Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Best v.149

Happy Easter! We didn't do any of the normal Easter stuff 'round here...nary a dyed egg or jelly bean in sight. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend with loved ones! Here are some favorite links:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jams of the Week

Music Jam: Hey Marseilles

I've been enjoying the sweet sounds of Hey Marseilles, a Seattle-based band that reminds me a lot of another great Seattle-based band, Death Cab for Cutie. Their second album just came out, but of course they're new to me and to a lot of people because they got a lot of buzz at SXSW.

TV Jam: Happy Endings

"Happy Endings" is one of the most reliably funny shows on television and ABC is determined to kill it. The show will come back from a dumb hiatus at 8 p.m. tonight and YOU HAVE TO WATCH. Seriously.

Art Jam: Sticker Mandalas by Lauren Venell

I loooove this hypnotic piece by Lauren Venell, made of stickers. Could be a really fun idea to explore during arts and crafts time with kids!

Totally Random Jam: Chocolate Milk


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Today I Like ... Flowers in Art & Design

I've been pinning up a storm lately and I noticed a common trend last night: flowers, everywhere! I desperately need to get back to painting, and maybe even collaging, and these pieces have me feeling inspired.

 A floral kite, by Fredericks & Mae fit for Mary Poppins.

A beautiful watercolor I want in textile form, by Lourdes Sanchez.

Must find a way to recreate this shot someday! Princess Ira Von Furstenberg, 1955, by Cecil Beaton.
 So inspired by this idea...I don't want to rip it off, per se, but I can picture so many cool home DIY projects similar to Pascuala Lira's floral whitewashed wood piece.

Flowers have been all the rage in graphic design, and I love the kaleidoscopic effect of Lisa Hedge's save the date design.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Translated: Spring Bouquet Into Bedroom

It's been such a long time since I've done one of these posts, which I always enjoy because they help me think about color combinations and inspiration. I haven't been able to get this delicate palette out of my head since I first spotted this bouquet from Martha Stewart Weddings. 

I pictured it in a girly bedroom, luxurious and soothing, yet cheery and fun.

Delicate Spring

  1. Try one wall, or even a nook, in Joy's beautiful wallpaper.
  2. Bring a little nature inside with a sweet, antique-looking bunny sketch by Teagan White.
  3. Capture the delicate folds of the flowers with the soft folds of West Elm's shams.
  4. A tufted gray armchair brings some masculinity to the room, grounding it from becoming too sweet.
  5. Give the room a sunny pop with a yellow linen pillow.
  6. Set the tone of the room with the silvery lavender headboard.
  7. Petal pink looks grown-up in John Robshaw's quilt.
  8. A lotus stool provides the perfect spot to rest a book and a glass of water, or just toss today's dirty clothes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Herb Salad with Blackberries and Feta

My favorite types of salads in the past couple years have had three things: a fruit, a cheese and a nut. Add a homemade dressing and you've just made one of the most basic, boring food items into a treat.

My past salads have included my take on the wine country salad, salad with strawberries, feta and walnuts, salad with strawberries and parmesan, and salad with watermelon and feta. This week, I gave a new fruit a whirl: blackberries.

I combined an herb mix of greens with blackberries, feta and glazed walnuts.

But the REAL excitement was getting to use the salad dressing emulsifier we received for Christmas from Sean's Aunt Elizabeth! I used a dressing recipe from Martha Stewart as a base, but had to adjust to suit what I had in my pantry.

My citrus dressing (which was really a perfect complement to the salad, btw) was:

  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • drops of lemon juice to taste

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Best v.148

I'm so in love with the work of Elliot Puckette. Her calligraphic lines remind me of patterns in the ice left by skates, or contrails in the sky. Her most recognizable works are on slate backgrounds, so it was fun for me to stumble onto this trippy pink watercolor-y background. 

I've had a very nice lazy weekend filled with weird movies! Sean and I watched "Compliance," which was chilling and a nearly completely true story! So creepy. This morning, we caught a matinee of "Spring Breakers," which was fantastical and fun and also creepy. James Franco is pretty mesmerizing in it...I feel like I'm going to be saying " 'spicious" for weeks.
  • Have you seen that picture of fuller-bodied mannequins in Sweden? They're fake, but many people (including me!) think they should be standard in American stores.
  • Fascinating display of driver's licenses since the dawn of driving.
  • Someone at Buzzfeed assembled pictures accurately depicting my teenhood. Nostalgia is at an all-time high, I think. I literally had that issue of YM and that NOW CD and that shampoo.
  • I'm really in love with all of Anna Emilia's illustrations.
  • The tale of the cat fired from Broadway.
  • A haunting photograph tweeted by Yoko Ono. 
  • This Onion piece on living your passions on the weekends made me laugh and then cry a little inside.
  • Watch Lindsay Lohan grow up in mug shots.
  • This hotly debated article about why men don't do chores has some very true nod-your-head moments for me, even though we work very hard to be somewhat equitable in our chores. I imagine this will become infinitely more challenging when we have kids.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Ro-Tel

When people say marriage is about compromise, they aren't kidding. Whether debating how to spend money to where to travel for vacation, every conversation is a give and take. But no conversation sparks more debate in our house than what to have for dinner, a topic that gets surprisingly heated on a nightly basis. 

I came home the other night with one concept in mind: Mexican lasagna. I've never made that before, but it sounds like a concept with serious potential, and a Google search showed me plenty of other people have successfully made the dream come true. 

Because Sean hates cheese, most especially ricotta, he has no interest in lasagna in general. When I mentioned Mexican lasagna, I think he just had visions of ooey gooey ricotta spilling out of the layers and was disgusted. He cast his vote strongly in favor of meatloaf, a dish I detest making because the process is just generally gross from start to finish. What's a couple to do? Make Tex-Mex Meatloaf.

I scoured the Internet for recipes, but didn't see any that quite fit what I was imagining, so I winged it! I preheated the oven to 375 degree. I started out by combining in a bowl: 
  • Ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 10 oz. can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, 
  • 1/2 an onion chopped
  • Panko bread crumbs (eyeball it, but I probably ended up with about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup of frozen roasted corn
  • 1.5 teaspoons of chili powder (or however much you want!)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cumin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • (you'll also need a can of Enchilada mole sauce to top the loaf)

Once I had worked all of that mush into a mass that would stick together in log form, I moved the gross loaf-mess to my handy dandy meatloaf pan (thanks, Papa!) and covered it with enchilada mole sauce. No ketchup involved!

I cooked for one hour, opening the oven at the 35-minute mark to add more mole sauce. The result was a meatloaf with a kick...flavorful, and a great way to sneak lots of veggies into my food. I'm not the biggest fan of corn by itself, so this was a great trick worthy of Jessica Seinfeld's deceptive recipes. Sean pronounced the meatloaf "as good as the other ones!" Not exactly earth-shattering review, but I'll take it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wine & Cheese, Round II

It's been three years since the last time Wine Club decided to do your class wine-and-cheese pairing. This time around, we tried to get a little fancier with our cheese.

I was decidedly not fancy with my picture-taking, though...I completely forgot to bring a camera other than my phone. It was the cap to a day that started with traffic that made me 50 minutes late to a meeting and built up to me dropping my entire bottle of syrah on the sidewalk seconds after getting out of my car. Never a better time for wine club!

If you're curious and don't mind iPhone pics, here's what we had:

 The cheese lineup, clockwise:

  • Port Salut: a semi-soft cow's milk cheese.
  • Wensleydale with Cranberries cheese: my favorite! Cow's milk cheese from Yorkshire with sweet cranberries. We ate it melted with dark chocolate on slices of bread.
  • Beemster Vlaaskas cheese: A sweet Dutch cheddar.
  • Chipotle cheddar cheese: so good and smoky! Would love to try this in chili.
  • Espresso Bellavitano cheese: Wisconsin-made cheese, soaked and crusted in espresso. A delicious sweet cheese!

We did a kind of bad job having the right cheese paired with the right wine, but here are the wines we sampled:

  • Lucky Star Chardonnay: Citrusy start for a creamy finish, with notes of pineapple, pear and golden apple. I don't normally like chardonnay, but this was good.

  •  Temptation Zinfandel: Much like the others, plummy and spicy and vanilla-y. We had a lot of very similar reds, LOL!

  • Monte Oton Grenache: Lauren especially loved this one, which is described as having notes of raisins, blueberries and plums.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guinness Beef Stew

Sean and I went out for drinks Friday, so our real St. Patrick's Day celebration last night was pretty low-key. I made his favorite Irish stew, and managed to make a serendipitous mistake!

I used this recipe, which is derived from Sean's Irish grandma's recipe. I've made it several times, but this time, I came up a bit short on beef broth. Usually, it calls for three cups, but I only had about 1 and 1/2...I was about to supplement with water, but then I remembered we had Guinness we'd bought to have with the stew. A-ha! 

Ultimately, the stew ended up having half a bottle of Guinness and 1.5 cups of beef broth and it was delicious. The Guinness flavor wasn't overpowering; just a hint of barley and magic!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Best v.147

I love this painting of Grand Central Station, called "Catching the Train," by Ursula Gullow. We've had a delightfully lazy weekend after an extremely hectic week, hence the radio silence on my end. Forgive me! My full-time job becomes a little more than full-time this time of year, so it's hard to live life, much less cook at home or do fun crafting projects. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Fashion Trends: Volume on Top

Volume on Top Runway

Good news for all of you who bought peplum tops in the fall! They're carrying right into spring, along with other loose-fitting bell-shaped tops, like these seen at the Thakoon, Sally LaPointe, Rag & Bone and Marissa Webb shows (yes, that Marissa Webb look was in yesterday's round-up, too. What can I say? Girl's on it). I love the look of volume on top with a slim line on the bottom, either through a pencil skirt or a pair of skinny pants. But I was intrigued to see some of the pairings on the runways, showing volume on the bottom, too...maybe a look best suited for the lean amongst us, no?

Volume on Top

  1. Paired with a red skirt or boyfriend jeans, this striped peplum top is a steal at $28 from Target.
  2. Leather is another huge trend, especially for next fall, and this is vegan! $50 at Piperlime.
  3. Top your sweet candy-colored jeans with this floral organza blouse, $56 at Nordstrom.
  4. This soft red blouse seems made for fun necklaces! $42 at Nordstrom.
  5. A twist on the simple white T, a "batwing" shirt for $50 from Zara.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Fashion Trends: Dip-Dyed

Dip Dyed

Ombre and tie-dye have had a resurgence in the last couple years, especially in home decor. Their popularity didn't dissipate one bit on the spring 2013 runways, as evidenced in these looks from the runways of Rag & Bone, Tory Burch, Tracy Reese, Calla and Erin Fetherston.

There's no better time for the dip-dyed look than sunny spring and summer days. Some (slightly) more accessible looks:

Dyed Clothes

  1. Watercolor stripe tee, $88 at Splendid.
  2. Ombre sweater, $128 at C and C California.
  3. Tie-dyed pencil skirt, $78 at Nordstrom.
  4. Striped dyed cardigan, $60 at Macy's.
  5. Dip-dyed maxi skirt, $115 at Urban Outfitters.
  6. For you sexy young things, this dyed plaid dress might be your perfect summer go-to. $107 at Threadsence.
  7. Top a plain tee and jeans with Sperry's dyed scarf, $42.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Best v.146

A parisian home in 1910, found on this amazing site.

It's hard to believe it's already time to spring forward! I feel crazy for saying this, but winter's almost going too fast! I haven't made any plans for summer, no vacations or anything, so I feel like I better get moving on that. 

My favorite links of the week:
  • The New York Times investigates Columbia University's Nutella obsession.
  • I said the other day I could just watch Justin Timberlake dance all day. Thanks to Buzzfeed, I can!
  • For all my fellow childless friends, things we should know before having babies.
  • This documentary about a treasure trove of street photography looks amazing.
  • Print out your own paper dolls of the guys from "Girls".
  • I weeped reading Jacob Bernstein's remembrance of his mother, Nora Ephron.
  • New music coming out of SXSW in Austin.
  • What if The Postal Service hadn't included Ben Gibbard?
  • Forget Uncle Sam. Let's bring back Columbia.
  • Maps you never knew you needed.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Spy: Monogrammed Dishes, Lily China & Embroidered Ballerinas

It's that time again, friends! Antiquing time! I hit up my usual after-work antiquing spot, the Williamsburg Antique Mall, and spotted these gems that give the home a little personality and character. I can't recommend doing this enough. I used to buy all my home accessories and decorative items at Target and HomeGoods, but then I'd hit up an antique mall and find authentic, cooler versions of what I just bought! That's not always true, but it's a good reminder that a lot of what we see in stores today is just a repeat of an earlier trend. 

First up, I liked this sweet little English hotel dish with a "G" monogram for $10. Perfect for holding soap, paperclips, jewelry or even bon bons.

 I was totally struck by this elegant lily of the valley china set. It's a pattern I've truly never seen and looked very modern to me. It wasn't cheap, though! The full teacup with plate was $110!

I'm a pretty firm believer in NOT buying old books simply for styling purposes if it's a book you'd never read in a million years. It's one of my design pet peeves that every single stylist/designer has a copy of "I Married Adventure" just because of its pretty zebra linen cover. BUT I cannot lie; I was totally drawn to the amazing detail of this copy of George Eliot's "Mill on the Floss." Maybe I'd read it? Just maybe?

I have a love affair with convex or bubble frames. They just add such visual interest to a gallery wall. I thought these sweet bird prints, $39.50 each, would be such versatile additions to an art collection. 

Busts are just kind of awesome, right? Classic old plaster ones, modern bronze ones...I just can't resist giving them a second look. They look so intriguing on bookshelves, side tables or just wearing your necklaces. The tag on this one said "Frances Chapman, 1964 sculpture." Google wasn't super helpful, but she could be yours for $82.50.

I'm sort of determined to make embroidery samplers seem like awesome art that doesn't look fusty. Is that impossible? I feel like this lovely embroidery of a ballerina and male danseur could look really great in a sleek white modern frame, possibly mounted on top of a mat board to keep the 3D textile appeal. It has a sweetness that I think would really work in a girl's room. $18.

Until today, I wasn't familiar with Solian Ware until today. It was, apparently, a trade name for pottery made by SOHO Pottery from 1913 to 1930 in England (info here). I'm not sure how many pieces have the National Geographic yellow-colored rim, but I just loved it. It could add so much a tabletop, but would also look fabulous on a wall of mounted plates. Super cheap, too, at $5 a plate (they had two).

I really liked a lot of the details on this dresser, with the very Greek-looking hardware and the molding. I think it was $295.

 For $175, these two nightstands are almost a steal and have so much rehab potential! Paint them almost any color and the details would really pop. I imagine them in a soft dove gray.

Remember in 2006 when everyone started collecting paint-by-number paintings and you'd see them on all the design blogs and in Domino magazine? Yeah, that's probably a bit played out, but I actually really love this one. It has a modern graphic design quality in its flatness, and the colors combined with the scene feels really sweet and perfect for a little girl room. At $35, it seems a bit overpriced.

I love bone boxes like this. They are great decorative objects, great for holding the tiny things in your life that need homes and would look handsome on your man's nightstand. $22.

I'm not even sure what you'd do with giant Jackie Kennedy paper dolls, but I felt like you needed to know they exist. (try to ignore my stupid thumb getting in the way! I was moving too fast!)

And finally, this is what I brought home! An adorable enamel mail holder that I saw, snatched and carried around the antique mall cradling it like a precious baby. I'm not even sure where it will live in my current apartment, but I just imagine it will look sooooooo cute in my future entry hall or even on my future porch at my future dream cottage. $15, pals!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spring Fashion Trends: Cobalt

Spring Cobalt

Anyone who follows my Pinterest knows that I go a little obnoxious crazy during fashion weeks. I've been following the shows online since 2002, and it's always super fun for me to play Rachel Zoe in my head and imagine actresses and gals-about-town wearing the fabulous clothes I'll never get my hands on!

Since I have all these images collected in one place now, I thought I'd actually do something with it and go back to see what common themes emerged for spring. One trend immediately popped out: cobalt blue! It was everywhere, including the runways of (left to right) Rachel Comey, Tory Burch, Monique Lhuillier, Herve Leger and Rebecca Minkoff.

Let's translate it to our more budget-friendly mall shops and online stores, shall we?

Cobalt Closet

  1. Spice up the classic striped tee with a bolt of blue, $43 at J.Crew Factory.
  2. Top work blouses and summer sundresses with a cobalt blazer, $75 at Piperlime.
  3. Paired with summer capris and white shorts, this ombre sweater would look perfect on cool beach nights, $30 at H&M.
  4. Take the trend to your nails, with Essie's "Mesmerize".
  5. Cute two-tone flats that look like the ocean, $98 at Kate Spade. (I'm sure knockoffs will be forthcoming.)
  6. Dress up what's already in your closet with Kendra Scott's necklace. Pricey at $108, so I would be on the lookout for similar styles at Forever 21, Target, Urban Outfitters, etc.
  7. Hit the dance floor at spring and summer weddings in Cynthia Rowley's flouncey frock, $140 at The Outnet.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

DIY Fabric Pennant Banner

My relationship with sewing is a very chicken and the egg situation. Do I struggle with sewing because it's hard or is it hard because I don't practice enough? It's difficult to say, but I can tell you that making these four pennant banners was quite a struggle. Most of the blame belongs with my machine, which was being particularly temperamental, but there is always user error to consider. I'm here to tell you, though, that persistence pays off.

I used this tutorial, which was really great. I made a couple tweaks, which you'll see. I bought fabric at Joann's, most of it from remnants. If you get about a half-yard of five types of fabric, you'll end up with enough triangle pennants to make four banners.

I grabbed a piece of cardstock and, using a ruler, measured 7 inches across the top and approximately 9 inches to the bottom point. I cut the template out and then used it to lightly trace the shape with pencil on my fabric. I didn't have a rotary cutter, so I used scissors, but you can use a rotary cutter. I won't lie...this is pretty tedious work. But in the grand scheme of things, you can do it while watching 2 1/2 episodes of "Scandal."

Ultimately I had a stack of about 48 triangles (a  few got tangled in the machine and had to be sacrificed). I then sewed the sides (not the tops) of each pennant, then pinned them side-by-side to double-fold bias tape, leaving 12 inches of slack on each side. Double-fold bias tape has a long side and a short side; be sure to put the short side in front. 

Once pinned, I sewed the tape from end to end and — voila! — I had pennants.