Crushing Hard

After a brief European sojourn, I’ve landed back in my (relative) reality of New York City.  When you are a city resident, there are often things you take for granted (expansive public transportation, ANYTHING you want/need delivered 24/7, early movie releases, the list goes on…..), and so often things you never really take advantage of.  For example, I usually go to museums twice a year.  My dad comes to visit twice a year.  See a correlation? But within the past year or so, I’ve definitely made the effort to be more of a tourist in my own city (sans fanny pack, and perplexed look), and I always have my radar up for a fun, insiders guide to my home town.

So, when I stumbled on Crush New York, I knew I’d found the perfect resource.  Founded by Steph Vorhees (some of you may remember her as Kelly Cutrone’s assistant from “Kell on Earth”), Crush New York bills itself as an insiders guide to the island of Manhattan.  And everyone knows the best insider tips come from (former) PR girls.  To be comepletely honest, I’ve developed a bit of a girl crush on Steph just based on her “About Me” page.  Who wouldn’t want to read some thing “written in a unique voice, best described as shameless” by a girl who cops to her failed plans to move to LA by saying “Ew. I know.”

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Crush New York’s Page

Crush provides tips on where dine, booze, flirt and shop in the Big City and even throws in some career and dating advice.  The foodie in me loves her “Food Porn Friday” posts (and I wish they were really every Friday).  This is actually how I found the site in the first place.  A quick stop to my FAVORITE bakery’s Facebook page (if you’re in NYC and you haven’t been to Maison Kayser, do yourself a favor and get there immediately), and I landed on a link to one of Steph’s posts about their UES outpost.  I loved her tone, and clearly would instantly trust anyone who shares my affinity for Maison Kayser.  

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Crush New York covers Maison Kayser

But beyond that, the site really does feature a lot of great tips and insight.  Anyone who could hack it for a week in Ms. Cutrone’s office deserves some kind of props (believe me – I had a friend who eeked out 3 months, and almost lost her sanity in the meantime), which might be what lead Vorhees to include the career section on the site.  Interviews with up-and-coming success stories like Katie Nadler, founder of Top Shelf, or Amanda Hesser, co-founder of one of my other obsessions Food52 are compelling and make me want to get off my ass and become an accomplished entrepreneur.

Overall, the site runs the gamut of NYC-centric info, but if that doesn’t entice you to start reading, the link to her Tumblr account should do the trick:

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Achieving “Je ne sais quoi” status

After the first leg of my trip in London it was time to Chunnel it over to Paris.  Just a quick two hour trip, and I emerged from Gare du Nord in the center of the City of Lights.  Paris is certainly another city in my all-time-favorites list; I lived there while getting my masters, and it will always have a special place in mon cœur.  So, while I was technically a tourist in my old home, I had a list of to-do’s which included things more along the lines of grocery shopping, hole in the wall restaurants, and stops in to my favorite neighborhood patisserie (the last time I was there I came back with 5 bars of chocolate, 4 pieces of quiche, and truffle tagliatelle from one of my favorite restaurants).  So for this trip, I also wanted to make sure I caught up on all the latest in Made-in-France products.  While I have my own faves (I’m obsessed with Garnier’s Ultra DOUX line – especially the au henné et vinaigre de mûre products designed for brunettes), I wanted to do a little bit of research to find the latest and greatest in French cult beauty products.  Enter: beautyeditor, a Canadian beauty blog founded by Michelle Villett, a former ELLE Canada health and beauty editor.

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I stumbled across the blog after googling “french beauty products not in us”, and after landing on my initial results (Paris beauty products! 15 cult faves from the French pharmacy), I was soon sucked into the rest of their site.  Neatly divided by Hair, Makeup, Skin, Nails, and Shop this site is really my own little piece of blog heavy.  As a self professed product junkie (my grandmother lovingly told me at the age of 10 that I needed another lipgloss like I needed a hole in the head), the site (unfortunately for my wallet) opened my eyes to a whole new set of goods I hadn’t even realized were out there (I DO need to try that Aztec secret healing clay.  Right?)

Chock full of great tips and tricks (posts like “How to make your lipstick last a ridiculously long time“, and  “If you need glasses, you probably need these makeup tips“), the posts are written in a totally relatable tone that makes you feel like you’re just chatting with a girl friend.  Couple that with the fact that, while they give you a behind the scenes look at celeb and runway style, they realize it may not be realistic for everyday life (apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought Emily Blunt’s Met Gala makeup looked cool yet crazy all at the same time).

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I totally appreciate that while they’re upfront when they’re reviewing a sponsored item, most of the products they post are actually sent to them free of charge (wait–how do I become a contributor?), but they really do always stick to the latest and greatest.  After loosing myself in the site for a few (ahem) hours, I realized this might just make my daily reads! Sorry Grandma–looks like I’m going to be buying a lot more lipgloss!

 

The Breakfast Club

On the first day of my trip, I arrived in one of my most favorite cities in the world, London, running on about two hours of sleep after an overnight flight.  As is always the case when you really want to check in to your hotel, our room wasn’t ready, but we were told that if we hurried, we could probably make the tail end of breakfast in the dining room.  Luckily, we made it with almost seconds to spare, and instantly after placing my order, there was hot a piping hot cup of much needed coffee in front of me.  This was when the fun began.  First: when you ask for cream with your coffee in London, they really mean CREAM.  It’s full on (read: FULL FAT) that is so dense it almost reminds me of the consistency of melted ice cream.  In other words, it was perfection.  I had ordered a full English breakfast, because…you know: “When in Rome” and all that.  To make a long story short, while the breakfast was fabulous, I’m really glad I only looked up the details of black pudding long after I ate it (Click the link if you really want to know, but I’ll spare you the details.  You’re welcome.)

Royal guards on The Mall

Royal guards on The Mall

So after this auspicious kickoff, when I came across the blog The London Review of Breakfasts, I knew I had my perfect post-trip blog.  The blog has been around for a while, but don’t let the simple layout and lack of ads fool you: this is quality content.  It’s full of great recommendations, and wittily written (sometimes scathing) reviews, from a team that has essentially declared a war on bad breakfast in London, claiming that they’ve “had enoeuf” (if you don’t get that joke, please stop reading this blog immediately).

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You can browse by areacontributor and restaurant name.  The site also features a “Special Dispatches” section with a selection of breakfasts from around the UK (Bedford to York), and even around the World (Australia to the US).  Another section titled “Opinions & Eggitorials” features an Open Letter to the most recent  US presidential candidates inviting them to a breakfast in Ohio, and requesting that they “please contact us soon to ensure that your schedule can be arranged to accommodate ours.”  It is this sarcastic, blatantly British humor that makes TLROB such a winning site.  Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE breakfast.  I’ve been known to throw quite the brunch (I assure you–it’s mind-blowing).  But at the end of the day, despite the bravado, The London Review of Breakfasts knows it’s a breakfast site. But why shouldn’t it be taken very seriously.  After all: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Bon Voyage

In deciding what blog to blog about this week, I thought it would be completely apropos to find a travel blog, as I’m getting ready to set off on a trip myself.  If nothing else I figured it would serve as a great inspiration for my plans.  I was looking for lush vistas, inspiring views, and dreamy beaches, but instead what I got was a lot of bare bones, blah sites.  That is until I came across Canvas of Light.  To be fair, this is actually a travel blog that sits along side the bloggers personal photography website, but it’s nonetheless extremely engaging.

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As I mentioned, I had very specific ideas as to what I was looking for in a travel blog, so when I read about him on The Huffington Post, saying he was the “Best travel photographer on the internet. There is no reason to beat around the bush”, I had a feeling I was on the right track.  Add that to the fact that he adores Paris, and I was in blogger-love.

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I consider myself fairly well-traveled, but I still have a zillion places on my wish list, and know that realistically I will probably never make it to a lot of them.  That’s where a site like Canvas of Light comes in.  The photos are so beautifully shot, you feel like you took the trip, and were lucky enough to go to insert location here on the best day of the whole year.  He captures the best colors of my favorite season (Fall) in the US, in such perfection that the east coast tourism boards should be begging him for shots for their Fall Foliage campaigns (they really should – he even includes a handy link to buy his images for commercial use).  Plus, if you see something that really calls to you, you can buy a print, or even send it as a card OR ecard (how’s that for a multi-service site?)

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He lives in Thailand, so he has the benefit of drawing from an exotic locale everyday, but that said there is still quite a bit of variety.  From Grenada,  to the French Countryside, and even to some great photo tutorials, there is something to view for every kind of traveler.  It’s definitely been a site that’s made me add a few new spots to my bucket list.

The Bride Wore White

Over the weekend, one of my closest friends got married! The wedding (and all the events leading up to it) was everything you’d hope for your best friend; there was fabulous food, crazy relatives, shuttle bus crashers, emotional speeches,  power outages, and hashtagable quotes from the altar.  In short: it was an extremely memorable event from start to finish.

Weddings are always the best excuse for a reunion

Weddings are always the best excuse for a reunion

As I set forth this week to find a blog to feature, I got started thinking about wedding etiquette.  Should you wear white to a wedding? (No)  Should you assume you’re invited just because you’ve known the bride for 20 years (No)  Should you take a Xanax if you’re planning on drinking? (questionable)  With all these questions swirling in my head, I thought I would aim to find a blog about wedding etiquette.  Yet a quick search for “wedding etiquette blog” retrieved results for Emily Post, and a variety of subpages on the knot, but no blog that actually specialized in “Wedding Etiquette”.  I did find one post on Oh Lovely Day that spoke specifically to Wedding Guest Etiquette, but the space is otherwise pretty barren (nudge nudge to anyone looking to fill an open niche). On a side note, in my quest, I also learned more than I ever needed to know about Monogramming Etiquette.  Apparently it’s a really big thing.

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So, as I had already been weeding through a variety of wedding blogs in a vain attempt to find the elusive “Wedding Etiquette” blog, I did stumble across quite a few really stellar sites.  For an industry that makes close to $50 BILLION in annual revenue, it’s no surprise that there are nearly just as many blogs out there with tips on everything from the perfect “Something Blue”, to the best way to arrange the napkins at your reception’s place settings.

Through all the noise, there was one blog which really rose to the top for me: Grey Likes Weddings.  Brought to the web by the anonymous “Miss Grey” (the real life blogger is actually named Summer Watkins), the quirky About section of the blog (cleverly titled “Grey You Say“) reveals a penchant “for the charms of a well-healed woman”.  At this point, I should mention that while I may be a city girl, 11 years of living in the South did rub off on me a bit, so anything preppy, girly, and involving WASP-y customs is right up my alley. Hence, my instant affinity for this site.

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From the “Rockin’ a New Rock” section, with it’s guide for the newly engaged, to the tiny details (to encourage you to share a post, they use the quippy “Won’t you be a gem, and share this with your ladies”), this blog covers all the bases.  So much so, that they’re in the process of building a new online community, aptly titled “The Ladies Society of Matrimonial Finery”  that aims to be a social network for the budding bride, and everyone looking to share in her special day.

The site strikes a good balance between content, and imagery, and while it contains a TON on information, it isn’t nearly as daunting (or saccharine-y) as “The Knot”.  Any bride-to-be would be smart to add it to her blog role.

A little bit of Sass

If you’ve read the “About” page on this blog (and if you haven’t–please head on over and get to know a BIT about me), you know that this blog has been about 5 years in the making.  And long story short, in all the time that I have spent trying to find an idea for what to blog about, I’ve read A LOT of blogs. But, I’ve only been faithful to only a select handful, and one that has consistently held my attention over the years has been “Sass + Veracity“.

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Sass + Veracity is a charming food blog written by a totally relatable Northern California mom.  Her recipes are phenomenal, but the thing that really hooked me initially was her photography.  She was one of the first blogs I read that really made her imagery just as important as her content.  When I started reading, I also happened to be at a point in my life when I was becoming slightly obsessed with cooking, so her farm fresh ingredient shots inspired me not only to  make a wide variety of new dishes, but made my local farm market a must-stop every week.

The recipe that seriously turned me into a convert, was her Danish Braids recipe from the Daring Bakers challenge.  To give you a bit of background about the Daring Bakers, they began in November of 2006 when Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice decided to challenge themselves by baking pretzels for the very first time using the same recipe. They each went ahead and posted about it. After the first posts success, they decided to make it a monthly thing, with new members joining in each time.  Eventually they had such a legit following, that they decided to name the group, and thus “The Daring Bakers” became a thing (and they now have a fab, blown out site called “The Daring Kitchen” you should definitely check out).

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But back to Sass + Veracity, and the Daring Bakers challenge…. Before I became I self proclaimed foodie, I grew up only baking.  My dad was always the cook in the family, so I figured it was a skill I didn’t really need to work on.  Instead, I was the family baker (ask anyone: I make KILLER brownies).  So when I heard about this so-called “Daring Bakers” challenge, I thought “I can TOTALLY do this”….well I quickly found out I was totally wrong.  These recipes are hard core.  The Danish Braids recipe involves hand stretching the dough on a flour covered table cloth until it’s “approximately 2 feet x 3 feet”.  Yes–I said feet.  Instead,  I made a slightly modified version that just involved rolling the dough out a bit, and using her recipe for the filling (delicious nonetheless).

But don’t let the Daring Bakers Challenge scare you.  There are tons of simple, yet still utterly fabulous, recipes to choose from.  Some of my favorites (that have become a standard in my repertoire)  include the 3-Onion Leek Tart (which I’ve also done as a 3-Mushroom Shallot Tart), the German Chocolate Cake: Inside Out (although my icing skills need some serious practice), and the Five Onion Confit (a real hit at parties). On top of all that, take note: she has a killer blog role too!

What do you think? Does Sass + Veracity make your blog role?

“Chic Looks” or “Fab Cooks”

I live in a somewhat bi-polar world–I’m a toal foodie (hence the TWO food categories on my blog role), but I work in the fashion industry (“Would you like a piece of marinated lettuce?”).  Finding the balance between the two can sometimes be a little tricky (although you would be surprised not only how much Fashion Girls can eat, but how much they will actually eat in front of other people).  While my co-workers use their free time to online shop, I have a split screen between foodporn (thanks foodgawker), and the latest sale at Saks.

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That said, in choosing the subject of my first REAL post, it came to the age old question: Food, or Fashion? Luckily, with the chic brûlée I don’t have to choose.  From a Lucky Magazine contributor, this site serves up recipes, runway shots,  and even restaurant recommendations (the blogger lives in NYC and recaps some pretty swank spots).

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Her recipes are amazing too (Fudgy Brownie Bites anyone?). Although the Almond Butter Rice Cakes (really–Rice Cake + Almond Butter + Sliced Bananas = Recipe?) were probably more suited for the more fashion inclined who head to the site.  Bust into the archives for some pretty great Christmas Cookie recipes, and then seamlessly transition to her take on holiday fashion.

One gripe – the site isn’t updated SUPER frequently, so if you’re looking for a new daily read, this probably isn’t for you.  If you do love the concept though, snag my trick: when I find a blog that I LOVE, but I know they don’t update on the daily, I’ll sign up to get their latest entries delivered by email.  That way I don’t have to check in frequently (which chances are I’ll eventually forget about if they’re not updating all the time), and every once and a while there’s a nice surprise in my in-box of something I actually want to read.

What do you think–would The Chic Brûlée make it on your blog roll?