Monday, July 6, 2015

The best basic dress you'll ever buy

This is a simple navy cotton dress from the Gap that I picked up a few weeks ago and have been wearing everywhere - it's styled online and in the stores with a tie belt but looks so much better without it! It's loose, voluminous, and looks way more expensive than the $47.99 that it is currently retailing. The high neck and simple shape is a perfect backdrop for my favorite costume jewelry like this vintage doorknocker necklace (copied from my friend Elle, whose style I covered here.)

Other ways that I've styled this dress have been with cage heels, big earrings and a clutch to wear out; with a blazer and lace up flats for work; and with a beach bag and gold sandals for the beach. It literally goes anywhere!

If you haven't been in the Gap lately, I suggest you change that ASAP. It has become my favorite source of wardrobe staples that are also comfortable and extremely affordable. (Shout out to my friend Sara who reintroduced me to the Gap - I credit her with this find, plus a few of my other Gap favorites like this dress, these pants, and this sweater, all of which came with me on my 4th of July trip to North Carolina).

Friday, June 26, 2015

A healthy spin on Thai takeout

Thai food is my kryptonite: I can eat vegetables and lean protein all week, but Friday night rolls around and there is nothing coming between me and my hankering for panang curry with rice.

Because its summer, and because I'm trying to stay really committed to my health (including sticking to my beautiful skin anti-aging regimen courtesy of Beyonce's dermatologist - more to come on that topic), my weekend favorite foods need a makeover. I decided to start with my typical Thai takeout order and see just how disappointing it would be to up the health factor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How to layout your living room

Our new apartment is amazing, but posed some serious challenges for the living room layout. There literally was not a place for the TV unless we sacrificed the windows and I just wasn't willing to do that. So, we got rid of the TV. (Ok, really we turned a 3rd bedroom on the first floor into a den and it turned out to be the best idea ever.)

Anyway, our living room is really bright with an exposed brick wall that I love, and decided to let it go au natural with the only statement-making decor choice being a large red wool Moroccan rug.

 We didn't have room for large furniture, so I let the couch and rug take center stage, and added some extra seating and modern side tables to bring it all together. (I found the clear acrylic nesting tables on Amazon for $165 and it was the best buy ever. They are the PERFECT modern touch to balance my random collection of assorted vintage furnishings.

Raw silk drapes in a dark gray added some texture to the room, and also block out the light when I am trying to read my Kindle! The old drapery rods from our other apartment fit perfectly, as did a hand-me-down brass lamp that never quite worked in our other places.

These mismatched side tables (from Target, can you believe it!?) are the right height and work together because of the round shape and metallic tones. They also help to balance out the old, dinged-up vintage furniture in the room!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A love affair with lace-up flats

Lately, I've been hunting for fancy flats to replace my high heels (my old age is catching up to me, and practicality is slowing winning). These lace up flats are my latest obsession, and they go with literally everything in my closet and have the added bonus of lending a little edge to an otherwise boring outfit. I paired them with this vintage navy work dress, a big black leather tote, tortoiseshell shades and red lipstick for my most exciting work outfit in years. I've been wearing these to work, to walk the dog, to drinks, etc. and getting lots of compliments.

I was originally inspired by these amazing Aquazzura flats, but found these Rock & Republic ones for a fraction of the price at my secret source for amazing footwear. These flats have been so versatile that I wanted to go back and get them in nude but much to my dismay they were fresh out of size 9.5 (in case your size is sold out too, I found another great lace-up flat option in black for a similar price on Amazon).

So, the hunt continues for the perfect nude pair but fortunately I stumbled on these Topshop snakeskin shoes and promptly added to my shopping cart.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chorizo, kale and cheddar quiche

My family is really into brunch, and my mom has always made amazing crust-less quiches that are filling and delicious. It's the perfect dish to make when hosting a brunch because it is virtually the easiest thing to make and requires almost no skill nor cleaning of a waffle maker (and how you do that is a complete mystery to me, might I add.) This picture is my latest quiche masterpiece: a chorizo, kale and cheddar concoction that gets rave reviews from my doughnut-loving husband. (In full disclosure, he might just be encouraging any attempt I make to use our kitchen for its intended purpose.) But in all seriousness, it is really easy, tasty and good for you: it has all the satisfaction of making a platter of fajitas (in fact, goes really well with light sour cream,guacamole and salsa) with none of the associated guilt.

I hosted some of my favorite friends for brunch on Sunday and made this quiche after shamelessly bragging to them (and my colleagues, my mom, people in line behind me at the grocery store, etc.) about my new found quiche baking abilities, and am passing along the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

Chorizo, Kale and Cheddar Quiche

You'll need: a casserole dish, a fry pan (I use a cast iron one), a mixing bowl, Pam baking spray, a couple of chorizo sausages, a dozen eggs, 1/2 c. shredded cheddar (I like aged white cheddar with this, but traditional is fine), a couple tablespoons of cream or half n' half, kosher salt, black pepper, and kale or other leafy mixed greens (I like kale, chard and spinach). 

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 400. Put the fry pan on medium heat. Squeeze the chorizo out of its tube into the fry pan, and break it up into small chunks with a spatula. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Drain the excess oil. 
Step 2: Add the greens to the chorizo and wilt them. I usually use a LOT of greens in this recipe, but it's really to taste. You can also add the greens fresh for a different texture, but I like them wilted.
Step 3: In the mixing bowl, whisk your eggs with the salt, pepper, cream, and cheese. Add the chorizo and greens mix. Stir.
Step 4: Generously spray casserole dish with Pam, and pour in the quiche mixture. If you want to add more texture, sprinkle the top with raw kale leaves (they will come out crispy when done!)

Step 5: Bake, at least 25-30 minutes, until well done, and serve immediately.

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to shop for vintage furniture

Obviously, this is a topic close to my heart - so many things in my home are older than me. I love strolling flea markets and discovering something that I'll never find again. In a world filled with low quality, build-it-yourself Scandinavian furniture, it's so worth it to take a little extra time to hunt for a pre-scuffed, solid wood credenza with dovetail drawers and brass fixtures (for the same price as a Malm dresser).
It's taken me a lot of trial-and-error to get the hang of collecting vintage. Learning to tell the difference between a diamond in the rough versus something that truly should remain on the curb for the trash collectors takes practice. Fortunately, there are some great resources for hunting down your next vintage piece if you're not quite ready to start trolling thrift stores. There are a number of places that have started taking some of the guesswork out of shopping for dinged up old furniture.
I was recently introduced to Chairish, an online vintage consignment concept that is truly genius (and they'll deliver, so you don't have to worry about how to fit that midcentury modern surfboard coffee table into your Honda Civic like I did). In addition to the online offerings of vintage furniture, decor, art, and jewelry, Chairish has curated city guides to help you source the perfect piece for your home (I'm loving the Chicago City Guide). They sent me a sneak preview of their latest venture in helping the world see beyond Ikea: a one-page vintage buying guide that breaks down the designers, materials and designs to look for when you're out there on your own and it's just between you and a large, worn-in leather womb chair on the side of a road somewhere.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Call for photos of your homes, rooms, work spaces and projects!

For the past few months, I've been working on a new project and need your help! Do you have an amazing space in your house that you'd love to share? A new project or freshly designed work space? If yes, it would be wonderful if you would consider snapping a few photos (iPhone will do!) and sending them to me along with some key details (background on yourself, the space/project, and sources for materials/furniture/decor). It will be considered for a spotlight in a soon-to-be-launched new venture into amateur interior design. Send to colleenmariekelly <at>

(Speaking of amateur, above is my trusty armoire craft space that desperately needs to be organized and styled in our new apartment. My art supplies are getting anxious without a home to live.)