Sunday, July 27, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Rosé Wine During Summertime

Ever since the wine tasting in Paris, I've wanted to participate in the very Parisian summertime activity of sipping rosé. I'm surprised that I didn't install it on my summer bucket list. After it languishing on my shopping list awhile, I finally purchased a bottle of French pink wine while in Philadelphia. Next, I invited Kate of Seeking Small over for some wine and antipasti last Tuesday evening.

Even though I preferred the rosé I tasted at O Chateau, I still liked this selection. It was Rosé de Mouton Cadet, a Bordeaux Rosé from 2013 by Baron Philippe de Rothschild. My go to wine is red, specifically Chianti, but chilled wine goes with summer. It was nice to change it up.

Check out the antipasti....

The antipasti consisted of parmesan, sharp cheddar, proscuitto, red grapes, along with a several slices of red bell pepper and baguette. With flavorful olive oil for dipping, certo.

I also served bruschetta as antipasti but I didn't happen to snap a photo. Then, I also mixed up blood orange margaritas along with some chocolate chip cookies I had on hand which we enjoyed on my balcony. It was easy and simple entertaining.

Photo by Kate

It was a fun evening. Being lifestyle bloggers, Kate and I often converse about our values, and of course we caught up with what's going on in each other's lives, but we also indulged in some girl talk. I remember waking up the next morning feeling restored. I think time with a close girlfriend was something I needed. Girl talk might go perfectly with all the pink drink I served too!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Bookcase to Bar Project: Part 2

I'm in the process of creating a bar. (You can read about my inspiration, purchase of a bookcase and styling options here.) It's nice to have a small summer project, buying an item for it with each paycheck throughout the season.

First, I assembled my two-shelf bookcase (myself). Next, I arranged my (non-wine) beverage glasses on the shelves. I placed a tray on top and lined up my bottles of San Pellegrino, liquor, and blood orange syrup. I have margarita salt in front of this row in addition to my two new purchases: red-and-white striped straws (from etsy) in a chevron candle holder and a stack of red-and-white striped cocktail napkins (from Crate & Barrel). Beside that tray, I put a glass vase full of limes, a glass pitcher, a recipe shaker and coordinating ice bucket. I'm pleased with the way it's turning out so far.

My wine cabinet was actually my old bar. Now, it is dedicated to wine. I have vases of corks, a few champagne corks, a wire wine holder and a Kate Spade candle holder (now that all the wax is gone) on top. Glasses, more bottles, and a small dish are stored in the bottom portion. That shallow drawer is full of little items like my corkscrew, foil cutter and wine bottle stoppers. Both pieces of furniture are from the Avington Collection from Target.

Cheers to mid-summer!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Daytrip to Philadelphia

Realizing that I haven't visited the city I love in over a year and a half, I decided to take the train to Philadelphia last Friday. I loved being there. Traveler that I am, it was nice to get out of town this summer.

The city seemed to welcome me back from the start! I must have looked lost trying to find the exit going in the direction I wanted from the subway system, so a man stopped and provided me clear directions. This is the "City of Brotherly Love" after all.

First, I met my former neighbor M at this coffee shop I found online and wanted to check out. It was fun to catch up. She also had her close friend R meet us, who I remembered. I liked the place, La Colombe, which has several things going for it. First, the location is nice, on 19th, right off the lovely park called Rittenhouse Square, within my favorite neighborhood of Center City. It's near the Walnut St/Chestnut St shopping district that I adore. Second, I liked the atmosphere; I mean check out the beautiful tables! The staff seemed down-to-earth and friendly. It was a bit loud though.

Third, the chocolate croissant was delicious, so incredibly flaky like they would be in New York or Paris. 

Chocolate Croissant and Cappuccino

When I move back, it will be a contender for my favorite. If money was no object, I would live in Center City, but since it is, I'd prefer to live in South Philly again. I'm sure I'd find a closer and much more Italian coffee shop there. 

I quickly browsed this small accessories store a block and a half away called Tselaine, but since nothing was absolutely perfect, I left empty-handed. I rejoined M and R to go on a few of M's errands, but then left them to go explore on my own.

I strolled through the popular park at Rittenhouse, which locals truly use to walk, hang out, sunbathe, cuddle, and picnic.

Then, I walked to my favorite place in Philly, the Reading Terminal Market, a large indoor food market. I walked the whole thing at first, which is a difficult thing to do since it is pretty much always packed. I perused French linens, Philadelphia souvenirs, beautiful flowers and, of course, all of the food options, Amish offerings included. My first purchase was 1/2 pound of cranberry pistachio biscotti from Termini Bros. They've accompanied my coffee every morning since. Delicious but expensive. I also bought a half loaf of Italian bread from my preferred bakery stand, which I have dipped in flavorful olive oil with lunches and dinners.

Skipping the long line, I sat down at the counter at Tommy DiNic's which serves my favorite Philly cheesesteak. 

View from my stool at Tommy DiNic's

I actually got mine without the provolone this time. They do offer a few delicious toppings like broccoli rabe but all cost a bit extra. Since I ate there, I had to tip the waitress. Lunch was delicious. I tried to exercise some restraint and not eat every last bit.

For dessert, I stopped by The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company for their amazing chocolate chip cookies, warm and gooey straight from the oven, not even on display yet. I know that you order by weight, so my request of 1/4 pound was two thick cookies. I devoured one of them standing next to the stand, which is one of the corners of the complex.

Coming out of the market, I stopped at the liquor store on the same block. I finally purchased a French rosé that I'm been wanting since my trip to Paris. I only saw one kind and this was confirmed by a store employee who added that the winner was dry. This Rosé de Mouton Cadet, a Bordeaux Rosé of 2013 by Baron Philippe de Rothschild features a line drawing of a ram on the label, which is the Zodiac symbol for my sign, Aries. This bottle was very affordable. Perfect for me. I look forward to sharing it with someone this summer. 

I wandered around my favorite neighborhood of Center City, browsing shops whenever I wanted. One of those was the high-end Italian market called Di Bruno Bros. on Chestnut. 

I also sat on the wall surrounding the fountain at Love Park, known for its LOVE sculpture of the LO on top of the VE, the "O" being tilted. The face of the letters are red but the sides are blue and green. Cooled a bit by the tall fountain's mist, I watched kids as they splashed around in the water. 

To escape the heat myself, I noticed a cheap nail salon across the street and had a manicure. My nails are once again painted Style Hunter by Essie, which is a dark pink. Without much of an itinerary, it was quite the leisurely day of travel.

Passing through the courtyard of City Hall during my travels, I found that stands were giving away free hot dogs. "Happy" by Pharrell Williams was playing and people were dancing within the central circle. This was the perfect sentiment for the day; I was just plain happy.

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.

Statue of William Penn atop City Hall.

Back at 30th Street Station, instead of stopping at the Irish pub across the street like I have before, I chose the German brewery inside. I asked the bartender at Bridgewater's Pub for a recommendation of something light. He served me a German pilsner and the cold draft beer was just what I needed. It was even happy hour, right before I lined up to board my train. 

When I got home around sunset, I made myself a couple of cups of tea with some of the biscotti I could hardly resist. 

It was a fabulous day in one of my favorite cities. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Chocolate Marquis

I've been wanting to try this particular independently-owned bakery, Cakes & Confections, a couple towns away for awhile now. In fact, I even installed patronizing the establishment as an item on my spring bucket list this year. I finally visited it on Wednesday. After our doctor's appointments, my mom and I had lunch and a dessert there. Even though my roasted chicken club deli sandwich on wheat was great, I had come set on trying the chocolate croissant ...but a few of the decadent chocolate mini desserts caught my attention instead. I decided on the Chocolate Marquis, which was a small round confection of thick layers of chocolate mousse, thin layers of chocolate cake, covered with chocolate ganache and topped with a swirl of more chocolate mousse and tiny white and dark chocolate curls. It was delicious. Every last bit of it!

I highly recommend this place for breakfast, lunch and dessert, so here's the info...

Cakes and Confections
342 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park, MD 21146

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Dolle's Caramel Popcorn

I love Dolle's caramel popcorn from Ocean City, Maryland and am so pleased to have some this summer! ...especially when I may not make it to the Ocean City boardwalk myself this season. In fact, snacking on this specific treat was on my Summer To Do List. Check!  It's hard to believe that I crave this during the summer when it doesn't even contain any chocolate! I prefer the taste of Dolle's over that of other brands. It is delicious and I highly recommend it!

Check out this pot of gold...

My first bite on the 4th of July.
Happy holiday to me!
[Nail color is Style Hunter by Essie.]

This is the half gallon size.

If you have to have some now, you can order a bucket online at, call 1-800-337-6001 or visit them on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland.