12.06.2011

boardwalk empire + yelena bryksenkova

Are any of you watching Boardwalk Empire this season? Oh my goodness, the last few episodes have been absolutely mad and it is taking all my willpower not to read all the finale spoilers. Aesthetically this show is a dream (the writing is pretty sharp and exciting, too). I love how presently most of the female characters still have those wonderfully coiled long locks and I adore how delicate and sheer all of their garments are. A few weeks ago I discovered the work of Yelena Bryksenkova and was particularly intrigued by her Ziegfeld girl illustrations. It immediately reminded me of my favorite series (well, besides Mad Men and Downton Abbey). I like the way Yelena's girls are full-bodied and almost amazonian in stature. I also love the contrast between the colorful background patterns and the black/grey/white figures. Lovely!

11.19.2011

plushies galore hand-made by mel stringer

I'm excited, because ever since I had the seedlings of this blog in my head, I have wanted to feature some of Mel Stringer's work. I can't help it - she makes things that epitomize cute in the best possible non-cloying way. Recently, she's created some sweet plushies that make me wish I knew a bunch of little ones to give them to. I wonder if I'm too old? I know it may be a bit childish, but I like decorating with wide-eyed, hand-made creatures. Walter, the bear, is my very favorite of the group.

I'm hoping a sewing machine will be coming my way this holiday, so that I can make some of my own softies. I am currently enamored with narwhals, so I'd like to make one of those. I may sound like a dullard saying this, but I didn't know that narwhals were even real until about a month ago, and since then I've been obsessed (blushing, slightly embarrassed). Anyway, you ought to swing by Mel's shop; she has paper goodies and zines and the like. Very cool lady. Well, Happy Saturday!

11.09.2011

shade love: hannah stevens

I was poking around etsy last night, when I happened upon Hannah Stevens' shop. I fell for her lovely hand printed lampshades. Usually, I go the white lampshade route with a more bold base, but I love the idea of taking a simple white base and creating interest with the shade. I like how her textiles have a simple color palette, yet remain whimsical through the topsy-turvy placement of her birds. Just so cool:)

11.07.2011

a little spot of hermes orange

I have a habit of squirreling away pretty packaging. I cannot help it. I have a little strawberry-covered suitcase that I bought in Paris that contains an interior pocket packed with small Chanel, Dior and Versace shopping bags and boxes. I love the care that goes into packaging a purchase in a luxury shop - the way that trinkets are carefully wrapped in tissue and ribbon. Its just so lovely that I suppose I like to keep those labors of the shop-girl as a reminder.

One brand's packaging that I covet is Hermes. That vibrant orange says "I contain beautiful things." I couldn't imagine hiding away an Hermes box, if I had one. I love the way that some people incorporate that promising orange into their decor. These are a couple of examples that work marvelously.
Sources: 1, 2

11.06.2011

white chocolate cupcakes with dried mango

Hello, sweet readers! I have a scrumptious recipe to share with you today for white chocolate cupcakes with dried mango. I adapted it from this recipe. So good! The coconut milk is really what makes it. Nam nam. Here we go:

Ingredients
Cake
8 ounces (1 bar) of white chocolate
1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
3 large egg whites

Frosting
8 ounces (1 bar) of white chocolate
8 ounces (1 package) of cream cheese
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Topping
1 package of dried mango

Preparation
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Then, line two 12-cup muffin pans with pretty paper liners. Place your white chocolate into a double-boiler, or in a metal bowl over a barely simmering pan of water. Allow that to melt.

Mix together your flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat together your sugar, butter and vanilla. I like to start off slowly, so that chunks of butter don't end up in my hair:) Beat this mixture until it starts turning light and fluffy. Add your white chocolate and mix. Add your flour mixture and coconut milk. Alternate between them, until they are well combined and the batter is smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter in three parts.

Then, it is off to the muffin pan they go. These cupcakes don't rise a great deal, so fill up each cup 3/4 of the way. Bake for 25 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare your frosting. Melt another bar of white chocolate. While it is melting, toss the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it is smooth and voluminous. Add the white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

Slice the dried mango into tiny sprinkle-sized pieces with a paring knife. Wait for your cupcakes to cool, frost them and add a few mango pieces on top. Voila!

10.30.2011

d*s book signing + handmade printing loveliness

Last week I had the delight of attending Grace Bonney's book signing for Design* Sponge at Home. It was loads of fun - I made a sweet friend, I hand-stamped a tote, and met lovely Grace (who is remarkably tiny in person). I felt much too rushed and anxiety-ridden during the demo though, so my tote ended up looking kind of sloppy. However, I had learned a nifty craft and I knew that I would attempt stamping again in my own decidedly quiet space.
So, I hopped over to the craft store the other day and bought some Martha Stewart craft paint and some adhesive-backed foam. For this project, I decided to stamp some muslin for a throw pillow. I used Martha's Hailstorm and Blue Calico, as well as a fabric medium.
I then drew a loose outline of a fox head onto my foam in pencil. I refined it a bit and then cut it out using a very sharp pair of scissors and stuck it onto my cardboard. I measured my stamp and calculated how large my piece of fabric ought to be if I wanted five rows and five columns.
I mixed up my paint and fabric medium (2:1) in two shot glasses and started loading up my stamp with a brush. I like the way that you can see the brush strokes in my print, however, if you'd like to avoid that, you can just load your stamp with a more even coat of paint.
And that, my darling readers, is that! Here is the finished fabric.
I don't have a sewing machine, so I am going to have to hand-stitch this baby. Bleh, sewing can be such a drag, but what's a girl to do when she wants throw pillows, damn it:)

Grace's book is really tops and I highly recommend it. I'm just so happy to have a hard-copy collection of her Sneek Peek feature. The crafts are pretty great and seem fairly easy too.

Well, I'm off. I hope that all of you have a mischievous Halloween tomorrow. I will be in Charlotte with my sweetie doing serious grown-up things (Andrew has an interview). Until next time;)

10.24.2011

the return of fifi


This morning I awoke squealing, “Fifi is here!” Andrew just peeked in from the kitchen and smiled. I've been waiting centuries for the Fifi Lapin shop to be restocked with fashion-y bunny goodness. I admit it, I am mad about Fifi's blog (is there anything better than a style maven, who also happens to be a bunny?) and have been longing for a print, but in the past I've been too indecisive to snag one in time. This time I was prepared though. I waited all week trying to savor each snippet of the collection. The time finally came today and Andrew sweetly purchased one for me for the upcoming holiday. He's such a swell guy. I cannot wait to have my own Fifi print to admire on our wall! Here are some of my favorites:

10.20.2011

dottie delights from madewell

I go weak in the knees for polka dots, especially bright pink dots popping on a neutral background. It has taken all of my will power not to snatch up that scarf and those glittens, but it requires more thought; I mustn't be impulsive. Anyhow, Madewell has loads of dotted goods and I thought it was my duty to point them out to my readers. Enjoy the speckled goodness!

10.19.2011

a dish of jewels

I may not have a huge collection of baubles, but I still take delight in seeing the few that I do have in dainty porcelain dishes. These photographs are so inspiring. Pretty storage solutions are the ne plus ultra in my book. They remind me of being a little one and rummaging through my mother's chest of costume jewelry. I love the delicate clinks of metal against porcelain and could almost hear them as I collected these images. I hope that you like them as much as I do.
Sources: 1, 2, 3

10.15.2011

finger knitting

Happy weekend! A few days ago I discovered Katherine's super-awesome blog, Making Chicken Salad, and found this great tutorial on finger knitting garlands. How had I not known of this easy craft before now? Although I know that it is way too early, I am making and gathering holiday decorations. I just know that December will be here lickety-split and I want everything to my liking beforehand to avoid unnecessary stress. Anyway, I ran off to the craft store and purchased several bundles of Martha Stewart's Glitter Eyelash Yarn in Sterling and Rose Quartz. I've been knitting since. The garlands are just so soft and vintage-y looking and I love them.

10.13.2011

sweet pup gear

That cutie above is our little Kessie. I'm usually thoroughly disappointed by the garish offerings I find in most pet stores, but recently I discovered two pretty shops that fit my aesthetic.  The first is blinkthings, which carries the nicest rope leashes and brushed brass pet tags in organic shapes.
The second is Mungo & Maud, which carries both dog and cat products that are beautifully designed, graceful and subdued. One of my favorites is their "mishap" spray. It makes me laugh, because that is such an elegant name for what we just call "pee" spray around here. These are some of my favorites.

10.10.2011

ode to a canvas tote

Vintage clutches used to be my bag of choice, but I could never fit everything in and would end up awkwardly trying to grip my book and clutch under my arm.  Then I discovered the roomy wonders of the canvas tote. I could throw in seven lipsticks, three books, my Instax mini, a water bottle and still have room for more junk.  I love that a canvas tote is cheap and can accommodate all of my crap. This summer I've been carrying around a tote designed by Anabela of Fieldguided, which is pretty as pie, but I can't help longing for these totes by VerĂ³nica de Arriba, too. Her illustrations are simple, yet darling in a non-cloying way. I especially fancy that panda illustration:)

10.03.2011

"making do" red velvet cupcakes

Last night I got a hankering to make some red velvet cupcakes. I've been using this cake recipe for awhile and it is absolutely divine. However, I was short on some ingredients and had to make do with what I had on hand. Luckily, the results were still scrumptious. I feel slightly embarrassed admitting this, but I substituted buttermilk with a mixture of one half hazelnut coffee creamer and one half skim milk. I know, I know - real bakers must be shaking their disapproving heads, but they still turned out supremely moist. I also omitted the red dye and berry topping, because I was out. This cake recipe yields about thirty cupcakes and I suggest keeping them in the oven for a short twenty minutes. They may not be perfect, but they're still yummier than any store-bought sweets.

9.28.2011

yet another reason to immigrate to scandinavia...

This post may seem out of place, considering that I have no baby and have no desire for one anytime soon. But I am a feminist and a design enthusiast, which equates to joy over the maternity package that the Finnish government sends to its pregnant citizens. It's so delightful to see gender-neutral baby product awesomeness. I also love the notion that the package changes with each year and that you can share this commonality with all the other babies that were born in your year.