Monday, January 31, 2011

Olive & Cocoa

Source for unique gifts.

OMG. I have no idea how Olive & Cocoa got my information and then decided to send me a catalogue, but it was love at first sight.

I haven't dog-eared so many pages in a single catalogue in a LONG time. Make sure to check out their site and start making your wish list.

Here are just a handful of my case anyone is curious.

Cupcake Stands packaged in a wooden crate

Red and White Wine Decanters

Numbered Wine Glasses

Old-fashioned lollipops packaged in their signature crate.

Tapas Caddy

And because it's the year of Hibiscus...subtly pink martini glasses.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Clear Winner?

Baby Stuff.

I have to say that a lot of the newer furniture and product design in the baby world give me hope that I won't totally have to throw my modernist style out the window when we finally decide to add a tot to our clan. But the Hollis crib below had me saying "what the what?"

Named after a pioneer in acrylic furniture, George Hollis, the Hollis Crib is made from non-toxic and recyclable lucite and can be adjusted to 3 different mattress heights. As for stability, I have no fear of acrylic furntiture being flimsy as I proudly own and use several Louis Ghost chairs...and I'm fairly certain I weigh more than a baby.

But what do you all think of having your baby "floating" in this $3000 clear crib?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Valentine's Day Treat


I ran across this idea over at Delicious Delicious Delicious and thought what a cute, inexpensive way for your child to give a little something special on Valentine’s Day. It will not only be fun for them to hand out at school but also making them will be a fun project that you can do together. Valentine’s Day is on a Monday this year leaving the weekend wide open for chocolate spoon making fun! Check out the tutorial here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here Piggy, Piggy...


Last weekend I was informed by our good friends, Chris and Priya, that Chicago is home to a sandwich so intense and delicious that Anthony Bourdain called it "The Best Sandwhich in America." Well holy hell...I had to try it.

So my hubby and I took the short 15 minute walk from our place to The Silver Palm, a 1947 Budd Dining Car that was converted into a restaurant. We barely looked at the menu because we knew what we were ordering....

Behold. The Silver Palm's Three Piggy Sandwich.

The three pigs are thick smoked ham, breaded pork tenderloin,and crispy bacon. They are topped with a tempura battered onion ring, gruyere cheese, and a fried egg. We split one sandwich, and I could only eat half of that. Amazingly gluttonous.

If you are in Chicago, definitely make the trip to The Silver Palm for a cool experience and the amazing original. But if you aren't, wouldn't this Three Piggy Sandwich be a great thing to serve while watching the pigskin on Superbowl Sunday?

The components are easy enough, but I bet you never thought of putting them all together. It might be work a try...and to make things even easier, here's my favorite breaded tenderloin recipe from Chef Kim's Kitchen to get you started.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Root Beer Barrel Jello Shots

Recipe Link.
The SuperBowl is coming up quick and I thought these Root Beer Barrel Jello Shots might be a welcome treat. They are filled with a bunch of my favorite things; root beer, root beer flavored vodka and Sambuca. Not to mention they are super cute. If this sounds like you, check out the recipe here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Design Sponge
Panetone Chip Cookies…genius, stylish, and adorable.

Oh Joy
Elegant and simple place settings.

Twig & Thistle
Father and son design collaboration that makes a super stylish wall print.

Eat Drink Chic
Gorgeous retro-inspired bath products that I’d be proud to display.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tiramisu Pancakes

Brunch Recipe.

Every once in awhile I get in the mood to have breakfast foods for dinner and when I saw this recipe from Steamy Kitchen, it was one of those times. These pancakes look amazing and if you have a special occasion or brunch in your future what a way to “wow” guests. It is suppose to be an especially cold night and these on the menu with a nice foamy latte will really hit the spot.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Punch Revival

Drink Recipe.

I was recently at the Clover Club in Brooklyn eating brunch when something caught my eye, an entire section for adult punch on the menu. They offer two different types which are both brought to the table in a punch bowl meant to be shared between 4 to 6 people. It seems punch dates back to the early 1600s, long before the cocktail and literally translates to “five” for the original key ingredients: sugar, tea, lemon juice, spirits and spices.

I was intrigued but with the $50 price tag per bowl…I decided to be intrigued at home. Frankly, when I think of punch it doesn’t really conjure up cool scenarios, instead it makes me think of 70’s weddings, frat parties and church basements. However, I am all for the punch revival and making it hip. The fact that it can be made ahead of time and guests can serve themselves only makes it more attractive. Now I am in search of the perfect punch bowl and I will be taste testing recipes. I think I’ll start with this one.

Champagne Peach Punch

3 (11.5 ounce) cans peach nectar
1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup peach brandy
1/4 cup grenadine syrup
1 (32 fluid ounce) bottle carbonated water
3 (750 milliliter) bottles champagne

Chill all ingredients. In a large punch bowl combine peach nectar, concentrated orange juice, lemon juice, brandy and grenadine. Mix well and pour in the carbonated water and champagne.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Painted Bottles

DIY Centerpiece.

I've discussed my love of simple centerpieces using assorted bottles before, but this little twist on that idea has me absolutely giddy.

The Once Wed blog featured this Milk + Honey themed tablescape. It is SO chic and only requires some empty bottles, a little gold paint, assorted white flowers, and artful arrangement. Don't you just love it?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Winter Citrus.

Kumquats made their arrival onto the scene in December and stay through April. In China they are symbols of great prosperity and a staple for the Chinese Lunar New Year. I’m not sure that they will make you rich, but they will definitely enhance your menu or table. I’m going to attempt a new recipe as well as a fabulous kumquat laden tablescape in the upcoming month. Check out this eye candy which is sure to inspire.

Cannelle et Vanille

Sunday Suppers

Steamy Kitchen

Country Living

Style Notes

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cleaning Checklist


Ahh...this is my kitchen all clean. This is how it looks after I madly run with cleaning supplies and paper towels flying in all directions around 10 minutes before guests arrive.

Don't get me wrong. I keep my place pretty sparkly on a regular basis, but I always seem to miss something that drives me into a hasty cleaning fit when I know fresh eyes will be entering my place for a gathering.

That's why I'm going to resolve to employ this kitchen cleaning checklist from Real Simple in 2011. I'm hoping it will give me back those 10 minutes of peace before parties begin.

Cleaning To-Do List

Every Day
Wipe down the sink after doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher (30 seconds).
Wipe down the stove top (one minute).
Wipe down the counters (one minute).
Sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum the floor (two minutes).

Every Week
Mop the floor (five minutes).
Wipe the cabinets, backsplashes, and appliances (10 minutes).
Wash the dish rack (four minutes).
Wipe the switch plates and phone (one minute).
Wipe the inside of the garbage can (one minute).

Every Season
Empty and scrub down the inside of the refrigerator (30 minutes).
Empty and clean the insides of the utensil drawers (15 minutes).
Scrub down the cupboard exteriors (30 minutes).
Clean the stove-hood filter (10 minutes).
Perform "Shiny Sink 101" (below)

Shiny Sink 101
1. Fill sink to the rim with very hot water; add one cup regular bleach. Soak for one hour.
2. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
3. Scrub with Ajax, Bon Ami, or baking soda.
4. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.
5. Shine with Windex or another glass-cleaning spray. Dry thoroughly.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

This photo must have been taken in heaven.

Une-Deux Senses
Totally indulgent…red velvet cocoa with cream cheese whipped cream.

Little Emma English Home
Love this homemade calendar.

That Kitchen
Who needs 4 walls?

Monday, January 17, 2011

We Are Family

DIY Family Tree.

One of my favorite things to do growing up was go through old family photographs with my mother and grandmother. I loved to hear them reminisce about times and people that I know little about, but shaped who they became.

I went my husband's family photos with my Mother-in-law recently and realized how important it is for us to document our family trees. My family is relatively small, but I know that the names will fade from my memory over time. I can't even imagine how low I can hold my husband's massive Irish background in my brain...but it isn't long.

So when I saw some great family tree ideas from Martha Stewart, I thought they might be a fun and beautiful way to document our family histories. These are some of my favorites:

Diamond Tree
This graphic representation would look fabulous in a modern home. It makes the black and white photos look both fresh and nostalgic at the same time.

Fan Tree
This elegant organizational chart can tackle even the largest of families...and look good at the same time.

Birds of a Feather Tree
If you have kids, this is a great way to teach them about their extended family. It's pretty lovely too.

And if you need a little help finding our about your family, this page has some great resources where you can turn.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fruit Fancy

Garnish Idea.

We just went through a month and and half of holiday madness, so it's understandable if you have a difficult time "spicing" up your dinner party with special touches. That's why I love this genius and super easy idea from Donna Hay.

To add a little pizazz to your dessert, crush up fresh or frozen raspberries and then strain. Place the liquid in a shaped silicone ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, just pop them out of the mold and add to you basic dessert.

Wouldn't some Vanilla Haagen Daz look so cute with little raspberry hearts???

Friday, January 14, 2011

Drunken Dairy


This is what happens when a tired mom puts the kids to bed and decides she needs a drink…only to realize she has vodka and little else except chocolate milk. That is the true story of how Adult Beverage Company came to fruition.

Frankly, I don’t know how I feel about Adult Chocolate Milk. I dislike the idea of a bunch of adults running around with milk mustaches at a party. However, if you can brave the ‘stache then I must admit that an adult version of a milk and cookies bar could be pretty hip. ACM is best served in an old fashioned glass on the rocks or straight out of the bottle, standing in front of the fridge like the old days. As a matter of fact the tagline is “Re-taste your youth. At 40 proof.”

When I drink my chocolate milk, I am comforted by the sight of the cute Quik bunny rabbit. ACM has gone a different direction. Their product is endorsed by the rapper Ginuwine who is clad in a milkman uniform and what I think is a come hither expression…hmmmm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Etsy: Green Zebre Home

Etsy Home Decor.

One of my favorite things to do is search Etsy for cool vintage furniture. I stumbled upon Green Zebre Home this week and found many, many drool-worthy items to covet. Here are some of my favorite vignettes of vintage fabulousness...

Teak and golds...

Ebony and mirror...

More ebony with cream & orange...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crayons that Rock

For Kids.

I haven’t colored in years and yet I was still excited when I saw these cool new crayons. Crayon rocks will definitely be a hit at your next kid’s party. The set includes 16 crayons and a velvet pouch for $7.50.

The “rock-like” shape of the crayon is designed to help develop fine motor skills. Using them strengthens the tripod grip muscles preparing tiny fingers and hands for handwriting. They are made from all natural soy wax and colored with natural mineral powders. Get yours here before it’s too late.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

Pinch My Salt
Black Eyed Peas are more than a music group. And I’m dying to try this smoky, bacon filled version.

Coconut & Lime
This may be her favorite from January of last year…it may be my favorite for this year.

Kiss The Groom
Loving these bridesmaid dresses in shades of purple.

Broke-Ass Bride
This boutonnière is adorable!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Belgian Endives


I had so much fun with the persimmons that I decided to try another veggie that doesn’t make it into the cooking routine too often, Belgian Endives. Endives have just come into season and just in time for the New Year’s resolutions to kick in with the healthy eating habits. The below recipe has a few caloric ingredients, but at just 50 calories per spear. I prepared it with a low calorie roasted chicken as my salad course.

I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavors and textures. It has made me decide to pick up Endives more often to work into our dinner regimen. I would love to hear if you have any fabulous recipes to try.

Endive Spears with Sweet Potato, Bacon and Chives
3 slices bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
2 medium heads Belgian endive
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

Cook the bacon in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it has rendered some of its fat, about 3 minutes. Add the sweet potato and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the sweet potato is tender and the bacon starts to crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbs. of the chives and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Let cool for a couple of minutes.

Slice the bottom 1/2 inch off the endives so some of the outer leaves break free. Cut another 1/2 inch off and break some more leaves free. Keep going until all the larger leaves are free. (You should have about 20.) If you like, trim the leaves so they're all the same length. Save the remaining endive for a salad.

Set the endive leaves on a large platter. Spoon the sweet potato mixture near the base of the leaves. Top each with a dollop of the creme fraiche and then sprinkle with the remaining chives. Serve immediately or let sit for up to 20 minutes before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 50; Fat (g): 4; Fat Calories (kcal): 35; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 1; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Carbohydrates (g): 3; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): 100; Cholesterol (mg): 10; Fiber (g): 1;

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Let me count the ways...

Home Decor.

As long as the thermometer shows outside temps in the 30 degree and below range, I will be spending a bit more time inside. But the more I sit inside, the more I start dreaming up home projects...preferrably inexpensive ones.

In the next week or so, I'm going to give my entry and hallways a little facelift with a new wall color. But I'm wondering if I should tackle my stair risers too for a little pop.

I'm kind of loving this french numbering stencilwork...

And then there are the traditional versions as well...

What do you all think about jazzing up stair risers?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Resolution Motivation

Workout Music.

A month of total food and beverage indulgence almost guarantees a New Year's Resolution of getting back into shape. But if you are anything like me, your playlists could use a little makeover too. I mean "Bootylicious" can only motivate me to do squats for so long...

photo courtesy of Toni Rantanen

Fitness Magazine created a list of their favorite 100 workout songs from 2010 and I definitely plan to pull from it. Do you have any go-to songs that get you through your workout?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Food Predictions for 2011


It is true that making predictions can be a fool’s errand, however the biggest trend for this year is…PIE. How can you go wrong with pie? Chefs everywhere are going to be making anything and everything into pie this year, not only sweet but also savory. Pie makes me happy, so I am definitely behind this trend.

Photo courtesy of Cannelle et Vanille

Here are a few more.

Korean Cuisine - Think short rib sliders and kimchi quesadillas.

Macarons - Cupcakes and whoopie pies are a thing of the past.

Meatless Mondays and Tofu Thursdays - Not only is this trend beneficial to your health but also your check book.

Foraging - Chefs will begin using more wild greens, berries, nuts and even bark….hmmm.

Tiki Bar Cocktails - Using fresh ingredients and original recipes and a few umbrellas.

Sweet Potatoes - This root vegetable has been crowned the vegetable of the year for 2011. Most say it is because of the bumper crop this year of an estimated 2 billion pounds.

Pimenton de la Vera - You may never have heard of this ingredient, but chances are you've used its less smoky cousin many times. A specialty of Spain's La Vera region, this smoked paprika is a building block of Spanish cuisine. It lends a sweet heat to roasted and grilled meats.

So there you have it…how to be Hip in 2011.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Torta Ahogada


Last week, on a ridiculously frigid day in Chicago, I actually waited 45 minutes outside in line to get into a restaurant. And it was all for a particular sandwich...XOCO's Torta Ahogada. And it was worth the chilly wait.

The torta ahogada ("drowned sandwich")is Mexican comfort food to the max. A crusty roll filled with slow roasted carnitas, black beans, and pickled onions soaking in a smokey and spicy tomato chile broth. I went through no less than 3 napkins and was sweating from the spiciness...and I loved every second of it.

So I started searching for recipes to make this at home for's the winner. I can't wait to try my hand at Bayless' masterpiece.

Torta Ahogada

12 oz can stewed tomatoes
8 chile de arbol peppers, stems removed (add less if you don't want it spicy or more if you like it HOT!)
2 garlic cloves
1 lime, juice set aside
1 cup chicken broth

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.

Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat. Freeze half and reserve the rest for sandwiches.

2 lbs Carnitas
canned black beans (drained, rinsed, and heated)
Pickled Onions
6 bolillo rolls or any hard crusty roll

Place a ladle of the sauce in a shallow bowl. Fill each roll with a healthy serving of carnitas. Top with black beans and pickled onions to your taste. Cut sandwich in half and place in bowl. Enjoy!!