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A Brief Hiatus while we make some changes

I are taking a brief hiatus from the blog - There will be one more post after this one and then I will be offline until mid September. Over the last year, I have been working on the next phase for the blog (and for me as a creative). A lot of the ideas and plans started falling into place right around the time I went to NYC last month (and that is a great thing).

The only downside, is the volume of behind the scenes work that has to go into the prepping the site for the next phase - including definite name change for the blog ; a new shop and possibly a design change. With all of that going on and a fulltime job that requires most of my attention - taking a break from the weekly content seemed like the right move.

While on hiatus , you can catch up on some of the content you may have missed, including travel posts ; food posts; beauty post . During this time, my social media outlets will also be on hiatus with the exception of Instagram - you can keep up with me at SIMI.ILEDARE where I can promise you daily dose of travel and food photos until the site returns with the new look, new name. It is going to be really great.

Stay Tuned.

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Coconut Macaroon Cake

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Coconut Macaroon Cake

I love sweets especially when it requires minimal effort and time and wins over everyone at the dinner table. The first time I made this, I was in search of something to add to the dessert table I was creating for a friend's baby shower and it was a great hit with all the guests. This is part macaroon, part cake. So you start out with your basic macaroon recipe, add in a few table spoons of flour - coconut or all purpose and you have got a macaroon cake - trust me, when you serve this after dinner - it will seem as though you spent hours in kitchen (but you only spent 30 minutes). Sheesh ! it will be our secret.  You can find the recipe here

This picture is courtesy of Tymage Photography

This picture is courtesy of Tymage Photography

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New York City Travel Diary - Part 2

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New York City Travel Diary - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of my NY Adventures - Catch up here

This is where I have to stress the importance of doing your research before heading out. I was too excited to get to the Highline that I completely dropped the ball on my planning - I ended up walking over 5 miles (which is a whole lot for this Texan). Before I get to how that happened, I should start from the beginning.

Day 5 was dedicated to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. I caught the ferry from battery park (not the free Staten Island ferry), but the statue of liberty ferry. You can pick up tickets ay Battery Park for the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island tour. This Ferry ride unlike the Staten Island Ferry gets you up close and personal to Lady Liberty and you can hop off and explore the grounds for as long as you want. For a free extra bucks, you can also walk up to the crown of lady liberty (I opted out of this one). The ferry shuttles between the lady and Ellis Island every thirty minutes. I spent some time walking the grounds before heading over to Ellis Island - great history of immigration back in the day. I also got to walk the grounds which offer an incredible view of Manhanttan (a must see). The shuttle between Ellis Island back to Manhattan runs every 20 minutes.

I headed back to the City about noon and promptly headed back to Flatiron district (yes! for more photos of ,my favorite building). I had lunch at Marta (amazing) followed by chia latte at Birch (these NY cafes know how to make a fabulous chia). Now I was all set to head to the highline.

As I mentioned, I dropped the ball on planning so I began the trek from Birch on 27th and 6th heading to the highline - it was a much longer walk that anticipated. Not being one to give up, I was determined to get to the Highline (it was hot, humid and my feet were not onboard with my determination). It paid off when I stumbled on Chelsea Market - I wanted to visit, but did not think I could fit it into my itinerary, but there is was so I stopped in to explore. I stopped into the artist and flea market; grabbed a cloud cookie from Sarah Beth. A quick stop at Antropologie to grab a gift for a friend and then finally to the highline. I made it through about half of the two mile stretch before waving the white flag and hailing a cab.

A well deserved shower, a cold beverage with my feet up and I was refreshed for an evening out. The evening was spent with friends at SAKS where I found a Jimmy I was tempted to take home. Dinner at a latin restaurant and a red velvet cupcake from Magnolia's.

Day 6 started late afternoon with a trip to Brooklyn. I planned to dine at the buttermilk chanel, but it was closed for the afternoon. Instead, I had the black bottom oat pie from four and twenty blackbirds.

A train ride back to the city and a trip to Central park - it was a lovely day to walk the park - I did not get to all of it, but the parts I got to was spectacular.

Across the street from where I was in the Park was the Plaza hotel (the site of Home Alone - one of my favorite childhood movies). We visited the food court in the lower level of the hotel - We had plans to dine at Luke's lobster but we changed our minds at the last moment and headed off to Dylan's candy bar instead and it was a swell decision. We ordered the cheesecake sundae - oh.my.gawd. Headed home after that and promptly crashed from the sugar high.

Day 7. Coney Island day and another trip to DUMBO for the most spectacular view of the Manhantthan bridge. Coney Island was not on the itinerary. Friday was to be spent in PJs and enjoying couch potato status. As I laid there taking short bursts of naps, it suddenly hit me - how often will I get the chance to be in NY for this length of time - gotta make the most of it. So I hurried packed my bags and headed to Coney Island (I did a crappy job of packing and dressing for the beach - but no matter - it was still fun). I sat on the beach for the little bit, caught up on reading and people watching. Then I grabbed a hot dog at Nathans (because, Nathans !). The rest of the time was spent walking the broadwalk . 

On the way back to the city, I stopped by DUMBO (again), my first visit - I missed the Manhattan bridge. I am glad I made a return trip because --- seriously look at this view...

Day 8. A little wander around the city, we stumbled on the doughnut plant - where I had the carrot cake doughnut - it was so good. Then we took the train up to Williamsburg to check out Smorgasburg (another must do if you are in NY) - so much great food, so little time. We headed to SOHO afterwards for some window shopping and visits to and other stories, NARS and the hat store. We rounded off the day with dinner at a quaint Sushi place on 59th.

Day 9. Started off sunday with service at Hillsong (Time Square); another window shopping sesh at Barney's NYC. A quick trip to Chelsea market and a chill afternoon at the casa. Early early walk to Momofuku Milk Bar for the Cereal Milk soft serve and a stop over at Time square (which though spectacular in day time, is even more so at night).

Day 10. A quick stop by the MET. I am very weird about museums - I have to be in the mood to visit one and this was probably not the best day to do so - I was dealing with major vacation winding down/NY withdrawal syndromes, which was promptly cured when we took a trip up to Harlem for a perfect foodie day with the most amazing cookie from Levain and a lunch/dinner at Sylvia - the chicken and waffle is a foodie's dream come true. It was a really hot day in NY so I did not feel up to much after the meal. Levain and Sylvia will always be on the itinerary for all NY trips - seriously that good. Also, stopped by the Apollo theatre.

Day 11. Started off early with a ticket to the top of the rock (bad idea for a hot day, because things were foggy - would have been much better in the evening). A stroll of fith avenue and stop ins at Top man, SAKS and the mothership (Sephora). A visit to MoMa which I absolutely enjoyed and then another trip to SoHo for lunch at Jack's wife Freda (amazing) and a leisure afternoon at the McNally Jackson bookstore. Rounded up the day with a visit to ten over ten for a well deserved manicure.

Next morning , I caught a 6:29 a.m flight from LaGuardia to Denver to return back to reality....


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Monthly Beauty Roundup : The Ones That Are Worth The Splurge

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Monthly Beauty Roundup : The Ones That Are Worth The Splurge

Every once in a blue moon - I bypass the coupons, sales and hautelook appearances and splurge on a beauty item. I spend weeks reading and watching review to make sure the item is worth the price tag - sometimes the products is an epic fail and other times I find product that live up to the hype and price tag - these three products are absolutely worth their price tag.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation [$36]

This is one of those good skin in a bottle. It is like magic in a bottle and for my fellow oily combo skin gals - this is the high end foundation for us. This foundation is full coverage to the max. Hides all the blemishes and spots; It evens the skin completely and does not settle in fine lines. My favorite feature of this product is that it lasts all day (even without a primer). This foundation boasts 16 hours wear and it lives up to that.  I typically set it with a sheer powder and it stays put all day. It does not transfer and requires minimal touch up. About 8 hours into the wear , especially when I have been out in the elements - I see a little shine through, but its noting that a little dab with a blot paper can't handle. 

Anastasia Brow Wiz in Brunette [$23]

For an easy job filling in my brows, I have been reaching for my brow wiz. The brow wiz is a twist up with a pencil on one end and spooly on the other end. The tiny tip and waxy texture makes it easy to replicate natural brow hairs and gives a natural finish to the brows while setting things in place. This product makes filling in the brows a 2 to 3 minute process for me as opposed to the 10 to 15 minutes it has typically taken me with other products. The pencil lasts quite awhile - about three months. It comes in a variety of shades - I use the brunnette shade

Bliss ingrown eliminating pads [$36]

For all my fellow hairy gals who deal with the dreaded ingrown hair situation - stress no more, this is the product you have been waiting on. There are 50 wipes in each container. The wipes are soaked in soothing things including green tea. Use the wipes for the underarm and bikini area starting the day after a shave or wax. I try to use the wipes daily, but I find I am more consistent with a every other day schedule. Usually in the morning right after a shower. When I have been consistent with this there have been no ingrown hair situations. This is not a product for just ladies, if your fellow deals with the dreaded bumps following a shave, these wipes will sort that out too. 

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Filomena's - Georgetown, Washington D.C  - The best Italian meal

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Filomena's - Georgetown, Washington D.C - The best Italian meal

Lasagna - made with the freshest pasta - seriously, you can see the Italian grandma making the Lasagna pasta sheet in the restaurant window as you walk in. Then there is the Ricotta and mozarella cheese oozing out, and the freshest meat sauce layered together. Then there is a side of fresh tomato sauce - it is seriously fresh, you can taste the freshness.  You get this incredible dish at Filomena Ristorante.

oh.my.gawd - there are no words for how amazing the food is at Filomena. 

You start off with a baskets of breads - the foccacia is divine, I wish I could just get a basket of the focaccia. All reveiws recommend the seafood offerings, but I chose the lasagna because its what I was craving from the moment I first saw the menu online and I was not dissapointed.

Call ahead to get a reservation. Arrive early to catch a glimpse of the Italian grandma making fresh pasta. Walkdown the stairs and chat away with the host while admiring the dessert offerings for the day.

The staff is incredibly nice and this is one of the few restaurants where a party of one actually gets a table as opposed to being ushered to sit at the bar - they get major points in my book for that one.

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New York City Travel Diary - Part 1

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New York City Travel Diary - Part 1

I flew in on Friday. I was supposed to have landed at 4:30 but with a few delays before taking off from DFW - I did not make it to NYC until about 6:30 p.m. Metro card in hand, I headed to my train stop, I had downloaded two metro apps before heading to NYC - All Subway Universal and NYC Subway - both came in very handy. 

I arrived at my destination about 7:45 and promptly headed out for dinner with my friend, we dined at Ariba Ariba a Mexican restaurant in the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood. I ordered the Crepa de Camarones and it was seriously delish. I passed out from a full stomach as soon as we returned. Saturday was very laid back with a very late start. I picked up a chai tea latte and croissant from Kahve - a lovely coffee shop on 9th Avenue.

I planned to take the Staten Island ferry to check out lady liberty and governor Island, but the metro line to get me to the ferry was closed for the day and I rode about 2 hours going in circles on the metro before a MTA personnel came my rescue. I finally made it to the Ferry shortly after 3 p.m. The 45 minute ride was lovely and it was picturesque to see the Island of Manhattan. As far as lady liberty goes, you get a nice view, but not a worthy view, so I do think it is worth it to splurge the $18 on boat ride to get up close to the lady (this ticket also gets you a tour of Ellis Island).

Tip. if you in the city on a weekend , pay close attention to the metro signs and make sure the line you are supposed to get on is operating. 

Day 2 (Sunday) was fantastic - I went up to Brooklyn to worship at Liberty Church, followed a stroll around the Brooklyn heights neighborhood with intentions to head over to DUMBO, but a slight wrinkle in our plans meant DUMBO was put on hold. We settled for Brunch at Clark’s restaurant where I had a fantastic Strawberry Lemonade and a dish of chicken (grilled) and eggs with a side of ah.mazing sweet potato fries. I rounded off the day with a visit to JINSOON Nail spa for much needed pedi session. The service was fantastic and very affordable. I went to the location on W-34th and Bleecker.

Day 3 kicked off with a trip to Brooklyn and the morning at a lovely coffee shop on Pineapple avenue called Vineapple (vineapple on pineapple, get it ?). I had to catch up on some work (yes - sometimes, you can’t help it). After four hours of work, it was time to get to proper vacation. Kicked things off at the promenade which offers a fantastic view of Manhantthan then a walk over to DUMBO. I stopped in at a lovely bakery One Girl Cookies which had these amazing looking pies and spike cakes. I chose the tea cookies which was fab. Then over to check out Tom Furin’s glass house and Jane’s carousel before beginning the mile and half long trek of the Brooklyn bridge - this is a must do if you are New York.

The end of the bridge got us to the financial districts and we headed off to 9-11 memorial. The memorial fountain is a beaut. There is also a 9-11 museum, right next to the fountain. Then we headed off to the financial district to see the Bull and the NYSE - on the way, I spotted the Trinity church which is spectacular architecture (I have this thing for buildings and architecture). Picked up a late lunch / early dinner from the Halal guys which was followed up with short nap and then a trip to Buffalo exchange to pick up this white dress.

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Day 4 was quite chill. I had an early start to get some work out of the way, then I headed over to the Flatiron district. Like I said, I have an obsession with architecture and seeing the Flatiron building has been on my bucket list of ages - It was spectacular. After taking what seemed like hundreds of pictures of the Flatiron building from every angle possible. I walked over to Eataly for a late breakfast / early lunch. This was my happy place - so much good food, I could not contain myself. I ended up at the Nutella bar. I ordered the Waffle with gelato and drizzle of nutella (I was in foodie heaven) - After that meal, I could have gladly hopped on the plane to head back home (Uhm, no).

Next stop was the ABC Carpet and Home store. I wanted everything in the store. I spent a lot of time in the lower level exploring the cookbooks (all the cookbooks). Then off to the furniture floor where I found my next bedroom set (I wish ! But seriously, if you are thinking of something to get me for Christmas - this is it). I had to get out before I made a major purchase.

I walked over to Dough on W 19th - the donuts looked yum, but I was still stuffed from the Waffle/gelato/nutella combo. Instead of a donut, I stopped by the Muji store to build my wishlist. I ended up at Toby's Estate coffee - flatiron - probably the cutest coffee shop ever - it was connected to the Club Monaco and there was a bookstore filled with more fab cookbooks. I sipped on excellent latte and watched the city pass by.

After a blissful hour of people watching and latte sipping - it was time to check out Time Square - this is one of the best spots to people watch and observe the good, the bad, the random etc that NYC has to offer. In the middle of my random people watching, I got a call to meet up with a friend at Grand Central station. I made a quick stop at Grey Papayas on 72nd Street - I heard it has one of the best hot dogs in the city and It did not dissapoint. I eventually made it to Grand Central station which is a beaut - we walked around a bit before heading over to the NY Public Library (fantastic architecture). The sun had gone down by now and we decided to head over to battery park for more people watching. Rounded out the evening at a lecture at the Business library.

More NYC post coming up in this space next week.

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Life in : July

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Life in : July

While away on vacation, I decided to start up a new monthly series. One that is a  lot more personal than the usual travel, beauty and food post that grace these pages. I want a post/space to share updates on my (obviously very fascinating) life…

July was my mini-vacation month and it could not have come at a better time, I was seriously burnt out and was barely hanging on. I got to spend some time in New York and it was fab. I have several New York posts coming up, but until then my instagram feed has some pictures (check out #simiinnyc or #SIdoesNY)

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I got back into exercising this month, nothing major, just getting in 3 to 4 miles walking every other day. It was spared by my time in New York. Fitness wise, I have been trying to cut out diet sodas and it has been a struggle. One of my goals for my trip to New York was to wean myself off of soda. I am happy to report, that is going great.  I had soda just twice during my 12 days away - a massive improvement from my two a day habit.

I picked up this white dress from Buffalo Exchange in NYC, for a friend’s Nigerian traditional wedding (the bride requested her friends wear white). No one is trying to outshine the bride. 

I finished reading my first book of the year on vacation (yay). I had a goal to read 8 books this year and I am only through book number 1 (help me lord). My thoughts on the book coming soon. This leads me to another potential series - a bookclub (I know, shut the front door). I have been trying to get back into leisure reading for quite some time and I think a bookclub is an excellent way to be accountable. Any ideas on how to pull it off will be appreciated. I just got through Mindy Kaling’s Is everyone hanging out without me. For August, I will be reading #GirlBoss (book suggestions are welcome).

Kitchen time was very limited this month, but the few times I was able to create and test a recipe, it turned out amazing. I perfected my puff-puff (Nigerian fried dough) recipe - That was huge for me. You can check out my other recipes here. Earlier this month, I had lunch with some co-workers at whiskey cake. I tried the TX Shrimp bowl - Ah.mazing (but then again, I expected nothing less from Whiskey Cake)

Ahead of my NYC getaway, I loaded up on some apps. Several of which are fab, but camera + app is by far my favorite app in a long time. It does amazing things with pictures and it just makes your pictures generally fab and better.

Finally, I have been getting back into TV. For months, my TV screen was covered in a layer of dust, that was until Suits and Graceland returned for a new season and I have really been getting into the shows - especially Graceland which I was so-so about in its first season.. Now I cannot get enough of the show.  On Netflix, I have been watching Death in paradise a show about a British detective working on a Caribbean Island - it is well written and acted. Plus it is comedy and drama  - I really enjoy the show.

How did your July turn out ?

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The Louvre Museum - Paris. What You Need To Know Before Planning a Visit

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The Louvre Museum - Paris. What You Need To Know Before Planning a Visit

If you google visiting Paris - one of the top places to visit will be the Louvre museum. The Louvre is one of the most notable museums in the world and it is home to some of the most sort after and known art in the world today. Because of that, I it was on my list of places to visit during my time in Paris. Here are a few things that made my visit seamless and a few other things I wish I knew before my visit.  

1. Palace de Royale. This is your train stop if you are headed to the Lourve. I spent about half an hour in rush hour traffic trying to figure this out. I am thankful for the information desk personnel that came to my rescue.

2. Tuesdays. The museum is closed on Tuesdays, so if you are planning a visit , pick abnother day of the week. If you go on Tuesdays - the best you will get is the courtyard and the Louvre pyramids - which are good, but not memorable.

3. Museum Pass is a must have. I am grateful I listened to friends that suggested getting the museum pass, it came in handy on the very busy Monday morning I visited. I was able to skip the lines and get to exploring the Museum.

4. Have a plan. The museum is overwhelming and there is a lot of permanent and temporary exhibit to visit. If you try to see and do it all - you will be here all day. As great as the Louvre is , there are tons of others things you wanna see while in Paris. So get a plan in place. I made a list of this things I absolutely wanted to see - The Mona Lisa ; Venus de Milo ; Napoleon Apartment.

5. The best time to visit. Taking the advice of Brooke (World of Wanderlust) - I suggest Wednesday or Friday after 5 p.m. as the musuem is open till 9:45 p.m on those days and most of the tourist will likely be making plans for dinner versus visiting the Louvre.

6. Free Sunday is a BAD idea. A lot of tour guide are quick to point out that the first sunday of the month offers free admission to the Louvre and other Paris museum. Just realize you are not the only reading those guide and everyone want a free pass - so the lines are not pleasant on those day.

7. What you should see. There is so much on offer here that its hard to narrow down the list, but if you are at the Louvre than you must see Venus de milo, the Mona Lisa (be warned the lines to see this display can get long) and Napoleon's apartment. 


Quote of the week

"If it will not matter at the end of your life, it should not matter today."

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The Navy Pier - Chicago , IL

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The Navy Pier - Chicago , IL

Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the world and because it is the most accessible to me, I have made a few trips and with every trip I discover something else that makes me love the city more. One of my favorite spots to visit in Chicago is the Navy Pier - It's got everything.

For food, you wanna check out the Harry Carey Tavern; there is also the Bubba Gum Shrimp and Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville).Entertainment (museums; plays);  landshark beer garden (even for those us who are not beer drinking people - worth checking out); IMAX and the shakespeare theater.

No visit to the pier is complete without a ride on the ferris wheel which offers a spectacular view of the city. The pier used to house the Smith's stained glass museum before it closed in 2014 (that was one of my favorite things to see at the pier). This is a must see if you are ever in Chicago.

Here are some additional snapshots taken at the Navy Pier over the years.

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Jalapeno Goat Cheese Cauliflower Mash

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Jalapeno Goat Cheese Cauliflower Mash

Hi. My name is Simi and I LOVE Carbs which won't be a problem if I had a consistent workout going, but I don't so I have got to be watch what I eat, make better choices and more portion control. One dish that falls in line with better choices and limits the need to portion control is this jalapeno goat cheese cauliflower mash (recipe here). Cauliflower has become a great substitute for mash potatos and initially I was VERY skeptical but since making this for friendsgiving 2014 - it has made regular appearances on the weekly meal plan and is a favorite around these parts. This is a perfect side dish for summer. It can be served with salmon, beef, baked chicken. Last night we served it with beef bourguignon - oh.ma.gawd !!!

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 For more summer and every season recipes visit our sister site - Table with the food blog.

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