Chicken Curry // @2souschefs

“Fun fact about me is that I love tikka masala. I think it is the perfect meal for a cooler night. But in true Andi fashion, what do I do?

Put every vegetable in my fridge into the recipe. It certainly is a trend in my at-home cooking. This chicken curry is one of my favorite meals to make on a Friday before work. At the end of service, when I am tired and hungry, I remember that I have curry waiting for me at home and I instantly get excited.

This is a perfect meal to throw in a crockpot on low and let it cook for a few of hours. I like to serve this with jasmine rice. Should you want to skip the carbs, this is a perfect stand alone meal. This recipe serves four.” – Andi

Ingredients

  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 garlic clove – minced
  • 1 squash medium – diced
  • 1/2 a head of a small cauliflower – cut into florets
  • 1 green pepper – diced
  • 1 lb of chicken thigh – diced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or Moroccan spice mix
  • 1 jar of tikka masala simmer sauce

Directions

  1. Put a sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add a tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Sauté the diced onion and garlic for about five minutes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Once the onions are translucent, add in the diced squash and peppers. Sweat for about eight minutes.
  5. Turn the range to medium high heat.
  6. Add the cauliflower florets and slightly roast them. This should take about five minutes.
  7. Next add the diced chicken and season with salt and pepper. (If you are feeling feisty, now is the time to add in other spices in your spice cabinet. I love using my moroccan spice mix from McCormick. Get creative with your spice here.)
  8. Cook the chicken for about ten minutes. Add the jar of tikka masala simmer sauce. Make sure you get simmer sauce and not the curry paste. (The paste is just a paste. It is useable, but requires more steps.)
  9. Once the sauce is in the pan, fill the empty jar with a half cup up water. Fasten the  lid and give it a shake.
  10. Pour the water mixture onto the chicken curry.
  11. Cover with a lid and simmer for thirty minutes.
  12. Plate and enjoy.

Belle of the Tall

I have become increasingly more cognizant of the values of the brands with which I work, and seek to work with those that align with my own values. Prior to writing this post and more broadly, prior to wearing anything from Brass and agreeing to work with the brand, I researched it. I directed my attention to a page on the Brass website that calls out what they are doing to be more diligent in their values and immediately I was taken back.

Nearly a decade ago, I finished my first Master’s degree in Historic Preservation and began my second Master’s degree in Real Estate Development. I was impressed with the University of Maryland’s program, not only because it lived in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and I loved the interdisciplinary approach, but also because the UMd M.R.E.D. program focuses on the quadruple bottom line. The quadruple bottom line being economic viability (monetary profit), environmental respect (sustainability), social responsibility (equity for others and you and me), and beautiful design (#aesthetics), as opposed to the outdated approach of sole monetary profit.

Whether Brass knows it or not, and I suspect that on some level that they do, the brand is taking the same quadruple bottom line approach that the University of Maryland Master’s of Real Estate Development does, per the topics addressed on the aforementioned page.

  • Economic vitality goes without saying. Brass was established in 2014 and not only are they still alive and kicking, but thriving and expanding. More on that last bit below.
  • Brass encourages its audience to shop less and wear what is already in their closets more. Perhaps we all don’t need that new skirt of the moment or bamboo basket bag of last summer? Invest in staples that can be worn in a multitude of ways for a multitude of occasions and before you know it, you will already have mastered  level one of style sustainability. (Full disclosure: I am working on mastering this in perpetuity. Follow my Shopping Moratorium 2018 series to see how things are *really* going.)
  • The social angle works on two levels with Brass.
    • First, and most importantly, 85% of the Brass products are produced in a Hangzhou factory and the knits are produced in a Shanghai factory. Both factories not only are located in the highest minimum wage zones in China, but also supply a living wage to their employees. Brass pays a visit to these factories between twice and thrice a year and has plans to take more control of the supply chain.
    • Second, Brass recognizes that women come in every size and every height.  They have made massive strides in providing sizing not only for me (as a 6′-2″ woman) but also my sister-in-law (a much more “standard” heighted yet super slim woman) and my best friend (a petite lady with modest [I call it classic] taste). Allow me, at this point, to mention that Brass has recently released the Essential Dress and the A-Line Dress in tall / long sizing. This is in addition to the already long lengths that is already offered in pants. Also exciting? In early 2019, expect to see styles available in sizes 16, 18,  and 20. Like I said, equity for you and me (and my sister-in-law and best friend and your sister-in-law and your best friend).
  • Did you really want to talk about aesthetics or as the quadruple bottom line refers to it, beautiful design? Take another gander at the LBD above and the navy dress below. Yes, the designs are beautiful but even more meaningful, I felt beautiful in them. Crossing my fingers that the Social Dress is available in long this holiday season because I want to straight dominate the Pennsylvania Ballet Nutcracker Young Friends reception in it!

black dress (also available in navy and heather gray and white [marked down]) // navy dress (also available in black)

Thrill of the Hunt

When I was approached by Macy’s Backstage earlier in the summer in regards to their new location at King of Prussia, I did my online research. Unlike its Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus counterparts, Macy’s Backstage does not have an online merchant presence. Rather, it is more like a T.J.Maxx or Marshall’s, in that merchandise is not accessible online and one has to pay a store a visit.

Time to get in touch with your inner hunter. Truth be told, I liked it.

I know what you are thinking. I have most definitely mentioned my preference for online shopping as opposed to in store. This is in response to the majority of online retailers offering tall / long lines exclusively online. My secret for shopping offline has always to manage my expectations. Mentally, if I am in the space that I will not find anything in any store, when I actually do, it is actually a victory worth celebrating.

My experience in shopping in store at King of Prussia Macy’s Backstage has reinvigorated my love for the hunt. Who doesn’t love a bargain? The handbag and the home sections of Macy’s Backstage are ten out of ten, although it is crucial to check in frequently for the best selection. With my office also at KoP, this was a fun excuse to get away from the office during my lunch hour.

Also convenient? The fact that the Macy’s Backstage is adjacent to the standard Macy’s and more broadly, the King of Prussia Mall.

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If the Wrap Fits

My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary this past Saturday. High fives for us for making it beyond 72 days. To be honest, the year flew by.

We started our day by opening my husband’s gift to us. Did you know that the traditional first year anniversary gift is paper? He ordered us customized note cards and stationary from Crane & Co. A tasteful gold foil monogram and text on ivory card stock, respectively. So chic. I am so proud of him for making the customization selections he did.

We ate a quick breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien prior to our appointments for massages at Rescue Spa. I have talked about it before and I will say it again: treat yourself to a spa treatment in lieu of buying the latest handbag / pair of shoes / H&M splurge / etc. Self care pays off in dividends, whether it is in the form of getting more exercise, making healthier choices when it comes to one’s diet, or gifting oneself a spa day. When I was checking out of the spa on my birthday, I was sure to make reservations for our then-forthcoming first anniversary and my husband was so thankful that I did.

After returning home for rest and a bottle of Crianza we brought back from our honeymoon, we left for dinner at Talula’s Garden, where we indulged in cheese, cocktails, pesto pasta (me), fish (him), and cobbler (him) and tiramisu (me).

To dinner, I wore a DvF dress that I have been saving for an occasion other than work. I last obsessed about said dress here. Wrap dresses are especially lovely because of the lack of zipper / snap / button closures. As long as it knots, it fits! It was a drizzly day so I accessorized with the most reliable umbrella I have had (last seen here), as it should be because the husband bought it for nearly a C note.

I finally acquired the Sam, a bag that I initially fell in love with in high school after several girls with whom I attended school brought back Canal Street knockoffs from the chorus trip to NYC. I am proud to say that back then I had the good sense to prefer a legitimate Gap handbag to a fake Kate Spade handbag. When the bag was re-released earlier this year, I wrote about coveting it once again.

It was a perfect day.

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Late Summer Succotash // @2souschefs

“Labor Day has passed, the Autumn Equinox is quickly approaching, and pumpkin spice everything is on the horizon. However, summer can still be seen (for the moment) lingering in the farmers markets in the mountains of North Carolina. Pole beans, summer squash, and heirloom tomatoes are sharing shelf space with pumpkin, gourds, and heirloom apples. The season is on the verge of transition, however Andi and I wanted to savor the vegetables that late summer had to offer. That is where our summer vegetable succotash comes into play; a succotash being sauté of sweet summer corn, beans and other seasonal veggies. A quick trip around the farmers market and we had all the ingredients we needed to make the base for dinner. We went with red snapper for our protein for our meal, but this dish can be served with just about any protein you can think of: grilled chicken, seared pork chops, or even beef would be a great pairing.

This recipe serves six as a side or four as the center of the plate. ” – Joe

Ingredients

  • 0.5 each red onion – medium diced
  • 1 each red pepper – medium diced
  • 2 each ear of corn – husked and removed from the cob
  • 0.25 lbs pole beans – trimmed and cut into half inch pieces
  • 1 each summer squash – medium diced
  • 1 each zucchini – medium diced
  • 1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes – cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Slap Ya Momma (or other chili spice mix)

Directions

  1. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  2. Once hot, add the onion and pepper and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the corn and pole beans and continue to cook for another three to four minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and summer squash and cook for another two minutes.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes, thyme, and season to taste.
  6. Stir to incorporate mixture and cook for another one minute.
  7. Plate and enjoy.

Blue Blood

Last weekend was the first in seemingly forever – real time: month and a half – that my husband and I were both in Philadelphia. Either he is out of town for work or we are both out of town because wedding season. However, we had a two philanthropic events scheduled for the weekend, so we each hit pause on whatever it was keeping us from spending our weekends in the city.

I was so stoked for a weekend without travel that I may have gotten overzealous with scheduling it. We knew that we had a Friday night event for the Pennsylvania Museum of Art Young Friends and a Sunday midday brunch for the Pennsylvania Ballet Young Friends. (Join both organizations! I will see you at the next event?) With Saturday free, I decided that to not schedule would be risking wasting it.

So I scheduled the ever living eff out of it. Starting with sleeping in until 9 am, at the husband’s request. I got us reservations for brunch, followed by tickets for a matinee of A Simple Favor (so many twists and turns! 10/10 recommend), afternoon snack of raw oysters and shrimp cocktail at Oyster House, picking up salads for dinner, and the dry cleaning that has been ready for pick up for the better half of a month.

I wore the solid version of this dress two weeks ago, while we were in Marblehead. I loved the dress itself, but not the sash. Specifically, I didn’t love how the loops for the sash were so high, effectively making the sash ride up. It was almost as if the designer carried over the measurements for the sash loopholes from the regular sizing to the tall sizing.

So I decided to experiment and cut the loopholes off this dress. It was a fantastic idea and I will be doing the same on my solid coral dress.

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The Piping’s on the Wall

While I was in Marblehead over Labor Day weekend, I made the conscious decision to lay off my phone. No reading my email. No checking Instagram. No tweeting sassy quips. No texting. Just enjoying the weekend and living in the moment. This idea came to me as I started to recognize a soreness in my thumb / hand joints. It started to creep up into my inner forearms in the days before leaving for vacation. Early onset of carpal tunnel? Who knows.

I knew it was going to be tricky to abide by this self imposed restriction so for the rehearsal dinner, I left my phone at the AirBnB. In fact, I did not even bring my purse. It definitely helps when your pregnant sister-in-law assumes the role of designated driver and you do not have to worry about having to call a Lyft at the end of the night.

The day of the wedding, I brought my phone. I got the sense that we would be imbibing and especially not knowing where the wedding was taking place and not knowing my way around Marblehead, I wanted a Plan B. Plan B required my phone in the case I lost my husband at any point during the night and either needed to call him or call a Lyft if his phone died. My phone rule that night? Powered off.

My technology diet in Marblehead felt fantastic. Not feeling tied to technology over the long weekend felt fantastic. Walking a quarter mile from the rental to the shore with a cup of hot coffee was much more enjoyable without being tethered to my iPhone. In a pair of pajamas appropriate to wear in public, my glasses, and no makeup? Sign me up.

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Wedding Day Chambray

Have you ever been invited to a wedding and only the bride and groom and five other people (a mere seven total) knew the details of the where?

That was the wedding I went to over Labor Day weekend and it was the most amazing wedding I have ever attended as a guest. During the rehearsal dinner, there was an announcement that all attendees had to report to the Boston Yacht Club (Marblehead) by 3:15 pm.

Sidebar: I would like to claim partial credit for keeping our gang of six (my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, four-year-old nephew, eighteen-month-old nephew, husband, and I) on time. The night prior, we planned backwards from the 3:15 call time, decided to leave our rental by 2:55, and out the front door by 2:50. After getting myself showered and ready in record time of 45 minutes, I panicked when I saw the nephews running around in their play clothes at 2:45. I employed my leadership skills and got the four year old in and out of the bathroom, dressed, and we opted to skip the hair gel. By that point, everyone else was ready to go. Miracles happen.

At 3:30 on the dot, the wedding guests were escorted out to a boat that took us to an island about a half hour off of the Marblehead coast. I think all of the guests were thrilled with the bar boat, although we restrained ourselves until after the ceremony. During the ride, we all speculated on how the bride and groom were going to arrive. By jet ski? By hovercraft? By parachute?

After all of the guests deboarded the boat and were seated, the bride and groom walked out and down the aisle hand in hand. (Classier than sky diving.) When the ceremony concluded, there were family photos and the imbibing then began on the booze cruise cocktail hour(s?). Naturally, my husband’s cousin – my soul cousin – and I were the first one’s back on the boat and with glasses of bubbly rose in hand.

The evening then progressed to a delicious meal, a covert cousin bottle of bourbon (a tradition started at my husband’s and my wedding), copious jubilant dancing, stumbling down to the nearest bar in Marblehead (barefoot, naturally), and engaging in hot pursuit for my husband’s lost blazer (and wallet, which we only recovered the next afternoon).

I originally wanted to wear my bright pink DVF silk faille strapless dress, but at the last minute I found that it would not zip up completely. I jumped on the internet, found a chambray dress that I was not particularly in love with but I knew it would be appropriate for the wedding, and had two sizes overnighted.

The dress, with the pearl slides that I have been wearing the eff out of this summer and some nice jewelry, ended up being a more appropriate outfit for the booze cruise and enthusiastic dancing in which I engaged. Not only did I receive so many compliments on the shoes, but my husband received compliments on them to pass along to me. I love that the dress came in tall and I could wear a standard bra without the straps being exposed. The irony of it all? The chambray dress and the pink strapless dress were the same size.

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Moroccan Hummus // @2souschefs

“Homemade hummus is great for a quick, after work snack or to use as a spread on a wrap filled with roasted vegetables and spinach. Whichever you choose, this recipe is quick, healthy, and delicious. We used to go through a twelve ounce container of hummus a week; either spreading it on a sandwich or simply dipping pita chips after a long day in the kitchen. Once we discovered this easy recipe, there was no going back to the store bought tubs. Harissa is a great chili and spice mixture but if you can’t find it at your local grocer, you can easily substitute an Asian chili paste and add a few additional spices like cumin and coriander.” – Joe

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz can Chickpeas – drained
  • 1 14 oz can Pinto Beans – drained
  • 3 each Garlic Clove
  • 0.25 teaspoon Moroccan Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Tahini
  • 4 tablespoons Organic Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon – juiced and zested
  • 1 teaspoon Harissa

Directions

  1. Place the chickpeas, pinto beans, lemon juice and zest, garlic, seasoning, tahini and three tablespoons of the olive oil into the food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste.
  2. In a separate, smaller bow, mix the harissa and remaining tablespoon of the olive oil together.
  3. Once the hummus is smooth pour into a serving bowl and spread the Harissa mixture over it.
  4. Enjoy with raw vegetables or pita chips.

A Tale of Two Blazers

Has everyone lost their ever-living-esh over the arrival of Autumn, or what?

Last Saturday, I ran out for a few errands – casual laser hair removal treatment, grocery shopping, picking up a painting – wearing a pair of denim cutoffs, linen tee shirt, and rain coat. When I walked out of my building to my Lyft, I was taken by surprise by the dip in temperatures. We are talking about a decrease from a heat so intense that classes were cancelled in Philadelphia schools, to the mid-to-high 60s.

Still, I was shocked at the number of Philadelphians that, overnight, went full-send Fall. The Barbour waistcoats I saw walking around Center City were a bit of an overreaction, but the decrease in temperature as well as the precipitation in the air warranted my first pumpkin spice latte order of the season.

Admittedly, this drop in temperature does make me want to buy a corduroy piece or two and frolic in a pile of leaves. Maybe in one of these blazers? Leaves sold separately.

wide wale (also available in navy and dark green; petite and tall lengths; matching crop pant also available in same colors and lengths) // narrow wale (also available in navy and wine; tall length)

Coral Relativism

My husband and I spent Labor Day weekend in Marblehead, Massachusetts. It was the town where my mother-in-law and her four siblings grew up. While we were there for a wedding and I knew that it was going to be a blast, I had no idea how much I was going to love Marblehead itself.

Marblehead was the most idyllic place I have been in the longest time. It reminded me of Nantucket, fitting as it is so close in proximity. Rather than feeling like it was a tourist spot as Nantucket tends to do, Marblehead felt like it was a more local-oriented place. There was not a bad neighborhood in the town and it was so walkable. The weather was gorgeous to the point that I did not recognize any lack of central air conditioning. I loved every historic house more than the last. Even the hangover I had the day after the wedding was easier to deal with as we meandered through the town in hot pursuit of lobster rolls, french fries, and Bloody Mary’s.

I found myself wondering what is was like for the H5 (the family nickname for the five siblings, of which my mother-in-law is part of) to grow up in the magical town. Over the course of the weekend, I talked to each of them about their experiences growing up in the town, and the stories they shared made it sound every bit as magical as I imagined it would be.

My husband and I were invited back for Thanksgiving and I am certain we are going to make the trip.

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Let Print Be

I was thrilled to find this Milly NY dress in my size on eBay NWT for a steal. I have said it before and I will say it again: while I like the new version, I love the older iteration of the brand more than any other label. It was just so feminine and chic. These days I will buy most any previous generation Milly NY article of clothing in my size, NWT, on eBay, ThredUp, Poshmark, or TheRealReal. The scarcity of availability makes the old styles all the more valuable, to me at least. I will take an old school #millymoment any day!

The upside to shopping on resale sites is that I am giving old clothing new life. This chic-as-eff dress could have ended up in a landfill. Rather, it has found a home in my summer closet. Vintage shopping is the fourth major method of sustainable shopping, and while I am not sure a ten-year-old dress exactly qualifies as vintage, it is certainly second-hand.

How did I celebrate scoring this dress and the beginning of a four day weekend? A 5 am wake up call for catching the sunrise down at the Race Street Pier. Why not? It was a fantastic way to start our long Labor Day weekend. After we saw the sun, we booked it home to pick up our luggage and then booked it to Philadelphia International. That rose bubbly was exactly what I needed to relax me before boarding!

dress (old, Milly, old Milly New York here, here, and here) // slides (also here) // clutch (old, Thredup + TheRealReal options: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) // earrings (old, Gemma Redux) // bracelet (old, Gemma Redux) // cuff // watch