Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Looking back....

I'm trying to figure out where to put my decorating dollars this year, so I'm perusing a few best-of round-ups....

Elle Decor's Top Decorating Trends of 2016:  Yay granny florals and black stainless steel.  Boo for bidets and ginormous bathrooms.

Domaine made a dream home out of the top pinned rooms from their Pinterest feed.  Food for thought.

My living room made big strides in 2016, now we need some finishing touches.....although AD's Top Living Rooms of 2016 is probably just material for discontent.

Elements of Style has some predictions for the next year....

Mark Sikes

And this roundup has nothing to do with year end or year beginning, but the best libraries in Vogue is a great slideshow......

Carolina Irving

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!  I've had this image forever (from a tumblr link that is no longer good) but it's never relevant, so I thought I'd pretend it perfectly summed up my attitude about 2017.

Did everyone have a good holiday?  My company shuts down for the week so it is a very nice break.  Sadly, I did not plan my break very well and spent the first two days in a post-hosting stupor, then had 1 productive day, then got some flu/cold thing for the remainder and desperately regretted not doing anything Monday and Tuesday.  I did see LaLaLand, which was excellent, but grand plans of organizing the basement, sewing curtains, finishing the dollhouse we started last December, and finally moving this blog over to SquareSpace.....not even started.

But there were small victories.  We cleaned up the Christmas mess and I have a 2017 planner.

 (mine is green), from Mochi Things

I organized my batteries in a tackle-box like thing which warrants mentioning only because it makes me ridiculously happy.  We made a restaurant emergency kit because Henry is in a difficult dining phase.  I'm mentally prepared to do the Goop Cleanse in 2 weeks.

I'm starting a new "100 goals for 1000 days" list.  I lost the last one I made but it was good priority check, and I love the time period--low pressure.  I also fixed my Mac (finally) and tested my new Silhouette machine.  So ring-a-ding-ding....

Stay warm!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Book Report

I've been reading a little, but mostly looking at pictures.  So here are my notes on some good tomes to curl up with this winter.  Also remember your public library--you might be surprised, but the tax dollars keep going there even though most of us don't.  But most have design books!

Parish Hadley Tree of Life

This was hard to put down.  All of the alumni of Parrish Hadley write about their experiences, which is published surrounded by their own designs.  Genius!  Its like a short story collection.  And while I thought I knew plenty about the firm's history, I definitely learned a ton.  The eye candy is no joke either--it is really amazing to see how well good design aged.

Not what my 80s looked like....

This one is both educational and enjoyable.

A House in the Country

I think we all remember the AD coverage of Katie Ridder and Peter Pennoyer's country house.  I mean, that atrium?  Best. Skylight. Ever.

The beginning is a little more about them working together which was both sweet and not what I was looking for off the bat.  But it reads well overall, and it is interesting to think about the possibilities of collaboration (says a control freak).  The garden is pretty amazing, too.

Katie Ridder and I share a love of color and pattern, so it is no surprise this is one I plan to reference often.  Because in my plans I'm out of touch with reality and forget that time and money are the problem not a lack of ready color schemes and fabric picks.

If you like this one, I do recommend Katie Ridder's last book, Rooms too.  And now I know I'd totally hire Peter Pennoyer if I could afford it.  He is dead on--Greek Revival is an under-appreciated style.


For me, this was the "should have checked it out" buy.  I love Mark's blog, and it is hard to find fault with his level of taste.  But its hard for me to take away a lot of lessons. I do seek out books that are not quite me but that I feel will stretch my design sensibilities, but I'm not sure this was it.  That said, it is a solid tome of eye candy.

For me, I'm not sure you want to do this look unless you have a shit ton of money.  Because if you piece it together with Ballard and Potterybarn it will not be pretty.  Your upholstery better be on fleek, and you should be punctuating the space with some heavy antiques.  Like a-year-in-state-school-at- least antiques.

It is both more approachable but less "me" than Suzanne Kasler's work....which seems like a good topic to discuss in therapy.  But for those who are way too afraid of color to dive into A House in the Country, this may be exactly what you need to inject some boho-free California vibes into your library.  And a deeper study may teach you how to avoid looking liking a pottery barn catalouge while wrapping yourself in neutrals. It's all in the details and layering of finishes.

Next on my reading list:
the new Domino and Cecil Beaton at Home.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Last minute baking

So, how 'bought some cookie talk?   Here were my cheats--

Trade Joe's Ginger Molasses Cookies.  They come out nice and large, and I rolled them in melted white chocolate and sprinkles.  Literally.  Melted the chocolate in small batches on a paper plate.  I'm loving the new Ghiradelli's melts.  They actually taste good.  Gingerbread is an acquired taste, and I find most people (and kids) really just want ginger molasses cookies vs. real gingerbread cookies.  Which is cool.

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies.  I've made these a lot.  Betty Crocker sugar cookies mix--standard prep.  Take your ball of dough and roll it in sprinkles.  You can also roll it in coconut, brown sugar and chopped pecans, sanding sugar....adjust based on your audience.  These were sprinkle people, and I respect that.  We used a custom mix, and some Sweetapolita Whoville sprinkles.  I'll try to add some more pics, but they are not transferring right now and its almost bedtime.  So check back if you are confused or don't believe me.

Peppermint White Chocolate Oreos.  I love a chocolate covered Oreo.  I did them in gold glitter for the Circus Party. Typically, I use a double stuffed Oreo on a long lollipop stick.  However, for this party I knew I didn't want the long sticks based on my buffet setup, but the stick makes the chocolate covering much easier (dip it).  So you can imagine how happy I was to see that white chocolate covered Oreos were at Meier.  This elusive cookie is only out in the winter; if you have the will power, you should hoard some.  Shelf stable and easy to style.  I dipped the tops of the already coated cookie in some melted white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed peppermint.  They looked pretty cute, and a chocolate covered Oreo never tastes too bad.


I used the Pioneer Woman's gingerbread recipe.  It was pretty good, definitely classic, but got a little bit hard quickly (despite following her tip of making thicker cookies, wrapping them, etc.).  But it was a gingerbread party so I needed some gingerbread, and I don't really expect kids to like the gingerbread so I wasn't too upset that they were more looks than taste.  It was a good amount of dough, though, and out of the oven it was delish.

I had a few firedrills at work that week, so we ended up with a mix.  I really like the Immaculate Baking Company--it is just the pre-mixed dry ingredients.  Still need your soft butter and eggs.  The filling was supposed to be whipped ganache, but I wasn't paying attention and didn't let the ganache set up before I started whipping we just made it into a buttercream.  So I don't have a recipe for you.  But for the pink buttercream, this is the ratio I remember using:  You never know how much sugar I inhaled (the new mixer was a little difficult), so adjust until it seems right.

  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • healthy dash of flavoring extract (we used vanilla)
  • pinch of salt
I made 2 batches....1.5 may have been enough.  Remember to keep it at room temp for spreading, and don't forget to do a crumb coat first.  There is no rushing a proper cake.  It reminds you why we all love cupcakes these days.

Anyhoo, happy baking my pretties!

**Gingerbread party pics from Lumatic Imagery.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I Heart Gingerbread Houses

Hey you guys--we had a gingerbread party!  I've always wanted to have a gingerbread house making party, and Molly's winter b-day provided a good excuse.  Believe it or not, this party was executed pretty easily because it had to be.  With October and early November booked solid there wasn't much time for prep before Thanksgiving weekend (party was following Sunday).  Loyal church members may notice that these party pics include a sneak peak of the new living room rug.  All photos by my fav Lumatic Imagery.

We kept the decor pretty simple--just homemade paper garlands.  We did a dessert buffet, naturally.  

Christmas cookies, gingerbread house cookies, and white chocolate covered Oreos rounded out the pickings.  I'll try to do a separate post on baking but--spoiler--the spread was 50% homemade and 100% embellished.  Some of you are cringing at the pointsetta on the buffet--yeah, not ideal but it created the necessary height to balance out the cake after my set of three stacking cake plates lost their larger, bottom layer to clumsiness.  A close call, but I thought that side needed something.  And about that cake......

Molly's favorite part of the party, the cake sort of stole the show (and arguably made those Christmas cookies look a little dowdy).  Inspired by Katherine Sabbath, the Party Parade's Build-a-Cakes, and freak cakes generally.  I used a basic/fake buttercream (butter and confectioner's sugar, as opposed to a classic french buttercream with egg whites) and this recipe/instructions for the chocolate drizzle.  As long as your ganache has cooled a bit, and your buttercream has been in the fridge (I did 2 hours), it will not all melt together into a party-paralyzing puddle.  And no, I didn't know that until noon the day of the party but I trusted the Internet.  Practicing is a good idea, but not always possible.  I found this icing smoother and a turntable real game changers for getting the buttercream smooth.    

We had red aprons for everyone.  I thought that would be a nice favor, but really it is like sending dirty laundry home.  Ideally they would have been personalized, but the printable iron-on paper was tricky on the textured cotton duck.  Molly's teetered on the edge of usable, so I decided not to risk it on the others.  If you have the budget, embroidery would be a nice option. 

I pre-assembled all the gingerbread houses (Wilton kits from Michael's) on cake boards 10x14 cake boards.  I did that Wednesday night, wrapped them in cling wrap and put them on top of the kitchen cabinets; we added a ice cream cone tree form but didn't glue it down for ease of icing it and creative freedom.. We had extra candy for the kids to use--peppermint sticks, mints, marshmallow snowmen, kisses, etc. and lots of sprinkle options.  The polka-dot cups hold a bag of royal icing (from the kit) for each kid.  

Hindsight is 20/20, but gingerbread on kraft-paper does not make for a dynamic photo.

So many masterpeices.  In addition to the dirty aprons, we sent folks home with some themed lollies.  Gingerbread men are from Oriental Trading, and the clear sprinkle and red glitter pops are courtesy of my brother.  I figured he needed a new hobby.  

The birthday girl was pleased and so we will file this as a W.  

Both Charlotte and Molly stepped up to help with the party.  Molly & Char baked most of the Christmas cookies, and those circle garlands don't punch themselves.  And a set-up credit is owed to Charlotte--she is earning her stylist stripes:  steaming out all the linens and backdrop, punching the favor tags, setting up the candy and generally cleaning like a demon.


Milk Bottles:  Target dollar spot.
Candy for cake:  Cracker Barrel, Party City, Wilton gingerbread embellishments (Target, Michaels), Fresh Market
Red polka-dot paper:  Paper Source (on buffet) and Michael's (runner on dining table)
Buffet backdrop:  Blue table cloth (Amazon) and plastic table cloth as drape (Party City--roll)
Aprons:  Amazon
Clip Art (used for Molly's Apron, Lollipop tags and the not pictured invites):  Emily Peterson Studio
"Molly" glitter topper:  PaperMailParty

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A few more things I'm into right now....

These are a little non-sequiter, but its what I've been searching this week:

Pagodas.  But for Pets.  DIY opportunity?

No good link...can't find it anywhere!

 If you want to pay a lot for a pet bed, but don't share my penchant for chinoiserie, K. Wearstler makes a modern version....

Mermaid Tiles.  Need these somewhere.....Why aren't they ubiquitous?  Totally works.

Emily Henderson Design

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