Monday, November 30, 2009

Ruche: A wish list

Today I met Ruche. (Thanks to Rachel of Elephantine.) And I fell in love with the boutique's pretty, flirty, feminine and relatively affordable pieces that are modern but with a touch of vintage.

While I would gladly welcome any of these beauties into my closet-- which is overflowing, though I still complain each morning that I have nothing to wear-- the item that stole my heart above all others is Pink Studio's tan oxford pumps. Oh, how I love them so, even if the stacked heel would make me nearly six feet tall. And with those slouchy socks it's like school girl meets sophisticate, don't you think? A little sexy, a little sweet.

All during dinner I daydreamed about wearing the laced-up cuties with the khaki "reporter" dress (how perfect is that?) and it took all my willpower not to purchase the oxfords. Or anything else. After a weekend spent spending, aka Christmas shopping, I'm not sure my bank account could handle another purchase. To be honest, I did put the oxfords in my cart and went through the checkout process. I only turned back when the site told me the 15 percent off code had expired (no!). I took it as a sign from the fashion gods not to plunge myself further into debt.

Perhaps Santa will bring me my oxfords this Christmas?

hint hint, wink wink

To help me shake the urge to indulge in a little retail therapy-- and to get you thoroughly acquainted with Ruche-- I have compiled here a visual wish list: (click images to view larger)

Clockwise: Abigail tulip ruffle gray coat, English embroidered trellis dress, potato sac ruffled linen dress and deep purple peonies dress

Clockwise: Pink Studio's "Jona" oxford pumps in tan, khaki 1930s reporter dress, cream over the knee socks by Betsey Johnson and butternut squash peacoat by Tulle

Below: raspberry crochet blooms sweater cardigan over perfect lbd little brown dress

all images via Ruche 

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I hope all my American readers had a happy Thanksgiving! Mine was pretty low key. I just cooked all day in my tiny apartment kitchen and then went over to my parents' house for dinner with my mom, pop and brother. I ate a lot, of course. It was all so good! And I stayed full until Friday night. Haha. That's what a plateful of carbs will do to you, plus a slice of apple pie a la mode. I just had some leftovers for lunch and it was still delicious-- like Thanksgiving all over again. Judging by the amount of plastic containers in my fridge, I will be having a couple more Thanksgivings before the weekend is over...

Here's a peek at all the tasty dishes my family shared this Turkey Day:

Cranberry-Pineapple Minis

Polenta and Chicken Tartlets and Dutch Apple Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

My first pie-- and it was a success! The family loved it.

My fruity-- or girly, as my brother put it-- drink, a Pomegranate and Cranberry Bellini. Even though my brother thought it was a bit feminine, he still liked it. As did my dad! He thought it was fancy with the mint sprig, pomegranate seeds and lime slice as garnishes. And don't you think the colors make it a perfect Christmas cocktail? I think I might make it again!

Check out this spread! From left, clockwise: Sweet potato casserole with pecans, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry-pineapple mini, stuffing, turkey with gravy, mixed veggies (middle), and a polenta and chicken tartlet and a homemade roll on dish to the left. 

See what I mean about my mom cooking enough to feed a football team!? There's only four of us but we had tons of food. Every inch of the table was covered!

Dessert. We had my apple pie of course but my mom also made pecan and pumpkin.

I probably gained 10 pounds in one night but I love Thanksgiving. All that deliciousness is worth it! Hazel is just going to get more walks around the block this weekend...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every Thanksgiving, like many other folk, my thoughts turn to what I am thankful for. But what I always end up realizing is that not only do I have a lot to be grateful for, I also do not give thanks often enough. Too many times during the year I whine and complain about what I want, what I need, what I don't have. One day of thanks is simply not enough. I need to remember what I do have, not take it for granted and be thankful for it every. single. day. With the craziness that is life, that can be hard to do on a daily basis. But I'm going to try. Because I think when you realize and appreciate all that you have, you find you are happier and more blessed than you thought.

This Thanksgiving, here are a few things I'm thankful for:

:: My family. As dysfunctional as we are, we truly love each other.

:: My boyfriend. We've been through our ups and downs but at the end of the day, we really do care about each other and want what's best for each other. After two and a half years-- much of it living together-- we are family.

:: Which brings me to Hazel. As crazy and obnoxious as she can be, she is my faithful (and adorable) companion and she brings me so much joy.

:: My job. I am so glad to have a job that I love (even if it stresses me out) and makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile and meaningful. And I am so thankful to have a steady paycheck during a time when many people do not.

:: Having a roof over my head, clothes on my back, shoes on my feet and food on the table. And that's not an empty statement as perhaps it has been in year's past. Because after talking to so many homeless, jobless and otherwise financially struggling people this past year, I really am grateful to have life's basic necessities.

:: Old friends. Even if I don't see them as often as I'd like, I know I can always count on them, and they can count on me. Bonds like that just don't break.

:: New "bloggy" friends. You guys mean more to me than you may know. I have enjoyed getting to know you and I appreciate every comment you leave me, every kind and encouraging word, everything. A year ago, I never knew that such an amazing blog community existed but I am so very thankful that I am now a part of it.

What are you thankful for this year?

image via weheartit 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Let's get cookin'

I can't believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Time really flies. But at the same time, I can believe it because I went to the grocery store today and it was a madhouse. Yep, it's that time of year, when people come out in droves to fill up their carts and baskets with all the fixins' for a fabulous turkey dinner. And when I say people come out in droves, I mean last minute and I mean people like me.

Luckily, I don't have to make the whole feast. (I've never cooked a turkey in my life! And I'm pretty content with letting my mom do it for a few more years.) For the past couple holiday dinners I have brought something to the table--usually something different than what we normally have, just to switch things up a bit--while also helping my mom in the kitchen prepare and cook all the traditional dishes the day of.

This year, I have committed to contributing more than usual. While looking through my grocery list at the store this afternoon I started to think I had bitten off more than I could chew (no pun intended). But I feel fairly confident that I can pull it all off, and tastefully (pun intended).

Here's what I've signed on to make:

:: Polenta and Chicken Tartlets
I've made these twice before. They are great little appetizers, so easy to make but still delicious. Imagine shredded roast chicken dressed with pesto and cranberries, sitting atop a bed of polenta. What's not to like, right? And my family loves them, so that's why I'm making them again. But this time I think I'll halve the recipe-- otherwise I have tartlets in the fridge for a week (or more)!

:: Pomegranate and Cranberry Bellinis
I saved this recipe, found in Self magazine, nearly a year ago, but when I was searching my digital recipe folder last week for Thanksgiving ideas, this cocktail sounded perfect. Cranberries and pomegranates are the fruits of the season, so why not enjoy them with a splash of fizzy Prosecco-- Italy's sparkling wine. Plus, this drink can be sipped guilt free; there's only 161 calories per serving.

:: Cranberry-Pineapple Minis
This recipe I got from my mom. Who I believe saw it in a JELL-O ad in a magazine. She was going to make this spin on the traditional cranberry sauce but I decided I'd take it off her hands since she has more than enough to cook on Thanksgiving (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls... you get the idea. We're only four people but she whips up enough to serve an army!). Looking through the easy-peasy recipe, these minis sound like surefire crowd-pleasers. They're sweet and crunchy (from the walnuts) and come in itty-bitty cupcake liners. Much cuter than canned cranberry sauce.

:: Dutch Apple Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping
Of everything I'm making, this is the one that I am most nervous about since I've never made a pie. The recipe is courtesy Rachel over at Heart of Light, and while Rachel would probably never dream of using a store-bought pie crust, I am. I figured I'd give myself a break on this one. Making your own crust is typically the hardest part but with Marie Callender's deep dish pie crust in my freezer, I think I'll survive my first pie-making experience. I feel a little like I'm cheating but it will still be somewhat labor intensive (I gotta slice the apples and make the topping after all!) and of course, made with love.

So, all my stateside readers, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Are you getting busy in the kitchen or leaving it to someone else? And if you are getting cooking this Turkey Day tell me, what are you making? I'd love to add some new recipes to my arsenal!

P.S. Thank you for putting up with my little rant yesterday and for your kind words. Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed, as I'm sure we all do, and I thought maybe if I could get the stress off my chest, so to speak, I'd feel a bit better. And I did. So thanks again. You are lovely.

top images both via Martha Stewart 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Too much

I know this is something people say in "Monday" posts, but I'm going to say it a day late: The weekend just flew by.

On Sunday night as I was going to bed, I started to think of all the things I had wanted to accomplish in those all-too-brief two days and all the things I still had yet to do. As my eyes got heavy with sleep, a mental to-do list played in my head and the stress I had temporarily let go of on Friday afternoon suddenly began to creep back into my chest. With tense shoulders and a slightly churning stomach, I went to sleep.

Monday I awoke to the unfortunate and unwelcome realization of all I had to get done. With the Thanksgiving holiday, all of my deadlines are moved up a day, which only compounded the "normal" amount of anxiety I feel on Mondays. I am a person that generally likes to have things to do and I relish making to-do lists, but what I enjoy even more is crossing things off. As in done. No more. Finito. But it seems like my life is an unending list of tasks-- the moment I strike one through with my pen, another job is waiting to be tackled and completed. These tasks are mostly work-related but also personal, and laundry is seemingly one of the items that I will never get to because of all the other "priority projects" above it. But a girl needs clean clothes sometime, right?

I wish I could say I have only felt like this as of late, but that's not true. And the burden, the pressure, of having so much on my plate that has to be done perfectly-- because I can't not do it perfectly or at least try-- is starting to wear on me. I am feeling burnt out. Which, of course, makes it even harder to accomplish all that is asked of me, by myself and others. I procrastinate, I fall behind. I work work work to catch up, but then it never seems good enough. I am definitely too hard on myself, for sure, but at times I feel like I can't manage my time, my emotions, my responsibilities, my ... life.

My second grade teacher told my mom that I was a stressed out little girl. Isn't it about time for a break?

image via we heart it via Audrey Hepburn Complex 

Friday, November 20, 2009


Today is the last day to send me your postal address if you would like to receive a holiday card!

I'd love to send one if you'd love to get one! Just email me at carissanicole {at}

And thanks again to those who already sent me their address. Right now, I have cards going all over the U.S. and even ones heading to Canada and China! Woo hoo!

Ok, that's all for now. Hope you are enjoying your Friday! And don't you love the pretty flowers I picked for you? They're by the talented Tina of lifelovepaper (check out her blog and shop) and have been sitting in my "fave photos" folder for awhile now and I thought I'd share them with you on this happy, sunny (at least where I am) Friday.

I'm so glad the work week is (almost) over.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great Expectations

I haven’t been to the movies much lately. The last time I stepped inside a theater was for “Paranormal Activity.” The boy and I saw it a few weeks after it came out and by then most of the hubbub had died down. (Mini-review: I’m usually not a fan of scary movies, but this wasn’t too fright inducing. In fact, it was a bit laughable. And at times I wanted to slap some sense into the boyfriend character. But overall, I still enjoyed it.)

Other than “Paranormal Activity,” I can’t even remember what I saw last. That’s how long ago it was. My lack of movie going is not due to a lack of interest in recent releases. There have been many flicks that I wanted to see and simply didn’t, and now I have to wait for DVD (or On Demand, whichever comes first). I blame the boy for my lackluster box office showing. It seems he is working every weekend now, getting in early or coming home late, and if he does actually have Sunday off like he is supposed to, the day is lost to football.

But I am breaking this depressing trend this weekend. I am far too excited to see Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side.” I saw the previews months ago and immediately put it on my running list of movies to see (yes, I really do have a list!). Anyone else as thrilled as me to see the film? Seriously, I’ve choked up a couple times just watching the trailer, it looks that good. I told the boy that we have to go see it, but he wasn’t as enthusiastic about the prospect. I tried to convince him that it’s a sports movie, but he didn’t buy it. No worries. Like any good girlfriend, I’ll remind him of that time I saw {insert any blow-em-up, shoot-em-up movie title here} and drag him along.

So, do you want to know what else I am looking forward to (hopefully) seeing in theaters this winter? Here’s my list:

Limited release in NY and LA Nov. 25, Everywhere else Dec. 11
This just looks too adorable to pass up. The fact that it is by Disney is enough to make me see it. But there’s more. It is set in 1920s New Orleans. The tale centers on Princess Tiana, the animation studio’s first African American princess. The talk show diva herself, Oprah Winfrey, voices Tiana’s mother, Eudora. It is from the directors of “The Little Mermaid” (my all time favorite movie) and “Aladdin.” And best of all, it marks Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation! Need I say more?

Limited release Dec. 11, Everywhere else Jan. 15
I love love love this book. When people ask me what my favorite books are, this title is one of the first that springs to my mind. I can’t wait to see Alice Sebold’s words come to life on screen and get a glimpse of Susie Salmon in director Peter Jackson’s interpretation of “the in-between.”

Opens Dec. 18
Hello, Carrie! Er, I mean, Sarah Jessica. To be honest, that’s all I need to know to plop down 12 bucks for ticket. Gotta get my SJP fix while waiting for “Sex and the City 2” to debut (May is so far away!). Plus, it looks cute and funny, your standard rom-com. Which is just my kind of movie.

Limited release Dec. 18, Everywhere else Dec. 25
All you have to do is watch the trailer, read the cast list—Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, Fergie—and see that the it is from the director of "Chicago" to know this one’s gonna be good. Fabulously good.

Now tell me: what’s on your list?

poster image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Ode to Coffee (and its cup)

I love coffee. But it hasn’t always been that way. It wasn’t until recently that I developed a fondness for the stuff. And I blame my mom. When she started working at Starbucks, my addiction began.

Well, addiction is a strong word in my case. Some people are seriously addicted to coffee. I would like to state, for the record, that I only drink a cup a day, or every other day sometimes. Two cups at the most: one in the morning and one in the afternoon on particularly rough days. So while I do have a bit of a habit, it’s one I could definitely kick if need be. (I just don’t want to.)

Back to java. Like I said, it wasn’t until about two years ago that I really started drinking coffee on a daily basis. Before that, I didn’t have much of a taste for it. (Kind of like red wine, but that’s growing on me, too.) The only time I drank coffee was in ice-blended form, frappucino style—so it was more like dessert—or during holiday dinners. You know what I’m talking about: when you’re a kid and all the adults are drinking coffee (or brandy, whatever the case may be) with their slice of pie and mom kindly offers you a little bit? And you say yes not because you like it but because you want to feel like a grown up? Yeah, that was me.

But now, I drink it because I like it. My coffee of choice is almost always a latte. I have mentioned on here before my adoration for Starbucks' fall-time treat, the pumpkin spice latte (which I am drinking now). But I love vanilla and cinnamon dolce, too.

For fear of this post turning into a Starbucks plug, I will say I do drink coffee at home thanks to my handy-dandy Keurig mini personal brewer—a gift from my parents. It pours the perfect cup to wake me up in the morning. I’m partial to Gloria Jean’s hazelnut flavor.

What I love most about coffee, though, has nothing to do with taste. I love the experience of coffee. There’s no better start to my workday than having a big, warm mug in my hands and Hazel snuggling against my hip.

A crucial part of the experience, for me anyway, is the vessel holding my brew. This may be shallow, but it has to be pretty. An ugly mug just ruins everything. (This same thing could be said about a person, but we’re just talking coffee here.) I have several beauties in my cupboard that I reach for in the morning and I’m always slightly disappointed when I discover that all my favorite cups are dirty in the dishwasher and I have to grab one of the boy's dreary-looking, brown-speckled ceramic mugs.

If it were up to me, I would only fill my kitchen’s shelves with things that are beautiful to look at.  Pretties like these:

clockwise: Chicago mug by Circa Ceramics, soup mugs by Red Hot Pottery, train window tea cup and saucer by Esther Coombs (this is no longer in her shop, sadness) and cozy coffee mug with heart by Vessels and Wares.

Full disclosure: Since we’re talking coffee, I must admit that I have never made coffee the “traditional” way. You know, with a filter and such. I’m sure I could figure it out if I had to, but luckily I've never had a boss that put me on coffee-making duty. And my Keurig has spoiled me. I’m hesistant to say it, but I might just be a coffee (and coffee cup) snob.

Anyone else out there have a love affair with coffee and its cup?

P.S. I bought those Italian latte cups. I've had my eye on them for awhile and simply couldn't resist any longer! (And couldn't bear the thought of someone else buying them!)

top image via naturally nina, by krisatomic 
vertical images via weheartit

Thursday, November 12, 2009

just a quick note...

Sorry I have been MIA this week, on posting and commenting. It's been a crazy few days with work (and I didn't have yesterday off, boo! There really are no holidays in journalism. The news doesn't stop!). Unfortunately-- or fortunately, it depends on my mood-- writing for the paper comes before writing for the blog.

But it's Thursday, which means I'm almost done, so I'll be back soon. Till then, have a great day and thanks to everyone who sent me their addresses so far! And if you haven't yet but would still like to get on the Christmas card mailing list, there's still time. Just email me at carissanicole {at}

Be back later,

image via oh, hello friend via Audrey Hepburn Complex

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sending some cheer

Even though it doesn’t feel like winter is upon us-- the Southern California weather is to blame for that-- I realized this week that Christmas will be here sooner than I think. The holidays always sneak up on me, it seems, and it’s not uncommon to find me among the mad rush of last-minute shoppers. (Though, I’m not as bad as my dad! Almost every year he waits till Christmas Eve and I then I have to take him out shopping because he is hopeless when it comes to buying gifts.)

One holiday to-do that usually slips through the cracks though is sending Christmas cards. I love getting and giving them, and I always buy them, but actually sending them is a whole other story. Too often they end up taped to the top of a gift instead of in the recipient’s mailbox, which we all know is the best part of cards-- finding them in the mail!

But this year, I am committed to reversing that trend. And more than that, I have been inspired by the sweet offer of Nina (over at Naturally Nina. You read her blog, right? If not, you should!) to send out homemade holiday cards to any readers that want one. Well, I have decided that I’d like to do the same!

I’ve been feeling crafty lately and you guys have been such great friends, so I’d love to send a little holiday cheer your way. If you’d like to receive a piece of “old-fashioned” snail mail from me, just email me your postal address at carissanicole {at} by Friday, Nov. 20. That should give me enough time to send them out!

And don’t worry, I will keep your address completely confidential and will never use it for any other purpose.

I’m so excited! As Nina said in her post, I am looking forward to connecting off-line-- via pen and paper.

P.S. International readers more than welcome!

image via weheartit 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Comfort food

Last week, after a long, hard day at work, I decided the best way to unwind would be by making my favorite pesto pasta and savoring it with a glass of Pinot Grigio. And boy, did it do the trick. So much so that I have a pot of boiling water on the stove as I type. I figure, after the week I've had, some comfort food (minus the wine) is in order, even for lunch.

Now, I have mentioned my "famous" pesto pasta on this blog before (most recently here) and while it is really not that famous, it is always a crowd pleaser and it never lets me down. And it's so easy to make, too! There's no measuring involved; I just eyeball it and adjust according to how many people I need to feed. If you can boil water and stir, you're good to go.

Here's what you need:
:: Pasta. Last week (and today) I used linguine, but I have also made this with penne, farfalle (bowties), even spaghetti. You get bonus points if you use whole-wheat!
:: Sun-dried tomatoes, drained. I use julienne cut tomatoes that are packed in oil, but you can use the dehydrated kind, too. They work just as well since the heat of the pasta and oil in the pesto rehydrates them.
:: Pine nuts (also called pignolis), toasted.
:: Store-bought pesto. I like Buitoni best but there are several other brands so it's good to try different types to see which you prefer. And there's always homemade! Which is simple to make but we're going the super simple route here.
:: Salt, for the pasta water.
:: Extra virgin olive oil, also for the pasta water.
:: Freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

The dish takes about 15 minutes to make, depending on what pasta you are using. In a medium to large pot (size depends on how many you are feeding) bring generously salted water to a boil. The salt is important because this is the only chance you get to flavor the pasta itself. Add pasta and a splash or two of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast pine nuts. I use about a palmful when I am just cooking for myself. You don't have to toast the pine nuts, but it really brings out their nutty, woody flavor. Just keep the skillet on medium (or low if you're nervous!) and don't walk away. These guys take only a minute or two to toast. Give the skillet a little shake every 30 seconds or so. You can smell when they are done but you can also see... don't let them burn! Dump pine nuts onto a paper towel until ready to use (don't leave in the skillet because they will keep toasting).

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and return to pot. Stir in pesto, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes--  this is all to taste, but I like a lot of sun-dried tomatoes! If the pasta is sticking together, you can drizzle a bit of the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar or a bit of EVOO (as Rachael Ray would say!). Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve family style or in individual bowls and enjoy! (I am right now. Yum.)

To up the protein in this meal, you can easily add grilled chicken. That's delish, too.

Other than being a fast and easy lunch or dinner, this pasta is also great to take to parties or potlucks because it tastes just as good cold. Same goes for leftovers.

Well, I hope some of you will try my "famous" pesto pasta. It really is my favorite dish. And if you do, be sure to let me know how you liked it!

Till then, what is your go-to comfort food?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just my type

If I had $300 (or $600) to spend frivolously, I know just what I would buy: a beautiful, vintage typewriter. At least, that's what I would tell you I would buy at. this. very. moment. My wants are ever changing so who knows what I would purchase with that chunk of money tomorrow-- maybe I'd have a moment of depressing clarity and put it toward rent?-- but tonight I have been drooling over the dozens of vintage writing machines that can be found by simply searching "typewriter" on Etsy.

Here's a few that I would happily display on my shiny white Parsons desk from West Elm. Oh, wait. I don't have one of those. Looks like I'll be needing a more substantial amount of superfluous cash to make this fantasy become a reality. No matter. Let's just pretend for now.

Say hello to these gorgeous desktop-- or laptop-- companions.

The Olivetti Valentine, the "Ferrari" of typewriters, seen at Poetic Home 

I know there is an old, dusty typewriter sitting somewhere in my parents' house, but it is nowhere near as pretty to look at as these. Right now its a toss up between the two Royals-- turquoise and seafoam-- for my No. 1 spot.

So, anyone else out there obsessed with typewriters like me? My boyfriend doesn't get it, but what kind of writer would I be if I didn't feel strangely drawn to the familiar clickity-clack and ceremonial ding that reminds of days gone by?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween (Again)

A few photos from last night:

We finally carved our pumpkins. This cutie is mine. Note to self, small pumpkins are harder to carve, not easier!

Then, I went to a party and had a good time with friends ("nerdy" Marielle, my bestie, and "Olympic Hack Sack team member" Jenessa)...

... and the boy, my wild-haired caddy.

Whatever you did, I hope you had a ghoulishly good time, too!

If you missed my "first" Halloween, click here to see my costume in all its glory.