H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

My love for H&M has everything to do with this key combo: quality x options x price.

It can be overwhelming walking into a store with dozens of sections devoted to every possible mood. It’s like being asked to choose a personality for yourself on the spot with a debit card screaming at you from your purse — which is kind of genius on their part because my inner monologue always goes something like this: “Am I preppy/outdoorsy? Yes…but I also have yet to find the perfect LBD, which means I should go to the ‘party’ section. Vintage is always fun, buuut that classic European vibe over there is something I’ve always wanted to try out.” And after a few rounds of that, the inevitable, “WHO AM I?” and then, victoriously, “WHOEVER I WANT TO BE! PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT…SELF!” This whole thing happens while I’m still standing at the entrance, mind you. Fast forward 2 hours, and I’ve burrowed through all the sections, raided the dressing room and emerged with an armload of personalities to test drive in the real world.

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Autumn Squash Strata With Elizabeth Cauvel

Autumn Squash Strata With Elizabeth Cauvel - offbeat + inspired

As promised, the delectable Autumn Squash Strata recipe as seen at the orchard brunch with Poppy Barley! This one was created by my lovely friend, Elizabeth Cauvel, at my apartment the day before the event. It was kind of funny, two tall girls, tons of food and a honkin’ DSLR crammed into my tiny kitchen — but she cooked, I photographed, and we loved it. Here’s a photo journal of the process. Recipe at the end!

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An Orchard Brunch with Poppy Barley

An Orchard Brunch with Poppy Barley - offbeat + inspired

I met the Poppy Barley team on a trip to Edmonton about 6 months ago. Edmonton is a sweet little city in Alberta, and I was there to experience the culture and creative community for a weekend (see the highlight video here!). When I toured the Poppy Barley studio, I fell in love instantly. PB makes extremely high quality, custom-fitted leather footwear. I went for a fitting while I was in town, and about 6 weeks later I received my beautiful boots in the mail. I’ve never worn a more comfortable pair. It was unbelievable. I wrote them an e-mail to rave a bit, and that’s when the idea of hosting a Poppy Barley gathering here in Lexington was born. I wanted to share about this wonderful company with a small group of girls, and suddenly the vision of a rustic barn wood table covered in pastries and breakfast treats, surrounded by vibrant apple trees came into focus.

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Crust-Lover’s Layered Apple Pie

Crust-Lover's Layered Apple Pie - offbeat + inspired

Apple pie. It’s in a league of its own. And for such a highly revered dessert, it’s very forgiving. There are thousands of recipes and renditions of “traditional” apple pie being celebrated all over the country. From the type of crust, to the variety and cut of the apples, to the spices and toppings — apple pie lends itself generously to adaptation.

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The Coffee Ice Cube Latte + My Steller Obsession

The Coffee Ice Cube Latte + My Steller Obsession - offbeat + inspired

First, Steller. It’s an app I started using recently, and I’m completely hooked. It’s the most visually stunning, sleek and intuitive storytelling app I’ve ever seen. The idea is to create stories with photos, video, sound and text. There are different fonts and layout options that have the look and feel of an uber-stylish coffee table magazine, flipping pages and all.

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Alpine Mud | A White Sage, Wild Mint, Milk, Chocolate + Bourbon Cocktail

Alpine Mud Cocktail | White Sage, Wild Mint, Milk, Chocolate + Bourbon - offbeat + inspired

The second (and final) recipe of my Juniper Ridge Wildcrafted Tea collaboration with Kristan Raines of The Broken Bread is a bourbon cocktail that I’m absolutely head over heels for — and just in time for National Bourbon Heritage Month!

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Clean Eating | Medjool Date + Vanilla Bean Café Au Lait De Coco

Clean Eating | Medjool Date + Vanilla Bean Café Au Lait De Coco - offbeat + inspired

I’ve had to get creative with my coffee lately. I’ve done pretty well avoiding dairy ever since my Whole30 detox, probably because it wasn’t one of my main vices to begin with — but when I’m not in the mood for black coffee, I go straight for the half and half. I’ve tried substitutions like almond milk, and made bold efforts to convince myself that the flavor was similar enough…but it just plain wasn’t.

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Lavender-Honey Iced Latte

Lavender-Honey Iced Latte - offbeat + inspired-7

I’m a little obsessed with making flavor infused simple syrups (as evidenced by the excessive number of my recipes that include them in some form). The flavor combinations are endless and, in my opinion, it’s one of the easiest and most fun ways to add variety to drinks like iced tea, lemonade, cocktails and of course, coffee.

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Clean Eating | Spiced Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Clean Eating | Spiced Sweet Potato Oven Fries - offbeat + inspired

I’ve got a Whole30 update for you! It’s been a little over a month since I “started” the detox. I put that in quotes because I kinda sorta maybe cheated for the first week straight. Oops. But after that, I dove headfirst into it. I started cooking every night, stopped having frozen margaritas every time we went out for dinner (my weakness, especially at Pepe’s and Le Deauville…), and basically followed every rule I was aware of consistently for the last month. Here are my most notable results, 3 solid weeks in:

Fatigue – I had been having regular fatigue and a really hard time getting to sleep at night prior to W30, but now I have energy all day and I’m sleeping much better. I first noticed the change when I didn’t have my usual late-morning crash — the one after the coffee and breakfast wear off and all I want to do is crawl back into bed and pass out for 3 hours. There’s also much less tossing and turning at night which makes a world of difference.

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Clean Eating | GF Spiced Sweet Potato Baked Donuts

Clean Eating | GF Spiced Sweet Potato Baked Donuts - offbeat + inspired

I’ve been Whole30-ing for the last week now, and I’m currently straddling the line between “what was I thinking” and “I can’t believe how obscenely necessary this was”. I’m smack-dab in the middle of the hangry phase, as detailed in the official Whole30 Timeline, and a new beast has recently reared its ugly head. The giant brownie hallucination. They don’t talk about this particular monster in the W30 description, but it’s very, very real. I’m restricted from having wheat, grains, legumes (including peanuts), added sugars (including agave and honey), all dairy and any kind of baked dessert (even if it’s made with W30-compliant ingredients!). This leaves that giant, wonderful, horrifying brownie as an amalgam of absolutely everything I’m not allowed to eat right now — which is probably why it’s attacking me in my sleep.

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