Monday, December 30, 2013

Heart of Gold:: A Year in Review {Petal by Petal}

(Coral Supreme)
If there is one thing that truly makes me happy it is flowers and photographing them.  About seven months ago I started the column, Petal by Petal, which has become one of my favorites on the site.  Not only do I get venture to the flower market and bring a variety of blooms into our home but also I try to photograph them in a way that brings them to life.  Here is a look back at some of my favorites!
(Stargazer Lily)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Heart of Gold:: A Year in Review {Travel}

What a year it has been! I feel very blessed that this year has been filled with so many wonderful things - we got engaged (!!) and I am an auntie to my new nephew. In addition to those wonderful things, I did explore new and familiar places, ones that took my breath away (Klein Curacao, no words) and of course New York, a city that constantly inspires me. I thought I would take you back to some of the places that I have wandered over the past year.   
(Klein Curacao, water so blue it seems other worldly. Photos of Curacao here)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I wish you a very happy and Merry Christmas!
Image via 
Graphics by me

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Holiday Break

Can you believe Christmas is in two days? I could not be more excited to slow down a little bit and really savor the season around the tree with family and friends.  I am looking forward to a little break here, I will be popping in here and there to share some of my favorite moments from the year, so stay tuned.  I hope that you have a restful and beautiful holiday season.  Thank you for making this year so fantastic! To 2014!

Image via 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Celebrating the Holidays:: Pomegranate Gin Fizz {I HAVE MOVED TO ROSE & IVY JOURNAL)

What else could be a better way to end a week filled with festive ideas and treats than with a holiday inspired cocktail? Even though I do not drink, I like to have a seasonal drink to greet company when they arrive.  This year I wanted to create a vibrant red cocktail that would brighten the season so I decided to make a Pomegranate Gin Fizz, a perfect way to incorporate my favorite fruit, the pomegranate. This cocktail is an infusion of freshly squeezed orange juice that is topped off with pomegranate juice and seeds and finished with sparkling water and gin -  I incorporated Martin Miller's Gin into this cocktail which rounded it out perfectly.  If you are looking for an easy drink this holiday season, I recommend it! And with that, I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend! I will spend mine finishing my shopping list, putting up our tree (I was sick last weekend and sadly missed our annual tradition of cutting down the tree) and having a small holiday get together. Have a great one!  Continue for more...

For more recipes visit ROSE & IVY Journal 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Baking:: The Ultimate Sugar Cookie

If you love to bake, or even if you don't it is essential to have a go-to cake recipe, a must-have chocolate chip cookie recipe and finally a great sugar cookie recipe to fall upon when you have last minutes guests or birthdays. I was without the latter until reading the December issue of Bon Appétit where a recipe for the Ultimate Sugar Cookie was revealed on the cover.   These cookies are beyond chewy and have the prefect ratio of sweetness to buttery goodness. I decided to tap  into my inner artist by painting the royal icing with a beautiful colored luster dust as they suggested in the magazine and the result was so pretty.  The cookies glistened under the twinkling lights and made for a great desert served alongside a cup of hot cocoa.  Continue for more...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Handcrafted:: Paper Poppy Present Toppers

My philosophy when it comes to wrapping presents is that the present should look as beautiful on the outside as it does on the inside.  When the holidays roll around, I look for ways to creatively dress-up gifts that will be placed under the sparkling tree.  One of my favorite ways is to top a present with a seasonal flower, garland or a traditional bow, however, this year I will be adding these giant paper poppies to serve as present toppers.  Before this project, I thought that making paper flowers was quite difficult, but I actually learned that it is the opposite.  These poppies are incredibly easy to make and you can really be creative with the colors and finishes;  I created a few different varieties including a metallic red poppy and a gold foil version.  Continue for more...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Scenting the Season with Voluspa Candles

The smell of freshly cut fir trees, crackling fires and the smell of freshly baked gingerbread is what the holidays smell like to me.  They are nostalgic elements that when they are present I know this special time of the year has arrived.  Once December has arrived, I like to trade my floral scented candles for something a little woodier with more depth that can evoke the season even more.  I know that I have mentioned it before  but one of my favorite candle brands is Voluspa, not only do they have such luxurious packaging, but the hand-poured fragrances are so unique and can have a burn time for up to 100 hours.  One of my favorite seasonal collections is the Vermeil Collection, which incorporates festive holiday note nuances like balsam, chestnuts, cloves and cassis berries.   A new favorite from the collection is Branche Vermeil, which is a wonderfully woody candle with hints of sweet balsam, sugar and a bit of citron to create a rounded finish. I also simply adore the mercury glass finish that allows this candle to flicker even more when lit.  What are some of your favorite scents throughout the holiday season?  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Baking:: Chocolate Caramel Truffles with Black Sea Salt

It is holiday week on Heart of Gold, so get ready for a week of festive features!  First may I tempt you with one of the most decadent treats possible?  Let me introduce you to the Chocolate Caramel Truffle with Black Sea Salt that is so decadently rich, your knees just might buckle.  The inside of this truffle is a soft and gooey salted caramel filling and is finished with a solid crunch that is the result of being swirled in dark chocolate and then sprinkled with black sea salt.  If you are like me and you are a die-hard chocolate lover but also gravitate towards the salty/sweet combination, you will fall in love with these.  You just might make a batch with the intention of giving them away and then decide to keep them all to yourself! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Little Bits of Happiness

(A beautiful view from the rocky shores of Massachusetts)
(A new gem in Williamsburg, The Bakeshop by Woops is like therapy for the eyes located on Driggs & N. 7th)
(I didn't think that wedding dress shopping would be this hard, this is a third round of dresses!)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Holiday in New England

I love New England. Living near by in New York and having family in and around Boston makes it easy to sneak away from the rowdy city and retreat to the calm, serene towns outside Boston.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday we did just that by venturing to Salem and Marblehead, two historic coastal towns, one with a lot of history (Salem Witch trials anyone?) and the latter that is just simply beautiful with large historic homes perched right by the water.  I love how you can take a step back in history while walking down the narrow streets of Salem. Each home has a white plaque that indicates just who lived there and the occupation they held.  We also explored the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park with a lighthouse made of iron (not your typical looking lighthouse) which was worth stepping out into the bitter cold wind that being swept off the Atlantic.  Have you ever been to this lovely part of New England? 

Finally congrats to Ashley T, you are the Papel New York winner! Congratulations, I will be emailing you.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{Food Bloggers Cookie Swap}Snow-Capped Red Velvet Cookies with Askinosie Chocolate

As you know I love baking, but if I can bake and do good at the same time then count me in!  I am excited that I was able to participate in the Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap started by Lindsey of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen that raises money for Cookies for Kid's Cancer but also allows bakers to send cookies to three bloggers around the country.  It was hard picking what cookie to bake and send but after much deliberation I settled on festive Snow-Capped Red Velvet Cookies from the recent issue of Donna Hay, my favorite Australian cooking magazine.  These cookies are divine because from the outside you are deceived just how much chocolate goodness is hiding on the inside. These cookies are so light and chewy and practically melt in your mouth. 

Now let me talk about the cocoa infused into these cookies, Askinosie is an independent chocolate company that meticulously sources and crafts delicious chocolate. They were kind enough to send me their Cocoa Powder and their 70% San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador Dark Chocolate Bar to include in this recipe.  I admire this company because they build lasting relationships out of respect with their farmers to ensure that they are growing the best cocoa bean.  Continue for more...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Get the Look:: Pre-Fall 2014 Collections

The Pre-Fall 2014 runway presentations are well under way and have truly gotten me excited about fall clothes again. After watching the spring shows back in September, it is hard not to yearn for the season that once was.  I am loving the amount of luxurious minimalism and the pairing of street and luxe.  What presentations have you liked? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Handcrafted:: Gilded Bird Boxes

I recently had one of those leisurely afternoon where I could take my time wondering in and out of shops on Fifth Avenue.  One of my favorite stops is Bergdorf Goodman, in particularly the 7th floor that features an exquisite array of luxurious home goods and now holiday decor that always fills me with inspiration and DIY ideas.  There have been a few amazing projects floating in the blogosphere that turn plastic animals into beautiful objects like this project from Nadia which is one of my favorites.  Both Bergdorf Goodman and Nadia's project inspired me to create a decorative glossy box with a gilded bird that is perfect for a vanity, desk or mantle.  This project is easy and the results were just pretty.  This would be a fantastic hand-crafted holiday gift especially if given as a set.  Continue for more...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Queen

Pure and pristine is what drew me into the editorial featured in British Harper's Bazaar.  In some ways I am eager for snow to arrive here in New York, especially since it is December and the city is decorated for the holidays.  And on that note, I plan on decorating our house for the holidays and continuing my love for holiday baking.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend! 

P.S. Don't forget to enter the Papel New York giveaway that will end on Monday. If you have already entered you can enter more than once.  One lucky reader will win a wonderful collection of items from their Brooklyn shop valued at $50! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Currently Craving:: Leith Clark for Warby Parker

I have worn glasses since I was about nine years old and luckily switched to contact lens as soon as my parents would allow it.  It wasn't that I didn't love glasses, it was just that back then there were not companies around like Warby Parker to make them 'hip'.  I am really excited because they have recently teamed-up with Leith Clark, the über-talented stylist (you can see some of her work here and here) to create a capsule collection that is debuting this week.  The collection was inspired by smart-looking and smart-thinking individuals like writer and actress Zoe Kazan, who also fronts the campaign.  By purchasing these frames not only will you look stylish but you will also be doing good since a percentage of the sales will be donated to Girls Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign mobilizing American girls to raise awareness and funds for UN programs that provide life-changing opportunities to girls around the world.  You can purchase the optical frames here and the sunwear here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holiday Baking:: Chewy Molasses Cookies

It is officially holiday season and that means one thing, it is cookie month here on the blog.  Throughout the month of December I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes, new and old that will get you prepared for holiday festivities or if you are planning on hosting or attending a cookie exchange. The first step in my baking process is to find unique recipes that will be a stand-out at the dessert table, luckily the December issue of Bon Appétit is filled with so many delectable recipes. I started my holiday baking season with making their Chewy Molasses Cookies that tastes like the holidays in a bite.  They are every bit as chewy as promised and the sugar sprinkled on top creates a wonderful crunchy texture.  Continue for more...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Essentials:: Pretty Stationery from Papel New York + Giveaway

I absolutely adore stationery, buying it or receiving it, beautiful paper is a true luxury.  I am spoiled because only a few steps from our apartment in Brooklyn is Papel New York, a wonderfully curated boutique that specializes in unique cards, beautiful stationery sets and other items like calendars and note pads.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fashion Essentials:: Festive Holiday Pieces

Happy Monday everyone! I hope that you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and long weekend. Did you manage to get some shopping in on Black Friday?  I steered clear and plan on checking out the sales today.  Our time in Boston was fantastic, I enjoyed spending time with my family, especially my new nephew who I already miss terribly.   November flew by and I cannot believe we have already entered into December the month filled with holiday parties and festive get-togethers.  Oftentimes it can be hard to transition a holiday look from day to night, but my approach is to focus on one element that will be a show-stopper.  Below are some of my picks, I hope that everyone has a great week!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Very Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to pop in early to say Happy Thanksgiving.  I want to say thank you to all of you for following me along and encouraging me everyday, it truly means the world.  We are off to Boston to see my family, but before the festivities begin, I am running in a 10K, so there will be not guilt in indulging on my favorite holiday.  

Image via

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fall Entertaining Essentials:: Thanksgiving Edition

I have only cooked one Thanksgiving so far and there were so many moving parts that by the time we sat down to our late dinner I was almost to exhausted to eat.  This year I will be playing sous chef/kitchen help/lead baker and I will focus more on setting the table, something that I love to do just as much as being in the kitchen. I am envisioning a setting with flowers and flickering candles, an over-flowing cheese plate and hints of gold here and there. Here are some of my picks to create this setting.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie {From Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book}

Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie, need I say more?  Let me tell you, if you are looking to impress your Thanksgiving dessert table, I recommend that you make this pie, my second recipe from the new Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. It is a slice of heaven because it basically fuses two different varieties that are loved during the holiday season, pecan pie (but without the nuts) and chocolate ganache pie to create something that is truly out of this world.  There are a few easy steps to this pie, the first being that you toast the oats to give them a wonderfully nutty flavor, followed a sublime gooey layer that incorporates the oats and then finally a decadent layer of rich chocolate ganache that lines the crust that when served at room temperature is just like pudding.  On another note, looking very forward to the short week this week, I am eager to head up to Boston to spend the holiday with my family. Do you have any exciting plans for Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Currently Inspiring:: Pinterest Picks

My mind is currently in a few different places, on one hand I am thinking/planning about our wedding/honeymoon, while on the other I am in full-on planning mode for the holidays.  If there is one thing that can rope me in and make me feel a bit centered on all of my ideas it is Pinterest!  Here are a few things that have left me inspired this week.  You can follow me along here!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wardrobe Staple:: The Camel Jacket

This season is all about the statement jacket, from the Fall 2013 runways at Stella McCartney, Celine to Mulberry this winter staple was front and center.  This season I have been gravitating towards plaids and powder pinks, but if there is one shade that is sorely missing from my closet it is the subdued tone of camel that goes with just about everything.  Here are some of my favorite picks to create this look.  What jackets are you loving this season? 

Image via

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Salty Honey Pie {From The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book}

I have already sung the praises of my favorite pie shop in Brooklyn, Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a gem in the up-and-coming section of Gowanus.  But now I am singing even louder due to the fact that they have just released a cookbook that allows me to whip up their unique pies in my own tiny kitchen. I received a copy of their book and let me tell you it has heart and soul. The bakery was started by two sisters, Emily and Melissa Elson who were seeking a way to share their love of pie, soon word got out just how amazing they were and thus their shop was soon born.   It was hard to pick a recipe from this book, but luckily it is categorized by season so it was a bit easier to narrow down. For the first recipe (a second one is coming your way next week) I decided on the Salty Honey Pie, and boy, it is even better than it sounds.  This pie has the texture of molten pudding and has a distinct and addicting taste thanks to the honey which lends a floral hint and the sea salt flakes round out this amazing flavor.  Continue for more...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Petal by Petal:: Charisma Amaryllis

It is that time of year at the flower market when crimson berries and fir greens take over the bustling scene.  Yet, tucked somewhere amidst the holiday flutter I discovered this stunning amaryllis known as 'charisma'.  The amaryllis is a towering flower that is similar to a lily, but without the heady fragrance and it is like the iris in that it blooms with a cluster of buds.  I was intrigued by its white petals and the delicate strokes of red that tinged each petal.  You can buy these blooms in the bulb form or in the stem at local flower markets.  Continue for more...

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Luxurious Life:: Villa Life

If there is one thing on my bucket list it is to rent a villa in either Tuscany or Provence with friends and family. I would love to spend a relaxing week in the countryside eating the local food (cheese, bread, olive oil and chocolate) and sitting in the town squares sipping the strongest espresso.  I recently discovered Red Savannah, an amazing on-line destination for people looking to do just this but throughout the world.  There are just a few of the villas that I would give just about anything to stay for a week.  Continue for more...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fair Maiden

Perhaps it is because I have white dresses on the brain (I still haven't found the one yet) but I would gladly take any of these frocks featured in the December issue of Harper's Bazaar UK .  They are all feminine, not fussy, a bit bohemian and honestly just magical.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!