Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pointing out the obvious...

As you can tell, I haven't been posting lately. Work is wreaking havoc on my soul, my migraines are improving but very slowly, and the holidays' fast approach apparently means BUSY ALL THE TIME, even if I honestly don't know what the heck I'm busy with. 

Thus: Natalie needing a short hiatus from LCaL. Once the holidays are over I'll be back, but for now I'll just be popping in here and there with tidbits of awesome. For instance, our landlady had her team put central A/C and heat in our house today, which is a MAJOR yay (!), so I'm thrilled about that!

Also, tonight I made a delicious soup that I got from here, and so I'm sharing it with you! So quick and simple, uses so few dishes (less to have Joseph wash!), and is so so so tasty. Per usual I tweaked it, so here's the soup as I made it:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 cups chicken broth
1-1.5 cups shredded cooked chicken (you can buy pre-cooked shredded chicken or just bake a couple of salt and pepper seasoned chicken breasts and then shred them. When I know I'll need it I bake the chicken the night before so prep for whatever I'm making is super quick)
2-3 cloves minced garlic
olive oil
2 medium zucchinis, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (I got 'Mexican style')
1.5 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
juice from 2-3 large limes
salt and pepper

Sauté zucchini in olive oil in large saucepan until tender, about 3 minutes. Add onion and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper, and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Pour in can of tomatoes (do not drain) and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add shredded chicken, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until chicken is warmed through (a minute or so). Add the lime juice, and taste to see if you need any more of any of the seasonings. Top with cilantro and serve!

I garnished mine with half an avocado. On Joseph's (since he's not dairy-free) I put about a fourth of an avocado, a dollop of sour cream, and some shredded cheese (our tortilla chips were stale, sadly).

Like I said, SUPER simple and super tasty! It's now on the rotation for sure.

The whole pan of soup (if you use 1 tbsp. olive oil, and depending on how much chicken you use) runs you about 800 calories. So a nice-sized bowl topped with half an avocado only runs you about 350-400 calories. Sweet.

*Next day, eating leftovers for work update. This would be AWESOME with corn thrown in.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Chreestmas.

Happy Thursday!

Here's our tree, complete with tree skirt, ornaments, and a few gifts:

I regret that I got silver bags and tissue when the tree is bedecked with gold accoutrements. Am I the only person that thinks that way??

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chloe = coolest.

Let's begin with a photo:

via Style Frizz

Here, Our Lady of the Always Awesome is clad in a surprisingly-conservative-for-Chloe Valentino at the 2010 Golden Globes (she won that year for best actress in a supporting role for "Big Love"). Sadly, someone stepped on her gown later and ripped it. It was probably still gorgeous, though. It's like a real work of art that you can wear. *sighs with longing*

To continue: I am unabashedly in love with Chloe Sevigny. My first car, a 1982 sage green diesel Mercedes was named after her. I know a lot of people are very "meh" on her, but I think she's engaging and adventurous and a phenomenal actress, so I full-on squee'd when I saw the video below. Would I wear much of what's in her closet? Oh, hail, no. (Well, except for that dress around minute 3 and the muppet-esque old Versace jacket at 4:45. And, obviously, the above Valentino.) Do I support her current haircut? Only a smidge. But it's Chloe Sevigny, you guys. She does what she wants, is unpretentious about it, and epitomizes cool, in my humble opinion.

So enjoy! There are more of these, by the way. The first one is out there somewhere, but I'm too hungry to search for it right now. And with that, I'm off to find a sandwich! See you crazy birds tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sparkle..wait for it...TUESDAY!

Tonight is our holiday party at work, and while I'd rather curl up on the couch and watch Lord of the Rings, I will instead gussy it up (gussie it up?), throw a tie on Monsieur Yoseph, and go get my publishing holiday cheer on. I had a couple of queries about my gold sparkle top that I wore on Saturday, so I thought I'd feature some lust-worthy, holiday-appropriate, affordable garb today!

My gold top was courtesy of ye olde J.Crew. Looks like they are down to black and dark silver now, though:

Find it here!

I love the silver, but the gold was too fun to pass up! I wore mine with black opaque tights and a black miniskirt, but I plan on wearing it this weekend with jeans and black pumps.

This Modcloth dress is very similar, so of course I adore it. If it comes back in stock then I may just have my New Year's dress! I love the low back in contrast to the high neck.

My New Year's dress last year was from Aryn K., and she has this little beauty this year, for those of you who prefer to show a bit more skin:

Available at my old trusted online boutique, Piperlime

Again, loving the higher neck with low back. Aryn K.'s cocktail dresses are always affordable and high-quality, and most of them look very fashion-forward without trying to be identical knock-offs of designer pieces. I'd love that dress with some magenta tights.

For the sparkle lovers that aren't ready to commit to full sequins, I present another tank dress, courtesy of Asos:

The relaxed fit keeps it chic, and coupled with the beading it's so 20's reminiscent! It's spot on without trying too hard, and is definitely more versatile than allover sparkle.

So grab your red lipstick (Chanel makes the best if you hate reapplying*, but be forewarned it will still be on the morning after unless you use eye makeup remover on your lips) and the tallest pumps you can stand, and be sure to alternate your cocktails with water. Red eyes do not pair well with still-red-lips in the morning. Don't say I didn't warn you!

*I wear #38 in the Rouge Allure Velvet. If you're pale like me and don't look good in orangey-reds this one is perfect.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Hello hello mis amores! I'm pretending like it's not Monday by reliving my weekend, and what better way to do that than by writing a leetle review of Trio?

Joseph and I decided that more fun than gift giving for Christmas would be going out to a schmancy dinner and then seeing The Nutcracker, so on Saturday night we got all gussied up and headed over to the Four Seasons to try out their restaurant, the aforementioned Trio.

I was a little concerned that it would be too...wannabe-fancy-hotel-inside-a-restaurant, but while the decor was definitely that, the food was hands down stellar. And I took pictures for you! I forgot to document my martinis, but my Aviation and my dirty Ketel martini were both absolutely delish, and Joseph enjoyed his Cabernet. They started us off with a parmesan popover:

Since I'm attempting this dairy-free business I didn't try the top. The bottom half was fine, nothing special. Joseph liked the top half (which, I think it's safe to assume, was parmesan-y), and proceeded to eat both his and mine.

We continued on our quest for satiety with two appetizers, the tuna tartare and the pork 'n beans. They looked like this:

No, the tuna did not come partly eaten. That was our doing. Joseph felt like the avocado overpowered the tuna taste a little bit more than he would've preferred, but being an avocado lover I was in heaven. The fish was just cold enough, and the crispy strips they served to eat with it were amazing. Not sesame-y like they look; light and crunchy with just enough flavor to complement the tuna and avocado.

I should've gotten a better picture of the pork 'n beans, because it was the definite highlight of the evening. It was crispy pork belly, served over a bit of pureed cannellini beans, and came with a little jar of bread and butter pickled vegetables. Oh. My. God. It was seriously like pork candy. Perfectly fatty without being overtly so, and the sweet pickled veggies were divine with the crispy, salty, magical pork. I want you to try this now, because I can't even convey how phenomenal it was.

Alas, the pork had to end, so we moved on to main courses (who needs salad when there is steak to be eaten?). Joseph had the special, which was a smoked ribeye. Seriously! They do that!

Served with three dipping sauces: a red wine sauce, a chimichurri, and a béarnaise. The chimichurri was the standout (it was extra garlicky), but the red wine and the béarnaise were also delicious. Honestly, though, the ribeye didn't even need dipping sauces. It was as tender as a filet, and the smokey quality was unlike any other steak I've tried. When he ordered it our (amazing) waitress said "Yeah. Good choice." And that was beyond true.

I got the trio of tenderloin, which came with three tiny steaks, like so:

Joseph said I look like Snow White in this picture. I'll take it!
Stage left to right: Steak Oscar, which is steak with béarnaise, crab meat, and asparagus, middle is Foie Wellington, which is steak w/ a little foie gras and teeny puff pastry, and last is Steak Diane, which is steak pan fried in its own juices. I will admit, no matter how foodie-sacrilegious this may be, that I am not usually a big paté fan. This paté, however, was delicate and light and not greasy, and so the Foie Wellington took my place as the best of the trio. I didn't eat much of the Oscar because of the dairy component, but the couple of bites I had were rich and delectable. Admittedly, I'll eat almost anything if you put crab meat on it. The Diane was also heavenly; it had a bit of the red wine sauce on it that enhanced rather than masked the meat, which can be a difficult balance to achieve.

As the only side that looked necessary to me was all dairy (truffle mac 'n cheese. WANT), we forewent sides, but if you go and order some please let me know which they were and what you thought.

We ended with espresso (me), coffee (Joseph), and a chocolate soufflé (I know: dairy.):

The soufflé was good but not phenomenal, but the cream that was served with it was magic. It tasted like 
melted vanilla bean ice cream, but was warm and thick. We DOUSED the soufflé in it, my cow-free venture be momendairyly damned. 

One of the best parts of the night happened while we were finishing dessert. Our waitress was opening a bottle of champagne for the table next to us, and when the cork popped out Joseph said, fairly loudly, "Yahtzee!" She and I giggled.

Sadly, we had to leave soon after, so we hauled our newly chunky butts out of our seats and had the hostess snap our photo:

Silver nails with a gold top. How embarrassing.

You might think I'm tall here, but I'm actually in 5 inch heels AND standing on a stair, so you would, sadly, be incorrect.

So go to Trio! Eat, drink, and be very, very stuffed and merry!

Oh, and The Nutcracker was cool, too, per usual :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

You're going to want this chowder nowder.

SO. Last night I made absolutely delicious clam chowder, recipe courtesy of my boyfriend's mom, Terry. We giggle because every time you ask Terry for a recipe she gushes that "it's so easy!", but it's true! Delicious and easy? Yes, please.

What is this magical recipe? It is this! Terry, if you're reading, I upped the veggies and added a couple little things. And you're right; it is PHENOMENAL.


4 slices bacon, chopped (optional), or 4 TBSP real crumbled bacon bits (so easy, do it.)
3 cans (6 ½ oz) whole shelled clams
OR 2 cans (10 oz) whole baby clams
3 TBSP butter
½ cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
3 green onions with tops, chopped
2.5 cups of potatoes, chopped pretty small (¼ to 3/8” cubes)
4 TBSP flour
4 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 tsp hot sauce (I was out of Tabasco so I used Frank's, haha)
paprika/chili powder
fresh parsley (optional)

If you're using real bacon, saute bacon in dutch oven until crisp; pour off drippings. Set aside. Drain clams, reserving the liquid; set clams aside. Add clam juice, butter, and vegetables to bacon. If you're just using the bacon bits from the envelope like I did, just add those in to the clam juice and butter after you throw in the veggies, of course skip the saute the bacon step. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce
heat and simmer 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Combine flour and milk; stir until flour is
dissolved. Add milk, clams, hot sauce, salt and pepper to soup mixture. Cook over medium heat,
stirring constantly until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle each serving with paprika and garnish with
parsley, if desired. Yield: 8 cups.

Mine yielded more like 13-14 cups. If you make it this way the whole pot is 1700 calories, so it's surprisingly low-cal for how filling and amazing it is. You'll maybe need 3 cups if you're starving (as my mom would say) so that's like 375 calories per big serving.

Now, the very sad thing is that on Wednesday my migraine came on just as I had started to drink a latte, and last night my migraine came on right after dinner. So I'm going to go dairy-free for a month and see if that helps; I know you can develop new food allergies at random points of your life, and dairy is apparently a big one for migraines.

Who wants to come help Joseph finish off the amazing leftovers?? Not tomorrow night; for our Christmas presents to each other Joseph and I are going out to Trio for dinner and then to see the Nutcracker. Sunday I'm free until 8 p.m., though :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Hello my beautiful birdlings.

I know I've been letting you all down, blog-wise, and I just want to say I KNOW AND I'M SORRY. I haven't had a single day without a headache and it's making me a little crazy. Between being super swamped at work (not in a bad way, just in an intensely busy way) and feeling like my brain is much too big for my skull I haven't been feeling very inspired.

I'm working on upping the meditation and attempting to get back into working out, and I have my 2nd acupuncture appointment on Saturday, so hopefully I'll be back to normal(ish) soon :)

In the meantime, here's some gorgeous for you:


Please stick with me and I promise to bring you more beautiful things!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I can't help it, my little chirpalirps, I'm stuck on holiday mode. I. just. love. the holidays. Last night I had eggnog and cozied up on the couch reading and staring at our Christmas tree while Joseph played video games, and it was just lovely. Before the eggnog I kept telling myself that I was about to get up and go for a run, but it's like there was this little elf dancing around in my brain hypnotizing me into couch submission. I mean, is it really the holidays if you don't gain a pound or two (or five)? I thought not. Also, it was COLD outside! And freezing inside, due to not having central heat. Ah, well, details.

At any rate, enough Chatty Cathy-ing over here. Let's ogle some more beautiful wreaths! I got stuck on Martha Stewart and picked my favorites.

This jingle bell wreath is adorable AND shiny, so I love it:


The giant bow makes it that much more whimsical. It's like a bangle for your doorknob.

Martha also brought my attention to this great cushion moss wreath:

Not just for the holidays, either!

Considering my love for vibrant green that one shouldn't come as a surprise. Chic and nature-y; a winning combination.

Keeping up with the Marthspiration...an awesome and funky sweetgum fruit wreath:

Spiky and fun!

I'm also obsessed with this laurel wreath:

Gorgeous, right? Kind of Caesar-meets-December 25th. Damn, now that I said that it's all I can see, and now I could never put that wreath up. Ah well. Et tu, Santa?

Well now I have to end on a better note. Thus: chandelier!

Success! That's just beautiful! Plus there's a bird on it, so you know I'm sold.

Monday, December 5, 2011


This weekend three big things happened:

1) I had eggnog for the first time this season.
3) I got acupuncture for the first time ever. Take THAT, migraines!
and 2) I made my first wreath!

(I thought it'd be more fun if I mixed up the numbers)

I am not, by nature, a very crafty person. It's just so much easier to buy things than make them, says my brain to me every time I am on Pinterest and see DIY goodies. But something made me take a leap of faith and round up two gawgeous coworkers and organize a wreath making party, during which I made a spectacular (if I do say so myself. Which I do. Or did. Like, 7 seconds ago) and easy wreath out of dark copper ornaments and some tinsel.

Admire my skillz!:

Don't I look like a glittery lion? Props to Jessica M. for pointing that out.

Here's the whole crew:

Aren't we adorable? Bonus points to my giant sweater for adding 20 pounds to my waist area. I didn't know there would be pictures, ok?

Christmas cards to come.

Have you craftisized this holiday season? Please to show me your end results if so!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Trees and books!

Joseph and I bought our first official tree together yesterday! It's a 6 foot tall Noble Fir, and we love him. So far he only has lights up, but I'm going to hunt down a few ornaments, a tree skirt, etc., and bedeck him a bit this weekend. Joseph was pretty insistent on colored lights, and while I'm not big on colored lights I have to admit that the tree does look nice and festive, so I'll go with it (for now). 

Pictures totally don't do it justice, but here you go:

the colored lights are the big old-fashioned looking ones.

Tonight we are going to watch "Love, Actually", and I couldn't be more excited to be cozied up at home with my man and some whiskey. This week/month at work has been hellacious, and were it not for my wonderful outside-of-work life I don't know what I would do! Luckily at work I have some brilliant coworkers (here's looking at you, B. and M.), and M. decided we should start a book podcast.

Please to enjoy. This Twitter link will take you to the first one:


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oh Chreeeeestmas tree...

I couldn't resist; I got myself a desk Christmas tree:

Have you holiday'd up your workspace, too?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(update!) Nothing granny about these apple-inspired designs...*

Today's inspiration courtesy of the beautiful green apple I am currently eating, and the fact that I needed a cheer-up-color day!

I adore apple green used in home decor. And I guess in all other things, too, as I now realize that at my desk right now is a lamp with an apple green shade, an apple green coffee mug, my cheap-o apple green cell phone that looks like it's from 1998, and a poster with a big apple green squid on it. And I have an apple green Kindle case pulled up on Amazon right now that I'm deciding on.


Take a look at some examples of how wonderful the color looks when used appropriately:

House Beautiful

What's a better place for the color than in a breakfast room? Such a lovely and cheery way to start your morning. I love how the green plays off of but is different than the wall colors in the background (that's the family room).

Leave it to Jonathan Adler to use an apple green couch perfectly:

Goes with purple: check. Goes with gold: check. Matches the natural greenery outside: double check.

More greenery (not super appley, but there are apples in the picture :) ), in the form of topiaries and faux boxwood:

Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper for Donny Deutsch, in AD
If that isn't a perfect terrace I'll eat my coffee mug. Or just drink its contents.

and because I love you all here's another Adler to ogle:

trés fun, per usual! I'm obsessed with that vase. The sheepskin couch and quilted ottoman I could do without, but I'm big on neither sheep nor quilts, so...yeah. I do appreciate that the ottoman looks like a Rubik's cube, though! Now that's all I see when I look at it, and I want to solve it.

In summation, benefits of apples (to me) include:
1) I am now full. Pectin win!
2) blog post inspiration!
3) I'm now all hyped up. Sugar win!
and 4) doesn't it cancel out the adult beverage I'm going to have later at happy hour?

I thought as much.

*I realize that is the stupidest attempt on a pun ever, and I hope you'll forgive me.

I also just found this gorgeous apple green bouquet featured on Style Me Pretty:

Now you have to forgive me for the terrible title "pun"!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Back from vacation!

Up 2 pounds but happy and refreshed otherwise!

Work, as you can imagine, is crazy right now as I play catch up, but I promise to be back in action sooner than you can say "please to make me a candy cane cocktail".

"A what?" asks you? "Like so", says me:

from ole trusty Martha

om nom nom.

Monday, November 21, 2011

We were the 1%...

on our flight from Dallas to Richmond (courtesy of Joseph's parents. Parent win!). Check me out in first class, being all tomatotastic.

But now I have bloody marys to drink and Amos Oz's memoir to read. It's a hard life, mine.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Oh HELLOOOO there, loves!

Just having a super busy day at work preparing for our 8 day vacation that starts tomorrow (not to, like, make you jealous or anything). Joseph and I are flying to North Carolina to stay in a huge house on the outer banks with his mom's side of the family, and I couldn't be more excited! I am so thankful that his family rocks and we all get along just like friends; talk about lucky!

So next week I will probably be pretty MIA, but I'll be back in action Tuesday the 29th. In honor of all you chirpers, I give you the cutest thing I've seen in I-don't-know-how long.

Courtesy of my good friend Zonk, who is one of the most rockin' people I have the pleasure of knowing and gchatting with all the time :)

If you like music (um, duh), check him out! Trés talented, that Zonk: on soundcloud

I adore you all! Have super mega awesome wonderful holidays, ok?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's kind of like winter outside!

Today I am WAY in the Christmas spirit! It's a FREEZING 55 degrees outside, so I've gone all out. Here is evidence; today I am complete with:


vintage cowboy boots:

Hopefully none of my coworkers saw this happen.

and Nonfat Peppermint Mocha in the Red Cup:

290 calories of EXCELLENT.

And since it's Thursday, I assume you would like something shiny. So I present to you the dress I would love to magically appear in the mail for me to wear to all of my holiday parties:

Lanvin via Barney's

Please and thank you, Santee Klause.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Come in, come in!

Welcome back, LCaL lovers (or likers, that's cool too)! Please step, once again, into mine and Joseph's humble abode, and make yourself comfortable in the living room. I wish you could see the rug better; it's a gorgeous and insanely soft ivory shag rug with hints of grey, not the weirdness it looks here. Ah well, c'est la Natalie doesn't have a fancy camera.

This is the view from the dining room:

Up close of the bookshelf situation:

You can't really tell, but that's a really great flocked velvet lampshade. I love flocking! And flocks. Like, of birds.

Looking in from the bedroom:

Coffee table is a gorgeous antique wooden chest my mom and I found in Houston (Westheimer shops: yes!). Jacques Rhinó top left.

Left = front door. Right = bedroom door. Right right = TV

And my favorite corner, which is where Aerial happily chirps his days away:

Dining room is to the left

I'm obsessed with our house, seriously. The rug is so soft I laid out on it and read my Kindle for 2 hours. My geekery has now combined with my decor love; watch out world!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Delicious Dining

Last night I made a delicious and super easy concoction that I would like to share with you. Here is what you do. 


1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 zucchini (zookeenee), chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper, italian seasoning, lemon juice
4 tbsp. 1/2 & 1/2
4 oz. linguine (I use whole wheat or gluten free)
about 1/2 - 2/3 pound shrimp, tails off!
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese

Sauté squash and zucchini in olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet until a little soft, about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add onion, sauté until onions soften up, about another 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, sauté another minute, then add your salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. I don't measure these, I just put a lot and then add to taste later. Vary cooking times for veggies based on how squishy you like them.

During veggie cooking, prepare pasta as directed and set aside (4 oz. doesn't look like much but the dish is mostly veggies, so just go with it!).

Salt and pepper the shrimp, then toss them into the skillet with the veggie mixture. If they are already cooked just stir, otherwise sauté with the veggies for about 5 minutes until shrimp are fully cooked. Add the 1/2 & 1/2, butter, and lemon juice (I use a couple of tbsp. and then put more on the table to add to taste), stir, and add in the linguine. Sprinkle the Parm over the whole dish, and serve!

Cal count for the whole dish- about 1200 (this varies based on how many shrimp you use. I use a lot, like 40-50 small guys).

Sorry I don't have a picture! You know what I DO have pictures of, though? Where we ate the linguine! i.e.: our beautiful (albeit simple) dining room:

Et voila! Sorry for the lame quality; I took them all on Joseph's phone's camera (no offense, Joseph's phone camera). But I was so excited to show you! I'm sure you know that it is more awesome in real life.

Looking in from living room

Other corner. Complete with strange star mirror reflection!

Wall opposite the windows with the gorgeous bookshelves Joseph got me for Christmas last year. They fit perfectly on that wall!

Corner of bookshelf, to the left is the living room

Up close. Framed xkcd comic I got us when we moved in together. All together now: awwww.

Up close of the beautiful hurricane vase mom got me last weekend. I found a glittery gold candle to put in it that perfectly matches the charger it sits on. Mom/glitter win!

And there you have it! In an ideal world I'd have some sweet curtains in there, but since we are just renting I'm holding off on that purchase. So welcome to La Casa Nattingly! Pictures of other rooms to come!

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Pretty in Pink

Oh hi there friends! Tomorrow you get to see some "after" shots of mine and Joseph's house, but for now I just have 3 lovely pink shots for you.

This living room is such a great combination of rustic and contemporary, and the exposed brick walls make me so happy!

I'd live in there for sure.
Am I positive that I like the rug with the rest of the room? Nope, not at all. But otherwise I think designer Mark Radcliff can be commended for creating such a warm, welcoming space that looks lived-in and designer-y.

Another view of the house with a different rug, interestingly enough (he must've heard me!):

Much better.

And probably the coolest use of pink I've seen in a long time:

The abode of a reader of House Beautiful. Not mine, sadly.


I lived in a three story, pink Victorian-looking house for over a year, so I could be partial to the idea, but I think we can all agree that this is just jaw-droppingly awesome, no?