Monday, September 29, 2008

Outlet Shopping

On Saturday a couple of friends and I treked an hour outside of the city to the Philadelphia Premium Outlets. Even though the drive was a bit long, we all agreed the bargains made it well worth the trip. This place is fantastic... Kate Spade, Michael Kors, BCBG, JCrew, Banana Republic, Coach, Ann Taylor, French Connection, Cole Haan, Niemans... all in outlet form! Wow, did we ever do well here. I'm talking like 40% off minimum on most items we bought. Truly great if you are stocking up on seasonless staples like cardigans, work pants and purses. My favorite find was a Kate Spade Foster Crossing bag (same color as the one pictured but a bit larger with bows on the sides). If you live anywhere near this place, I would highly recommend the trip.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Knitting Update

So, I finished the yellow scarf this week and started a yellow hat, which right now looks kind of like a beret. It is supposed to be a regular skiing hat eventually, which is much more my style. The lambswool is very warm, but a little stratchy, so I am going to make some holiday presents out of a softer yarn, like cashmere. I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fall Work Wear

Lately I've had a hard time figuring out how to dress on these days when it is in the 50s when I head to work but is in the high 70s if I'm out at all during the day. If I had an unlimited budget and an unlimited closet (hello, Polyvore!), here is what I'd love to be wearing today. What is your go-to Fall look for the office?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Preppy Fall Home Accessories

I like to redecorate our house every so often with season-specific accessories like pillows, glass vases, hurricanes, candles, etc. It's fun to get in touch with your creative side by finding new ways to arrange what you have and sometimes one or two new items is all you need to feel like you have an updated room without having to break the budget for a whole new look.

Want to spice up your home for the Fall season? Visit Pottery Barn today for some easy, inexpensive ideas to give your place a cozy feel for the upcoming cold weather months. is offering free shipping on decorative pillows and throws right now. The colors they are showing are so vivid and really "pop" in a room of neutral colors. I'm not sure how long this offer lasts, so cash in while you can. And while you're there, pick up some cool decorative accents. You can get anything on this page for under $50. I especially like the Panna Cream Vases.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Big Weekend

We've had a jam-packed but fun-filled past couple of days, hence my neglect of this blog. Our weekend was kicked off with delicious restaurant week dinner on Friday night. For you non-Prepadelphians, restaurant week is an agreement among many of the nice dining spots in the city to offer a 3 course tasting menu for only $35! It is a great way to try new places you might not choose to splurge on otherwise.

Saturday was our annual fall adventure to Linvilla for the farmer's market, apple picking and a picnic. Picnics may just be one of my all time favorite romantic activities. Sadly, Mr. Prepster is less keen on sharing his lunch with nature, but he was a good sport. That was followed by dinner with friends and homemade apple crisp:

5 medium tart baking apples (I used Jonagold this time)
2 T lemon juice
1/2 stick cold butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup oats
1/2 cup crushed walnuts

Peel, core and slice the apples and place them in a mixing bowl with lemon juice. Combine the cinnamon and nutmeg with brown sugar and pour it over apples. Stir to coat the apples and set them aside. Combine flour, sugar and oats in another mixing bowl. Slice butter into 8-12 small chunks and stir it into the dry ingredients. Mix until the butter is coated then add walnuts. Grease a square baking dish and spread the apples on the bottom. Pour dry ingredients over the top and bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Try not to eat it all...

Despite the urge to camp out on the sofa, today was another high energy one as we tailgated and cheered our Eagles on to victory over the terrible towel-waving Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. Whew, I'm exhausted and feel like I need another weekend to recover from this one! Hope everyone has had an enjoyable couple of days.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ahhh, Fall

It is perfectly Fall outside today, clear and sunny with a little crispness in the air, and I am loving it. Here are my favorite things about my favorite season:

Apples. I love apple picking, apple crisp, apple cider, caramel apples, honeycrisp apples... you get the idea. Mr. Prepster and I are going on our annual apple adventure this Saturday. Can't wait.

Cardigans. I look forward to adding to my "collection" each year. This year I'm lusting over these ruffled ones from J.Crew.

Football. Oh how I miss the atmosphere of college (and grad school) tailgates and game days. But the TV and couch with a nice bowl of popcorn (Blue Ridge Kettle Corn is the best) isn't so bad either.

Pumpkins and gourds. I like to decorate our house with these items and find recipes that use them, like squash soup and pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing. Last year I made a flower arrangement like this using a pumpkin as a pot and it lasted for several weeks and was a fab centerpiece.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Knitting Right Along...

I'm happy to report that last night's knitting class went a whole lot more smoothly than it did last week. I may not be using the most complicated scarf pattern in the class (mine is just knitting with garter stitch, no fancy stitches like the seed stitch or ribbing), but I have to say what I've done so far looks pretty good! Unfortunately I am quite slow so my scarf is only 6 inches long right now, but it is definitely a start. Hopefully by next week I'll be able to post a picture of my masterpiece. Then for my next project, I'd love to try something like this striped baby blanket for my nephew. You get to use this yarn and there are so many beautiful colors.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Summer Squash Soup

On Sunday evening I decided to make something yummy to have for dinner this week while Mr. Prepster is out-of-town for work. I wanted something tasty, healthy and easy to just heat up so Summer Squash Soup was the perfect choice, especially since squash is in season. It's a simple recipe that is quick to prepare compared to most soups.

3 lbs. yellow squash, chopped (5 medium sized squash will do)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 t salt
1 t white pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 cup butter
2 T vegetable oil
1 cup 2% milk, divided

Heat butter and oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sautee until soft. Add chicken stock and squash and simmer until squash is tender. Hint: you should easily be able to cut the squash with a wooden spoon. Transfer soup to a blender or food processor in batches and puree with milk. You will have to divide the milk according to how many batches you have to blend - my Cuisinart blender/food processor combo is small to medium in size and I had four batches. Use a large container or bowl to hold the pureed soup while you are blending the remaining batches (this bowl can be reused to serve and/or store the leftover soup later). After all of the soup is pureed, transfer it back into the stockpot. Place over low heat and add salt and pepper. Simmer 5-10 minutes to ensure soup is hot for serving. This recipe serves 10-12 and will keep in the refrigerator for one week. Garnish it with diced zucchini or red peppers for extra flair.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Found a Raincoat!

I just ordered this raincoat in "bright flame" to go with my new boots. I've been admiring this lovely item for awhile (am a tad obsessed with ruffles) so it was very exciting to be able to get it on sale and with my J.Crew Fall Rewards $25 gift card! Props to this blog for giving me a free shipping code too. If you like J.Crew, check out J.Crew Aficionada regularly for some great offers as she is religious about listing all current coupon codes on the righthand column of her site.

Preppy Philly Places: Parc

My parents were in town for the weekend so Mr. Prepster and I treated them to a yummy Philadelphia-style brunch at Parc. Here's my review of this Preppy Philly Place.

Parc Restaurant
227 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Surprise, surprise but brunch is not such a big deal in the suburbs of the mid-sized midwestern city where they live so they love to witness the spectacle that is Sunday brunch here in Philly. Parc was absolutely hopping and lived up to its hype as the new hot spot to see and be seen - we even needed a reservation for brunch! And as you can see by the photos, it really looks like Paris inside.

If you go, try the poached eggs over polenta. Also, for all of you champagne lovers out there (like me), they have a delicious kir royale on the menu for only $8 as well as several other yummy cocktails.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rain Gear for Fall

Yesterday's downpour prompted me to get these adorable houndstooth wellies. They are really going to come in handy for my walk to work this fall and winter and are an absolute steal as far as price goes.

Now I just need a raincoat and I'll be all set for fall as far as crummy weather outerwear goes. Any suggestions for a cute, reasonably-priced raincoat? I'm in search of something three-quarter length that is dressy enough for work but not totally boring.

Happy weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Preppy Philly Places: Apothecary

Last night Mr. Prepster and I ventured over to "Midtown Village" to have dinner and drinks at Apothecary. Here's my review of this Preppy Philly Place.

Apothecary Bar & Lounge
102 S. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Happy hour was going on upstairs in the lounge bar and the roof deck connected to it. They have a whole downstairs restaurant (pictured) but oddly, that was closed off. Decor in the lounge was very modern with shades of gray and nice votive candles. There were leather lounge benches and small cocktail tables along with a bar that had seating. Very hip yet a relaxing ambience.

Well, it would have been relaxing if there hadn't been about eight girls amid the gossip session of a lifetime coupled with three cocktails each right in the middle of the lounge. Luckily, it was a nice night so we sat outdoors on the roof deck, which gave us a great view of 13th Street and although all the tables were taken, was much quieter than the lounge.

They had a creative drink menu with loads of fresh fruit and interesting cordials. Very limited snack/dinner choices though. There were only about 4 apps, 4 paninis and 4 flatbread pizzas to choose from. We got a flatbread pizza and a panini along with "El Floridita" cocktails (kind of a grapefruit capriana that was a nice pale pink color with a round lime slice, but a bit too pretty and fruity for Mr. Prepster). My pizza was yummy but I did have a bit of food envy over the girls next to us who were having wine and fondue.

All sounds pretty great, right? Unfortunately it took 25 minutes to get our drinks! The one waiter/bartender/foodrunner/host was extremely swamped and was pretty much a one man show. Clearly they did not expect to have so many patrons on a Wednesday. Even so, it was a good time and is definitely worth checking out, espcially for those who like to branch out from the usual vodka soda or cosmo. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Rough Start

So my knitting adventure last night didn't go quite as planned. Let's just say I am a complete buffoon when it comes to knitting.

To summarize:

I dropped my needles on the floor about seven times. I knew I was in for struggle when K, our instructor, said to hold the needles like chopsticks - I can't work chopsticks to save my life.

K had to unravel my work and re-"cast-on" my yarn to my needles twice.

I couldn't decide whether I should be right- or left-handed. This is a common issue for me, but more on that another time.

The gal next to me, M, was an absolute pro. She had completed about 10 stitches before K had finished explaining the chopsticks method for holding the needles. Luckily she was super nice and ended up giving me a couple of great tips.

When the rest of the class was learning to "purl" because they had completed the requisite five rows of the "knit" stitch on our practice swatch, I didn't even have one good row. After two hours I never did get those five rows so I didn't graduate to purling. To avoid getting too far behind, I have to try to teach myself via an online tutorial or perhaps by watching someone knit on you tube this week. Yeah, as if that is going to work. Know any good tutorials or videos?

We did not exactly get to choose our yarn. So no pretty pink or orange cashmere for me. K thought we should use something as thick and as light in color as possible since beginners are such slow knitters and light colors make it easier to see your stitches. So I am going to have pale yellow of this for my scarf.

I have to admit that even despite all of my troubles, I absolutely loved it! I practiced after class at home and have gotten a little better. My husband, Mr. Prepster, thought I was absolutely nuts when he walked into our bedroom and I was knitting in the bed. Oh well, let's hope I improve before we actually start the scarf pattern next week!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Loop de Loop

Tonight I start a knitting class at Loop. It meets every Tuesday in September so I'll be sure to keep you updated on my progress. I was inspired to give knitting a try after seeing this lovely bathmat from the Purl Bee but I have a feeling I won't be advanced enough to pull that off for quite a while.

Apparently we will be making a scarf and a hat. I want to do mine in cashmere yarn and like the orange color shown on the scarf pictured to the right. That one is great for fall but there are so many pretty yarn colors to choose from that I know it will be difficult to decide. I may just trust my instincts and grab some pink. If you're a Philly local who's into knitting, quilting or sewing, definitely check out Loop and its next door neighbor on South Street, Spool. Very cool places with quite a selection of yarn and fabric.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Banana!

In honor of its 30th birthday celebration, Banana Republic is offering 30% your entire purchase and free shipping (the code is HAPPY30). Hurry ladies, this offer is good today only. This is a perfect excuse to pick out something cute and new for fall so I plan to take a break and cash in this afternoon. I find Banana to have classic staples for work, reasonably-priced, well-fitting sweaters, occasional fab going-out tops and great statement jewelry. Here are a couple of things I'm considering:

Button sweater dress in camel heather

This is a great work option for fall that is cute enough to wear to happy hour afterwards. It is normally $120.00 but is only $84.00 today.

Elbow-sleeve pocket cardigan in flaming ember orange (what a fantastic color name)

This sweater is adorable and memorable. I especially love the sleeve-length. It is still a bit pricey at $91.00 (from $130.00) and is one of those things that I'm not sure "real" people can pull off as well as the model shown. What do you think?

Dot bracelets in black, purple, coral and french blue

These bracelets are a steal at $27.30 (from $39.00) and come in four colors so you can have one to match every outfit.

What's on your Banana wish list for fall?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hunkering Down for Hanna

With Hanna headed squarely for the East Coast, we've decided to hunker down and stay inside all day. With the many outdoor adventures that come with summer weekends, I think it's the first time we've really hunkered in months. So in honor of the rainy day and the coming of fall, it's chili time. I like a chili that cooks almost all day but that can be left to simmer with little supervision after the initial prep work is done. The recipe below is so incredibly easy and works well in a crock pot or a dutch oven like this pretty azure blue one from Le Creuset via Williams Sonoma.

2 lbs. ground beef (I use 90% lean)
1 large onion, diced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
16 oz. can tomato puree
16 oz. can kidney beans, undrained
4 oz. can diced green chilis
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T mild chili powder
2 t salt
1 t pepper
2 t ground cumin
cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top

Brown the beef and onion in a skillet. Drain and place in your chili pot over high heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook on high for 30 minutes. Cover and simmer 4 to 6 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally. The longer you have to let it simmer, the better the flavor becomes. Top with cheddar cheese and serve. This recipe goes well with with something sweet on the side like corn muffins. You'll have enough for 8 to 10 so this chili is perfect for football game (or tropical storm) watching parties. Happy hunkering!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fall-ing Into Place

Fall is just around the corner and it's time to switch out those linen skirts and flip flops still lingering in our closets in favor of chic scarves, belts and, of course, cashmere cardigans. Here are some objects of desire in case you want to spice up your wardrobe with warm neutrals and fall folliage-inspired brights.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Looking Back...

One year ago today... was my favorite day ever. Here are some wedding pictures to give you a flavor of our decor. Click on them to see a larger version. We were here for the reception. Our general scheme was pink, green and hydrangeas. Enjoy. I have to admit I got a little teary just thinking about it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Late Summer Fling in Charlottesville

My fondess for Charlottesville grows heaps every time I visit. How cute is the downtown pedestrian mall pictured below? Yes, I am quite biased. After all, I did meet the man of my dreams here, get engaged here and get married here (and am here celebrating our anniversary now). But still, what's not to love about this place? The countryside surrounding the town is stunning and filled with vineyards, it has great weather most of the year, there are a ridiculous amount of delicious restaurants, especially for such a small area, several absolutely picturesque hotels (see here, here and here) and even more great shops. It has the perfect combination of southerness, sophistication and charm. My kind of place indeed. Check it out sometime when you want to be south, but not too far south, and when you want to eat or shop your way through an all in all cool, preppy locale. You might just fall in love...