Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back

I am in absolute disbelief that today is the last day of 2013.  Every year seems to go by faster and faster, a quiet reminder how important it is to live every day to the fullest yet enjoy the simple moments.  This year has had its fair share of highs and lows, but ultimately the joy and love outweighed the pain and sadness.  My mom was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently kicked cancers butt!  My best friend got married with me by her side as her maid of honor.  My boyfriend and I moved in together.  We fostered a homeless dog who we ended up falling in love with and adopting.  I got a new freelance job which allows me the flexibility to work when and where I want.  I traveled to Italy, made new friends, and revamped my blog.  Next year holds a lot of unknown, but I am confident that the best is yet to come.  Cheers to making 2014 one for the books!

Image via Alicia Bock

Monday, December 30, 2013

Art :: LA Marquees

I recently stumbled across Parisian OcĂ©ane Buret's images of LA's most famous marquees and landmarks, and am absolutely in love.  The colors and typography are just beautiful, and did I mention she captured them with a simple point and shoot camera?  I have still never been to LA and these photos are just that much more of a reason for me to change that.

PS - If you like old marquis signs and live in the Midwest I highly recommend a trip to the American Sign Museum.  Total Americana.
Images via Honestly WTF

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Travel :: Christmas in NYC

Happy Christmas Eve my dears!  I hope your day is filled with love and laughter.  I wanted to share with you some photos I took a few weeks ago during my trip to New York City.  It was wonderful being able to be with Ryan as he saw the city for the first time, and I mean...Christmas in New York, how much better can it get?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Recipe :: Chocolate-Pistachio Sables & Rosemary-Caraway Shortbread

This past weekend my mom and I partook in our annual Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza.  In addition to our traditional Sugar Cookies, Winter Bark, and Othellos we decided to try two new recipes from Bon Appetit...and can I just tell you we were absolutely blown away!  We made Chocolate-Pistachio Sables with Sea Salt Flakes and Rosemary and Toasted-Caraway Shortbread.  In case you still need to make some cookies for Santa, recipes are below:
Chocolate-Pistachio Sables with Sea Salt Flakes

2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¼ cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)


Whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine, then mix in egg white. Fold in chocolate and pistachios.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter, pushing dough together if it feels crumbly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder your dough, the easier it will be to slice.)

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing ½” apart.

Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.

DO AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze instead of chilling. Slice frozen logs into rounds just before baking.

1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus whole leaves
1 large egg, beaten to blend
Coarse sanding sugar (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast caraway seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Coarsely chop; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and salt until very light and fluffy, 7–10 minutes (beating air into butter makes for tender shortbread). Reduce speed to low and add flour, caraway, and 2 tsp. chopped rosemary; mix just to combine. Dough will look shaggy and a little dry (it’s not!).

Press dough into two 8”-diameter cake pans. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sanding sugar, and top with rosemary leaves.

Bake until shortbread is golden brown and sides pull away from pan, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool in pan before turning out and cutting into wedges or bars.

DO AHEAD: Shortbread dough can be made 1 month ahead; wrap tightly and freeze. Shortbread can be baked 1 week ahead; store wrapped tightly at room temperature.

Follow Dreams in HD on Bloglovin' here

Outfit :: A Cozy Christmas Inspired by Warby Parker

Warby Parker recently contacted me letting me know about their new Winter Collection, and I have to tell you that I am absolutely smitten with their 'Durand' eyeglasses.  I love the shape and think the pop of red against the tortoise is spot-on for the holiday season.  These glasses inspired me to create a cozy holiday look, perfect for a relaxing Christmas by the fire.  An adorable Skier Sweater is reminiscent of Christmas in snow country, Sorrel boots are necessary for an impromptu snow walk before dinner, a BaubleBar necklace adds just the right touch of sparkle, and the Russian classic "Anna Karenina" is the ideal book to curl up with under a furry blanket.  Cheers to a cozy holiday!

This post was in no way paid or sponsored by Warby Parker.  I simple love the brand and thought it sounded fun to design a look around a pair of their adorable glasses (:

More Holiday Outfit Inspiration: Ice Skating in Central Park // Thanksgiving Dinner // Gift Guide for Her

Follow Dreams in HD on Bloglovin' here

Image via 1

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Giving Back for the Holidays

I hope you all are having a fantastic weekend!  With all of the sparkle of the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in the dresses, parties, and gifts.  However, to me it is also a great time to remember how blessed I am and a wonderful opportunity to give back to those less fortunate.  

My boyfriend and I sponsor an eight-year old Haitian girl through his church and are hoping to one day plan a trip down to Haiti to volunteer at her school.  I am passionate about the arts, which is why I volunteer at my local art museum every week, assisting with the youth programs.  Many of you know that I am a huge animal lover {no fur for me, thank you very much!} so in addition to volunteering every week at my local Humane Society and with various rescue organizations {my favorite being Every Dog Counts Rescue}, I always give a donation around the holidays to help these angels fulfill their goal of finding forever homes for every animal in need.  This is especially near and dear to my heart as Every Dog Counts was the rescue who found my beloved Yoda at the pound, nursed him back to health, and brought him to me to foster {and eventually adopt}.  Some years I can donate a few hundred dollars, others just $50...but to me it is so important to give both my time and money to help keep these amazing organizations running.

My point is, there are so many wonderful charities who rely on our time and support to continue their mission.  If everyone gives a little, just imagine how much better we can make the world.  For as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Image via

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Weekend!

It's officially the last weekend before Christmas, and whether you are doing some last minute shopping, celebrating with friends, working, or decorating the house...I hope your weekend is merry and bright.  Today I am having a marathon cookie baking session with my mom {super excited to make these and these} and tomorrow will be going to The Nutcracker.  Happy weekend, and happy holidays!

Follow Dreams in HD on Bloglovin' here

Image via Etsy

European Christmas Markets

I love to travel.  It fuels my spirit and quenches my thirst for excitement, challenge, and personal growth.  Last year I spent over a month traveling across Europe on my own {a life-changing experience} and flew back to the United States two days before Thanksgiving.  I was definitely ready to come home and see my friends, family, and Ryan {he met me at the airport with a big bouquet of flowers...awww}, however, my one regret was that I was not able to stay through December to visit some of the world-famous European Christmas Markets.  It is definitely a bucket list experience for me and I think would be the perfect way to ring in the holiday season.  I have rounded up five Christmas Markets that I think would be especially amazing below:

Innsbruck, Austria: I have only taken the train through this beautiful Alpine town, but seeing it just for those few moments was enough to make me want more.  Nestled in the mountains and covered with snow, Innsbruck is the perfect place for winter sports enthusiasts.  Skiing by day and drinking mulled wine while wandering the quaint Christmas Markets at night?  Sign me up!
Prague, Czech Republic: Another European gem I have not yet visited is Prague.  This beautiful city is home to some of the most impressive Christmas Markets in Europe.  Streets and squares house brightly decorated wooden huts selling traditional gifts such as glassware, ornaments, scarves, dolls, and wooden toys alongside local cuisine including pastries, meats, and beer {of course}.  Plus, the city is a cultural center filled with amazing architecture, museums, and art.  I think Prague would be wonderful any time of the year, but at Christmas?  So romantic! 
Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Amsterdam, with it's beautiful canals, vibrant culture, and intricate architecture, is the perfect destination for a week-long winter getaway.  Its long, dark nights are lit up with twinkling lights and over a dozen Christmas Markets.  But, I think what makes Amsterdam the most special is that in the winter the frozen canals turn the entire city into a skating rink!  Can you imagine, ice skating to work?
Vienna, Austria: I visited this glorious royal city last year {see photos here} and was there just days before the Christmas Markets began {I actually was able to see them setting up the huge market and tree at the Schonbrunn Palace..so gorgeous}.  This city is absolutely stunning, and I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be covered with Christmas lights and a fresh coat of snow.  Plus, you can see the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, visit the Hofburg and Schonbrunn Palaces, and eat Apple Strudel at Demel.  Simply magic.
Munich, Germany: Perhaps the country most famous for Christmas Markets, this German market {whose roots go back to the 14th century} is held in Munich's beautiful city center.  Sellers offer traditional Bavarian Christmas Gifts such as gingerbread and glassware from the Black Forest.  Each day there are holiday concerts taking place on the balcony of the town hall, creating a wonderful ambiance for shoppers.  I can almost smell the roasted chestnuts...

More holiday travel inspiration: Christmas in New York // Lapland, Findland

Follow Dreams in HD on Bloglovin' here

Images via 1 2 3 4 5

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Recipe :: Thyme and Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies

This past weekend I was in the mood to bake cookies, but instead of my standard Chocolate Chip Cookies I decided to try this recipe for Thyme and Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies.  All I can say is YUM!  The savory fleur de sel and fragrant thyme create just the right contrast with the sweet chocolate chips.  The recipe was in grams so I converted to US measurements as best I could, but feel free to use the European recipe here if you have a scale:

Thyme and Fleur de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies {from Gourmantine}

1 1/4 c. butter {recipe calls for 1 c. but I'd recommend adding a little more}
1/2 c. light brown sugar {I added a little more, and about 1/8 c. white sugar}
1 large egg
1 3/4 c. flour
¼ teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
100 g good quality dark chocolate, well chopped
Small bunch thyme, leaves picked out
Fleur de sel for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line two trays with baking parchment. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add the egg and whisk till incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients and whisk for another 3-5 minutes till the dough is formed.  Stir through dark chocolate and thyme.

Using a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons, scoop the dough on the lined trays, leaving space between cookies, sprinkle a little fleur de sel on top and bake them for 8 minutes.  If when you remove them from the over you see the salt has melted I would just sprinkle a little more on the top, to give it that pretty flakey look.

Once out of the oven let it cool down for a few minutes on a rack and enjoy them warm with a cup of tea.

More Holiday Sweets: Winter Almond Bark // The BEST Apple Pie, Ever

Follow Dreams in HD on Bloglovin' here

Interiors :: A Simple Christmas

The weather here in the Midwest has been unusually snowy these past few weeks and I have to say that I am loving it.  I know a lot of people moan and groan about the cold weather, but I find winter absolutely beautiful.  I love walking outside and inhaling the crisp, clean air into my lungs.  I love coming in from my walk with rosy cheeks to a cozy, warm home.  I love how everything in the winter feels quiet, peaceful.  

Just this past week I slipped away for an hour for a silent, snowy hike in the woods.  Gazing through the rows and rows of thin, bare trees lightly dusted with snow against the pink and grey sky, it was impossible not to feel completely serene.  Which got me thinking that winter is really all about simplicity.  And although I love Christmas decor as much {ok, probably more} than the next girl, there is something so charming and refreshing about simple holiday decor.  A small tree in the corner {plus an adorable puppy}.  A cup of hot tea to take the chill away.  A tiny cabin in the snow.  A refreshingly simple holiday mantle.  A set of favorite vintage ornaments.  All simple reminders that what is most important about the season is simply being with those you hold dear.

Follow Dreams in HD on Bloglovin' here

Images via 1 2 3 4 5 6

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Art :: Chasing the Light

Inspired by Monday's post about the Arctic winter wonderland of Lapland, I wanted to share with you artist Zaria Forman's beautiful paintings from her historically contextual art expedition {inspired by American painter William Bradford's 1869 expedition up the Northwest Coast of Greenland}, entitled Chasing the Light.  

The story behind the art is so bittersweet, reading it brought tears to my eyes -- "Zaria's mother, Rena Bass Forman, had conceived the idea for the voyage, but sadly did not live to see it through. During the months of her illness her dedication to the expedition never wavered and Zaria promised to carry out her final journey to honor her. In Greenland, she scattered her ashes amongst crackling ice diamonds, on the towering peak of one of earth’s oldest stones and under the green glow of northern lights. Rena is now a part of the landscape she loved so much." - Ice to Iceland  

I not only love these pieces because of the stunning imagery, moody colors and shadows, and otherworldly feel, but most importantly because they remind me that life is short and we must never take anything we have for granted.  
Images via Honestly WTF

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Recipe :: Winter Almond Bark

I am all for DIY's and recipes that require little work for exceptional results {see the super easy Mason Jar Snow Globes I posted about last week here}.  One of my absolute favorite sweets that my mom and I make every holiday season also happens to be one of the easiest recipes, ever -- Winter Bark.  I found the recipe in Martha Stewart Living in 2008 and it has quickly become a family tradition.  The combination of the sweet white chocolate with the bittersweet {or dark} chocolate and salty almonds {instead of peanuts} is simply perfect.  The trick is to use the best chocolate you can find.  It is absolutely gorgeous wrapped up in a pretty box as a gift, or on a favorite plate as a snack for house guests.  And, did I mention how easy it is?!  Seriously, if you like chocolate you have to try it!  Recipe below:

Winter Almond Bark

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
12 ounces bittersweet {or dark} chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups salted, roasted almonds 

Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat.
Melt bittersweet {or dark} chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Stir in almonds. 

Spread chocolate almond mixture on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Drop spoonfuls of white chocolate on top, and swirl chocolates with a skewer. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Break bark into large pieces. Bark will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Travel :: Lapland, Finland

You guys, Santa exists.  And when he isn't in the North Pole he is in his hometown of Lapland, Findland.  I know many people like to head south and escape the cold over the holidays, but personally I think visiting this literal winter wonderland would be absolutely perfect.  You can meet Santa in person at the world-famous Santa Claus Village, watch reindeer in their natural habitat, take a sleigh ride, ride a dog sled, take long snow hikes, and curl up in the evenings with hot cocoa in an igloo, cabin, or ice hotel.  And if you're not sold, Lapland is a perfect spot to lay under the stars and watch the Northern Lights {a total bucket list experience}.  Christmas 2014 anyone?
Images via 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gift Guide :: Under $50

Christmas will be here before we know it, so in case you still have some shopping left to do I have rounded up a bunch of goodies all under $50.  And seriously, how gorgeous is that Marble Cheese Dome?  I can't believe it is only $48...what a steal!  

Still need more ideas?  Check out my Gift Guides for him, her, and for the home.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DIY :: Mason Jar Snow Globes

Can you believe Christmas is only two weeks away?  I have {for the most part} finished up my Christmas shopping, but I'm sure I will stumble across a few more goodies too sweet to pass up.  Today I want to share with you my absolute favorite holiday DIY, ever.  A few years ago while shopping at Anthropologie I noticed these beautiful mason jar snow globes.  I imagined how beautiful they would look in a grouping on my mantle..but then I saw the price tag.  $28-$40 dollars for one snow globe seemed a bit absurd to me.  So, after a little of research I found this DIY online and knew I had to give it a shot.  I am happy to say they were so easy and turned out absolutely beautiful...which in my book is the perfect DIY!  Directions:

Mason Jar Snow Globes


Small trees {I bought a whole bag of them for $11 at Michaels}
Mason jars of various sizes {or any other jars, like a salt shaker}
Little ornaments, etc. you may want to add
Pine Cones, Glitter, and a glue gun


Simply hot glue the trees to the bottom of the jar’s lid along with pincones, ornaments, etc.   Add ALOT of glitter!  Either glue or screw the lid back on the jar and ta-da! 

DIY via Arielle Elise Blog, image via Two Delighted

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gift Guide :: For Him

1. Jack Spade Repp Striped Tie Bar // 2. Everlane Weekender Bag // 3. Collard Greens Plaid Bow-Tie {handmade in New York} // 4. Leather Toiletry Bag // 5. Kiel's Ultimate Man Refueling Set // 5. Ray Ban Oversized Two-Tone Clubmaster Sunglasses // 6. Ticket Stub Diary // 7. Wooden Beer Tote with Bottle Opener  // 8. Jack Spade Flannel iPhone Case // 9. Ice Bucket // 10. '1901' Canyon Chukka Boot // 11. Chanel Bleu Eau De Toilette {the best cologne, ever!} // 12. 50 Places to Hike Before You Die // 13. Sea Salt Soap // 14. Lomography Diana Vegan Leather Camera // 15. Meze 73 Headphones // 16. JCrew Birds-Eye Print Socks Field Notes 3-Pack // 17. Moscow Mule Copper Mug // 18. GoPro HD Hero 3  // 19. JCrew Slim Merino Elbow Patch Sweater // 20. Field Notes 3-Pack // 21. Robert Graham Flannel Messanger Bag    

Well hello there!  I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.  We spent last week in NYC which was absolutely amazing {pictures to come}.  I was thrilled to come home to a winter wonderland, and we took advantage of the beautiful weather to venture out to the country to cut down our Christmas Tree.  Last night we continued our tradition of decorating the tree while listening to Christmas music, snacking on a delicious cheese plate, and drinking Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa with a splash {or two} of Bailey's.  All in all I would have to say it was a perfect week.  I had big dreams of having posts ready for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week...but life got in the way like it sometimes does (:

So, back to our regularly scheduled Holiday Gift Guides!  Today I have put together a bunch of goodies that will make any guy on your list smile.  I have a few more ideas up my sleeve, but in case my boyfriend is reading this I don't want to give anything away.  I hope this helps makes your holiday shopping a little easier.  And be sure to check out my Gift Guides for her and for the home!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gift Guide :: For Her

1. Jo Malone Red Roses Bath Oil // 2. Club Monaco Ana Embellished Hat // 3. Vince Drape Neck Sweater // 4. NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection Limited Edition Cinematic Lipstick  {Future Red - Cherry} // 5. Deborah Lippman Best of Both Worlds Pop Rock Mini Duet // 6. Kate Spade Chandelier Earrings // 7. Crystal Wreath Bracelet // 8. Home Library Set // 9. Instax Instant Mini Film Camera // 10. Kate Spade Pencil iPhone Case // 11. Miu Miu Embossed Leather Continental Wallet // 12. Tiffany & Co Paloma Sugar Stack Ring {Blue Chalcedony, Gold} // 13. Macaron Box // 14. JCrew Stadium Cloth Cocoon Coat // 15. Sugar Paper Gold Stripe Notebook // 16. Kate Spade In a Stich Embellished Collar // 17. "Do Something Awesome" Notepad // 18. Kate Spade Pyramid Bow Leather Glove // 19. Diptyque Do Son Eau de Toilette // 20. First Date Bobby Pins // 21.  ban.do Crystal Crush Bobby Pin // 22. Loeffler Randall Haircalf Lock Clutch // 23. Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow Palette  

It's December and you know what that means?  Gift guides!  Yesterday was dedicated to all things home, and today I have rounded up a boatload of goodies for the ladies on your list.  This time of the year I am drawn to all things festive and feminine -- think lots of sparkles and pops of pastel paired with luxurious neutrals like a cashmere sweater and buttery soft leather gloves -- so the gift guide reflects just that.  I also love this lomography camera, these sunglasses, and these rose gold headphones.  In fact, I think I might have to add a couple of these pretties to my Christmas List!  Happy shopping (: