Casual Spring Style

Good morning! Are we all recovering from our post St. Pat's hangovers today? No comment on my end. But, if you're anything like me (aka, over the age of 25) I know that pain can last you well into the second day after, in which case this casual spring outfit may be your savior for the weekend ahead. Because who can think about looking cute for brunch with friends when they feel like the've been hit by a steamroller? Enter, this:

I think the real solution to pulling it together in the mornings (hungover or not) is making your getting ready process as streamlined and simple as possible. That's why joggers are always a good idea. Especially on the weekends. 

I picked up this inky navy pair at the Gap, and paired it with one of their nautical striped pocket tees. I don't know what it is about spring that brings out the prep hiding inside of me, but I'm coming to terms with it. Does anyone else feel this way? Should we start a support group with weekly meetings? I'll bring donuts.

To keep this from looking too informal, I stepped the shoe game up with these great Maioun loafers that I've been loving on for a minute now. You may have seen me post about them before here. Honestly, as comfortable as a pair of sneakers, but classy enough to get you to brunch without feeling underdressed.

What are your weekend plans? Where are you going, what are you doing, and what are you wearing there? I wanna know! Snapchat me @mogblog and tell me all about it. I can't wait to see! x

Irish Soda Bread with Salted Honey Butter

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Cheers to you all, my friends! I realize today is Thirsty Thursday, and you may think, what better day to share a cocktail recipe with you... but I stand behind my delicious Basil Cocktail from last week. And, I wanted to bake for you all today instead. I'm just full of surprises. As Nola says in the 2005 classic film Hustle & Flow, "Gotta keep the tricks guessing!" Or something like that.

I'll be the first to admit that Irish cuisine isn't at the top of my culinary repertoire, but any excuse to eat a carb is good enough for me. The real bonus here is that unlike most bread recipes, this is yeast-free, aka no rising time, aka you can make it and eat it in about an hour, aka watch out summer waistline, this bread is your nemesis. Whatever, you all still love me right? 

This recipe is inspired by my homegirl Jessica over at HowSweetEats - aka the food blog with the best photography this side of the Mississippi. I swear, everything she makes is drool-inducing and I find myself recreating her recipes at least twice a week. So head on over there for the full recipe. (Note: I made this my own by omitting the chocolate chips and cutting the sugar content in half, as I wanted a more savory finish. Feel free to ask me questions on how I did so in the comments below!)

Until then, I'll leave you with this:

Ah, heaven. Enjoy!

DIY Abstract Printed Canvas

Good afternoon, friends! It's midweek, and the temps are climbing, the days are getting longer, and spring doesn't feel like the too-distant future anymore. That means that it's time to brush off the dust of winter and start sprucing up for spring. I thought what better way to take advantage of your added post-work daylight than to do a simple (and fun!) DIY project for the home.

I was inspired (as always) by a recent trip to West Elm where I found myself once again looking at a piece of wall decor that I thought I could save some $$ and recreate myself. All you need is a few simple supplies and you can have a piece (or two!) of handmade art in your home in under an hour. Simply pick up the size canvas you want to use - I used two square 20" x 20" canvases. Then make sure you have a tube of acrylic paint, a large-ish brush or foam craft sponge, and some construction paper or cardstock.

I began by measuring out the layout of my canvases, by tracing very lightly in pencil. I'm going with this square-shaped gridded design. Then, I cut out the shape of each design element - a sort of half moon, in my case and used them to mark my layout. Now, once you're measured and ready to paint, simply follow the shape of your half moon with a brush to make a design that looks like this:

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For the second canvas, I chose to do the inverse. This is where the cutout shapes come in. Layed out and gently masking taped onto my canvas, I used them as a negative-stencil, and painted over them with paint. Then lifted each to reveal the white canvas underneath.

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When dry, they really are a totally unique piece of custom artwork that can stand alone or together. Remember to embrace the imperfection of it! That's what makes it uniquely yours! For decor ideas, use them stacked or side-by side. I think I'll be using mine in lieu of a headboard above my bed. They would also make a great addition to a gallery wall or leaning on a picture rail. I love simple abstract pieces like this because they can truly go just about anywhere. Versatility is key.

If you're at all interested in saving a little money but getting a fantastic payoff, really give this DIY a try - it's not at all difficult, and I'm sure you'll be glad you did! Don't forget to tag me on social if you do. I can't wait to see what you come up with! Cheers!

Modern Essentials by H&M

Happy weekend, friends! Spring is finally here and it's got me feeling like:

...Whatever that means. (I don't really know how to smile for the camera. Don't judge.) Anyway. Since the weather has been nothing short of beautiful these last few days, I took to the park in one of my favorite new spring looks - head to toe David Beckham for H&M.

David Beckham has been collaborating with H&M for a few seasons now to release a collection of hand-selected "Modern Essentials" and I must say the spring pieces are a hit with me. And not just because DB was my first crush. (It's true, I still have a poster of him hanging in my childhood bedroom. Yep.)

Both this tailored polo with collar detail and slim cut chinos are from the collection, and together, came in just under $40! Can't beat the price point for style this good.

To style this look, I chose to go modern prep, and pair it with my classic Ray Ban wayfarers, Stan Smith Adidas sneakers, and this old Coach weekender that I've had for nearly a hundred years. Typically, I don't advocate for such a trim fitting top, but something about a polo shirt demands it - otherwise, risk looking like someone's dad. Because the top is so fitted, I went with the slightly more relaxed chinos, and rolled the cuffs for a casual vibe.

And these aren't the only winners in the collection! Want to check out the rest of the looks for yourself? Get thee to an H&M or head over to their website here to see all the other great pieces David has to offer. Who knows, you might just see them make another appearance here before you know it. Enjoy your weekend, all. Cheers! x

Thirsty Thursday: Spring Basil Cocktail

Thirsty Thursday is here again, and boy have I got a good one for you! This cocktail is inspired (read: stolen) from my recent trip to Steven Starr's Parc restaurant here in Philadelphia. Called the Basilic, it combines all of the garden fresh elements of Spring that this weather calls for.

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Start by combining 3oz cucumber vodka and 1oz St. Germain with a handful of fresh basil a in a shaker with some ice. To assemble, use a vegetable peeler to slice ribbons of cucumber into tall glasses. Then add ice, and pour the contents of the shaker between two glasses. Top with club soda and garnish with a couple basil leaves.

These are fresh, green, and truly taste like Spring in a glass. What could be better? Personally, I'll be enjoying these to celebrate St. Patrick's day this weekend - so much better than green beer. Amirite? Just make them and find out for yourself. Cheers! x

Now Trending: Succulent Terrariums

Hey, Hello, Howdy, Hi! It's MARCH! We've (almost) made it through the winter. Finally. It's the month of SPRING! And while the outside temperatures may not fully reflect it yet, I couldn't help myself. I needed to bring a bit of vibrancy and green indoors. And what a better way to do that than with one of these:

Terrariums are the trendiest new home interior accessory since the Edison lightbulb. Don't believe me? Keep your eye out for them, and you'll notice them everywhere from home interior stores to your favorite restaurants. And why not - they bring some life and color to their environment, and somehow blend between vintage and modern decor seamlessly. Not to mention, they're hard to kill, for those of us with not-so-green a thumb. (Ahem, me.)

All you need to make a terrarium is a glass jar - I fashioned mine out of an oversized cookie jar from Target, but you can find them just about anywhere. Be sure to get several plants, succulents are perfect for this because they are particularly resilient - and some soil to fill in around them with. The other important components are some stones or pebbles, and moss.

To assemble, simply place a layer of pebbles in the bottom of your jar, followed by a layer of soil, and begin placing in your succulents, being sure to arrange them with a little breathing room between each. Fill in any remaining areas with additional pebbles and soil, and then top with a layer of moss, gently pushed down over top. Then, give it a little H2O, and it's good to go!

Place it anywhere your home could use a breath of fresh air - the kitchen, a bedroom, even your living space! It only needs a trickle of water a couple times a week, leaving the rest of the time for you and guests to enjoy its presence. If you're anxious for the spring like I am, this is the perfect little project to sustain you until those temperatures begin to rise. Give this a try, I'd love to see what you come up with! Cheers! x

How to Hang Your Own Gallery Wall

Hello, you weekend warrior, you! Are you as excited that February is almost over as I am? March is nearly upon us - meaning Spring is just around the corner. I'm itching with anticipation. But since it's still a little chilly to venture outdoors and have some fun in the sun, I thought I'd do a little pre-Spring cleaning. Well, not really cleaning, so much as sprucing up. Look at what I hung up this week:

That's right. I finally gathered enough items to assemble into a (what I'm sure will be continuously growing) gallery wall! I've wanted to do this for quite awhile, but something kept holding me back - was it the fear of putting nails into the wall? That is a v real concern in my book.

Enter, Command brand strips! I have to say, I was skeptical of their power at first, but oh how I've seen the light. Not only to they not damage your wall with any permanent holes, their velcro-based design allows for a little tweaking if you happen to but them on a wee-bit crooked.

But besides the hanging of the wall, there's the gathering of items, and determining their layout. My tips for this are as follows: chose items that are a variety. In every sense of the word. Look at different shapes, sizes, colors, materials, textures. Some flat, some three dimensional. Old and new. Wood and Metal. You get where I'm going here. And always make sure to include personal touches - for example, the clothespin drawing in the bottom right was a sketch done by my late grandmother. I'm happy to have a piece of her's in my home.

As far as the layout is concerned, make sure that there is enough breathing room between each piece, so you can really appreciate them individually, and as they make up part of the larger gallery. Practice your layout on the floor, by marking off roughly the size and orientation you want your pieces to be, and then hang them one by one, making sure to stay true to your design.

I can't tell you what a fun - and surprisingly simple! - project this was. If you're anything like me, you already have a good deal of this stuff laying around anyway, why not put it to use? Your guests will be impressed, and nobody will be the wiser that you did it all with some velcro and a prayer! Cheers to the weekend, and happy almost spring! x

Philly Fashion Week: The Menswear Shows

Happy Friday Friends - are we all recovering from our National Drink Wine Day hangovers from last evening? I can't say I drank much wine (shocking, I know) but I did however, have the pleasure of attending this:

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That's right. Philly Fashion Week is a thing. And it's sponsored by Geno's steaks. Yes, the cheesesteak place. Is there anything more Philly than that? Honestly, probably not. I was sitting front row (clock me in my glasses, clearly taking a selfie in the photo above) for the menswear shows - so I got an up close and personal look at all the designers (and models) had to offer.

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 photo by Senia Lopez

photo by Senia Lopez

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The show started strong, with a showing by Aye Hommes menswear, accessorized with Philly's own D. Leak Bowties. What I particularly enjoyed about this collection was the consistency of the visuals from one model to the next. The black rabbit-ear domino masks were a nice wink and nod to something a bit naughty, which was well suited to their other accessories (D. Leak is famous for his all leather neckwear.)

I was also particularly fond of the second collection in the show, BWC Garments. Short for Built With Craft, BWC showcased a unique line of colorblocked sportswear in pieces that I could actually see myself wearing. I had my eye on one two-tone oxford shirt in particular. Duh.

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Having been my first experience with Philly Fashion Week, I have to say, I was impressed merely by sheer volume of participants alone. Throughout the evening, I saw 7 different collections from a variety of designers ranging from eveningwear to swimwear and everything in between.

Don't worry if you missed out - follow my story on Snapchat @mogblog to see the rest of last night's shows. See you there. x

Heart-Shaped Chocolate Shortbread

Good morning, and happy chilly (read: frigid) V Day! Is everyone else as officially over this arctic weather as I am? Being from the east coast, I truly don't mind the cold. However, when it is painful to set foot outdoors, all of that goes out the window. And seeing that it is painful to endure today's single digit temps, it seems only right that I should stay in and bake something cozy. Enter, chocolate shortbread. The best part about these cookies? You probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now - they don't even require eggs! Plus, they're cute for Valentine's day, if you're into that sort of thing.

To make this oh-so-simple recipe, sift together 2 cups of flour with 2/3 cup of cocoa powder and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream 2 sticks of softened butter with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, a pinch of salt, and a splash of vanilla. (I literally never measure vanilla extract. I know, I like to live dangerously.) Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined, then roll out onto a sheet of wax paper until it is about 1/4" thick, and place in the fridge to chill.

After half an hour, remove from the fridge, and cut into heart shapes. Place on a baking sheet (you can fit lots on here, as they don't spread when baking) and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Allow to cool fully and decorate (or not) as desired. I melted some chocolate and used pink and silver decorating sugars because I was feeling fancy. Though these are equally wonderful eaten sans decor.

Obviously, this recipe is not V Day specific, but those little hearts are just so damn cute. And being that you surely have all the ingredients on hand - you don't even need to run out for eggs! - there really is no excuse not to make these today. Go ahead, I'll wait. Oh, and if you have any left over, send them my way. XO

How to Make a Crowd-Pleasing Cheese Board.

Hi, and happy Super Bowl Sunday! I've had some dear friends of mine visiting town this weekend, and when they arrived weary from their travels Friday evening, I made sure to have a little something waiting for them:

This. So much of this. Aka, the most delectable charcuterie/cheese board known to humankind. (To be fair, I think almost ANY cheese board is the greatest... But this one just really ups the ante.)

Now, I know there are a million and one ways to compose a great spread like this one, and certainly you should make one to suit you and your guests preference, but I personally feel that a great cheese board has the following elements:

3 - 4 (or more, honestly) different kinds of cheese. An aged cheese (like an Irish cheddar), a soft cheese (brie) a sheep or goats milk cheese (chèvre) a funky cheese (blue) and a hard cheese (Parmesan). You can also add a smoky element with a wheel of Gouda.

A variety of meats. This time I used hard salami, pepperoni, and of course my favorite, prosciutto.

Vessels on which to eat them all. Baguettes, crostini, water crackers, wheat crackers, butter crackers, etc.

And not to be forgotten, the accoutrements. Jams and jellies (fig jam, hot pepper jam, raspberry jam), honey, mustards (sweet and spicy) something briney (olives, cornichons), and a handful of grapes or nuts for a textural difference. 

Don't forget something beautiful to serve them on. I'm obsessed with my marble pastry slab lately. I don't know if you noticed. It's just a thing I'm going through, k?

Honestly, I could eat this every meal for the rest of my life and be satisfied. I know it looks like a lot, but I'm telling you this is a near-universal crowd pleaser. Consider making it for Super Bowl Sunday. Or your Oscars party. Or as a Valentine's Day treat for your s/o.

Ah, Isn't it grand that there's so many excuses to entertain in February? Cheers! X

Thirsty Thursday: Old School Negroni

Happy Thursday, friends! Are we having a fantastic week? Is it just me, or does February almost feel like holiday season part 2? It seems every weekend has something going on this month-- which of course, I'm not mad about. Busier is better. It helps the winter fly by, amirite?

Anyway, in the spirit of looking forward to the weekend, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite beverages of late: The Negroni. Few cocktails are more perfect in their simplicity of ingredients, and yet complexity of flavor. Using just 3 ingredients, it packs a serious punch, so sip with caution, and get the recipe below:

Now, there are many twists on the classic, but the original Negroni simply combines equal parts Gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth. This holy trinity creates the perfect balance of spicy, bitter and sweet. Endlessly sippable.

Simply add one shot of each into a cocktail shaker and serve in a rocks glass with a twisted orange peel. Yum. A little sweet, a little spicy, and with a festive red color. Honestly, I can't think of anything more appropriate for Valentine's Day. Just saying.

So give this one a try this weekend, next weekend, or at noon after you're done taking pictures of it for your blog. I mean. What? Who said that. Not me. Cheers! x

How to Get a Great Haircut. Every time.

Happy February, friends! Can you believe spring starts next month? I can, seeing as it was an unseasonably warm 55 degrees here in Philly yesterday. And with the higher temps, and the dawn of a new month, I figure, there's no time like the present to freshen up my look. And there's few things that make me feel better than a crisp, new haircut.

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Problem is - few things can make you feel worse than a wonky, bad haircut, either. Amirite? Read on to get my tips for getting a great haircut, each and every time you visit the barber. Seriously. Watch and learn:

1. Know where to go: Honestly, this is the most important one. If you have friends who's haircuts you admire, find out where they get it cut. Do your research, read reviews, check out the vibe, and see if they do the kind of work that you're into. Think about it like choosing a tattoo parlor - you wouldn't go somewhere with artists who's work you didn't admire. Right? Which brings me to...

2. Build a good (loyal) relationship with your barber: So often, you hear people claiming they got a bad haircut because they couldnt get an appointment to see their regular guy/gal. If there's one thing I have learned - it is ALWAYS better to wait the couple days and take the appointment when they are available, than to rush it and go to someone who doesn't know you and your hair. Seriously.

3. Try to learn as much as you can: Be informed about your barber, their process, ask questions. Learn the lingo. Knowledge is power. Find out what number clippers you get on a side, ask them how they decide where to start your fade, or which side to part your hair to, or which products they're using. It'll only help you moving forward.

4. Know your hair and what it can and can't do: I love the look of a beautiful, shiny-pomaded head o' hair. But I also know that I can't pull that look off, because my hair texture won't allow for that. Being honest with yourself about your hair's strengths and weaknesses will help you do appropriate research going into your next appointment.

5. Take care of them, and they'll take care of you: This one should be a no-brainer, but. Be courteous. Be on time (read, early) to your appointment. Take genuine interest in what they have to say, while you're getting cut. And for goodness sake. Tip them. Well.

I hope you'll find that these tips are helpful for you. I'm telling you, armed with these in your back pocket, you'll be unstoppable. Or at the very least, feel that way. I know I do when I have a bangin' haircut. Shoutout to my boy Sean at Groom in Philly - my personal favorite place to go. If you're in my neck of the woods, do yourself a favor and check it out. X

Restaurant Week Review: Bud & Marilyn's

"Just when I thought it couldn't get better." That should be the title of my miniseries of Restaurant Week Reviews here on Mogblog. Because honestly, I'm amazed. How this city's restaurant selection continues to top itself, I'll never know. Then again, I'd like to think my good taste and knowing how to pick 'em really comes in handy. Maybe. A little. Ok, I should mostly be thanking the chefs.

Now, to preface this, I had high hopes for Bud & Marilyn's going in. Not only has it been named one of Philly's top restaurants of 2015, but Zagat recently featured their Chef-de-Cuisine, Dan Giorgio, in their famous "30 under 30" article.  (Dan also just so happens to be a dear friend of mine, so I was expecting him to pull out all of the stops.)

And oh, how the stops were pulled. Learning from my experience at Zahav earlier this week, a couple friends and I abandoned the prix fixe and surrendered to the chefs tasting menu. (This was just another in a long string of excellent decisions I've made regarding restaurant week.)  And from the first plate of fried cheese curds - yes, it's true - I was hooked.

Inspired by American comfort food of yesteryear, the chefs tasting took us through a veritable pu pu platter of treats. Oh wait, there was a actually a pu pu platter in there. With spareribs and shrimp toast and poke... But that was after the potato roll fried chicken sandwiches, and the kale salad with hush puppies. Though before the pork n' pickles platter with homemade pâté and biscuits. I think.

At this point, we were slowing down, because all of that rich food will get to you after a while. (To be fair, Dan warned me of this going in. But I couldn't stop. I wanted more.) And in what became one of my favorite moments of the night, our server came over to say "The chef knows you're getting full, so he's ONLY going to send over two more entrees." I actually LOLed. Especially when those entrees turned out to be meatloaf n mashed potatoes, and campanelli with meatballs. I mean come on. Both were marvelous, by the way. But that goes without saying at this point, right?

Finally, we gathered our strength and marched bravely on into dessert. I had been eyeing this marvelous triple layer chocolate cake all evening, and I wasn't prepared to leave without getting to know it up close and personal. Covered in malted milk balls (How retro and charming! And fat.) and every bit as rich and tasty as the rest of our meal, it was the real cherry on the sundae of our Bud and Marilyn's experience.

It would be a sin to do a writeup on Bud & Marilyn's without mentioning the mid century ambiance. Every detail, from the lightbulbs, to the wood paneling, to the tiki-inspired glassware that held our potent cocktails, was meticulously designed to feel like your quirky grandparents rec room. That hasn't changed since 1976. At least. I loved it. But I'm not surprised, owners Val Safran and Marcie Turney are no stranger to a beautiful restaurant experience - the pair owns 7 other successful businesses on 13th street alone! I can't wait to try them all. 10/10

Oh and Dan, if you're reading this: what was that third entree you might've sent if we weren't too full? Asking for a friend. Cheers! x

Winter Skin-Saving Coffee Scrub

Good morning and happy weekend! January is finally coming to a close, though we are still in the thick of winter (unfortunately). And while all of this phenomenal restaurant week food has been of taking care of my insides, my skin has been feeling a bit less-than-stellar lately. Enter, Coffee Scrub from Duross & Langel.

Now, I do enjoy a good coffee, in all of its various incarnations, though I had never thought to use it as skincare before. Luckily, the kind folks at Philly's premiere handmade, natural skincare shop showed me the light. Or rather, had me wake up and smell the coffee. (I'm sorry, I just had to.) 

After speaking with a very knowledgeable member of their team, I learned about the benefits of using a coffee-based scrub at home - particularly at this time of year. Not only do the coffee grounds gently exfoliate those rough patches we're prone to in the colder months, the caffeine content helps to brighten and tighten the skin. Aka, bye-bye winter dullness. Of course it's an added bonus that it smells rich and fantastic. Unless of course, you don't like the smell of coffee. In which case we can't be friends. Just kidding. Kind of.

Ps, you can totally DIY this at home, too. Simply combine 1/2 cup of coffee grounds, 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of raw sugar - et voila! I've also heard this mix does wonders on cellulite too, but of course I wouldn't know anything about that. Kidding again. Kind of. I'm gonna stop now. But you shouldn't. You should go out and get scrubbin'! Happy weekend. x 

Restaurant Week Review: Zahav

Hello, hi, good afternoon. If you're reading this - consider it proof of the afterlife. Because last night, I died and went to heaven/nirvana/the best restaurant experience I've had in ages. Enter: Zahav.

Netsled in Philly's charming Old City neighborhood (read: where the Liberty Bell is, for all non-locals) Zahav serves contemporary Israeli cuisine, uniquely delicious cocktails, and just generally some of the greatest food in the whole city. After braving the cobblestone streets, walking up the steps, and crossing the threshold indoors, the vibe resembles a cross between a middle eastern bazaar, and an industrial loft. They also were bumping throwback Jay-Z jams intermixed with classic 90's R&B throughout the evening. Which somehow, just worked. Observe:

Now, it is still Restaurant Week here, but I was accompanied by a dear Chef friend of mine, so there was no way we were ordering off of any Prix Fixe menu. Chef's Tasting menu it was. And about 12 courses (and 4 cocktails later) I pulled myself from a food coma to write this post to share with y'all.

A delicious assortment of various pickled vegetables, spreads, tapenade, the greatest hummus I've ever eaten, and smoking hot laffa, straight out of their wood burning oven. Shout out to my cocktail here - the Z&T (Zahav's potent spin on the classic gin and tonic.)

Arguably the greatest thing I consumed all evening (nay, all year, so far) - the delicious grilled haloumi atop a bed of apples, walnuts and dates. Honestly I could eat this three meals a day for the remainder of 2016 and be satisfied.

There were about 6 other courses between the grilled haloumi and this, but I'll spare you. But would you look at this? The largest steak I have seen with my own two eyes. Ever. Charred above an open coal stove (we peeked in the kitchen to see what was going on back there) it had the most phenomenal rich, smoky, intense flavor. I was nearly defeated at this point.

...But how could I throw in the towel before dessert? A marvelous selection of tartes, mousses and sorbets. And french press coffee, served with an adorable mini hourglass to remind you when to press. I thought it was a nice touch.

Chef Michael Solomonov struck gold here. From the loud and playful soundtrack, to the beautifully designed industrial-meets-pastoral interior, to the endless courses of middle eastern delights, and oh God, the haloumi, Zahav is a hit. I recommend it highly if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, and can score a reservation. (Rumor has it they are booked through March.) Let's hope I can come back before then. 10/10

How to Survive the Snowpocalypse

Ok, so when I first wrote this post, I thought it may be a tad melodramatic. But now that I'm looking out my window and seeing at least a foot (!) of snow on the ground... I think it's a pretty fitting title.

So unless you're living under a rock (or on the west coast) you know that the first major snowstorm of 2016 is upon us here in Philly. And DC, and New York, etc. And while I don't advocate going outdoors in this mess - I'm currently working on some baked goods and a pot of soup - if you absolutely must, these are my tips for avoiding popsicle status.

Layer: Mama knew best. Trust her. I'm wearing a tank top, a long sleeved tee, a chunky knit sweater, and my quilted down coat. Cover your head: I'm partial to a beanie, but do you boo. The point is, gotta keep that body heat inside. Accessories are your friend: Hats, scarves, gloves, heck - I'm even wearing readers for wind protection alone here! And finally - invest in a good pair of snow boots. No, your old sneakers will NOT cut it here. Get yourself something waterproof and made for this purpose alone. I just picked up this hefty pair by Sorel.

Credits: Down Coat by The North Face, Scarf, Beanie and Gloves by Gap, Knit Sweater by Alexander Wang, Leather Leggings by Forever 21, Snow boots by Sorel.

Thirsty Thursday: Green Smoothie

I know what you're thinking. I'm thinking it, too. Have I honestly become one of THOSE people? You know, the ones who replace their morning coffee with green juice, and spend the rest of the day trying to convince themselves they're totally satisfied with drinking vegetables alone? And short answer, no. I haven't. But longer, slightly more complicated, and slightly hypocritical answer, maybe? Possibly? Read on:

Inspired by my sister dear, who's advice I cherish on everything from makeup reviews to youtube channels to follow, I recently started partaking in a morning smoothie. And yes, it is green. But no, it isn't (totally) terrible. And no, it hasn't replaced my coffee. That, you can pry from my cold dead, hands. I just figure, when it's winter time, and finding ways to break up all of the hearty pasta dishes with some vitamins here and there is difficult, this smoothie seems to do the trick. Plus, I've been feeling a tad under the weather lately and figured, "Can't hurt, might help." So here goes.

Every morning, while my french press is doing its thing, before I poach a couple of eggs and gobble them down on an avocado toast... I throw some vegetables into my blender and toss this sucker back. I vary it a bit from day to day, but typically the recipe is about 2 cups of dark leafy greens (spinach, which is less offensive, or kale, which is for when I'm feeling brave), topped with about 1/4 of a cucumber, 1/2 of a green apple, a handful of green grapes (which I keep in the freezer) and a splash of H2O to get it going. And, if I'm feeling extra spicy, a scant 1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger. Heck, I might even throw in a squeeze of lime. I know. Life on the edge.

After it's about the consistency of applesauce (which I don't mind, and have sort of come to like, in a strange, masochistic way) I pour it into a big glass and toss it back. It tastes, to be honest, basically like all of those ingredients combined. Which I know sounds dumb, but hear me out, you know how when you put strawberries and bananas and orange juice in a smoothie and it comes out tasting fabulous and magical, and oh-my-god where did this flavor come from?? Yeah, that doesn't happen here. It tastes exactly like everything you put in it. Which again, maybe isn't a bad thing. Maybe? I dunno, I'm trying here. The point is, it tastes healthy, and sometimes, that's what you need.

A note here about your produce. This is one of the very few times I'll get on a high horse about using organic produce (seeing as I'm not actually Gwyneth Paltrow. I know, news flash.) But since you'll be using skins and all - mmm, vitamins - you won't want any unnecessary chemicals going into your smoothie. Honestly, I don't claim to know exactly what all of these things do for you, but I will say at the very least, the placebo effect of drinking a green smoothie every morning has got me feeling great. Or, a little less guilty about the pizza that I religiously consume three nights a week. You dig? Good. I knew you would. x

Restaurant Week Review: Valanni Social

Hey you! How is January treating you? Having a blast so far, I hope. (And by having a blast, I mean, counting down the days left in the month, because when January is over that means it's February, which means we're one step closer to March, which is when Spring starts so it's basically margaritas and outdoor concerts season soon, right? A boy can dream.)

Yes, the winter doldrums have totally begun to set in - which is why I'm so glad that Philly has its act together enough to take two weeks out of this month every year to devote to Restaurant Week. AKA, go and try all of those amazing places you always wanted to, but never had the funds/reason/excuse to before. Last evening, I kicked off #CCDRW with friends at Valanni Social.

For those not familiar, Restaurant Week typically entails a limited menu of the restaurant's specialties, served in courses at a fixed price. I know. No wonder it's so popular. I could get used to this. Some dear friends of mine and I braved the cold, walked into Valanni, and promptly took a seat at the bar, while we waited for some other members of our party to arrive. Starting the evening off with a champagne cocktail (because it's always champagne-o-clock) I started to browse the menu.

I will say, Valanni had quite a wide array of options, especially since it bills itself as "Medi-Latin Tapas" - and I didn't quite know what to pick. However, after much internal justifying and I went fully hearty and committed. Roasted brussels sprouts with apples and balsamic reduction to start. Obviously delicious.

Now, I don't know if you're like me at all... but when you have the urge for a particular food, your craving will stop at nothing until it has been satisfied. That was me last night. Which is why I got a cheeseburger. Yes. I'm the person who went to the tapas bar and ordered a burger. I couldn't help myself, ok? And I wasn't disappointed. It had boursin on it, so it was kind of fancy, so it wasn't so bad of me, right? Whatever, I was satisfied.

I'm always a fan of ordering a restaurant specialty, and I had heard tell of their famous Oreo Beignet for some time now. And, being the central PA native that I am, I am no stranger to a deep fried Oreo at the county fair every summer. Let me tell you. It did not disappoint. 

As far as the meal itself, despite it being a bit unorthodox - which I fully acknowledge as my own doing - I was satisfied. Truly my only raised-eyebrow-sideward-glance-moment was in the decor and vibe of the restaurant. There's a purpley glow (which I tried to edit out in my photos, to no avail) that feels very club-like, coupled with a massive DJ booth present in the corner of the bar area. I'm not sure what I expected from a restaurant with "social" in its name, but something just feels a bit off to me about a restaurant that serves balsamic reduction roasted brussels, and bumps Rihanna out of a DJ booth at the bar. You feel me? Overall, a great time with friends, and an experience I was happy to have. 7/10.

Be sure to follow me on Snapchat @mogblog for the rest of my restaurant week adventures in the week to come! Cheers! x