Archives

Look Good

One Look Three Ways: mywalit Blogger Bags

January 3, 2017

Hello Internet friends!! We are back from our hiatus sabbatical and can’t wait to share some of the things that have been happening in our lives! Danielle completed her barre teaching training certification, Julie moved to California AND started a new job in a new field (she made it out of the #retaillife and Danielle and Shae are so jealous) and Shae ended her daily commute to Bethesda by switching store locations (go say hi to her at the Free People in Harbor East).

We thought the perfect way to get back into the swing of things was to share a post all three of us have been working on for a little while now. A few months ago, mywalit asked us to partner with them and review some of their beautiful leather handbags. We’ve been testing functionality, durability and the ease of styling of three different kinds of bags from the Italian leather company. The three of us have unique styles and taste in hangbags but mywalit has enough variety to suit all of us (we also admired their line of wallets and the men’s collection). The quality of the leather is superb – Julie and Shae’s are soft and buttery, Danielle’s structured bag is sturdy and all three have worn well through daily use. The bags have proven to be practical and easily incorporated into our on the go lifestyles #bloggerlife.

 

Danielle – New York Medium Work Bag in Black

I like its classic shape that can go from work to happy hour with friends to a publicity event for the blog. My super portable laptop fits right in the side sleeve, and it has an optional long strap I can use when I need free hands for taking pictures for the blog – or holding a drink! Perfect #sidehustle bag.

 

 

Julie – Copenhagen Shopper in Sahara

When zipped, it’s perfect for going between meetings at work, when I’m bringing a folder/notebook/maybe ipad around etc. When it’s open it’s a perfect weekend bag, it’s big enough to carry a small makeup bag, wallet, v light sweater, etc. so it’s good for weekdays and weekends alike.

 

Shae –  Santa Monica Backpack in Black

I’m all about the perfectly sized backpack (not too mini but not the kind you had in school either). It’s ideal for keeping both hands free to hold my camera/phone/coffee/flowers/a loaf of bread or all of the above. In the rare occasion I’m not carrying anything else, I love that I can grab it by the loop handle on the top which also makes it easy to hang up when not in use.

 

You can get your own mywalit bag (or wallet) from their website or, if you are local to Baltimore, from The Store Ltd in The Village of Cross Keys shopping center off of Falls Road. You can find mywalit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Bags provided by mywalit. All opinions are our own.

Life Hack

Level Headed Leadership in Crisis

August 1, 2016

Staying level headed and calm in tense, frustrating and/or stressful situations can be difficult to say the least. Maybe you’ve had a disagreement with a coworker or have to mediate workplace drama.  Perhaps an awkward and potential throw down is occurring over politics at a family gathering.  Maybe your business was just robbed and it was scary and now you have employees and customers to calm down.  Perchance your wife forgot every college professors’ warning regarding plagiarism and very publicly stole someone else’s speech. Crisis management nightmares come in all shapes and sizes and always have the potential to spiral out of control quicker than Grandma can punch Uncle Ben in the nose.

Over 6 years of working in customer service and 26 years of dealing with people in general, has helped me hone the craft that is crisis management. During stressful situations the burden of leadership often falls to one person or a small group of people. Don’t be caught unprepared for your next crisis! Below are a few take aways on how to navigate a crisis like a true boss.

  1. Recognize the importance of your actions: It’s in those crucial moments of crisis that we define ourselves as a leader. Recognizing that everything you say and do in this window of time can directly escalate or deescalate the situation you have found yourself in.
  2. BREATHE: basic but important!
  3. Take it slow: Jumping to conclusions, moving too quickly, not gathering all the information first are rookie mistakes. You run the risk of looking like a real ass if you don’t get all your facts straight before approaching a scenario. Additionally, speak slowly. When tensions run high I often find myself  rushing through my words, letting my feelings take over and speeding through my sentences as if the faster they get out the quicker the whole thing will be over. Think about your words as they come out of your mouth and speak as calmly as possible.
  4. Be honest: Be upfront about what you know, what you can share with your team or parties involved, and what you can do to rectify the problems at hand. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t talk out of your ass in an attempt to make something go away. If you don’t have the answers, it’s okay to say “I’m not sure, but let me find out. I’ll get back to you.”  And then make sure to figure it out and get back to them.
  5. Keep a brave face: If you are in a leadership position or get thrown into one, remember that you are there for a reason! Someone trusted you and is looking to you to lead them out of Egypt. This means you do you best to keep a calm exterior and lead the way for those behind you.
  6. Don’t take it personally: Shit is gonna happen. Rude words are going to fly, feelings are going to be hurt, someone is going to be upset and not everyone can win in the outcome. This doesn’t mean you have to dwell on it forever. In the words of Queen Elsa, “let it go.” Once a problem is done and dusted it’s best to keep it that way. If you continue to harp on things it’s only going to hurt more.

Damage control is never a fun task but I encourage stepping up to the plate and dealing with it like a boss rather than stepping to the sidelines. Not only does it build character (like eating your vegetables) but it also helps you build a skill set that is invaluable in family and friend circles, the workplace and during personal crisis.

Eat/Drank

Cake Day Coca-Cola Cake

July 21, 2016

Don’t let the “cake” label fool you. This basically a big brownie pretending to be a cake.  In my recent trip to Charleston, SC., I got to enjoy this decadent dessert at one of my favorite Charleston restaurants, Jestine’s Kitchen.  Known for serving up southern favorites, this homey and humble restaurant often has a line of eager patrons wrapping around the corner, just to get a table.  This visit got me hankering for Coca Cola cake once I returned to Baltimore so I did a quickly google for recipes and landed on this one from Coca Cola’s website. It’s fudgey, rich and oh so sweet. And since today is my birthday, what better way to celebrate my cake day than by baking myself a cake?

Coca Cola cake from Jestine’s Kitchen

I left out the vanilla extract (I don’t own any) and if I make this again I will leave out the marshmallows (they added weird pockets of texture that I could do without). Other than that it was very reminiscent of the one I had in Charleston and satisfied my craving for this dessert. It also gave me the idea to try variations of this cake with other kinds of soda. Root beer float cake? Cherry Pespi cake? Candied Ginger ginger ale cake? Creamsicle Fanta cake?  I digress. Please enjoy this recipe for Coca Cola courtesy of Lee Avery Catts and the Coca Cola Company.


Ingredients

Cake:

2 Cups sugar

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1 Cup Coca-Cola

1 ½ Cup small marshmallows (optional)

½ Cup unsalted butter or margarine

½ Cup vegetable oil

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 Teaspoon baking soda

½ Cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Icing:

½ Cup butter

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

6 Tablespoons Coca-Cola

1 box (16-ounces) powdered sugar

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1 Cup chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 13 by 9 in baking dish.  In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour and marshmallows (optional) and mix well.



In a medium saucepan combine the butter, vegetable oil, Coca Cola, and cocoa powder and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Dissolve the baking soda into the buttermilk just before adding it to the batter. The baking soda/buttermilk mixture should froth up. Add this and the eggs and vanilla extract to the batter and mix well.


Pour into the baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes (baking time will vary by oven)



While the cake is baking, make the icing. Combine the powdered sugar, pecans and vanilla extract (optional) in a large bowl. Combine the butter, cocoa powder, and Coca Cola in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the sugar/pecan mixture and blend well.

Ice the cake immediately after it’s done baking. Allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Travel

Style Guide: A Week of Vacation Outfits

July 11, 2016

Currently sitting poolside, I’m wrapping up my family vacation in Charleston, SC. It’s been a very enjoyable #liangfamilyminivacation and although it was a short trip, we packed a lot in. We took the ferry to Fort Sumter, toured historic downtown Charleston via Old South Carriage Company, shopped the Charleston Farmers Market, hit the beach on Sullivan’s Island (where I became a sandy human churro), and got a taste of the nightlife at Stars Rooftop & Grill Room and 492.  Per Danielle’s recommendation in her Charleston Weekend Getaway, we had dinner at Five Loaves Cafe and had one too many Moscow Mules at The Rarebit‘s stellar happy hour.

I hate looking like a tourist but when you are one it’s hard to find the balance between style and practical. While we were here temperatures clocked in around 95 degrees while the sun was out. This made for a lot of sweating profusely and trying desperately to maintain some semblance of looking put together. I used to be a big outfit planner but when I arrived at my destination I would realize I had over packed and didn’t need half of the things I had brought. This time around, I had packed lightweight pieces that could be paired together and layered as the sun went down (or if the restaurant was chilly).  We were only here for four days but it would have been easy to rotate through the clothing to generate unique looks for every day of the week.

What to Pack:

White tee

Oversized muscle tank

Half cami or cute bra you don’t mind showing off

Gauzy button up maxi dress

Small backpack

Harem pants

Graphic tank

Denim shorts

Black shorts

Sunglasses and a couple of layering necklaces (should be the same metal or metals that mix well together)

DAY 1 

IMG_5103

Travel days call for loose fitting clothing. A soft graphic tank and loose harem pants is the perfect outfit for a long car ride/flight/bus trip/etc. It’s basically pajamas pretending to be day wear and doing a damn good job at it.

DAY 2

IMG_5101

Take those comfy pants, pair it with a white tee and grab your tourist-y back pack and take to sightseeing! This is a pretty simple look so feel free to layer on your necklaces or knot the side of the shirt to make things a little more interesting.

DAY 3

IMG_5104

Dress up your white tee and denim shorts with a gauzy unbuttoned maxi dress as a duster. This makes for a dramatic look that can easily be worn into the evening.

DAY 4 


A minimal short and half cami pairing is perfect for those really hot days. If you are like me and tend to quickly get too hot or too cold, bring along that maxi dress as a scarf or tie it around your waist for easy access.

DAY 5


Break up your monochromatic minimal look by throwing an oversized muscle tee on top. Give yourself a waist by tying a knot with some of the excess fabric (can you tell this is my favorite styling trick?).

DAY 6


Layer, layer, layer. This is the easiest way to keep your outfits feeling fresh as you recycle your pieces throughout the week. The maxi dress is a duster again and worn over shorts, the half cami and oversized muscle tank.

DAY 7 


By the last day of vacation, I’m usually at my laziest point. Trying to be fashionable is the last thing on my mind as I’m trying to cram as much vacation into those final hours. Throw that maxi dress over a swim suit and call it a day.

All of these pieces can be rotated for a few more days. The graphic tank can be paired with both the shorts. The tee and tanks can be layered over the maxi dress and tied at the waist to give the impression of a maxi skirt. If your vacation is longer than a week, throw a few more items in your bag and add to the rotation. For a more casual look, a long jersey dress can be layered with tees and tanks, and then worn solo to dinner. A short slip dress would also be good to throw in your bag. Layer it over tees for sightseeing and wear it alone or with the maxi dress duster for a night out. Remember that the key to making this work is to pick a color scheme and make sure your individual pieces will all pair well with one another. If you need help with packing light you can read my guide here. Happy vacationing!

Eat/Drank

Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls

June 27, 2016

Buffalo wings are one of my favorite foods – as previously implied by my vegan Buffalo Cauliflower ‘Wings’ recipe a few months back.  Spicy, tangy, fried and oh so messy, they are a fan favorite for game days, backyard barbecues and summer cookouts. As a less messy alternative to chicken wings – both in consumption and preparation (if you have ever deep fried anything, you know it’s a huge pain to clean up afterwards) – I started making these buffalo chicken egg rolls a few years ago.  It’s a more compact, less sticky and healthier substitute to actual wings that everyone will enjoy.  I mean, who doesn’t love something that resembles a tiny burrito, tastes like America and can be dipped in blue cheese dressing? Ammirite?

Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls

Ingredients

4 medium chicken tenderloins – cooked and shredded

1/2 cup buffalo sauce

6 oz (or half a bag) broccoli slaw – dry

Eggroll wrappers – I can normally find these in the fresh veggies section of the grocery store – often with the meat substitutes or with the Asian vegetables 

2 Tbsp olive oil

Small bowl of water


Add the buffalo sauce to the shredded chicken and mix well. Chicken should be fully coated and nice and saucy.


Place one eggroll wrapper (so that it looks like a diamond) on a clean, dry surface. Place a approximately a tablespoon or broccoli slaw and then a tablespoon on the buffalo chicken mixture at the bottom corner of the wrapper.


Roll the eggroll up like a little burrito, tucking the left and right corners in once you get almost to the top of the diamon shape. 

When you reach this point dip a finger into the bowl of water and imagine your eggroll is an envelope. Think of the water as “glue” and use the water to mimic licking an envelope. After that finish rolling your eggroll. 


Brush the eggroll all over with olive oil and place on a greased baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool, then serve with blue cheese dressing.