9.30.2014

NEW DISCOVERY: NOTNEUTRAL


I always love watching those Visit California commercials. They highlight just what I find so unique about the state: sunny weather, beaches, mountains, innovation, fresh produce, Kim Kardashian. Okay maybe not that last one.

I was inspired to throw a San Francisco-themed cocktail party when I saw this wonderful city map plate from one of my favorite California brands, notNeutral. I have partnered with them today to put together a locally-inspired, casual (it's the California way, after all) cocktail party.

notNeutral focuses on developing objects that are not only beautiful but purposeful too. For this cocktail party I used their Ciclone glasses, San Francisco city plate and Lino cappuccino cups.  I find myself reaching for all three of these items on a daily basis. The Ciclone glasses are perfect for orange juice in the morning, ice tea at lunch and a glass of wine to wind down the day. Because they are double-walled, the drink inside stays perfectly hot or cold. The city plate is pretty enough to hang on a wall but has served double-duty since I got it as an appetizer plate and a fruit bowl. It's a great way to show a little city pride or pick your favorite destination, and remember fondly wandering the streets. Lastly, the cappuccino cups fit nicely in your hand and come with a saucer that's perfect for a little biscotti or chocolate.

Time to talk about what's on the menu...

On the Menu:
Golden Gate Red Pomegranate Fizz
Pier 23 Crab Dill Dip on Sourdough Crostini
Napa Blue Cheese with California Almonds and Grapes
Japantown Cucumber avocado stacks with wasabi mayonnaise

The cocktail was delicious (I just had to try it, ok) I modified the recipe slightly from the Love & Lemon's version by omitting the mint and adding a few cherries as garnish. I also used Bay Area-based Hangar 1 vodka. It's a favorite of mine because it's so smooth, handcrafted and local. This would also make a lovely holiday cocktail.

The crab dip is deliciously simple and allows the fresh crab to shine through. I added dill but feel free to skip it and add another garnish if its not your favorite flavor.

Grapes, inspired by the Napa Valley, were paired with a mild blue cheese for a traditional cheese plate. Confession...I meant to put these on skewers but the cheese kept crumbling. Lesson learned to either get firmer cheese or be okay with no skewers.

Lastly, the cucumber avocado stacks were something I put together combining my favorite sushi-inspired ingredients. People might think it's a stereotype but Californians really do eat that much avocado. It is readily available and I put it on everything. It tasted especially good paired with refreshing cucumber, spicy wasabi mayo and a little saltiness from the roasted seaweed.

Now let's take a look at our pretty set-up...



I love the idea of leaving out a Instax camera to take pictures during the party. Then guests get to go home with a little souvenir from the night.






During the evening, what if you surprised your guests by making affogatos? Haven't heard of an affogato? It took me a few times to get the spelling right. It's Italian for "drowned" and sort of like a coffee float.

First, put a scoop of ice cream in an espresso cup. Then pour a shot of espresso over and watch the magic happen. In this case, I used heavenly salted caramel ice cream from local creamery Three Twins Ice Cream and SF-based Blue Bottle coffee.




What a perfect way to end the night!

Find all of the notNeutral products featured here:

Ciclone glasses
San Francisco city plate
Lino cappuccino cups a saucers

This post was sponsored by notNeutral. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

9.26.2014

4 THINGS FOR YOUR WEEKEND


Here are four things to check out in your extra time this weekend.


No 1 This Time Tomorrow Trip to Turkey

One of my favorite stylish ladies, Krystal Bick, just returned from a dream trip to Turkey. Her beautiful pictures inspire me to travel to that part of the globe. Her stylish and approachable travel looks also are great inspiration for any trips you may have coming up.

No 2 Target and Faribault

When Target announced this week that it would be partnering up with neighbor company and legendary blanket maker Faribault, I couldn't have been more excited. Of all of the collaborations Target has done, this is definitely one of my favorites. Check out the products on their blog and stop by the store Nov. 2nd to cozy up your home.

No 3 #AskLena

I know, I know, you are probably so sick of me posting about Lena but these advice videos are seriously cute and supportive. I already pre-ordered my book and can't wait for it to come next week.

No 4 Nectar and Stone Instagram

Follow this Instagram account. This innovative pastry and chocolate chef, out of Australia creates stunning treats. Her Instagram catalogs all of her delicious-looking confections. I am inspired by the color palettes and the geometric shapes of her work.

That's it for now folks. Have a great weekend.

Lauren


9.24.2014

ACORN SQUASH FAVORITES


Nothing says fall food more than squash. While I usually go straight for butternut squash, I thought that I would try to switch it up a little bit and go for the acorn squash. Not only are its scalloped edges pretty to serve, but its small size makes it quick to roast. Here are a few of my favorites.


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9.23.2014

JUST ADD NETFLIX


Today is the first day of fall and to celebrate, I've put together the ultimate list of cozy essentials for hibernation. If you buy one thing for your home this fall, get a fur throw (faux of course!). Then you can thank me when you are snuggled up under it after watching who-knows-how-many episodes of The Good Wife.



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9.22.2014

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO...


I've been wanting to write this post for months. Each interview I went on, each time I put on that same black dress, I wondered if it was the last time. Well, after months of interviewing, it finally was the last time. I got the job! I am so excited to begin work in a few short weeks at Sephora headquarters. I will be working in marketing on the makeup side of the business and couldn't be more thrilled to join the team. There might be a few more makeup posts mixed into the blog but it will continue to be things that make you live a happy and inspired life. 

I got the job after six months after being laid off. I can't believe its been half of a year. And you know what? I wouldn't trade the last six months for anything. I believe that things happen for a reason. It is so cliche but it is true. You can either get stuck, stunned because something happened, OR you can use it to push you forward. I can't believe all of the wonderful things I have got to do and learn over the past few months. It has helped me grow and expand the blog with new partnerships, better content and more readers. 

I have also learned the invaluable lesson of how to save money. I will admit that I have a list of things that I have determined are worth it now that I have a steady income  (hello manicures, wine club and having the house cleaned). Now, I appreciate those things just a little more and have identified them as things that I want to spend my hard earned money on. I am going to try to do a few less meals out and cut back on the Uber rides to keep saving on the side. 

Most importantly, I wanted to thank you for your support. Thank you for not only following what happens on the blog, but being there for me with encouraging words despite distance and sometimes not even having met me in person. To me, blogging is so rewarding because of the connections with people no matter if they are in South Africa or Australia or right here in SF. 

Thanks again. 

xo 
Lauren 




9.18.2014

BE BACK SOON


I don't often do this but, as you may have noticed based off of the lack of posts this week, I'm going to take a few days off from blogging. I am home in Seattle with my family enjoying the last few warm days before the leaves begin to turn. I always promised myself to only post things that I love, so rather than throwing together a post, I am just going to appreciate my time up in Seattle.

In the meantime, make sure that you are following along on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspirations.

See you Monday!

xo Lauren


9.16.2014

FALL JEWELS


There are so many options out there these days for fun, affordable jewelry. One of my favorite places to get inspiration is Bauble Bar. They always have on-trend jewelry for wallet-friendly prices. This fall, I'm adding tassel jewelry to my list as well as a twist on classics like pearls and chandelier earrings. Here are my favorites along with what I would pair them with.



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