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!