Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic nail art

For the record, again, I LOVE THE OLYMPICS.  Seeing these athletes get the opportunities they've worked so hard for their whole lives is incredible.  (And I confess: I get weepy when they show home movies of them as toddlers in the pool or on the balance beam.  I'm okay with it.)  The pure human drama is just amazing: I'll take these guys over the Real Housewives seven days a week and twice on Sundays. 

But putting aside all of that, has anyone noticed the crazy team-themed nail art that's going on in London?  I'm not usually one for intricate nail designs, but this is kind of awesome. 
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Rebecca Adlington
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From top to bottom, you're looking at: Missy Franklin of the United States (in her pearls, people -- she is darling!), Australia's Emily Seebohm, Germany's Jenny Helsing, France's Coralie Balmy, Great Britain's Amy Oliver, Great Britain's Rebecca Adlington (both on the medal stand -- she won a bronze -- and on the starting block, showcasing her sweet mani-pedi), Colombia's Carolina Colorado Henao, and Italy's Stefania Pirozzi giving a shout out to both the Italian flag and her hostess, Her Maj.

Monday, July 30, 2012

White + camel

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Don't these ladies look cool as cucumbers, even though they're covered up?  This palette of all white with camel accessories is perfect for summer work ensembles.  Crisp and lightweight, but professional with the necessary layers for dreaded office a/c. 

Images: both by Vanessa Jackman, here and here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Have a lovely weekend!

Hi everyone.  Hope your weekend is off to a smashing start!  Up to anything good?  My family is coming into town this weekend to redeem our Christmas gift to my dad: a sail on Lake Michigan!  Is it bad to give someone else a present that you really want to enjoy yourself?  If so . . . whoopsie.

We also have plans to go to the baseball game (Go Cards!) and watch the Olympics (Go Team USA!  And [don't click on this if you haven't seen the 400m IM race!] Ryan Lochte: call me!).

Whether you're having a similarly sporty weekend or a more laid-back one, enjoy, and here are some links for your reading pleasure.

Famous album covers in their backyards.

This bride's 20s style is so cute.

Proof that context is everything: The Shining as romantic comedy.

News flash: famous people have awesome houses.

Ice cream spoon-shovels (spovels?) (via Daily Candy).

How do I get this hair on my head?

Where We Belong is finally available!

And in honor of the Olympics, a few themed links:

You would be the hit of any party in this hat (via swissmiss).

A medal-winning version of Call Me Maybe.

A slideshow of the Opening Ceremonies outfits.
(Images: via Cape Code Collegiate, photo credit unknown; via Habitually Chic, photo credit unknown.  If you know the source of either photo, please let me know--thanks!)

Friday, July 27, 2012

The perfect shirt

I love chambray shirts.  They're the perfect casual top to throw on with just about everything, year-round.
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I'm particularly obsessed with this polka-dot one from J. Crew.  
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Cute for summer with white shorts, and for fall with red skinny jeans.  Unfortunately, my husband hates chambray shirts.  To the point where the other day, he casually threw out a "so, why don't we both pick out one article of clothing to throw out from each other's closets?"  The nerve. 

Images: (d)STORE via Note to Self; J. Crew.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The most delicious salt

Given Tall and Salty's name, it should come as no surprise that salt is the condiment of choice around these parts.  And at last month's Dose Market, I found the most amazing salt I have ever tasted: The Scrumptious Pantry's Herbed All-Purpose Salt.  

Fine Herbed All-purpose Salt
This stuff is life-changing.  The combination of salt,  rosemary, sage, bay leaf, garlic, and lemon zest makes every single thing that I have tried it on (chicken, fish, pasta, eggs, and bread, and shamefully, my fingertip) so much better.  Like a fancy chef made you something simple but truly delicious. 

Order online immediately, or find it in a store.  Enjoy!  Anything in your pantry that you highly recommend?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

London calling...

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. . . and it's David Beckham on the line!  How funny are these pictures of regular people getting photo-bombed by the man himself?  Their faces are hysterical.  Can you imagine what you would do?
Let the games begin!  Perhaps because they are the complete and total opposite of my body type, I'm totally fascinated by gymnastics: I tried as a little girl, and nobody had the guts to say, "um, sweetie, maybe this isn't the thing for you given that you're taller than everyone else by more than a foot," so I think the obsession began then (I once even made my mom call the newspaper to correct a spelling error in one of the gymnast's names in the sports section).  But the 2008 Phelps-a-thon was completely thrilling, and will be tough to top.  I can't wait to see who the hero is of this go-round. 

What's your favorite event?  Are you doing anything fun for the opening ceremonies?  If you're having a party, don't forget the Pimm's Cups!

(Top photo by Max Wanger, bottom photos from HuffPost UK via Yahoo!)

Summer polish MVPs

Fall looks are popping up everywhere, even though it's not even August yet.  Hold your horses, everyone!  I love "back to school" clothes more than anyone, but let's just relax and enjoy the rest of the summer, shall we?  There will be plenty of time for boots, blazers, and dark nail polish come fall, I promise.  

Until then, I keep going back to these bright, fun, summery colors:  

Essie Mint Candy Apple layered under Essie Absolutely Shore (long story on how that came to be, but just take my word for it: it produces a fantastic not-too-green but not-too-blue color) for fingers, and Essie Geranium for toes, a perfect orangey-red.

What are your summer color MVPs?  Essie's Borrowed and Blue has been a big hit with my ladyfriends.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Would you wear a hat to a wedding?

Since the royal wedding, I've been contemplating wearing a hat or a fascinator to a wedding.  They look like so much fun, and who wouldn't want to feel British for a day?  But on the other hand, I worry that it's a little too attention-seeking for someone else's wedding (that takes place in the United States, where no one is becoming a princess, and at which the Queen isn't in attendance).
What do you think?  Would you ever wear a headpiece at someone else's wedding?  Or is this best left to the Brits?

PS: Bhldn has gorgeous headpieces for brides and guests, and check out this Etsy shop for more Kate-like offerings.

(Images: WireImage via BellaSugar; Bhldn.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is there anything better than a great book?

Over the weekend, I started a new book, Gone Girl.  I've been hearing about it for a few weeks, but when my mom recommended it, meaning that the proverbial "everyone and their mother" was reading it, I figured it was time. 
I'm only a few chapters in, but it is so good.  I just finished Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck (in audiobook form, which I highly recommend: listening to her read her own work makes it that much more entertaining).  There's a spot-on essay in it about the rapture of reading a wonderful book.  Is there anything better than being in the middle of a good story?  It's such a tension though, because when I'm reading a truly excellent book, all I want to do is find out what happens . . . but I dread it being over, because then it will be over, and I'll never be able to feel that way about the book again.
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As a child, I was an obsessive reader.  (Case in point: I used to make my brother play Library.  There was a card catalog involved.  It still exists at my parents' house.  I was obviously a very hip kid.)  The upshot of being an obsessive reader as a kid is that your world could come to a grinding halt while you finished your book, with minimal fallout.  Red Rover could proceed in your absence.  But as an adult, this is a serious problem: it's not funny when you miss your train stop because you're laughing too hard at Bossypants.  And it's not exactly socially acceptable to shirk your work because you're finishing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
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The real kicker: when you're this obsessed, you don't even care.  You're just enraptured.

PS: I keep track of interesting book suggestions on Pinterest, which you can check out here; and a fascinating site dedicated to the subway reading habits of New York City (via Sho & Tell).

(Images by Garance Dore; via Habitually Chic/photo credit unknown; and Bernhard Wolf, via Note to Self.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Have a lovely weekend!

Happy Friday, everyone.  Hope you had a good week and lots of fun plans are in your future (or no plans, if that's what makes you happy)!

I've been pondering trying a new recipe of some sort (or maybe giving my culinary Waterloo another go, since the first two attempts were failures!), but we had a fun impromptu mid-week dinner gathering on Wednesday, so I might just let myself off the hook and catch up on Girls and The Newsroom from the comfort of my a/c, instead.

What are you up to over the weekend?  Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy it and that it makes you feel good.  Have a relaxing weekend and I'll see you again next week.  Take care and enjoy these links!

A fascinating article about going to friends' weddings.

Who doesn't love wine and yoga pants?

A big "whoa!" to Ladies Mary, Edith, and Sybil.

Extremely handy kitchen towels.

Stars . . . if they really were just like us.  (Beyonce and Jay-Z crack me up).

That's what she read.  (Thanks Sarah!)

How are you doing on this 30 by 30 list?  (It's okay, I'm not doing all that hot, either. :))

The Playboy Bunny Instruction Manual.

Queen Elizabeth's code name is Brenda?  That rocks.

So this makes me really glad I went to a school that didn't have a Greek system.  Yikes!

Hilarious (and yes, slightly insulting) Chicago neighborhood posters.  

The Miss Subways beauty pageant.  (Thanks Jeanne!)

An absolutely darling wedding in a boxing gym.  How creative is that? (via @snippetandink)

(Photograph of John Lennon for the album cover of Walls and Bridges by Jon Gruen; via Allyson in Wonderland.)

Amazing travel photos

Warning: serious wanderlust is going to ensue if you read any further.  With apologies to your travel budgets, The National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest is underway, and it is stunning.  These people have been on some amazing trips, and the pictures are gorgeous (a far cry from my blurry "here we are in ____!" -type photos). 
Aren't these pictures incredible?  You can read more about the lava makeout photo here -- the kiss and the dip were spontaneous!  The elephant picture breaks my heart: the elephant is mourning the loss of her friend, and has her trunk wrapped around the friend's tusk.  She stayed that way for hours! 

You can see all of the entries here.  What's your favorite? 

All photos are entries in The National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.  Lava photo from Kalapana, Hawaii by Dallas Nagata; hot air balloon photo from Arctic Bay by Michelle Valberg; fall foliage photo from Ontario, Canada by Alessandro Cancian; spiral staircase at the Vatican by Syaza Mohammed Shakharulain, elephant photo by John Chaney, Yosemite Valley photo by Hong Zeng.  Photos via The Atlantic, via My Modern Met.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Well this is not okay.Screen Shot 2012-07-02 at 11.57.06 AM.pngNope.

(Chart by The Atlantic, via swissmiss.)

Tour de France

Are you keeping up with the Tour de France?  That kind of endurance is mind-boggling!  (Says Woman who Hates the Gym.)  Did you hear that someone threw tacks on the course, blowing the riders' tiresWhat is wrong with people??  To the riders' credit, the cyclists who avoided the tacks uniformly didn't take advantage of their competitors' bad luck and didn't attack, save one guy who said he didn't know what happened.  Don't you kind of feel bad for him?  You know he's like, ugh, what an international jackass I look like.
I love riding my bike for fun (that's code for "slow enough not to get sweaty"), but that kind of grueling workout sounds torturous to me.  The one time I tried spin class, I was like the Tin Man on the bike: all creaky and jerky.  It was terrible!  But all of my friends are in love with Flywheel -- they rave about it.  Have you ever tried it?  Did you like it?  (And do you make up revenge fantasies while you're working out like the hilarious Mindy Kaling?  I bet you could come up with some elaborate bike backstories.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Speed baking

I like baking sweets so much more than cooking actual meals: my distaste for making nightly dinners is well-documented, and despite my best efforts, seems only to be getting worse (likely because I'm not a very good cook, and because I have a general dislike of vegetables.  I seriously need a grown-up version of Deceptively Delicious).  But baking feels enjoyable: you're making something that everyone is pretty much guaranteed to love.  And making a dinner with a few sides feels like I'm juggling lots of things at once, leading to inevitable disaster, whereas baking only requires focus on one thing.     

But in the summertime, the last thing I feel like doing is spending a ton of time in the kitchen, carefully measuring and stirring things over a hot stove.  And year-round, sometimes you just want a home-baked good fast, so here are my three favorite fast and easy recipes for sweets.  Enjoy (quickly)!
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This recipe is so easy, and requires only a single bowl and no mixer (hand or stand.  Beat that).  [I actually wrote that without regard for the obvious mixer joke.  Unclear if that's a good or bad thing.]

I confess that I don't have the patience to get out a pot or turn on the stove, so I just melt the butter in the microwave.  Given the name of this blog, it should come as no surprise that I use salted butter, have a heavy hand with the salt, and also sprinkle salt on the top of the brownies before they go into the oven (kosher salt is good for the topping).  Try it -- the salty and sweet combination is delicious!  Additionally, I have never once waited the full cooling hour, and I have lived to tell the tale.

1 stick butter (8 tbsp)
1/2 c brown sugar 
1 c white sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
Pinch salt
Tbsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 390.
2. Melt butter in pot over stove.
3. Remove butter from heat, let cool about a minute, then add sugars (just use the pot as your bowl...it saves you more dishes). Mix well.
4. Add eggs, flour, cocoa, salt, and generous tablespoon-splash of vanilla, and mix well.
5. Line baking dish with parchment, pour in batter, and pop in oven.
6. Bake 20-25 minutes, I test with a knife in the center and remove when only a few little crumbs cling to the knife.
7. Cool one hour or overnight.
jacked-up banana bread
This also requires only a single bowl and nary a mixer.  Hurrah!

I have used as many as five bananas when I've made this, and if you like a more gooey, intensely-flavored banana bread, I'd go that route.  If you (or someone for whom you like to bake) have problems with gluten, this recipe can be made gluten-free very easily: just replace the one-and-a-half-cups of flour with the same amount of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour.  I'm no expert, but I think the smushy bananas in the batter help it maintain the texture, which can get weird with gluten-free baked goods.

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar (depending on the level of sweetness you prefer, I always use the smaller amount)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2.  With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
3.  Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices.
4.  Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
5.  Add the flour last, mix.
6.  Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan.
7.  Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean.
8.  Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.
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I love the taste of lemon, but as the Design*Sponge article on this recipe notes, you can use the base recipe to get fancy with lots of other things.  I've never experimented because I like the original too much to screw it up (which I of course would). 

To cut down on dishes, I (gasp!!!!!) don't sift the dry ingredients together.  I just add them directly to the mixer bowl with the butter and sugar.  And instead of rolling the dough balls in a bowl of sugar, I smush the tops of the cookies with my finger and drop a little coarse sugar into the dip.  To cut down on time, make the cookies large enough so that all the dough is used up in one go-round in the oven.  For me, that means two baking sheets with twelve balls of dough each. 

2 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
1/3 cup coarse sugar (plain, granulated sugar works if it’s all you have)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together.
3. Cream the butter, 1 cup of sugar and lemon zest until very smooth. Add the egg and continue to beat until fluffy. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined — you don’t want to overmix.
4. Spread the remaining 1/3 cup sugar onto a shallow plate. Form balls out of the cookie dough 2 inches in diameter and roll them through the sugar. Arrange on a cookie sheet 4 inches apart — these spread!
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until just the edges are golden. The tops of the cookies should remain pale. Cool completely on the cookie sheets before removing to a plate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Foolproof travel outfit

A few months ago, I was flying home from Washington, D.C. when I spotted this outfit on a fellow traveler stuck in the security line, and I was jealous that I wasn't wearing it.
Comfortable, cute, and all-climates-appropriate (although it might subject you to creepy surreptitious picture-taking by outfit admirers).  For future replication purposes, try these options:
Skirt: Urban Outfitters Sparkle & Fade maxi skirt ($59) (and for a very long version, try this one).
Bag: Kooba Jane ($357.99) (or add a pop of color with this less expensive Orla Kiely bag).

Check out another great travel outfit here, and for some interesting (and NO NONSENSE) travel tips, check out this article from the Sunday New York Times: they recommend that if you have to check a bag, to put a starter pistol in it and declare that you're checking an unloaded firearm, the reasoning being that no airline would lose a bag with a gun in it.  Seems a bit much to me, but to each her own!

One less intense and rather genius tip: if you forget to bring one of your chargers, ask your hotel to look in its lost and found, which is almost guaranteed to have an inventory that could rival a small electronics store.  Makes sense -- how many times have you left behind a charger on your travels?

Are you traveling anywhere soon?  What do you wear when you travel?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Good + cheap

I've been trying to focus more on buying quality things over quantity (like holding out for one perfect pair of black pumps and replacing the heel caps after they wear out, instead of burning through three pairs of cheap ones).  But every so often, I stumble upon something that's good and cheap, and it feels fantastic.
For example: Old Navy vintage tees.  They're soft, have a perfect long and lean cut, and come in a bunch of colors.   They even hold up in the wash -- all for $10 (and possibly less in-store: they were only $5 over the Fourth of July week!).  A girl always needs a few good tees, right?
Do you have any great cheap finds?  Do share!

(Bottom photo by The Sartorialist.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Have a lovely weekend!

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Happy Friday!  What are you doing with your weekend?  Our plans include watching Bottle Rocket (I've never seen it!), going to the pool, dinner with some fancy foodie work colleagues, our usual Sunday routine, and laughing at our dog, who has recently decided that our couch is the greatest place on Earth and we have rather stupidly done nothing to convince him otherwise.  Anything interesting up your collective sleeves, readers?  Hope it's a relaxing weekend for you and that you enjoy "just being."  Stay cool and enjoy the following that caught my eye this week.  See you Monday!

A gorgeous house featured in Lonny.

Something you probably didn't know: there is a nude beach in Wisconsin.  Shenanigans have ensued.
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(Images: via Pinterest/original credit unknown despite diligent searching, please contact me if you know; *Caity*'s Flickr.)

Itsy bitsy teeny . . . man swimsuits?

photo © 2006 Sony Pictures
According to The New York Times, this image of Daniel Craig has brought back tiny swim trunks for men.  I don't know about you, but I don't keep the company of any guys who are quite brave enough to sport these just yet.  This still looks pretty European to my modest Midwestern sensibilities!  What do you think?  Do you know any dudes ready to embrace their inner Bond, James Bond?
Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr
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