Wednesday, November 30, 2011

wrapping in clean and classic style

i know i've been atrociously bad about blogging recently, and it isn't that i haven't been thinking and dreaming about things to share - i have! i've just been pulled in many directions and my writing has fallen by the wayside for the last couple weeks.  i am promising here and now to be better. it's funny the things that move us to action, and in today's case, it's the simply beautiful wrapping papers at the container store. not that i've ever been a stranger to giftwrap porn.

first, i love the idea of mixing a few different striped papers. it's such a great way to be festive and add a little contained chaos, but in the most orderly of ways.


and i'm always a sucker for really clean, classic prints that are christmasy and festive in an old-timey way. with just the right combination of reds and greens and graphic christmas imagery, it's like the christmas fantasy i've always dreamed of (pay no attention to the latke grease on my apron).

i envision buying a few prints and wrapping all the gifts under the tree (read: menorah) in just those few papers. 

it's a fantasy, but an attainable one, don't you agree?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a green table

are you at your limit with holiday plans and clever ideas? i have such an easy centerpiece or general decor idea for you. wherever you're shopping for your last minute chestnuts or cheesecloth or cider, look out for the cute little rosemary trees that seem to be everywhere these days (definitely at trader joe's and whole foods, i know for sure). if you can't find those, just go for mini pine trees. if they come in cute pots or bowls, perfect. if not, wrap them in a pretty tissue paper and secure with a raffia ribbon or any old ribbon you have leftover in your junk drawer. 

to take the idea in a slightly different direction, but a few bunches of herbs at the grocery store, snip the bottoms like fresh cut flowers and stick them in glasses filled with water. how bountiful and harvesty and earthy.

either option would look perfect dotting a long table or adorning different surfaces around the house, wouldn't they?

image, image

Monday, November 21, 2011

falling for fall

are you enjoying the beautiful fall colors and relishing the coziness that is true fall? the colors  seem to be at their peak over the last few days where i am, and i'm trying to savor every single moment. 

i'm off from work this week, and inside the house i'm burning harvesty scented candles for their scent and their glow,  and i'm boiling whole cinnamon sticks on the stove to squeeze out every drop of their aroma. how do you take your fall? are you loving it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

bird is the word

let's all take a few moments (between planning your menu, dreaming up table settings and designing thanksgiving day decor) to think about pretty ways to display the turkey (or tofurkey or turducken) itself next thursday...most of us have some version of this enormous turkey platter and if you don't, make a quick stop at bed bath and beyond and use this coupon or one of the many you probably have in your glove compartment to save 20%...

but aside from the platter, what will you put on it? last year, i set our platter with thyme sprigs and whole cranberries...simple, but pretty. here are some other thoughts, courtesy of ms. martha...i love the idea of sliced or whole fruits, sprigs of all kinds of herbs, nuts, berries...anything emblematic of the season. also, though, i like the idea of using items whose flavors appear in your feast...there's something nice about people being able to visually identify the flavors they're if you're using walnuts or figs in your stuffing, slap some of those babies on the platter and call it a day.

decorating the platter that bears a delicious meal is an almost effortless way of elevating the meal to something more than that. at least i think so. what do you think?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

on display

yes, this is in fact the second time in a week i've made reference to melissa gorga's song. awkward. 

well, moving right along, i wanted to share some pictures from last thanksgiving. i was responsible for the decor, and decided that rather than the average flowers and gourds, i wanted to go more literal on the cornucopia idea. i visited the farmers market near my office the day before and picked up lots of kale, carrots, leeks, potatoes, onions, brussel sprouts and whatever else looked good. i corralled them in casserole dishes, vases, and on trays and placed them around the house. at the end of the night, i sent thanksgiving guests home with their own little cornucopia of fresh produce to cook throughout the weekend. i taught ina everything she knows about sending guests home with leftovers, didn't you know? me and ina, we're like two peas in a pod. or two brussel sprouts in a vase in this case.

i was really happy with the way it all came out, and i felt like it was worth the approximate $50 i spent on the produce itself, especially considering that the remains went home with people and continued to be used and used up. for a lot less money, i think you could easily make an abundant display with just a few, really cheap varieties. at the grocery store, you could buy 5 lb bags of potatoes in varying colors and pile them high in bowls placed around. i feel like the more purposeful they look, the less cheap they look. so you might buy two or three different color potatoes and i would display them monochromatically, so maybe on one surface, you'd do all the red skin ones and on the other, the brown or tan ones. you could do the same with the large bags of onions in shades of white, yellow and purple, and that would look gorg as well.

Friday, November 11, 2011

an entertaining state of mind

for some reason, this tableau has me all aglow thinking about entertaining. it's been so long since i've done it in my own home, and one of the things i most look forward to when we (finally) move to a new place (hopefully in the spring) is having a space that's more conducive to that. in the meantime, i'm collecting ideas and looking to forward to thanksgiving, always expertly executed at my parents' house. are you planning for thanksgiving yet? i have to share this totally wonderful interview with ina garten about thanksgiving specifically. she shares so many awesome tips that are great really for any entertaining situation - she just knows her stuff, doesn't she? take a gander. if you don't have the time, here are a few of the best tips she gives:

here's what she says about planning and prep: 

the planning is everything. deciding which dishes you're going to prepare can turn into the make-or-break decision five days later, when you actually serve the meal. so the first thing i'll do is make a list of what i'd like to make. and then i look at it and think, do i really need seven vegetables?[laughs] and i start crossing things off. 

i'll decide upon the appetizers and the dessert; i think about the colors, the flavors, and the textures. if i'm doing string beans, i'll want something pureed with them, because it has a completely different color and texture. and then i'll want something that's sort of chunky or roasted crisp; for instance, the brussels sprouts with lardons are completely different than the celery root — and-apple puree, which is completely different from the string beans and shallots. you want to make sure they all balance each other well. 

the next thing i do is think about how many dishes on that menu have to be made in the moment. and if anything has to be made right before serving dinner, i take it off the list or find a substitute. the third thing i do is a schedule of how i'm going to get the meal on the table. not thanksgiving day, but before i've gone shopping.

i'll do a schedule saying, "i want to serve dinner at six o'clock." i'll work backward. the turkey has to go into the oven and cook for two and a half hours, and it has to rest for half an hour. i'll write, "3:00: put the turkey in. 2:30: turn the oven on." and then i'll figure out: if i only have one oven, what am i going to do about it? can i make a gratin in the oven if i have a turkey in the oven? no, that's out. but i can make the string beans with shallots, because that's on top of the stove. and i can make a celery root — and-apple puree, because that's on top of the stove. so it's really important to figure out what your resources are and what you want to make before you go shopping, to figure out if you can do it.

on leftovers:

oh — i realize i have one other tip, one other thing i love to do for thanksgiving. it makes it a little more difficult, but as long as you're making one of something, you can make two. you can double it. if somebody comes to my house for thanksgiving, they're missing one of the great things about thanksgiving, which is leftovers. [so] i always make twice as much as i need, and then i pack up the leftovers so everybody gets to take some home…i remember at barefoot contessa [ina's former gourmet store in east hampton, ny], on friday we sold as much thanksgiving dinner as we did on thursday, because everybody who had gone to somebody else's house wanted turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce the next day. so i always make sure that everybody has little bags with leftovers to take with them.

a couple other great little nuggets are that kosher turkey is always the best because it's already salted, and also that making the gravy a few weeks before the big day and freezing it saves time, space and a lot of last minute shuffling.

but really, you have to read the whole article, i just thought it was such a gem.

Monday, November 7, 2011

clean sweep

are you on stuff overload? i'm really trying these few weeks to purge as much as i can. mail? go through it every day. or something like that. i'm also trying to really scrutinize the stuff we have laying around and be ruthless about getting rid of it. i don't want to be one of those people whose home looks like a model home with no personal affects (well maybe a little i do...) but i do want something a little closer to that than i currently have. 

it was definitely time for another closet sweep which is always gratifying...i've been feeling the thrill of that purge since i've starting losing weight and it really doesn't lose its charm - the combined victory of being smaller than you were, making more room in your closet and helping others. it's a perfect cocktail, really.

and another thing i've been doing, and it's so small really, but so powerful, is getting rid of anything i see that doesn't serve a purpose or doesn't work properly. like these umbrellas for example. they're pretty and i've been so sad to see them break. but i've been stuck in stupid, still trying to use them despite their less than functional functionality. i've lamented their broken frames for long enough and it's time to say goodbye. it has felt oddly satisfying and renewing to trash them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the cutting edge

how awesome are these jeffrey campbell boots? i love things like this that are visual jokes.  they wordlessly play on our expectations and it's like a silent exchange of a wink and nod as the wearer walks down the street. i imagine the thought process goes like this:

is that girl wearing ice skates? oh wait, no, those are boots. that's awesome!

at least that would be my thought process. what are your thoughts? they come in brown too...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

can i come in?

isn't this santa monica midcentury modern home just ideal? i love the mellow blend of clean lines and natural textures and shades. this type of warm collectedness is exactly what i'm loving right now.

all the woods just look perfect together, even though they're not perfectly matched or coordinated. and the way the outside of the home blends in through the sheets of glass for windows is just impeccable.

and don't you just want to pull up a fabulous midcentury chair for a summer or fall afternoon?

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