Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Foodie Files

We made a feast fit for a Beretta for my grandfather's 80th birthday tonight.  Seriously...seriously delicious.  For the first time in Foodie File history, I took on the role of sous chef under the direction of my brilliant Dad.  We always have a good time cooking together and he's one heck of an executive chef!  The most complicated portion of the meal was the homemade polenta with butter sage sauce, so that's what we're tackling here.  We're big eaters, so the recipe below feeds about 8-10 as a side.


2 cups corn meal (Beretta brand, if you can find it)
8 cups water
1 TBS kosher salt
6 TBS butter
1 1/2 cups of grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup thinly grated sharp Italian cheese (Locatelli, Pecorino, etc.)

20-30 sage leaves, cleaned and dried
6 TBS butter
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Bring 6 cups of water and 1 TBS kosher salt to a boil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Whisk the corn meal into the remaining 2 cups of water, then pour the water and corn meal mixture into the boiling water.

Turn the heat down to medium and stir continually for 10 minutes.  The goal is to bring the polenta to a light bubbling boil.  After 10 minutes have passed add your butter, then continue stirring for an additional 10 minutes.  Mix in the Fontina cheese.

After it incorporates completely, remove from heat and let sit another 10 minutes.  Pour the polenta into a 13x9 glass baking dish (or something similar) and let it sit until you're about 25 minutes from serving your meal.

The polenta can be cooked in advance and refrigerated if necessary.  To finish, grate a thin layer of sharp Italian cheese over the top of the polenta and broil on high until it browns lightly (approx. 5 minutes, but watch closely).  Let the polenta cool while you make your sauce.

To make the sauce, heat butter and sage leaves in a saucepan over a medium low flame.  When the butter starts bubbling lightly, add the lemon juice.  Salt to taste.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the butter turns a light brown.  Pour the butter sage sauce over your polenta and serve warm.

We served the polenta with (buckle your seat belts) strip steaks marinated in an espresso-infused aged balsamic vinaigrette, and grilled Florida onions and asparagus.  I know what you're thinking and was as good as it sounds.  Happy Birthday to you, Pop!  We love you!

Before & After w/ Lillian's Paintbrush

It's really amazing what a touch of design savvy and a little paint and can do.  Check out how the crew at Lillian's Paintbrush transformed this room- it's a brand new space!

The ceiling is my favorite part.  I mean seriously, to-die-for-gorgeous.  Here's a close up for you...

Like what you see?  Wanna see more?  Check out Lillian's portfolio by clicking here!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guest Post: Carla from decorativity

I had such fun meeting Gab at a conference this winter, and now I'm thrilled to be a guest writer on Design Muse!  When I visit this blog I always feel inspired, from the fashion and home picks to the recipes to the fun conversational writing style.  I happily hunted for the best decorative products I could offer to Design Muse.  One of the first things I found was this "Musings"'s just too perfect!

I love the poetic inscription: when the layers subside, and the fortune is empty, the pigment of our days will echo pure. and i will be nowhere if not with you. I find it inspiring, just like the weekly Design Musings quotes. I decided to continue searching for musings interpreted in home decor, and here are my discoveries:

Letterpress Art Print from tagteamtompkins- Emily Dickinson quote in a silhouette-inspired letterpress. 

Paper Garland from collectingfeathers- 1800s sheet music hand-cut into hearts, with vintage floral handkerchiefs sewn throughout.  

La Poeme Rug from Ballard Designs- This indoor-outdoor rug is inscribed with a famous 17th century French poem.  

Love Letters Sheet Set from Anthropologie- Bedding printed with actual love notes collected from a Brooklyn antique still my heart!

Is Carla a doll or what!?  She was at the top of a short list of guest bloggers I asked to help me out while I'm on vacation.  Do yourself a favor and check out her crazy-creative design blog's good stuff!  Oh and follow her on Twitter while you're at it- @decorativity.  Thanks again, Carla!

Mirror, Mirror

The beach and I are good friends.  We don't get to spend as much time together as I'd like but when we do see each other, we pick up right where we left off.  I think some more quality time would be good for our relationship, if I had to choose a uniform for this week (and this Summer for that matter!), it would look a little something like this.

1. Maui Jim 'Aloha Friday Retro Sunglasses, Nordstrom $299  2. Claude Hat, All Saints $70  3. Banares Crochet-Knit Bandeau Bikini, Missoni Mare $475  4. Markina Cotton Tunic, Forever 21 $22.80  5. Tarnish Straw Tote, Nordstrom $98  6. Ankle Tie Sandals, ASOS $44.83
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Match Game

1. Kellye Silk-Crepe Dress, Alice + Olivia $315  2. 5-Bottle Bud Vase, CB2 $16.95  3. Saffron Rug, Anthropologie $298  4. Sparkle & Fade Knit Circle Dress, Urban Outfitters  5. Rosenbaum Three-Piece "Blue Motion" Abstract, Horchow $2,490  6. Pleat-Detailed Printed Satin Dress, Miu Miu $2,420

Get It Together: Baby Love

This week I got the wonderful news that one of my friends is having a baby!  And then I got that news again.  And again.  And again.  And although I'm unsure whether baby fever has gone global or whether it's just an epidemic localized in my circle of friends, what I am sure of is this...I'm ecstatic about it!  I whipped up this Get It Together with all you soon-to-be-mamas in mind.  Now go have a snack- you're eating for two now, remember!?

1. Cobalt Cylinder Pendant, Layla Grace $279  2. Kid's Airplane Wall Decal, The Land of Nod $25  3. Skyline Blue Crib Set, DwellStudio $360  4. Skyline Blue Boudoir Pillow, DwellStudio $34  5. Zebra Mozambique Studio Crib, Layla Grace $2,100  6. Criss-Cross Pattern Rug,  The Land of Nod $199-$599
Monday, March 28, 2011

Disney Couture

After the earliest flight of all time (4:30 am wakeup call?  Not cool.) I've arrived in the Sunshine State!  I love this place for many reasons...the weather is agreeable to say the least, the ocean is a little piece of heaven and a few of my favorite people call Florida home (including but not limited to my grandparents and my bestie, DawnChere).  I'm all kinds of excited about the week ahead- I get to see my parents (who I miss desperately...I know, I'm a total baby), celebrate my Pop's 80th birthday, get spoiled by my Nonnie's ridiculously delicious food, and (hopefully) hit up a theme park or two.  Which brings me to my next point- Disney.  When you're just miles away from the most magical place on earth it seems silly to start the week off talking about anything else.  I'm an absolute sucker when it comes to movies of the Disney fact, I may or may not have spent the better part of my life convinced I was at least part Disney Princess.  I just love 'em.  But if there's one area where my fellow Princesses and I disagree, it's regarding wardrobe.  I mean seriously...what on earth are they wearing?  As I was preparing for this trip I had a thought...if I could style the classic Disney Princesses, how would I do it?  And here's what I came up with...

Snow White: Paisley Colorblock Dress, Etro $890  Jasmine: Mini Marcia Embellished Silk-Chiffon Dress, Temperly London $1,395  Ariel: Green Ombre' Chiffon Gown, BCBGMAXAZRIA $202.49  Mulan: Cotton and Silk-Blend Chantilly Lace Gown Alessandra Rich $3,995  Pocahontas: Tribeca Leather Shift Dress, Rag & Bone $925  Belle: Yellow Ruffle Dress, Lanvin for H&M  Cinderella: Knife-Pleated Silk-Chiffon Dress, Dion Lee $2,345  Sleeping Beauty: Strapless Side-Gathered Gown, Carolina Herrera $3,990

Design Musings

Friday, March 25, 2011

Que Bella

What a lovely couple days I've had!  At the risk of making you insanely jealous, I'll just give you a few bullet points from my Wednesday and Thursday.  
-Stayed at the beautiful Ritz Carlton
-Enjoyed an unreal One Republic concert
-Did a little window shopping
-Spent some fabulous quality time with my brother, cousins and a few friends
Since Que Bella has turned into the most autobiographical post of my week, I absolutely had to show you some of the fun photos.  It's impossible not to have a beautiful time when you get to do life with these folks!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Foodie Files

I was checking out of Ikea last weekend and it hit me: pressed chicken sandwich with brie cheese and lingonberries.  It was a straight up pregnancy craving (although, to clarify, I'm extremely not pregnant).  I've never had a sandwich quite like the one I was craving but I knew that I knew that I knew it would be good.  And I was right.  And the recipe is...

(serves 4)
1 loaf tuscan bread
2 oz softened butter
1 wedge of brie cheese
lingonberry perserves
4 chicken breasts
1 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot clove
salt and pepper

In a large pan, brown shallots in oil.  Saute seasoned chicken over medium heat for 15 minutes a side or until golden brown (cut into the center to make sure they're cooked if you're not sure).  Cut bread into 8 slices and lightly butter one side of each slice.  Lightly spread lingonberry preserves on the non-buttered side of 4 slices.  

Place a few pieces of brie cheese (no wax, por favor!) on the lingonberry slices, then put the slice butter side down onto a panini press (or in my case, a George Forman Grill as I have no panini press).  Place your chicken on top of the brie, then top with another slice of bread butter side up.

Close the press and put just a bit of pressure on the sandwiches to make sure they're getting nice and and browned.  Check their progress after about two minutes.  If they look like this, they're done!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Ladies: I'm gonna tell you something right now...if you have a pen and paper, you should write it down. Are you ready?  Here goes.  Never underestimate the power of a good pair of skinny jeans, a flattering tee and some killer heels.  Gentleman:  Am I right or am I right?  Sometimes it's just that simple.

1. Classic Jersey T-Shirt, T by Alexander Wang $81  2. Ivory Lambskin Shoulder bag, Lanvin $1,000  3. Signature 'Yes' Ring, Zoe and Morgan $150  4. Skinny Natural Stone Stacking Bangles, ASOS $28.69  5. Low-Rise Pencil-Leg Jeans, J Brand $160  6. Elastic Strap Wedge, Victoria's Secret $69

Color Me Smitten: Coral

I'm a warm kind of girl.  I like warm weather, warm coffee, and I'm presently fixated on uber-warm colors (refer to yesterday's Get It Together for further proof).  Luckily for me the "it" color this summer is just about as warm as it gets...beautiful coral.  It's (obviously) a bright choice, but that's what makes it a perfect harbinger for the months ahead.  One look at the lovely, feminine dresses below and I'm feeling tanner already.

1. Belted Satin-Jersey One-Shoulder Gown, Yves Saint Laurent $2,350  2. Rope-Print Stretch-Jersey Maxi Dress, Milly $420  3. Twist Front Jersey Dress, ASOS $53.70  4. Vero Moda Sheer Collar Chiffon Dress, Vero Moda $50.20  5. Pleated Maxi Skirt, ASOS $80.69  6. Peacock Dress, Reiss Online £195
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Get It Together: Orange You Glad Your Kitchen Is Adorable

I'm in the process of re-doing our kitchen so I've had kitchen on the brain as of late.  I was experimenting with the idea of using orange, but I jumped ship pretty early on (no worries, Courtney...I came back to reality).  I still love the idea of it, I just don't think I can make it work in our space.  I may give it a shot one the meantime, I'll just have to enjoy this fun color palate in all it's digital glory.

1. This Is Where The Magic Happens Sign, Rockett St. George £125  2. Milk Glass Vases, Pier 1 $24.95-$29.95  3. Ombre Sunset Curtain, Urban Outfitters $38  4. Cobalt Dinnerware Set, Target $39.99  5. Redsmith Dining Chair, Anthropologie $198  6. Tectona Spoons, Anthropologie $18  7. Slab Dining Table, Alice Lane Home Collection $3,995

Operation Wish List

Monday, March 21, 2011

Design Musings

The Grass Is Greener...

When I realized yesterday was the first day of Spring, I literally screamed.  Out loud.  Unstoppably.  I know we're not totally out of the woods yet with the weather, but the thought that the majority of the frigid cold is behind us makes happy go lucky and then some.  I took a quick trip to Atlanta over the weekend and, while we waited for the last of the warmth show up, I noticed a few spots of artificial grass outside. I don't know why it made me chuckle but it did.  It also inspired this post! 

1. Astroturf bathing suit, Michael Kors  2. Par Shag Rug, CB2 $299  3. Tricky Treats Pet Bowl, ModCloth $13.99  4. Grass Printed Chair, Chaircouture 5. Electric Garden Charging Station, Modcloth $24.99  6. O'gara Pillow, CB2 $34.95  7. Astroturf bathing suit, Michael Kors
Friday, March 18, 2011

Que Bella

This week's Que Bella (my weekly post on the most beautiful thing I saw all week) is slightly unconventional and not at all design-focused.  Even still, it was lovely beyond words.  In fact, it's an absolute miracle!  The picture below is of a four month old baby girl who was inexplicably discovered in the rubble three days after Japan's devastating natural disaster.  You've gotta read the full story- it's just amazing...& you can do that here.  And please, keep Japan in your prayers!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Foodie Files: Part 2

I wanted to be excited about making Irish food tonight.  I really, really did.  But I just...wasn't.  So I called fun friends, bought St. Patrick's themed plates and napkins, cued the Celtic station on Pandora Radio and gave the whole fake-it-'til-you-make-it thing a shot.  And it worked!  Not only was tonight an absolute blast, but the food (my source of stress) was delicious.  I'm so thankful my roomie found the recipe below because after researching Irish food, I discovered I have an extreme aversion to literally every main ingredient they use.  Guinness and Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Crouton sounded good and tasted even better.  I made a few slight adjustments to the recipe, but you can check out the original one here.  Now here's my version...


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves minced garlic
8 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (which translates to 2 large onions, 1 small onion)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup dry sherry
12 oz Guinness Extra Stout
6 cups beef stock
8 slices toasted potato bread
1/2 lb sliced cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper

Put on some goggles and slice up those onions...there's a lot so be prepared.  In a large pot, brown garlic in extra virgin olive oil and add your onions.

Stir the onions for 5 minutes over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes until onions are golden brown.  Add thyme, sherry, and beer and cook for about ten minutes.

Finally, add the beef stock and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Transfer soup to ovenproof soup bowls and place bowls on a cookie sheet.

Top bowls with toasted bread and cheddar cheese and place in the oven on broil.

When the cheese starts to lightly brown, you're done!

The rest of the meal wasn't overwhelmingly Irish, but it was quite good.  I served the soup alongside salmon, asparagus, and simple salad.

We circled back around to Ireland for dessert, however.  I whipped up a few Guinness milkshakes and Bailey's milkshakes and they were ridiculously good.  Check out those milk mustaches! :)

Thanks to today's events I'll look back on 2011 as the year I made peace with Irish food.  Now to tackle the English (someday...not today, thank heavens).  I hope everyone's St. Patrick's Day was fun and safe!  Goodnight!

The Foodie Files: Part 1

Top 'O the morning to you!  I've got a bit of an unprecedented Foodie Files situation happening on this fine St. Patrick's Day but I think you'll be okay with it.  I'm dead set on cooking a real Irish meal tonight, but realistically speaking the soonest I'll be able to get the post up is around 7:00 or 8:00pm.  I'm not okay with that timing so I wanted to post a little bit of a Foodie Files teaser first.  And since one of my favorite things about being an adult is the ability to eat dessert before dinner if I so choose, I just had to share last night's pre-St. Patricks Day-dessert: Chocolate Cake with Bailey's infused ganache!  Check back later tonight for a full report on the Guinness Onion Soup I'm attempting!

Ganache Ingredients: 

1 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
5-6oz semisweet chocolate

Melt the ingredients above over medium heat and stir until smooth.  Poor over a completed cake or cupcakes (which we used a box mix for, for the record!  crazy, right!).  It's seriously good and the most Irish item I could muster at the moment! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

There are two things I'm pretty confident no one in their right mind would ever call me...the first is un-festive...the second is Irish. So you can see how St. Patricks Day presents me with a bit of a problem.  I don't eat corned beef and cabbage, I don't drink beer, when I wear green I end up looking jaundice and the list goes on.  But tomorrow is St. Patricks day and I'm going to do it up right because that's who I am, darn it.  Thanks to the tireless searching of my perfect roommate Courtney, I've got an authentic Irish recipe on deck (check tomorrow's foodie files for more details) and I'm determined to find something green to wear...if only to avoid being punched or pinched or whatever it is white people do when you don't wear green on St. Patricks Day.  This particular shade would be fun and flattering for me- the skirt is especially cute, don't you think?

1. Striped Knit Top, Forever 21 $10.90  2. Celtic Dunes Ring, H Stern via Neiman Marcus $1,900  3. Egyptian Eye Earrings, Anthropologie $98  4. POP Beauty Nail Glam Polish, Urban Outfitters $10  5. Dusen Dusen Elastic Waist Skirt, Urban Outfitters $175  6. Powder Satin Bow Detail Flat Sandals, Valentino via Bluefly $404

Post of a Different Stripe

The pieces below were gathered because they fit a very strict criteria...that criteria being they have some variation of stripe in their pattern and I like them.  I'd find a place for every last one in my home, closet and life.  What about you?  See any favorites?

1. The Six Senses Dress, Mod Cloth $74.99  2. Zigzag Rug, West Elm $39-$649  3. Origno Dinnerware Cereal Bowl, Unica Home $24  4. Draper Stripe Ash Duvet Cover Set, DwellStudio $280  5. Nautical Striped Tote, Forever 21 $12.80  6. Zig Zag Throw, Jonathan Adler $295  7. Cooperative Tank Dress, Urban Outfitters $49  8.  Yarn Dyed Organic Napkins, West Elm $16  9. Americana Skirt, Anthropologie $188  10. CoCo Cabana Chair, Urban Outfitters $189  11. Karl Tabletop, Missoni Home $335
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Get It Together: A 'lil Quirky

Seperately, these pieces make me smirk...but put them together and I'm rocking a full blown, teeth-baring smile.  I'm not a huge fan of wallpaper, but I just couldn't resist this fun book pattern.  It's like the flour-less chocolate cake of wallpaper...fantastic, but only bearable in small doses.  The whole setup is a little nerdy, but then again so am it works.

1. Currey and Company Parker Pendant, Layla Grace $414  2. Vintage National Beverage Bottle, Urban Outfitters $14  3. Halve Bookends, Generate Design $49  4. Victoria Ghost Chair, Philippe Starck $330  5. Stacked Paperback Wallpaper, Anthropologie $198  6. Eye Chart Pillow, Generate Design $89
Monday, March 14, 2011

Table For Twelve: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Oh Table for Twelve!  I'm so glad you've returned!  Now that the second installment is up, I feel l can safely call Table for Twelve my favorite part of the month.  I love planning it, executing it, obsessively looking at pictures from it, but most of all I love sharing it with all of you.  The theme of our most recent party was Breakfast at Tiffany's...technically speaking, I suppose it was Brunch at Tiffany's but who's keeping track?  Not surprisingly, we had a beautiful time.  I mean, how bad can an afternoon with 14 Audrey Hepburns really be?  Especially when those Audrey Hepburns are your best friends.  Now lets get down to the party details before I burst with excitement!  

In terms of centerpieces, I took the idea of a Tiffany's "little blue box" and ran with it.  Pretty intensely.  I wanted to fill little (or in this case, huge) blue boxes with diamonds to take things to the next level and that brought with it it's own set of challenges.  A little bit of acrylic paint, some ribbon, a a few aluminum foil covered foam boards (to hold the "diamonds") and some household items (to support the foam boards) later, I managed to MacGyver up the boxes below.  There was some precarious placing involved, but I was thrilled with the final outcome!

I love everything about brunch, so you can imagine how excited I was to put together our menu.  I've had good brunch and I've had bad brunch, and I think what's separated them (besides the quality of food, obviously) is the balance of salty and sweet.  In my totally unbiased opinion, our menu kicked butt. :) It would work perfectly for a bridal luncheon or for a particularly classy shower too, so if you want any of the recipes, let us know!  

I was intent on taking the idea of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' as literally as possible, so I arranged the set-up of the room to mimic a jewelry store.  Due to a fortunate hook up at Dillard's department store (thanks again Ms. Daniella), we were able to borrow a few jewelry displays that I used to showcase some of my Mom's beautiful pieces.  

We had jewelry all over the place...on the food table, by the drinks, and- most notably- on the Swag Bag area.  What's a Swag Bag area, you ask?  Well, that's an excellent question even the lovely ladies of Table for 12 didn't know the answer to when our fun afternoon began.  Although the jewelry displayed throughout the room was mostly from my Mom's collection, I did have a small area that- unbeknownst to the girls- they were able to go "shopping" in.  Because what's the fun of having Breakfast at Tiffany's if you can't go home with something shiny?  I purchased some inexpensive but lovely pieces of costume jewelry over the weeks leading up to our event, then came up with a system to determine in what order the girls would make their selections.  If you've ever been in a room full of women and jewelry, then you realize how important it is to have some semblance of order.  As my roommate Courtney has perfect penmanship, I had her write the numbers 1-12 on some pretty paper.  I then proceeded to wrap the numbers in little blue boxes and place the boxes in a random order at each place setting.  When the girls chose their seat, little did they know they were also choosing their number...and they got to open a little blue box, which is always a good time in and of itself.  I made sure everyone was supplied with a pair of Holly Golightly's signature shades, a lovely new piece of bling, and a personalized bag (one of my favorite details of the evening).  Check it out below. 

If I had a Mimosa in hand right now (and boy do I wish I did), I'd toast to a spectacular afternoon spent with gorgeous friends.  We're two for two, ladies (speaking of which- if you missed our last Table for Twelve, you can check that out here).  Check back soon for some guest posts courtesy of the Table for Twelve gals themselves- believe me...they're every bit as fabulous as they look.  I can't wait to share their infinite wit and wisdom with you. :)  Stay tuned!

P.S- I just realized I didn't really include one good picture of my dress, which I'm completely enamored with, by the way.  If you like it half as much as I do, you'll want to check out this past Friday's post on the vintage store where I bought it.  And yes, those are diamonds reflecting off my face.  If that's not the sign of a good day, I don't know what is. :)