Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Foodie Files

I took this snowball cookie recipe straight from my grandmother's collection and if there's one thing I can promise you it's that no one (and by that I mean no human anywhere, in all the world) makes cookies like my grandmother.  Don't try and challenge me on this cause you will not win.  This particular recipe is one of my favorite Christmas cookies, plus it's pretty simple to make which is always a plus.  My advice?  Make a bunch and enjoy them all throughout this weekend- I'm pretty sure it's as close to a white Christmas as the majority of us are gonna get.

2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

Beat butter and confectioners sugar in mixing bowl until creamy.

Add salt, vanilla, flour and nuts then mix again.  Shape into one inch balls in the palms of your hands and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes.  Roll cookies in confectioners sugar while still warm, then coat them a second time just before you serve your guests (or yourself...careful, though.  They're addictive).

Welcome Winter

I typically have a really difficult time with winter.  I don't do well in the cold, hate getting the sniffles and have some serious gaps in my closed toe shoe collection.  But to me, the worst part by far is the early nights.  4:00pm should never resemble's just beyond depressing.  That being said, I got to thinking yesterday and felt so encouraged that I just couldn't help but jot down a few thoughts.  The first day of winter (aka yesterday) is the shortest day of the year- which, as previously discussed, is all kinds of yucky.  But the good news is this: the worst is over!  While it won't get better overnight, we're at least moving in the right direction now.  So yes, it's gonna get colder and icier and all that good stuff, but it's gonna get brighter too.  And there's something to be said for that.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

I came across this gem of a picture awhile back and I think it illustrates the point I'm about to make preeeetty clearly.  I enjoy dressing up.  If you know me in any capacity and/or frequently keep up with this blog, you know this to be true.  I also revel in special occasions and celebrations (again, indisputable truth).  Which made Christmas morning kind of a conundrum to me growing up.  It's pretty much one of the most special moments of the year, we take all sorts of pictures, and I'm supposed to wear...pajamas?  It just didn't add up (I know, I was a goofy kid).  So, I took matters into my own hands, as you can very well see.  Yes, that would be eight year old me in a velvet gown, white stockings and an up-do, next to my five year old brother, Joey, in Ninja Turtle footie pajamas (with a Stretch Armstrong doll, no less).  You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Thankfully, I've mellowed out a little bit, but I still think it's fun to look a little spiffy and festive for the occasion.  Just for kicks, I put together a little holly, jolly Christmas morning ensemble.  Admit it, this is fun people.

1. Hadley PJs, Anthropologie $79.95  2. Plain Fluffy Robe, TopShop £25  3. Sweater Slippers, Old Navy $9  4. Plush Santa Hat, $5.99  5. Sik Satin Sleep Mask, Mary Green $26.50
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Get It Together: Santa's House

1. Swedish Star Lantern, Terrain $82  2. Fireside Candle, Terrain $18  3. Dunk Mug, Mocha £14.99  4. Ubiquity Lamp, Anthropologie $298  5. Santas Naughty or Nice List  6. Silk Velvet Pillow, ABC Carpet & Home $85  7. Aloewood Pillow, Jayson Home & Garden $175  8. Icon Wills Chair, ABC Carpet & Home $2695  9. Blue Spruce Tree, Jayson Home & Garden $40

Pretty, Pretty Present

Great news- not only did I survive my wisdom teeth removal, I got through it without incident.  I'm still a little chipmunk-y but the worst is over and it was, most certainly, not as bad as I was expecting.  In fact, if everything keeps progressing at this rate, I should be ready to feast come Christmas (which is my primary goal, at the moment).  Speaking of Christmas (let's be honest, it's late December...who isn't speaking of Christmas?), how's your shopping coming along?  I made a lot of progress over the weekend, although some was made while I was pretty heavily medicated, so there's really no telling what's gonna show up at my door over the next few days.  I picked up a few extra cool wrapping accessories this year, so I'm pumped to get this show on the road.  All the pieces below got two thumbs up during my search but you'll have to check out my Twitter (@designmuseblog) to see what I picked to grace the presents I put under the tree this year.

1. Merry Christmas Gift Tags, The Container Store $3.49 each  2. Zinc Christmas Tree Tags, Terrain $12  3. Bakers Twine, Terrain $18  4. Gold Glitter Ribbon, The Container Store $8.99  5. Red & Ivory Paper Bows, World Market $4.48 for 2  6. Marimekko Kastehelmet Gift Tags, Crate & Barrel $2.96 for 3  7. Etoile Velvet Ribbon, Anthropologie $8.40  8. Christmas Yarn, The Container Store $12.99 each  9. For You Gift Tags, Christmas $9.95 for 8  10. Snowball Ribbon, The Container Store $4.99
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011

See Ya, Wisdom Teeth

So...I'm getting my wisdom teeth out this afternoon.  I'm kind of freaking out about it, to be honest but I know (I know) it's gonna be okay.  Just a heads up, I planned ahead a little bit so I do have posts scheduled for the beginning of next week.  If, for some reason, things get complicated and I'm on drugs for longer than I'm expecting (I know, I know, they won''s gonna be fine...) I'll have someone jump on here and keep you posted.  I'm sure I'll be A-OK sooner than I think.  Say a prayer and wish me luck!

Photo Via: The Black Apple
Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

While most of my posts are very intentional and thought through, I've gotta tell you...this one came about a little differently. Let me set the scene for you...I'm browsing the world wide web, as is my daily custom, and I see a set of earrings that reminds me of two turtle-doves. Obviously, this instantly makes me think of the twelve days of Christmas, which of course leads to me saying- out loud- to myself- "I wonder if I can find presents that corresponds with all Twelve days of Christmas in an equally literal way". It's not a totally unique idea nor is it even a great idea to be honest (who really wants that many bird items? No one. Better to do an interpretation of the twelve days using presents the recipient that's a gift), but somehow it managed to get a grip on me. I ended up uncovering a couple cool items, so I figured...what the hey...why not share my findings? I had to fudge the parameters a bit to make a few fit, but since I'm the one that makes the rules, I think it's safe to say I can break them without worrying too much. The four calling birds is totally my's four birds on an iPhone case...get it? I'm just too witty for my own good, folks.

1. Partridge in a Pear Tree Pillow, Crate&Barrel  2. Tail Feather Bird Stud Earrings, TopShop £5  3. Three French Hen Cards, Kate Spade $24  4. Four Calling Birds iPhone Case, Society6 $35  5. Alphabet Rings, Catbird $88  6. Six Geese a Laying Card, Cards for Good Causes £3.35  7. Seven Swans Sufjan Stevens CD, Amazon $13  8. Half Pint, Fred & Friends  9. Just Dance 3, Walmart $29.96 10. The Nutcracker, Amazon $20.99  11. Pipe Candlesticks, Granit  12. Remix Wooden Spoon Set, ModCloth $11.99
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Here's my philosophy for this outfit: holiday parties are no place for wimpy ensembles and if you're gonna be brave, why not be extra brave?  There's not a subtle piece in the bunch and, quite frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

1. Pencey Sequined Pants, Shopbop $459.20  2. Silk Chiffon Top, Haute Hippie $285  3. Python Platform Pumps, Gucci $550  4. Primadina Malachite Single Ring, Max and Chloe $220  5. Clareta Chandeliers, Anthropologie $238
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Get It Together: Green Christmas

1. Textured Globe Pendant, Terrain $160  2. Dodecahedron Terrarium, Old Faithful Shop $160  3. Silk Mistletoe, Amazon   4. Chic Vintage Glasses, Max & Bean $25  5. Teak Wood Coasters, Poketo $24  6. Bottle Lantern, Jayson Home $32  7. Taper Ivory Candle, Crate & Barrel $7.95  8. Par de Poltronas Chair, Arkpad
Monday, December 12, 2011

The Tacky Christmas Sweater Solution

So, it's time for some real-talk about tacky sweater Christmas parties.  In theory, they're an awesome idea...put on what is essentially a costume and take hilarious pictures with your friends.  What could be more fun?  In my experience, however, when a girl tells me about a tacky Christmas sweater party, what she's really saying is "I plan on dressing as adorably as possible".  When I read between the lines with an invite from a guy, I hear "I'll more than likely show up in exactly what I'm wearing right now due to a combination of laziness and indifference."  I've played the role of sole-tacky-representative more times than I can in point, me and a few girls from my college sorority at a so-called Christmas sweater party.  Yeah...that would be me in the embroidered vest.  Looking good, Gabs.

My enthusiasm for dressing up knows no bounds, however, and I just can't bring myself to disregard a party theme entirely.  For that reason, I'm sure I haven't seen the last of my friends' "wow, you actually wore a Christmas sweater" startled expressions.  Next time, however, I'm rocking something like one of the pieces below...silly but still kind of awesome.  Live and learn, friends.  Live and learn. 
(P.S.- I posted a close up picture of my killer Christmas vest on Twitter.  Check it out @designmuseblog)

1. Reindeer Merino Wool Sweater, 3.1 Phillip Lim $385  2. Intarsia Leggins, Free People $48  3. Bow Stud Earrings, Kate Spade  4. Reindeer Ring, Verameat  5. Sweater Socks, Target $10  6. Oversized Orange Sweater, Wanelo $38.99

Design Musings

Friday, December 9, 2011

Working For The Weekend

Hey, hey, hey's it going, friends?  Everything's great here.  Fantastic, really.  I'm heading home for the holidays tomorrow and can't wait to see my east coast familia (which reminds me- fun fact: the first verse of the Perry Como song 'home for the holidays' says 'I met a man who lives in Tennessee and he was headin' for Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie'.  And that is exactly what I'm doing tomorrow.  Amazing, right?  Okay fine, maybe it's just amazing to me.)  At any rate, it's gonna be a productive, fun, special couple of weeks...I just know it.  Now pardon me while I go pack.  Have a lovely weekend, knock out that Christmas list and enjoy the links!   

So...this is a real thing.  But wait- there's more!

Either this is seriously amazing or I'm disproportionally amazed by it...

This made me laugh so hard (especially the 'water bottle' one)!

Racking my brain...who can I make and who should I send it to?

It's like a Polaroid, but better.

We should probably all do these things.

She is just too cool.  Way too cool.

I put this song on the Best Holiday Playlist of All Time.  Download it for free here.

Can't get enough of this.  Hands down, the most hilarious new show of the year.

And this year's Tickle Me Elmo is....

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

Stocking stuffers can be super practical or way silly but the one thing they probably should be is small.  And at least somewhat inexpensive (unless you're a total baller).  I threw together a little mix of fun and functional items that would hang quite nicely by the chimney with care (side note: I just started using that Lorac mascara- seriously amazing).

1. Dynamic Coins Magic Trick, Restoration Hardware $14.99  2. Nars Nail Polish, Sephora $17  3. Peppermint Bark Bites, Williams-Sonoma $10  4. Ridley's Harmonica, Paper Source $6.95  5. Twig Pencil Set, Terrain $14  6. Dutch Blitz, Amazon $11.99  7. Lorac Multiplex 3D Lashes Mascara, Sephora $22  8. Navajo Long Sock, Union $38  9. Dry Cleaner Stick, The Container Store $4.99  10. Rifle Zebra Notepad, Paper Source $8.95
Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Foodie Files

When it comes to gnocchi, there are two major schools of thought- Team Ricotta and Team Potato.  Some people have really strong feelings for or against one or the other, but I'd say my allegiance is to Team Make And Cook Either One Properly And They're Delicious.  When it comes to making gnocchi from scratch, however, I'm tempted to lean towards Team Ricotta.  They're lighter, more flavorful and, quite frankly, the process itself is much easier.  The recipe below is the same one my rockstar chef father used this Thanksgiving and I'll tell you right now- we devoured it.  Good heavens...I just re-lived it.  So good.  

4 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese (2 pounds)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/4 cups semolina flour 
1 1/4 cups whole grain organic pastry flour
Sea salt and White Pepper

For Sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup fresh sage
3 TBS finely crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Stir together ricotta, eggs, 11/2 cups of cheese and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. 

Add flour, stirring to form a soft, wet dough. Wrap dough in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Shape dough on a well-floured surface with lightly floured hands into (1-inch-thick) ropes. Cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces with a lightly floured knife. 

Put one layer on a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet. You can make in advance and freeze if necessary.

Cook gnocchi in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water), adding a few at a time to pot and stirring occasionally, until they float and are cooked through (cut one in half to check), 3 to 4 minutes per batch.  Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain in colander.

Melt butter over medium-low heat and add sage and finely crumbled gorgonzola cheese.  Cook until golden brown, do not burn.  Toss gnocchi with brown butter in skillet and sprinkle with remaining Reggiano. 

The Best Holiday Playlist of All Time

One thing about me you should know- I play no instruments, I couldn't read music if you paid me $1,000,000 and I only sing in the shower and when I'm by myself in the car...however, I put together one heck of a playlist.  It's a secret talent I've hoarded for far too long.  This particular playlist got just a little bit out of hand (25 tracks...whoops...) but I'm telling you- your worst bah humbug doesn't stand a chance against this mix.  Nearly all of the songs can be downloaded from iTunes or Spotify so if you're looking for a calorie free Christmas treat, this has your name written all over it.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

This outfit is made up of a few things close to my heart: a button down shirt (love 'em), a scarf (gotta have 'em) skinny jeans (practically my uniform), great accessories (goes without saying), comfy sweater (yay for soft fabric) and leopard print used as a neutral (try it if you haven't already).  Aaaaand I think that covers all my bases.  Good stuff.

1. Paintburst Scarf, Anthropologie  2. Solid Poplin Shirt, American Eagle Outfitters $29.50  3. Distressed Denim Belt, J. Crew $48  4. Dark Wash Skinny Jeans, H&M  5. Stranded Collar Necklace, Nasty Gal $40  6. Kanupriya Labradorite Rectangle Drop Earrings, Max & Chloe $198  7. Metal Twist Bracelet, Hive & Honey $24  8. Robyn Tortoise Sunglasses, House of Harlow 1960 $138  9. Knitted Mohair Cardigan, Topshop USA $96  10. Flat Furry Court Shoe, Zara $69.90

Wrap It Up

If I wasn't careful, I'd end up spending about as much on wrapping paper as I do on the present itself.  I just really like making things look pretty...even though you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover and all that jazz, people totally do.  I mean, when it comes to books (and wrapping paper, for that matter), I definitely do.  I picked out a few really sharp options I'd gladly place under my tree.  I think my favorite is (#2) the Glinting Arrows paper from (where else?) Anthropologie.  What's your favorite?

1. Letterpress Wrapping Paper, Etsy $10  2. Glinting Arrows Wrapping Paper, Anthropolologie  3. Red with White Polka Dots Gift Wrap, The Container Store $7.95  4. Elegant Forest Gift Wrap, The Container Store $8.50  5. Trees & Stars Kraft Gift Wrap, The Container Store $5.99  6. Winter Tweets Wrapping Paper, Paper Source $3.50  7. YRSNO Gift Wrap, Ikea $2.99  8. Cavallini Vintage Christmas Wrap, Paper Source $3.95  9. Universal Wrapping Paper, Etsy $18.90  10. Reindeer Foil Gift Wrap, The Container Store $9.79
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Max & Bean

How's everyone's Christmas shopping going?  I moved from phase 1 (strategize and budget) to phase 2 (start buying) over the weekend, but I've still got a ways to go before I'm done.  Christmas shopping is a marathon, not a sprint.  Remember that.  For those of you looking for a really unique present, might I suggest my very favorite Etsy shop, Max & Bean?  They have a lot of really amazing, affordable vintage pieces, but my favorites are their color-coordinated book bundles.  I snatched a few up during my big house re-design and boy did they ever add something special to our space!  They're a relatively new shop and brand spanking new to Twitter, so spread the word and make sure you follow them ASAP (@MaxAndBean).  

Get It Together: Walkin' in a Woodsy Wonderland

1. Pinecone Garland, Terrain $48  2. Magnolia Wreath, Terrain $98  3. Papier-Mache Reindeer, West Elm $24.99  4. Glass Bottles with Wood Stoppers, West Elm $29-$39  5. Cobble Hill Tera Side Tables, ABC Carpet & Home $195  6. Faux Shearling Pillow, Polyvore $19 7. Abbot Sofa, Jayson Home $3,950  8. Awash Rug, Anthropologie $2,998
Monday, December 5, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011

Working For The Weekend

So all I've been able to think about all day is the fact that I don't have to set an alarm tomorrow morning.  Literally.  It's all but consumed me.  Hows about we catch up on some sleep then meet back here Monday morning?  Sound like a plan?  Alrighty then.  Break.

Oh and enjoy the weekend links.  Break again.

I will neither confirm nor deny the notion that I teared up reading this.

In a perfect world, I would be able to do this.

Hey Nashville- have you seen this?!  I'm dying to go!

I've thought about it long and hard and I accept your challenge.

Something I obviously should've read this morning.

Cuuuuuute cute cute cute.  There's just no other word for it.

So...I'm gonna have to taste this at some point.

Precious ideas.

Bookmarking this for reals.

Happy holiday treat, indeed.

Holiday Gift Guide: Gabby's Favorite Things

I've got great news, gift-givers!  Every Friday between now and Christmas, I've got a new and exciting gift guide for you to unwrap right in this very space.  I'm taking a unique approach to this 'lil mini-series series, so make sure you stay tuned.  I wanted to start with a few items I know for a fact are awesome.  How can I be so sure, you ask?  Great question.  I own and frequently use all of them.  Some were gifts from friends and family, others I bestowed upon myself.  Either way, I can personally vouch for these guys.  If I was Oprah, this is the stuff I'd be giving away (plus a car or house or country or something).  

1. The Survivors Club, Amazon $6  2. Stila In The Light Palette, Sephora $39  3. Mircorplane Herb Mill, Williams-Sonoma $19.95  4. David & Young Airy Woven Fringed Infinity Scarf, Nordstrom $22  5. Monogrammed Mug, Anthropologie $6  6. Roman Holiday, Amazon $5.99  7. Celestial Coasters, Anthropologie $32 for 4  8. Dinner & a Suit's Since Our Departure, iTunes $9.90  9. Voluspa Baltic Amber Candle, Amazon $18  10. Menage a Trois Red Blend, $12  11. Cooking with Italian Grandmothers, Amazon $26.40  12. Chemex Coffee Maker, $40
Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Foodie Files

You know that whole marketing strategy where a company leads you to believe you're saving tons of money, but in all actuality you're spending it on something you don't necessarily need (hello Black Friday/Cyber Monday/the entire month of December)?  Well, it turns out I'm a sucker for it.  Case in point: to avoid having to throw out the leftover marshmallows from last week's S'mores party (which was super cool, by the way), I went out and filled my shopping cart with an outrageous amount of experimental ingredients.  Because a house isn't really a home until there's at least half a dozen varieties of marshmallow treats sitting on your kitchen table. 

The good news is I came up with quite a few really delicious recipes, all of which are a slight variation of the Cake Batter Rice Krispy Treat recipe I posted in September.  Since this is a design blog, not a Rice Krispy Treat blog, I'm not gonna spread all these out over the course of the next few weeks.  You can consider this read one, get five free day.  The process is the same across the board:
1) Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
2) Add marshmallows and stir until they melt completely.
3) Stir in mix (if applicable), then remove from heat.
4) Add cereal and stir like your life depends on it.
5) Add your mix-in (if applicable) and stir some more.
6) Press into a lightly greased baking dish and let rest for about 30 minutes.
7) Cut into squares
The biggest variation is (obviously) the ingredients.  Here's what I tried and how they turned out.

Red Velvet Cake Rice Krispy Treats: 
3 TBS butter
10 oz bag of marshmallows
3/4 cup red velvet cake mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

These were definitely a crowd favorite!  If you like red velvet anything (and how could you not?) you'll love these.  Don't forget the white chocolate chips- they're a key piece of the puzzle.

German Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats:
3 TBS butter
10 oz bag of German chocolate marshmallows
3/4 cup German chcolate cake mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

For me, the biggest surprise of our S'mores party (besides the incessant rain) was the tastiness of the German chocolate marshmallows I bought on a whim.  When paired with the cake mix and Rice Krispies, these treats came out true to German chocolate form (strong taste of chocolate and toasted coconut with a hint of pecan).  AKA delicious.

Butter Pecan Rice Krispy Treats:
3 TBS butter
10 oz bag of Butter Rum marshmallows
3/4 cup butter pecan cake mix
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 cup chopped pecan pieces

I had my doubts about these little guys when I first saw the color (a little fluorescent, don't you think?), but I got rave reviews from everyone who tried them.  If you don't care for strong flavors or don't feel like special ordering marshmallows, you might want to substitute the butter rum marshmallows for regular ones.  For the true butter pecan flavor...stick to the recipe.  It's darn good.

Chocolate Peppermint Rice Krispy Treats:
3 TBS butter
10 oz bag of mint chocolate marshmallows
6 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal
1/2 cup crushed peppermint pieces

These might have been my favorite...I don't know.  It's a toss up.  I got so excited to try them I ended up waiting all of 5 minutes before I cut them, hence the mishapen-ness above.  I'll tell you one thing though, I know a holiday treat when I see it and that's a holiday treat.

Tutti Frutti Bars: 
3 TBS butter
10 oz bag of strawberry marshmallows
6 cups Fruity Pebble cereal

If I was handing out awards, these would get one for eliciting the most extreme, isolated reaction.  Everyone seemed to like them, but my brother literally freaked out.  I've made him gourmet meals that didn't get half the response these got (the more I think about it, the less I'm liking this actually...).  For a fun treat, I'm thinking this recipe has a pretty solid trump card.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Puffs:
3 TBS butter
10 oz bag of chocolate marshmallows
6 cups Reece's Puffs

Unlike most of the people I know, I'm not a big fan of the chocolate and peanut butter combo (quit judging me)...those of you who are will probably find these delightful.  My original plan was to cut these into bars but, for whatever reason, they were reluctant to cooperate.  Instead of tossing the whole batch (as I briefly considered), I re-grouped, grabbed a handful and started rolling, which worked surprisingly well.  

So there you have it.  I wouldn't recommend making them all the same day (seriously, what was I thinking?) but when you do try one (and I hope you do) let me know how it goes!