Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wilmington, N.C. Eats

I dashed down to Wilmington, North Carolina this weekend to visit my friend Sarah. We ended up eating at two great spots for simple, good food. Nothing too fancy, but still intriguing, and left me thinking about ways to make these foods at home. At Pita Delite, I had delicious roasted red pepper and smoked gouda soup that still has my mouth watering. It came with a Greek salad and warm pita bread and was so. fabulous. I'm always happy when I eat relatively healthy, too!

While walking downtown, we stopped into Kilwin's, a national candy chain, and I nearly gave myself cavities chewing on this white chocolate-covered rice krispie bar.

And for dinner, we headed to Wrightsville Beach to eat at Sweet and Savory. The ambiance was comfortable and family-friendly, but with slightly upscale food. For an appetizer, we ordered the dip trio, where again, I indulged in the amazing roasted red pepper and chevre dip. Roasted red pepper = my new favorite thing ever.

Here's a sandwich I'll be recreating at home: turkey, havarti, Granny Apple slices and honey dijon on a croissant. Mmmmmmmm. I want to go to there.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pepperoni Palmiers

My favorite party appetizers are ones that look really hard to make, but are actually easy to pull together and taste like comfort food. I spotted pepperoni palmieres on this blog and immediately knew that was a must-try.

The appetizer is a savory take on palmiers, the Parisian pastry that are often called "elephant ears." But for my American tastebuds, they were like fancy pizza rolls, which is to say they were awesome. The best part? You can make them up to one day ahead.

Buy frozen puff pastry sheets, which are available in the frozen aisle, usually above the Cool Whip. Allow the sheet to thaw for 40 minutes, then cut one sheet in half cross-wise.

Smear each half with dijon mayonnaise. I used Grey Poupon, of course.

Lay down slices of pepperoni, fairly evenly spaced since you'll be slicing the roll.

Then cover with a mixture of grated parmesan cheese, thyme, oregano and black pepper.

Roll each end toward the middle, so that two rolls are meeting in the middle.

Push the ends together, and baste the top with an egg wash. This is key for getting the golden brown, flaky crust.

I wrapped each roll with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. When I was ready to make them, I preheated the oven to 450, sliced them and placed them on aluminum foil-lined baking sheets. The foil was spritzed with vegetable spray. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until they look beautiful and flaky!

Ta-Da! Seriously delicious, and could be done with a million variations: ham and cheese, spinach and cheese, etc. I also know a friend who recently made nutella palmiers...yes please!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wino Wednesday: Back in the Day Wines

So last night I hosted wine club, and let's just say I'm still feeling the effects. Sign of a good party right? We decided to have "wines we drank back in the day," which is a fancy way of saying there was a lot of Sutter Home, Arbor Mist and Turning Leaf in the house. To offset our cheap and fabulous wine, I decided to make the table decidedly fancy and spring-y.

Honestly, I was just excited to finally have a chance to put out all the pretty wedding gifts we received and the antiques I've picked up in the past year. I set the table with a vintage lace linen tablecloth I got in Alexandria for $12, a jadeite cake stand I bought at the Williamsburg Antique Mall, our beautiful bowl and pitcher from the Sophie Conran line for Portmeiron, my grandmother's crystal and a French-style linen towel from Heath Ceramics.

P.S. Check out our painting! We love it.

Sean, my very favorite husband, obliged me by running outside to clip some cherry blossom branches off a tree in our complex. He definitely was like, "Are you sure? That's not our tree! Are you sure?" to which I reminded him we pay to live here and by extension it's our yard. Right? Right. 
Anyways, I served cucumber bites with blue cheese dip and chives...

And red pepper strips with ranch dressing (in our vodka shooters...definitely stole this idea from the internets).

I picked up these very spring-y Caspari plates.

And my new favorite ludicrously easy appetizer: pepperoni palmieres! Recipe forthcoming, ya'll. The zinc placecards, by the way, are from Paper-Source. I think they would work just as well in a garden, too.

What's a party without microwaved Mexican cheese dip?!

And last but certainly not least...the damage. The idea was to bring wines we drank before we knew anything about wine. I brought Arbor Mist Strawberry Wine, and I'm embarrassed to say it was delicious and I might go back to drinking that ALL the time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RIP Liz Taylor

Rest in peace, Liz Taylor. I'm always a little sad every time one of these Hollywood legends dies...I don't want them to get older! She's especially well-known where I'm from because she came to visit with her then-husband, Sen. John Warner, and ended up choking on a chicken bone. You can read all about it in this book.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Best v. 52

I stumbled upon these lovely pottery pieces by Maggie Weldon, found here. She presses vintage and antique pieces of lace into her ceramics to make these lovely bowls, plates and trays. Wouldn't they make a lovely wedding gift?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Paintings, or Why I Don't Cook

You may have noticed that for a blog that's about becoming domesticated (which I really consider everything to do with being a grown-up), I haven't been doing much cooking or cleaning lately. Blame it on the newfound painting passion; I just spend every spare moment painting these days. I've also been crazy busy with work and while I have cooked, none of it was blogworthy, unless you're curious about how to make out-of-the-box Old El Paso tacos.

So with no baking or DIY craft projects to show for myself, I figured I'd share what I've really been doing. Here are some recent favorites, all with watercolor.

Horses, running. I want to focus on movement a little more.

A friend asked for a painting of Jane Goodall, so I painted this.
 Abe Lincoln, obviously.

 Audrey, of course.
And some favorite lamps at Shades of Light.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Spy: World Market

So, World Market is one of my very favorite chain stores for homewares/fancy foods/cooking tools. I sometimes have mixed feelings about the merchandise...it's often knock-offs of famous designs, and I always have this inner tug-of-war over whether I should buy a knock-off to achieve a look or just save up for the real thing. 

Then reality hits me and I realize I am not going to be featured in any magazines any time soon, and who am I to snub a good deal? So here's some recent World Market finds I spotted that are dead ringers for the more expensive trends.

My World Market had a big display set up to look like a French cafe, complete with these metal stools reminiscent of the famous (and timeless) Tolix stools. I think these were $80.

I usually don't advocate buying copycat art, or mass-produced store art, but this $129 canvas (which might very well be licensed from this one by Jodi Fuchs has great colors, great graphics and would go in almost any room. I picture it on a wall over a little girl's crib, over a TV or above a bed!

EDIT: This is by Jodi Fuchs and was licensed to World Market, so whew! No guilt necessary!

Timeless, classic metal cafe tables. These were downsized to the perfect size for apartment and condo balconies, and cost $69.99!!!

For the past few years, World Market has stocked wonderful suzani-print floor cushions that were fabulous, but maybe a bit too trendy. I'm liking the colors and print of this more classic floral one, which could blend seamlessly in a colorful room or make a neutral room pop. I think it was in the $40 range, but I'm not positive.

And last but not least, the perfect neutral rug. It hits that middle note between boring and grounding, and the 5 x 8, which is about perfect for most apartment living rooms (I always think in apartment terms), was $179.

If you have a World Market nearby and you've never wandered in, make a stop! It's a fun time-waster. If you'd rather buy some more authentic international goods, may I recommend Ten Thousand Villages or Basic French?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Field Trip: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Sean and I went on a little field trip on Saturday to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which had a special Picasso exhibit on display until May. I've been itchy to return to the museum for years; the only time I had been was during an actual field trip when I was 17, so I was happy to go back post-renovations. They have an impressive collection, and I was most impressed by their collection of late 20th century and early 21st century art. I thought I'd share some of my favorite details from the collections we saw.

I will admit, I'm a bit of an art history dork, so trips to the museum with me probably aren't fun for the casual observer (i.e. Sean). I'm especially excited to be introduced to new-to-me artists. This painting is by Neil Jenney, a self-taught artist whose work in the early 70s was dubbed "bad painting," a title he embraced. He was known for painting these frames around his work, with the title spelled out HUGE.

I think Julian Schnabel is a bit of a blow-hard, but I was especially intrigued by "Understanding Self-Hate" when I realized it was painted on stretched velvet. It gave me painting such depth in person, and in some spots, it looked like the paint was floating over the fabric. It's actually a giant 3-panel painting, but this was my favorite spot.

I loved "Landscape with Wing" by Anselm Kiefer. It was massive, and enveloped viewers. It has straw stuck in the paint, and if you look long enough at it, you can see how it might be what the land looks like from a bird's eye view.The painter is German, and it says the use of straw and tar were supposed to reflect post-war Germany. This woman in the gallery with us was very adamant about how much she did NOT like this painting. I was cracking up.

I'm sorry to say I can't recall the artist, but I loved the huge folded paper art. I thought it was so lovely in its simplicity, and reminded me of the intricately folded notes little girls pass in class. It's a good idea for creating art at home, too, not that I hugely advocate knocking off art!

The museum also had a special exhibit on graphics and I was struck by this little print of horses. I want to get to the point where I only need a couple strokes to convey shape and movement.

The museum also has a breathtaking collection of Art Nouveau furniture, including this massive wardrobe. It's hard to believe people had such curvy, windy furniture of such massive scale in their homes, but it's inspiring. You can see me and Sean in the mirror.

I think Stuart Davis has the best artist's signature I've seen. (This is just a tiny corner of his painting.)

The 21st century art exhibit was fascinating to me. It's crazy to see art from 2008 in museums, but it was exciting! A lot of it seemed uniquely inspired by the digital age. I especially like this painting by Kehinde Wiley, who aims to subvert the classicism of Old World portraiture by inserting black males in the clothing indicative of their culture. In this case, the model wore Sean John and Timbalands. Loved it!

And last but certainly not least, we whirled through the Picasso exhibit (it was PACKED) and I was excited to see this painting, which was on the cover of one of my old Literature textbooks. It's called "Reading."

Just so you know, the museum is free, but you do have to pay for special exhibits. The Picasso exhibit costs $20 for adults, so we paid $40 total. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Best v.52

We saw this charming photo of Picasso on the beach at the Picasso exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts yesterday.  The exhibit features works from the Musee National Picasso in Paris, and the works span his entire life. It was a great exhibit, but PACKED, so get there early or late to try to miss the crowds. The exhibit closes May 15.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Today I Like ... Downton Abbey

I spent my entire Sunday doing laundry and watching Masterpiece Theater's "Downton Abbey." I LOVED it. If you're not familiar, it's a classic drama by the author of "Gosford Park" that focuses on the lives of a well-to-do country family trying to secure the fate of their rambling property and the servant soap opera happening downstairs. As with any period film, it was a visual treat, and takes place in the year following the sinking of the Titanic. I love me some Edwardian fashions, so I thought I'd put together little ways to incorporate the look into our lives.

The upstairs was decorated with its fair share of fusty antiques, in vivid colors and patterns.

Get the Look

  1. Most of the characters spend a lot of time in black, because it takes place directly following the Titanic sinking, so I suggest adding some fake jet earrings to your wardrobe. $5.80 at Forever 21.
  2. You must protect that porcelain complexion in the sun! You'll need a lace parasol, $39.95 at Victorian Trading Company.
  3. Be a little fashion forward with this poster of Paul Poiret designs.
  4. Get your Mary Poppins on with this fabulous straw boater, $24 at Urban Outfitters.
  5. Every lady needs a couch to catch her when she falls, and this one's in mauve, which was Tsarina Alexandria's favorite color. Fainting couch, $579 at Urban Outfitters.
  6. Any woman can wear a string of pearls, but a lady wears them long. Opera-length pearls, $225 at J. Crew.

The downstairs was sturdy and serviceable, but very handsome. It has a very Martha Stewart vibe!

  1. A cook's luxury: A Mauviel Hammered Copper pot, $520 at Williams-Sonoma.
  2. I am in love with the classic Jenny Lind bed, named for a Swedish songstress. This one goes for $500 to $600 at The Land of Nod.
  3. I quite prefer the servants' simple Ironstone dishes, $45 at Etsy.
  4. And the pewter creamer is equally timeless. $39 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
  5. And although it belongs upstairs, the occasional antique snuff box makes its way downstairs.
Supposedly a second season of the program will be filmed! I can't wait!