Monday, May 3, 2010

Zara's May Collection

We have so many awesome little boutiques to shop in this city, but they aren't always budget-friendly. I find myself going to chain stores like H&M and Forever 21 to supplement things in my wardrobe that are too expensive at other stores. Unfortunately, the quality at these stores that specialize in mass-producing trendy items isn't always great. I recently saw some images from Zara's May collection, and I'm definitely interested.

Zara isn't a store that I've frequented up to this point, but I think I may have to stop by more often now. The prices aren't quite as cheap as those at H&M or Forever, but the quality is a lot better. They have been accused very often of copying high-end designer items, but let's face it -- most of us can't afford the real thing. Here are some looks from their May lookbook that I love!

This pretty bohemian style top would be perfect for weekend brunch!

The denim harem pants might be a bit tough to pull off, but I love the floral bustier top! I'd wear it under my navy jacket to make it work appropriate!

I've been sort of on a quest after a maxi dress for this summer, and the simplicity of this one is really appealing to me!

Here's our big knockoff -- this dress is pretty much identical to a piece that Miu Miu sent down their Spring/Summer runway. For some reason I like this dress (it doesn't come with the collar), even though I really don't like cats. I just find it sort of humorous and fun!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries the Easy Way!

This weekend, I was feeling particularly cheap since every dime I make lately goes into my apartment payments. I was visiting my boyfriend in Boston, and normally we eat in one night and go out for dinner the next. This weekend, feeling bad that I was hesitant to split the bill and not wanting to let him pay for everything, I decided to make dinner in on Saturday night as well. We went to Trader Joe's for some food inspiration, and came out with one of my favorite foods of all time: sweet potato fries.

I'm pretty much a fanatic about sweet potato. I'll eat it in any preparation, but of course who doesn't love them as fries? The problem is, I'm very impatient and not particularly skilled at cutting up a sweet potato into fry-sized slices. Thus, whenever I try to make them at home, they always cook unevenly -- some of them burn and some aren't cooked enough.

Trader Joe's actually sells pre-sliced raw sweet potato so that all you have to do is bake them! Amazing idea! We cut the top off of the bag them came in, drizzled a teeny bit of olive oil into it and shook until the spears were lightly coated. Then we spread them out on a baking sheet and baked them for a half hour. Voila! Awesome sweet potato fries and SO easy to do! A bag that cost $2.69 was plenty for two people.

We had our sweet potato fries with onion and cilantro turkey burgers and grilled asparagus!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Onion and Cilantro Turkey Burgers

I've never been a huge burger fan, I'll admit. At cookouts, I'd rather eat the side salads! Then my mom made some great burgers last summer that I absolutely love -- turkey burgers with onion and cilantro! The ingredients are mixed in with the turkey, making the meat more juicy and flavorful.

I really prefer turkey meat over beef because it is less fatty and also less heavy in your stomach. The trick though is to buy ground turkey breast for this recipe, not just "ground turkey". You'll see a price difference (turkey breast is more expensive), but the content is worth it -- regular ground turkey is much more fatty because they throw everything in.

These burgers are best made as sliders, in my opinion. They are pretty customizable too -- I like mine with slices of fresh avocado on top, whereas my boyfriend prefers to mix diced jalapeno peppers into his burger mixture before grilling and topping it with pepperjack cheese.


-- 1 package ground turkey breast (about 1 lb)
-- Small bunch of fresh cilantro
-- 1 small sweet onion
-- slider rolls
-- optional add-ins like avocado, jalapeno, and cheese


1. Dice about 1/2 of the onion into small pieces
2. Rinse and pat dry the cilantro. Pull off the leaves and chop them finely until you have about 1 1/2 - 2 TBSP
3. Put the ground turkey breast in a bowl. Mix in the onion and cilantro. If you choose to add diced jalapeno, mix that in too.
4. Form patties with the mixture about 1/2 inch thick. You can make about 4 medium-sized burgers or 6 sliders with this amount. (Hint: You may want to refrigerate the mixture for a little while before you make the patties as turkey breast is really messy and will stick to your hands if it is warm).
5. Grill over an open flame or on an electric grill for about 7 minutes before flipping. Continue cooking until burger is no longer pink around the sides or in the middle.
6. Serve on a roll and enjoy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Decorating: Cabinet Knobs

Now that our lease is signed and we are set to pick up our keys next weekend, my roommate and I are busy planning our new space! One of the less desirable aspects of our apartment are the kitchen cabinets which have ugly red plastic knobs on them. As if we shared a brain, roomie and I both uttered the same word at the same time after identifying this problem: Anthropologie.

Anthropologie has such a cute selection of home goods, and in particular they stock a lot of really pretty door handles and cabinet knobs. We picked out these painted porcelain ones to replace the plastic. I think it'll make our little kitchen look a little more rustic!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Hunt is Over! My Apartment Hunting Tips

Wow, so that was quick. As you might remember, I've been looking for an apartment. I only started a little over a week ago, but I found the perfect place that my roommate also loved and we signed our lease this weekend! It's actually the place I posted about before on the Upper West Side with the brick walls! So excited!! We have so much space (it's actually a 3 bedroom place, but there are only two of us. We're going to turn the third room into a guest room/reading room!) and the natural sunlight that comes into the building is amazing!

We ended up getting the place for a really reasonable price -- the people who have the apartment above us that is the exact same layout pay $700 more per month to live there, so we're lucky! It all has to do with rent stabilization and turn over rates, but I stared at so many pieces of paper with legalese on them this weekend that I can't even talk about it anymore without getting a headache.

Our apartment is in a great UWS location that's in between Central Park and Riverside Park, near grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, and around the corner from Blockheads and Ben and Jerry's. My two vices: margaritas and ice cream! I can't wait to start moving in after May 1st -- I'll probably clean everything before I move in stuff, but I'm hoping to be all moved in by May 15th! Until then, I will probably just incessantly browse the web for home furnishings.

A few people commented on my other post asking about how I found the apartments I've been looking at, so here are some of my tips for you:
  • Most brokers won't be too interested in you unless you are pretty much ready to sign a lease as soon as you see the place you like. They suggested to me that I plan on looking about two weeks ahead of when I want to move (yeah, I know -- yikes!). This seems to be true though, since technically my lease starts May 1st and I signed two weeks ahead of time.
  • That said, don't be afraid to make appointments to look at places more than two weeks ahead of time. It's good to get a feel for what's out there in your price range. Unfortunately this was a bit of a shock for me at first, but knowing what areas of town were better to look in made things easier.
  • Speaking of budget, try to figure out how much you can allow for rent each month. It's easier to start looking in your price range so that you aren't disappointed after you find your dream place and discover that you can't afford it. Typically realtors tell you to stay around 25% of your annual income.
  • Where should you look? This is a tricky question! I looked a lot on Craigslist. I know that it can be sketchy, but I ultimately found the broker that I rented through on Craigslist. It's sort of important to note that my apartment was never listed online (to my knowledge anyway), but the broker showed it to me when I came to look at another place that I'd seen advertised. Most realtors have a few properties within the same area, so be prepared to look at a few if you make an appointment.
  • StreetEasy is also another option, and is more legit than Craigslist. It is an NYC realty site and has cool features that can tell you a little bit about the neighborhoods that you are looking at too.
I hope that this helps a little bit! I'm totally new to this process too, but I'll let you know if I find out any more apartment tips!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Matrix Monday!

Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year in the communications field -- the Matrix Awards! Each year, New York Women in Communications honors successful women within the industry at this ceremony, and this year's lineup was star-studded to say the least. I was fortunate to be invited to the luncheon, and I got to hear some inspirational stories and advice from women that I really admire.

The big buzz surrounding the event was an appearance by none other than Oprah. Her best friend, Gayle King, was honored for her work at O Magazine and Oprah presented the award to her. She gave a lovely speech about Gayle and called her an "MSF"; mother, sister and friend. Awww!

The most inspirational speech came from Doris Kearns Goodwin, an incredibly intelligent historian who has written best-selling books about U.S. presidents and her other love: baseball. She shared stories about her youth -- both about losing her mother at an early age, and about reinforcing her love of history through the ritual of giving her father play-by-play stories about the baseball games he had missed while at work.

The funniest speech by far was that of Tina Fey. She was honored for television, and her award was presented by Seth Meyers. By the time Tina and Seth were finished, the entire Waldorf ballroom was laughing at jokes about Tina and Sheryl Crowe's almost identical dresses and at stories about how Tina has succeeded in the very male-dominated business of comedy writing.

I have no idea how they will top this year's Matrix Awards, but I'm already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apartment Hunting: The Saga Continues

This weekend I did a lot of apartment hunting. As much as it was fun and exciting, it was also sort of exhausting. When you go out with a landlord or realtor to look at places, you'll probably see a bunch of places in different price ranges with different fees and utilities, so it's easy to get things mixed up!

I started off on Saturday in the East Village. I'll be working in SoHo, so I figured that it would be cool to live in a neighborhood that I like and be able to walk to work. Unfortunately, this first day of searching was a harsh reality check on how much I can afford -- all of the places I saw were SO TINY and SO EXPENSIVE! The apartments were all two bedroom "wing" style, which means that there is a kitchen with a (tiny) bedroom off each side. No living area or common space. And these places on 2nd Avenue and Avenue C were going for nearly $2,000 a month before utilities. No way!

 Today was more encouraging. I looked at places on the Upper West Side, and felt a little relieved that there were places that I could see myself living that were also within my price range. I looked at a two bedroom place on West 106th Street that I really liked -- nice kitchen, big rooms and common space, and some exposed brick walls. I love exposed brick walls! As a bonus, I actually have a friend who lives on the same block and loves the neighborhood, so I know that it will be a nice place to live. My potential roommate is coming to take a look at the place this week, so I finally feel like this search is going somewhere.

I really love the fact that all of the places I've been looking at are pre-war buildings. They all have hardwood floors and awesome high ceilings. Most of them that I've seen have been renovated, but some are in tough shape. I guess you just have to be careful and do your research before you sign on a place!