Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Quote for this Snowy Day

"Sometimes happiness is a blessing, but generally it is a conquest. Each day's magic moment helps." -- Paulo Coelho

Chicago Q

Saturday night we dined at Chicago Q - an upscale BBQ spot we've heard so much about lately. Upon arrival the place was packed (to be expected at 8pm on a Saturday night). Once we spotted two seats at the bar up front and settled in with cocktails, we were prepared for our way-too-long wait. The mint juleps are their signature drink, and they come in the classically adorable silver julep cups {below}. Once we were lead to the spacious dining area, I was able to see the black and white banisters, reclaimed wood floors and soft leather seating. It feels like an old Southern plantation. And then the food came. Diners begin with homemade chips and bread and butter pickles. I literally could not stop eating these sweet and salty, crunchy, yummy pickles! We moved on to a green salad with smoked cherry tomatoes, Bob had the ribs with their signature rub. A selection of three barbecue sauces was served on the side so that the flavor of the meat can shine. I (being the pesco-vegetarian I am) ordered the lemon barbecue shrimp and was not disappointed. What would this Southern comfort meal be without a piece of cornbread as big as your head with honey butter and a side of bubbling mac and cheese served in a skillet? If you intend to eat here, I'd wouldn't advise any heavy activity directly following. We left very full and happy and headed to Bangers and Lace - a Wicker Park bar with a huge beer selection, where we met some friends to continue the birthday weekend celebration!

Friday, January 28, 2011

High Gloss Tease

These images were posted on Knight Moves as a tease for what's to come in the much anticipated High Gloss Magazine launching next week. I would like to live in this gorgeous space please. That vintage Persian rug in the kitchen - so unexpected, but it really makes the space, don't you think?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Guy

Yesterday was my boyfriend's 27th birthday. Later this week we will celebrate with good food and good friends - dinner at the new Chicago Q, then beer at Bangers and Lace.

I hope your birthday was very special, because you're a pretty special guy.

Image via Paperless Post

J. Crew Spring: Hollywood Glam

Though I consider myself a Chicago girl through and through, I was born in LA and lived there until I was about seven. This J. Crew Spring photo shoot brings some sunshine into my life on this snowy Chicago afternoon. Seriously, I don't even remember what it feels like to wear open-toed flats.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


High Gloss Magazine officially launches one week from today and in honor of the big day, La Dolce Vita is giving away some Gadabout swag. If you haven't seen this stuff, you must check out this lovely paper - and enter the giveaway while you're at it!

C&B Steppin up

This table is stunning. Marble top with classic French iron base. Lovely. I want.

Crate and Barrel tends to be a bit... generic. In the past, it hasn't been my favorite. Sure, it's great for the classics, and of course, kitchen items, but I've never been a fan of their rug and pillow patterns and their furniture has been, well... boring. Recently, however, they've proved me wrong! These are a few of my recent favorites {Crate and Barrel}

Friday, January 21, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award: 7 Things

I'm thrilled to have been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by Victoria at vmac & cheese and my friend, Morgan at Attention to Detail! Thanks so much for thinking of me, it means a ton!

Now I must divulge seven things about myself:

1. I sometimes change my outfit a dozen times and then end up in the one I started in out of pure frustration

image via sacramento street

2. I love this little nugget because she makes me smile and loves me no matter how crazy I'm acting on any particular day

3. I love to cook, hate using recipes

4. My boyfriend calls me "bossy and controlling" in the kitchen

5. I try really hard to like skiing, but I enjoy the warm beverages and snuggling by the fire more

6. I'm a vegetarian, but love soft leather bags

7. I fall asleep on car rides - never fails

I must pass this award on to my long-time friend Cara (An Urban Cottage), Alaina (Live Creating Yourself) for inspiring me to start this little blog after winning a West Elm giveaway on LCY and Alexandra (Things That Sparkle). All of you lovely ladies inspire me daily!


- ashley

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

I've been looking for a statement piece for over our sofa for about a year now. Lately I've seen some pretty stunning mirrors out and about. I'm thinking either three medium sized mirrors, like the round gilt ones from PB, or one large, like the sunburst. I also really like the tile mirror framed from WE.... decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jackie & Bobby

Speaking of books... I'm reading Bobby & Jackie for my book club. It's a look inside Jackie's affair with Bobby Kennedy and other outrageous stories about the Kennedy boys {who are, by the way, the closest thing we have to royalty}. It is true scandal.

On another note, how absolutely stunning is she...

A New Look for your Books

I've seen it in photos, but it wasn't until I was in West Elm the other day that I saw it in person. A book shelf with books displayed spine side in. Such a great, streamlined look. I went right home and flipped my books!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Dinner Party

This past Saturday we had three of my best girl friends over, along with the men in their lives. I cooked a four course meal for eight! {with the much needed help of my wonderful boyfriend, Cara and Nate}

On the Menu:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Gruyere, Parmesan and Rosemary Bread Sticks
Spring Green with Roasted Beets and a Balsamic Lemon Dressing
Ina's Shrimp Scampi
Chocolate Mousse with Orange Zest and Homemade Whipped Cream

The table:

Simple white tablecloth
Gray Linen Napkins (West Elm)
White Square Dishes (Crate and Barrel)
White and Hydrangeas
Silver Mercury Votives

The Mousse was AH-MAZING. Courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa herself. It was definitely a labor of love, but SO worth it.

What you'll need...
  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 extra-large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
  • Whipped Cream, recipe follows, for decoration
  • Mandarin oranges, drained, for decoration

Combine the 2 chocolates, 1/4 cup water, and the vanilla in a glass bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water just until the chocolate melts. Cool completely to room temperature. Whisk in the orange zest and butter until combined.

Place the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick and pale yellow. With the mixer on low speed, add the chocolate mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place 1 cup of egg whites (save or discard the rest), the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until firm but not dry. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then fold the rest in carefully with a rubber spatula.

Without cleaning the bowl or whisk, whip the heavy cream and the remaining tablespoon of sugar until firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into individual dishes or an 8-cup serving bowl. Chill and decorate with whipped cream and oranges. Serve with extra whipped cream on the side.

Whipped Cream: 2 cups cold heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, dash pure vanilla. Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don't overbeat, or you'll end up with butter!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

J. Crew Classics, Dress your Home

What a concept - dress your home like you dress yourself! You can never go wrong with the classics. featured J. Crew's 11 New Classics For 2011 Interpreted For Your Home

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chocolate Hardwood Flooring

What do these spaces have in common... besides being gorgeous?

Dark chocolate, wide-plank hardwood floors! This past weekend the bf, some of his handy friends and my brother made one of my long-time wishes come true: they laid a beautiful chocolate brown hardwood floor in our back room/office/where I go to watch Gossip Girl and read a book. It's not entirely finished - floor boards still need to be nailed, some touch up paint - but it's so close! {photos to come}

Our walls are dolphin fin gray by Behr and it couldn't be more perfect.

Photos via