31.1.12

spiced eggplant with bulgar salad

This is a very healthy vegan dish. At first, when I was making this, I wasn't sure if I would like the eggplant. But as the eggplant roasted in the oven, it filled up the house with the most wonderful cinnamon scent. And eating it was even better. If you are not a fan of bulgar, you can absolutely substitute another grain like quinoa or could even use couscous. This salad is very versatile.

SPICED EGGPLANT WITH BULGAR SALAD
serves 2
adapted from here

1/4 c. EVOO
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise
1/2 c. quick cooking bulgar
1/4 small red onion, sliced thin
1/8 c. golden raisins
1/4 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/8 c. pistachios
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

Mix 1/8 cup of oil, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Score flesh of eggplant with diagonal crisscrossing lines. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of oil over each half. Season lightly with salt. Brush spice mix over each half. Place eggplant, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Roast until soft for about 50 minutes.

While eggplant is cooking, place bulgar in large bowl and soak in 3/4 c. of boiling water. Let soak for 45 minutes to soften and absorb water. Stir in onion, raisins, parsley, pistachios and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand for about 30 minutes.

Serve eggplant with a side of bulgar salad.

29.1.12

weekend: the hub's birthday

twenty-seven plus one for good luck . . . yummy cake . . . morning light . . . my new boots
~~~~
a little inspiration for the coming week:


cute rainy day ensemble

pictures of paris
~~~~
Friday night, the Hubs and I had dinner at Backstreet Grill. We hadn't been there in awhile so it was a nice change. Saturday, I went to run errands and then go pick up the Hub's birthday gift. Saturday evening, we went to the in-laws to celebrate the Hub's 27th birthday (and I found a pair of flat black boots on sale.) This morning we drove around and then we went to lunch with Rich's sister. This afternoon I did some work. It was nice to have a relaxing weekend.

How was your weekend?

27.1.12

francophile friday: a one bedroom in montmartre

Today, I am dreaming about being a whisked away to a little rental in Montmartre. This apartment is perfect for a bit of French coziness, great rooftop views, and bustling neighborhood to take a stroll in.

If money and time were no object, where would you go away to this weekend?

{images and rental information here}

24.1.12

vietnamese salad

I love finding new ideas for salads. I had a bunch Napa cabbage leftover from another meal so I started searching for a healthy use for my leftovers. I ended up adapting a recipe from Goop. I ate it all week for lunch - it is very addicting.

VIETNAMESE SALAD
serves 4
adapted from here

salad:
4 bok choy leaves, thick ends discarded, chopped
4 Napa cabbage leaves, chopped
4 romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
cilantro leaves from 8 stems, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 c. roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

dressing:
1 1/2 limes, juiced
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. garlic paste
2 Tbsp. finely diced red onion

Whisk ingredients for salad dressing. Toss salad ingredients with dressing. Enjoy!

22.1.12

weekend: legwarmers

french toast casserole using my recipe found here . . . franklin, jane's new puppy . . . hanging out at jane's in philly . . . all dressed up for the legwarmers concert . . . legwarmers . . . with tanya and jo . . . spray painted shoes . . . pieces of my outfit . . . ticket . . . the legwarmers . . . dancing
~~~~
a little inspiration for the coming week:


really excited for the jason wu target collection

love this bright and cheery bedroom

this map desk is really pretty
~~~~
I was so excited Friday night when the Hubs came home from his week-long class. We celebrated by eating dinner and binge watching episodes of Shameless. Saturday morning, I got up and made french toast casserole to bring with me to Jane's house in Philly. Jane, Tanya's friend, was celebrating her birthday along with Tanya's. So we had a lazy afternoon of brunch and Modern Family and then got ready to go to the Legwarmers concert. The concert was SO MUCH FUN! I had never been but I want to go see them again when they come to DC or Baltimore. This morning, I left to get back in time to watch the Ravens game.

How was your weekend?

20.1.12

francophile friday: my winter uniform

When I was living France in 2007, I noticed that, even on the coldest of days, French women and girls still managed to look chic. One of my favorite looks was the combination of a stylish jacket, scarf, and a pair of flat boots.

As soon as I got home, I hit the after-Christmas sales and got myself a pair of good quality flat brown riding boots. A little while later I found the coat I had been looking for - a long wool coat with a funnel collar. And, bien sûr, I had already come home with a bunch of scarves.

Although I have since bought a new coat, this still is, what I like to call, my winter uniform. Even though I am wearing different clothes underneath, if you were to only see me outside during the winter, you would pretty much think I wear the same thing everyday.

The above picture has made its rounds through the blogosphere and even on a francophile friday post a few weeks ago. But this is really what I think of when I think of my time in France and quintessential French style. But, of course, Léa Seydoux puts her own twist on a classic with a patterned coat. I am linking up with {long distance loving} for Friday's Fancies so here is my winter uniform, inspired by Léa:

1. Although Léa's coat is patterned, it is neutral enough to go with a range of outfits. This striped coat is a bit bolder as far as pattern is concerned but the muted colors make it pretty versatile.
2. I have so many scarves in a range of colors but one I do not have is in a darker blue. This cashmere wrap can be used as a scarf or a wrap.
3. I love Mulberry bags but they are a little out of my price range. This Mulberry Satchel is in a beautiful blue color that goes with anything.
4. Investing a quality shoe as classic as the riding boot is totally worth it. I have had my boots for over four years now and they are still hanging in there which i attribute to the quality! I was just lucky enough to get them for 70% off. Frye boots are some of the best boots you can buy and with the classic styles and quality they will last you for years.

Do you have a winter uniform?

19.1.12

winner of the delightfully noted giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the Delightfully Noted giveaway is Robin Scott. Congrats Robin! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your info!

And special thanks to Jennifer for sponsoring this giveaway!

{image via here}

18.1.12

my amazing hair journey

In November, I started to notice my hair getting really flat and heavy. I had been trying to grow my hair out for awhile and I just figured that since my hair is thin that it had hit its threshold for length and that I needed to get a cut to give it a bit more volume. So I made a haircut appointment for December.

For a few days after my cut, my hair felt great. It seemed to have a lot more body and the ends felt so much better. But then, it fell flat again. My so-called curly hair felt FLAT with an above the shoulder cut. No matter what I did, my hair would fall flat. I hadn't experienced this since elementary school. I couldn't even style it. Since my hair is naturally curly, if I curl it, it curls well and has a lot of volume. Not now. And, since my hair is thinnner, it also straightens pretty well (without humidity). But even when I would try and straighten it, it would end up greasy - another thing I have not experienced since elementary school.

So why am I telling you this?

About a week ago, in a moment of frustration, I facebooked my hair stylist at Enza's (which I have talked about on here before.) Zina, the shop owner who usually cuts my hair, asked about the products I am using. I had started using a new shampoo and conditioner in October. She suggested I come in and get my hair demineralized which essentially gets rid of any build up of hair products.

I went in on Sunday. I AM IN LOVE WITH MY HAIR! I cannot remember the last time my hair was this fab. It is so shiny and soft. I cannot stop touching it. And what was even better? It was only $20. I am seriously recommending this to everyone. Most likely, my conditioner was the culprit but since I switched both at the same time, I got rid of my shampoo too, just in case.

I went in and Zina put the treatment in my hair. Then I sat under the dryer for thirty minutes and read magazines. Then she rinsed my hair. My hair could squeak it was so clean. Even with my hair wet, it felt lighter.

Obviously, not everyone needs this but if you use products, ask your stylist about it. And if you are in the area, I highly recommend Enza's. All the products used are organic.

Have you tried any amazing products or treatments lately?

{image via here}

17.1.12

seared ahi tuna salad + a vegan update

The vegan update for this past week is short: I didn't even try. It was bad. I am sure I ate a few meals that were vegan but it just wasn't happening. I really can't even remember what I ate.

This week so far has started out alright and the rest of the week looks good. I have done a bit more planning and I am focusing more on making sure I am eating vegetarian and not worrying as much about the vegan thing.
~~~~
I made this salad over winter break while trying to lose a little weight before New Year's Eve. It was tasty and I felt good after eating it. I like a little bit of pink in my ahi but you are more than welcome to cook it all the way through if that freaks you out.

Also, please excuse the pictures in the last few and the next few weeks of recipe posts. Unfortunately my job is not very accommodating in letting me come home a few hours before sunset so that I can take photos in natural light. Stupid winter...

SEARED AHI TUNA SALAD
serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a first course

for the ahi:
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp fresh lime juice
2 ahi tuna steaks

for the salad:
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 c. mixed greens
1/2 c. shelled edamame

1. To make marinade for tuna, whisk together first 4 ingredients. Pour over tuna and let marinade for at least 30 minutes.
2. Whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, and salt for dressing. Toss half of dressing with mixed greens and edamame and then add more dressing as needed. Separate greens onto plates.
3. Heat skillet to medium-high heat. When pan is hot, place marinaded tuna into skillet. Sear for two minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Remove from pan and slice into desired thickness. Place on top of salad.

Enjoy!

16.1.12

weekend: a long weekend

my new nailpolish that i think will be perfect for spring . . . re-teaching myself to knit
~~~~
a little inspiration for the coming week:


5 tips for food photography

traveling with a baby

italian countryside getaway
~~~~
Friday night, we ordered pizza from a new pizza place (not that great) and then, since I hadn't been feeling great, I snuggled with Peyton in bed and fell asleep before nine. Saturday, the Hubs and I took down the Christmas tree and cleaned up the house. That night, we went to Green Hill for an international pub crawl. They set up different stations that represented different countries and each country had at least one type of beer and then some food. It was a lot of fun. Sunday, the Hubs left for DC for a week long class and I pretty much did some work, cleaned the house, and only left for a hair appointment. I had off work today as well so I cooked a little and just tried to relax until I went to my pole class this evening.

How was your weekend? I hope you got an extra day off.

monday giveaway: delightfully noted

Today's giveaway is from Delightfully Noted, an Etsy shop that carries personalized stationary, invitations, gift tags, and other paper goods. All of the items are lovely and cheery.

The shop owner says, "Hello! I'm Jennifer and I am just a Midwestern gal who has a love for all things paper. I'm also the owner and designer behind a charming little stationery shop called Delightfully Noted. In a world of e-mails and text messages, my hopes are that my bright and fun stationery inspire people to take up good old letter writing again! The stores collection includes everything from personalized note cards, to thank you cards, to party invitations."

Jennifer is giving away the Tiffany Blue Personalized Cards, one of her best sellers. This is a set of ten folded cards printed on beautiful white linen card stock personalized with the name of your choice. It also includes matching euro flapped Tiffany blue envelopes.

We are using Rafflecopter again this week - enter below the jump. (If you have trouble viewing it, you need to get Java.)

13.1.12

francophile friday: april, may

Recently, I came across the French brand, April, May, a creation of Diane Goldstein and her husband. Their fall collection has a little bit of sleek, a little bit of sparkle, a little bit of girl, and a little bit of prep. You can find pieces that you can wear to work, wear on the weekends, and wear for a night out.

What do you think?

12.1.12

winner of the little white chapel giveaway!

I am excited to announce that the winner of the little white chapel giveaway is Gaya. Congrats Gaya! Please email me at morgan.designblanc{at}gmail{dot}com with your information.

And special thanks to Paige for sponsoring this giveaway!

{image via here}

under the covers with niki: sexual new year's resolutions

{This is our seventh post for our feature "Under the Covers with Niki." You can read about sex therapy and see other posts here.}

Ladies, when setting goals for the New Year don’t rule out improving your sex life! Making resolutions to enhance your sex life can be empowering but it is easy to become over zealous. Like general resolutions, you should make your goals obtainable. Here are a few examples of straightforward resolutions that can go a long way:
* Shave your legs (if it makes you feel sexy!)
* Throw out “granny panties” and replace with new, sexy, undergarments
* Read a sex book
* Flirt more
* Buy a new sex toy
* Initiate sex once a week with your partner
* Try a new position
* Send a dirty text to your partner once a month
* Reveal a sexual fantasy to a partner
* Make a list of 5 things that turn you on
* Watch porn at least twice
* Have sex outside of the bedroom
* Read erotica
* Reserve “me” time to get in touch with your body
This list could go on forever and is really a personal choice for each individual as each lady has her own preferences. But don’t forget, just because these resolutions are more private doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still be held accountable. Here are a few suggestions to ensure that follow through with your resolution:
* Write it down (where only you will see) or develop a code and mark it on your calendar
* Put a sticky-note reminder on your bathroom mirror
* Tell your partner
* Share with your best girl friend—swap resolutions and check in every week!

Good luck and happy New Year!

{image via here}

11.1.12

sponsor post: the art of stacy

Please help me in welcoming our newest sponsor, The Art of Stacy. This Etsy shop has a beautiful selection of original digital art prints, art cards, and pro-marker art.

You can find fantasy paintings of fairies, angels, unicorns, animals, goddesses, and nature that seem to transport you to another world. Some paintings soothe and calm while others bring out an inner turmoil. Even in her seemingly simplest of drawings, there seems to be a bit of magic. Above are some of my favorites from the shop. Stacy also does custom art work, if you are looking for something in particular. Please have a look at her shop.

What are your favorites?

10.1.12

chicken lettuce wraps + a vegan update

First, I will discuss my vegan journey. I really should call this past week "the week that wasn't vegan." It started out very well with salads and quinoa veggie sushi. But then leftover chocolate from Christmas happened. And then work happened. And ruined meals happened. And then friends happened. I was going to journal my food for you but it really isn't a good vegan example so we will just skip it. I did resist creamy dips and chocolate chip cookies at work though.

This week doesn't look much better. Work is crazy and there are a lot of free meals and parties that make it hard to be vegan but, thankfully, not vegetarian. And this isn't supposed to be an added stress in my life so I am just going to go with it and eat vegan when I can.
~~~~
Today's recipe was made in December before vegan January. It is a nice healthy and quick meal that the Hubs and I can both agree on. I love the cool crispness of the lettuce against the warm, sweet and sour mix of the chicken and veggies. You could absolutely make this with tofu to make it vegan.

CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
serves 2

3 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/8 c. sugar
1/4 c. warm water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. hot mustard
1 tsp. hot chili sauce
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 c. water chestnuts, chopped
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 - 5 iceberg lettuce leaves

1. Heat oil and sauté chicken breasts for about 4 minutes on each side until done. Remove from pan and let cool.
2. Dissolve sugar in warm water. Add soy sauce, vinegar, oil, mustard, chili sauce, and garlic. Whisk.
3. Chop chicken to the same size as veggies.
4. Add water chestnuts, mushrooms, and onions to pan and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add chicken. Add sauce and simmer for 3 minutes.
5. With a slotted spoon, add chicken and veggies on top of lettuce leaves. Add a little bit of sauce on top. Wrap like a taco.

Enjoy!

9.1.12

monday giveaway: little white chapel

Today, I am excited that one of our blog sponsors, Little White Chapel, is giving an item away from the Etsy shop. I love the vintage inspired pieces this Etsy shop has for weddings, special occasions, and even everyday.


Paige, the shop owner, says, "Nice to virtually meet you! I’m Paige, the one-woman army behind Little White Chapel. I’ve always been a wedding junkie, and after I got married in 2009, I wanted to find a way to keep a toe in the wedding pond. I started Little White Chapel for fun, and now, two years later, it’s turned into my job. My items are all vintage-inspired, but re-worked a little to make them easy to wear in 2012. And although a lot of things I sell are designed for a wedding, many of them can be worn everyday, too!"

Paige is giving away a pearl chain necklace with your choice of white, ivory, or cream pearls. This is so versatile - it can be worn with something dressy or even with an everyday outfit.

I received really good feedback on using Rafflecopter on the last giveaway so here we go again. (If you can't view it, you need to get some Java.)

8.1.12

weekend: a friend's christmas

a table set with my kate spade and lenox wedding china . . . a few appetizers before dinner . . . mine and kathy's secret santa gifts . . . conlon made a bootie out of a napkin . . . cake balls made by ledesa
~~~~
After work on Friday, I went to the grocery store to pick up my fresh turkey and a few other items needed for dinner the next day. Then the Hubs and I went to the MIL's to borrow her place mats, napkins, and chargers. Saturday, we woke up, grabbed breakfast, and then ran a few errands. I went home and started on my turkey. While the turkey was in the oven I cleaned up the house and set the table (which takes a lot longer than I thought.) That evening, my college friends came over to celebrate Christmas. First, we ate appetizers and opened up our Secret Santa gifts. I got the Fried Chicken & Champagne cookbook that I wrote about here and a bottle of champagne; Brandon got Bananagrams and a Vineyard Vines bow tie; Sig got a pretty blue teapot and a selection of teas; Jevi got a pretty framed drawing with one of her favorite quotes on it; Conlon got a J. Crew headband, tee, and sweatshirt; Niki got a Vera Bradley clutch, a horse calendar, and sex chitchat book; and Kathy got a wine decanter, a bottle of wine, and Rabbit wine stoppers. I'd say we made out pretty well. Then we sat down to a four course meal. After that we went out to Market Street for a drink. Today, we went to brunch at a local diner. After everyone left, I went to the grocery store and took a much needed nap.

* Just a tip: I received a lot of full sets of china as bridal shower and wedding gifts but I never received any of my soup bowls. Kathy brought soup as our first course but instead of using one of my everyday bowls, we used the tea cups from the china set. It is the perfect amount of soup for a large meal and it is really cute too.

How was your weekend?

6.1.12

francophile friday: style inspiration from léa seydoux

Léa Seydoux always manages to look effortless. From her no-fuss hair to her natural makeup, she embraces classic pieces while adding her own whimsical touches.

What do you think?

{image via here, here, here and here}

5.1.12

nezia and jc's wedding

While writing yesterday's post, I realized I had never shared any pictures from my friend, Nezia's, wedding that I photographed back in August. I just recently finished editing them since I had been traveling for work for the last few months but for the most part I am happy with them considering I had never photographed a wedding before.

The wedding was at three o'clock in August so I had to battle harsh lighting while I learned how to rally people for photographs. After doing the big family and friend portraits, I couldn't see myself photographing another wedding. I was tired and hot and had been shouting for over an hour.

But then I had the little moments with just the beautiful bride and groom. They were so easy and so willing to try just one more location. And that is why I may just say yes again to a wedding. But I think for now, to get a bit more practice, I will stick with doing things like engagement sessions and family portraits.

What do you think? Any advice?