Summer Collection - Look 1

Skirt: self-made  Top: Nordstrom  Shoes: Zara

One of three looks I designed & made as a summer collection for this year.  A breezy cream jersey maxi that opens up into a fun silk print in the back.  More to come! 



Been seeing this quote around the Pinterest world lately, and find it speaks to me every time I read it.  Pinterest is always a great place to find some good soothing words or inspiring quotes.


In between

I'm so glad it's halfway through the week.  The weather here in Minneapolis has been dreadfully winter for so long, and the one glimpse of spring weather (Above 60!  And maybe some sun too!) is this Sunday.  I am so ready for the days of biking to work, outdoor patio happy hours, and Sunday picnics.  It's such an in-between time.  My mood is easily affected by it too - R has been super great at trying to cheer me up, but I'm grasping for that super-excited feeling I had just last summer, on the brink of moving here.

I still haven't quite ditched the opaque tights & boots at work, sad as that is.  Instead, I'm starting to look to classic neutrals & fresh, ligher fabrics, like utility jackets and flowing skirts.  Paired with grounding basics, some new-season pieces can be perfectly transitional (except it will still be a while until I can pull of sandals around here, with snow still on the ground).


Keep your fingers crossed that it will finally be nice out soon - as soon as it's nice, I'll be showing you my spring/summer collection!   


Mac & Cheese Duel

Mac and cheese.  Such an important benefit of life.  There are many versions out there - but the Merrimint sisters set out to see who could do it better.  Lauren always makes Pioneer Woman's fancy macaroni for Christmas, but that's a very special one.

Here's each of our takes on the classic - sister macaroni duel!  Whose version would you recreate?

Lauren: I opted for a classic, Martha's Macaroni and Cheese as found on Smitten Kitchen.  It celebrated sharp white cheddar and gruyere, and was finished with a delicious crispy top.  Served with steamed veggies & side greens, it's as classic as it gets.

Martha's Macaroni and Cheese
(I halved this recipe)
Click here for recipe

Stephanie:  This weekend, P and I went to a fabulous new (to us anyway) spice shop in Old Town, a lovely and quaint neighborhood of Chicago.  We found an amazing dried porcini-infused sea salt.  In dire want to test out our new loot, we decided to build a mac and cheese dish off of it.

Our final product- a gorgonzola and cheddar b├ęchamel, wrapped around al dente penne topped with porcini sea salt and white truffle oil.  A tad rich? yes.  Luxurious? definitely.  Amazing? there aren't even words.  We opened a light and crisp bottle of white and made the most of this Monday.

Gorgonzola, Porcini, and Truffle Macaroni and Cheese
(Serves 6)

1/2 lb pasta- I used penne because that is what was in the pantry, but feel free to use your favorite
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
a pinch of nutmeg
4 oz mild or medium cheddar, shredded
2 oz gorgonzola, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup panko
1 teaspoon porcini sea salt- an alternative would be to grind dried mushrooms into a powder and mix it in equal parts with sea salt
1 tablespoon white truffle oil

1.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Boil pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions direct.  Drain and rinse with cold water.
2.  While pasta is boiling, make your roux.  Heat your milk over low heat to warm it up.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Once melted, add the flour all at once, whisking vigorously to ensure smoothness.  Cook about 3 minutes, ensuring you don't cook so long that it starts to darken.
3.  Add the milk, whisking to create a smooth sauce.  Once well incorporated, add the cheeses and continue to whisk to combine thoroughly.
4.  Season the mixture with nutmeg, a touch of salt, and a decent amount of black pepper.
5.  Mix the cooked pasta into the mixture, stirring gently until completely combined.
6.  Top with panko.  Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, or until the top begins to brown.  Broil for another couple of minutes to get a nice golden color on top.
7.  Remove from oven, and top with porcini sea salt and truffle oil.  Serve and enjoy.


Gilt Warehouse Sale

This Saturday, Chicago hosted the fabulous online shopping source Gilt for a one-time (we hope it was such a success that it grows to be a regular occurrence...) warehouse sale.  Gilt brought in all sorts of designer items to sell at a super discount- men's and women's apparel, shoes galore, baby clothes, home goods, bathing suits, accessories, and even more.
 I managed to avoid doing too much damage.  I took home a gorgeous deep plum ruched number by Vera Wang.  That girl knows here stuff.
What a fun event! Look out for similar warehouse-style sales by your favorite online shopping venues.  It's a great way to spend an afternoon.  Plus, such sales often come with freebies... there were plenty of mimosas flowing.  Just sayin'.

Thanks to Gilt for a fabulous time!


Standout Brunch: Beer and Pie

This weekend, Half Acre Brewery and the Bang Bang Pie Shop teamed up for the most fantastic brunch in Chicago.
They featured some new and exclusive beers on tap, while highlighting the best pie crust in town.  We drank a few small 5 oz pours to be able to try several beers, and nibbled on a spring vegetable tart (ramps are finally in season!), country ham filled mustard biscuit, and rhubarb crumble pie.

The perfect way to start Sunday, if you ask me.  I wish Mondays could be this good...


craving lately

Craving easy & breezy style, spring herbs & succulents, a fresh haircut, and irresistible treats lately.


Friday Tunes

Hello! I can't believe we made it through the week.  It's been an exhausting one, that's for sure.  To pump up the Friday spirit, take a listen to some great tunes!

^Our Teen Vogue shot from Lolla 2012!

Both L and I were lucky enough to score tickets to Lollapalooza 2013 in Chicago! To start the excitement, we've been listening to this great 8tracks playlist inspired by the lineup.  Check it out! Dance! Sing! Inspire Friday greatness!

Have a good one everyone :)


Eggplant Rollatini

This simple eggplant dish makes for a great weeknight dinner or lovely appetizer to share with friends.  It's simple too! With a few key reminders, it's foolproof and sure to be amazing.
First, salt and drain the eggplant to get out the bitter water.  Once it has drained for at least 30 minutes, cook the slices in a bit of olive oil in a skillet.
Roll each slice around mozzarella.  Feel free to add in a slice of prosciutto, or maybe some grated parmigiano too! 
Secure with a toothpick, and bake along with tomato sauce.  Serve along with a ceasar salad, or perhaps some simple pasta tossed with olive oil, parmigiano, and black pepper.

Eggplant Rollatini
1 Eggplant, sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp Olive Oil
4 oz Mozzarella, sliced into thick matchsticks
Your favorite tomato sauce*

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt, and let drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Rinse eggplant, pat dry, and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until it begins to soften.
3. Roll each eggplant slice around a piece of mozzarella, secure with a toothpick.
4. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet or baking dish with tomato sauce.  Layer in eggplant rolls, and cover with more tomato sauce.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.


Wine Tasting Party

I had a wine tasting party last weekend to celebrate my birthday.  My good friend Beatrice helped me put it together - and we had a blast!

We opted for a blind wine tasting - everyone contributed a bottle, then we wrapped each bottle up with a number on it.  Everyone got a scorecard, made of cardboard, paper, and binder clips, to record their thoughts and ratings.  At the end of the night, the person who brought the highest rated bottle won a bottle of Prosecco. 

The food spread was full of seafood orzo, caprese salad, roasted vegetables, leek and swiss chard quiche, and cheese from my favorite local shop

Caramel cake with mascarpone frosting

I love having a co-hostess friend :)


The Big 2-3

My dearest, most darling sister turned 23!!!

This post is a few days belated, but for such a happy reason.  The whole family took a surprise trip to spend the day with the lovely lady.  She was stunned to see my brother and me walk through the door! It was amazing to be with L on her birthday to make sure she got the best of everything in celebration of her greatness.
So here's to you, L, though it's your post-birthday week, we are wishing you the most intense joy and happiness as you venture through your 23rd year.  Happy Birthday!



We can't believe it's already April - but we are welcoming in spring with all we have!  Don't get fooled too much today :)