Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Very Special Day




Today is mine and Olie's 3 year anniversary!  I love our wedding pictures.  They really reflect what a great time we had: we're all sweaty, acting crazy, and dancing like fools.  I actually don't think I've ever been hotter in my entire life, but it was amazing (we had a few kegs to keep us cool!).  If I had the whole thing to do over, I wouldn't change a thing.  We got married in my parent's yard, with just our close friends and family, good food, and good music.  

Thanks, Olie, for an incredible 3  years.  I'm looking forward to many more. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jumpin' Jumpin'








Remember on my last post about how I can be a moron about shopping?  I'm actually really proud of this outfit post because it shows that I am trying to change my ways.

I went to a wedding this past weekend.  Instead of rushing out and buying a new dress (which is typical Meredith behavior), I wore this awesome jumpsuit that I've only worn once.  I remember when I bought this jumpsuit, I justified the purchase by promising to wear it to two upcoming weddings.  Guess what?  Didn't do that.  I even got it steamed to wear to the second wedding and didn't wear it.

So, this past weekend, I fought the I-wish-I-had-something-new-for-this-wedding urge and wore this (bonus: it was already steamed).

So far, so good.

And yes, this post is named after a Destiny's Child song.  It just seemed appropriate.

What are your rules when it comes to shopping for clothes?  How do you stay on budget?  Any tips for shopping smart?

Jumpsuit: Urban Outfitters, Belt: Vintage, Shoes: Bucco via HauteLook, Clutch: Forever 21

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Meredith Stops Being A Moron And Gets Serious About Her Closet

Items I'm Thinking About

Items I'm Thinking About by meredith-austin featuring a crystal jewellery

Recently I've had a ton of important realizations.  Perhaps it's being 25.  Perhaps it's finally having a full-time job.  But I have been getting life lessons all over the place.

I've come to the conclusion that it is time to start clothes shopping with some sort of a brain.  I need to buy items that are classic, are high in quality, and that I can wear over and over again.  I'm trying to build a collection; a closet that is full of great pieces that I can grow with.  Not trendy, cheap items that fall apart.  

Too often I shop emotionally.  Like, say I have a wedding to go to.  Instead of wearing one of the many perfect dresses in my closet, I go buy a new dress.  Not smart.  Dresses aren't cheap.  So I'm making a game plan.  I'm titleing it: Meredith Stops Being A Moron And Gets Serious About Her Closet.  I thought I would share this plan here on the blog, since I'm sure many of you also suffer from shopping stupidity.

1.  Set a monthly clothes budget.  This way I will know how much I can actually spend on clothes.  

2.  Shop online.  I find that when I shop in a store there is some slight pressure to buy something.  Mainly it's the fact that I don't want to have to come back to the store if I decide I want something (I hate running errands).  So lately, I've been shopping online.  That way, I can really think about if I really need/want something.  A lot of websites will save your shopping carts for a few days.  Let the items sit in the cart.  Give yourself time to truly asses them.  (pictured above are some of the things that I'm currently considering).  

3.  Have a shopping buddy.  Mine is my husband.  I'll show him my online shopping carts and he'll say things like, "why are you buying shorts, you never wear shorts," or ,"that dress is too short and you always complain about your dresses being too short."  It's nice having someone to help you with your choices and to keep you on track.  A good option?  Email your shopping carts to your mom.  She'll tell you the truth.

4.  Assess my closet.  I never buy tops.  I have too many pants.  Most of my dresses are too short.  I don't have enough basics.  These are the areas where my closet is lacking.  I have to think about these things every time I buy something from now on.  

5.  Question each article of clothing. What can I wear this with?  Where will I wear this?  Can I wear this in multiple seasons of the year? 

6.  Save up for something really great.  If I don't hit my clothes budget every month, I'm going to save the extra to buy myself something really nice.  Like.......that gray Marc by Marc Jacobs bag.  Not something dumb.  Something classic that I love that will last forever.  And by saving up over a long period of time I will be certain that I truly want it when I buy it.  

And last but not least:

6.  Shop Sales.  This one is actually really hard for me.  Sales sections can be very overwhelming.  There are always piles of clothes and a million people rifling through them.  I'm not good at sales sections.  That's where the online shopping (Step #2) comes in.  Zara is having a great sale right now.  Check out J. Crew Factory's website for a constant sale.   And HauteLook is the perfect place to buy nice pieces for a fraction of the cost.  By sales shopping online you avoid the rush, the crowds, and the mess.  

Now, if I can just stick to this plan.  That's the hard part.  I'll keep you all posted on my progress.  

And speaking of Hautelook........Congrats to Rebekah Kuhl!  You've won a $50 gift card to HauteLook!  Email me at mostrvngartst@gmail.com and I can send you your prize!  Thanks to everyone who participated!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bruschetta, Spinach, and Feta Pizza


I love using pizza night to clean out my fridge.  It's really fun to throw a bunch of random leftovers onto a pizza.  Some of these pizzas have been amazing.  Others were just weird (black-eyed peas are not a recommended pizza topping for a reason).   But even a bad pizza is a good pizza.  So I just go for it.

I also love making pizzas just for myself.  My husband and I have completely opposite tastes when it comes to pizza.  He loves meat and jalepenos and barely any cheese.  I like as many cheeses as possible, lots of veggies, and an entire jar of olives.  And maybe a few more olives.  I love olives.

So last night, since I was just cooking for me, I decided to make a pizza.  A leftover/Meredith pizza.  I had some bruschetta that I needed to get rid of and some spinach that was starting to look a little droopy.  What emerged may be one of the best pizzas I've ever made.  An instant classic!

Bruschetta, Spinach and Feta Pizza

Make a pizza dough according to directions.  (Click here for my recipe.  It's the bomb).

Top pizza with bruschetta (Click here for my recipe.  Also, very delicious).

Now top with feta, mozzarella, and spinach.

 Preheat oven as high as it will go (at least 500 degrees).  Cook pizza for 12 to 15 minutes.
Now enjoy!  This pizza is just perfect.  I ate it for dinner last night, lunch today, and dinner tonight.  I can't stop.  I have one piece left and I don't think it will make it through the night.  I will definitely be making this one again.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Red Lips, Red Kicks







Converse make everything cooler

Shirt: Vintage Calvin Klein, Skirt: American Eagle, Shoes: Converse, Assorted Jewels

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Belated Birthday Contest!


As of yesterday, The Starving Artist is one year old!  This picture was on my very first post.  A lot has changed since then: for example, I lost those sunglasses (still sad about that one) and I'm not taking outfit pics with an iPhone anymore.  It's been a crazy year; I've learned a lot and the blog has come a long way.  The best thing about blogging is that it has forced me to challenge myself.  Writing 3 to 5 posts per week is actually more work than you would think, but it's worth it.

To celebrate my blog's b-day I'm having a little contest!  I'm giving away a $50 gift card to HauteLook to one of my wonderful readers!  All you have to do is like me on Facebook (the link is to the right on the sidebar) and leave a comment here telling me what your favorite type of post on The Starving Artist is.  The winner will be chosen at random on Friday.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by!  I couldn't do this without all of you!  I'm looking forward to many more years here at The Starving Artist!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Current Obsessions: Orange and J. Crew

Perfect Match: Orange and J. Crew

Perfect Match: Orange and J. Crew by meredith-austin featuring j crew loafers

Current obsessions? Orange and preppy clothes.  Where to get these preppy orange clothes?  J. Crew.  I think it is something about having a full time job that makes me want to get super preppy all the time.  And orange is just awesome.  It's kind of like a neutral, it just goes with everything.  

I also like color en masse.  Load it on.  Go crazy.  Stand out.  Wear orange.  The orange really makes these classic pieces pop.  Perfect for work where you want to look appropriate, but not boring.  

How do you stand out at work?  Got any tips?  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Al Pastor Tacos

As my wedding anniversary creeps closer and closer (it's been three years on July 31st), I'm reminded more and more of how insanely awesome my husband is.  Not only is he super smart, sweet, and adorable, but he also makes meals like this for me.  Honestly, the key to my heart is food.

On a side note, there is a very delicious Mexican restaurant within walking distance of our new house.  Consequently...........yeah.  We eat there a lot.  We justify it by the fact that we walk there, so at least we burn off a lot of the calories.  But still........not all of the calories.

So last Friday night I had a feeling we might be making a trip there (it's El Porton, if you are a Memphian), but instead I was surprised with this meal!  All the perks of a Mexican restaurant at home!  Homemade Al Pastor, homemade Mexican rice, and homemade refried beans.  He even bought a six pack of Dos Equis Amber (can't have Mexican food with out a Dos Equis, but maybe that's just me).  This recipe was so good I thought I would share it with you guys here on the blog.  Bonus: it's all done in the crockpot!  Anything that I can throw in a crockpot and forget about for 6 hours gets an A+ in my book.

Some of you may have never had Al Pastor before.  I didn't have it til about 5 years ago.  If you have never tried it, make this recipe.  The savory meat and the sweet pineapple create a flavor-splosion (flavor-splosion?) in your mouth.  And it makes great leftovers.  I'm a sucker for good leftovers.

Al Pastor (adapted from Epicurious by Andrew Olinger)

1/2 of a large onion
1 pineapple, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup ancho chile powder
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large or 2 small chipotle chiles and 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
4 pork chops
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place onion and 2 pineapple rounds in a food processor.  Add the next seven ingredients (through chiles and adobo) to the food processor and blend until smooth.  Throw this mixture and pork in the crockpot.  Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours (it's a crockpot, so feel free to cook overnight or while you're at work all day).  Serve with warm corn tortillas, and top with fresh pineapple and fresh cilantro. Don't skip the pineapple.  And don't buy the canned stuff.  Just don't.

Enjoy!  With a Dos Equis Amber of course.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Going House Crazy!


There is nothing like a new house/apartment/any-kind-of-living-quarters.  I've been in my new house for a few months now, but of course there is still a lot to do.  All of the trim in the new place was beige (beige trim?  seriously? whose idea was that?), so it all has to be painted.  I'm about halfway done with that.  Then there is a second bedroom that I have been working on like crazy, plus a screened-in porch that I'm trying to pull together.  Those are my two big projects at the moment.  I'm hoping to share some pictures soon, but until then, I'll show you some images that inspire me.

All of these images are from Pinterest.  Here is the biggest tip on redecorating that I can offer: actually use your Pinterest boards!  A lot of the time I just end up looking through my pins to pass the time, but lately, I've really been using these images to guide me in my redecorating.  I didn't realize how much I liked yellow (actually, I thought I hated yellow) until I looked at my Pinterest.  Everything was yellow!  So, I've been incorporating it into almost every room in my house.
I love this bedroom!  I love the pop of yellow, the mix of patterns and all of the great textures.  And what a great headboard!  I really like this because there is a lot going on, but it's not overwhelming.  That's kind of what I'm going for in my new house.  A kind of funky minimalism.
Once again, more yellow!  And I love the dark gray walls, they're almost black.  Also, I love that funky shaggy thing on the wall.  At the moment, I just have paintings on my walls, but I'd love to find something crazy like this to hang somewhere.
Love, love, LOVE this space!  If I lived alone, this is what I would strive for.  But when you add a husband into the mix........ this would just be way too much for him.  Another piece of advice: if you have a roommate (husband, boyfriend, friend, etc) let them contribute.  I work in a home fabric store, and so many women don't take their husbands into consideration at all when decorating.  Compromise is good.  That way everyone is happy.  Still...........I'm obsessed with this room.
I'm always looking for interesting ways to hang art, because I have a lot of it.  The painting and the ottoman play off of each other so nicely in this image.  I love the idea of placing a little ottoman or a bench under a painting.

Check out the rest of my house inspiration at http://pinterest.com/moling/new-house/

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pattern Play





I love prints!  I love throwing a bunch together and coming up with something unexpected.  I thought this little combo turned out nicely.  People are always giving out tips on how to mix prints, but my advice it to just try a bunch of different things.  There are really no rules, if it looks good to you, go for it!

Kimono: Forever 21, Dress: BCBG, Shoes: Bucco via HauteLook, Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters, Purse: Aldo, Assorted Jewels.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's That Time Of Year!

If you are a Memphian, you know what I am talking about.  It's time to vote for the Best of Memphis 2013!  This has been a great year for Memphis, especially for Memphis restaurants!  We have so many great new restaurants, I had a hard time choosing (though Hog and Hominy was my winner for multiple categories).  The ballot only takes about 5 minutes to fill out, so if you get a chance head over to memphisflyer.com to cast your votes!

Be sure to vote for The Starving Artist for best blog!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pretty In Pink





Been feeling pretty preppy lately.  Perhaps it's my new found obsession with prepfection.com or that I can't stop listening to Vampire Weekend's newest album.  Whatever the cause, my usual funky/tomboy style has taken a more preppy/feminine turn.  Hence the braid and pink plaid pants.  Aren't these pants awesome? (some of you are saying, "no, Meredith, they are ridiculous," but you know what? you are ridiculous!)  These are my mom's pants from back in the day when she was going through her preppy phase (which was during the 80's so you know it was mega-preppy.  I think everything she owned was monogrammed).  Had to add the embroidered top to make it a bit more me.  I'm not off to the Hamptons yet.

Top: Urban Outfitters, Pants: Vintage, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Scarf: Thrifted, Earrings: Forever 21

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (With Bacon)


So..........I'm not a huge bacon fan.

Gasp!

I know, right?  I just, don't really get it.  I mean, don't get me wrong, bacon is delicious.  But, I don't understand why everything has to have bacon in it these days.  It's gotten a bit out of control.  Everyone just need to calm down a bit with the bacon.  Personally, if I'm going to eat pork, I'd rather have ham or sausage.  Especially ham.  Maybe you think I'm crazy, but I really love me some ham (#hamandcheese).

The one good thing that has come out of this bacon craze is the bacon-for-desert trend.  Yes, sometimes it is excessive (have you seen the peanut butter and bacon shake at Sonic? It looks really gross), but I LOVE salty and sweet together.  Why would I eat salty or sweet when I could have salty and sweet?  I'm not sure who can take credit for the bacon desert thing.  Maybe it was Bobby Flay's bacon ice cream on Iron Chef that did it.  Or maybe it was Paula Deen's brown sugar bacon.  Whoever is responsible, I'd like to give them a high five.

I also recently had a bacon donut.  I know that these are trendy right now, but my local donut shop Gibson's (home of the world's best donuts and no one could ever convince me otherwise and if you tried to convince me otherwise I will fight you) just started making them.  And they are so good.  Like................so good.  I don't know what else to say about them.  If I really tried to describe it, it would get very inappropriate very fast.

That's why when I decided to bake a cinnamon pull-apart bread, I thought I should add a little bacon.  And let me tell you, I'm glad that I did.  It's not too much, it's just the perfect little salty bite to cut through the super sweet bread.
You should make this bread.  I guess I say that about everything that I bake, but this time I really REALLY mean it.  I made it twice in one week.  It's that good.

I got the recipe from Joy the Baker.  She's got some good ones.  But I added the bacon.  I will take credit for that.

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (With Bacon) adapted from Joy the Baker

3  cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 ounces unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned

bacon, cooked and crumbled (use as much as you want, cuz you probably like bacon more than I do)


Whisk 2 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a bowl.

Whisk eggs together in a separate bowl and set aside.

Place butter and milk in a saucepan on medium heat.  Mix together until butter is just melted.  Remove from the heat.  Add your water to the hot milk and butter.  Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a spatula.  Then add the eggs and mix until incorporated.  Add 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and mix for about 2 minutes.  Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.

While dough is rising, mix sugar, cinnamon, and ginger together.  Melt 2 ounces of butter (for filling) on medium heat until browned.  BE CAREFUL!  It can go from browned to burnt very quickly.

After dough has risen, turn out onto a floured surface and knead the remaining 1/4 cup of flour into the dough.



Using a floured rolling pin, roll out dough into a large oval shape.  Roll dough as thin as you can, but don't stress about it.  It's not crucial for it to be super thin.
Once you've got a nice big oval, spread butter all over the dough.  You can brush it on, or you can just use your hands.  It's ok.  Make a mess.  It's fun.

Then pour your cinnamon mixture mixture over the dough and spread it out evenly.
Now add that bacon!  Like I said, use as much as you want.  I used about half of a package of bacon.  
Slice the dough into 6 even slices.  Stack these slices on top of each other.  Then slice the stack into 6 slices.
Grease a loaf pan with butter.  Place the 6 stacks into the pan so that they stand up.  Like this:
Any cinnamon and sugar that fell out while I was slicing and stacking the dough I just sprinkled over the top.  Now cover the loaf pan with a clean towel and let rise for another 45 minutes.  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cook in the middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes.  You want the top of the bread to be dark brown.  If it's not a dark brown, it will probably be a bit raw in the middle.  Not cool.  Let the bread sit for about 20 minutes.  This will be hard, but I know you can do it.  
I topped mine the first time with a cream cheese icing.  The second time I just used a light glaze.  Both were very delicious, but the cream cheese icing was pretty incredible.  Cream cheese icing is just cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract whipped into a frenzy.  Some recipes add butter, but I don't think that is necessary.  Let's not go overboard.  

Now dig in!  This bread is heavenly while it is warm, but it's actually really delicious the next day.  I made it the night before I threw a little brunch for my family and it was very yummy cold.  I'm not sure how it tastes the day after that, because it hasn't lasted that long in my house.  And I'm pretty sure it won't last that long in yours.  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tomboy





You all know how much I love stealing from my husband's closet.  I probably end up wearing his clothes just as much as I wear mine.  These pants we ordered for him, but we accidentally ordered 2 pair.  Instead of returning them, I kept them for myself (of course).  I just like the slouchy boyfriend look.  And the little bit of midriff makes it just feminine enough.  I wore this outfit to eat dinner at my in-law's house.  I thought the little bit of belly might be too edgy for dinner with your husband's parents, but I just wore it anyway.  YOLO.

Shirt: Urban Outfitters, Scarf: Gap, Pants: J. Crew Factory (men's), Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Watch: Fossil