what it is: Timex 'Easy Reader' premium original watch with leather strap

why I love it: If you saw my existing watch collection, you'd gather that my go-to watch style is a boyfriend watch. I'll admit, I wear watches for how they look rather than function, but I rarely go a day without wearing one. Right now, my collection consists of a gold and silver metal band watch, a brown leather band watch you can see here, and a neon pink watch I picked up at Target as an afterthought that has proven to be more versatile than I was expecting. But I don't have an ideal black watch for those relatively common occasions where it will complete the outfit perfectly. 

Black watches can be a little overwhelming, especially in oversized styles, but there are a lot of options out there because it's a big trend for men and women right now. There wasn't any specific watch I wanted until I saw this one. It satisfies a bold day look and a dressed up night look, but the one detail in the yellow second hand is subtle-yet-interesting enough to set this watch apart from other black watches. It's a simple shape with perfect proportions to stand alone or be part of an arm party. It's perfect.

where to get it: Timex.com, Nordstrom, $65
what it is: Dior Top Coat

why I love it: I didn't start painting my nails regularly (read: every week) until last year, but once I did I realized the importance of top coat immediately. Top coat helps make the polish stay on your nails and makes the color look shiny and professional. Every nail polish company makes top coat, but when I accidentally came across this one, home nail painting was changed for me forever. Not only does this make nail polish dry extremely fast, my nails end up looking very shiny all week, and it makes the polish stay better than other brands of top coat I've used. The worst part about this top coat is running out of it. It comes with a bit of a price tag, but if you paint your nails regularly, this should be one of the products you use most often, so it's definitely worth the price for shiny, professional looking, well-preserved home manicures.

where to get it: Dior.com, and select department stores, including Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, $20
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of a men's pocket tee is this ratty turquoise one my dad had, and wore almost exclusively to do yard work. This is a very sub-par representation of the potential this simple garment holds in a man's wardrobe. It is at very least a staple, and every man should own a handful of these in whatever colors and levels of wear he wants. Mens' outfits consist of so few items that they should all look good, and the pocket tee makes it easy for that to happen. On a casual day, throw this on with jeans or shorts and a pair of boat shoes or desert boots and you'll look like you tried with very minimal actual effort. If necessary, a white one can serve as an undershirt, or it can be worn under sweaters or blazers on cooler days. The possibilities are endless.

Most men think straight to button downs and polos when they think of a quick and easy outfit, but the very basic, very casual, but classic pocket tee should not be forgotten. Switch out some of your stained and faded college t-shirts and graphic tees that will do nothing to boost your sophistication in favor of a few well-fitting pocket tees. They don't have to be expensive, they just have to look good. When paired with other nice looking items (no horrible jeans, no gross gym shoes and please not over a long sleeved t-shirt), a pocket tee can make an outfit just as well as a shirt and tie.

t-shirts: Gap, Rag & BoneJ.CrewLevi's

I don't have a food processor (yet), and I wanted to make some sort of veggie burger. It was hard to find a recipe that didn't need a food processor, so when I came upon this recipe for black bean fritters, I adapted it to make burgers instead of a dipping appetizer. My friend Lauren was in town and helped make these a successful dish, with the addition of a made up Mexican-style aioli for topping!

black bean fritters
yield varies depending on size of patties

For fritters
3 cups black bean, cooked
1 large yellow pepper, remove seed, chop into small pieces
1 small white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large tomato, chopped into small pieces
1 cup corn, cooked
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons all purpose unbleached flour
2 eggs, room temperature
Sea salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil (for frying)
Cheese of choice (optional, for melting. we used Mexican mix shredded cheese)
Hamburger buns (we used mini pretzel rolls and made sliders)
Veggies of choice for topping (we used tomatoes and onions)
*add breadcrumbs if mixture doesn't bind easily

For aioli
1/2 cup plain mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
*feel free to adjust measurements to taste 

From L to R: Anardana, Ratin Jot, Amchoor, Kutki, Koliary and Lal Mirchi
what it is: Thakoon for NARS Nail Polish

why I love it: When I first saw the amazing/crazy/bright painted hair at Thakoon's Spring/Summer 2012 runway show, I was thrilled. After a season full of "wet" looking sporty hair and "greasy" looking anti-makeup, finally beauty editors were given something fun and intriguing to work with. That said, full-on blue or yellow painted hair doesn't exactly translate well for the average person trying to take inspiration from runway beauty. 

Enter the Thakoon for Nars nail polish collaboration. I first saw these sitting on a beauty editor's desk a few months ago and was drawn to them immediately because: 1. I am never one to shy away from a super bright nail polish, and 2. Every. Single. Polish. Is. Perfection. The creamy, vibrant hues are just so pretty, and they're all the kind of shades that can easily be worn on fingers or toes. I can also see some serious nail art possibilities given how great all of the polishes look together. I do think there's one major issue this collection presents, though: figuring out how to wear them all that the same time!

where to get it: narscosmetics.com, $18 each
what it is: The Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe in black with neon sole (men's only)

why I love it: I wouldn't consider myself preppy, but I've always loved the shape of the classic boat shoe. I have a pair in mid-brown that goes with absolutely everything once it's warm enough to shed boots, and they do well with water on days that rain boots just aren't going to happen. Sometimes the neutrals just don't cut it, though, so when I saw this pair on Esquire, all I could do was hope they came in women's as well. They don't, but that doesn't mean I'm not still obsessed with them. The all black top makes the neon sole pop, which is the whole point of the shoe, while still being the classic shape and extremely versatile for everyday wear. These shoes can do the work for you in an outfit, and I'm just hoping and praying that I get note of the women's version soon, because they don't make men's sizes small enough (yes, I checked).

where to get it: Unfortunately, they're not listed on the Sperry website, but there are a few sizes left on Zappos, $90
Onion rings are one of those things that I crave fairly regularly, so I love the idea of making a healthier version for myself at home. This recipe uses a combination of crushed cornflakes and panko breadcrumbs to achieve a satisfyingly crunchy coating, and the buttermilk and cayenne in the batter make for a pretty spot-on onion ring flavor. 
Even though I'm a big fan of ketchup, I felt like homemade onion rings warranted a slightly more inventive sidekick, so I mixed together some of my favorite flavors to make a tangy, sweet balsamic-dijon sauce I kind of can't wait to find a bunch of other uses for.

baked onion rings with balsamic-dijon dipping sauce
makes about 4 servings

For onion rings
2-4 vidalia onions
2 cups corn flakes, crushed to fine crumbs (pulse in food processor or simply crush them by hand in a plastic storage bag)
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil spray

For balsamic-dijon dipping sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
salt to taste

what it is: DV by Dolce Vita Archer Sandal in Neon Yellow

why I love it: Neon yellow, gold hardware and simple design all in one comfortable, affordable shoe?  On sale? Almost too good to be true. AlmostDuring a recent shopping trip, the retail karma gods* smiled down on me. I had been obsessively looking for a versatile pair of flat sandals for weeks, and to no avail. Thanks to the sudden 80 degree weather, I was reaching new levels of desperation. That's when I spotted these buried under piles of other shoes at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale. The perfect blend of trendy (hello, neon) and classic (hello, sophisticated gold hardware), I can already tell these sandals will get me through summer. Plus, they can really be worn with anything: I'm thinking maxi skirts, sun dresses, shorts, jeans, pajamas... the possibilities are endless.

Thanks, retail karma gods!

where to get it: Dolce Vita, $69 (also on sale at Nordstrom now for $45!)

*The retail karma gods are for sure a real thing. That's why you should always be super nice to salespeople, put the clothes you try on back on the hanger, pick up anything you drop and re-fold any Gap-perfect t-shirt piles you might mess up. You'll be rewarded, I promise.