Monthly Archives: November 2010

Light the Lights


There are almost as many common spellings for Hanukkah as there are days to celebrate it.  That can be a little tricky, but nonetheless the holiday is a fun and easy one to celebrate.  Unlike other Jewish holidays there are no food rules or restrictions of any kind – so far, so good – and when you add in some latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganyot (jelly donuts) this 8-day celebration is an oil filled party.

The centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration is a Chanukiah, a nine candled holder, most commonly referred to as a Menorah.  They are often works of art and there is a style to match every home, and budget (I promise)!

When we got married we registered for a menorah that would be functional/cool enough to have out all year round.  I love the work from Michael Aram, and I couldn’t resist this menorah when I saw it.

Michael Aram Olive Branch Menorah
For an even more natural look, how cool is this from West Elm?  The Manzanita trend isn’t lost on me – it was a huge trend in wedding/event floral centerpieces and I love the natural element and sculptural design of this untraditional menorah.
Manzanita Candelabra at West Elm
If your style is more modern than this menorah is perfect.  It is nine separate pieces so you can change the shape and pattern.  This is like grown up Legos, but for Hanukkah.
Nine Piece Menorah by Marit Meisler at Unica
If your home is one filled with kids, and Hanukkah means lots of presents than maybe you like a menorah that is filled with color and whimsy.  This menorah, inspired by the story of Noah’s Ark is almost as much fun as opening the presents every night.
Painted Noah’s Ark Menorah at the Jewish Museum

And if tradition is your thing, and like you a menorah that is elegant and a classic piece of art, look no further than the cut crystal by Waterford.  The simplicity is stunning, and I can only imagine how when lit with nine candles it would shine to the delight of family and friends.
Waterford Crystal Judaica Menorah

If Hanukkah is your holiday, I hope it is filled with light and love – and if it’s not I hope you’ll find a friend to share a latke or donut with over the next week.  Hanukkah recipes are coming soon!

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday


Cyber Monday is a rather recent invention, but a brilliant one no less.  It is a shopping holiday on the Monday after Thanksgiving (today), that gives everyone at work (us) a chance to continue the weekend revelry with deep, deep discounts online.

Having worked in online retail for some really terrific online sites, I can tell you the lure of the computer on this Monday is real.  After eating too much, traveling, and all of the other joys of the season people are slow to jump back into Excel spreadsheets, and are happy to find that soon to be favorite cashmere sweater on sale for 40%.

Here are some of my favorite sales around the Internet – the bonus to Cyber Monday, no parking, no lines, no shlepping.  (Today we are both benefiting from my being oversubscribed to online retailers)

Have fun shopping at:

Bluefly: take an extra 10 – 20% off of everything, saving as much 70% off of the original retail price!

Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy/Athleta: take 15% off your purchases and get free shipping on any order!

PiperLime: Take 20% off of everything at PiperLime – this is the perfect excuse to pick up that otherwise frivelous clutch, or the too wild for everyday yellow pumps.  You love them anyone, you’ll love them that much more at 20% off.

National Jean Company/Shop the Shoebox: This online retailer carries nearly every brand under the sun, and very happily it is all nearly 20% off.  Take advantage of the savings and the free shipping on orders over $75.

If  you’re looking to go luxe, the big names are also playing the Cyber Monday game.
Saks Fifth Avenue: Take up to 40% off the designer collections at Saks Fifth Avenue, and get a jump start on this sale before it starts in stores on December 1.

Donna Karan: The new Donna Karan New York site is beautifully edited and feels like a true reflection of the designers high and low brands (Donna Karan New York, and DKNY).  The exciting news is that the entire site is 20% off.  Seriously, do not wait.

Ralph Lauren: If you read the blog, you know that Ralph is a favorite of mine.  Forever favorite.  If you also love Ralph, you’ll love taking saving an additional 25% off.  Thanks, RL.

Enjoy all of these sales, and many more – and don’t forget to check the gift guides for the perfect present for you or someone you love!

Thanksgiving Blessings


This morning I made baklava and mini pecan pies. My sister made honey glazed corn bread with a recipe borrowed from a friend.  My mom made three pumpkin pies, pecan pie, cranberry scones, and a turkey (just for leftovers). 

In the other room my husband and father are discussing business and books and music, and life.

Pretty soon we’ll all make an apple pie that we could probably all make in our sleep.

In a few hours we will go to my great Aunt J’s house and I’ll see my cousins, aunts, grandparents and celebrate all of the things we are thankful for.  But, truly we are really most thankful for each other.

This year has been a year of triumph and successes, trying and tears, new discoveries, beginnings and the continuation of the journey we call life.  That life is made more tolerable, more sweet, more enjoyable and that much more valuable when surrounded by people you love, and the people who love you.

I wish you the most peaceful of Thanksgivings, and hope you’ll have a moment to consider and celebrate all of the ways you are thankful. 

Thank you for reading and allowing me to share my journey with you.

Holiday Shopping: Gifts for the Mister on Your List


Shopping for boys, guys and men – whatever you prefer – is sometimes the most difficult shopping challenge of all.  The men I am closest to, my husband and my dad, are the type that if they want or need something they just go and get it.  So for them, I am thinking up gifts that appeal to their interests and needs and go just a little bit beyond expectations.

Here are my top picks for Mark, and tips for gifts for the Mister on your list:

Like I said, when giving gifts to Mark I like to think of the things he or I enjoy and do a little extra.  
  • I love a massage, and over the last few years this has become something that we enjoy doing together.  If your guy is new to the world of massages a “dude-friendly” spa like DC’s Grooming Lounge is a great place to start.  
  • Here is an easy solution if you find your guy is still living in sweats – swap out that Hanes for cashmere.  This cashmere sweater from J. Crew fits like a sweatshirt and feels like a million bucks.  
  • My guy is a natural born adventure seeker, and so a great gift is something that appeals to that wilder side: check out the many options by city from Xperience Days, or buy gear for his favorite sport, new sneakers, new goggles, or a new board.  An even better gift is to get out there and take on the world together. 
  • Mark has a penchant for the finer things in life, and because of his appreciation it is always worth it to go the extra step.  He already has custom shirts for a more exacting fit, but I am excited to see a local custom shirt option from Hugh & Crye – again this is a gift that most men won’t know they’ll love until they try on a shirt that actually fits them. 
  • Don’t forget winter is long and cold, you’ll probably spend some time on the couch, make it a movie night with the ultimate guy’s collection of films: James Bond for my guy, maybe Dirty Harry, the Godfather, Lord of the Rings. 
Happy gift giving to you, and yours!

Pumpkin Chocolate Nut Squares


This is an adaptation of a recipe my mom has been making for as long as I can remember.  Here is how the adaptation occurred.  I was waiting on my mom for the recipe, and knowing I would need butter I left a stick (1/2 cup) out on the counter to soften.

On the phone with my mom she is reading off the recipe at which time I realize I do not have the necessary two sticks of softened butter, and I was short on brown sugar…  So, this is what happened…

Mom:  The recipe has 1 cup of butter
Carly: One cup… (sigh) I don’t have a cup of butter,  I’ll use pumpkin
Mom:  No, Carly, you can just follow the recipe
Carly: Mom, I think it will be fine.  I have some pumpkin lying around – it’ll be great.

Pumpkin Chocolate Nut Squares
Ingredients
2 Cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg

1 stick of butter (unsalted)
1 cup of pumpkin
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla

Frosting:
12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp light corn syrup

With my mom on the phone and my neck cradling the phone, in one bowl mix the butter, brown sugar and pumpkin.  If you want to follow the rules, “cream” the brown sugar and butter first so that it is fully incorporated and then add the pumpkin, then the egg and the vanilla.  For the purposes of full disclosure this is not what I did, but again, really, no stress it all works out.


To this mixture add the flour and the cinnamon and nutmeg.  The dough is going to be pretty sturdy and after working it with a large spoon, you’ll find it it most effective to get in there and mix it up with your hands.

Back to mom…
Carly: What is this supposed to look like?  
Mom: Like cookie dough.
Carly:  But, not really like cookie dough, right?  Not like chocolate chip cookie dough (remember we didn’t use all of that butter).
….
Mom:  Put the mixer down and do it with your hands – you’ll get it right.

She was right!  Okay, so with this dough, press it into a buttered 13 x 9 baking dish (brownie pan/lasagna pan).  This goes into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While this is baking head over to the stove top with a small saucepan and a bag of chocolate chips.  Remove 3-5 chocolate chips for taste testing.  Delicious.
On a low heat begin to stir the chocolate chips, and add the butter.  If you have a silicone spatula, use it.  It is easy to use and nothing sticks to it.  When the butter and the chocolate are incorporated, add the corn syrup a tablespoon at a time.  The corn syrup gives it a glossy finish.
After the cookie bottom is out of the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes and then with that silicone spatula scoop and spread the chocolate mixture.  Here’s the thing, because you spread the dough with your fingers it might have been uneven, and you might see finger indentations.  And then, because you spread the chocolate with a funny spatula it might also be a little wavy/weird.  Not to worry.
Open the can of nuts you have lying around, or maybe the can that you made a special trip to a grocery store for and spread them all across the chocolate. The bumps and weird waves are completely covered with salty deliciousness.  Because, sometime you feel like a nut, and chocolate, and pumpkin, and cookies!!!
My mom says to refrigerate them over night, so you probably should.  I didn’t – sorry mom.
Via text at 10:59 pm
Mom: How did they turn out?
Carly: Pretty good.  Not as good as yours, but I liked it.  
Mom: Good, I am sure they will be well received.  Leave them in the fridge.
Carly: Can they be covered on the counter overnight?
Mom: It says to refrigerate, but if its cold it should be ok
Carly: The pan was still warm so I was afraid to put it in the fridge.

Next day…
Carly: The bars are getting rave reviews, as the best ever
Refrigerate or not, cut them into cute little squares and share with friends.  I am loving this for Thanksgiving, it’s a great way to use pumpkin in something that is not a pie – but just as fun, and way easier to make.  

Thanks mom!  Oh, and enjoy!  And this Thanksgiving make sure you take a minute to thank someone that’s always helping you out!

Holiday Shopping: Gifts for the Littlest Ones on Your List


I have two nephews and a niece, and another nephew on the way, and I consider myself a pretty cool aunt to some very cool kids.  My niece and nephews never stop surprising me with how curious, smart, and funny they are – and they are just being themselves!

For Christmas, and anytime we give them a present, I want to give them something that totally stokes that creativity and continues to excite them after the Christmas cookie sugar wears off.

Here are my top picks for kids this year:

To be fair my first gift (a trip to Disney World) is not easy to do, and definitely a big, BIG, Oprah-sized gift, but I have been loving “the surprise the kids” Disney commercials so much this fall, I had to include it (a Mickey Mouse shaped pizza – come on)!  Other favorites include a collection of books; I go with Dr. Seuss because it is classic, but maybe you fancy Little Golden Books, Goosebumps, Harry Potter or Nancy Drew, no matter who the page-turner is about books are a great gift.  Another gift that falls in the sentimental category is the American Girl Doll collection (my sister and I shared a Samantha, who has since been discontinued… 
In the category of getting your brain growing I love, love, love these gifts this season: the Make Your Own Monster – this is awesome, I just can’t get over how cool this is, expensive ($249) but way cool, also the Food Face plates which I have seen in person and totally encourage playing with your food.

Also, when shopping for the littlest kids on your list, please try and remember the kids for whom no one is shopping for.  There are many organizations through which you can adopt a kid (The Angel Tree) or a family for the holidays (a personal favorite of mine is Touch a Heart in South Florida).  For the smallest kids, even the smallest gift can brighten their day!

Happy Birthday to Me, Almost


Twenty-three is old. It’s almost 25, which is like almost mid-20s.
Jessica Simpson, American Singer (1980 – )
Thanks Jess…

In a week I will be 26.  I have always put pressure on 26, because it’s my birthday that will match my birth date (26 on the 26th).  It is completely arbitrary and I am not quite sure where I came up with it, but never the less, I feel pretty good about turning 26.  This has been quite the busy year.

In polling the Internet I came across many lists of “What to Do Before You’re 25/30”, and while there were some items on that list that will probably never happen there are a lot that have.

At 25 I, celebrated love and marriage with all of the women in my life, spent a weekend of slumber parties with my best girlfriends, ate late night pancakes at the IHOP – which sounds like as much of a bad idea as it was, planned the best party of my life, paid for said party, danced with my dad, danced a choreographed dance with my husband, gotten a massage and facial, been pampered with my mom and sister, gone to Mexico, scuba dived, ate real tacos in Mexico, tried tequila straight, bought a TV – finding the right TV is surprisingly hard, gone to the movies, got snowed in, played in the blizzard,  planned a trip, had a Passover Seder, went to Yellowstone National Park, climbed serious mountains, ate buffalo meat, saw a bison – this close, bought a house, packed up our entire condo, moved, cried, made a home back in DC, celebrated the 4th of July from the top of the town, went to India, got sick in India, rode an elephant, tested my strength, mentally and emotionally, started a blog...

25 has been a great year, and I know that 26 will only be that much better, with even more to celebrate and that much more to be thankful for.

Counting down…

Happy Birthday, DC Ladies!


Once a month I share a recipe and a blogpost with the DC Ladies.  Shortly after I created this blog, I found the DC Ladies via Twitter (@DCLadies) and am so happy to be apart of this terrific community of women who share their expertise on every topic under the sun!

This year will bring:
1. The DC Ladies Book Club, this will be headed up by Lindsay one of the Young DC Ladies. Each month we will pick a book and then at the end of the month have a “review” amongst our DC Ladies.

2. The DC Ladies Tweet Ups! Four times a year we will be getting together to meet face to face and network.

3. The DC Ladies Teams; we have had many ladies who have shared their wonderful stories with us about walks and runs they have done so we are going to be forming a “team” to support wonderful causes near and dear to The DC Ladies hearts.

4. Our Virtual Magazine-this is our big one! We are so excited about becoming a full fledged online magazine.

Happy Birthday Ladies!  Cheers to your continued success and growth!

Google, or Why I love the Internet


Yesterday was the unveiling of Boutiques.com.  Let me just say, “wow”.  It is the newest product offering from Google and it seems that the potential is huge.  

I am Googler; my email, my pictures, the blog they are through Google.  I am sure somewhere in Palo Alto someone could pull up my Google file if one were to exist and know what I love, what I talk about and now what I want to wear.
In a deliberate collision between nerds and fashion mavens, Google has created a new e-commerce site that significantly improves how fashion is presented and sold online. The site, Boutiques.com, which went live on Wednesday morning, may also change how people shop for clothes.
 
Boutiques.com has so many capabilities and components that even Google engineers have a hard time qualifying it. It is a collection of hundreds of virtual boutiques merchandised — or, in the new parlance, “curated” — by designers, retailers, bloggers, celebrities and regular folks. You can shop in the style of, say, the actresses Carey Mulligan or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — among the celebrities who signed up — or you can build your own boutique and amass followers who can comment on your taste…
Visually Similar Suggestions for Your Recommended Products
I worked in online shopping and I love online shopping, which I sometimes cheekily refer to as Windows shopping (yes, I am a PC).   The new Boutiques.com seems to have the potential to overtake my favorite shopping site, ShopStyle.com with it’s in depth Google algorithms that are potentially able to find the perfect cobalt suede pumps.  Now, if I get emails or ads for an Elvis album I’ll know Google goofed.
Find me and follow my style as Google continues to evolve it’s algorithms to get my online wardrobe to match my real life wishful wardrobe.

Happy Shopping – let me know what you find!

Holiday Shopping: Gifts for the Do Gooder


Often giving is better than receiving.  The gifts we give, because of their thoughtfulness, can delight the recipient for years to come and the joy that they feel is a gift in and of itself.  Gift giving is magnified even greater when the gifts we give keep giving.

This year many charities and non-profit organizations are teaming up with your favorite brands and retailers to offer gift items that allow a good portion of sales to directly benefit the cause.

Here are some of my favorite gifts that give twice:


 These gifts are as varied as the charities they support, but they all have one thing in common, when they come from the heart they might be the best gift you’ve ever given.

If these aren’t the right gift for you, consider making a donation on the behalf of someone.  These are some easy sites to check out: kiva.org, donorschoose.org, charitygiftcertificates.org and justgive.org.

Make all of your gifts count!