Tuesday, July 31, 2012

IKEA's Mini Greenhouse

IKEA is now making it even easier for those city-dwellers to exercise their green thumbs... indoors. The new SOCKER mini greenhouse offers the perfect environment for starting seeds and housing established plants, with a mod-chic visual appeal. These little plant dwellings are decorative, functional, and economical... and only $19.99! Triple whammy. Here are some ideas for what you can do with a SOCKER greenhouse.

{images via IKEA website}

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shrimp & Pesto Pizza

After coming back from four months of studying in Italy, I was forced to wean myself off of a diet that revolved around pizza, pasta, and gelato. This wasn't too difficult a task because, quite honestly, the pizza over here just does not compare. My all-too-tight jeans were also begging for a break from the carb overhaul, and my broke ass couldn't exactly afford to buy new pants. Now, I love pizza with just about every ounce of my soul and being, but I have come to the acceptance that it is something to be savored and enjoyed in moderation.

Every now and then I like to take a crack at baking a homemade pizza but the crust always seems to be too soggy/ thick/ chewy, etc. I've tried countless different dough recipes, all to no avail. Little did I know, it wasn't (totally) all my fault, it's really just a matter of how the dough is cooked.

Today while my mother and I were out shopping we picked up a pizza stone, which is said to cook a crust that is comparable to those baked in a wood fired oven. And let me tell you, it really makes a huge difference! I finally got the perfect thin, crunchy pizza crust that I've been striving for. So tonight I whipped up a whole-wheat pizza with pesto, cherry tomatoes (fresh from the back deck), roasted shrimp, and creamy goat cheese. For the pizza dough, I used a recipe from Moosewood Classics cookbook, which made enough for two 12-15 inch pizza crusts.

Pizza Dough


  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (100-120 degrees)
  • 3 cups unbleached white bread flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cups unbleached white bread flour for kneading

Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water and leave for 10-12 minutes until it starts to foam.

Stir the water mixture in with the flours, salt and pepper, and 2 tsp of the olive oil. If the dough is sticky, add more flour. Knead the dough for about ten minutes. Next, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and set aside in a warm place to allow the dough to rise. It should take about 40-60 minutes for the dough to double in size. This will yield enough for two 12-15 inch pizza crusts. You can freeze leftover dough for later use.

You're now ready to make some pizza!

Shrimp & Pesto Pizza


  • 1 serving of above pizza dough recipe
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Place your pizza stone in the oven then turn the oven on to 450 degrees and allow the stone to preheat for 15-20 minutes. This prevents the stone from cracking- you don't want to put it through any drastic changes in temperature.

2. Meanwhile, roll out the pizza dough until you've reached your desired shape and thickness. For tonight's dinner, I made two long, skinny pizza crusts (morel like a flatbread pizza). Once the stone has heated, place your dough on top and bake in the oven for about ten minutes.

3. Mix the shrimp and cherry tomatoes in olive oil with a dash of paprika and some garlic powder, then roast in the oven for twenty minutes (you can do this at the same time that you have the dough in the oven).

3. Take the pizza crust out and top with pesto, goat cheese, and the roasted shrimp and tomatoes. Put back in the oven and allow the cheese to melt, for about 5-7 minutes.


{my cherry tomato plants that have found a home on our back deck}

Peace, love, and pizza. Now go invest in a pizza stone, my friends.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lauren Conrad's XO Eco for Blue Avocado

This girl really has come a long way since her Laguna days. Ok, so she may not be the most exciting person to watch on reality television (that title belongs to Snooki) but I have so much respect for her as a young female entrepreneur and a role model for tweeners and aspiring fashionistas across the country. After hearing about her collaboration with eco friendly bag-manufacturing company Blue Avocado, my heart swelled with pride and joy for the young lady. Not only does she have a superb sense of style, but she cares about the environment too and is taking steps of her own to help preserve it.

Be sure to check out this awesome new line of bags here.

Where's my Team Lauren shirt at?!

Nail Art {The Safe Way}

This past summer, the beauty scene has been rampant with some outrageous nail art that puts conventional artists to shame. When visiting my younger cousin in Indianapolis this summer, she begged me to let her perform manicurist duties on me and I happily obliged. She adorned my finger nails with leopard print, spending way more time than I would ever have spent on myself, setting the gold background then carefully drawing white specks perfectly outlined in black. She then extended the jungle theme down to my feet, where my toenails were christened with zebra print. Who needs a manicurist when you've got the Pablo Picasso of nail art in the fam? I've seen tuxedo print finger nails, chevron nails, even all-out miniature paintings on the ends of women's phalanges.

While I'm all for this trend, it's important to be selective in what types of polish people are using; many of them contain harsh chemicals that could potentially be cancer-causing. The three active ingredients in many nail polishes which are cause for concern are Dibutyl phthalate, Toluene, and Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and DBT has caused speculation for causing reproductive and development issues (including infertility). When choosing a nail polish, look for ones that say they are "three-free," which means they do not contain any of these three toxic chemicals. Good news is, many of our most beloved brands are safe. Essie, OPI, and Butter London are all 3-free. The brand Scotch Naturals is also free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone, and heavy metals, making it "truly non toxic."

While these brands claim to be safe and "eco-friendly" it is still important to note the amount of waste that goes into the production of nail polish. All of those glass bottles go to waste because they obviously cannot be recycled... Just something to keep in mind when coming home from ULTA with the hottest 12 new OPI's of the season.

Raise your hand if you think I should walk into the salon and ask for one of these looks?

{images via HelloGiggles.com}

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

{Color Inspo} Seafoam & Mustard

In just a couple short weeks I will be moving to one of my favorite cities in the entire world- Charleston, South Carolina. Going to school at the University of South Carolina in the city of Columbia, my friends and I found any type of excuse to make day/weekend escapes to this cherished city. I cannot wait to finally call Charleston home, as well as to move back in with my best friends/ former roommates. In other exciting news, there will be an addition to the household with a brand new Boxer puppy named Laney- I can't wait to meet her!

While moving can be, gently put, a complete and utter pain in the arse, I love an excuse to redecorate. I've been brainstorming color palettes/ themes for my new bedroom and right now I'm loving the combination of seafoam and mustard yellow.

Charleston- I will see you soon!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

snapshots from D.C.

Last week I visited D.C. for the first time. One of my good friends Molly got an internship with the mega-successful PR company Ogilvy, so I decided to grace her with my presence for her birthday. I arrived on a Thursday morning at the butt-crack of dawn (my flight took off at 5:40 a.m.), so I was able to spend a full two days exploring the city and checking out the major monuments and museums while she was at work. 

Molly lives in the Dupont Circle area and is footsteps away from awesome parks, restaurants, and shopping. What I really really loved about the city was its dedication to environmental sustainability. Many of the restaurants served their food with compostable plates and silverware, with compost and recycle bins just as plentiful as garbage bins.

As always, we had a great time sharing our love of food and getting a taste of the D.C. nightlife. 
On Sunday (Molly's actual birthday) we had the most incredible brunch of our lives at 21 M Lounge. The amount of food served to us was absolutely absurd. It included an appetizer, entree, dessert, and bottomless mimosas. They also started us off with a basket of baked goods (muffins, bread, pastries). I ordered a vegetarian quiche to start, lox benedict for an entree (like eggs benedict, but with smoked salmon), and chocolate mousse for dessert. The food was phenomenal, and our tummies were content for the rest of the day.

Before heading to the airport I joined Molly's two roommates for a free yoga class in the park directly across the street from their apartment. How cool is that? And apparently they do this every Sunday evening in the summers. I need to find a city like this to live in! It was a totally refreshing way to end my long weekend away. D.C. has my approval and I'm crossing my fingers that Molly will stick around there so I will have more excuses to go back ;)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Let's all give a loud and proud shout-out to America the Beautiful on her (his?) birthday. Here are a few things you can and should do on this holiday.

1. Sip a bloody mary. Or a brewski from a local brewery. Find one that's close by entering your zip code on craftbeer.com.

2. Bake something with fresh, locally picked berries. This morning I made this incredible baked oatmeal, courtesy of Heidi Swanson.

3. DIY a pair of American-inspired cutoff shorts, like these featured on Free People's BLDG 25 blog.

4. Soak up some sunshine. But make sure to protect yourself with sunscreen! Try out this all-natural eco-friendly sunscreen made by Badger.

5. Wear something totally over-the-top, gaudy, and outrageous. I mean, this is America. Perhaps these American flag sandals by American Apparel. Even better, find something manufactured right here in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

summer snapshots

To me, summer is all about exploring the outdoors, eating great, fresh, seasonal food, and taking time to rejuvenate and recharge. I had a fun, relaxing weekend with my friends and family. My mom and I went to a paint-your-own-pottery place on Sunday and spent a couple hours letting our creative juices flow. My mom's creative juices are, truthfully, more at the pace of molasses than... let's say... apple juice, but hey we had a great time and I can't wait to see how they turn out.

Today my dad, brother, and I drove up to a place called Chimney Bluffs on Lake Ontario for a lakeside hike. We had lunch at a waterfront restaurant and then made a pit-stop at a u-pick farm on the way home. As i always say, food tastes much better when you had to work for it. Which is why I love coming up with dishes that use local, fresh ingredients- and if you're the one that did the picking then that's even better!

On last weekend's menu:
Peach frozen yogurt using my new Cuisinart ice cream maker :)

Happy 4th to all my fellow Americans out there!

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