Thursday, December 18, 2008

winter whites

Not your usual chilly fare

I really love color, but I also love the visual break and simple sense of calm that a white room with interesting, uncomplicated accents provides. I would happily welcome any one of these rooms into my life. What about you?

1. I'm sorry not to remember where I found this beautiful living room. 2. Twig Hutchinson. It took me a very long time to realize this was a sink, not an elegant entry table. I like how understated it is. 3. Country Home. I especially like the mirror above the stacked dishes. 4. another Country Home the variety of textures grabbed me. 5. Domino. What struck me about this room was that there is nothing in particular that makes this room wonderful aside from its simpicity. 6. Skona Hem. I have a special love for beautiful doors, and this one with it's perfectly placed windows just made my day a little happier.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

stockings hung with care and flair

For all the mantel-less this Christmas season

1. Michelle Morgan Harrison via Habitually Chic 2. Martha Stewart (putting pairless kid's socks to stylish good use--domestic genius) 3. Country Living (not to short-change the stockings, which are very beautiful, but those chairs are the real reason I'm posting this picture)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Easy Fashion

In case you haven't heard

bags are definitely in

Nature's Last Green is Gold

So sorry Robert Frost

Spray paint, once again, you've won my heart.

1. leaves for our bedroom mantel. Fall passed by too quickly this year. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the leaves. I love the shapes they curl into. 2. gold pine cones--I'm claiming no originality here, but they are very pretty. 3. Rose of Sharon stems. For being weeds, they really have an exceptional shape even after the flower falls off. They are in a vase on our bedroom mantel too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

cozy up

we're celebrating our recently restored chimney & newly arrived sofa, and blogging by firelight.

In honor of our living room's upgrade from neglected hallway to comfy perch, I made a simple garland inspired by the bridesmaid necklaces my sister made for her wedding (anyone who knows me knows it to be my favorite possession) and a Smith & Hawkin swag that I couldn't justify buying. It's made almost entirely out of things the girls and I found around the house and yard...pine cones, cinnamon sticks, kitchen twine, buttons, a few round silver beads, and ribbon. Festive and not too flashy, we like it.

Besides the garland and our advent wreath, we're holding off on Christmas decorations for the time being, but here are some great holiday designs from Martha the Master Stewart with her subtle, elegant colors and creative use of natural objects.

I think this wreath would be a very appropriate addition to our front door.

this is a creative take on an advent calender. each stocking has a number and little gift to count down the days to Christmas.

cookie tree, yum...I don't think it'd last long in this house. Oh Martha, she's so great.

Monday, December 1, 2008

holidays underway

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was a fantastic weekend long celebration made all the more special by my little sister's visit from New York and all the laughs she brought along with her.

Now that Thanksgiving has kicked off the holiday season, I wanted to share a couple of easy and festive recipes for the coming weeks.

Cranberry Salad with Pomegranate & Mint

this is a twist on a family favorite of my dear friend, Jennifer's cranberry salad. I just added a few ingredients to her already incredibly delicious dish.


-3 oz box of raspberry jell-o

-20 oz can crushed pineapple

-16 oz can whole berry cranberries

-11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained

-about 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (some reserved as garnish)

-1/2 cup chopped pecans

- 4-6 sprigs of fresh mint (some reserved as garnish)


-1/4 cup sour cream

-1/4 cup mascarpone cheese (or whipped cream cheese)

-2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

-2 Tbsp. sugar

- 1 tsp. vanilla

1) drain crushed pineapple and reserve the juice

2) pour pineapple juice into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil

3)reduce heat to low, stir in jell-o until dissolved, then mix in cranberry sauce, stirring until an even consistency is reached

4)remove from heat and stir in the mandarin oranges, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, mint leaves, and pecans

5) pour into a greased bowl or jello mold and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight

6) when the salad has congealed, mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside

7)remove the salad from the bowl/mold (setting the salad bowl/mold right-side up in a bowl of warm water for a minute or so helps to loosen the salad if it doesn't slide out easily on its own)

8) top salad with sauce mixture, garnish with extra pomegranate and mint leaves, and serve it up

Camembert with a kick

I made a version of this a few weeks ago for my friend Ruth's bridal shower and it was a hit. Since then, I've added a few things to jazz it up. It's incredibly easy and takes maybe 5 minutes to prepare. Its a great mix of flavors.

-a round of Camembert cheese (but I think almost any soft-textured, slightly mild flavored cheese would work. Brie or goat cheese would be great variations)

- 2 Tbsp-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (adjust the amount to your liking. I like mine with more tang, so I use the full 1/4 cup)

-2 Tbsp. honey

-1 Tbsp. chopped green onions (scallions)

-1 tsp. raspberry jam

-2 Tbsp. sliced almonds

-1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1) mix all ingredients except the cheese together

2) pour mixture over the cheese and serve with crackers or thin slices of a french baguette

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Living Well Rooms

Instead of sitting down to finalize my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list, I'm going to share a few of my favorite "lived-in" living rooms with you--ones that are not overly fussy, but are well-thought out and inviting. They're also neutral as they come without being boring.

Our old house was filled with color. We had fun experimenting,  but realized that as our life grew more colorful we wanted our home to grow more least parts of it. Now, with 2 small children, a busy husband, a business to run, a couple writing jobs (which means lots of computer time), a huge dog that's every bit as needy as my kids :), and lots more that fills my time with fun and (mostly happy and exciting) chaos, one of my favorite small luxuries is sitting in a quiet room, one that's slightly spare, and taking in the subtleties of light. Just being quiet, reflecting, and taking it in...weird you might say, but just you try it. It's one of the realizations that convinced me of the power of a well-planned interior. I think every busy mom should have a quiet little corner...or ideally a whole room!

I've been making a visual inspiration list for our own neglected living room. Here's a peek...

from an old issue of House Beautiful. It's the home of Sharone Einhorn's home, owner of Ruby Beets. I don't even know how many times I've poured over it (and I'm sure you too). Before falling in love with gray I wasn't really a fan of gold for my own home. But gray, golds, ivories, and natural patinas are a magical combination. And this room with it's come-lounge-on-me slip covers, collection of natural objects and antiques, and touches of gold sophistication has that magic mix of relaxed and refined. 
from Traditional Home. A more stream-lined take on the palette above. Definitely not as loungeable, but the clean lines and sense of "grown-up" are so appealing at the moment.

3 from Domino:

This room has a great quirky mix of modern and traditional, plus the stripes rock.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

handmade sweetness

As we head towards Christmas season, I've been thinking about gifts. I love the idea of homemade presents, and I especially love ones that are awesome in and of themselves, not just for sentimental reasons.
Some of my favorite gifts have been from great friends who like to share their greatness with our family in the form of one-of-a-kind accessories for our girls. Here are a few that have brightened many an outfit.

Jennifer's creations

she should go into the bow business for sure.

And Molly's mittens, which she made for our big girl last winter.

I need a matching pair!

If you're looking for ideas for unique presents for babies and ladies, here are a few of my favorite Etsy folks who have mastered the handmade trade.

Whole Grain Baby

besides being an awesomely creative seamstress, she's a mother of 4. You can check out her blog here.

All the Numbers

she makes some of the most beautiful children's things I've seen. Santa, we'll take the whole lot!

Glass Beach

I've bought 2 of her clutches and can vouch for the great quality and awesome service.

Kate W Designs

Fun designs with fantastic fabrics. Add them to the list.

Garden House Boutique

I have many more favorites that I'd love to share in future posts, but these should get your gift-giving wheels turning. Hope your week is off to a great start!

Monday, November 10, 2008

all in a weekend's work

Despite having one sick little honey with a relentless stomach bug, this weekend was glorious. Sometimes it's nice to have an excuse to stay home and just be. For us, it was also a good time to finish some home projects.

For the past few weeks I've been trying to figure out what to do with our very shabby kid's bath.
At first we thought we could live with the purple paint, but with time we realized that the color was close to horrendous, and having the house re-piped this summer left it in even a more disheveled state. Instead of ripping everything out and filling our own small landfill with the retro-turned 80s-remnants of our bathroom, we decided to work with what we had, which basically meant just painting.

Usually picking the wall color is my favorite part of of redoing a space. But in this case, it was so difficult because the wall tiles are a mismatched variety of whites and the floor tiles are a VERY big & bold black and white checkered pattern. Most colors I liked looked cheesy with the floor tiles. Somehow everything seemed to clash (but not in a fun, interesting way). I didn't think that was possible with black and white...

Then, I was flipping through my magazine clippings and was grabbed by a vintage-y but simple kitchen that I saw in House Beautiful this summer.

After trying 3 different colors to no avail (they all made the room look dingy)I decided to go bold, and use the same color as the butler pantry cabinets above (Benjamin Moore's South Beach). The result was kind of shocking.

It's hard to tell from the photo, but the color is SO bold, and painting a whole wall (not just cabinets) had a very garish impact...especially since in contrast to the calm palette in the rest of the house. Still, the color seemed to fit the space. It just needed to be played down with some distractions.
I was inspired by some of the wall decals that friends (Alissa!) had shown me in the previous months, but I wanted something original and something that would hold up in a kids bathroom. Thank you paint. I came up with a design incorporating elements from some of the decals I loved. Also, I tried to make the figures resemble our girls. Happily, it worked, and the girls love it. It's fun to have a bathroom that they're excited to be in now, definitely makes bathtime more fun. I also think it does the trick in terms of distracting from the shock of color.

I didn't want to go overboard with the painting. Just enough to add some interest and tone down the color. So, I was delighted to find this placemat on a recent trip to anthropologie. It was the only one left. I thought it would make nice wall art for another bright wall in the bathroom.

So nice to have another room feel like a room instead of a construction zone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

nature walk part 2

Amidst the election day buzz, we carved out a few hours of peace to go on a cousin outing to the gardens. This time I remembered to bring my camera. Part of me is sad to say good-bye to summer, but fall is one of the most inspiring time of year on the east coast. All of a sudden the colors are brilliant and the brisk weather is invigorating. The gardens are also especially beautiful this time of year. I couldn't resist sharing some highlights with you.

I forgot to check the name of this incredible flower. Do any of you know? It was magnificent against the backdrop of fall color.

the kids called this guy "the halloween spider"

a 125 year old naturally hallowed out sycamore tree

look at the gorgeous peeling bark (and the gorgeous kids!)

Field of mums! I love the color of these ones.

and the butterfly garden
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