Image Slider

Numbers & Design

Friday, September 30, 2011
I love numbers and precision (I am an accountant, remember?) and I also love pretty things and design. Put those two together and, of course, I find it interesting.  This little pull out from the July/August edition of House Beautiful offers some great tips that probably are second nature to interior designers but are good things for the rest of us to remember.

TGIF and Happy Weekend!  Andy and I are off to LA this weekend-- so excited!

Chicken Curry

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Normally, I would shy away from making curry.  It sounds intimidating and not really something that I'm drawn to.  But why not?  Curried chicken salad is one of my favorites!  One night on a whim, I made a Chicken Curry inspired by Martha's recipe, and it was delicious, flavorful, and a unique addition to our regular meal rotation.

I need some food styling help!  And to remember that a sprinkle of something green will always be a good thing.

Chicken Curry
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Chicken Curry

Oil (I used vegetable but I'm sure you could use olive)
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 is probably best, though it can be done with 2 or 4 as well)
Medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Curry powder (ours is definitely mild as we don't have the tolerance for heat but use what you like... mild, medium or hot curry powder)
Cayenne Pepper
1 can (14oz) diced zesty tomatoes (we used mild zesty due to our spicy issues)
1 box Toasted Pine Nut Couscous

Heat oil, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch of oil, in a large skillet over medium heat. Make sure your skillet is big enough for all of your chicken. You might need to use a bigger pan.

Sprinkle flour onto a plate-- just enough to cover the plate. Season the flour with salt (liberally), curry powder and a dash of cayenne.

Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixture and place in oiled skillet.  Brown chicken on each side... probably about 3-4 minutes per side.

Remove chicken from pan (it will not be cooked all the way through) and place aside. Add sliced onions into pan which should still have just a bit of oil in it. Let them caramelize a bit. Stir frequently.

When the onions are to your liking, add curry (I actually didn't measure but between 1 ), a bit of salt, minced garlic, the can of tomatoes with the liquid and about 1/4 cup water. Stir everything together and then nestle the chicken breasts in the mixture. Increase heat so mixture simmers.

Simmer everything until the chicken breasts are cooked through. You might have to add more water if it gets too dry . Flip the chicken breasts while cooking. When chicken is almost finished cooking (mine took about 20 minutes), prepare couscous.

Serve chicken with sauce over couscous. If you're feeling fancy, garnish with slivered almonds, raisins and/or dates.

A Living Room for Inspiration

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Andy asked me recently "is that the only website that you go to?"  Can you guess what I was perusing?  Pinterest.  I'm definitely addicted.  I pin, pin, pin, pin, pin, but when I try to pull anything together, I freeze.  So to challenge myself, I've decided to start creating inspiration boards that are complete rooms.  Well almost complete, every room would benefit from a little fluffing by my mom!  Hopefully by the time we buy a house, and I can decorate for real, I'll be able to pull together a room of things I love without feeling paralyzed with indecision.

So here's my first go at it.  A stylish, while still homey living room. 

Click Image for Larger View

It's hard for me to push "publish" because I keep thinking, it needs a little something else.  Hence the being paralyzed.  But this is a learning exercise, and I guess y'all are around for the ride!

Let's Go for a Dip

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
When I saw this Good Thing in the September 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living, I knew I had to save this for later.  I think if I attempted to do this now, Andy would not be enthused considering we barely have a place for the glassware that we have now, much less anything else!
Click Image to View Larger // Martha Stewart Living - September 2011 Issue

But what a great project?  It immediately made me think of the Midas Collection at DWR but at a fraction of the cost.
Midas Collection // Design Within Reach

It also reminds me of these Kim Seybert glasses that I just love and think would go great with our china.

Kim Seybert Paillette Collection

And these more reasonably priced glasses by Colin Cowie but still unattainable as they're sold out.
Colin Cowie Shadow Highball Glasses with Mirror Finish // HSN

While I love a metallic neutral, I can't help but envision these dipped in bright, fun colors for a more mix-and-match sort of feel.  I'm definitely going to pick up some of the stemless wine glasses at the Crate & Barrel outlet or CB2 and do some dipping when I have a place to store them!

Weekend Recap

Monday, September 26, 2011
We had such a fun weekend, but oh how our definition of fun has changed!  Joanna, one of my closest friends from college, and her husband Glenn and baby Penny came up to the east coast for the weekend. Glenn was a groomsman in a wedding for one of his close college friends and the wedding was in Rehoboth Beach, DE.  Somehow we all put all the facts together-- Joanna & Glenn had a wedding in Rehoboth but what about the baby, Andy's aunt and uncle have a house there, Andy & I didn't have plans that weekend and coordinated a wonderful weekend thanks to the generosity of Andy's aunt and uncle for letting us stay at their house.

On Friday, we were off as one big happy family.  It was hard to capture the scene but we were packed to the gills with baby gear and people.

Penny was the perfect traveler, and we had an easy trip to the beach.  Glenn did the rehearsal dinner thing on Friday while the rest of us stayed home.  It was time for Andy & me to attempt to get an idea of what we were to do the next night when Penny was our responsibility.  But with a face like this, how could it be that difficult?

Penny's got the vacationing thing down.  She loves it and it shows!  Unfortunately, the weather was a bit dreary on Saturday so there wasn't any beach time.  Instead we filled the day with a trip to the coffee shop, quick walk down the boardwalk and a brief visit to the pub where Penny got to meet a few of Glenn's college friends.  Then it was wedding time.

Andy & I dropped off Joanna at the wedding and drove off with the baby asleep in the backseat.  We decided to seize the opportunity and hit up the outlet mall.

Sorry, I cut off your head, Andy!  But at least you can see he's smiling.
Penny was so well behaved (i.e. sleeping) that we did some serious damage at not one but three stores!  All night, we kept her mom updated on our activities and behavior (smiles, smiles and more smiles).  She was quite the little doll.

Unfortunately the weekend had to come to an end, so we packed up and made a pit stop in DC before heading to the airport.  I think both the boys and Penny enjoyed a little NFL time.

After giving the little snuggle bug one last hug, Andy and I finished the weekend with Oreo milkshakes for dinner, proving that we are not quite responsible enough to have a kid of our own quite yet.

Random Cooking Tidbits

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Whoa, two posts in one day?! Don't get used to it, but I did want to share a few little cooking tidbits that are on my mind after supper club last night.

1. I grew up cooking with my mom. 90% of what I know about cooking is thanks to her (thanks Mama!). The rest is thanks to FoodNetwork and trial & error. One of the things she taught me is that if you don't fill up all the spots in the muffin tin with batter, you should fill the empty ones with water. Something like it helps things cook evenly? Apparently she didn't make this up, because last night at supper club Meredith said her mom taught her the same thing! Anyone else?

2. I don't like sifting. It's a pain. It seems that it's just something else that has to be cleaned. Growing up I didn't mind sifting because we had this awesome retro battery operated sifter that would make your arm tickle because of the vibrations. But, now? Not so much. Thankfully, Ina taught me that I don't have to sift! She probably wouldn't make a blanket statement like that but I interpreted it that way and haven't looked back. What she does is whisks. She whisks her flour before she measures it and then whisks all the dry ingredients together. It makes them fluffy and airy, and I think it's just the perfect substitute for sifting.

3. As Andy can attest, I have an awfully hard time following recipes. I think it's in part because I'm impatient, part because I see something I like and want to highlight that (I think this needs double the cheese), part because I like cooking with what I have and sometimes you have to improvise. With that said, I've developed a more meticulous way (spreadsheets! excel!) of devising my own recipes. Each year, sometimes season, Andy and I set off to come up with our favorite version of something. One year it was chili. Another time it was pulled pork. Those were mostly Andy's undertakings, and I was the lucky beneficiary. But for me, two years ago, it was pumpkin bread. Regardless what it is we're making, the process is the same. Gather recipes that sound tasty. Each recipe then goes into a column on a spreadsheet (so, it's vertical). Then I align similar ingredients in rows so I can easily compare. Sometimes recipes have a lot of overlap (like when baking) and other times, there are few. Then everything that's different goes at the bottom. In the last column (far right), I write out our recipe based on the others-- what we like, what we don't like, how much of something to include, etc-- and add other ingredients that we want to try. Then it's off to the test kitchen. Make the recipe, tweak, repeat until perfect for us.

Pumpkin Bread

I know I jumped the gun on celebrating fall as it doesn't technically start until this Friday. I can't help it; I love fall!  For supper club last night, Stacy made a delicious rosemary crusted pork tenderloin, and I was charged with bringing dessert.  It had to be fall appropriate, and it had to be quick and easy (I was crunched for time).  Pumpkin Bread was the obvious choice!  I hit a little roadblock when I found out that Safeway hadn't stocked canned pumpkin yet (maybe should I have questioned my recipe choice at this point?), but thankfully Whole Foods had a few cans and held them at Customer Service for me.

Pumpkin Bread

1/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
1/4 teaspoon ginger

3 1/2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs butter, softened (just use the remaining stick of butter from above... think it's a little more than 2 Tbs)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350.  Make the streusel topping by combining the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and then cutting in the softened butter.  Mix in walnuts.

For the bread, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  While it's creaming, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.  Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and beat until combined.  Add the pumpkin and mix.  Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.  Don't over mix.

Pour batter into slightly greased/sprayed muffin tins or bread pans.  Cover with streusel topping.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  About 20 minutes for 12 muffins.

I need some practice with the parchment paper liners!  It was a bit trickier than I anticipated.

No Jeans!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
In a couple of weeks, Andy and I are travelling to LA for a wedding.  I've never been to LA so I'm quite excited even though we'll only be there for less than 48 hours.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was "what am I going to wear all weekend"?  And to complicate matters, where we're staying has a no denim policy.  After that all computed in my head (no jeans on the airplane), I decided that a shopping trip is in my future.

Left: J Crew // Right: Zara

Shopping List

Unfortunately a $1,171 shopping outing is not in my future but luckily we're heading to the beach soon and maybe I can find some comparables at the outlets!

Recent Business

Monday, September 19, 2011
This blog definitely has a more personal vibe going on these days, but I originally started it as a home for my little side projects.  While I haven't had much time for side projects recently, I did squeeze in a few things during the past couple of weeks that I wanted to share.

I had my first request from someone I don't know!  A friend of Anne Harrison's mom saw Anne Harrison and her birth month pennants and wanted some for her precious daughter.  I was so flattered and could not pass up the opportunity.  Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to take pictures before I sent them out but I did snap a quick one.

They turned out pretty darn cute if you ask me.

Next up was a request from a dear, life long friend.  Mitchell is pursuing her dreams and entered into Lucky Magazine's Lifestyle Contributing Editor contest, and she's in the third round!  Her assignment was "entertaining, my way" and she asked me if I could help design an invitation.  Party planning and paper?  How could I say no!?

Go check out her submission here and vote!!  Also you can read more about her journey on her blog, Dear Marguerite.

I Emerged and It's Fall!

Sunday, September 18, 2011
Anyone still there?  It was head down, focus, focus, focus, work, work, work there for about two weeks and when I emerged, it was fall!  There's a chill in the air that means chili and football (and cozy scarves, leggings, pumpkin bread and cinnamon lattes) and that's just what we did today.  Andy made his chicken chili because he decided that it wasn't quite cold enough for the red meat variety, and it was perfect!

And if you have chili, no matter what the variety, you have to have cornbread.

The rest of the weekend was consumed with catching up on much needed sleep and laundry.  Exciting?  No, but quite necessary after the last two weeks.  I'm thankful to be ending the weekend a bit more organized, well rested and so ready to get back to blogging!

Chicken and Bean Chili
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis
Makes 8 Servings

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (11 oz) white shoepeg corn, rinsed and drained
1 bag (16 oz) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs oregano
2 Tbs cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne red pepper
1/2 tsp fennel
4 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cups chicken stock (reduced sodium if purchased)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese or any white cheese

Season chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and oregano.  Bake at 350 covered for 35-40 minutes until just done.  Don't over cook as it will continue to cook while simmering with chili.

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for a minute.  Add salt, cumin, oregano, fennel and chili powder.  Cook, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook for 3 minutes.  Slowly add chicken stock, stirring frequently until thoroughly combined.  Add beans, corn and spinach.  Bring to a simmer and add chopped chicken breast.  Add cayenne red pepper, salt and ground pepper to taste.  Let simmer for at least an hour.

Adapted from the Back of the Bag of Indian Head Corn Meal

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten

Turn on oven to 400 degrees.  Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with oil and heat it in the oven while it's preheating.  This is how my mom always made cornbread, and it gives the bread the perfect crust.

Whisk together corn meal, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine butter, milk (make sure it's room temp so it doesn't chill the butter), and eggs.

When the oven is preheated, combine the wet and dry ingredients and carefully pour into hot skillet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Status Update

Friday, September 9, 2011
I've finally come to terms with the fact that I can't do it all.  Posting has been light, as I've had to focus on my day job-- the job that pays the bills!  Things will continue to be quiet around here until after next week when I can't wait to come back refreshed and ready to go!

I'd be one step closer to being refreshed if this was the water cooler at my office...

Originally seen on Mrs. Lilien // Photo snagged from the interwebs

Roasted Chicken

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
There's something about a roasted chicken that is comforting.  Not that I can take any credit for making this-- whole roasted chicken has quickly become one of Andy's specialties and I'm the happy beneficiary.

He first made this one Saturday while I was working.  I have to admit that I was quite surprised when I got home, and he said he was roasting a chicken.  Come again?

I'm so thankful that he decided on a whim to roast a chicken that day, because now it's a constant in the dinner rotation. It's perfect for a Sunday night and then leftovers the rest of the week.  If you're feeling particularly fancy, you can make a chicken pot pie one night.  This go around, we didn't have enough leftovers for a potpie, as it was perfectly delicious with a side of mashed potatoes and a simple salad.

Balsamic Roasted Chicken
from The Foster's Market Cookbook

1 chicken (3.5-4 lbs)
6 sprigs fresh marjoram or sage
1 lemon, cut in half
1 yellow onion, cut in half (or scallions if your grocery store is out of yellow onions because everyone apparently decided that if a hurricane hits (Irene was in town that weekend), you better be stocked up with onions!)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine or apple juice
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dried rosemary
Kosher Salt & Fresh ground pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Thankfully Andy handles all aspects of the raw chicken, but from observation, you need to remove giblets and loose fat then wash the chicken and pat it dry.

Place several sprigs of sage/marjoram between skin and the breast meat by carefully loosening the skin.

In a large roasting pan, place the bird breast side up, squeeze lemon juice over top.  Then place the lemon halves with onion and remaining marjoram/sage in the cavity.  Mix together vinegar and white wine and pour over the chicken. Then rub with olive oil, sprinkle with chopped rosemary, salt and pepper.  Flip the bird over, breast side down.

Roast for 30 minutes, basting occasionally.  Then turn it breast side up and roast, basting often for 50-55 minutes until 180 degrees in thickest part of thigh.

Let rest before carving.

Backporch Lemonade

Friday, September 2, 2011
Can anyone believe that this weekend is Labor Day weekend?  The unofficial end of summer?!  That probably means we need to make one last batch of our summer beverage of choice: Back Porch Lemonade.  Andy has perfected making this sweet and tangy cocktail, and I'm sharing his adaptation below.

Picture from Our Wedding Weekend... think I've shared it before, oh well!

I guess up next is a quest to find the perfect fall/winter cocktail.

Back Porch / Rooftop Lemonade
adapted from The Art of Bar by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz

Ginger Syrup
3 tsp peppercorn
3/4 cup fresh ginger
3 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water

Peel and slice the ginger. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue simmering for 30-40 minutes or until syrup smells very gingery. Cool completely and strain. The syrup should reduce down to about 30-32 oz.

2 parts Ginger Syrup
2 parts Fresh Lemon Juice (Not Lemonade)
1 part Cranberry Juice

Mix the above ingredients into a pitcher or a jug. Best to let sit overnight or to freeze.

Back Porch/Rooftop Lemonade
4-5 oz of Premix
1 shot (1.5 oz) Vodka
Splash (1-2 oz) Ginger Ale

Mix over ice and serve! The less Ginger Ale, the more bite!

Thursday Happy!

Thursday, September 1, 2011
I'm a little out of sorts, so in an effort to cheer up and spread the happiness, I've decided to share some images that just make me smile.  Hope you enjoy!

Designer: Mona Ross Berman //  Photographer: Johnny Valiant // via House Beautiful: A Sixties Surfer-Chic Beach House

Jenn Lamarre's Charlotte Ranch // Featured in Charlotte Home + Garden // Photo by Chris Edwards

Styling: Heather Christothoulou // Photographs: John Granen and Peter Krumhardt // Featured in Traditional Home

Carma358 on Apartment Therapy Color Roundup Front Door Fever // Found via Babs Blog
Hamptons Designer Showhouse 2010 // Design: Nancy Pearson Ltd. // via Traditional Home
Clever Storage Closets on Better Homes and Gardens

AphroChic - Haze Wallpaper

Mendelson Group Inc // Purchase, NY House // Found via Laura Casey Interiors Blog