Sweet Shades. Another Bourbon & Boots Delight.

One of my favorite online destinations EVER is Bourbon & Boots.  I could (and sometimes do) spend hours browsing their website, wishing I could buy everything, wanting to eat everything and wondering how a group of people could be so impossibly cool.  And I suppose the answer for that could very likely be that it's because they are Southerners (and 'one Yankee', REPRESENT!)  I first discovered the magic that is Bourbon & Boots when I found this insanely cool Johnny Cash necklace.

Johnny Cash

Bourbon & Boots is an awesome digital retail curation of Southern-inspired and created goods.  Want to up your fashion game with a bow tie or some badass piece of handmade jewelry?  They got it.  Looking to make your house a home with some fly wall art?  No problem.  Need some Louisiana crawfish delivered to your door for a party?  Seriously...they make it happen.  They even have editorial content that teaches you everything from the how to pick a Kentucky Derby winner to bands to see at SXSW to adventures in hand-cranked ice cream and infused vodka (not together but I'd be willing to give that a try).

B&B Shades

So when I saw a pair of ombré wood framed Lolita sunglasses from these curators of cool, I freaked out.  FREAKED.  OUT.  And with their Southern charm and inherent thoughtfulness, the Bourbon & Boots team sent me a pair to take on my travels to Mexico where I couldn't wait to get some generally few and far between snaps of lil' old me wearing these bad boys.  Now, if you know me (and my almost vampire-inspired skin), you will know that for all my efforts, the sun and I do not always see eye to eye.  And thus, I sunburned my face and chest within 24 hours of arriving and became a slightly less desirable tableau for my new favorite sunglasses.  I mean, I wore them all over and attracted attention because, who cares, I'm on vacation.  But when wanting to show you all how freaking awesome these shades were, my red face wasn't gonna cut the mustard.  So here are some glamour shots I took of these fun, comfortable and super cool sunglasses.

1 2 3

If you're of the slightly more understated variety, Bourbon & Boots also has a Wayfarer version.  Honestly, I can't say enough about how much I love this product.  They look cool...I mean, ombré wood?  Come on.  They are so comfortable.  And they have fantastic lenses which may sound slightly geeky but when you get a pair of good ones, it makes a world of difference.  Not to mention every pair is handmade by one of the two folks that makes up Tumbleweed Handicrafts in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Check out the sunglasses here and make sure to visit the Bourbon & Boots site.  (In related news, the above cactus taught me just how stupid it is to go near a cactus.)

4 5

(Images c/o Bourbon & Boots and moi.  Special thanks to Bourbon & Boots for hooking me up with such a lovely gift...but just a note, all opinions are my own.)

Give Us A Hand.

Though the point of this post was never to be sombre or find a deeper meaning in this little treasure that I wanted to share, it struck me that there is a place for it, even a need for it.  But when I heard someone last night say 'you're great Boston and have many greater days ahead' and then my Dad saying 'Boston doesn't need the White House, they are gonna look after themselves', it suddenly seemed necessary to make this link.  As someone who experienced 9/11 in my first couple of weeks away at college and as a member of the Newtown community, the kind of horrific event that happened yesterday strikes a very personal chord in me.  But Boston is nothing if not an incredible community of hard workers, big givers and huge hearts.  So as they all extend a hand to each other while they just begin to cope with this tragedy, let's all try to remember the give a hand when we are able too. IMG_9637

But what this was really to celebrate was one of my favorite hidden details in the gorgeous San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  The first time I went to visit this magical town, I remember saying that it wasn't a pretty place but it was a beautiful one.  Which may be a bit awkward a statement but it's the beautiful little details preserved in a crumbling building or the peek of artistry beyond the dusty air.  San Miguel is not some kind of run down city, it's incredibly preserved and precious about its historical features.  However, it is a different kind of beauty...a less traditional version, in our eyes at least.

IMG_9717 IMG_9853 P1020290 P1020291

The doors of San Miguel can open onto a hidden paradise.  Books have been published about the gateways of this special place...some imposing, some almost unnoticeable, but all with their own special details, colors and meaning.  So what is it that I love about these doors?  Aside from the fact that you never know what kind of treasure you'll find behind any given one?  The hands that ask to enter.  One of the most incredible details of this town are the ever-present door knockers in the delicate shape of hands.  Unless you are paying very close attention, you might not notice this detail on every other home...but you'll become infatuated when you do.  It becomes a little game to find them through your day, to study the differences of each one and to think about how kind it seems to have a friendly hand knocking at your door.

P1020292 P1020295 P1020300 P1020408

(Photos by Kanoe Wentworth and moi)

Hello, Spring. Fancy A Parade?

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the official start of Spring.  It hasn't been until the last couple of days that we have really started to feel it, though.  As if overnight, suddenly the air has warmed up, the flowers are peeking out from the ground and the birdsongs have been delightfully relentless.  We have also been treated to a couple of thunderstorms which, by the way, I adore.

IMG_9550 IMG_9558 IMG_9566

I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the first day of Spring and if there is one thing this town is good at, it is making a celebration out of everything and anything.  So get ready for cute overload.  All the kids in town dress-up with all their classmates as signs of Spring (you'll see) and host a parade around the center of town.  I mean, come on.  (Tree dude below was seriously struggling to walk which double his cute factor, btw.)

IMG_9572 IMG_9583 IMG_9586 IMG_9591 IMG_9604

Icing on the cake? All these adorable little munchkins hold hands with each other.  Aughhhhhhh.  CUUUUUUTE.  For all the little ones who aren't old enough to participate in the parade itself, parents dress them up in their own little costumes (which involve some pretty serious onesies) to watch the parade they are all looking forward to actually being in one day.

IMG_9607 IMG_9612 IMG_9614

Happy Spring, everyone!

(All photos by Kanoe Wentworth)

Insta(Mexico)Gram.

As I get settled back in from my Mexican voyage, I wanted to give you a little Instagram recap of my time there.  Make sure to follow me on Instagram (@thrillofthechaise) and keep an eye out for some pretty cool posts over the next few weeks!  It is going to take me a few days to readjust to the weather here in Connecticut, as well as the margarita withdrawal.  Don't judge me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Chiles En Nogada: My New Culinary Best Friend.

I've been a little lazy about writing the past few days but I like to think it's ok since the time I would usually spend writing, I am spending exploring, enjoying and relaxing.  ('Relax' is not generally a word in my vocabulary, though not for my want of trying.)  Anyway, point is, I'm not avoiding you.  So calm down. When I first arrived in San Miguel last year about this time, I didn't know what I was in for.  This city reveals itself to you slowly and it made no exception for me.  But all it takes, really, is a good drink and a great meal and I'll get on board with anything.  Seriously.  Write that down.  Needless to say, both were delivered on my first night in the form of a margarita and Chiles en Nogada.  And I was more than happy to repeat that moment in my life the other night, in the same restaurant, at the same table, with the same amount of excitement.

This dish celebrates the colors of the Mexican flag, the bold flavors of the country and is all around awesome.  Roasted poblano chiles are stuffed with ground pork and/or beef, cinnamon, garlic, onion, raisins and so forth.  They are then covered in an amazing creamy walnut sauce and finished with beautiful and crunchy pomegranate seeds.  WHAT?!  Yeah.  Badass.  I'll be sure to try it on my own when I get back home to the States but I will always get excited about a visit to El Pegaso on my visits here for what I now deem one of my favorite all-time meals.

P1000507

Chiles en Nogada (Recipe taken and modified from Our Life In Food)

For the chiles

4 poblano chiles

1/2 lb. ground pork an/or beef

1/4 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 Roma tomato, cored and chopped

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the walnut sauce

1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup sour cream

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup milk

For serving

Pomegranate seeds

Chopped walnuts

Fresh chopped cilantro (if you like that sort of thing...which I don't...at all...but I promise not to stand in your way)

1. Roast the chiles under the broiler until blackened. Be careful. Be a good judge of this. And yeah, s**t is already getting real. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let these bad boys steam for about 20 minutes.

2. While that magic happens, add your ground meat to a saute pan and cook until it is cooked through and just starting to brown.  Add the onions and cook until they have softened.  Stir in garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and allspice. (You're doing great.) Add the tomato, apple and raisins.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. To make the sauce (I hope you're reading this ahead of time), place walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, allow them to cool and then rub them to try to remove as much of their skin as possible.  Place the walnuts in a food processor with all the other mentioned sauce ingredients above and mix it all up until smooth.

4. Peel the skin from the chiles. Cut a lengthwise slit in each and remove the seeds.  Stuff each chile with the meat mixture.  Top the stuffed chiles with sauce, garnish with whatever you like from the list and serve!

Stay tuned for lots more from my visit to Mexico...but in the meantime, I'm off to SHOP.  Psssst, if you want to keep up with all my goings on, follow me over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@thrillofthechaise)!

Hola. Here Ends My Knowledge of the Spanish Language.

I left the house at 3am yesterday.  I went through two time zones, got a little bit fussy on two very turbulent plane rides, had an awkward stare-down with a guy throwing back Bloody Mary's and chocolate chip cookies at 10am at Dallas airport, passed a pilgrimage or two on a long drive and BOOM, a mere 16 or so hours from our starting point, we arrived in the oasis that is San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. P1000633

While I settle in a bit today, unpack, get my bearings and relax just enough that I am energized again, I wanted to share some of my posts from my visit here last year...

P1000782

I bought some beautiful, handmade jewelry and had the pleasure of visiting the artist's studio to see not just her own work, but the work of her husband and her budding artist children here.

Forget Halloween.  If you want to see some adorable little ones dressed up in brilliant costumes, enjoy the parade on the first day of Spring here.  It's fast approaching!

P1000855

I like Mexican cuisine.  I like margaritas even more.  Here.

San Miguel is an artists' colony and has been for basically ever.  If you want to see all that's beautiful in the mix of culture, tradition, colors and skill, check out this post on artisan work in this creative little town.

1.2

Or just get a little intro here.  Off to explore now! xx

Celebrate Spring.

There are a few more posts to come about what I got up to in San Miguel.  Cultural experiences, a visit with an incredible artist and when I pretended I was a chef.  But I got reports back from my parents today, who are still in San Miguel, about a celebration that I am so upset that I missed. To celebrate the first day of Spring, all the little ones of San Miguel dress up (or are dressed up by their parents) as flowers and animals, mostly butterflies and ladybugs, and take a little parade route through the town and then around the central Jardin. DOES IT GET ANY MORE ADORABLE?!  Well, it did...when the photo my parents sent me of this little ladybug with a bit of attitude landed in appeared.

HAPPY SPRINGTIME EVERYONE!

Eat, Drink and Be Very Merry.

I have to admit that one of the things I was most excited about when I found out I was going to Mexico was the fact that, as far as I am concerned, margaritas are a national treasure.  Also, I like to eat and Mexican food done well is one of my favs.  So going to the source was something I knew I would be writing home about. Street food is a bit of a 'no no' for those of us who may be visiting but San Miguel is full of incredible restaurants and delivered some of the best food and drink I have ever had.  Here are some of my favorites:

El Pegaso

Located just a block from the central jardin, El Pegaso (the pegasus) was where I spent my first night in San Miguel eating probably one of the best meals I had during my visit.  It is a casual cafe with a good deal of seating and a fun, bright atmosphere that helpfully caters to the secret gringo population of San Miguel.  It isn't obnoxiously obvious, I promise.  You'll notice that nothing is very obvious geared towards English-speaking tourists, just hints to help accommodate the population that does exist in the shadows.  The walls are covered with miniature shadow boxes with tongue in cheek depictions of pop culture using the ever-loved Day of the Dead skeletons.

Yes, of course my margarita was good.  But it was my main course that stole the show.  Chiles en Nogada is a Mexican specialty that seems to have slipped through the cracks of the staples which we see probably being butchered by many a Mexican restaurant outside of the motherland.  Using the colors of the flag, this version (there are a few) takes large poblano chili and stuffs it with ground beef, spices and sultanas, covers it with a creamy and crunchy walnut sauce and then tops with tart pomegranate seeds.  It was INSANE.

La Sirena Gorda

Very literally, The Fat Mermaid, this hidden gem quickly became our favorite haunt.  It's tiny with only about 5 tables in it's main seating area, but boasts some excellent outdoor eating (the roof above the dining area is retractable) and a lovely collection of art depicting their patron saint of a chubby mermaid.  Very easy to walk by and miss, we found out about this place from a local who told us not to be intimidated by the old saloon style doors because, as everything in San Miguel, you can never judge a book by it's cover.  Open any dusty old door in the city and you'll probably be amazed at what you find behind it.

Here's what sold me on the place...GINGER MARGARITAS.  And they apparently make ginger martinis too but I had no time for that.  I had my fair share of these puppies on my visit and though I may have only had a couple in any one sitting, I must warn they are reasonably strong which is rather rich coming from me.  The great news is, the food is just as good as the drinks.  They do a great plate of BBQ ribs, an amazing appetizer of a steamed artichoke with a garlic and lemon dip, and delicious tacos of combinations of steak, pork and shrimp.  Dessert may leave a bit to be desired but only because you have to giggle at a dessert menu that consists of an offering of cheesecake or coffee :)

Petit Four

It seems almost sacrilegious to say this but I HAVE HAD THE BEST FRENCH PASTRY OF MY LIFE IN CENTRAL MEXICO.  Ok, that's out.  In all seriousness, the French patisserie (not run by anyone French) Petit Four right near the jardin is absolutely incredible.  Most incredible?  Their almond croissants.  If I knew they were going to be on the table for breakfast, I would get out of bed like it was Christmas.

There is a little cafe which is charming to sit in and take-away is just as easy.  From cream puffs the size of your head to delicious mozzarella sandwiches and freshly made baguettes (they sell quickly so smart to reserve one!), this place does it all beautifully.  When you are at the counter, a huge window lets you see into the kitchen and watch the head chef himself, Paco, hard at work.  Though he makes sure to come out and greet familiar faces and even some new ones.  You can visit their website here and learn more.  Paco even teaches cooking classes which I will be SURE to take next time I am in San Miguel.

A Work of Art.

San Miguel is, in itself, a work of art.  The colors, the architecture, the people, the music...it is a beautiful place.  It does help that the city is home to two of the greatest art schools in Mexico (and the world) and is full of aspiring and hugely talented artists.

On my first day, we headed over to Instituto Allende (one of the aforementioned schools) for a huge artists market that takes place once a month.  Walking into this historic building, the courtyard is covered with stalls of artists selling their wares.  Jewelry, paintings, shadow boxes, embroidery, clothing, pottery, statues, everything you could imagine.  Live music was playing and there is a little coffee shop tucked away in a small corner to rest your weary feet and consider your purchases.

I, of course, was like a kid in a candy shop.  I walked away with a gorgeous crystal necklace and a coconut carved into a little mask of a fat, pink-faced lady...as well as another necklace that I will share later in the week.  The craftsmanship was all amazing and the prices were even better.  Ok, I may have pulled the 'oh no dad, I love this but I have no pesos, sad face' act a couple of times...  :)

One of San Miguel's hidden gems is Mercado de Artesanias.  Tucked down a little entryway right next to the city's largest farmers market, this artists market travels down alleyway after alleyway, down stairs and winding through quiet parts of the town, lined with artists stalls selling everything from postcards to quilts to works of art for the home.  I went three times during my visit and still don't think I got to see everything!  You can find almost everything you see in the more expensive boutiques around the city center garden but at a fraction of the price.  And haggle away.  It's pretty easy.  I picked up a few gifts here as well as some brightly colored paper buntings with depictions of skeletons and flowers.  I think they'll look very cool split up and framed as a series or put into one long frame to showcase them in their original banner form.

It has to be said that the artwork that filled the villa in which we considered 'home' is pretty impressive (and most likely purchased at the Mercado).  I could show you everything but no one wants to look at that many pictures from anyone's vacation, so I chose to show you this funny clay ark with depictions of all the animals that Noah saved (except I am not sure how those human faced monkeys sitting on the roof ended up there).

I also wanted to share this amazing work of art that was created using small squares of sculpted paper you can find all over the market.  My parents were quite taken with the installation so by the time I left, we had already started a collection of nine...so only a million more to go  :)

Can you keep a secret?

After taking a self-imposed week off writing to properly take a break coupled with having a week so full of adventure and enjoyment, I'm finding this post difficult to write and have no idea where to start.  So I am going to start this series of posts with where I have been hiding out... But it involves a disclaimer.  Where I have been has remained virtually untouched by any sort of Gringo influence and it needs to stay that way.  Mmmhmm.  I said Gringo.  Anyway, just promise me that you will go visit but don't spread the word.  San Miguel de Allende needs to stay just as it is.

Up in the mountains of central Mexico, San Miguel is an incredible colonial city founded in 1541 with cobbled streets, beautiful markets and one of the greatest artist communities in the world.  You can see the Spanish settler influence in the streets, a hybrid of a European city and San Francisco's hilly streets.  The hub of San Miguel is the huge square and garden in the city center where you can sit in the shade of impeccably trimmed trees around a bandstand where you can almost always listen to music in the evenings.  With over forty festivals every year, the city is always buzzing!

If you're wondering how I ended up in this somewhat remote city (took two planes and almost 2 hours in a car to get to), I am pointing a finger at my parents who were looking for a bit of an adventure and decided to treat themselves to a month in a rented three-story villa up a dusty alleyway just on the outside of the city center.  And I have to say, they are settling in quite well.  The community in San Miguel is so kind and inclusive and patient which made all the difference in the world.  It should be mentioned that none of us speak any Spanish but with the help of the people I met and some mini lessons by people I met out and about, we got by incredibly well and though I may not know how to properly say that I do not speak the language, I DO know how to say 'artichoke' and 'mermaid'...ya know, the important things  :)

None of these pictures could possibly do this place justice.  And hopefully through the week, I will be able to open up a bit more of the magic that is San Miguel.  All week, I have said that San Miguel is not a pretty place but that is what makes it so beautiful.  And that is what makes you fall in love with it.

Mexican't.

Listen up, ladies and gents.  I love all of you.  I love writing for you.  I love hearing from you.  Full. On. Love. That being said...it's not you, it's me.  I am right in the middle of a very intense week of midterm exams and projects while also trying to make sure I am halfway prepared for my flight to Mexico at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning.  So it is with this disclaimer that I am taking a little bitty break from Thrill of the Chaise to get all my work done and make sure I get on the correct plane.

We will return to our regularly scheduled programming as soon as I get myself to central Mexico on a rooftop full of tequila.  Again, I love you all.  BRING ON THE MARGARITAS.

Bathing Beauty.

Yes, 'spring break' is in less than 2 weeks now.  Yes, I am going to Mexico.  No, I have no need for a bathing suit as I will be  up in the mountains enjoying the views full of tequila.  That does not stop me from looking, however, and I discovered Anthropologie has really outdone itself in the bathing suit department. I stumbled across their collection purely by accident but wanted to share in case any of you are actually going somewhere to splash around in the ocean or pool a bit.  They are adorably retro and somehow the perfect amount of sexy.  Here comes the sun!

Marni for Me (for Mexico).

I have to admit...I'm kinda happy the Jason Wu hoopla is over.  First, because I was impressed by the collection but I had no interest in it.  (Sorry Jason, I think you're great, love the black cat as your sidekick, smooches).  Second, because it means that we are that much closer to the Marni for H&M collection.  (Yes, I did have a mini-freakout on the blog about it before.) The Marni collection at H&M caught me by surprise.  Maybe because even though they have used Sophia Coppola as the brains behind the visuals to promote the collection, it seems to be a bit more low-key than the recent VERSACE! JASON WU! KARL LAGERFELD! MISSONI! situations that happened with, as far as I am concerned, pretty major disappointment.  I will constantly voice my opinion that these collections have a really great purpose behind them but consistently come up a bit short.  Even if there are some fun duds to pick-up, between the mad rushes in-store or the website crashes, I'm not impressed.  I'd rather spend more money, get the real thing and have a pleasant experience doing so.  Not risk my well-being to spend money on something I am buying just because the cheap label has a famous name somewhere on it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-97tKQFwuic]

This is actually a very positive post so I apologize for that little rant there  :)  Moving swiftly on.  The Marni collection for H&M has snuck up and seemed to stay, even in the quiet promotional aspect, in line with the appeal of Marni.  It is beautiful and bright but not in your face.  It is creative and clever but not shouting at you.  And, for the first time in all my experience in this 'collaboration boom', there are pieces of the collection that I want...really badly want.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wK-CgE8mdI&feature=relmfu]

It hits stores March 8th.  Which is kind of perfect because I leave for the mountains of Mexico on March 10th for a week.  Some of these dresses really deserve to be on that holiday with me.  And basically all of the accessories.  What I am trying to get at is, if any of you have an idea as to how I get my paws on this collection without risking my life, please let me know.  Many thanks.

Psst...Dresses, if you are in any way confused about which ones of you I am hoping to be friends with, it's you...

And you.