Halloween Crafts for ALL YOU

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's the Friday before Halloween weekend, so I thought I'd share two more Halloween crafts I made for ALL YOU magazine. The wine glasses above are adorned with black electrical tape, which I cut with a pair of sharp scissors. The spooky pumpkins below are made with funkins, but you could recreate these skull-like jack-o-lanterns with white pumpkins, as well.

An Amazing Skull Jack-O-Lantern

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Amazing, no? When I saw that the Moggit Girls tweeted, "Seriously cool carved Halloween pumpkin," with a link, of course, I clicked to see what it was. They were right: This is a seriously cool design from a website called SkullADay.com. I'm jealous I didn't dream this beauty up myself.

Inspired By John Robshaw

I saw this photo from John Robshaw's house in the latest issue of Lonny and wondered about the window shade. It might be a fancy, custom number, but I thought you could recreate a similar look by stenciling a pattern on a cheap shade, just like I did for Country Living a few months back (below). In fact, I'd originally imagined doing a repeat pattern on the shade, instead of a single motif. Ed Roth's Stencil 101 Decor set of stencils has some modern, repeat patternss that could be great for a stenciled shade.

FLOR's New Ikat Pattern

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How did I miss FLOR's new patterns? I'm loving the Sophistikat pattern seen ina room setting above and in detail below. At $12.99/tile, it's not even one of the company's more expensive options. I think this would be a fashion-forward, but affordable way to cover the floors in a home, don't you?

My Pumpkin Carving on the TODAY Show

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last week, I was hired to create some pumpkin crafts for a TODAY Show segment with ALL YOU magazine. While I didn't appear with the pumpkins on screen, I was thrilled to see my gourds have their fifteen minutes of fame. Here are some still shots from the segment, but if you want to see them in action, head over to TODAY's website for the full clip.

THE BEST: Gourmet's Garlic-Rosemary-Marinated Lamb Chops

Monday, October 25, 2010

On the plus side of driving all the way to the Bronx to see a bunch of fake pumpkins (see above) was that my fellow and I made a pit-stop at Arthur Avenue for a modest haul of Italian grocerries. For those of you who do not know, Arthur Avenue is a mini-Little Italy in the Bronx, and it's authentic as hell. We left with a chunk of gorgeous Parmesean, a half pound of Bresaola, a box full of fresh ricotta raviolis, a half pound of spinach linguine, three lamb loin chops, two broccoli rabe sausage links, two cannoli in the stomach and another three in a box to go. Although we resisted the call of an early dinner at Rigoletta on Friday, every last bit of that supply of goodies was gone by Sunday night. Gluttons, we are.

We hadn't arrive at Arthur Avenue with any particular recipes in mind, so we did a little digging through our cookbooks when we got home. Gourmet's Gourmet Today cookbook billed this recipe as a "tasty weeknight lamp chop," but after sampling the results, I beg to differ. This marinade coupled with a nice, tender lamb loin chop is nothing short of revolutionary. It was divine, outstanding, delicious, and I regretted that we hadn't bought at least another pair of lamb chops, which would have been totally disgusting, but wonderful.

Make this recipe with the tenderest darn lamb loin chops you can find. Trust me on this one.

Garlic-Rosemary-Marinated Lamb Chops
from the late-great Gourmet
2 garlic cloves
1 t. salt
2 t. finely grated lemon zest
1 T. chopped, fresh rosemary
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
3 to 4 (1/14-inch thick lamb loin chops (about 1 lb. total)*

1. Mince garlic and mash to a paste with salt, using the side of a heavy knife. Stir together garlic paste, zest, rosemary olive oil and pepper in a bowl. Rub paste onto both side of chops and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

2. Heat grill pan over high heat until hot. Brush with oil and grill chops, turning once, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. Let stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.

* Note: Gourmet Today says eight 1 1/4-inch thick lamb chops, which would certainly be MUCH more than a pound, I am sure. I am going to assume there was a typo in the cookbook: Our three chops (a little thicker than 1 1/4-inch, but all the better for it) were just under a pound.

** Double Note: The photo above is not a shot of this recipe, it is merely a delicious-looking shot of a lamb chop. I would normally have taken a photo (but I was too covered in lamb juice gnawing at hte bone to snap photos) or pulled photo from Epicurious.com (but somehow, the usually-wise editors of the site have failed to include ONE OF THEIR BEST RECIPES EVER). Hence, the decoy; my sincere apologies.


One of the pleasures of being a freelance writer is that I can make my own schedule (a true luxury, I assure you). So, if I decide that I'd rather go to the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) on a Friday afternoon than brave the weekend crowds, I can. And having a freelance photographer for a boyfriend, he can come along, which is exactly what we did this past Friday.

I'm on the press release list for NYBG, and I'm frequently intrigued by the garden's offerings. The recent press push for the Halloween Hoorah, foretold three of the largest pumpkins in the region -- which were present and impressive -- and over 500 carved pumpkins. Seeking inspiration and playing hooky, we braved the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and journey to the Bronx.

Ladies and gentlemen, your humble author was dismayed to discover that the New York Botanical Garden’s “intricately carved” pumpkins were all fake! (See above.) A jack-o-lantern enthusiast, I had been tempted to view the work of a true pumpkin-carving artist, only to discover display after display of styrofoam Funkins.

A representative from the garden told me, “A majority of the installation are Funkins so that the installation is preserved for families to enjoy throughout October,” which is understandable, but there really wasn’t a single carved, live pumpkin on the premises. I can appreciate the convenience of a Funkin -- I have used them on many occasions for magazine shoots, but in a garden, one expects life, does one not?

I know Martha Stewart has always been a big supporter of the Botanical Garden, perhaps she could send some of her crafty staffers up to imbue the garden with a little live plant matter next fall? If not, I personally volunteer to carve a handful of live pumpkins for the New York Botanical Garden so that our city's youth can see a real live vegetable.

Below, are some snapshots of the living things we saw at the Garden: Signs of this glorious northeastern fall weather.

World Globe Chandelier

Friday, October 22, 2010

While I have seen plenty of hanging lamps made from a world globe sliced in half, I have never seen anything like this stunning chandelier made from a grouping of world globes. Designed by Benoît Vieubled (and spotted on Inhabitat), this is one clever upcycled light fixture. Too bad it would cost a small fortune to make a DIY version.

Bookmarked Recipes: Eggs and Goat Cheese

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Here are two simple recipes I have bookmarked to try: Scrambled Eggs With Grated Zucchini from The New York Times's lovely "Recipes for Health column.

Goat Cheese With Pistachios and Cranberries from Real Simple's November issue.

Wall Decal Headboards

When wall decals first hit the market in 2002 or so, they were exciting -- really, I swear! I remember putting together a shoot for Budget Living magazine that featured different decals and we were so thrilled to be the first magazine to run a story one them. However, within just a few short years, I had, had enough of wall decals -- they bored me to tears and frankly, most designs just looked hokey to me.

Then, I saw these cute headboard cutouts from Blik (the original hip decal maker) and I fell back in love with the idea. Our bedroom is a typical, small New York City bedroom -- and we can't really spare the extra inches we'd need to have a proper headboard. Yet sometimes I look over at my headboard-less bed and think it looks so naked. Blik's Wrought Iron (above) or Olivia Headboard (below) decals could fix that without taking up an inch of floor space. What do you think, worth a shot?

A Well-Stocked Umbrella Stand

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spotted in the October issue of Traditional Home, I love the idea of a well-stocked umbrella stand at the back door. While we do have an umbrella stand, it's a ramshackle collection of mismatched umbrellas, most of which are the $3-bought-at-a-bodega variety.

Entertaining Advice from Ina Garten

In the past, I haven't had the best luck with Ina Garten's (aka the Barefoot Contessa) recipes, but I enjoyed some smart, simple entertaining advice that she shared in a recent issue of Ladies Home Journal. Of Thanksgiving entertaining she says:

"I almost never make hors d'oeuvres; cocktail food at my house is little silver bowls with salted cashews, ripe cherry tomatoes, vinegary caper berries or salt potato chips. It's elegant, it's delicious, and frankly, no one really wants to fill up on pigs in a blankets when you've worked so hard on the dinner."

I couldn't agree with her advice any more -- and not just for Thanksgiving, but for any meal!

Personally, I always have some nuts, dried fruits and cheese in the house. When presented in a pretty way, these pantry staples can make a deceivingly elegant hors d'oeuvres spread. For example, the other weekend I cut up an apple, sliced some pieces of sharp chedder cheese, quartered some dried figs and arranged them on a cutting board with some almonds -- a seemingly special spread was really just what I had on-hand. Of course, a nice cheese and some crackers or sliced baguette is always a welcome treat.

Chickpea and Fresh Spinach Curry

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I wouldn't normally use ReadyMade magazine as a source for recipes, but I was intrigued by a recipe for a Chickpea and Fresh Spinach Curry in a recent issue. When I saw that the recipes had been excerpted from a new cookbook, The Wholesome Kitchen, I decided to give it a whirl.

While this recipe isn't knock-your-socks-off delicious, it was tasty and very healthy. It's an ideal easy, weeknight vegetarian meal.

Chickpea and Fresh Spinach Curry
From The Wholesome Kitchen

1 white onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 t chopped fresh ginger
1 T light olive oil
2 T mild curry paste
14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 c cold water
14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 lb fresh spinach, stalks removed and leaves chopped
A handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1. Put the onion, garlic, and ginger into a food processor and process until finely chopped.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet set over high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring often, until golden brown.
3. Add the curry paste and stir-fry for 2 minutes, until aromatic.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, water, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a medium simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted.
5. Stir in the cilantro.
6. Serve over basmati rice.

November Good Housekeeping Crafts

Monday, October 18, 2010

You can find more of my crafts in the November issues of Good Housekeeping magazine. Here are three of the projects from the magazine: A centerpiece made from vintage cheese graters, napkin rings made from buckles and a wine journal.

Turkey-Vegetable Meatloaf

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My father will eat just about anything, including tripe, which is one of the few foods I won't eat. However, there's one thing he really hates: Meatloaf. Once or twice my mother cooked meatloaf when Dad was out of town, but for the most part, I had a meatloaf-less childhood. Until last weekend, it had been a loaf-free adulthood, as well.

I have a little booklet of recipes titled Everyday Meals that came with my subscription to Gourmet some years ago. Among the tried-and-true recipes contained in the slender volume is one for Turkey Meatloaf. Something about the arrival of fall made me want to give it a try, and the results were very tasty. I used ground dark turkey meat from the farmers' market, which gave it a nice rich flavor.

As an accompaniment, I mixed a cup of ketchup with a chopped-up chilpotle pepper from a can of chipoltes in adobe, which gave a nice kick to the meatloaf. I have re-named this a Turkey-Vegetable meatloaf because there are actually as many vegetables as turkey in this recipe, making it fairly healthy.

Turkey-Vegetable Meatloaf
From Gourmet

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/8-inch dice
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and very finely chopped in a food processor
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ketchup
1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (from 2 or 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
1/3 cup 1% milk
1 whole large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/4 pound ground turkey (dark meat)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and they are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and 3 tablespoons ketchup, then transfer vegetables to a large bowl and cool.
3. Stir together bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white, then add to vegetables. Add turkey and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to vegetable mixture and mix well with your hands. (Mixture will be very moist.)
4. Form into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a lightly oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch metal baking pan and brush meatloaf evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup. Bake in middle of oven until thermometer inserted into meatloaf registers 170°F, 50 to 55 minutes.
5. Let meatloaf stand 5 minutes before serving.

Our New Couch -- Finally!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

IT FINALLY CAME! I ordered our new Jasper sofa and slipcover from Room & Board on August 26th (shortly after my 30th birthday), but it just arrived yesterday. We're both thrilled with the new sofa -- it's as lovely as I remember the showroom model to have been.

Now we just need to figure out what throw pillows work on the new couch. I'm also eager to get a new slipcover made for the barrel chair, which you can see below. The old Laura Ashley cover from my childhood looks a little shabby next to our gleaming new Jasper.

What happened to the old Ikea sofa, you ask? My friends, have you ever used Craigslist's free section? It is amazing. Every time I have posted something there, someone comes to pick up the item I no longer want or need -- I even managed to get rid of a bunch of half-used cans of house paint once. A guy named Tony is now in possession of the broken Lillberg and I wish him luck with keeping it in one piece.

Determination and Utter Efficiency: Martha Stewart

I absolutely loved this bit from Sunday's Arts & Leisure section in The New York Times about Helen Mirren's latest role in the film RED:
She took inspiration for her portrayal of Victoria not from, say, some old James Bond heroine but from a far unlikelier figure. “I based the character on Martha Stewart,” she said. “She’s very sweet, very gentle, with a twinkle in her eye. But at the same time there’s that steely determination and utter efficiency just underneath it. I had a picture of Martha Stewart in my dressing room and the makeup trailer. Just to get that look in my eye.”

Sweet Corn, Edamame and Scallions

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Sunday night I had planned to make the recipe for Fresh Sweet Corn and Chives from The Greens Cookbook. However, when asked to pick up chives at the market, my very sweet boyfriend returned with scallions. Undeterred, I improvised, and the results were pretty tasty. Here's my own recipe for Sweet Corn, Edamame and Scallions inspired by Deborah Madison's corn sauté:

Sweet Corn, Edamame and Scallions

4 ears of corn
1 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame/soy beans
2 T. butter
1 bunch scallions
Coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper

1. Defrost edamame.
2. Use a sharp knife to cut the corn kernels off of the cob; break up the kernels.
3. Separate the white and light green parts of the scallions from the greens. Finely dice the lighter parts and finely slice about half of the the green tops.
4. Heat a skillet to moderate heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 3 tablespoons of water and sauté white parts of the scallion for a minute or two.
5. Add the corn and about 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Raise the heat and cook until the water cooks off. Add edamame to pan and cook for another minute.
6. Stir in the the second tablespoon of butter and scallion greens to the pan and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Pumpkin Pie From My iPhone

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ahhh... a tiny piece of homemade pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee in the late afternoon -- these are the joys of working at home. Eating this little treat, I remembered that I should share the recipe, which was quite good, Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream originally from Bon Appétit.

But what I really wanted to share was how useful I finally discovered the Epicurious iPhone app to be! I downloaded both the Epicurious app and the Everyday Food app, but have never really found occasion to use either until the other day. I was at the grocery store and I remembered that my boyfriend and I had talked about making pumpkin pie. Normally, I would consult three cookbooks and choose a recipe, but since I was already at the store, I whipped out my phone, fired up the Epicurious app and found a four fork (aka star) recipe, bought the ingredients and went home to make the pie.

Admittedly, trying to read the recipe off of my phone was a pain, but I was still thrilled to have found a good recipe with such ease while on the go. The pie was easy to make and very yummy, and the app is definitely worth checking out.

What about you, what pumpkin pie recipe do you swear by?

Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream
from Bon Appétit

1 frozen 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, thawed, pierced all over with fork**

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Reshape crust edge to form high-standing rim. Bake crust until browned, pressing bottom and sides of crust occasionally with back of fork, about 14 minutes. 2. 2. Cool crust on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
3. Whisk pumpkin, condensed milk, sour cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, vanilla, and allspice in large bowl to blend. Whisk in eggs. Pour into crust (some filling may be left over).
4. Bake pie until filling is puffed around sides and set in center, about 55 minutes. Cool pie on rack. (Can be made ahead. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours, or cover and chill overnight.)

** Note: I used a brand called Oronoque Orchards that was very tasty.

Colorful Bulletin Boards

When I spotted this Kate Spade image of a bright, beautiful bulletin board on High-Heeled Foot in the Door, I was reminded how much I wanted to give my bulletin board a colorful makeover. I was also reminded of Jordan Ferney's striped bulletin board in her studio. I love the crisp, nautical feel of the stripes.

Also, anyone know what that fantastic wallpaper is in the Kate Spade shot?

Homekeeping: Smaller Sponges

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

This may be a silly thing to post about, so bear with me. We don't have a dishwasher, so we wash all our dishes by hand. Over the years, I have found that a standard sized sponge is sort of cumbersome in the hand, especially when maneuvering in a small glass or tight spot. At one point I bought some mini-scrubber sponges, which were just right, but I have rarely seen them since.

Instead, I have just taken to cutting my sponges in half. The smaller sized sponge fits easier in the hand and you can use it almost as long as a full-sized, meaning you get twice the sponge for the price of one. It's just one of those little things that saves money and cuts back on waste over time -- thought I would share with you.

Tomato Soup With Mozzarella Croutons

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Last night I made the Tomato Soup With Mozzarella Croutons from the October issue of Whole Living magazine. The recipe was simple and delicious, and it definitely delivered on its "pizza flavor without the grease," promise. I'd certainly make it again.

However, the article says the recipe can be made in 30 minutes or less, which is just not true. In fact, the soup needs to simmer for 30 minutes once it's been made, not to mention the time to make the croutons. I'd also note that it would make four very small portions -- we were two and the leftovers look like one lunch serving to me. So, make it because it's yummy, healthy and easy, but not because it cooks in a flash.

Tomato Soup With Mozzarella Croutons
from Whole Living magazine

1 28-oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced onion
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 baguette, sliced (about 16 slices)
Olive oil, for drizzling
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Fresh basil leaves

1. Pulse tomatoes and liquid in a food processor until chopped. Heat oil and red pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring, until onions are tender, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 30 minutes. Puree until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, drizzle bread with oil. Toast in 375 degrees oven until it begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Top with mozzarella and return to oven. Cook until cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute more.
3. Top with fresh basil, season with salt and pepper, and serve with soup.

Thoughts on Food

Monday, October 04, 2010

I don't know when or where I came across this photo, but I love the sentiment of this vintage poster, which reads:

1. Buy it with though
2. Cook it with care
3. Use less wheat & meat
4. Buy local foods
5. Serve just enough
6. Use what is left
Don't Waste It.

A quick googling reveals that it's a World War I era poster to raise awareness about food supply issues during the war. I'm struck by how relevant the ideas are today -- the words could have easily been written by Mark Bittman or Alice Waters.

Speaking of food, I have lots of fun recipes to share with you later this week: I was swamped with work the last two weeks and have lots to catch up on!

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