Friday, June 29, 2012

Ciao Bella

So, the Italians are advancing to the Euro2012 Cup finals and my sister-in-law is pursuing her culinary degree in Parma. Let's just say, Italy has been on my mind recently! 

After our wedding last year, the Mr. and I vacationed in Florence, Capri and the Amalfi Coast for more than two weeks. It was the most luxurious and memorable trip we've ever experienced. We're looking forward to going back someday to celebrate a milestone anniversary!

As we arranged our honeymoon, we separated the planning by city, so at each stop, one of us would be surprised. My husband was responsible for our weekend in Florence and he certainly outdid himself! 

{Walking through the garden to the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze}
We flew to Italy, from London, for a long weekend stay in Florence. As we arrived at our hotel, The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, I felt as though we were approaching a castle. Which in fact, we were.

The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze occupies a 500 year old Palazzo, surrounded by the largest private garden in all of Florence. Everywhere we looked, the attention to detail was flawless. Even down to the 'congratulatory spread' that welcomed us to our room. After a full day of traveling, the fresh fruit, champagne and Italian red wine couldn't' have tasted better!

{Congratulatory bubbles to celebrate Mr. and Mr. Schneider}
While we both had been to Italy in the past, my husband and I had never been to this magical city together. Prior to our trip, we had grand plans of sightseeing and taking in everything the romantic city had to offer. However, that all changed when we arrived at our hotel. The grounds were so breathtaking and relaxing, we only left the Four Seasons once, to have dinner near the Ponte Vecchio.

During our stay, we splurged and enjoyed two days at the Spa. The space was calming and beautiful, and the perfect place to relax after a week full of celebrations and recent jet setting. We were even greeted with hibiscus tea and a chilled, perfumed towel, prior to our appointments. Leave it to the Four Seasons to highly exceed all expectations!

{The most luxurious trip to The Spa at The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze}

After our mornings at the Spa, we enjoyed walking around the estate. The private gardens had much to be admired. With gorgeous Italian fountains and sculptures situated along the trees and flowers, I felt as if I was exploring an outdoor museum.

September was the best time to visit Italy because the sun was shining every day. And, it was especially hot in Florence. Perfect weather for relaxing afternoons by the pool and treats of Pistachio gelato. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wise Words

*Images via Pinterest

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DIY:: Spiced Cashew Milk

Before our wedding last year, I attempted the Blue Print Cleanse. And, to be completely honest, I wasn't very successful. By the end of Day 1, I found myself hungry, tired and irritable... Did I mention hungry?

While I probably won't ever be consuming six juices per day again, I was introduced to, and will continue to enjoy, the healthy deliciousness that is: cashew milk.

This sweet, yet satisfying beverage, is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. And, while I'm not on a raw, gluten-free, dairy-free nor vegan diet... It works with all of those!

Spiced Cashew Milk
2 cups raw cashews (soaked in water overnight)
4 cups filtered water
4-5 dates, pitted (soaked in water for about 5 minutes)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamon (optional)

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender (I highly recommend using a VitaMix) and blend until the cashews are pulverized. Let mixture sit for about 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a layer of cheese cloth and squeeze all the liquid into a bowl. Transfer milk to a glass jar or pitcher and store in the fridge for up to two days.

*Image via Roost

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summertime Style: Blush

When it comes to summertime fashion and accessories, bold colors and eclectic, geometric prints take center stage. I love everything about that energizing style... Except, how it looks on me.

Growing up, my Mom used to always tell me that my complexion made me a "Summer". And, while I didn't always completely understand what that meant, I did know that being the blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skined Swede that I am, brights weren't exactly my best friend. Warm-hues washed me out and anything I tried on in a cool based pastel ultimately ended up in my shopping bag. I guess it's safe to say, light neutrals will always overwhelm my closet.

One of my favorite shades is blush. It's classic, feminine and elegant almost any way you wear it. I'm loving this beach style as it's unexpected, yet perfect for a hot day by the water. I see it pairing perfectly with red lipstick and a matching pedicure, don't you agree?

*Image via dustjacketattic

Friday, June 22, 2012

Come On In... Take A Seat

New York City is an interesting place when it comes to living situations. Real estate is at a premium and square footage is, for the most part, non-existent.

When I moved here five years ago, I was fortunate to be able to live on my own. But, with that said, my studio was the size of a shoebox, fully equipped with a mini-fridge. It's very sad how similar that sounds to dorm-life!

(You would stop laughing, if I told you how much I was paying for rent).

So, when the Mr. and I finally found our "we're adults now" apartment in Tribeca, I have to be honest, I jumped for joy with excitement! And, I think screamed a little bit inside, too!

We absolutely love the space and I'm having a wonderful time browsing all the furniture and home decor boutiques, in search of the perfect accents for our home. Our approach to design is modern and minimalistic, with a touch of warmth. This style fits perfectly with the condo's aesthetics, which makes our building even more fitting.

As very few of our own things arrived with us as we moved (an International relocation is much more complicated than you would think), I've been trying to put together the apartment "room by room". Let's just say it's a work in progress.

I'm not the most decisive person when it comes to fashion and interiors because I like to see all my options. And, in a massive city like New York, you can imagine this takes a little time. I'd rather wait to find something I love, than purchase something quickly and only like it.

Today, I'm going to reveal the progress of the lounging area in the living room. We're so lucky to have high ceilings and an entire wall of windows. There's just something about natural light that feels so refreshing and airy.  To compliment this loft-like area, we chose a simple, grey sofa that was streamline, yet comfortable enough for the occasional weekend movie marathon. Bright, geometric accent pillows are always a great addition to any comfy couch. I found ours at Dwell Studio's new flagship shop in SoHo. 

{Dwell Studio, New Chevron Ash PillowDwell Studio, Labyrinth Persimmon Pillow}

When it came time to decide on a coffee table, the more delicate and invisible the shape, the better. Room & Board had some wonderful options. Ultimately, we decided on the Portica Cocktail Table. I absolutely love it. 

{Room & Board Portica Cocktail Table, Room & Board, Wool Cable RugDVF, Gold Leaf Square Coasters}

Sometimes, modern silhouettes tend to lack a feeling of warmth. To counter that, we purchased a gorgeous braided wool rug that is situated under both the sofa and the coffee table. It feels like a cozy sweater on your toes. And, it also disrupts the industrial feel of hardwood floors, granite countertops and glass windows. 

Granted, we're still in need of artwork, pictures and decorative accents, but I'm extremely happy with our lounging area (work in progress). And, truth be told, it's functional, yet stylish!

{Crate and Barrel, Cameron Queen Sleeper SofaAerin Brushed Nickel Floor Lamp}

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Union Square Cafe:: Rosemary Roasted Cashews

New York is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. And, part of the fun of living in this city, is trying as many as possible, as often as you can, while you're here! 

When the Mr. and I go out, I usually find myself taking mental note of interesting flavor combinations and signature dishes I hope to replicate at home. I've enjoyed cooking ever since I was a little girl and that passion has certainly continued. In fact, I find my self attempting to copy, or invent my own version of recipes so often, that I may introduce a new feature to the blog... Stay tuned. 

I used to spend a lot of time in Union Square for work. And, at the end of a long day, there was nothing more relaxing than enjoying a bite to eat at USQ (Union Square Cafe). While Danny Meyer's innovative menu was always appealing, I found myself most into the pre-meal nibbles, a.k.a. rosemary roasted mixed nuts.

To my surprise, this is probably the easiest, tastiest snack to make at home. I tweaked USQ's popular appetizer a tiny bit (shhh, I think it's even better... ).

  • 1 lb. raw, organic cashew nuts (or any raw nut combination of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until they are warmed through. Meanwhile, over low heat, combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, salt, ground pepper and butter in a sauce pan, until well melted. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until completely coated. 
    Serve warm.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lavender Lemonade

Hello, Monday. You're here so quickly, as most of my weekend was spent organizing closets and kitchen cabinets in our apartment. And while, to some extent, I find these chores somewhat therapeutic, it's shocking how long they take to complete, don't you all agree? So, as a little celebratory measure, I invited one of my closest friends over for a Sunday cocktail on the rooftop.

For a long time, I've wanted to attempt recipes with lavender. To me, it's such an elegant herb that seems to make every dish sound, and taste, very appealing.

Today was the perfect day... I decided to make not just any lemonade, but lavender lemonade. And, the result was divine.

{Lavender Lemonade}
I followed THIS recipe, and it couldn't have been easier. The only make-ahead step is preparing the lavender infused simple syrup. This adds the sweetness and floral essence to the lemonade. 

Lavender simple syrup can be used for a variety of other flavorings and serves as a nice hostess gift.

For the vibrant, purple color, be sure to add a drop each of red and blue food coloring. Otherwise, the syrup appears quite clear.

{Lavender Simple Syrup}

*Images via Sunday Suppers and Pease Pudding

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

This year, Father's Day especially reminds me of the many wonderful memories I had with my Dad on my wedding day. From walking down the aisle, to our dance at the reception, I thought about all the great times we've shared over past 27 years.

For the Father/Daughter dance, we chose music by Edwin McCain, "Walk With You". It's a beautiful song that describes the unique relationship between Fathers and Daughters. It still brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it!

I'm also feeling very blessed today, as I have the most welcoming, caring and generous Father-In-Law. I've felt like a 'Schneider', since day one!

...Sending Father's Day love to all the Dad's out there!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Healthy (Skinny) Girl

Yesterday, the lovely ladies over at Tartan & Sequins asked the question: what are the best diet-friendly foods to snack on throughout the day? So, of course, being the foodie/fitness obsessed self that I am... I couldn't wait to reply!

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I've always believed this: everything in moderation. And, that applies to both good things, and bad. I mean, if you eat too many carrots, your skin will turn orange (yikes!).

I've never really been on a "diet", but, I'm always aware of what I consume. Here are a few tricks/tips/treats that have helped me maintain my somewhat slim, relatively physically fit figure.

1. CHOBANI Greek Yogurt, Strawberry Banana, 2%
My absolute favorite thing! I look forward to this yogurt every morning, and takes mental strength to not eat more than one a day. It's the perfect breakfast choice, as it's packed with 14 grams of protein and has only 160 calories.

2. Blueberries
I don't eat a lot of fruit, as it's usually so high in sugar. Blueberries, however, are the exception. They are a great source of Vitamin C, dietary fiber and antioxidants. And, they're a perfectly refreshing sweet snack.

3. tera's whey
The best tasting and most organic, all natural, protein packed concentrate I've found. My favorite is the Bourbon Vanilla flavor, added to my homemade mixed berry smoothies.

4. S. Pellegrino
I used to sip a Diet Coke every day at lunch, but have now switched to S. Pellegriono. This hydrating bubbly just tastes fancy.

5. Organic Avenue Green LOVE
On a rare (but recently, not so rare) occasion, I find myself craving an afternoon veggie juice. I like Organic Avenue's Green Love because it has a nice pear note that makes the drink less salad-like. It also comes in a much smaller portion, compared to other juice bars, which is all this girl can handle.

6. Cappuccino
After lunch, when I crave something a little sweet, I like to enjoy a small cappuccino. I usually add a touch of cinnamon or cocoa powder, which makes this pick-me-up even more satisfying.

7. Biscotti
It takes extreme self-discipline to turn down all the baked goods that seem to be almost showcased at the office. For the times when my sweet tooth just won't subside, I choose biscotti because it's a healthier alternative to other cakes and cookies.

8. Red Wine (Ahem... J Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009, Russian River Valley)
Don't some nutritionists actually argue that red wine is good for you? That's what I thought! And, Russian River Valley Pinot's are packed with antioxidants (in my opinion).

9. Pistachios
Nutrient packed and they take a long time to eat. Hence, the perfect snack food.

10. OIKOS Honey Greek Frozen Yogurt
The velvety texture and rich flavor of this frozen yogurt is is divine. It could stand up to a slow-churned vanilla bean ice cream any day. I think it's funny that I start and end my day with Greek Yorgurt (who does that)?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Birthday Balloons

{this is glamorous}
On Saturday afternoon, as my Mom and I were browsing the quaint shops along Hudson Street in the West Village, we couldn't help but notice the most adorable little girl down the block. She was probably three years old and it was obviously her birthday! The clear indication was the gigantic bunch of balloons she was attempting to hold, all on her own. The proud dad was walking a few steps in front of his daughter, videotaping every step. It was such a precious moment, my Mom and I just had to watch.

Thinking about that little girl's excitement made me realize: it doesn't really matter your age, nor the occasion, colorful balloons seem to always make people smile. So, let's celebrate today. Here are a few inspiring photographs, complete with playful balloons and all!

{Tim Walker}
{Tim Walker}
{Martha Stewart Weddings}
{Le Divan Fumoir Bohemien}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Father's Day Cards

(All Dads, Father-In-Laws and Grandpas should stop reading this post, now).

Why is it that almost every Father's Day card consists of the following: a picture of a golf ball illustrated in primary colors that reads #1 Dad?

As I stood in front of my selection today at the store, I realized what I was seeing just wasn't going to cut it. Back to the small, letterpress boutiques, I go. These are much better choices for today's modern Dad!

Happy (early) Father's Day! 

{Letterpress Anchor Father's Day Card from Paper Source}

{Father's Day Stripes Letterpress Card from smock}

{Classic Dad Gifts Card from Rifle Paper Co.}

{Letterpress Dear Dad Father's Day Card from Paper Source}

{Tweed Father's Day Card from Rifle Paper Co.}

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mother & Daughter Moments

I very much think this is true: the farther apart you live, the more, extra special, get-togethers become.

Ever since I was in college, my Mom and I have planned "Mother/Daughter Weekends". They're always something to look forward to, and usually involve going out to lunch, window shopping and later enjoying a glass of wine at a quaint restaurant. This weekend was no different! Especially because the Mr. and I are now living in a different part of the city: Tribeca. There were lots of new places to explore.

My mom arrived on Friday afternoon, and leisurely strolled around SoHo, until I finished my workday at the MAC office on Prince Street. It was a gorgeous summer evening and we decided it was the perfect time for a cocktail. We headed back downtown to one of the best restaurants in the city (according to Jeff and me): Locanda Verde.

To start, we ordered a crostini of Fava Beans, Mint and Pecorrino on Prosciutto Bread. Then, shared the restaurant's famous Papperdelle with Lamb Bolognese and Mint. Followed by, the Grilled Branzino with Cannolini Beans and Salsa Rosa. There was absolutely no room for dessert, after such a fabulous meal!

Saturday morning breakfast has always been one of our favorite things, so we woke up early to sip one of the best cups of coffee found in New York, HERE. It's even a Swedish cafe (yay).

The rest of the day was spent walking around the city, exploring Tribeca, the West Village and SoHo. We browsed every boutique, from flower shops to bike stores. My favorites were Angelica and Adeline Adeline, also mentioned HERE.

If you didn't already know, but probably assumed, my Mom is also a foodie (a very good thing)! So, as you can imagine, we made our way along Bleeker Street, but were not surprised to discover that the line for Magnolia Bakery cupcakes extended around the block. We were crunched for time, a little bit, so didn't end up waiting. Which also meant, no vanilla buttercream frosting for us (sad).

Our long walk continued to the world famous, Murray's Cheese shop. After about 30 minutes of contemplating what to buy, we decided on the Cave Aged Gruyere and the Finocchiona (Italian Salami with Fennel). So, so good!


No weekend in NYC is complete without a brunch reservation. We had planned to meet one of my best friends, and bridesmaid from our wedding, for a leisurely meal at Marc Forgione in Tribeca.

My mom and I arrived at the restaurant a little early. We were able to sit at a perfect table outside and enjoy the sun, a good meal and great company, for a few hours.

The menu was divine... We ordered wine and the most gourmet Eggs Benny, I've ever had (see below). I will be recommending this neighborhood gem to everyone I know!

My mom flew back to Minnesota Sunday night, after our non-stop weekend of being "on-the-go". It was such a wonderful time, we're already planning the next trip!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Today:: The DVF Sample Sale

All you New York City fashionistas, get ready... The DVF sample sale has arrived!

If you're willing to brave long lines and crowded dressing rooms, stylish DVF pieces could soon be yours, at up to 70% off. I've been to several sample sales in the past and the selection is always very good.

Here are the details... See you there!

DVF Sample Sale

Deal: Up to 70% off samples, past-season items, and archival prints

When/Where: Tuesday, June 5 through Saturday, June 9. Tues 9am—6:30pm, Weds 10am—8pm, Thurs 10am—7pm, Fri 9am—5pm, Sat 10am—3pm. 260 Fifth Ave between 28th and 29th Sts (no phone)

Ends: Saturday, 9 Jun 2012

*Images via DVF