Fork it Over: Brussels Pesto Sausage Pasta

posted on: December 12, 2014

Congratulations to Maddie C., winner of the Pineapple tote, notebook, and notecards from Mi + Ed Design! Please email me at madeleine dot douglass at gmail dot com (or leave a comment below with your email) to let me know where to send your winnings.

And thank you to all who entered!

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I’m pretty sure when I signed the contract starting this blog, I promised to always be honest with you, my fair (three or four) readers! I continuously strive to live up to this lofty goal, which is sometimes difficult for me — as you may know, I frequently keep things to myself and have a hard time opening up about my thoughts and feelings and complaints.

(Yeah, right! That’s me. The under-sharer.)

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Anyway, I still try to be honest, while projecting the best possible view of my life. This is the internet after all! All of this is to say, I apologize for the less-than-stellar food photography in this post…but this is real life, and sometimes I get home after work at 7pm and just want to make something easy and comforting.

I figured, you might be the same way! Presenting: Brussel-Pesto-Sausage-Pasta. Click the link to get the full recipe in the rest of this post! Read More

GIVEAWAY | The Pineapple Incident

posted on: December 5, 2014

As some of you may have heard, I went to Hawaii recently! If you hadn’t heard this, well, then you aren’t following me on Instagram, and this announcement is doubly useful.

Anyway. I went to Oahu! I spent five glorious days visiting my friends Stefanie and Leon (who graciously hosted us) with my friend Sheryl – going to the beach was a major component of our itinerary, but we also tried to do a few activities here and there. You’ll learn more about those later (next week, mayhaps?), but today’s post is about a fruit that has taken the internet by storm!

No, not the cherry. Not the strawberry. Not even the infamous avocado.

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the Pineapple!

Did you know the pineapple is considered to be a symbol of hospitality and welcoming? I learned this on the interwebs, but it also explains why the spiky little devil has had such a resurgence of late on home goods. Stationery, tea towels, dishware – nothing is safe from the Ananus comosus! There was even a long standing joke on one of my favorite shows (How I Met Your Mother) about a pineapple mysteriously ending up on Ted’s bedside stand.

I may have brought back pineapple coasters from our tour of the Dole Plantation. Maybe.

Now that we’ve all learned a bit about this syrupy sweet snack, why have I introduced this flirty fruit? Because I have fallen under its spell, and as such, have procured a pineapple party pack from my favorite Etsy printmaker to give to one of you lucky readers!

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Translation? “I’m like, so super duper into the pineapple craze right now, so I like, bought some things from this store that I like, and I’m going to give them away to one of you guys! Like, totally.”

I sometimes slip into this valley girl voice that scares my roommate? I don’t know. Moving on.

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Mirta from mi + ed design is one of the sweetest AND most talented makers I’ve ever had the pleasure to internet-meet. Her shop is not only aesthetically beautiful, but everything is made with her own two hands! As a maker, I know how hard this is. She creates all her own original prints and designs inspired by natural objects, and uses the most eco-friendly materials she can find.

Basically, she makes gorgeous prints and cards, does it all herself, and tries to help the planet in the process. Who wouldn’t want to support that? She has some amazing winter themed prints in her shop right now, too.

One lucky reader will get this fun little hospitality package – a cotton tote, a printed journal, and a set of small notecards – all mi + ed design originals. Enter below in the Rafflecopter widget, and a winner will be announced next Friday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, yes, in case anyone is wondering – you will see lots more ridiculous Maddy pictures in future Hawaii posts. Don’t worry!

Fork it Over: Lentil-Feta-Bruschetta dip

posted on: December 2, 2014

Are you guys ready for the easiest potluck recipe you’ll ever find in your life? It involves the following steps:

1. Purchase ingredients.
2. Stir.

…If you can’t handle that, then I just don’t know how to help you.

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This lentil-bruschetta-feta dip is one of those dishes that sounds so odd, and yet works so well! The lentils add a bit of depth and heft, similar to a cheesy dip, but without making you feel weighed down afterwards. The bruschetta flavors the overall dish and adds a bit of freshness to the mix, while the feta just adds… well, feta. I don’t know, I tried. It just tastes good, I’m not sure I can describe why. I normally don’t even like feta!

Here’s what you’ll need:

- 1 packet Trader Joe’s ready to eat Lentils
– 1 bucket or jar of Bruschetta (I prefer the bucket with the smaller chunks of tomato but this is what my mother purchased at the store for me.)
– 1 bucket feta cheese crumbles

Mix and consume with pita chips or crackers of your choice.

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This recipe was imparted upon me by a friend of a my friend’s boyfriend, and I am so glad she attended the USC vs. UCLA game watching party so she could teach me how to…stir things together. I made it as my Thanksgiving appetizer contribution and it was a success with the relatives! They’re so nice, they would probably eat rocks if I served them to them (and then only tease me a little bit about needing more salt), but I’m choosing to believe they genuinely thought these flavors worked together.

It’s always nice to have that one recipe you probably wouldn’t have thought of yourself, that is also incredibly easy to make, and easy to bring to any gathering, so here you are!

And hey, if you want to pretend you made it up, I won’t squeal on you.

 

Giving Thanks

posted on: November 27, 2014

In theory, we should be thankful all of the time for the blessings we have. In theory, we shouldn’t need a special day to remind us of how fortunate we are to live in the country we do, even with all its problems. In theory, everyone should be able to realize on a daily basis that situations are relative and most of us with internet access to even read this blog post are far more fortunate than many, many people in the world.

But problems are relative, and people get bogged down in the day to day trials – myself included – and sometimes it helps to have a day where you are given the directive to slow down and appreciate all you have. Because when you really start naming the things for which you are thankful, you realize you already have most everything that matters in this life…

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Maddy’s List of Thanks

1. More than anything else, and especially in light of recent reminders of how precious this life is, I am thankful for my health.

I have the ability to walk, run, sleep through the night, eat pâté or milk or wheat without my insides revolting against me. I can stay up late working through the night on projects and while my body may not be happy the next morning, it won’t give out on me just yet. I am so thankful to have the freedom I have to do nearly anything I can think of merely because I am lucky enough to be physically healthy.

2. In congress with that, I am incredibly thankful for my mental health.

I won’t deny there are times I jokingly refer to myself as the crazy lady or as being a nutball once in a while (terms I should really use less) but in light of recent stories coming out about those who battle severe depression or other mental illness on a daily, hourly, even minute-to-minute basis, I am so lucky to have been born with the brain chemistry I have. That may sound strange, but I appreciate it greatly in these times.

3. This usually goes without saying (or is one of the more cliché things to be thankful for – why?) but I am thankful every day for my family and friends.

The people who I was born into association with could not have been better. I know so many who don’t necessarily have the same relationship with their given family, and I am grateful every day that I have the family I do. But, there is much to be said for the family you create – and the friends I have in my life these days are those who have supported me, encouraged me, consoled me, taught me, uplifted me, and sometimes even just hugged me on an especially bad PMS week. My friends have given me so much and I can only hope I give out a fraction of that good energy back to them.

4. I am thankful that I can travel.

Not many people have the ability, physically or financially, to just pick up and plan a trip when they feel like it, and I am so happy that this year I have made it happen more for myself. I recognize this is a luxury not everyone (or even close to everyone) enjoys.

5. I am thankful for my education.

Growing up in Palo Alto, I thought college was a given. I thought getting a job that pays more than a Mini Cooper’s worth of starting salary was a given. This is…patently untrue, and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve been given. I got a head start in life and I intend to appreciate it to the fullest.

6. I am thankful for second chances.

This year has been one of the most turbulent in some ways but has also taught me just what stuff I am made of – and I’m made of tough stuff. There are things I never thought I’d get over that I did. There are things I never thought I’d learn to let go of, and I did. Believe it or not, I’m not speaking only about romantic relationships – I feel this year has challenged some of my closest relationships in all areas of my life, and I’ve come out on the other side knowing more about myself and about those in my life. Now, the key is taking that knowledge, and moving forward. Doing better. Taking another swing at it all.

7. Finally, I am thankful that I was born as myself.

This may sound a bit strange, but this year I have learned more about myself and how I handle things in relation to other people and what my goals are… and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. For a girl (woman) who has dealt with self-esteem issues her whole life (hello, who hasn’t?) this is a huge step. I am appreciative of those little bits of me that no one else has, and I enjoy my own company greatly. Not in a narcissistic way, but, you know. You have to like yourself. You’re the only one you’ll be with for your whole life!

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This list is obviously not exhaustive. How can you recognize each and every moment of your life that brings you joy? Each fluttering leaf in a fall wind, each pause to listen to a song on the radio, each moment I can splurge on that “fancy cheese” with my friends because I’m not counting my pennies this week… these moments are un-list-able, because I am fortunate enough to have so many.

The best I can do is promise to recognize it, be grateful for all that I have, and hope I can live my life in a way that reflects that.

(Oh, and also, I am thankful for the take out Pho place down the block from my apartment, if we’re being realistic about things. They have saved me on many a lazy weeknight.)

It’s Christmastime in the city…

posted on: November 24, 2014

You guys. I am having serious issues with the holiday season thus far. Not because of things relating to my last post, and not because of my ridiculous amounts of knitting stress that keep cropping up. No, no.

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My issues lie with the fact that it’s not even Thanksgiving and there are Christmas commercials during every Law & Order rerun. It’s not even Thanksgiving, and there are silver and gold and red and green decorations up in stores.  Stores like Toys ‘R Us are even advertising “better sales” from 5pm to 9pm ON Thanksgiving Day! So, during the exact time that Thanksgiving, a holiday of family, love, and gratitude, is supposed to take place, there are going to be workers working instead of enjoying a meal with their loved ones, and people gunning for the best spot in line for bigger discounts in this tight economy.

I hate to say it you guys, but we’re ruining Christmas.

It pains me to discuss this, really. Christmas is, hands down, my favorite holiday. Even above my birthday (a national holiday most recognize as “the day after Cinco de Mayo.”) I am ready for Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving, I’m ready for Christmas baking the day after Thanksgiving, I’m ready for Christmas… anything! The day AFTER Thanksgiving!

You know why I want to put off the celebrations? It’s not for lack of Christmas spirit, let me tell you.

It’s because the more we keep moving up the celebrations, whether you view Christmas in a secular or religious light, the more we dilute it. The more we commercialize it. The more we make it about Toys ‘R Us deals and J.Crew sweaters and buying the biggest, shiniest thing at Best Buy at midnight on Turkey Day, instead of about those moments that truly encapsulate the holiday spirit. The time you spend baking cookies with your mom, or making the perfect colorful card to send your best friend, or sitting next to a crackling fire with hot cider watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – that’s what I love about Christmas, and that’s exactly what it feels like is missing when the winter holidays move up into Halloween territory.

The sooner Christmas starts, the less meaningful all of those moments become – because the only reason to move up a holiday that technically only lasts 2 days is to get more money out of it. And that just makes me so incredibly sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I love presents as much as the next upper middle class white girl! You don’t get through a bunch of years of private school and time spent in Los Angeles (during the formative college years) and reading fashion blogs like it’s your job without liking nice things – but I also recognize that that is not what the holidays are about. Nor were they, past the age of about fourteen, my favorite part of the holidays.

What do I love, then? To put it simply – Christmas makes me happy. The spirit, the music, the feeling of magic in the air. I don’t think there’s literal magic in the air, but when the days start winding down to the big day (that twenty-fifth day of December), the air gets a little crisper and just feels so full of possibility.

I love twinkly lights and the smell of pine and the crinkle of gift wrap. I love roaring fires (even started with Duraflame logs) and mulled wine and bundt cakes. I love trying to put hats on my dogs and making sure they don’t knock over the low-hanging ornaments on the tree. I love picking out the tree with my family – convincing them to get the biggest one we can fit in our house, even though my mom thinks it’s a pain and my stepdad is the one who has to fit it in the tree stand. And I love that, every year, they admit I was right!

Why am I going on and on about this holiday that I am also slightly railing against? Because I’m not upset with Christmas. It’s not Christmas’s fault that WalMart wants to make an extra buck before the turkey has even been carved. It’s not Christmas’s fault that CVS insists on lining their shelves with cheap elf decorations in the middle of October. And it’s not Christmas’s fault that this entire holiday season, one that I imagine originally held no more than sleigh rides and cocoa and maybe a handmade gift like a new pair of socks, has been taken over by blockbuster sales and commercial jingles.

So I am going to view Christmas in the best possible light for these next few weeks. I am going to remember the feelings of generosity, of love, of pleasant company, of welcoming others into your homes and your hearts. I am going to enjoy the sparkling lights and the seasonal refreshments and the way that a holiday song makes you bop along without thinking. I am going to try extra hard this year to celebrate the true meaning of the season in a year that seems intent upon trying extra hard to sell me on the materialistic parts. I am going to find joy and meaning in the parts of the season that I love, and hope everyone else is able to do the same.

 

Have you noticed the holidays speeding up? What’s your favorite way to celebrate? 

Let’s talk about luv.

posted on: November 16, 2014

I’m back! Sort of. I’m trying to be back. I keep saying, I’m going to come back to the blogosphere, but things kept getting in the way. Sometimes life just takes over and consumes your energies and suddenly  posting more food or shoe pictures on the internet doesn’t seem like such an important task – and then I remember that I am a sharer and a writer and a photographer and I actually really enjoy blogging and putting this out into the world. So, here I am, again. This post is a bit more personal than most of mine, but sharing my life means sharing the parts of my life that aren’t just cute coffee mugs and sparkles.

It seems only fitting that one of my last posts before this hiatus mentioned recovering from a recent breakup, since this post is about recovering from the ending of a very (very, very) new situation, something I had jokingly referred to as luv – “I met this great guy, I l-u-v him!” I squealed to my friends for the past few weeks. Yes, I am that girl. It therefore came as a surprise that it ended, and it is a bit fresh. Though this scenario was short-lived, my heart is a bit smushed at finding that it is not going forward.

Why, you ask, when it was so short? When it couldn’t have meant that much? Hear me out.

It’s about expectations – specifically, the expectation of some future that will no longer take place. In one scenario, a longer one, one where you have had the ups and downs of real life and a real relationship and of loving a real person, you end up with a bit of baggage. You have things you can hold onto as to why it didn’t work out, as to how you’ll move on and do better next time. You have painful memories mixed in with the happy ones; words said in frustration and not just infatuation to remember.

With someone new, with something so short, you don’t get to the bad parts yet. You don’t have the baggage. You just have ideas of the fun things you can do with your new partner in crime, and when it turns out those things aren’t going to happen, you’re not so much getting past the loss of an actual person whom you didn’t know very well at all – you are mourning the sudden disappearance of this future you envisioned, of all the things you wanted to do, of having someone new to explore the world with.

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You can’t make someone feel things for you that they don’t, and that’s just a truth I will accept over a few nights of mindless distractions and wine — everyone learns this lesson, accepts this truth at some point — but it still hurts to be rejected. I felt maybe I had found someone who would be around for a while. Your vision of your life in a month, two months, four months, changes with that sense of promise, and now it looks entirely different than it had a week ago.

It’s not that you thought this person was the love of your life, because clearly it’s not a good fit if both people don’t feel the same. Rather, you’re sad that you won’t have a go-to guy for going to the movies, for cooking dinner together, for helping you with your craft shows. That you won’t be able to share in his life’s events, meet his friends and family, see where things could go. You’re sad because you had envisioned your time spent one way and now you have to change that vision, cut off those options, stop making those plans. That you had thought this person would be a good fit, and it just turns out that they’re not.

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic – I’m not sticking my head in an oven or hoarding aspirin. Going to yoga with my roommate and watching copious episodes of Scandal and making up new patterns for my upcoming knitting markets are my recuperation methods this weekend, and they’re more than good enough. I’m sure in a week or so I will have moved right along, because that’s how life goes! And, because, I didn’t really know this person very well at all.

But I had really looked forward to getting to know him better. I am disappointed that this other person didn’t have the same feelings I had to the level I had them. I liked him, a lot.

The good thing about life, you guys, is that it gives you so many chances to start over! To meet new partners in crime, to have new future plans, to like different people for different things. I liked this guy, but he won’t be the last person I ever have those infatuated, luv-ing feelings for. He won’t be the last person I meet with the qualities that I liked in him, and he probably won’t even be the last person to go out with me several times before deciding he feels differently. This is just how dating works! It’s a lesson I hadn’t learned yet, and so now I have. This just gives me a greater understanding of this process, of this journey, of finding that right person at the right time and having things click, of letting luv grow into a word with more vowels.

But I’m still a little hurt, surprised, and in need of ice cream. That’s just standard operating procedure.

 

What are your thoughts on short-term dating? Do you have any advice for how to get over something like this? Also, what’s your favorite ice cream?

Life in pictures, lately.

posted on: October 21, 2014

In no particular order…

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I should be in New England right now.

posted on: October 16, 2014

I was tempted, very tempted, to make this post full of pretty pictures and just hit “send.” Then I realized how remiss I’ve been in posting actual words and thoughts and feelings and sage wisdom (from my brain to your ears, y’all) and decided it was time to stage my comeback.

(Insert opening “Mama Said Knock You Out” lyrics.)

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I’ve been so busy (including recovering from strep throat) lately in large part because of the slow but sure change in seasons – that is, “summer” to “fall” in San Francisco. I have committed to doing several (too many! so many!) street fair-craft market-handmade show-type events. Add this to my full time job, the fact that I’ve been attempting to reconnect more solidly with friends who have their own careers and social lives, and the natural progression of more parties as different holidays approach, and I am completely maxed out on time and energy.

Because of that, all of my spare time from now until January must be spent knitting. Or with family. Or friends. Or cooking. Or working out. Or going on dates. Ok, but really, it’s just me in my room watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch and knitting until my little hands ache with the foreshadowing of young adult arthritis.

The only problem with this? San Francisco doesn’t get summer until mid-October.

Please picture my grumpycat face right now.

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Our weather pattern is such that, in my crude understanding of meteorology, when everywhere else is hot, we get the fog pushed into our fair city. June through August is cold, windy, and cruelly sunny without the warmth of actual sunshine. September and October is where we really hit our stride – as soon as everyone else is busting out coats, scarves, and boots, we get 80-degree days without end and picnics in the park. This would be fantastic if I were not so reliant on my slim window of Fall as I am. I love Fall! I love the crisp air in the morning leaving the house for work. I love that leaves are dry enough to crunch when you step on them. I love how comforting a warm beverage in your hands can be. I love breaking out the myriad scarves, sweaters, and coats I have accumulated over the years in my desperate attempt to pretend I live somewhere outside the Golden State.

None of this happens in San Francisco until practically Thanksgiving some years – especially of late, with our current drought. When it starts to rain, at all, that is our official “winter.” Therefore, Fall lasts for approximately three weeks and I need more. More, I tell you!

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Which brings me to my original titular point – a large part of me belongs in New England. I love the Bay Area (it’s my home, after all) but there are times I really, truly, crave the Fall I have only seen in movies, read about in books, and witnessed via the Instagram accounts of friends. I would love to know what it’s like to wear rainboots beginning in September, to smell the first snowfall (according to Gilmore Girls, it has a smell), to begin baking and knitting and nesting as soon as the leaves change!

Here, the leaves change, and I’m still ordering iced lattes. Because it’s 78 degrees and sunny. And I’m hot, and we don’t have air conditioning, and there are fruit flies coming in through our open windows, because of said lack of A/C. This is not the October I have heard tell of on Pinterest, my friends.

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I realize I may retract this lamentation when everyone is posting pictures of snowed-in cars, scraped knees from slipping on ice, and screenshots of windchill factors in the single digits, while we San Franciscans have a fun little rainstorm that makes the streets smell clean and puts us all to sleep to pitter pattering. Still, I hold true to my thesis: I would love Fall on the East Coast. I cannot think of any other person I know (sorry friends, going to be a little narcissistic here) who would so thoroughly appreciate all that Fall can truly bring.

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After all, I am the girl who grew up making apple butter from her American Girl doll books, who so loved the movie Little Women because of the domestic bliss (I’m sure they would view it differently) shown in the March household, and who has her own Etsy shop for knitwear. I purposefully and knowingly make and sell freakin knitwear, for god’s sake, and I am under the age of thirty – I think I have some traditional bones in my bod that are not being satisfied here. Maybe I need to take up canning.

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More than the idea of becoming a homemaker (which is not my actual goal), I love Fall because it foretells the onset of winter. More specifically, of Christmas.

Anyone who has met me knows how dearly I hold that holiday, but I don’t know that I’ve ever fully explained why in a tangible way – maybe because what I love most about this season we’re entering are the intangibles. I love the feeling of joy that permeates the air. I love the sense of kindness that seems to overtake people more than other times during the year. I love that, though corporate America has set a goal in its mind to monetize Christmas for all it can, most people seem to genuinely love the season’s values of family, love, and generosity. I love that if you look for it, you can still find those sentiments within the most jaded, crabby, anti-capitalist people. I love that Christmas music is implicitly perky and happy and that walking around and looking at decorated houses makes me immediately smile. I don’t know what it is, but I love it.

And I also love that you can buy cute reindeer dolls and mini trees and put twinkly lights everywhere as a representation of the sparkle inside us all!

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Alright. We’ve gotten a little off track here, so let’s reboot: I love Fall. I think it is an underrated season that San Francisco sorely lacks, and I think that I need to find some way to move my adorable, cold-weather-loving self to a Fall-having location for at least three months of every year. If anyone can inform me which (reasonable) profession will allow me to do this, I will immediately begin studying for any necessary exams or skills tests. I am good at quippy tweets, showing my mother how to properly use technological equipment, and making various pasta dishes. Someone must need these talents, stat!

Until then, I’m going to go back to my knitting, and my cocoa, and my holiday movies on Netflix. These are all I have, and I’m going to milk them for all they’re worth.

What I like to do when I’m sick.

posted on: September 29, 2014

I don’t know if I’ve made this clear through my Twitter whining or my Instagrams from my bed, but I’m sick. I’ve been sick for a few days (fever time, what up!) and today I went to the doctor to get some real medications. However, I’m still at home sick. Here are a few of the things I like to do when I’m partially, not not completely, incapacitated:

1. Brainstorm knitwear
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I know, I know. This is probably the nerdiest activity of them all. But in reality, it’s what I’m doing most of the live-long day from about August through April – if I see a cute sweater, I mentally try to recreate it. If I see a cute hat, I make note of the crown design. If I see a cute cowl, I try to estimate the dimensions. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BRAINSTORMING, Y’ALL. However, I love the pieces from Wool and the Gang – I think they would be the only company I would buy a full “knitting kit” from. And I might just do that to make myself a sweater this winter.

2. Drink tea
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My favorites are: Stash White Christmas tea, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Winter Dream tea, and Good Earth’s Sweet & Spicy tea. Can you sense a theme here people? It’s not tricky to figure out.

3. Watch The Office

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I am ashamed to say that I haven’t yet seen each and every episode of The Office, which means I haven’t fully appreciated the Jim & Pam love story (and isn’t that really the entire point of the show? Feel free to disagree with me but you’d be wrong.) So I have determined that this sick weekend is the perfect time to do so! I am currently on season 5, and I just have to say, thank god they’re only 20 minute episodes! I can power through a hundred of these babies a day.

4. Do some online shopping
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It definitely didn’t help my checking account any that this morning, in my weakened state, Shop it to Me sent me an alert about some of my “favorites” being marked down even further. So, thanks for that, Shop it to Me. Sarcasm! But no, really, thanks – I got something cute.

5. Eat leftover Pho
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My roommate was kind enough last night to get me some Pho but I was still stuffed from all the tea I’d been guzzling and the Lipton’s noodle soup I’d inhaled around 4 pm, so I saved it for today – and let me tell YOU, it was the perfect post-doctor’s-office lunch. There’s nothing like that extra savory broth (it’s probably all the MSG, I love MSG!) and comforting noodle slurping to make you feel better.

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What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re laying low? Give me your tips! I’ve got at least a few more nights of this.

Fashion for a rainy day | A review of Ensambl

posted on: September 22, 2014

I’m not sure if you know this, Bloggees, but in my “real life” my wardrobe usually consists of jeans, boots (my favorite these days are ankle booties – I have 3 pairs), some kind of flowy t-shirt top (I’m obsessed with these J.Crew linen ones), and a cardigan or sweatshirt or other cover-up like piece of fabric.

In other news, I have created a uniform for myself of standard, sometimes-a-little-too-comfortable clothing. That I wear. Every day.

(I hide it so well from you, right?)

Don’t get me wrong – I love putting together outfits, and I love new and daring pieces (I’m still on the hunt for a sequined skirt…), but regularly I just put on something to go to work and call it a day.

Luckily, the team over at Ensambl got in touch with me to try out the new launch of their app, and it was exactly the fashion-tool that I needed.

Ensambl is fantastic because it combines two essential needs: getting dressed with checking the weather. i know, I know, that might sound like something you can do on your own… but if you’re like me, someone who routinely wears the same thing to work, then this app is perfect for giving you a hint of fashion inspiration that matches your actual daily needs.

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First thing’s first: you set your location (by state) and Ensambl loads various bloggers who have outfit posts fit for the weather near you that day. I like this feature because, unlike other apps where you have to go in and follow a bunch of different accounts before you get a solid variety on your feed, this app just shows you many bloggers automatically. I’ve already seen multiple outfits, and discovered multiple bloggers, that I wouldn’t have ever thought to try on my own.

Even better? If you click on a look (instead of just swiping left or right to discard or favorite it), the app takes you to the exact blogger’s post about that look!

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Then, not only can you read about the outfit inspiration (and try to see how you could tweak the look to work for you) but you can also find the exact links for these pieces. Genius.

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I also love that you can look back over your past favorites, so you can go on a swiping spree and then really take an in-depth view of the best choices at a later date. Or, just save them for a rainy day! Har har.

I did a fair amount of Ensambl-ing this weekend, and used some of the fabulous looks on there (my favorites so far are by Sincerely Jules, The Blonde Salad, and Lovely Pepa) to create these potential outfits for different weather situations I expect to experience this fall (you can see the full sets and the product info on my Polyvore!)

1. The Transitional Outfit

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This look is perfect for that interim phase where Summer and Fall overlap – I’m thinking 65 degrees and sunny, with a brisk wind blowing your hair back. This all sounds very photoshoot, doesn’t it? The bright colors set off the darkness of the black boots, making the overall look feel very warm. Literally and figuratively.

2. The Rainy Day Outfit

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When it rains, you don’t want to spend hours pulling yourself together, only to have it all undone the minute you step out the door. With this outfit, it won’t be – chic and casual, but with classic pieces made to accentuate your fashion sense! And, a couple of my favorite winter beauty products – moisturizer and lipstick.

3. The Errands & Brunch Outfit
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This look is my ideal for running errands around town and getting a bite with a few girlfriends afterwards – stylish and simple colors with a touch of glamour (bubble necklace, anyone?) and a dose of practicality (I love my BKR bottles!), you could spend a whole day out and about in this ensamble.

These outfits were all inspired by a few swipes of the Ensambl app – now if only my closet had a similar function! If you’re in a fashion rut, or just want to find some new bloggers to follow, check out Ensambl on the app store. And let me know what you think!

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This review is part of a madeleine|blogs and Ensambl cross-collaboration. As always, you receive my honest opinion in every post.