kick back a shot every time I say ‘wine’ in this post

I never thought I’d be excited by a liquor store, but I am. Astoria Park Wine & Spirits has free Friday night wine tastings (!), organized rows of spirits and a knowledgeable, friendly staff to give recommendations. Not that I ever know what they’re talking about. All I ever want is a good red wine that isn’t too dry or too fruity (those are the only wino terms I know) and under $20. I don’t know what was a good year for grapes or which wine pairs with which meat or cheese, but if it tastes good, then it’s good enough for me to drink.

We stopped by a liquor store in New Jersey a couple of years ago, where the owner chatted us up for 20 minutes about wine and grapes and vineyards and regions. He was passionate and unpretensious so we decided to go with his recommendation, which we ended up loving. You can tell when someone really knows his or her wine . I always trust the people who truly care about their alcoholic beverages to suggest something worthy.

Admittedly, I’m romanced by certain locations and terms. If it’s a “wonderful red made from exclusive grapes in remote countryside in France that has a full mouthfeel” than I’m bound to “ooooh” and “aaaah” over it like it’s the best thing on Earth, although I have no clue what “mouthfeel” actually means.

As you can see, wine is usually enoyed in pajamas in this household. Cheers to comfort!

And to being half way to the weekend.

 

*The wine I’m drinking in the last photo is the Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2010. It’s good stuff.

the holiday shops at bryant park

Bob and I have this tradition of visiting the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park every year and making a beeline for the Max Brenner booth. They sell these magical morsels of caramelized pecans dipped in hazelnut cream and cocoa that we go nuts for. The whole shop is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, but these things are just…true happiness in my mouth. You can can see what they look like here.

And the doughnuts! So soft and fresh. I had the blood orange with the candied peel and it was nothing short of plain wonderful.

Aside from the sweet stuff, we love to browse all the goodies from the shops and this time, we came out with some Christmas gifts and a few bags of loose-leaf tea from Spice Professors (for ourselves). One thing I love about this time of year is all the wonderful pop-up shops around the city. You’re sure to find a really lovely gift like local artwork, handmade jewelry and novelty items.

I’m trying my best to be a good gift-giver, because goodness knows I’m normally terrible at it. I usually end up getting everyone magazine subscriptions and calling it a day. But this year, I’m making the effort to put a little more thoughtfulness into it. So far, I’m doing pretty well, but there’s always those few people that stump me. I think a few more trips and a little more research are in order. In the meantime, I’m pinning a few gift ideas over here – check it out if you’re looking for some inspiration!

swap shop

ClosetDash‘s general idea is pretty simple: swap your unwanted clothes for new ones. And by new, I mean previously-owned but still in good condition, of course. If you’re in NYC, consider yourself lucky and go asap! First, you should probably click on this to get all the details and then go. If you live anywhere else in the U.S., then you’re lucky too because you can easily do swaps online.

I’ve made it known┬áthat I love thrift stores and great deals, so obviously this place was my paradise.Jamillah invited me to ClosetDash with her and a couple of friends. So I gathered up all of my gently-used clothes (including a Jem and the Holograms t-shirt that I was sad to part with) and swapped for some threads of equal value. I didn’t break out my wallet once! We ended up staying for oh…a few HOURS just perusing racks, trying on clothes and chatting up the sweet owner Jennifer.

As for my beloved Jem top, I’m sure it will end up in good hands. Jem lovers tend to be pretty awesome people, after all.

luggage as decoration

Every day, I pass this antique store with the most charming merchandise – tin stools, library catalogs, beaten-up couches and other random treasures. Just recently, I saw a beautiful pair of vintage suitcases. The way the two were stacked on top of each other reminded me of an image I pinned a while back. In the photo, the old suitcases are used as a nightstand – I loved the idea of using them as a decorative piece. So I bought ’em!

I’m happy to have these, not only for the old-fashioned flair they give to the living room, but for using as a holder for random things that I’d like out keep out of sight (i.e., extra linens and things). I get really excited for dual purpose items.

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fleas and food

wow…that is the most unsavory title ever.  but, moving on…

my new favorite place to be?  the hell’s kitchen flea market.

i loved the collection of completely random and unique things you wouldn’t find anywhere else.  can you guess which piece i desperately wanted to take home with me?

 i’ll give you a hint: it’s reeeeally cool.
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if you guessed the burt reynolds-ish body form, then you’d be right on!  i would have liked to use it for hanging my scarves and necklaces on, but something about lugging this thing around all day (in addition to my heavy camera) was just exhausting to think about (and it conjured up funny images in my head of weekend at bernie’s).

afterwards, me and bob went to whym (a new favorite restaurant of ours), where the service and food were just so on point.  their extensive choice of fresh juices are enough to keep me from ever ordering an alcoholic beverage there.  but the food was the real star: juicy pulled duck sliders, the most tender berkshire tenderloin, bosc pear and creamy brie quesadillas, crispy-on-top potato gratin and avocado-ginger salsa rocked our worlds.  we will be coming back.

 -jillian m.

my beauty wishlist

i’ve always loved makeup, but i’ve only recently started to experiment with bolder looks (smoky violet eyes, cherry red lips with a cat eye, etc.).  and so, with the increase of experimentation has come a longing and an excitement to try some new beauty products.  here are a few things i’ve had my eye on:

kiehl’s ultra facial tinted moisturizer, $24.50 – i’m not a foundation wearer (it feels too heavy on the skin), but tinted moisturizer is the next best thing for a more even complexion.  plus, if you’re going to do moisturizer, you need to turn to the company that does it best!


skindinavia makeup finishing spray, $29.00- how nice it would be to not have to keep reapplying makeup all night!  just a few spritzes of this after initial application and it’s guranteed to last for 16 hours.  does it work?  almost 100% of people that reviewed this product at makeupalley.com would buy it again.  so i say that’s a yes.


urban decay 24/7 glide-on eye pencil, $18.00 – an awesome selection of bright colors and glides on like a dream (and it’s waterproof!).  great for smudging and dare-to-look-at-me eyes.


too faced naked eye soft & sexy eye shadow collection, $35.00 – i’ve been coveting this one for ages!  the shadows are extremely versatile so there are a tons of looks to play with.  neutrals to darks are ideal for a day to night look.

bobbi brown pot rouge for lips and cheeks, $24.00 – cream blushes are ideal for dry cheeks and a natural, dewier look.  bobbi brown always gets it right.

as you’ve probably noticed, all of these are worth a pretty penny, hence the word wish in wishlist.  but i’m willing to consider close substitutes, so if you have any suggestions, please share!  are there any beauty items you’ve been eyeing lately?

-jillian m.

fred flare’s got flair

i found this article about wacky food-themed house items and through that found fredflare.com, an online boutique that sells the most adorable (and kooky) items.  i’m talking tiny rubber duckies for floating in your cup of tea (aka tea duckies) and a vanilla ice cream cone lamp!  i’m way too tempted to buy the barbie and ken tin lunchbox and the cupcake bandages (which i would probably wear on a daily basis, cuts or no cuts). 

i’ve already got this website bookmarked.  i’m restraining myself from buying anything at the moment, but i know where to come when i find myself needing a peanut butter and jelly pouch.  because you never know when you’ll need a wallet that looks like a pb & j sandwich…

-jillian m.

p.s. just learned that there’s a fred flare store in brooklyn.  i’m so there.

{images: fredflare.com}

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