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CITY GUIDE: Indianapolis

February 9

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Kelley Heneveld of Indianapolis!

I’d like to show you the lovely city of Indianapolis, “Crossroads of America.” Since biking is my main form of transportation and the best way to get around, we’ll see Indy by bike.

1. Let’s start with breakfast at the City Market. The market is housed in a beautiful historic building established in 1886. Not only does it hold the local farmers market (summer and winter) but also numerous restaurant vendors.  I suggest getting a crepe and coffee at Three Days in Paris, a “pain au chocolat” at Circle City Sweets, or a fresh squeezed organic juice at Natural Born Juicers. If you forgot to bring your bike along, let’s walk next door to rent one at BGI’s Indy Bike Hub.

2. Over the last few years, the city of Indianapolis has been constructing the Cultural Trail, a path that gives you a great tour through different areas of town. From the City Market, the trail will take us to White River State Park, the Indianapolis Zoo, and Indy Slow Food Garden. We can visit any of these places and then continue along the canal, passing the State Museum along the way. When the trail comes off the canal, we’ll visit the Central Library. It a beautifully renovated library with one of my favorite views of the city from the sixth floor. The landscape includes the War Memorial Historic District- second only to Washington D.C. in acreage and number of monuments dedicated to veterans. You’ll notice “The Monument” as the city’s center point down the way.

3. We’re probably getting hungry for lunch, so we’ll get on the Monon. This rail trail extends north as far as Carmel (more than 16 miles total). Our destination is Goose the Market, a charcuterie that sources only local meats and specialty foods.  Featured in Bon Apetit and voted “Best Sandwich” by the people of Indy, the Batali is always a great pick. We can sit at the community tables downstairs, drinking a craft beer or wine with our meal, or at the counter upstairs with a specialty soda and bag of locally made potato chips.

4. The Monon will take us back to the heart of the city.  Let’s lock up our bikes and stroll around Mass Ave. We’ll definitely stop in Silver in the City, one of the hottest shops that carries many locally made products and art. If we’re in the mood for an afternoon cocktail, we’ll visit Ball & Biscuit, a prohibition style lounge. If yogurt sounds better, it’s definitely Yogulatte; or beer, Chatham Tap.

5. Let’s grab our bikes and follow the Cultural Trail to Fountain Square for dinner and late night activities. Fountain Square is a growing attraction as a hip art scene- one of the most colorful, exciting districts in Indy.  We can dine on anything from Thai to Mexican, local to greasy diner fare. Afterwards let’s imbibe! Locally made meads at New Day Meadery or beer at Fountain Square Brewery are my suggestions. We can see a show at White Rabbit Cabaret or Radio Radio, go duck pin bowling at the historic Fountain Square Theatre, visit IMOCA, or finish the evening with a few more drinks at Brass Ring Lounge. It’s been a lovely day.

A big thanks to Kelley of Kelley Jordan Photography for sharing her favorite Indianapolis spots and photos. You can follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook!

Featured image by House of Hall.

Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box Review

February 8

A few months ago I discovered Turntable Kitchen’s Pairing Boxes via Halle’s blog! I absolutely loved the idea and knew I’d want to subscribe soon and give it a try. The whole experience leading up to receiving my box was wonderful. I subscribed through their website and blogged about it the following week. Soon after, one of the guys from Turntable Kitchen commented on the blog post and started following me on Twitter. I only planned on subscribing for one month (and maybe a few more random months in the future) so when I couldn’t figure out how to unsubscribe, I emailed Turntable and they responded instantly. Within 2 minutes, I had confirmation that I would not receive another box in March. (Disclaimer: I didn’t unsubscribe because I was unhappy with anything but only because I like to try new subscriptions every month. If only I had a separate bank account to stay subscribed to to all of these wonderful services).

After receiving my first Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box, I can wholeheartedly say that I would recommend this subscription to anyone who loves music and food (okay who doesn’t love music and food?). The box came wrapped all lovely and it was fun unwrapping it all. Here’s what was inside:

Inside I found:

  • A specially-made letterpressed invitation card from Jen Merrill of Green Quince
  • A Heart Part from iHeart-This
  • 3 recipe cards (Roasted carrots with spoked paprika & honeyed yogurt — steamed mussels & beans — and Pear, Honey & Rosemary Galette)
  • Smoked Paprika
  • A vinyl of Thousand – The Fall/Your Wild Heart

I also get a digital mixtape as well as digital copies of the Thousand tracks on their website! I absolutely love this box pairing and I can’t wait to make those recipes. I think this subscription will be really fun to sign up for every few months. I paid $27.00 for the box (that price included shipping) so it’s not exactly something that I can afford monthly. Let me know if any of you sign up for it and be sure to share what was inside!

#phonephoto Week 1 : White

February 7

I’M SO EXCITED! The photos for week 1 of #phonephoto turned out fantastic! The theme for this week was WHITE and I love the different shades, hues and interpretations. Each set contains wonderful photos and I’m so astounded at how lovely they all look together. Each set also links to the photographer’s site (if provided) My favorites are Riette’s, Sue’s, Sharon’s, and Ballookey’s! Which sets are your favorite?

Next week’s challenge is to submit a set of four photos based on the color red. You can see all the details here if you want to join in. All submissions are due by Sunday at 8pm. Happy snapping!

Julep Nail Polish Winner

February 3

Congrats to Jessica Rogers who won my Julep nail polish giveaway! Her comment (below) won via random.org:

You’re sweet to do this giveaway – Hayden is the perfect shade for spring and definitely something I wouldn’t purchase on my own!

Jessica, I’ll be emailing you for your address and to see if you still want a bottle of Hayden! Thank you to all who entered and enjoy your weekend!

A Guide to Coffee Brewing

February 3

Today’s post was written and inspired by Ben Blake (of Mount Vernon, Ohio). He loves coffee, blogs over at Draw Coffee, is an amazing illustrator, and I’m excited for him to share his knowledge of coffee here on my blog. I mean…I love coffee and honestly a lot of the methods he explains below really changed my coffee-life. Enjoy!

Three weeks ago, I retired my automatic drip-brew coffee maker for good. Abandoning the “convenience” of tossing some coffee in a plastic pot and pressing a button, I’ve spent the last two years trying out different brewing methods and the results have been fantastic. I’m convinced that if you’re willing to put just a little bit more time into the process of making coffee, you’ll be surprised at how much more enjoyable it can be.

Here are just a few methods you can try:

1. The Pourover: I use a Hario V60. The pourover is a simple cone that you can set right on top of your mug. Once you heat your water to the right temperature, the idea is simple. Pour hot water over freshly ground coffee and into your cup. The pourover gives you control over the temperature of your water, the speed at which you pour, and ensures you’re saturating all the grounds evenly. The pourover makes great coffee and is simple to use.

2. The French Press: The french press has always been a great “next step” for those who are getting serious about their coffee. It’s really easy – place coffee grounds into the pot, steep them in hot water, and press the filter down. The benefit of a french press is the “full immersion” that the grounds go through. Steeping the grounds in hot water for such a long time (about 4 minutes), rather than just pouring water over and through them, allows many of the natural oils and features of the bean to shine. Plus, the mesh filter doesn’t absorb the oils, allowing for a much more full-tasting, flavorful cup. Beware the grit at the bottom of your cup – the french press filter misses some of the more fine grinds!

3. The AeroPress: First off, let’s get this out of the way. The AeroPress looks like a cheap play toy — but don’t let that fool you. Made by the creator of the Aerobie Flying Disc, the AeroPress employs a full-immersion brewing technique much like the french press, and is my personal favorite way to make coffee. The combination of full-immersion brewing and the air pressure used to press the coffee makes for a flavor-packed cup of coffee that limits acidity and produces a much more clean cup of coffee than the french press. In short, you get the mind blowing flavor-benefits of the french press (perhaps more) with none of the grit. Whenever I’m trying a new coffee, it goes through my AeroPress first.

4. The Chemex: The Chemex is a beautiful piece of glass designed by a German scientist in the early 1940’s. The actual brewing technique basically mimics that of a pourover – the difference lies within the Chemex filters. These filters are specially bonded to remove “unwanted oils and fats” that make coffee taste bitter. I love everything about the chemex, and proudly display it on my shelf. It’s that beautiful. Expect a rich, smooth, clean cup of coffee with the Chemex.

5. Siphon Brewer: One of the oldest styles of making coffee, the siphon combines full immersion brewing with a filter, and produces a clean, extremely bright cup of coffee. Water is heated over a heat source in the lower chamber, and rises to the top. Coffee grounds are added, allowed to steep, and the pot is removed from heat, causing the coffee to drop back down through the siphon, straight through the filter.  I had my first siphon at Intelligentsia Millenium Park, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. It’s a bit tricky to master at home, but it’s a very intimate, involved way to brew coffee – I’ve had some of my favorite cups of coffee made in a siphon.

Brewing coffee is more than just pressing a button. For some, it’s an art form, and for others, like me, it’s a hobby.

Each method I’ve tried accentuates different features of the coffee, and has truly increased my appreciation for the entire process. I encourage you to dive into your coffee a bit more – find some locally roasted coffee, buy a grinder, pick up a new brewing method. It doesn’t take much effort, and the end result is a great cup of coffee, full of flavor and made with care.

The methods outlined here are basic summaries, and only scratch the surface. More in depth instructions can be found all over the internet. Some of my favorite places to look for brewing methods and techniques are brewmethods.comdearcoffeeiloveyou.com, and intelligentsia.com.

CITY GUIDE: Cleveland

February 2

Today’s City Guide is brought to you by Shelley Turk of Cleveland!

I’m sure I could do one million variations of a Cleveland City Guide. There is so much to do and explore in this city and I attribute that to the creatives and die hard Cleveland fans. I’m not talking sports fans, I’m talking about the ones that get up every day and say, “I love this city!” I highly consider myself one of these fans. So here is a collection of my favorite locations throughout Cleveland, Ohio.

Whether you like it or not, vintage will always be around. History often repeats itself and individuals are becoming more creative. In a society filled with big box stores, it is nice to find mid-century furniture pieces or a floppy hat that can make your normal spring outfit stand out. Flower Child at W. 116th and Clifton is exactly the place to find these unique digs. 30’s – 70’s are featured in this two level store so if you are in the mood for shopping or just some vintage inspiration stop into Flower Child.

We might not be Portland or Seattle but Cleveland takes their coffee very seriously. Root Café in Lakewood is just down the street from Flower Child and roasts one amazing coffee. They also feature a vegan and vegetarian kitchen as well as an organic bakery. I love in the winter when the windows get all steamy from good coffee and great conversation. If you head down to Ohio City, you can stop into Koffie Café. A smaller venue tucked right next to Market Ave Wine Bar, across the street from Great Lakes Brewery Co. and just caddy corner from my favorite location in the entire city, The West Side Market.

The West Side Market has been a staple in Cleveland dating back to 1840. I LOVE this place. I could spend hours here. From the fresh produce outside, to the meat, fish and cheese market inside, the market is a great location to pick up your weekly groceries or prepare a special meal. And if you head to the south west corner of the building, you can catch the stairwell up to the balcony. It’s a great location to drink a coffee or enjoy a sausage sandwich. Be sure to grab a picture while you are up there; the market is absolutely gorgeous!

After the Market, explore the neighborhood of Ohio City or head down into the flats to view the industrial river bank. The West side of the Cuyahoga River provides some amazing views of the city skyline as well. I personally like all of the texture from the bridges and machinery that make our city work.

Downtown is a whole other world of fun and excitement. East 4th just off Euclid Avenue has home dining, entertainment and shopping adventures. East 4th features Lola, owned by Cleveland’s very own Top Chef Michael Symon, The Greenhouse Tavern and the newest addition NoodleCat. If shopping is more your style, head into Dredgers Union for fashion and home goods. Designed and styled by owners Danielle Deboe and Sean Bilovecky, Dredgers is absolutely beautiful! You also have West 6th, East 9th, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Little Italy, Tremont, The Museums, Wade Oval…I mean I could go on forever. For me, the options above are my favorites and that is what matters right? So the next time you’re up for a weekend road trip be sure to stop into CLE. We’ll be waiting with a nice smile and a warm cup of coffee.

You can keep up with Shelley over on her blog or follow her on Twitter!

Featured image by ifmuth.

February Reading List

February 1

I read two books last month. I didn’t start The Help until Monday of this week so it’s rolling over into February. My February Reading List includes White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I’ll be trying to work through the books that I physically own until I make a dent at my Goodreads list. I’m drawn towards darker (and even a little creepy) literature so I’m not used to reading books that are more popular. I’m also currently reading Designers Don’t Read by Austin Howe and Creative Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joe Deangdeelert Cho. Both are more design/creative oriented and are not fiction so I’m not including them in my lists. What are you reading this month?

January Reading List Update

January 31

At the beginning of January, I posted my 2012 reading goals. Read three books every month. Well, I’ve already failed. I got through The Ice Queen and Bossypants but I’m still in the process of finishing The Help. Even though I technically didn’t finish all three before February 1st, I’m still impressed that I got to each one.

The Ice Queen was a very interesting read. It took me about three days to finish and after it was done, I didn’t think about it much. The story is unique in its storyline but it definitely has its depressing moments. I’m oddly a fan of depressing fiction so it was right up my alley. Bossypants was freaking hilarious. I literally laughed out loud throughout the entire thing. I adore Tina Fey and will probably read it again later in life.

I’ll be posting my February reading list tomorrow afternoon so be sure to check back! Also, feel free to leave any recommendations in the comments section.

ONE DAY: Andrew + Erinn

January 31

Today’s ONE DAY feature is all about Andrew and Erinn. I “met” Erinn on Twitter and was thrilled that she wanted to share some of her lovely wedding details. They got married December 10, 2010 at The Cypress Grove Estate House in Orlando, Florida. Erinn describes their wedding palette as “dark sapphire blue, berry and green.” Learn more about their wedding day below:

1. What do you remember most about your wedding day? Laughing my whole way down the aisle. This sounds silly, but for those that know me, you know I’m always smiling. When I’m nervous, I make myself laugh. You’ll see a common trend in all of our wedding photos that I laughed the whole day. My husband and I had been dating since we were in the 8th grade – which is so, so long. But as I walked down the aisle and saw Andrew, it was like everything we had been working towards, everything we wanted to be had lead up to that particular moment. I was overwhelmed with joy.

2. What was your vision for your wedding before you actually started planning? How did that vision change by the time you were finished? I had been working as a wedding planner for 3 years when we got engaged. I was constantly surrounded by pretty details and dresses that I knew in my head exactly what I wanted to happen. My vision was simple, southern and bright. I wanted the colors to grab your attention before you knew what to do with them. I wanted vibrance, classic charm and personal touches. We grew up together in Florida, so we wanted it outside by a lake in the perfect December weather. We wanted to dance under a canopy of market lights with amazing music and our closest friends that we grew up with. It never changed and was beyond perfect.

3. What was your favorite and least favorite part of wedding planning? Favorite part had to be planning everything with my Mom. I’m the girly girl of the family, so it was no surprise to anyone that I whipped out a huge binder of all of my favorite wedding ideas the day we got engaged. My mom and I planned every single detail together, and I wouldn’t have changed that. My least favorite part is easy, the budget. Hands down. I had no problems telling my brides where to spend their money – but for some reason this was a really difficult task for me.

4. How did you go about finding your wedding photographer and videographer? I picked our wedding photographer right away. I had worked with Lindsey of Pure Photography several times before. We were friends, and we grew closer as she was so involved in the wedding planning with me. Her images are fresh, vibrant and breathtaking. I knew she’d fit in perfectly. We opted out of not having a videographer, and now I wish we would have. If anything, for the speaking moments of family members and friends.

5. Did you have any favorite DIY wedding projects? I had so many! We made tissue paper pom poms to hang between the arch ways around the dance floor amphitheater. It was the perfect touch and so easy to do! We folded them up and brought them with us, while we all were getting our hair ready we prepped the pom poms and hung them ourselves. We cleaned and polished my great grandmother’s antique silver catering pieces and spread them out through out the wedding – from the centerpieces to the favors, it was a constant reminder of family. My most favorite though, was instead of a traditional guest book we used green and berry Christmas tree ornaments and let our guests write their well wishes right there, and then hang them on a tree. Our first Christmas at home was filled with these ornaments in random vases, bowls and even some on the tree.

6. What advice do you have for newly engaged couples that are starting to plan? Do your research! Read blogs, know that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have the wedding of your dreams, go to several stores to try on dresses even if you are convinced that it’s the right one…take your time! If something isn’t a good fit, recognize it from the beginning and do something about it. I changed our florist half way through the planning because I realized they couldn’t deliver what we wanted. It was best decision of the whole process. The flowers really pulled everything together.

Their photographer was Pure by Lindsey, flowers by Thallo Floral Design , coordinating by Swoon Over It.