Friday, June 29, 2012

Blueberry Lemonade 4th of July Cocktail

The holiday of hot dogs, lake time and patriotism is here. Time to let the firecrackers rip. I wish I were in Michigan’s U.P. with my family as tradition dictates, but the untimely mid-week landing of the 4th prevents such an excursion this year.

If you’re not spending the week partying and pontooning, ensure you take at least a few hours Wednesday to salute the land of the free. In addition to wearing some kind of star-spangled get-up, I’ll be toasting our nation with a festive drink.    

This blueberry lemonade cocktail is delicious year-round, but the components make it particularly relevant for Independence Day. Nostalgically sweet lemonade is mixed with vodka in the holiday’s traditional blueberry flavor for a no-fuss prep you’ll surely repeat. Garnish your glass with a few berries and mint leaves for an instantly festive feel. Happy birthday, America!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray

Braids: Royally Relevant.

Though July is a time to let down your hair [work less, play more], scorching rays and humidity make it necessary to lift up your locks and pin them away from your face. Twisting your mane into a loose side plait or fashioning a chunky braid across your crown are girly, effortless styles that beat the heat.

A braid sends a distinct go-with-the-flow message I find appealing, but a plaited coiffure can also be extremely refined – even royal. Kate Middleton is popularizing the classic hairstyle and Vanity Fair notes that several YouTube tutorials are dedicated to re-creating the “Kate Plait.” Judging by the way her dresses disappear off racks, I’m anticipating seeing many more braids on the street in the coming weeks.

If you’re not attending meetings with monarchs and are closer to a beach than Buckingham Palace, sprtiz Bumble and Bumble surf spray on your tresses before braiding. The formula creates a voluminous base to form a thicker full braid or yields a loose, wind-blown texture to strands that are left down. Flexible hold [no hairspray needed] and seaweed extract to retain moisture are welcome bonus features of this essential summer product. Surf's up!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss

Pucker up people! Benefit just debuted a lip gloss line to accompany the matching, best-selling pressed powders. I typically forego lip products, but when the rest of the face is minimally painted these summer months, a creamy tinted pouter is a quick, bright way to incorporate color and liveliness into your look.

The alluring nude, rose and watermelon shades of the glosses alone win me over; the silky-smooth and nourishing texture has these lips begging for a second swipe. 

Clean Summer Fun Duo

Finding a daytime fragrance has been on my to-do list for months. The non-essential nature makes it hard to justify spending surplus dollars on the high-retail luxury, even for someone unopposed to periodic indulgences.

Clean’s limited-edition Summer Fun Duo is, however, proving difficult to resist.  The set is travel-sized [i.e. well-suited to tote from brunch to cocktails] while still dispersing the generous spray roll-ons don’t.

The pair, each containing different notes reminiscent of ripe citrus and balmy evenings, can be layered or worn separately for an application as versatile as the aroma. The beach honeysuckle, cotton blossom and driftwood layers create a fresh-from-the-shower, sweet crispness I’d happily wear long past Labor Day.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Anthropologie Wee Heart Ring

With limitless funds, one of my first enterprises would be to establish a substantial jewelry collection of new and vintage gems. I envy my friends who jump-started their assortments with inherited pieces from their grandmothers. On an extended trip abroad, I began assembling pieces with meaning, purchasing a ring in each city visited, from Prague to Ireland. Regrettably, most have since been lost – leaving me entirely domestic and my jewelry stash sparse.

While there are certainly occasions for a bold, notice-me bauble, I favor delicate rings that are modest and create the illusion of natural sparkle. This dainty brass band is unassuming enough to wear daily and the simple construction makes the Wee Heart Ring a natural foundation on which to build the diverse collection I envision.

Anthropologie Monogrammed Mug

Regardless of how many frames hung or vases collected, I never stop itching to decorate my apartment. Acquiring a statement-making centerpiece for my coffee table is one accent that has eluded me.
Just-picked, short-stemmed tulips perched inside the Anthropologie Monogrammed Mug is an attractive solution to my quandary that won’t obstruct the vital view from couch to TV.  The classic, masculine aesthetic of the mug matched against the overt delicacy of the flowers is arresting, and the mug doubling as a vase charming and unexpected.

The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada

edited by Barbara Ireland

My ideal home would have colorful, hardcover coffee table books of all sizes stacked eclectically throughout.  There are several I currently yearn to add to my gradually-developing collection, including The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada.

Traveling to far-off, foreign destinations is so glamorized that we often overlook the beauty and interest of the vast country that is our home. The concept of finding unexplored treasures just around the corner in Iowan farmland or the frenzied street corners of Chicago infinitely intrigues me.

Through practical yet packed itineraries, the flexibound guide directs readers how to experience the full range of opportunity and personality of cities and towns across the U.S. in an abbreviated 36-hour period. The book is an anthology of the popular column that has run weekly in The Times since 2002.  With full-color photographs and maps, 36 Hours is an interactive work of art, inspiration and call to action.

Xhilaration® Juniors Maxi Dress

It seems there is a new crop of dresses sprouting up on the Target floor pad every few days, keeping my eyes riveted and wallet open. One of the latest arrivals is a pretty rayon dress in a floral print that has a sophisticated energy without tumbling into juvenile, patterned chaos. The unexpected high-low hem makes the dress a trendy lovechild of the maxi and mini, while the sporty racer back and sleeveless cut ensure you’ll be comfortable and cool sporting this under the summer sun. 

the look:
gladiator sandals and a straw fedora create a casual, funky contrast to the delicate, feminine feel of the dress.

“Ho Hey” – The Lumineers

The latest song I can’t get enough of is this catchy and moving tune from The Lumineers. The song caught my attention as the background music in a commercial; that small clip of melody was enough to persuade me to purchase the band’s entire album on iTunes.

The emotional, rustic voice of the lead singer is punctuated with strong rhythmic beats, italicized sweet strumming and contagious hand-clapping [or what sounds like it]. In combination, this makes for a hypnotizing medley of sounds that is a treat to hear time and again.
It seems like sweet serendipity that The Lumineers are playing next weekend at the Basilica Block Party, a 2-day outdoor concert downtown Minneapolis, so soon after my happy discovery. Can’t wait to hear this trio live!

Other picks from the album:
·         Big Parade
·         Stubborn Love

Monday, June 25, 2012

Shrimp Ceviche

When it comes to cooking, I like to keep it quick and easy, but still enjoy fresh and varied ingredients. After sampling this shrimp ceviche recipe at a cooking class earlier in the year, it’s seen heavy rotation in my kitchen.

The fresh avocado, tomato and lime juice are reminiscent of guacamole, but peeled shrimp makes this cocktail more substantial and satisfying than the heavy dip. The consistency of ceviche likens the meal more to a light seasonal salad than a mole you should scoop up with a strictly limited number of Tostito Golds.  

The mixture is most commonly served in fresh tortillas or paired with chips as an appetizer, but I also enjoy it unaccompanied. A light citrus wine [Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio] sweetly complements this meal [and most other things]. Cheers!

Rebecca Minkoff Ostrich Minaudiere Clutch

Is there anything more awkward than carrying around a jumbo tote with nothing but your car keys, lip gloss and credit cards inside? Not much. I’ve found myself in this sorry situation several times of late, and while a clutch isn’t a realistic bag to carry around all day when heading to work and running errands, it’s the perfect solution for an evening out in July – when we Minnesotans don’t need storage space for gloves and other cold-weather essentials.

The texture and structure of the Rebecca Minkoff Ostrich Minaudiere clutch is currently catching my eye. I tend to wear clothing in classic silhouettes and traditional colors, so a mini bag with over-sized personality effortlessly provides a powerful punch and revives an otherwise-lackluster outfit. The chain strap can be swiftly tucked inside when not in use, creating two chic ways to wear this bag and making for a more functional fashion statement than initially apparent.

VC Signature 'Florence' Sandal

While I’m typically partial to wedges and heels that elongate legs, right now I’m magnetically attracted to flats. The prospect of hiking around the office from 8-5 in trendy yet comfortable flat sandals is deliciously appealing for July – and appropriate given coworkers’ attitudes [along with dress codes] are a little looser this time of year.

The VC Signature ‘Florence’ Sandal is the perfect summer sandal [for work OR weekend]. I’m obsessed with ankle straps – a cleaner, more sophisticated nod to casual gladiators – and love the wider width on these, ensuring the shoe isn’t too strappy or night club-esque for office hours. The neutral tones of the leather make the style versatile enough to pair with any ensemble, while the golden hardware elevates it high, high above your everyday flip-flop. 

OPI Green Gargantuan Grape

I’ve been fixated on mint shades since early spring and incorporating them into my life via all angles, from candles to cardigans. Nail color is another easy, inexpensive way to don hot hues with little commitment or investment. 

OPI’s Green Gargantuan Grape is the newest evolution of mint for my nails. Its soft shade keeps it in the same family as spring’s popular pastels, but the neon tint gives this polish a spark that is more fitting for the sassier summer season.