Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Joy of Dining

Last week, in between meetings and phone calls while at work, I took a moment to check my inbox.  Usually I quickly browse through my emails mentally noting whether something warrants more than a second to read, whether I should trash it, or whether I should star and save for later.  It’s a quick process and unfortunately most emails receive only a perfunctory review.  However, while I was quickly browsing over an email from The Kitchn (which usually provides some stellar recipes), I was swept away with a wonderful post written by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, the heart and soul of the blog (amazingly, her husband is Maxwell, the founder of Apartment Therapy).  Not only is it beautifully and poetically written, but it really reminded me of the importance of enjoying the ritual of dining.  When my boyfriend and I sit down for dinner, often times right in front of the television, we rarely take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on the food we are eating or on the day that we have had or just on the opportunity to be together.  These days, dining is rarely seen as a distraction free environment. However, reading Sara Kate’s post reminded me that I should not only take those moments and enjoy them for their simplicity, but also, to respect the physical space of dining.  Our “dining table” is hardly that.  Usually it’s filled with paper work or books.  Currently it is housing my seedlings.  However it is hard to refute the correlation between where you eat and the amount of distractions you face while eating.  I know some nights we are just happy to throw together a quick meal and plop down.  However I hope at those times I can remember to take the opportunity to sit distraction free and enjoy the company of those that I am with.

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Bedside Lamps: A twist on a classic MCM piece

One of the last rooms in my apartment that really needs some TLC is the bedroom.  So far, that has definitely been the most deprived.  The main issue is that the furniture needs to be updated ASAP!  We have started looking at new headboards, dressers, side tables, but haven’t pulled the trigger on anything yet.  Eventually, we will also need to update our bedside lamps.  So far one of the best lamps I have come across is a mid century inspired arch table lamp.  It’s a take on the classic arch floor lamp but reduced to a mini table lamp size.  It is still classic and streamlined and would be a beautiful addition to a bedroom.  It’s available at Dwell Studio and Jayson Home.

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Trending: Jazz up your Camera

The Tokyo Dreamer camera strap

We recently purchased a new camera which has been awesome!  However, of course, with a camera comes the batteries, bag, lenses, etc.  Those accessories are boring but necessary I guess.  I’m thinking a great way to personalize my camera would be to spice it up with a fashionable camera strap!  Sarah Francis Kuhn has an eponymous collection which includes some really chic and functional stapes or if you prefer a simple classic leather strap check out Wood and Faulk.  The one I have added to my wish list however is the Tokyo Dreamer camera strap from Photojojo.  It comes in three colors and is clean and simple with  just the right amount of pop.

Sarah Francis Kuhn camera strap

Wood and Faulk camera strap

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Delicious Almond Macaroons / Almond Cookies

While I was in Morocco a few months ago, I attended a cooking class in Fes.  Over the course of about 7 hours, we made a chicken pastilla, harira soup, beet salad, and almond macaroons.  Everything was so delicious, however the macaroons were heavenly!  We bought fresh almonds, boiled them, took their skins off, and then had them ground into a paste by the local baker who had a huge food processor / grinder.  Then we made them into macaroons with the following recipe:

  • 160 grams fine semolina
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 grams powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).  Beat eggs with the sugar.  Add butter, oil, baking powder and lemon zest.  Mix well.  Stir in the almonds.  Add the semolina and mix to make a moist, crumbly dough which is firm enough to shape into balls.  Wet hands (in Morocco we used orange flower water to keep hands moist which left a subtle orange taste) and take enough dough to roll a small ball.  Squeeze the dough and then form a ball.  Flatten it slightly to form a thick disc.  Roll the disc in powdered sugar and place onto a lightly oiled baking tray. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes or until golden brown..  Transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

I recently tried recreating this recipe at home.  I substituted flour for the semolina.  I made my own almond paste by processing almonds and adding some sugar, but I also bought some pre made almond paste which I added.  The texture to aim for is almost like marzipan.  I made a rookie mistake however and set the oven to 175 F (I failed to convert the 175 degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit).  Once I noticed that the dough was not crisp enough, I increased the temperature slightly, but I was still unable to recreate the crispiness of the macaroons I had in Morocco.  Mine turned out more like cookies instead of macaroons, but even though the texture didn’t quite work out, they were still so delicious!  They lasted maybe a day and a half before they were all eaten.  If you try out the recipe, let me know how yours turned out!

 

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Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I know this is after the fact, but I wanted to share some pictures of how my Easter eggs turned out.  My mother came into town, and we tried a new method of egg dying, which I had come across both in Remodelista and in The Kitchn.  I know there are a zillion different ways to decorate Easter eggs, but I really liked the idea of using natural dyes from vegetable scraps.  We decided to use yellow onion skins, red onion skins, beets and carrots.  We first boiled water in separate pots and then added the vegetable scraps and simmered for about 15 minutes.  We eventually threw out some of the water, so that the color was more concentrated.  Then we cooled the dyed water until it was room temperature.    We used rubber bands to create patterns on the eggs.  Finally, we added the eggs and set in the refrigerator overnight. I love how natural and rustic the colors turned out.  Next year, I think I want to try natural dyes from flowers!

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Woodsy Candles

There is almost nothing better than entering a home that immediately appeals to your olfactory senses.  Therefore, one of my favorite ways to accessorize my apartment is with some quality scented candles.  I prefer the woody natural scents, especially sandalwood or cedar wood.  The Diptyque line from Paris is awesome and offers a wide range of well crafted scents, although my favorite is Santal.  Izola also offers a beautiful selection of woodsy scents that are displayed in a colored green glass.  No matter what your preferred scent, appealing to your olfactory senses is a great way to unwind and relax.  What are some of your favorite scents?

Santal Candle from Diptyque

Sandalwood candle from Izola

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Trending: Men’s Inspired Smoking Slippers

Charles Philip Flats from Bergdorf's

I love women’s fashion inspired by classically tailored menswear pieces.  That’s why last fall, I was so thrilled to see designers translating the classic men’s smoking slipper (a la Hugh Hefner meets Annie Hall) into women’s lines.  The slipper can be both luxurious and leisurely but always classic!  In the fall and winter we saw a lot of velvet styles, but now to accommodate warmer weather, we are seeing more leather and soft suede.  I picked up a pair in black and white pony hair by Belle by Sigerson Morrison last Fall, but right now I am loving this tangerine pair by DV by Dolce Vita – how perfect for summer!

DV by Dolce Vita

Belle by Sigerson Morrison flat

Smoking Slippers via Refinery 29

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Ladders as Decor

Unfortunately, I, like many people, am guilty of letting clothes pile up in my bedroom.  It’s a pet peeve of mine, yet I struggle with it daily, and I am not on the winning side of this battle.  My boyfriend and I have come to terms with the fact that we are just not strong enough to control the situation.  There is only one option left to us… removing the furniture from our bedroom that ends up collecting our clothes by the end of each day!  (Yes – this is slightly pathetic.)  However, I think a great replacement would be incorporating a ladder as part of the decor. This can be helpful, because it cannot hold that many articles of clothing, but it can, in the event it’s absolutely necessary, be a convenient place to lay an item or two… you get the idea!

Dressing Ladder available at Tenebras

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Playful Wall Decals

Tracy Kendall Floral Wall Decal

Wallpaper can be a mixed bag. There are some gorgeous designs out there, but most of them, I find, to be a bit overwhelming. Also, wallpaper can be a big commitment which is not always a possibility for some (such as myself, as a renter). There are, however, some more practical options for those that are interested in adding some imagery or pattern here and there, but don’t want to commit to wall papering a whole wall! Wall decals are a great way to spice up a wall and usually require little to no installation. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can create a mural or just accentuate the floorboards. Best of all, they are usually removable! My absolute favorite are the wall coverings by Tracy Kendall. I *love* the black and white images that she designs, especially the floral and feathers collections which add just a dose of drama and levity to a room. Walltat, Not On The High Street, and Blik are a few sites to check out which each offer a wide selection of decals. I think these are a particularly great solution for decorating nurseries. They are relatively cheap and you can easily replace them as your child gets older. Plus, there are some of the cutest images for children!

Birds on a Wire Decal from Not on the High Street

Space Monsters Wall Decal from Not on the High Street

Skirting Board Heroes Wall Sticker from Not On The High Street

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