Pretty Blue Rose

life musings, fashion, and inspiration


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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.

 

Voila!

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!

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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.


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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


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(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: http://bit.ly/xnBGTT

Picture Courtesy of visitob.com

 

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)…


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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.

#264

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!)

Classy
 

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.


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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.

 


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Wednesday Wisdom: Just forget!


Figuratively, our thoughts are like a tape recorder playing the things we’ve experienced, some things we haven’t–all greatly shaping our perceptions of life.  Unfortunately, the tape recorder tends to be a bit on the negative side…

Focusing on the one reason it will work, when you are over-thinking, over-analyzing, or doubting yourself…keeps you moving forward. Find that one reason to move forward and the rest will fall in to place. I promise!

Recently I heard an entrepreneur say that if a new project, product, or business venture is at a “C” (on the grade scale of A to F) then he moves forward. I was utterly shocked at first, but then I understood the psychology behind his rule. Well meaning people generally like things to be very close to an “A” before they launch something new, but the reality is nothing gets done that way. For a perfectionist like me, it’s freeing to finally be allowed to do “C” work!

What do you need to stop perfecting and just move forward with?  I encourage you to just go!

 

Stay inspired, enjoy life, and move forward!