Friday, July 31, 2009

Dance Dance Revolution

When I was a preteen (in the days before they were called "tweens"), I had a group of like-minded girlfriends with whom I would spend long summer days choreographing dance routines, which we would then perform for all of our siblings and parents (much to their extreme delight, I am sure). We expressed ourselves through movement to such notable hits as "Stand By Me" ( a dance which involved a lot of, you guessed it, standing by one another), Whitney Houston's "The Queen of the Night", and, in our most critically lauded performance, "Jump" by Kriss Kross, for which we all wore our pants backwards. Watch out, Martha Graham.

Here is a music video from the band OK Go, the gentlemen who brought us the much-more-widely-seen (but sadly un-bloggable) Treadmill Dance. These guys clearly understand the good time that can be had with a little imagination and some slammin' moves. Just TRY not to smile while you watch it- it gets me every time (especially the fight sequence- genius!).

If you get a little bored this weekend, get some of your grooviest (or geekiest) friends together, pick out an upbeat tune, and cook up a little magic in motion. I dare you not to have a blast.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Digital-Age Delivery

This may be one of those things that falls squarely in the "Things You Already Know About" category, or, worse, the "Not Applicable To You" category, but it also ranks pretty high on the "Things Lily Loves" list, so, therefore, it must be blogged about. When I first moved to New York, a friend who lived in the same neighborhood brought over a tall stack of delivery menus from local restaurants as a housewarming gift. It seemed every apartment was required to have an entire kitchen drawer (usually the one where cooking tools would go in other homes), stuffed full of these menus, and I was not going to be left out.
Then, one day -- after I had amassed the kind of impressive menu collection that spilled out like a ticker-tape parade every time that drawer was opened -- another savvy friend turned me on to a website called Seamless Web, which links directly to the ordering systems at nearly every restaurant in town, from pizza to sushi. It is like having all of those paper menus on your computer. What's even better is that you can order directly from the restaurants online, so it's all in writing and eliminates any language barriers or miscommunication that can happen over the phone ("Wait, there's a difference between Chicken Tikka and Chicken Tikka Masala?"), and it notifies you when a restaurant is closing and how long your expected wait will be. I promptly reclaimed that drawer for my myriad kitchen gadgets, and have never looked back.

Seamless Web is currently available in fourteen cities, including L.A., Philly, San Fran, Chicago and London, and is spreading to more towns. Which may place it in the "Coming Soon to a Restaurant Near You" category.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Lime of Your Life

This is one of those recipes that I hesitate to share because I get so many compliments when I make it, and I am insecure enough to want to keep my secrets, well ... secret. My husband loves it, and it has become a favorite among all of our friends. And, I mean, if all of you start making it at home, then where does that leave me?
But this crumbly, creamy combo of sweet and tart is just too good to keep to oneself, and so I (somewhat reluctantly) share it with you here. You're welcome.

One special tip about serving- this pie can be a really hard one to slice and present attractively. If not properly chilled, the filling and crumbs from the crust will get all over your knife. For picture-perfect slices, place the pie in the freezer for a few minutes before slicing, and wipe your blade off with a clean, damp towel after each slice. Top with a little dollop of fresh whipped cream, and a few thin slices of candied lime rind (see below). Or, forgo the whole slicing thing and attack the pie with your hands. It's up to you.

Crazy-Delicious Key Lime Pie

What you need:
9 to 10 graham crackers (each 2 1/2 by 5 inches)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 to 6 limes), or fresh or bottled key-lime juice (but I really recommend going with fresh, if you have the patience to do the squeezing)
4 large egg yolks
Pinch salt

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process graham crackers and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor (or a blender will do in a pinch) until fine crumbs form, add butter. Process until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pat into bottom and up sides. Place pan on a baking sheet, and bake until crust is fragrant and slightly colored, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, lime juice, egg yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and salt; whisk until smooth. Pour mixture into crust (warm or cool is fine), leaving 1/8 inch at the top; return to oven. Bake until filling is set around edge but still slightly loose in center, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. To store longer, cover and refrigerate, up to 2 days. Serve, garnished with zest, if desired.

To make the candied lime zest, cut the rind of one lime into thin slivers. Heat 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan until smooth, warm and liquidy. Add the rind and allow to gently boil until rind is softened and fragrant. Place pieces on a length of parchment paper and allow to cool and harden. Use to garnish slices of pie- oooh, fancy.
pie recipe and photo from: Martha Stewart

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This Butter's for You

Given how much I love butter and summer corn, you would think I would be somewhat of an expert on those topics which involve both ingredients. However, I am constantly learning new things about everything I pretend to be an expert on, and this is no exception. Luckily, my hunger for knowledge is insatiable (much like my hunger for other things).
This past weekend, I was enlightened to a genius corn-buttering scheme which saves you from being left with a gross, semi-melted, corn-silk-encrusted stick of butter that you never want to use for anything else.

All you do is place individual pats of butter on small rounds of baguette or tasty crackers for all of your guests. Each person uses the pat to butter their cob, and is left with a warm, buttery piece of bread to snack on. There are so many great things about this idea that I can't believe I haven't heard of it sooner. It makes me psyched to think of all the butter/corn innovations I have yet to discover. This is what makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shoe, Meet Arm (& Hammer)

There are plenty of wonderful things about being married to a preppy guy: He can take you sailing. He knows how to tie his own bow tie. He looks good in pink... However, there is one big negative that arises every summer- the dreaded smell of boat shoes worn sans socks. Sure, they look cute, with their ankle-grazing khakis and popped collars, but the second that one preppy foot slides out of that one preppy shoe, flowers wilt for miles around, and bloodhounds start jumping off of bridges.

But one need not suffer in pearl-bedecked silence. There is a miraculous solution that works for all smelly shoes- be they running shoes, pumps, high-tops, over-the-knee stripper boots, snorkeling flippers or Rollerblades. Allow me to reacquaint you to a product that needs no introduction, your friend and mine: Baking Soda. Simply pour half a cup of the white powder directly onto the insoles of each of the shoes (you may need to wear a clothespin on your nose to get that close), and let sit overnight. In the morning, pour the baking soda out and wipe the inside of the shoe with a paper towel. Like some kind of miracle, the baking soda will have absorbed all of the odor - kind of like it does in your fridge, only more... footy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Picky Picky: 9 Unexpected Uses for Toothpicks

Sometimes I enjoy finding alternative uses for ordinary household items more than I enjoy using the item for the purpose that nature intended. I feel that way about toothpicks- maybe I have weird teeth or something, but they don't actually seem to do much in terms of dislodging food particles after a big meal at a restaurant, and I always feel gross using them in public. Here's a tip, restaurants: If you're handing out freebies, I'd rather get one of those swirly mints. Plus, ever since I heard a horror story (admittedly, it does sound like an urban legend) about someone who swallowed a toothpick, which then punctured their intestines, I am always very cautious when attacking my molars. Luckily, there are plenty of wonderful MacGyver-like things you can use toothpicks for that carry little-to-no risk of intestinal puncture. Read on.

9 Unexpected Uses for Toothpicks

1. Bring Home the Bakin': This one's obvious, but bears mentioning. Insert a clean toothpick into cakes and breads as they bake to test whether they are cooked through- if the toothpick comes out doughy and wet, leave it in the oven longer.
2. Stick With It: Use a toothpick to apply glue or paint, when a delicate touch is required (like building one of those model airplanes you've been wanting to try, or applying sequins to your Halloween costume). The wood makes a surprisingly good little "brush".
3. Be Fasten-ated: When sewing a button back on, place a toothpick between the cloth and the button. This will prevent you from sewing it on too tightly (which makes it hard to get through the button-hole).
4. Put the Icing on... the Icing on the Cake: Use a toothpick to "sketch out" the design on a frosted cake before you write or decorate it with icing. Alternatively, attach pretty personalized paper flags to one end of the picks and plant them on top of cupcakes- it's a super-easy way to make store-bought, generic-looking cupcakes seem personalized.
5. Let Your Light Shine: When lighting candles, use a match to light the tip of a toothpick on fire- it will burn slower and longer, saving you from using up all your matches and singeing your fingertips.
6. Get a Clean Cell: Dip the tip of a toothpick in cleaning solution to gently clean between the keys on your cell phone or computer keyboard, and to efficiently clean out the little cracks and crevices (and those little speaker holes).
7. Boil Better: To prevent that pasta pot from boiling over and making a hot mess (literally!) of your cook top, stick a toothpick between the pot and its lid. This will allow just enough of the steam to escape from the pot.
8. Get on a Roll: Next time you finish using the packing tape, fold the end around a toothpick. Then next time you'll save yourself the frustration and agony of searching for that illusive end.
9: Simplify Your Spuds: When you microwave a potato or yam, use four toothpicks to create "legs" for the tater, elevating it from the bottom of the microwave. This will allow it to cook from all directions, and it will be ready faster. It makes me kind of sad to think of any of you at home microwaving a single potato, but I decided to include this tip, nevertheless.

Sometimes it pays to be picky.

photo credit:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Reads

There are two kinds of books in this world (okay, there are a lot more kinds than two, but stick with me here, folks): those that are well-suited to summertime consumption, and those that are not. Anna Karenina, for example, is best read while snuggled into a big, comfy chair (preferably by a fireplace, ideally, during a snowstorm.) Likewise, I would argue, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. A summer book, by contrast, should be bright and vivid and a little colorful, so that you can put it down to play Frisbee for a while, and then dive right back in where you were (when the Frisbee inevitably gets stolen by a dog), and feel like you never left. You should feel something (other than melancholia) while you read it, and you should like being around the characters. Easier said than done, not all authors achieve this -- not even all great ones (I'm talking to you, Tom Wolfe). And, lastly, it certainly helps if the book has a sense of humor. I'm not that into airport-shop thrillers, too-breezy chick-lit, or supermarket bodice-rippers (though I don't judge, if those are your tomes of choice). I like a story that sticks to your ribs a little bit, and one you'll remember after the leaves start to turn.
Here is a list of some great summertime reads -- I am not saying "top" or even "favorite" (since choosing those would be too difficult a task. But all these books pass the Frisbee test, and each one of them will take you somewhere wonderful, even if you spend the whole summer in your own backyard. Happy reading, bookworms!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini- The author's follow-up to The Kite Runner got less attention, but is a beautiful story about the struggles, triumphs and friendship of two Afghan women. Pretty impressive and moving stuff (and I always give props to men who write women well).
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner- A slow-paced, but thoughtful story-within-a-story, told from the perspective of an old man writing the life-story of his grandmother. A subtly-framed reminder that we are all the products of series of events that take place long before us, and that we all do the best we can in this life.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole- The bitingly hilarious and surprisingly profound story of a misanthropic underachiever. You'll be amused how often you find yourself agreeing with him. This one's a classic.
Life of Pi by Yann Martell- This beautiful book tells the story of a boy who is shipwrecked and survives on a life raft with a bunch of animals. It sounds like it would be bleak, but it is really beautiful and almost whimsical.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez- Again, I'm sure I'm not the first person to tell you to read this one, but here goes: read it. Especially for you bodice-ripper fans, this one tells the the lovely, imperfectly romantic story of a relationship that transcends time (translation: old people in love). As an added bonus, it takes place on a lush, tropical island. Just in case you aren't.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - This mesmerizing book deals with the subjects of hermaphroditism and incest, yet manages to be heart-breakingly sensitive to the subject, deftly dodging the grotesque. It simultaneously tells the stories of a young, um, person growing up in Detroit, and the character's immigrant grandparents, in vivid, imaginative language.
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl - A quirky, charming mystery told in a truly unique voice. Some might say it borders on gimmicky, but you'll have hard time tearing yourself away from it long enough to worry about that.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - If you've ever thought about running away and joining the circus, save yourself the trouble and read this, instead. The rich and colorful writing will make you feel like you're there (preferably not as the Bearded Lady).
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - I read this one when I was in high school, and I still remember so much about it. Irving has a gift for flawed, oddball characters you love being around (take a lesson, Wolfe), and these ones will stick with you.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris - Sedaris's autobiographical short stories about his childhood. Touching, real, and pee-your-pants funny.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - Another quirky (do you sense a theme with me?), unusual story, told simply and beautifully from the perspective of a boy with autism.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett- Admittedly, I just started reading this one myself, but I am already sucked in. It takes place in the South during the Civil Rights movement and delicately and amusingly explores the relationship between the white people and their black servants during the shifting social paradigm. I have a feeling I'm going to cry...

Word up! What are reading this summer/what are your recommendations?

photo credit: Cosmo Girl

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fresh Mint(.com)

Think of a money-related mistake and I have probably made it: forgotten credit card bills, accidental subscriptions in credit monitoring services, failure to catch billing mistakes, overdrawn checking accounts, carelessness with personal information resulting in identity theft... you name it. Although I have learned from all of these experiences (and I promise I'll never make them again, dad), the world of personal finance has always seemed overly complicated. Even with automated bill pay and all of the modern conveniences available today, it can be a pain remembering all the different passwords, and trying to consolidate and track your spending and saving.

Enter Set up a free account with this website, and it will keep track of all of your balances and bills for you, in one place. The site creates and tracks a detailed monthly budget for you based on your income, tracks your stock market investments (if you're the gambling type), and sends you reminders for all of the bills that come due (among other features I haven't figured out yet). It takes away all the stress (and all the excuses) of responsibly managing your money. And it's even endorsed by personal-finance guru Suze Orman, whose word is probably more valuable than, say, that of someone who once had to split a dinner check between three maxed out credit cards and $7 cash from the bottom of my purse. Yep, I've done that, too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Earn Your Stripes

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It may have become apparent in my earlier fashion posts that I have a real soft-spot for stripes. There is something about them that is nautical and playful, pulled-together and casual, all at the same time. While I won't go so far as to say that the "horizontal stripes make you look wide" thing is a complete myth, but I will say that it's all about finding the right stripe for you. And, hey, in some cases, like for we ladies who are a little less-well-endowed in the bosom department, "looking wide" doesn't sound like such a bad thing. Just don't overdo it- stick to one stripe or pattern and pair it with solids (like a nice wide-leg white pant, if you want to complete the sailor-inspired look).

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Interested in striking that perfect summery balance between dressy and casual? Get in line.

Top photo, left to right: Grey striped wrap sweater, $134, by Splendid from; Green striped dress, $178, from Anthropologie; Striped vintage-style bikini top and bottom, $98 each, from Anthropologie; Striped top dress, $128, from Boden USA; Navy striped sweater, $15, from Old Navy. Bottom photo, left to right: Red-striped jersey dress, $20, from American Eagle; Wool striped jacket, $138, from Free People; Nautical striped top, $32.50, from J.Crew; Festive pink-and-orange stripe bangle, $71, from Kate Spade; Ruffle top dress, $89, by Ella Moss, from Barneys Co-op; Playful nautical dress, $171, by Betsey Johnson from

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cornfetti Salad

No matter how much you love to cook, no one wants to spend any more time than they have to in the kitchen on a hot summer day. During the summertime, I like to minimize work and maximize fun by making a big batch of fresh salad, and keep it in the fridge for an easy lunch or side at dinner. Because it's also so colorful and festive, this one's a fresh alternative to potato salad or cole slaw, and is perfect for a casual dinner party or a picnic in the park. There's a little chopping involved, but for the most part it's a simple, seasonal and easy side. And, did I mention, delicious?

Cornfetti Salad
What you need:
6 ears cooked corn, kernels cut from the cob
1 red bell peppers, diced
1 red onion, diced
8 oz Monterrey jack cheese, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup homemade vinaigrette, or (okay) your favorite store-bought vinaigrette or Italian dressing
salt and pepper to taste

What you do:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring to combine. It's delicious right away, but it gets even better in the fridge overnight. Yummm.

Related: A Kernel of Hope

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fruit Fly, Don't Bother Me

Let's finish off the week with something gross, shall we?

Beautiful sunshine-y warm-breezy days with the windows and doors open. Bowls full of ripe freshly picked fruit on the kitchen countertop. These are two things I love about the summer. Unfortunately, when taken in combination, they can result in a little irksome and embarrassing problem that I now find myself facing: fruit flies (ugh). Imagine the photo at right swarming with little black buggers, like Pigpen in Charlie Brown comics, and you'll have an idea of what my kitchen looked like yesterday morning. Yick.
Once fruit flies invade, they multiply like crazy, laying their eggs right on your beautiful fruit -- which suddenly makes those gorgeous peaches look a lot less appetizing. Here's how to save your lovely fruit, and rid your kitchen of fruit flies once and for all, without using toxic chemicals.

1. Look through the bowl of fruit and throw out any fruits that are overripe or have soft spots, saving one piece on the side (make sure you take the garbage out, or you'll just end up with fruit flies in your garbage can). Also look over the remaining fruit for fly larvae (sorry, but it's true) rinse them in cool water, and put them in a bowl or Ziplock bag in the fridge. You won't have to leave them there forever, just until you've taken care of your little, um, problem.
2. Make a trap: Take the overripe piece of fruit you set aside (apples, bananas, plums... they all work), and slice it up, placing the slices in a bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of balsamic or apple cider vinegar over the fruit. Cover and seal the top of the bowl with a layer of plastic wrap. Poke small holes in the wrap, using the tines of a fork of the tip of a paring knife, but make sure not to make the holes too big. The flies will be drawn to the irresistible combo of rotting fruit and vinegar (who wouldn't be?), and will fly into the trap, and be unable to get out.

I took a picture of my own trap, but it was just too disgusting to share on a Friday morning. You're welcome.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Hot Date

I'm hosting a little cocktail party tonight, and I'm psyched that it gives me an excuse to make these insanely delicious bacon-wrapped dates. They might not look that appetizing, but they are the most incredible combination of salty, sweet, chewy, crunchy, and well, bacon. They are sort of like a classier "pig in the blanket", only with this, the pig is the blanket. Sounds good, huh? They are great as a finger-foody hors d'oeuvre, or drizzle them with honey and serve them as a first course at the sit-down dinner. Oh, and also, they are the easiest thing to make- I don't know what's quicker- how long it takes to make them, or how long it will take your guests to snarf them down.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Here's what you need (makes 24):
24 pitted dates
24 whole blanched almonds
8 slices of bacon

Here's what you do:
Put the oven rack as high as it goes (like, 4 inches from the broiler), and heat broiler. Stuff each date with an almond. Slice the bacon strips into thirds (widthwise), and wrap a piece around each date. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and put under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until top is crispy. Turn and cook until bacon is crispy all over (another 3-5 minutes). Transfer to a paper towel to drain, and then serve. Piggylicious.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Aging Gracefully

There are so many life-lesson gems to be mined from this video... learn to rely on yourself, love the one you're with, buy all your car batteries with a lifetime guarantee from J.C. Penney... but I think I'll let you watch it and draw your own conclusions. If I'm anything like this broad in 60 years, I'd have no complaints.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Foiled Again: 6 Unexpected Uses for Aluminum Foil

Since I've already revealed how I use aluminum foil to steam delicious fish and sharpen dull scissors, it should come as no surprise to you that this miracle material has a ton of other wonderful uses around the house (beyond  just, you know, cooking baked potatoes, or whatever), and I am pleased to have the opportunity to share just a few of them with you. 

1. Tough Scrubber- a wadded up ball of foil actually makes a better scrubber than some of those scrunges that they sell specifically for that purpose. To clean baked-on gunk off of your lasagna pan or casserole dish, just go at it with a foil ball and some dishwashing fluid.  I also use a nice big ball of foil to clean the greasy, burnt grossness off of my grill before and after use- it works just as well as the tools designed for the job, and you can just throw it away when you're done. 

2. Spill Protector: Line the bottom of your oven in foil and it will save you from having to clean it of burnt-on food spills- in the event that something does bubble over (usually some kind of cheese in my house), just pull out the foil and replace it (wait until after your oven cools, genius).  You can also like cookie sheets and pans in foil when baking, so you can spend your time eating the warm cookies, instead of washing dishes. 

3. Paint Mask- If you're painting a wall or piece of furniture that has features you want to stay unpainted (doorknobs, drawer-pulls,etc), just wrap them in (you guessed it) foil! The foil is malleable enough to mold directly to the object and is easy to pull off once the job is done. 

4. Impromptu Gadget- in a pinch, foil can be used to sub for other things around the kitchen- fashion a (double-layer) into a cone to use as a funnel or a piping bag.  Use it to cover pie crust or roasted turkey in the oven to prevent it from burning before fully cooked. 

5. Ironing Aid- if you need pressed clothes in a hurry, cover your ironing board with some aluminum foil. The heat from the iron will reflect back up, ironing both sides of the fabric at the same time.  This works equally well when steaming clothes that can't be ironed. 

Or, use it to fashion an awesome last-minute robot or knight Halloween costume. As far as what aluminum foil can do, these ideas are just the tip of the aluminum-covered cardboard sword. Er, iceberg. 

photo credit: Real Simple

Monday, July 13, 2009

Crumby Advice

While I readily admit that not all of the pearls of "wisdom" I have dispensed on this blog thus-far are worthy of adopting as mantras (look, guys, I'm learning as we go, too), if you like to bake, this little bit of "crumby" advice should be engraved in bronze and mounted in your kitchen: Always Crumb-Coat. If you don't know what I mean by "crumb coat" then we are all lucky that I got here before disaster struck and you baked again.
You know how, when you frost a cake (particularly, say, a chocolate cake with white frosting) it is almost impossible to prevent little bits of cake crumb from getting in the frosting and giving it an unwanted "flecked" cookies-and-cream look?
Have you ever looked at a cake in a bakery or on the pages of a magazine and thought, "how in the name of all that is sacred did they get that perfect non-crumby swirled icing on there?" Two words: Crumb. Coat.
Here's what you do:
1. Instead of frosting the cake all at once, do it in two stages. First, wait for the cake to cool completely and then level it out, and brush off the extra crumbs. Then, put in whatever filling you are using between layers and stack the layers how you want them.
2. Cover the entire cake in a very thin layer of frosting, starting at the top and working around the sides. It's fine (good, actually) if the cake shows through- you are just putting on a thin coat which will fill in any air holes or cracks, and seal in the cake crumbs (and, incidentally, the cake's moisture).
3. Put the cake in the fridge, and allow to cool for 1/2 hour- 2 hours. Because (let's be honest) the frosting's main ingredient is butter (if you make it from scratch, which I highly recommend), the frosting will harden like butter does when cooled, which will immobilize those pesky crumbs.
4. Take the cake out of the fridge and frost as normal, covering the entire cake. See?- Nary a stray crumb. Who knew producing perfect baked goods could be such a piece of cake?

photo credit: Country Living.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Have Undies, Will Travel

There's something about traveling that allows us to explore parts of our personalities that we rarely tap into at home: A homebody might become a wild night-clubber, or a type-A might spend hours doing nothing on the beach. In my case, this travel-induced schizophrenia manifests itself in the form of (very uncharacteristic) hyper-0rganization. You've all witnessed my overly fastidious packing and leaving-the-house checklists- Now I present to you my other can't-live-without travel organization secret: Lingerie bags.
While, at home, I frequently have no idea where my strapless bra is, and I often rewash piles of clean laundry because they have gotten mixed with the dirty piles, and I could not care less. But, when I'm on vacation, the thought of not being able to find something in my suitcase or, worse, clean-dirty laundry fraternization, practically gives me hives.

To that end, I employ a two-sided zipped bag (one side for bras and one for undies, or one for clean and the other for dirty). It keeps unmentionables from slipping out when I'm rummaging for my toiletries in the security line, and makes them oh-so-easy to find. My lovely future sister-in-law also recently gifted me with a zippered bag that is lined with plastic, for transporting wet bathing suits home from the beach or pool without getting everything else in your bag all (gag) moist.

Here are some online resources that sell super cute lingerie and bathing suit bags for all your vacays this summer.

If you're cheap, or just totally broke, you can always just use a clean (preferably good-smelling) pillowcase to serve the same function. As a bonus, when you get to that seedy beach motel, you can swap their sketchy case for your nice, fresh one. But, then what do you do with your undies? That will throw you anal-retentives into a quandary. Or, maybe not.

From top: Pink geometric-patterned swimsuit bag, $28, from Lapin Vilardi; Orange floral lingerie bag, $36 from Lapin Vilardi; "Before and After" lingerie bag, $40, from Dogeared; Two-pocket zebra stripe bikini bag, $30, from Anna Moi; His-and-hers swimsuit bags (so cute for a honeymoon!), $20 each, from Zazendi; Personalized zipper bags (have them embroidered with "clean" and "dirty"), $75, from The Monogram Shops.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Acute Cuteness

I'm a woman of simple pleasures and, admittedly, it doesn't take much to make me happy. But, like everyone, I do I have occasional, um, moods, when things just aren't going my way. Luckily, some geniuses out there were kind enough to compile the cutest crap on the internet into a few very mood-elevating websites. No longer do you have to search through youtube looking for really cute stuff to make you feel better about your life. So helpful.

Here's just a little taste of the cuteness that awaits you on these sites.

From "":

From "":

From "":

I feel so much better now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sweat Fashion

Left to right: Yellow shawl-collar hoody, $29.50, from American Eagle; Gray zip-up sweatshirt, $15, from Old Navy; Gray striped hoody, $19.50, from Wet Seal; Purple warm-up jacket, $22.50, from Sierra Trading Post; Orange Tigers sweatshirt (available in other teams), $54.40, from Victoria's Secret Pink.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I am a former lazybones non-athlete, who has, by sheer force of will, turned myself into a runner (and by "run" I mean "jog at a pace where I get passed by old men who are walking"). A year and a half ago, when I started running, I thought that it would be difficult to motivate myself for a while, but then I would get that "runner's high" I'd been hearing so much about, and I would become "addicted" to exercise. Let me be the first to tell you, people who tell you that stuff must be bathing swine, because that is all a bunch of hogwash. Sure, I feel better when I exercise than when I don't, but that doesn't mean I wake up every morning bursting with excitement to go get my running shoes on and get out the door. Left to right: Navy and green sports bra, $24.50, from American Eagle; Orange mesh bra, $15, from Old Navy; Violet sports bra, $17, from Sierra Trading Post; Pink racerback, $15, by Champion from; Black and tan sports bra, $29, from Athleta.

And now that I am training for a marathon, that means that every single day is a challenge in overcoming my own excuses and procrastinations and motivating myself. To that end, I need all the help I can get. One big motivator is self-bribery ("there's a frozen Milky Way in the fridge for you if you do six miles"), another is an iPod loaded with great tunes, and the third, and arguable the most important, is owning really, really cute workout cloths.Left to right: Blue floral V-neck, $28, from Project Red by Gap; Crossword tank, $11, from Forever 21; Red and white tie-dye tank, $4, from Walmart; Blue and white striped tank, $3, from Wet Seal; Yellow polka-dot tank, $9, from Charlotte Russe.

I'm not sure why otherwise-stylish people believe that it is perfectly acceptable to leave the house in ratty old shorts and their dad's old Notre Dame sweatshirt, eight sizes to big, just because they plan to sweat. You're going to all the trouble to stay in shape- you should look good while doing it. But there's no need to run up credit card debt to obtain cute exercise clothes- there are tons of really inexpensive, and really cute, options out there. Besides, chances are you're moving too fast for anyone to see your labels, anyway.Left to right: Gray yoga pants, $29.50, from American Eagle; Black running pants, $69, from Athleta; Royal blue fleece shorts, $10, from Old Navy; Black cut-away running shorts, $28, from; Light gray yoga pants, $14, from Charlotte Russe; Tight black running shorts, $28, from Road Runner Sports; Black shorts with yellow detail, $8, from Danskin Now at Walmart.

In addition the the usual suspects (Adidas, Nike, etc), check out these websites for other great options:
Old Navy
American Eagle
Victoria's Secret
Forever 21
Wet Seal
Charlotte Russe
The Gap
Sierra Trading Post
Road Runner Sports

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Quit Your Wining (Or At Least Cut Back)

I'm a firm believer in "everything in moderation", but ever since the Greeks revered Bacchus, we wine-drinkers have had an excuse to overindulge in our favorite libation (hey, if the gods do it...). The case for "drink it if you've got it" is made further by the fact that wine almost invariably turns sour and vinegary when opened and saved for more than a day or so (forcing our hand to open a whole new bottle and feel compelled to finish it- it's a vicious cycle).

Happily (or not, depending on your perspective, I guess), we are down an excuse, thanks to this Vacu Vin Wine Saver, $11. The little gadget (and I love me a gadget) vacuums out the extra air at the top of the bottle, contact with which is what causes the wine to turn. It is inexpensive, easy to use and can save wine from spoiling for over a week. I've long seen bartenders use more expensive tools that do the same thing (don't ask me what I'm doing at the bar as the bartender is shutting it down...), but this one is so affordable that if you save one bottle from going bad, you will recoup your expenditure. Which, when you come right down to it, is utterly divine.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summery Sips

There are so many simple pleasures to be enjoyed in the summertime, and one of my favorites has to be that magical combination of fresh-squeezed lemonade and iced tea (a.k.a. an "Arnold Palmer"). The mixture has it all- it's sweet, it's sour, and it's just plain refreshing. When we were growing up, my mom always kept tall pitchers of both in the fridge, and I feel a small pang of disappointment on those summer days when I open my own fridge and don't find them inside.
Here's how to make both drinks from scratch- each is great on it's own, but like any good marriage, they're even better together.

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade
3 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 20 lemons)
2 cups superfine sugar (not confectioners sugar)
4 cups water

To make: Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a tall pitcher, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add water and some ice, and garnish with lemon slices (if you want to).
(If you're too lazy to squeeze 20 lemons, try Minute Maid frozen lemonade concentrate- it's almost as good as the real thing).

Classic Iced Tea
8 cups boiling water
10 assorted fruit and black tea bags (I like Red Zinger and English Breakfast).

To make: Remove water from heat, and put in the tea bags. Let steep for 10 minutes, then carefully remove teabags from water. Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a pitcher. Add ice and garnish with mint.

To mix the cocktail, fill a tall glass with ice, and fill 3/4 full with lemonade. Top off with iced tea and add a straw. For something a little more "adult", add a shot of vodka. Ahhh!

P.S. Happy happy birthday to my charming husband!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!!

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. ~Abraham Lincoln

Wishing you family and friends, barbecue, sparklers, bare feet, lemonade, sunglasses, popsicles, fresh grass, a place to swim, and, of course, fireworks this fourth!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ask Me Anything: Artsy Fartsy

In case you are new, Ask Me Anything is a feature on the site where I field reader questions to the best of my ability. The questioners get moderately useful information, and I get out of thinking up my own topic for one day, and get to act like a total know-it-all. So everybody wins. Email your own burning questions to, or leave a comment on the site, and I will do my best to relieve the burning. For today's installment, we hear from my friend, Irene.

Dear Lily,
I just moved to a one-bedroom after years of living in dorm rooms/studios. My wall space has basically tripled, and I only have three measly paintings with which to decorate. What can I do to cheaply and quickly decorate my walls? Should I go for a theme? I'm much too lazy to paint or put up wallpaper...


First of all, congrats on movin' on up to your new deluxe apartment- I'm always happy when friends finally get their piece of the pie. Secondly, I like this question a lot. I realize that people have different passions and taste, and that not everyone has my fervor for home decor, but at this stage in life, as we slide helplessly toward thirty, it pains me to walk into a friend's apartment and see them sleeping on an old futon with that Pink Floyd poster with the girls' backs tacked up on the wall (corners inevitably ripped from all the times it has been moved since freshman year of college). I'm not saying that I expect you to have started attending art auctions and building your Impressionist collection, but there are a lot of steps in between band posters and Monets (and it's high time we all take one of them).
Since you're too lazy to paint (your words, not mine), I am going to stay away from anything too artsy-crafty, since I assume your indolence extends to spray paint and glitter-glue, as well.

Instead, I suggest gussying-up your walls with ready-made pretty pictures in store-bought frames, which are available at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Pottery Barn, WalMart and pretty much any craft or home store. I suggest looking on eBay or Etsy for pretty botanical prints, book illustrations, or vintage magazine covers, which will fit in 8"x10" frames, or vintage postcards and note cards, which will pop right into 4"x6" or 5"x7" frames. They can be arranged together on a wall in a messy cluster or in a linear arrangement. Or you can just mount empty frames in complimentary colors on the wall (like those at right), for a more graphic look.

Another option is to look at thrift shops or flea markets (New Yorkers, try the Hell's Kitchen Flea) for cool old paintings that strike your fancy- a serene landscape or pop-y abstract that you like looking at. I also think there is something really moody and cool about orphaned portraits of strangers.

Whenever you are hanging art, I suggest using the wall hooks seen at right- they work way better than nails, don't require you to find a stud, and leave a smaller hole in your wall.

If you are looking for something more 'outside the frame', you should check out the new trendy wall decals that are popping up everywhere. No, I'm not suggesting that you go out and get a life-size Tom Brady sticker- there are tons of surprisingly grown-up and beautiful styles out there. They are inexpensive, super easy to apply and come right off whenever you move or get sick of them. They come in a range of styles, from feminine and wallpaper-y (like these big flowers at left) to graphic, like this awesome bicycle (right).
Check out Blik, Ferm Living, and the Surface Store for great options.

When it comes to decorating your apartment, just remember, where there's a wall, there's a way.