Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend Baking

This weekend, I had planned to continue my ongoing cake-making attempts (see the whole story here and here) but then I realized I needed to do some Valentine's Day themed baking. I let my husband choose what he wanted me to make and not surprisingly, he chose brownies. My husband doesn't like fancy desserts...give him a good old brownie over mille-feuilles any day.

In order to make the brownies somewhat Valentine's Day appropriate, I cut them out into heart shapes and sprinkled them with powdered sugar. I'm pretty pleased with the effect! It kind of works with the low-key, simple night we have planned. And I have to admit, I like me some brownies, too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The Gist: 
I switched over to a new blog account, name, and URL.

The Story:
Ever since I started this blog, I've been having some problems with Blogger. Out of a dozen small problems, I've also had some major ones. I've gotten a bunch of email from people who say they tried to follow me but couldn't, or tried to comment and couldn't. After trying to get help from the Blogger people with no success, I've decided to bite the bullet and create an entirely new account and an entirely new blog, hoping this will solve my problem. We'll see, I guess. I've imported everything here into my new blog, which of course, I had to rename. 

I'll be posting in both places for awhile, but if you are so inclined,  
please follow me over to my new (but not really new) blog
For those of you who I also follow, I will be re-following you with my new account.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Paint Chip Art

I've been collecting paint chips since I was a child. I'd take a bunch every time my parents went to Home Depot or Sherwin Williams or any place that sold paint. I literally have thousands of them...and I have finally found some uses for them. I love all of these, but the first one is my favorite!

I could make an adorable mobile for my as-of-yet-nonexistent baby (I doubt my 11-year-old stepson would be that thrilled)

Via Say Yes to Hoboken

Or I could use them to "paint" an entire wall

Via Design*Sponge

Or to make some abstract wall art

Via The 3 R's Blog

Or maybe I could turn them into skylines like these.

Via The Ambitious Procrastinator

This bunting would be perfect for a Valentine's Day party

Via Grace and Light

Or this banner could be made to work anytime.

Via A Bit of Sunshine

I could even make over a clock.

Via Crafts By Amanda

I can't believe how creative and talented some people are!

If you want to give one a try, click on the picture or link to go to the tutorial.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What I Read Last Week...{2.09}

You've probably already heard, but Tuesday was the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth. In anticipation of the day, I decided to read something Dickens-related last week. I've had The Girl In a Blue Dress on my bookshelf for months now, and last week was the perfect time to read it.

The Girl In a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold

In Alfred Gibson the fierce energy and brilliance of the most famous of the Victorian novelists is recreated, in a heart-warming story of first love—of a cocky young writer smitten by a pretty girl in a blue dress.

Alfred Gibson's funeral has taken place at Westminster Abbey, and his wife of twenty years, Dorothea, has not been invited. Her younger daughter Kitty comforts her, until an invitation for a private audience with Queen Victoria arrives, and she begins to examine her own life more closely. Uncovering the true deviousness and hypnotic power of her celebrity author husband, she'll now need to face her grown-up children—and worse—her redoubtable younger sister, Sissy and the charming actress, Miss Ricketts.

My Take: This novel is loosely based on the life of Charles Dickens, focusing on his often estranged relationship with his wife Catherine. While the character of Alfred (Charles) is prominent in the novel, it is written from the point of view of Dorothea (Catherine.) This book had a funny effect on me. I disliked the characters, and yet, I liked the book very much. Alfred is portrayed as an egotistical and domineering father who cares more about fame than his family. Dorothea is content to play the martyr for most of the book, which usually drives me crazy. In spite of that, I liked the book! Go figure.

My Recommendation: If you are interested in Charles Dickens, I think you should at least consider reading the book. There are quite a few references to his novels and writing, so that would be interesting. There is a great deal of accurate historical detail, both about the relationship between Dickens and his wife, but also about the daily lives of Victorian women. It was a solid read. I didn't love it, but then again, I don't expect to love every book I read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Want That Room! {2.08}

I just love the home office of designer Emily Ruddo. Last summer, High Gloss magazine did a spread on her beautiful home, and this was my favorite room in the house. I love the vibrant blue color on the walls, although I'm sure it might be too bright for some tastes. The contrast between the blue and the fuscia/pink chevron rug is wonderful. Everything else is comparatively understated. A couple of colorful throw pillows on the couch, a desk chair that coordinates with the rug, a plain white desk, and a collection of framed prints on the wall.

Personally, I love a couple of brightly colored rooms in a house. In my house, most of the rooms are neutrals, except for one turquoise blue room and one painted cranberry red. The thing I love most about this office is that it would be fairly easy to emulate the look. Sometimes, designer rooms look amazing and beautiful, but they are extremely hard to do in your own home. Not so with this office. I'm off to look for some colorful rugs now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chair Art (for lack of a better description)

Going through the furniture section of Anthropologie's website the other day, I noticed an interesting trend. I don't even know what to call it. It's art...on seating. Like literally, paintings and other works of art produced on a "canvas" of sofas and chairs. It sounds a little strange, but it looks beautiful. Just look at the examples below.
The prices, however, are not so pretty. Thousands of dollars for a novelty settee? Not for me. In any case, I'm not sure I'd purchase something like that for my house. As gorgeous as they are, they're not exactly my style. No, I'm content just looking at pretty pictures on the internet. What do you think? Would you spring for seating like this?

Monday, February 6, 2012

If At First You Don't Succeed...

What great advice (she said sarcastically.) I've been trying for ages to recreate this cake that my dad ate in his childhood. My grandfather used to make it, and it's one of the happiest memories my dad has of his father. I originally wanted to figure out for a Christmas present, but after a while, I got too busy with Christmas busyness.

This weekend, I wanted to resume my efforts. I made 3 cakes, and none of them turned out quite right. Actually, 2 out of 3 tasted pretty good, but they just weren't like the cake my grandfather made. I'm beginning to think this cake is some sort of myth! I'll admit that I got pretty frustrated, especially after Attempt #2, which failed miserably.  I might or might not have thrown the cake into the backyard. Which is better than throwing it at on the floor of my kitchen.

The good news is that I'm getting closer. I'm systematically changing one variable at a time, and that seems to be working. I'll be at it next weekend again.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Etsy Find: Aeropagita Prints

I was trolling Etsy the other day (practically a daily event) when I stumbled across AeropagitaPrints. Normally, while I enjoy abstract art, I don't usually want to put it up in my home. These are different to me. The artist, Mishel Valenton, seeks to encourage introspection and positivity through her work. Looking at these beautiful prints certainly gives me good dose of cheerfulness and optimism! I love how most of her pieces start from the center of the print and project outward. It makes me want to pass on the good energy!

The Change. This one is my favorite!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Want That Room! {2.01}

This week, I'm dreaming of this feminine Parisian-chic bathroom. I love that this bathroom is girly and elegant, without being too frilly or stuffy. Can you imagine sitting in that tub underneath a skylight with the light linen canopy all around? The wood carving and gold details make the room opulent, while the furry rug keeps it fun. And not to fixate on the tub, but don't you love how it's made for lounging?


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To Cheer Myself Up

I am guilty of occasionally dwelling on the bad things in my life. It doesn't happen often, but once I start, it's kind of hard to shake myself out of it.

You know what helps? Changing the wallpaper on my computer to something happy. So after my crappy day yesterday, I changed the background on my laptop to this:

Peonies never fail to make me smile.

How do you cheer yourself up when you're feeling down? I'll take suggestions.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I've Always Wanted to Go to...

Reykjavik! I've wanted to visit Iceland for the longest time now, but for some reason, that hankering has been really strong this weekend.


Just so gorgeous! Granted, if I were actually in Iceland right now, I'd probably be complaining about the cold, but I sure am enjoying the photos!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I Read Last Week...{1.26}

I have not been very motivated to read lately, so I've been taking it easy book-wise. Last week, I re-read a favorite of mine, I Capture the Castle. A couple of random points: It was written by Dodie Smith, the author of One Hundred and One Dalmations. As in, the book that inspired the Disney movie? I Capture the Castle has also been made into a movie, and surprisingly, the movie is pretty good. I'm always wary of watching movies adapted from novels that I love...I almost always end up disappointed. In this case, the novel is better, of course, but the movie captured the essence of the book.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

 I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"—and the heart of the reader—in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

My Take: I've read this book several times, so I obviously love it. The narrator, Cassandra, is quirky, intelligent, brash, and slightly awkward (she's 17.) She's also incredibly loveable, as all of the characters are.  There is a great deal of humor in this book. Nearly all the characters have a dry, quick wit that English authors are often famous for. This is essentially a love story. Both Cassandra and her sister Rose fall in love by the end of the novel. But even more, it is a coming-of-age story. Over the course of the novel, Cassandra matures into an adult, although she's a very young, naive adult.

My Recommendation: Definitely read it! I've forced urged a number of people to read this book, and they have all enjoyed it. This includes my mom, my cousin, a friend, and even my brother. There's something for everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Want That Room! {1.25}

This is the second installment of my new "I Want That Room" series. This week, I am drooling over this stairwell:


I don't know if this is exactly a stairwell, but I don't know what else to call it. Whatever it is, I'm loving it. The curving staircase is so grand, especially with the glass globe finials. I love all the different greens from the carpet, wallpaper, ottoman, and even the trees outside. The pattern on the wallpaper and curtains is so pretty, and it goes perfectly with the damask ottoman. The ornate mirror is really impressive, although I'm not sure if I'm crazy about the eagles or whatever they are. And even though it doesn't stand out very much, I love the chevron wood floors. I can just imagine how gorgeous this place must look in real life, when the light shines through that enormous window.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rainbow Jello

I saw this picture on the blog Glorious Treats, and was inspired to try this myself.

<--- Amazing perfect rainbow jello
Here is my version:

<--- My inferior, but not terribly bad version
It took forever to make, but it turned out quite pretty, I think. It would have been better if I'd had those dessert glasses, but I had to make do with "crystal" plastic cups. I followed the recipe pretty closely, except that I added 1/2 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to each layer in order to give it a little more firmness. I'm pretty pleased with the results, even though my layers aren't very even. Oh well, it still tasted good!

Here is the recipe if you want to give it a go.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Loosely translated, that means "Happy New Year." Literally, it means "Congratulations and have a prosperous and good year."

We celebrated Chinese New Year's Eve last night. Although my family is pretty Americanized, we do still celebrate the New Year.

So we ate noodles, which symbolize prosperity

and we bought narcissus, which symbolize prosperity

and we displayed tangerines and Chinese grapefruit, which symbolize prosperity

and we received red envelopes, which also symbolize prosperity.

Do you sense a theme here?

(Technically, I shouldn't be receiving red envelopes, since I'm married. But my parents still give them to me, because I apparently am their little girl forever. I'm definitely not complaining about that!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

I know this isn't exactly new, but I just found out about Tyree Callahan's Chromatic Typewriter. How awesome is this?

Callahan replaced the ink ribbon with pads of watercolor, and the keys with color keys. I love the idea of merging writing and art in this completely new way. I mean, you have typography art, which I love. And you have the amazingness that is Keira Rathbone's art.

But this is different, and it is quite inspiring.

There's just one tiny detail.  The Chromatic Typewriter isn't actually functional. It was only meant to be a conceptual piece, although Callahan confesses to trying it out. The problem, Callahan says, is the typewriter's inability to efficiently reapply paint.  Basically, you could paint with the Chromatic Typewriter, but it would take forever.

Even if you can't actually paint a picture, the Chromatic Typewriter is the coolest conceptual art piece I've ever seen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What I Read Last Week...{1.19}

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Cotton candy at the state fair. S'mores around the campfire. Hot dogs at a baseball game. Some foods are inextricably linked to events or places. Wizenberg has noted similar associations between food and her own life, and she shares them in this delightful treat of a book. Part recipe book, part memoir, Wizenberg takes us through the moments of her life and the memorable foods that helped mark those occasions. Time-tested and good tasting, her recipes range from the simple to the complex, the healthful to the decadent. Some are original and some are borrowed, but each one marks an event -- important or mundane -- with equal significance.

She candidly shares the heartbreak of losing her father (accompanied by a multitude of dishes dropped off by caring neighbors and friends), recalled in the memory of a comforting pie. And she recounts the memory of her young French love, Guillaume, in the description of a steamy dessert: "Dolloped with crème fraiche, tarte tatin doesn't dally with small talk. It reaches for your leg under the table." 

My Take: First of all, this book is written by a fellow blogger, Molly Wizenberg. If you haven't checked out her blog Orangette, you need to. Both her blog and her book revolve around cooking and food, and how those things have affected her life. She has a slightly self-deprecating and sarcastic voice that I love and share. I'm usually really skeptical when people my age write memoirs, because I doubt that they have had lives worth writing about so far. With A Homemade Life, I'm glad I gave it a chance. Wizenberg has had an eventful albeit fairly short life that I really enjoyed reading about. She has another book in the works, and I can't wait for that one. I'll definitely be reading it. 

My Recommendation: Absolutely a must-read. I don't think you even need to enjoy cooking to enjoy the book, as long as you enjoy food. Now go. Buy, borrow, or steal the book and read it right away. No, actually don't steal it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Want That Room!

I'm thinking of doing a new series of posts entitled, "I Want That Room!" Because there are just so many gorgeous rooms I see in magazines, Pinterest, and other blogs...but I can't seem to find a way to put them together cohesively into posts.

So without further ado, this is the room I want this week.

I mean, come on. There are so many ways this room is perfect. Not only are there enough shelves to accommodate most, if not all, of my books, but they are COLOR-CODED! Seeing this picture makes my organization-obsessed heart beat a little faster. Plus the couch looks really comfortable, and it's topped off by an adorable little dog. 

How perfect is that?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chic Desk Accessories

For some reason, I always feel compelled to buy a bunch of new desk accessories every January. It's part of the whole new year-fresh start thing, I guess. This year, I found a whole bunch of gorgeous goodies for my desk at See Jane Work. (Isn't that a cute name?) I was so proud of myself. I only bought a fraction of the stuff I wanted to. 

1 | Nest Magazine Holder - White
2 | Semikolon File Folders
3 | Jonathan Adler Magnetic Board
4 | Ace Pilot Stapler
5 | ANYTHING Scissors
6 | Susy Jack Pencil Cups
7 | Sticky Tab Dividers
8 | Page Flags

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Meringues

My husband wasn't in the best mood this weekend, and I wanted to cheer him up. He's been talking about these meringue cookies that his mother made when he was a kid, so I decided to try to duplicate them as a surprise. Yay! It worked pretty well! Not only did the cookies turn out delicious, it also put my husband in a much better mood. I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, found here, but I used toasted hazelnuts instead of walnuts or pecans because that's what I had. I have a couple more changes in mind for the next time (I'm thinking less sugar and smaller pieces of chocolate) but these turned out really well for a first try. They are light and airy and crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. I've been eating these with my afternoon coffee or espresso. The sweetness of the cookies perfectly balances the bitterness of the coffee. Oh, and they only took about 10 minutes to make, not including the baking time.