container and freeze for at least a couple hours.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fall Brights

Even though it already feels like winter in most parts of the country, fall officially ends later this week.  Fall was one of my favorite seasons when living in the northeast.  I miss the changing leaves and our seasonal trips to the apple picking orchards.  While the leaves sadly don't change color much in LA, the weather cooled down enough to break out my riding boots.  As the temperature drops, I typically default to darker colors like gray, navy, and black.  On this particularly crisp fall day, I made a conscious effort to add some cheery bright colors in autumn hues. 

Sweater: J.Crew.  Brown corduroy pants: Madewell.  Orange linen scarf: Love Quotes Knotted Tassel Scarf.  Neon trim handbag: Theyskens Theory 'Anen Mini Flap Bag'.  Riding boots: Frye 'Melissa' Button Back Zip Boots in Grey (actually more of a dark brown).  Bracelets: From various travels.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Roses and Petals

Mr. J's company had their second annual holiday party this past week.  He started this company almost two years ago with just two of his buddies.  Last year, they had their holiday party at a local bar over wings and beer.  Since the company has grown (and grown up), the holiday party needed a more professional venue as well, and planning this new and improved party became my responsibility.  Let me just say, coordinating everyone's schedules and finding a suitable venue was no easy task.  In the end, the event was a hit and I am so proud of Mr. J and his company's success!

For the party, I wanted to wear something festive but I didn't want to go out and buy something new.  I'm happy to say that every piece of this outfit is recycled from my own closet.  It's fun to rediscover some old treasures and find new pairings.  It's almost as much fun as buying new things…almost.  

Black wool coat: custom. Rose-print tunic: Rachel by Rachel Roy (old). Petal bow skirt: Robert Rodriguez (old). 
Black pointy-toed pumps: Zara (old) (similar here). Black tufted clutch: Target (old).

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Between the end of Daylight Savings Time and Mr. J and my work schedules, it is usually pitch black by the time the both of us are home, leading to the paucity of posts on the blog lately.  In addition to the lack of lighting, the temperatures around here have been downright cold this past week, meaning all outdoor outfit pics would just be me in a big puffy coat.  I know the chill we're experiencing here in California is nothing compared to what's going on in the rest of the country.  And yes I grew up in Michigan, and yes I went to college in Boston, but I've gotten weak people…weak I tell ya.

With the drop in temperatures, I was craving some comfort food.  So I decided to whip up a batch of chicken tortilla soup.  In college, my good friend Raudel used to make a big vat of this during the arctic winters in Boston and all it took was a bowl of this hearty soup to warm me up.  I searched online for some recipes and combined bits and pieces to end up with the one below.  It is probably not very authentic but Mr. J and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I made my own chicken broth and used the chicken meat in the soup but you could easily use store-bought chicken broth and some shredded cooked chicken breast as well.

Carolyn's Chicken Tortilla Soup

For the chicken broth:
1 small whole chicken, cleaned and trimmed
1 thumb ginger
1 onion
2 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 bay leaf
1 tsp of ground thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

For the tortilla soup:
6 cups of chicken broth
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small can of diced green chilies
2 cans of diced tomatoes
3 corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
As much shredded chicken as you would like

Sour cream
Cotijo cheese, grated
Chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
Crushed tortilla chips

Chicken broth:
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Throw in a thumb of ginger and the whole chicken.  Let water come to a boil again.  Remove chicken and discard the water.

Place flash-boiled chicken, onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and thyme back into the pot.  Immerse in cold water, cover, and allow to come to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.  Using tongs, remove chicken.  Separate the meat from the bones and skin.  Set meat aside to be used later in tortilla soup or in other dishes.  Return bones and skin back to the pot and simmer for 2 more hours.  Skim off the fat, strain, and voila!  You now have homemade chicken broth.  You can store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for later.

Tortilla soup:
Heat up vegetable oil in a small saucepan.  Saute onions until yellow and translucent.  Add in garlic and chilies.  Place mixture into blender or food processor along with the diced tomatoes.  Puree until smooth.  Return to a large pot and add the chicken broth, corn tortillas, shredded chicken and cilantro.  Bring to a boil and then turn low to simmer until the soup thickens.

When ready to serve, place avocado slices into the bottom of your soup bowl.  Spoon in tortilla soup.  Top with sour cream, chopped cilantro, cotijo, and lime juice.  For some crunch, add crushed tortilla chips.  Stay warm everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Toast for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is, hands down, my favorite holiday.  I love that it's a day devoted to giving thanks and celebrated by eating lots of delicious food and spending time with family.  So because it's my favorite holiday, this post is a double feature with an outfit post and a baking post.

This year (and every year), I am thankful for so many things.  Most people take for granted the fact that they get a holiday off of work.  But those working in medicine know that no holiday is guaranteed.  So I am thankful that I not only got Thanksgiving off, but I was also able use some vacation days and take the whole week off, affording me plenty of time to fly back to Michigan and spend the holiday with my family.  I'm thankful to have ended long distance with Mr. J and we are able to enjoy our lives without having to worry about basics like food and shelter.  I'm thankful for my friends, who have been extremely supportive the past few months, and to everyone who reached out to me after my last post.  And most of all, I am thankful for my health and my family, both of which I often times take for granted.  

So Cheers! Kanpai! Salud! Skal!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

'Cheers' Sweatshirt: J. Crew. Chambray shirt: J. Crew. Jeweled bib necklace: J. Crew factory (old). 
Distressed jeans: Dylan George 'Lucy Low Rise Skinny Jean' (last seen here). Herringbone oxforts: TOMS 'Cordones'

Whenever I'm home, I always make time to see my best friends from high school.  We scattered across the country after high school and by some miracle, we all ended up back in Michigan after college.  These girls kept me sane during medical school.  We always met up at the same coffee shop and would sit and chat for hours.  We started a birthday celebration tradition and stood in each other's weddings.  One of our oldest traditions is a holiday cookie baking extravaganza, when we would bake a bunch of different cookies, place them in decorative bags, and distribute to friends and family.  I hadn't been home for any of the winter holidays in a long time, so this visit, we decided to bake cookies while we caught up...for old times' sake.  Instead of baking 4 or 5 different cookies, we settled on an autumn-inspired candy corn sugar cookie.  We were so busy catching up, that I unfortunately didn't get to take many pictures.  So for the full tutorial (with better pictures), you can go here.

We used the sugar recipe below, which I totally messed up and put in regular granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar (because I was so busy chatting).  Oops.  The end result still turned out soft, sweet, and delicious.  We sprinkled some with sanding sugar, dipped others in white chocolate topped with white sprinkles, and the rest we just left plain.

Sugar Cookies

1.5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Mix together the first 5 ingredients.  Stir in by hand the dry ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

To make regular sugar cookies, divide chilled dough and roll to 1/4" thickness.  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.  Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

To make candy corn cookies, follow the instructions here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Killer Heels

I've been extremely behind in blogging as I've packed, moved, and partially renovated our new condo in the last month.  It's been hectic to say the least, and I most definitely would not have survived it without Dr. S by my side.  We are living amongst boxes and our kitchen cabinets still don't have doors on them, but we are thankful to have at least unpacked a good amount of our things.

I wore this outfit over a month ago (time flies!) to a dinner at Bestia with one of our favorite couples.  The shoes are not the most practical heels, but I fell in love with them when I spotted them at Wasteland in Santa Monica.  Plus, they were a steal for $75!   

Contrast sleeved textured shirt: Zara.   Pleated sheer skirt: Anthropologie.  Clutch/Ipad case: Kate Spade.  Sunglasses: STUNglasses.  Necklace: Forever21.  Multi-strap calf hair heels: Proenza Schouler.

Sunday, November 10, 2013



The past couple of weeks have been really rough.  I was completely defeated and broken.  There were days where I could muster only enough energy to be barely functional.  With the help of my doting husband, loving family, and supportive friends (and some retail therapy), I have been slowly piecing myself back together, and each day I'm feeling stronger and more like me.  I've realized that bad things happen and when they do, it's okay to feel bad for yourself.  And it also took this big loss for me to really appreciate all of the good that I have in my life.

It's only fitting that my slow return to normalcy coincides with my and Mr. J's 14 year dating anniversary.  Yes, that's right…dating anniversary.  May 12th may have been when we became husband and wife but November 10th will always be the day that we became us.  So with something to celebrate this weekend, I started wearing real clothes again (instead of my depressing uniform from the past few weeks, which consisted of scrubs, yoga pants, and leggings).  These pants were the perfect transition piece - soft and stretchy like leggings but the thick ponte material with seams and a zipper closure (but still with an elastic waistband) made them more appropriate for social settings.

Our love is the same age as a rebellious teenager.  At 14, it already feels so complete and fulfilling...I can't wait to see what it's like when it becomes a senior citizen.  Happy Anniversary Mr. J!

Owl print blouse: J. Crew. Ponte knit pants: J. Crew 'Pixie' Pant. Leather jacket: Muubaa 'Tehmi' (dip-dyed version here). Jeweled necklace: J. Crew (old). Earrings: via StitchFix. Wood-heeled pump: YSL (old).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DIY Camera Strap Cover

During Sarah's visit to the Bay Area, we wanted to squeeze in a DIY project.  We were looking for something quick, practical, and easy for Sarah to take on the plane back to LA.  Enter this no-sew DIY camera strap cover!  And did we mention that it was reallreally easy and also very inexpensive?

We picked up just half a yard of this patterned fabric, a roll of Stitch Witchery, and a yard of fusible velcro at our local Jo-Ann Fabric.  In addition to that, you only need a pair of fabric scissors (or any pair of sharp scissors), an iron, and an ironing board, all of which we already had at home.  We didn't even use measuring tape!

Using our camera straps as templates, we cut the fabric the length of our straps with an extra 1/2-1" on either side for hemming and about 3x the width of our straps, again with an extra 1/2-1" on either side for a clean hem.  We used the Stitch Witchery according to package instructions to create an even, no-sew hem and finally laid down the Velcro strips to fasten and secure the strap cover.

This was a quick and affordable way to personalize our camera straps that took less than an hour!  We still had plenty of time to meet up with friends, catch up on girl talk, and of course, eat lots of good eats!

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