Ooh, my favorite!

With Love
January 31, 2013, 11:45 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Entertaining

27516178_060_aI would very much like to alter, hell, even completely re-do our entire party menu just to be able to work-in these sweet little straws. They scream for a nice chocolately milkshake, don’t they? There is still only one source of hearts (from the Kaj Franck bowls that for now will house the Gougère’s from yesterday) so I think that perhaps a heart or two could find a way in. But alas, our menu is pretty badass right now, with a lot of thought put into tastiness, ease of eating, AND digestibility…so there will be no milkshakes. It is, afterall, a Lucky Valentine’s Day party and we DO, in fact, want people to get lucky when they get home. *wink, wink*

Lucky Valentine invitesThe invites went out, and most of them seem to have gotten lost in the mail. I’m thinking the post office doesn’t quite know how to handle the postcard anymore. Regardless though, the attempt at real mail was made…now come the text invites. Sigh.

With Love straws: set of 20, $16. Vintage Bubbly postcards: set of 8 $9.5



Gougère (French Cheese Puffs)
January 30, 2013, 7:32 am
Filed under: Entertaining, Food, Recipes

Picture 24So dangerously poppable, these wonderful cheesy puffs are officially cocktail party approved. Two successful test batches in and we’re hooked. I mean, really. Who’s not going to love a homemade puff of cheese. One bite. Savor. Two bite. Gone.

Picture 21There’s really not much to them, just a classic Pâte à Choux pastry: butter, flour, eggs, water; with some savory additions: Gruyère cheese, chives, sea salt, cayenne, and black pepper.

Picture 25The Pâte à Choux pastry dough is really sticky, so we tried two methods to form the puffs: quenelles and piping. With the first batch using the quenelle method we found it harder to control the size of the puffs, and it seemed like a lot of unnecessary work. The second batch with the piping bag was much easier and faster. Go the piping route! And if you’re out a pastry bag just snip the corner of a plastic storage bag.

Picture 23We liked topping each puff with a touch of sea salt and parmesan to vary the tastes a bit. The sea salt was an essential addition, but if you prefer to stick with one cheese, for the ease of things, you can always top with some of the Gruyère. Oh, and in a strange twist, I prefer these guys cooled a bit. There’s definitely something sexy about the cloud of steam one gets from a fresh-from-the-oven bite, but all of the cheesy, chivey goodness is best tasted after they’ve cooled slightly.

Perfect for partying in every way.


Gougère French cheese puffs

Yields about 30 small bites

1/2 cup water

3 Tbs butter

1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more as a topper

pinch cayenne pepper

pinch black pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 organic eggs

1/4 cup minced chives

3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (plus more for topping)

Optional: 2 Tbs grated parmesan

Prepare (shred, chop, measure) all of the ingredients before you get started. Preheat the oven to 475-degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat mat.

In a medium saucepan add the butter, water, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. When the butter has melted add the flour and mix quickly until the dough begins to pull away from the sides. Remove from the heat and transfer to a stand mixer or bowl and let cool before the eggs are added, about two minutes will do.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly and quickly. It may seem lumpy at times but continue to stir until just incorporated. Add the Gruyère and chives, mix well.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and pipe small mounds about the size of a small truffle. Space evenly and allow them room to puff. If there are any peaks gently press them down while topping each puff with grated parmesan (or Gruyère) and a touch of sea salt.

Pop the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375-degrees and let bake for another 20 minutes. They should be a lovely golden color and have a crisp bite at the outset. The inside should be eggy and cheesy, but still quite light.

Picture 26



Animal Camouflage
January 29, 2013, 10:38 am
Filed under: Nature

camouflaged_bitternCan you see the hidden bittern here? Check out the original image on Flickr and it’s even more difficult to see.

[via The Conservation Report, image by Lisa Lawley on Flickr]

Spring 2013 Couture – Beauty
January 28, 2013, 7:05 am
Filed under: Beauty, Fashion

I had no intention of digging into the Couture fashion shows in Paris last week; spring and fall fashion weeks seem endless with so much coverage anymore, but I couldn’t help but admire these striking looks from Dior and Chanel.

lipsCrystal lips at Christian Dior

Bright eye shadows and Swarovski crystals were studded across the eyes at Dior’s Spring/Summer show last year (remember it was called Techno Butterfly), and for the shows last week those sparkly crystals moved down to the lips. Again done by Pat McGrath the lips were bright and glittery, paired with slick pixie cuts, a pale eyelid, and bold stroke of liquid liner. I’m loving that “light Siam” fuschia-pink in the last image especially–it’s a color to watch, by the way.

eyesMesh lashes at Chanel

If I could figure out a way to rock this look every day I would — Gothic Fairy I believe they are calling it. The dark, shimmery lids with mesh lashes look like tear-strewn, fluttery romantic-ness. If only, right? I love the glowy skin and lightly blushed cheeks as a subtle accompaniment.

These, just like the Techno Butterfly eyes, will be just as fun to see how it translates to the streets. Regardless though, inspiring and romantic is not a bad way to start the week.

[images via Style.com]

Heirloom Popcorn
January 24, 2013, 11:52 am
Filed under: Food, Recipes, Seattle

heirloomWe’ve been having lots of fun playing with popcorn lately and there are so many fun twists that I can’t wait to share, but I figured I’d start off simply with an heirloom popping corn done right on the stove.

If you’ve never popped popcorn on the stove top I swear in some weird way it’s easier than in a microwave where I always managed to under-pop or walk away and completely singe the entire bag. With the stove, the quality of the popped kernels is much better and you have so many choices in the variety of corn that you want to use. Heirloom varieties are not genetically modified (they don’t contain Round-up!) so the character, taste, and texture of the corn is richer and tastier.

Picture 8

The method

Everyone has one of those tall stock pots with a lid tucked away somewhere; ours has become our popcorn pot. You’ll want a tall pot so a large amount of steam can collect.

1.  Place the pot on medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of oil. We switch between bacon fat, duck fat, or coconut oil.

2.  Throw in 3-4 kernals while the oil is melting. Once those guys pop the oil has reached the right temp.

3.  Add 1/2 cup of popcorn and cover.

4. Swirl the pot over the heat and listen to how the corn is popping.

5. Once the popping stops wait a second or two longer, remove from the heat, and open the lid to let the steam escape.

6. Serve with your favorite salt.

The corn

The brand we’ve been using is India Tree (a Seattle-based company!), and their Paloma Blanca is heavenly…even described as “little doves” (palomitos) on the package. Available online or on the gourmet food aisle at many grocery stores. While the Blanca is our favorite, the other varieties are great too.


Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto Sake
January 23, 2013, 10:29 am
Filed under: Drinks

Picture 7

Yes, it’s true. This is not a sparkling wine post. On a trip to Uwajimaya, on an innocent turn down the sake isle we decided to branch out and play with something new. But let me just say that drinking sake is nothing like drinking bubbly. Or maybe I should say that the pace in which one drinks bubbly should not be the pace that one drinks sake. I found this out the hard way and ended up going to bed at 8:30…on a Saturday. I was, however, able to salvage our night by getting up again at 10:30 and enjoying a lovely dinner with Andrew.

I blame the fact that like those first two glasses of bubbly, this Kurosawa sake was especially easy to drink and is the perfect intro to sake (and I am admittedly in the intro camp). It comes from the Nagano prefecture and means black river. It is brewed using the kimoto method which is considered rare even by Japanese standards as the hands-on method requires a meticulous eye and process.

The Kurosawa has a perfectly smooth texture and viscosity (not syrupy!), and a quality and taste like cocoa butter. In the most complimentary way possible it smells of tootsie rolls, and the finish tastes of toasted coconut, banana, and a hint of chrysanthemum. Surprisingly no fruit notes. Even with all of these tastes of sweet it is quite dry. I prefer my sake chilled, but many prefer this just reaching room temp.

Kurosawa Sake, $20 online here or at Uwajimaya in Seattle.

Picture 8

DRYKORN for Beautiful People
January 22, 2013, 7:37 am
Filed under: Fashion


I’m not much good at shopping for the guys but a few years ago while shopping at Bloomingdale’s I came across the most kick ass pair of pants for dad; they were the perfect hybrid of Carhartt meets casual-luxury. The brand was DRYKORN for Beautiful People, a German brand that I have yet to find again stateside, even for online purchasing with shipping to the US. Perfectly tailored and weathered in all the right spots they looked great but for dad they were a touch too tight (a hipster he is not).

I eventually stole back the pants I’d gifted and have been living in them ever since. Ok, so perhaps they are slightly big and maybe the crotch is a tad man-ish, but when paired with my button-up blouse, belt, glittery Converse, and a perfectly tailored coat it’s the most epic mix of chic-chick menswear. I admit I started to feel a bit insecure after I got some questions (daring dressing in Seattle, what’s new) but was totally, freakin’ validated when I searched for their Fall 2012 line and came across these. Hell yeah. I was so right!

Until I can figure out a way to get DRYKORN out west I’ll be taking inspiration (and digging out my waistcoat!) because I want to be all of these.

Party Planning
January 21, 2013, 10:29 am
Filed under: Entertaining, The Finer Things, Vintage

It’s sad to say but the last official party I hosted was probably about 8 years ago. It’s lame because I love entertaining, and even in my early days as a hostess we always had fun snacking and sipping at my tiny old house in Wedgwood. I even converted a tiny extra room into a “Moroccan tea room” with tons of floor pillows and lots of candlelight. The guys especially loved calling it the make out room, but the only thing they ever did there was to get in the candle wax and make a huge mess. So yeah. Boys.

My idea of entertaining has changed only a tad, but I’m using this opportunity to plan and collect key pieces that I can use for any type of get together. Here’s the concept I have in mind, using similar pieces that I already have or have just found, and a color palate that is (hopefully) far from the horrifying search results one gets when looking for ideas on this sort of thing.

Picture 6

Salad plateCrystal pitcher / Champagne coupes / Marble board / Linen cocktail napkins / Votives / Serving tray (similar) / Mother of Pearl serving set

Etsy has been an amazing source for vintage pieces at really great prices too. I’d recommend spending time searching there, but only when you know precisely what you want (combing through the results is a disaster otherwise). eBay and Craigslist are also great resources, especially when you’re looking for larger lots of dinnerware. (Our set of salad plates came from Craigslist!)

I decided that I want everything to be neutral: crystal/glass/ceramic with small bits of silver and gold. I actually like mixing the two and with only small bands of it here and there I think it will be nice little touches. The flowers will be more neutral as well with ivory, blushes and natural greens. Yep, no red flowers! The only bits of color will be the guys above, and they’ll be in the form of crepe paper that I’ll make into some sort of garland.

Some quick tips on collecting pieces:

Crystal pitcher – This Waterford one here is quite lovely, but there’s no need to spend big money. Check out a current sale at One King’s Lane and see some great ones for about $30.

Linen napkins – I have the greatest little vintage linen napkin collection resulting from a few mixed lot listings for less than $15 each. A quick search will get you lots of great results.

Champagne coupes – don’t spend big money on these. (I don’t really love the ones here, save for the gold rim.) Again, search eBay, Etsy, Craigslist.

Silver Serving tray – even new ones can be inexpensive, just take the time to find one in the shape, size, and weight that you want.

Serving utensils – I just picked these guys up on One King’s Lane for $30. Mother of pearl too!

These are a few…
January 18, 2013, 10:35 am
Filed under: My favorite things

This was one of those weeks where I can’t remember what actually happened. Perhaps it was because brother was coming up and I was really excited because that means lazy days at home with lots of home cookin’. Oh, and it also meant these…

photo 3

A haul from Miette. Oh how I miss my favorite San Francisco bakery (the ONLY place that makes a proper macaron). Thanks to brother @thanithani & @maridorothy for the goodies!!

photo 2

A new cookbook for the collection. Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook Jerusalem is unbelievable. Lots of recipes with vegetables, lamb, and spices and the photos and food styling are gorgeous.

photo 1

A recipe for gougeres. We did our testing last weekend and the gougies were a hit, and so easy. Are you ready for the recipe?

The Cool House
January 17, 2013, 10:58 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Home


This is my kind of pop-up shop; in fact, this is my kind of home. Well, actually it’s a penthouse on the sixth floor of the Swiss Grand Hotel on Bondi beach in Sydney, but regardless, it’s an inspiring set-up. The shop was hosted by the folks at The Cool Hunter (my fave!) back in December, and everything (including the penthouse) was for sale.coolhouse4

Reading the latest issue of Lonny I was admiring one of the lovely featured homes, but was suddenly so put off my the owner’s description calling it “charming if humble.” Trust me when I say there was nothing humble about it. (Strategically placed Hermes housewares does not a humble home make.) This, to me, is the opposite of that. I love the comfortably stylish vibe with a definite feel of luxury, but still far from pretentious. (And it’s not even a lived-in home, it’s a freakin’ shop!)coolhouse2

I adore the use of color, and just as I’ve been second-guessing how I use it at home. I think even without the ultimate beach setting the brilliant colors and textiles would work anywhere…especially here in the nine months of gloomy drizzly rain we have. This living room setting just makes me so happy. That collection of vases. The pillows. The rug. Sigh.coolhouse

Another great vignette, again the use of colors and textures is so interesting.coolhouse3

[Via and by The Cool Hunter. Styled by Steve Cordony. Photos by Felix Forest.]

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