That's the Spirit!

"Hear no evil, speak no evil - and you'll never be invited to a party." 
-- Oscar Wilde {writer, poet}

It is a terribly taunting thing when a young teenager is in a restaurant and flips through the desserts and drinks menu only to be denied permission to order one of the beautiful alcoholic concoctions. For as long as I can remember, I have been infatuated with the alluring colors and delectable presentation of cocktails. They always looked so harmless; they couldn't possibly have been any more dangerous than a Shirley Temple or the rich, purple grape juice I used to pour into wine glasses when I wanted to look sophisticated at the ripe, old age of eight. In high school, Gabi and I would fantasize about having a cocktail-making party and discovering our own gloriously intoxicating recipes. One Christmas, each of us gave the other an illustrated cocktail recipe book (we had not planned on giving the same gift!). It became a running joke with my parents for me to ask to order a drink nearly every time we went out to eat. I was always promptly scoffed at and reminded of my age, which always included that dreadful number one in the tens digit place.

But, behold! I am now a delightful twenty-one years old! (Oh, how long it has taken to get here...) I am now legally permitted to purchase the pretty drinks that grace the menus. I can even get into a bar where they serve nothing but potent spirits and boozy inebriants, poured from the glistening glass bottles illuminated along the top shelves behind the counter. I am still growing accustomed to this privilege even after three months. When the waiter doesn't card me I get that sneaky feeling like I've gotten away with something scandalous. Or, when Michael and I pull up to a liquor store, my initial reaction is to stay in the car to avoid getting caught. So this holiday season I am going to indulge in the luxuries of my age and taste the eggnog (and whatever else looks Christmas-y!) I don't even care if they are laden with calories!

Read on for some scrumptious holiday cocktails to accompany your twelve days of Christmas and let's get this party started.


P.S. Upon rereading this post I realized how positively puritanical I sound and it made me chuckle.


Pretty Little Things


Here's a little bit of pretty to get you through this last weekday before the weekend....



Daily Dress Up

Photo: Living a Better Life
I went to take Delilah out this morning, fearful that the gusty gale I'd heard rattling the windows all morning would sweep us up and away as easily as it did the dried and brittle maple leaves that darted around helplessly in it's whirlwind of fury. As I creaked opened the back door prepared for the inevitable icy blast to whip through my clothes and burn inside my nose, I was thrown off guard by the moderately cool air that playfully kissed my cheeks. The curls of wind invited me out onto the deck and the ferocious movement of the branches I had previously seen as violence revealed itself instead as cheerful dancing. I must say, I have mixed emotions about this kind of gentle climate still showing up in November. There's no way it could snow in with temperatures like these, and I am so desperate for a white holiday season! On the other hand, the moment it snows I will have to figure out an alternative method of transportation as my itty-bitty convertible Nissan 350Z is slightly more sunshine and speed than blizzards and black ice. Not to mention that it's fairly hard to complain when the weather permits you to step outside in cute outfits without the eskimo factor.

I finally have all my clothes and shoes put away as of today... or so I thought. Several boxes of my winter-wear and nicest shoes have vanished under my mother's watch. She claims to remember boxing them up when my parents cleaned up the house and put it on the market this past summer. A whole slew of things went into storage. This was allegedly where I would find my things. Not so. Thus, the search continues for the boxes that contain my super-luxe black cashmere cowl-neck sweater and my chalky brown suede fold-over cuff booties. I should establish a reward for their recovery! Perhaps that might incite little more urgency into the attention of the search party... Good news though! Though my precious treasure chest of apparel is missing in action, I did stumble upon my grandmother's vintage fur stole in one of the wardrobe boxes marked "Dress-ups." Hah! Dress-ups! Please, this puppy is meant to be worn in the real world. Don't you agree? 

For now though I am making do with the clothes I have and the weather I am given. A basic black bandage skirt (ok maybe not SO basic, the high waist and the ruffled texture add a little extra) paired with a loose and open-knit thin sweater is an easy ensemble that effectively toes the line between dressy chic and casual. I added a pair of sheer black pantyhose and my black American Apparel thigh-high socks to warm up my extra long leggies. My oxford-style booties are from Buffalo Exchange in Austin. They have a small hidden platform underneath the ball of my foot so they're much more comfortable to walk in than they look. The finishing touches to any outfit I put on usually come from a last minute stroll through my mother or sister's room. In this case, I stole my sister's nubby charcoal gray boyfriend blazer and snagged a vintage gold medallion tassel necklace out of my mom's jewelry stand. The chunky pink cocktail ring is my own, however, and hails from my beloved fashion heaven: Forever 21. 

Friends start coming home soon! I cannot wait! I have had way too much parental company and far too few margaritas to cope with it lately. Someone come rescue me! 


Click below for more snapshots...


Feast Your Eyes

The linens on my bed have been changed. My toiletries and makeup have been stowed on the glass shelves of my aqua blue bathroom. A man in a brown uniform pulled up in a truck with no door and delivered four hefty cardboard boxes of clothes and shoes. The refrigerator has been stocked with Diet Dr. Pepper. I am officially moved in. Now that all the relocating chaos is more or less behind me, I can focus on what's ahead. While in reality that may include finding work and completing graduate school applications and studying for the GRE, in the blissful confines of blog-world looking ahead points to one thing: the holidays. In particular, I'm focused on Thanksgiving.

Photo: Movie Mobsters
While I was in college Thanksgiving was more of a hassle than anything. Classes weren't over, we always had homework assignments, and there was the foreboding cloud of final exams looming overhead to darken the measly two days we were given for vacation. Now that those stressors no longer apply, I'm quite excited for a holiday that encourages us to gorge ourselves on rich, autumn treats and then doze off into a tryptophan slumber. Not to mention Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. And that means sales, festive décor, Christmas movies, parties and snow!

Photo: Only Funny Images
Before I had returned to New York my mom sent me a message saying how much she missed all the delicious things I would usually whip up at this time of year. Now that I'm home, I have created my annual "Recipes" bookmark folder to grace the upper bar of my Safari browser and I've quite rapidly plumped it up with mouth-watering recipes and ideas for the imminent feast of Thanksgiving. I have always loved to bake and to cook, but never did much of either in my apartment where cookware was cheap and groceries were not. I'm so eager to make that pre-Turkey Day voyage to the A&P and steer my cart through the dreamy aisles of culinary delight without doling out my own pretty penny! (I could do without the mothers and their strollers though, and the cranky men who were forced to do the shopping but have no idea where anything is...)

Click after the jump to check out my potential recipe list and let me know what you think! Careful not to drool on your keyboards, darlings.



Boot Camp

I haven't been this into heeled shoes since I was in high school. It started creeping up on me a couple of weeks ago. Now I'm under the control of a full-blown obsession. Heeled and wedge booties catch my eye in every store! They look as fantastic with long chunky socks scrunched down over skinny jeans as they do with tights and a skirt. I want them all!



Layered Confections

This week has produced some of the first genuinely cold days here in Austin. Maybe it's the start of November that has caused Texas to finally accept and acknowledge that autumn is here, or maybe it was the thunderstorms we had in the beginning of the week. Either way, I have busted out the black tights, the cozy jackets and toasty scarves to block the chill from my brittle bones. Personally, I welcome the colder weather. By the time summer is over I am dreadfully tired of cut off shorts and sandals and the craving for layers of luscious knits has planted itself firmly in my mind. I find that in the late fall and winter months though, a lot of people succumb to the temptation to just throw on an oversized and sloppy coat or sweatshirt to keep warm on their way out the door. Layers are without a doubt the best alternative as they will keep you just as warm if not warmer (depending on how many you pile on) and they are far more visually appealing! A tasteful mix of textures and patterns or colors creates an interesting aesthetic-- some of my favorite outfits in my closet happened when I just started putting different pieces on. As your flair for outfitting yourself improves, the layered look will give off that perfectly sexy, messy, "I-rolled-out-of-bed-looking-this-good" vibe. Effortlessly chic. 

Ever since I played personal shopper for Michael at the beginning of the school year this fall, he's been eager to get to wear the colder weather clothes we bought. Yesterday he came over to pick me up and take me to the doctor. When I opened the door to let him in I was incensed that he dared to look great while I was stuffy-nosed, and aurally infected, still bumming in my pajamas at three in the afternoon, and simultaneously impressed with his eye candy of an outfit. It was a perfectly delicious blend of fashion tastes resulting in a look you could call "playful hipster." He combined a well-tailored pair of black pinstripe pants with a sleek belt and vintage buckle. On top he wore one of our favorite Goodwill finds, a worn-in black Coca-Cola graphic tee written in Russian (I think), and added to it a standard blue-toned plaid flannel. To top off this layered cake with a bit of stylized frosting, he threw on a simple twill jacket with a skinny knit scarf and wore blue high-top sneakers. And of course, as Michael does every day, he wore his Swiss Legend watch and black Ray-Ban aviators that I got him. The look had a character and charm all its own. I've tried to recreate it below as best I could with similar items I found online (the original was better though). I think this is a very interesting but easy look just begging to be emulated. Enjoy!

I'm shipping some of my clothes tomorrow and piling whatever can fit into my car. Michael and I are going to road-trip to New York starting either tomorrow evening or Saturday morning depending on how quickly we get everything done! If all goes as planned we should be getting in no later than Sunday. I just loaded a bunch of music on my iPhone for the drive. Anyone have any good playlist suggestions?? It's quite a long trip... Wish me luck! By the way, I made a new banner for my blog and my Twitter page. What do you think?



All That Glitters

Not that I have the excess $4.25 every morning to purchase a decadent grande non-fat chai like I used to, but I hear Starbucks has its holiday cups in already. It seems as though the holidays are approaching much more rapidly than usual. I noticed oversized clear plastic candy canes filled with gold and red and green foil-wrapped Reese's peanut butter cups on the top shelf of my local Walgreen's candy aisle, long before the Halloween pumpkins and candy corn were cleared out. While I may not enjoy the head cold and subsequent ear infection that this chilly weather has brought me, I am still eager for Thanksgiving and Christmas time. Especially since I have recently decided to move back to New York for the time being. I'll soon be bookmarking recipes into a folder at the top of my web browser for Thanksgiving and figuring out what to give certain special someones as Christmas gifts. The best part about this time of year though, is undoubtedly the open opportunity to sparkle and shine at all the holiday parties. Add a little glitz to your wardrobe with these shimmery holiday dresses.

Hope you all stay warm and cozy tonight. Grab your hot cocoa and blankets and bundle up. That's what I'm going to do (while I continue my Lost marathon... Season 6... I haven't seen any of this and I have no idea what happens so don't spoil it!) Ta ta, angels!