Pretty Blue Rose

life musings and inspiration



To compliment my tea of the month post, I figured I’d share my everyday/go-to teas:

Vanilla Almond from The Republic of Tea. I first had this at the Borders book store in Madison, WI and I’ve never turned back. It got me through cold Madison winters and the long days of “studying” at the book store (which really meant reading all of the magazines and sipping tea with some breaks for studying).

Vanilla Almond Black Tea Bags


Wild Sweet Orange from Tazo. This tea will brighten any bad mood. It always makes me happy.


Throat Coat from Traditional Medicinals. This tea is ridiculous! Every sore throat (or wanna be sore throat) I have is instantly gone after drinking this tea.


Chai tea. This tea has been reintroduced into my weekly routine. I find it helps my creativity, so on late nights working on my posts, I’ll drink Chai–even decaf– and I’m ready to go! Funny, now my daughter likes it–so I have a four year old asking for Chai tea. How cute!



I almost forgot Earl Grey! (I’m drinking it now as I’m typing this). A former econ professor introduced me to Mr. Grey and I’ve hardly strayed. The title sounds so stuffy, but once you smell the orange bergamot (it’s in many perfumes) you won’t be sorry. The added caffeine (it’s a black tea) is a nice pick-me-up for cold and dark fall/winter mornings.


Enjoy the weekend!


Stay inspired and enjoy each sip of tea



Who doesn’t love candles? Although I must admit my use of candles has dramatically decreased now that I have a little person in the house.

Here are my go-to scents year round:

1. Annapolis has this great store called Candles off Main that carries A Scent of Scandal candles with naughty names. My fav is d-cup melons–it’s a fruity spring/summery scent.

2. Williams-Sonoma’s Fleur de Sel epitomizes all things nautical.

Williams-Sonoma Essential Oils Boxed Candle, Fleur de Sel | Williams-Sonoma

As a lover of beach homes and lake houses, and this scent takes me there every time. I even have the hand soap and lotion (and my hubby even likes it!!).

3. For Fall/Winter I like to go with vanilla and spicy scents.  Oh Snap! and Sugar Daddy from A Scent of Scandal are good bets.

4. In my younger days, I loved Bath and Body Works’ Sweet Pea.Sweet Pea® 14.5 oz. 3-Wick Candle - Slatkin & Co. - Bath & Body Works

So there you have it, some scents that make life smell a bit better. What would you add to the list?

Stay inspired and enjoy the (good smelling) journey.


The best day to shop

I’ve come to the conclusion that Tuesday’s must be slow for most businesses. My hair dresser takes $10 off every service on Tuesdays and my daughter’s hair dresser does the same. My local Message Envy gives free aroma therapy on the first Tuesday of the month and I saw a Wall Street Journal article that discusses purchasing airline tickets on Tuesdays for the best deals. So it looks like Tuesday’s are a really good day to shop–I thought I’d share to see if anyone noticed anything similar.  But, Shhh! We don’t want to let on that we figured it out!

Stay inspired and enjoy the (cheaper!) journey.


Pretty Blue Plates

My cooking style varies.

Sometimes I am on a pure health kick, other times I am all about quick (I know healthy and quick aren’t mutually exclusive), and other times I am channeling Nigella Lawson, Giada D., or Ina G. with sophisticated dishes, it all just depends.

(Only a few) Years ago, in graduate school, when time was abundant (read: major procrastination) the food network and I became fast friends. I’d frequent the grocery stores of Madison, WI locating semi-exotic ingredients for my next Giada inspired dish. Fast forward to my long(ish) work commutes and even longer work days, I don’t cook as often as I’d like. Although I rely on my wonderful hubby to prepare dinner most nights, something in me longs for my grad school days of cooking for fun.

Pretty blue plates is the section where I will document the process of selecting recipes and my execution of cooking them.  (that sentence sounded so analytical—I can’t help it!) I’m looking forward to getting back to making food that I love and conquering the recipes I find interesting–even if I am the only person in my house to eat it. Lord only knows how many cookbooks and Cooking Light issues I have!


Now on to my next post about French onion soup…


French Onion Soup

My first memory of french onion soup (FOS) was at a restaurant called Hess’s Patio in Center City Allentown, PA.

Now this was in the mid-80’s, but I recall my mom (who LOVES french onion soup) encouraged me to order some soup. She said it was the best she’d ever tasted. Boy was she right! Hess’s Patio served ridiculous sized portions and the bubbly brown cheese served in a ramekin was to DIE for!  Unfortunately, Hess’s has long since closed, but I will never forget my first introduction to FOS.

Now fast forward 10-15 years, I recall my grad school days in Madison, WI where I became reacquainted with FOS, it was at a little known place called Panera Bread.  I would order the you pick 2 and FOS was always one of my picks. It wasn’t Hess’s Patio quality, but it made me miss home less and kept me warm during those cold Madison winters.

For some reason, until recently, I never attempted to make FOS at home.  Although it’s summer, I am a soup junkie, and I can eat it all year—even if it’s 100+ degrees outside.

I looked at a few recipes to get the general idea of the main ingredients.

I had a great time making the soup and eating it was even better! It’s not nearly as hard as I thought.

Ingredients: individual size crock pot, vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar, beef broth, red wine (around $9), Worcestershire sauce, onions, thyme, bay leaf, unsalted butter and Gruyere cheese. [Note: You don’t see a baguette, but see my later comment on why the baguette is needed]

Onions sautéing…


After all the broth and seasonings were added and simmering, the soup was for the cheese and the oven.



What the pictures don’t tell:

So I skipped the toasted baguette because I rush in a rush to leave the grocery store (let’s blame the kid for story sake…) — for some reason thought I could just add the cheese to the top of the broth. Well the cheese kept falling to the bottom of the mini crock pot while melting. I panicked, and then I realized the purpose of the toasted bread! It’s to keep the cheese afloat allowing it to brown in the broiler (duh!). So…the dish I photographed has very light colored cheese in the middle because I added toasted bread after I tried to brown the cheese without it. Thought I’d share so others don’t do the same thing…

stay inspired and enjoy cooking!


Wednesday Wisdom: Chase your goal, but pace yourself.

Decide on your goals and stick with them. There have been times when I’ve selected my goal but ended up chasing a different goal because it was more popular or it was the goal society said I should want.


There is nothing wrong with money, but make sure the prize you chase is what you actually want.  There are few things worse than exerting energy to acquire something you never wanted– or even worse, you’re miserable when you get it (I can’t help but mention work promotions. Everyone pushes them, but remember with the promotion comes more responsibility).

Also, in the pursuit of your goal remember that the number of stairs you have to climb should determine your speed. Others whizzing by you may question your slower pace, but just tell them you need to pace yourself because your climb is higher. You wouldn’t sprint to the 100th floor would you? Marathon runners pace themselves differently than 100 meter sprinters–I encourage you to do the same.


Stay inspired, and enjoy your journey.


Wait! It’s not fall yet…

I know September is always fall fashion month. To get a jump on the newest trends, August is the month that magazines and blogs discuss fall fashion and the newest fall make-up looks…and in just a few weeks I’ll fall in line and do the same. But for now, I just want to bask in summer. No need to rush, fall will come.

The end of each season brings great sales, so why not take a look…

I found some cute summery purses from Brahmin’s Chevron Stripes collection:


I think I may like the pink version even better…

Another cute tote from the Copa Cabana Collection:



This Pour la Victoire ‘Gunter’ Tote from Nordstrom’s clearance says ‘sophisticated beach’ to me.


For some more reasonable priced summer bags (and shoes) I went to my trusty Banana Republic clearance and found:

Trina Turk pinking shears tote

Vierra espadrilles

Boardwalk tote

This Boardwalk tote from JCrew–is only 39.99!


The good news is that summer bags, shoes, and clothes are all super cheap now. So savor the last days of summer and go get a cute summer outfit!


stay inspired and enjoy shopping


(Almost) Back to Reality

There is nothing like family. Spending the last two weeks with my parents was wonderful. Spending time with my mom and her childhood friends over the last few days was also amazing. A house full of laughter, good food, and love is priceless.  Everyone was (and still is) sad as they parted ways, but the memories we made were wonderful.

Still trying to hold on to the last moments of my summer vacation (and trying to recover from family withdrawal) I am looking for a place to vacation next summer.

During spring break in undergrad, I stayed at a fabulous vacation rental home in western Maryland called Deep Creek –and I’ve been trying to go back with my husband ever since.  Although the house was nowhere near as nice as the house below–this is my memory, so I can upgrade my experience:)


Chatting with my sister-in-law, I found out she (like me) thinks that renting a big house for a week or two is an economical way to enjoy family and the summer. Everyone brings food and takes turns cooking and there are (hopefully) good times all around. She said she wants to try the Outer Banks in North Carolina and I volunteered to research vacation rentals. (I figure planning for next year’s vacation is a nice way to spend the last day of my vacation before I head back to work.)

One of my favorite co-workers mentioned that she stayed with Brindley Beach rentals in the Outer Banks and had a great time. Looking at some of the rentals, I must say I am amazed at the price differential in the off-season rentals—it’s a difference of over $2K in some cases compared to the in-season rentals. (the beach isn’t so bad the week after Thanksgiving is it?!) I’ll need to research more places, but a summer vacation in the Outer Banks will be something to look forward to during the cold dark winter. If anyone has suggestions for places to stay please let me know (via comment of course!).


Photo: The Outer Banks was recently nominated for "Best Beaches" and "Best Active Destination" by 10best. Make sure you show your love for OBX and vote today:

Picture Courtesy of


Shortly, I’ll need to get back to reality and prepare myself for work. Although I am very grateful for employment, summer vacation is always hard to part with.


(trying to) stay inspired and enjoy life (as I head back to work)…


Fantasy Travel Week: (back to) Capetown, South Africa

Wrapping up fantasy travel week, the last place I’d like to travel is back to Capetown, South Africa.

I recall the first time I saw pictures of table mountain, I fell in love.  I was in undergrad and a gentleman came to talk to our class about Capetown (I don’t remember why…) but I was extremely intrigued by a flat mountain. That day, I decided I needed to see table mountain for myself.

Fast forward a few years, with my sister studying abroad, it gave my husband and I the perfect excuse to travel to South Africa.

The tall skinny building above was our hotel. The top (round) floor was a restaurant and it slowly spun 360 degrees. I attempted to eat in the rotating restaurant, but after stepping off the elevator, I was dizzy. Nice concept, in practice it didn’t work for me.

The ocean was close, but it was too cold to go in.

The cute penguins at the Cape of Good Hope.



The lighthouses, the ocean, the penguins, and the abundance of sleep (we left our toddler at home) made the trip to Capetown so enjoyable (we missed our daughter terribly!).

All of the pictures above are from our trip to South Africa.


Capetown has a very cosmopolitan feel and I am leaning towards a relaxed and funky look. For some reason,  pink and black are calling to me. I’m amazed at how many ways I can re-style those colors.


Juicy Couture cotton tank top / True Religion stretch skinny jeans, $450 / NIKE perforated shoes / Max & Chloe chain collar necklace / Lancôme lip makeup / Victoria s Secret eyeliner

You have the key to my heart

Embellished tank top, $16 / True Religion skinny jeans, $450 / Betsey Johnson high heels / Alexander McQueen silver clutch / Bracelet / Eddie Borgo drop earrings

Sin título #341

Wet Seal halter vest / True Religion skinny jeans, $455 / Full tilt / Rupert Sanderson high heels / Sandqvist messenger bag, $170 / Presh leather jewelry / Feather earrings


Cute dress for dinner and dancing! (of course I can dance in those shoes, no problem!)


Halston Heritage party dress / Miss KG high heel shoes, $63 / AK Anne Klein chain link necklace / Natalia Brilli bracelet / Le Metier de Beaute lip gloss / Butter London nail polish


This shimmery mini dress is too cute!

Untitled #378

AllSaints embellished dress / Vince Camuto peep toe pumps / Michael Kors clutch, $135 / Ring, $12 / Dorothy Perkins feather jewelry / Gucci sunglasses, $360


I am looking forward to going back to Capetown–this time with our little girl.


Stay inspired and enjoy the journey.


Fantasy Travel Week: Dubai

Whew! Having a website down and having it be out of my control is definitely a reason to take a  (fantasy) trip.


A “seven-star” property, the world’s tallest tower, man-made islands, and an upcoming underwater hotel make Dubai a place I’d like to visit.  It seems to be the land of excess, but I think I can handle it!


The world’s tallest building.

city of dubai - buildings


The man-made island is incredible.

city of dubai - reclaimed islands

city of dubai - private islands

city of dubai - city pictures

Dubai images are courtesy of Sergey Dolya



For some reason the beauty of Dubai is causing me to step out of my comfort zone and wear bold colors!


The purple mini dress is too cute.

Romanic dinner in Dubai .. ♥ Stylish **

Romanic dinner in Dubai .. ♥ Stylish ** by fashionista12-12 featuring calvin klein perfume

Jane Norman metallic dress, $17 / Platform heels, $20 / Red earrings / Leslie Danzis adjustable ring / Calvin Klein perfume

This mustard colored kaftan dress is just the right mix of elegance and comfort.

Untitled #142


Emilio Pucci kaftan dress / Gucci heel sandals, $805 / Gucci logo bag, $1,585 / Gucci brown scarve, $185 / Gucci Square-frame acetate sunglasses



The yellow (sparkly, yes I know!) strapless dress with the turquoise scarf is an unexpected color combination that really works.

Vacation Look #6



Calypso St. Barth strapless dress / Oasis shoes, $35 / Elie Tahari teardrop earrings / Stella & Dot vintage style jewelry / Jigsaw linen scarve, $38



Finally, I could re-use the turquoise scarf with a this gorgeous maxi-dress.

Vacation Look #1



Quiz maxi dress, $31 / Jimmy Choo platform heels / Mosaic jewelry / Gold jewelry / Stella & Dot vintage ring / Jigsaw linen scarve, $38



Stay inspired and enjoy the journey.