National DOUGHnut Day

Author: Ali

Created in 1938 by The Salvation Army, National Doughnut Day was originally started with the idea of charity in mind. One of the reasons this holiday was established was to raise funds for The Salvation Army’s social service programs. National Doughnut Day was also meant to honor the “doughnut lassies,” who risked their lives in the trenches to deliver coffee, writing materials, and among other things – doughnuts, to soldiers back in World War I. It was said that the doughnuts helped the soldiers both mentally and physically, by reminding them of home and feeding their hunger. Since then, businesses like Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme give out free doughnuts in honor of National Doughnut Day.  However, you won't see me at either of these establishments on National Doughnut day, but you will find me sitting table side at Dough.

Since its opening in Brooklyn back in 2010, Dough's feedback has been exceedingly positive. With top-selling flavors such as Dulce de Leche with toasted almonds, Hibiscus, and Salted Chocolate Caramel, you really have no idea what you’re getting yourself into when you taste one of Dough’s doughnuts.

Owner and Pastry-chef Fany Gerson, said there isn’t really one thing that makes Dough so special, but rather a combination of things.

We make the doughnuts in small batches so customers can always get the freshest doughnuts. They are made with all natural, good ingredients and we feel the small things make a big difference.

The variety of unique flavors and excellent customer service that Dough offers its customers is definitely a factor in what makes Dough so great. Upon arrival, I was welcomed by the mouth-watering smell of freshly baked doughnuts and warm smiles from the staff. Since my roommate accompanied me, we decided to split a box of four doughnuts: Hibiscus, Chocolate Salted Caramel, Passion Fruit, and Toasted Coconut. All of which left my taste buds in a euphoric state afterwards.

We use European style butter for a richer mouthfeel [and] we grind our nutmeg as well as whole Mexican cinnamon. We have interesting flavors and they are made with care.

The Hibiscus was exceptional in its presentation, but even more so in its sweet and tangy flavor. If you’ve ever had hibiscus tea, then you would probably assume this doughnut would have a slightly tart aftertaste. The Hibiscus doughnut was surprisingly full of flavor, but nothing that was too overdone.

                           From top left: Toasted Coconut, Hibiscus, Passion Fruit, Chocolate Salted Caramel.

                          From top left: Toasted Coconut, Hibiscus, Passion Fruit, Chocolate Salted Caramel.

I was pleasantly surprised by the burst of sweet and salty in the Chocolate Salted Caramel, which was disguised as a basic chocolate covered doughnut. With the use of Belgian dark chocolate, blended with French caramel and dotted with Mediterranean sea-salt, Dough was able to find the perfect balance between these bold flavors.

Just the name “passion fruit” instills the idea of a strong, satisfyingly sweet taste. The thought of fusing passion fruit with cocoa nibs is one thing, but then creating these flavors in the form of a doughnut? Mind blown. Both my roommate and I agreed that this was our second favorite in the batch, following the Chocolate Salted Caramel.

Within the last year or so, I’ve realized that I truly enjoy the taste of coconut. Dough’s Toasted Coconut was a tasty delight with its coconut glaze and light coating of toasted coconut. I will say the dough was definitely what stood out to me the most with this particular doughnut. It was different from the others in that it was a bit sweeter than the glaze. Although delicious, it was missing that burst of coconut that I was looking for.

All in all, I believe you can’t go wrong with celebrating National Doughnut Day with one of Dough’s delectable and diverse array of donuts. Whether you’re visiting the Big Apple or are lucky enough to call this splendid city your home, Dough is a must for anyone in the area.

 

 

Greatest Gifts for the Greatest Dad

Author: Ali

Every year I ask my mother, “What should I get dad for Father’s Day?” and every year she gives me the same answer, “I have no idea.” Helpful. The truth is, the man has everything. So when it comes to Christmas, his birthday and Father’s Day, it’s nearly impossible to shop for him.

There’s no way I’m the only daughter out there who has trouble figuring out what to get her dad for his special day. With that being said, I’ve kept my eye out over the last couple of months, and have gathered a few gift ideas that I think the father figure in your life would like as well. 

For the fit dad: Gym bags by Fred Perry are great for the dad who likes to stay young by running, lifting or benching a few at the gym. All guys want in a gym bag is something that is durable, small, and a bit masculine. For a decent sized bag that can hold their shoes, workout clothes, water bottle, and fit their work clothes after their workout, Fred Perry gym bags are an excellent choice.

For the traveling dad: Even men have small fashion and hygiene emergencies from time to time. Pinch’s Minimergency Kit for Him contains 13 grooming and personal care essentials for men. If your dad is constantly on the go, traveling from here to there for work or pleasure, then this inexpensive kit is the perfect gift for him! Contents include: mending kit, extra buttons, safety pin, deodorant towelette, nail clipper,  stain remover, hand cleansing towelette, adhesive bandage, lip balm, breath freshener, pain reliever, dental floss, and a shoe shine towelette.

For the bearded dad: I don’t know what it is about The Art of Shaving, but every man I know loves it. If your dad is old school or simply loves the art of shaving, then you can’t go wrong with purchasing him the 4 Elements of The Perfect Shave Starter Kit. Complete with pre-shave oil, shaving cream, after-shave balm, and a travel-size genuine badger shaving brush, this kit is for sensitive skin and is hypoallergenic so you can’t go wrong. Also, at $25, it’d be silly to pass this up. On another note, if he ends up really enjoying this gift, then you can follow up with other The Art of Shaving gifts for future holidays and birthdays.

For the tech-savvy dad: Whether your dad is constantly on his phone at work or at home for business, he is going to need to charge it at some point during the day. Be it at the office, in the car, or at home, Mophie has made it easy to charge your phone anywhere and go. Mophie’s Power Reserve is a small, “fast charge battery with an integrated lightning cable and convenient key ring.” Now, this one is just for iPhones and iPods, but they make power reserves for other phone versions here

For the foodie dad: If your dad is anything like mine, he loves popcorn. Not just any popcorn either, but flavored popcorn. Luckily, good ole’ Poptions has so many varieties of popcorn, you’ll find yourself reeling over the fact that you have to choose just three for your Father’s Day Tin! From sweet to spicy to traditional, you really can’t go wrong with this easy option for Father’s day. Unless, of course, if he hates popcorn. In which case check out Pat LaFrieda and Carolynn Carreno's cookbook: "MEAT: Everything You Need to Know."

If your dad has all of these gifts or none of these are for him, then you can always opt for a gift card to his favorite restaurant, retail or hardware store. Just make sure you put it inside a funny Father’s Day card, like those by Emily McDowell – trust me, I know my dad will enjoy his.

Favorite Spot of the Month: The Met

Author: Ali

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is easily my favorite spot of the month on any given day of the year, however with their new exhibit, China Through the Looking Glass, the Met became my favorite spot for an entirely different reason.

With a big PR event in the form of the Met Gala to kick-start its release, China Through the Looking Glass is something many New Yorkers, especially those with a fondness for fashion and history, jumped at the chance to go see as soon as it was open to the public. Not only was I one of those people, but after viewing the exhibit I can honestly say that it’s definitely worth visiting.

I can recall a former professor of mine, Dr. Choi, guiding our Fashion History class through the Chinese fashion trends from the beginning of time, and how the intricate designs and use of silk fabrics influenced some major designers to model some of their designs after traditional Chinese robes and other fashions.

As stated at the beginning of the exhibit, “through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.” Nothing is made more clear when you see the endless lines of mannequins donning some of the most intricate haute couture and prêt-à-porter pieces I’ve seen since visiting the Gucci Museo back in 2013. Also, the use of cinematic depictions of China and how our concepts of Chinese culture and style is formed through pop-culture.

                           Pieces from Valentino's 2013 Manifesto collection.

                          Pieces from Valentino's 2013 Manifesto collection.

There’s so much more I could say about the exhibit itself, but I want to focus on the the costumes that drew me in the most. A couple of my favorites included designs by Ralph Lauren, House of Dior, and the one and only– Valentino. All of which, reflect on Chinese culture and its history in one way or another. For instance, the Dries Van Noten ensemble for the Autumn/Winter of 2012-2013, had a fur coat that was modeled after the Chinese coat for the Qianlong Emperor of 1736-95.

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I strongly encourage you to visit the Met’s China Through the Looking Glass exhibit while you can (you have until August 16th). The richness of Chinese history told through fashion is remarkable, and quite frankly it was everything I was hoping it would be. Make sure you set aside a good amount of time to view this exhibit, because even I didn’t make it to all of the galleries, and rumor has it that Chinese designer Guo Pei’s featured dress is breathtaking. The designer most recently made headlines for creating Rihanna's showstopping yellow cape at this year's Met Gala. So if that cape is anything to go off of, then I'll obviously be making another trip to China Through the Looking Glass in the near future.

The Athletic Movement

Author: Ali

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed since graduating from college last May, it’s that wearing sweatpants is no longer an acceptable act, with the exception of wearing them in the confines of your apartment. Another seemingly strange thing I’ve noticed? Your freebie tees from college and sorority tanks you once loved are not considered “normal” workout attire.

I wouldn’t normally care about this sort of thing, but there’s that self-doubt nagging me saying “you’re 23 years old and need to ditch the shirts for Athleta or lululemon." Don’t get me wrong, I have a couple of workout tops that were solely designed for working out. However, Athleta is a bit too old for my taste, and as great as Lulu is, sometimes I struggle with the fit of their tops. So, what’s a girl to do?

Fabletics co-founder, Kate Hudson has made a big splash in the athletica world with a line of workout clothes that have both good quality and value. They have a wide variety of fashionable workout clothes that come in different styles, so it works for people of different shapes and sizes. Fabletics even displays Kate’s favorite pieces each month, with a description of the fit, feel and features of the item. The coolest part of Fabletics has to be their “new member exclusive.” You simply go to the Fabletics website, take their quiz, and then they’ll ship you your first outfit for only $25! Don’t even get me started on their discounts.

Another celebrity that’s made her athletica footprint is Carrie Underwood, with her line CALIA. Their website states that they want to “make sure you never have to sacrifice fashion for function, or your lifestyle for your workout.” With a mission statement like that and a tagline of: “Stay the path,” I think CALIA is heading in a successful direction in terms of growth. With high-quality fabrics, variety in choices and a wide range of accessories, I think CALIA has the potential to do really well, especially with it’s main retail hub being at Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

In the end, it’s all about comfort, style and quality – arenas in which I believe both Fabletics and CALIA have done quite well. Move over Lululemon and Athleta, celebrities are making their move in the athletic wear department, and they’re doing a damn good job at it too.

What's in the Bag?

Author: Ali 

Imagine you found a nondescript backpack that was left on the subway. How would you tell the gender of the owner? Besides the obvious fact that 9 times out of 10 a lost knapsack or purse is going to have some sort of photo identification inside, it’s the contents that really hint as to whether the owner is male or female. 

When I was little, I remember having a clear, plastic purse that had glitter all over it and a snap in the front. The notion of something like that now is terrifying, mainly because the inside of a woman’s purse says a lot about who she is on the inside as well. I ditched the clear purse long ago and now prefer something a bit more private. Not only that, but the contents have most certainly changed over the years. Here are my essentials that I carry in my bag at all times: 

  • Planner. The planner shown above is my portable planner (a.k.a. the one I never leave home without). When running a blog while working another job on the side, things can get a little hectic. On top of that, I still have a social life that I need to pencil in. Between my work schedule and making time for friends, I couldn’t picture going through a day without my planner. In order to do all of this without going crazy, planning is key.
  • Mint gum/breath mints. Spearmint or peppermint gum is something I try to always have lying around, because quite frankly, it’s better to expect the unexpected. You never know when you might need a burst of minty freshness. Maybe you just had luck with a few coworkers, went to a family dinner, or simply are in need of a refresher.
  • Notebook & pen/iPad. Before the iPad, I always carried around a little notebook and pen so I could write down things that I saw in my day-to-day life that inspired me. From story concepts to wardrobe sketches, having these items allows me to capture those ideas the minute they develop. I still opt for a notebook and pen at times, but with my iPad I have the Internet, current novel I’m reading, and notebook all in one.
  • Band-Aids. Much like hair ties and bobby pins, Band-Aids are always floating around in my bag. When you live in a city that has you walking to and from pretty much everywhere, it can be painful. Even when I’m wearing comfortable flats, there’s no stopping the inevitable blister or two after a long day on your feet. (Bonus tip: Band-Aid advanced healing blister cushions are highly recommended).
  • Concealer. If there’s one thing I never forget to bring with me wherever I go, it’s my bareMinerals concealer. Whether fighting bad under eye circles or a blemish, I keep it with me 24/7 and always have it on hand just in case I need a touch up during the day or while going out at night.
  • Lip Balm. At this point, I think it’s safe to assume I’m obsessed with lip balm. However, I won’t even consider purchasing a lip balm if it lacks SPF. Soft Lips in Pearl not only has SPF, but it’s a great product that does its job year-round. I also like the fact that the color is subtle enough that you can give yourself a little something for your lips without it being too over the top.

**Bonus Essentials**

  • Hairbands & bobby pins. Need I really explain myself ladies? Whenever it’s hot, humid or a rainy day that I didn’t plan for, there’s a 95% chance my hair is going up in a ponytail and these reinforcements always come in handy.
  • Hand sanitizer. When you take the same mode of transportation as another million or so people in this city, hand sanitizer is an absolute must. With me taking the subway every day, I couldn’t see myself not having this during cold and flu season, much less before going out to eat.

No matter day or night, you can count on me to always have the majority of these items on-hand. It doesn't matter if the size of the bag is big or small - safety, hygiene, and tools for touch-ups are things I can't go through my day without. So now that I've shared my handbag must-haves with you, what essentials do you carry in your bag?