Recipe: Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia

I wish I had never discovered how easy it is to make focaccia from scratch. My first batch was out of the oven for less than an hour, and I’m already conspiring about the next flavor that I want to make. Then I remembered that I had an entire sheet pan worth of fresh focaccia sitting in my kitchen, ready to be made into sandwiches and snacked on all week long — bliss!

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Focaccia is that beautiful, puffy bread that comes cut into large squares at the bakery. This bread is completely saturated in olive oil, which makes it all the more decadent. I used Anne Burrell’s super simple focaccia recipe, adding a few tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary to the top just before baking it. This is more of a time-consuming recipe than a difficult one (like most breads, it has to rise twice before baking), and it was totally worth it when the bread came out perfectly golden and chewy. There was more than enough to share with friends and coworkers while still holding on to a stash at home, too! One night we made simple sandwiches by cutting squares of this bread in half, toasting it with a little butter and garlic, and stacking slices of grilled steak inside — such an easy and delicious dinner.

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Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

My first experience at Bergdorf Goodman was with my mom while I was still in college. I spent a lot of time wandering Fifth Avenue as a broke college kid — I loved walking through the classic department stores and boutiques, dreaming of a day when I might be able to afford to shop there.

bergdorfholiday2012Image via Flickr

For some reason, I had never visited Bergdorf’s. It seemed almost too exclusive, tucked at the edge of Central Park with windows that always looked like a fashion girl’s acid trip — incredible gowns, sparkling jewelry, and objet d’art shoes set against over-the-top backdrops that usually include wild animals or forests made out of intricately cut paper.

My mom, a former department store fashion buyer, couldn’t believe I’d never set foot in the place and so we went. The building is just as classic as Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdale’s, but when you walk through the door, it just has a different feeling. Instead of the usual hustle of cosmetics counters and pushy salespeople, Bergdorf’s ground floor is quiet and filled with the most beautiful handbags and accessories that you could ask for. The atmosphere is insider-y and undeniably elegant.

I have to admit that I still feel like a bit of an outsider at Bergdorf’s. I don’t live the same kind of life as the women buying up the extensive selection of studded Valentino heels and classic Chanel ballet flats on a Saturday afternoon; but it’s still fun to stop by and dream!

victoria-roberts-i-want-my-ashes-scattered-over-bergdorf-s-new-yorker-cartoonImage via Conde Nast

Next month, a documentary called Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (named after the famous 1990 New Yorker cartoon seen above) will be released, giving us an insider look at the store and the people who make it one of the most fantastic shopping destinations in the world. I’m really looking forward to seeing this one, preferably with one of my best partners in (shopping) crime! Take a look at the trailer below — what do you think?

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Spring Blooms

farmersmkttulips

The weather was really lovely for walking around this weekend, which was perfect since we had guests visiting from out of town. We took full advantage of Saturday and spent the entire afternoon walking around the city, stopping only to graze on amazing food along the way (pizza, cupcakes, fried chicken… what didn’t we eat?).

We stopped by the Union Square farmers market, which is one of my favorite places to be during the spring and summer. You can easily make an afternoon out of browsing the amazing offerings from the local farms. There were a few stands selling cherry and plum branches that bloom with tiny pink flowers, and the tulips just screamed “spring”!

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I’m keeping fresh flowers in our apartment more frequently now — it just makes our space feel a little more fun when there is something nice to look at when we get home at the end of the day! Ranunculus is one of my favorite flowers, and I’ve had the bunch seen here for over a week already. As long as you change out their water and get rid of dead leaves, the buds will continue to bloom! What are your favorite spring blooms?

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IFB’s Links à la Mode!

Happy Thursday, everyone! I’m completely thrilled to have been featured in this week’s Links à la Mode on IFB for the first time. Check out all of the great posts that made it into this week’s roundup!

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The Style Economy

Wow, this was a tough week. There were enough great posts in the submissions to make TWO roundups… but alas, there is only room for 20. So making a mix of informative, introspective, and fun posts I really got to pick some fun posts from the community! It seemed like we had our mind on our money and our money on our mind this week as there were some great posts linking lipstick and shoes to the economy, how to set your wardrobe budget, a wonderful example of restyling items in our wardrobe and a great tips on finding Spring accessories on the cheap. So click on, you’ll be delighted by the things you’ll learn (I particularly liked the informative post about fragrance) and the new habits you just might pick up.

Links à la Mode: April 4, 2013

SPONSOR: Shopbop: Tocca, VPL Shoes, Massimo Giorgetti, Liebeskind, Golden Lane, Moyna, Thierry Mugler, Christopher Kon, Versace, Joie bags, Rochas Bags

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How to Create and Maintain a Wardrobe Budget

money_savingImage via Flickr

While I’m fortunate to have a job that keeps a roof over my head and food on my table in a very expensive city, I don’t have an abundance of extra cash to spend on my wardrobe. It can be a bit of a tease that New York is such a fashion-conscious city, yet after most people have paid their rent there isn’t much left over to add unnecessary frills to their closet.

I’ve been living and, subsequently, getting dressed in New York for nearly 7 years with relative success. Here are a few of my tips for making the most of your budget without ending up in shoe debt!

Establish Your Budget

I manage my budget on a monthly basis using Mint. The amount that I can spend on my wardrobe changes by the month depending on how much I’ll make (some months I have freelance income and some I don’t) and what other things I know I’ll have to spend on. Generally, I spend no more than $250 per month on clothing, and it’s always the first thing that I scale back on during months that I have a lot of expenses. You’d be surprised at what you can get on a small budget if you are smart about how you spend it!

Don’t Pay Full-Price

This seems like an obvious one, but I can’t stress the importance of researched shopping enough. It might satisfy your shopping needs to just buy on the spot in a store, but I’ve found that there is almost always a way to get what you want for less. Before you buy, check sites like RetailMeNot for coupon codes, Google the style name to see if any other stores carry the same item for less, or wait it out until there is a coupon or a sale. For example, I love Piperlime, but I rarely buy anything there without using the 20% off coupons that they make available every few weeks! I also try to find discounts at stores where I have a gift card — if you can cover most of your purchase with a coupon and a gift card, your out-of-pocket expense is much less.

Set Up Sartorial Savings

Let’s face it: we’ve all lusted after that bag, or that skirt that will blow our monthly budget completely. If you are passionate about owning big-ticket wardrobe items, prove your devotion to yourself by creating a wardrobe savings account that you contribute to throughout the year. Friend cancelled on dinner tonight? Drop the $40 you would have spent into your savings account. I would actually suggest setting this up even if you don’t have something particular in mind right now — better to have the funds saved up if it’s an item that will sell out before you had the opportunity to save for it!

Plan Seasons Ahead

We’re headed into the spring and summer now, but I’m already thinking about things I’ll need to purchase for the fall. I find that especially in the fall, we tend to need more expensive items (i.e. jackets, boots), so it’s best to start thinking about these things as soon as possible and plan accordingly. Likewise, the spring and summer can be heavy on weddings for some people, so planning to pad your wardrobe budget for these items is smart.

Create Wardrobe Goals

Once in a while, go through your wardrobe and assess where it’s lacking. Think about what happened when you were getting dressed that morning: did you put away the first thing you reached for because you didn’t have the right shoes to go with the outfit? Maybe you’re bored with wearing the same outfit over and over. Whatever the case, set aside some time to take a real, objective look at what’s in your closet and play around with new combinations. Your goal should be a wardrobe that feels easy-to-use and versatile. Once you identify what would bridge the gaps in your wardrobe (i.e. some new t-shirts or a pair of neutral flats), make filling them a priority before you spend on yet another one-use top.

How do you plan your wardrobe budget?

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How did I get here? And where am I going?

nowayofknowingImage by Chris Piascik

I’m a frequent visitor to IFB for their great posts on blogging. This week, they posted a prompt that is really quite relevant to me right now: why did you start your blog?

Between working full-time, keeping up with my friends and family, and doing all of those boring adult things (paying bills, doing laundry, cooking dinner, etc.), I often let my blog go stagnant for weeks at a time. Lately I’ve been trying to work harder at building my blog, focusing my content, and really making it a reflection of who I am, how I got here, and where I’m going.

When I first started my blog, I was on the verge of graduating from college and had just secured a new job and apartment in New York. It was a really exciting time in my life because I felt like I had finally crossed the border into ADULTHOOD, and I was filled with nothing but hope for what was to come. I didn’t really have a clear vision of what I wanted the blog to be, but I posted occasionally about things that I did, places I went, and (of course) clothes that I liked.

Going back today to think about what my vision (or non-vision) was for my blog has been really refreshing. I’ve realized that my content here hasn’t always been a true reflection of who I am, and maybe it’s time to change that. I have looked to a lot of very successful blogs over the years and wondered why I couldn’t be more like them — to have the money for travel and pretty clothes, to live in a perfectly styled apartment that provides a beautiful backdrop for photos, or to have hours each week to test out new recipes and crafts to feature. But that’s OK, because that is just not who I am at this point in my life.

I want to be able to connect with people here who, like me, are balancing the things they want in life with reality. And more importantly, I want to be able to show people that there is a positive way to find a balance — whether it’s updating their wardrobe while staying on top of their student loan payments, or finding time to whip up something homemade and fabulous in their kitchen despite their 9-to-5. So, cheers to the future of City Coeur! Here’s hoping that I can bring back that same new-graduate hope to this blog years later!

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On 25

candles

Last week, I turned 25. Unlike in years past when I had big plans for parties or dinners with too many people to reasonably split the bill with, 25 came quietly. I spent the day with people who I genuinely enjoy, doing things that I wanted to do: a yoga class, a mani-pedi, a drink with a good friend, and a delicious dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. No loud party, no splitting the bill 14 ways.

This is a funny age — grown up and full of responsibility, but still young enough to get the occasional, “25!? You’re still a baby!” from certain people (Should I embrace the praise of my youth while I still have it, or feel a little annoyed and patronized?). I guess the good news about turning a year older is that looking back on the past year, I can barely recall the bad things that happened because there were so many good things that take precedence in my mind. Of course there were difficult times as well, but maybe part of getting older is learning to stop keeping score and start savoring both the wonderful and the not-so-wonderful moments for what they are!

Image via Flickr

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