Friday, February 25, 2011

Mexican Kale


On Tuesday I heard that it was National Margarita Day (really, I swear!), so the boyfriend and I decided we really ought to celebrate with tacos and a margarita for dinner (just one, since it was a school night). Since it was a last-minute decision, we had a pretty hodge podge meal (white navy beans instead of pintos or black beans and the last dregs of salsa), but we did have an accidental recipe success. I had some kale in the fridge and decided to give it my version of a "Mexican" treatment, and it worked out beautifully. Here's how I made it:


Mexican Kale

1 head kale, de-ribbed and chopped
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 chipotle pepper in adob, minced very small
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, when boiling add kale and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and press out excess water. (I even spun mine dry in a salad spinner.)
2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking, add onion to pan and sauté for a few minutes. Add pepper to pan. Sauté for another few minutes.
3. Add minced chipotle pepper to pan and stir to incorporate. Add parboiled kale to pan and sauté for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Organizing Our "Entryway"

We don't have a proper entryway to our apartment--the door just opens into the living room, but we do have a sort of entryway-like area by the door, and it's in need of some improvements. With multiple winter jackets and pairs of boots between myself and my boyfriend the space has become quite cluttered.

I'm trying to think of clever (and attractive) ways to make the most of this space. To start, I've already begun painting the door a glossy black (I did the first coat today and will tackle the second tomorrow). I'd also like to upgrade the hooks to something that will better hold bulky, winter jackets. Does anyone else have any ideas for how we can make this area better organized and less of an eyesore?




Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tested: Oatmeal-Almond Crisps

A while back I bookmarked Everyday Food's Oatmeal-Almond Crisps as a recipe to try, and this past weekend, I made them. The recipe is definitely a keeper, but be warned, when the recipe writers say "cookies are fragile," they're serious--these things break easily. However, it's forgiveable because they are super delicious.

Notes: My dough wasn't coming together very well, so I let it sit for ten minutes or so, so that the oats could absorb some of the moisture. After a while the dough stuck together on its own. Also, I added about a 1/4 cup of chopped dried apricots to the recipe--I might even up the quantity next time, since the apricot added a nice hit of fruity flavor. Also, I don't own nonstick cooking spray, so I sort of just smooshed the cookies flat with the back of a spoon, which was fine.

Oatmeal-Almond Crisps
From Everyday Food

1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats, (not quick-cooking)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Mix in oats and almonds.
3. Drop mixture by level tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.
4. Spray the underside of a metal spatula with nonstick cooking spray, and use to flatten cookies into 2 1/2-inch disks.
5. Bake until golden, 14 to 16 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets. (Handle with care; cookies are fragile.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bookshelf: Natural Modern

This fall Rizzoli published two books that focus on the natural side of Modernism--both mid-century Modernism and Modernist-influenced contemporary design. I'd like to add both to my collection of design books.

Handcrafted Modern
is a photographic collection of fourteen homes of Modernist architects and designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Walter Gropius and Eva Zeisel. Photographer Leslie Williamson chose to shoot only homes that remained intact as they were when their inhabitants lived in them.


Houses: Modern Natural, Natural Modern documents new buildings that have been designed to fit into their natural surroundings. The homes featured are from around the globe, including those designed by notable contemporary architects like Sean Godsell and Allied Works Architecture.

Bright Idea: Painted IKEA Beds


Every season the Martha Stewart Collection for Macy's hosts an event for journalists to come preview the new wares. At a preview last spring, the Martha Stewart team presented the new bedding on a series of four-poster beds painted in bright colors, which coordinated with the bedding. I am almost certain the beds are IKEA's Edland bed frame (below). I love the idea of customizing an affordable bed with a custom coat of paint.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How To Make A DIY Draft Stopper


The window by the desk in our bedroom has always been noticeably drafty. I've been meaning to make a draft stopper for one of our windows all winter--and now that it's actually warmed up a bit, I finally got around to it. To make a similar stopper, you will need fabric, coordinating thread and 5 lbs. rice (approx), plus the usual sewing essentials. Here's how I made it:


Gather materials: For a 34-inch long draft stopper I used almost 5 lbs. of rice


Measure and cut a piece of fabric 8 1/2-inches wide and as long as your window plus about an inch for seam allowance.


Once you have cut out the fabric, press it with a hot iron. Then fold the piece of fabric in half lengthwise with the wrong side of the fabric facing out. Pin the folded fabric.


Sew the two sides of the fabric together with about 1/2-inch allowance on your sewing machine. Back-stitch at both ends to reinforce the seam.


Once you've sewed the long side of the fabric, flip the tube around to sew one end of the tube shut; back-stitch both ends.


Turn the tube right side out.


Use either the non-graphite end of a pencil, a chopstick or other thin, pointy object to poke out the corners.

Insert the object into the tube and push into both corners for sharp right-hand angles.


Maneuver the tube so that you can fill it with rice. (I sort of held the tube with my knees and used my hands to hold the tube with tilting the rice bag.) Once full, fold the end of the fabric in on itself about 1/2 to 1-inch.


Use a couple of straight pins to secure the tube shut. Then hand-stitch the draft stopper closed.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thinking About Poufs


While sitting in my living room (above) the other day, I found myself propping my feet up on a box, and I frequently use the coffee table as a footrest when watching movies. I've been thinking I might just need an ottoman of some kind. I've always been drawn to leather, Moroccan pouf. Here are some examples:

Shot by Alec Hemer, this image appeared in Better Homes & Gardens.


Candace Bushnell's living room from ELLE DECOR.


Stylist Emily Henderson's living room.


Photographer Laura Resen's own upstate living room.


An interior styled by Lotta Agaton.

Editor Sarah Humphreys' living room from Blueprint magazine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Totally Obsessed: Dried Cherries


We joined Costco about a month ago, and I was a little unsure if we'd get our money's worth out of the $50 membership fee. I now realize I had nothing to worry about. At a mere $4.65/lb., we have saved $50 on coffee beans alone since we joined. (The Kirkland brand Sumatra roast is delicious.) My latest Costco discovery is the Kirkland brand of Dried Cherries. They are SO yummy and the 20 oz. bag was just $6.65! I'm planning to make my usual Fruit, Nut Spice Granola with cherries as the dried fruit component. I'm definitely picking up a bag of their dried blueberries to try next time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kate Spade eValentines Return!

Once again Kate Spade is offering adorable electronic Valentines on their website. Pick a Valentine from their gallery and input your Valentine's email address and a message for a special delivery. I sent my boyfriend several of these last year and he seemed to enjoy the quirky messages of love. Here are a few samples of the Valentines:





Wednesday, February 09, 2011

How To Make A DIY Felt Kindle Case


Last week I decided to make myself a case for my Kindle, which my sister had given me as a Christmas gift (thanks Sis, I love it!). I'd been throwing it into my purse and figured a little extra protection would keep it out of harm's way. Plus, I didn't want to spend money on a fancy store-bought one. Luckily, I had some nice wool felt on hand to make the case, so it was practically free.

Here's how I made a felt Kindle case:

I cut a rectangle of felt double the length of the Kindle plus about three inches and the width of the kindle plus about five inches.


Then I pinned the two short sides with about an 1.5-inch seam allowance.


Then I threaded my machine up with a contrasting turquoise thread (I figured it would be fun to see the stitching) and set it to a zigzag stitch. I reinforced the ends by back stitching.


Then I folded the rectangle in half lengthwise and slipped the Kindle inside to see where to place my pins.

Once again I sewes seams using a zigzag stitch, reinforcing them with backstitching at both the top and the bottom

Finally, I removed the pins and used a pair of pinking shears to cut off the excess felt--for a practical and decorative finish to the sides. If I were to make this project over again, I think I would sew in some cardboard or some other hard material to protect the screen a little better than a single layer of felt would. For now, this is a great solution for a case that takes up hardly any more room than the Kindle itself.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Best Cheap Dish Towels Ever


I bought these linen dish towels at IKEA because they were simple and pretty. Plus, they were cheap at just $7 for two. it turns out they are hands-down, the best cheap dish towels I have ever purchased. After a few washes they are even better as the fibers soften up a bit; I swear they could pass for fancy, French linens. At Christmas I got a couple more from my mother as a gift, and I have since gifted these versatile towels to others (though in the end I fessed up that they were from IKEA). Consider this is a little secret between me and you and IKEA, okay?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Obsessed: DwellStudio Spring

Twice a year I head over to the New York International Gift Fair to see what's new in the world of home accessories. Of the many things I saw (and I saw a few) the new bedding from DwellStudio stood out as a fresh introduction. The company's signature Draper Stripe looks fabulous in poppy and gray (above), and the new Ikat Dot is a fun plan on the old Dot pattern.

I was also tickled to hear that the company was bringing back some of their old patterns as a new secondary line, DwellStudio Vintage. The "vintage" patterns will be made with half the thread count of DwellStudio's high-end sheets and will cost half the price. I think this is a very clever way for an small company like Dwell to compete with the bigger brands that can offer products at rock bottom prices. It's also a great opportunity to get your hands on old Dwell patterns you might have missed the first go around.



Saturday, February 05, 2011

Testing: Daniel Boulud's Lamb Daube

As part of our resolve to entertain more at home in 2011, we had a group of seven friends for dinner last weekend. I decided to try a new recipe for the dinner, Daniel Boulud's recipe for Lamb Daube in the most recent issue of ELLE DECOR. While I have almost never cooked any recipes from decorating magazines before, this daube sounded delicious and the recipe had been approved by none other than Daniel Boulud himself.

Sadly, the results were less than satisfying. For one, it took ages to cut the lamb shoulder into cubes (I could only find lamb shoulder on the bone, so it required tricky butchery), and when I did, I discovered I needed a lot more meat to make up for the weight of the fat and bones I had cut away--making the meal pricier than I would have liked. When the daube was ready to be served, I discovered that it was very water-y--not like the stew consistency I expected. The flavors were great, but the thin broth was not appealing at all. Perhaps if you were going to make this you might take the top off the daube for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking? It might help. Lastly, I cooked the garlic for the recommended amount of time and thought it was done--the grits would have been much sweeter and less garlic-y, if I had let the garlic roast longer until it was more caramelized.

The lesson? Don't try recipes for the first time on guests unless you are prepared to feed your friends a dud meal. Also, proceed with caution when cooking recipes from a non-food magazine.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Country Living's Treemail

Country Living magazine just launched Treemail, a new iPhone app. Treemail is a drawing app that lets you “carve” a message into one of seven different virtual tree trunks. I'm a big fan of CL and the app was a mere 99 cents, so I downloaded for my phone -- I am in love! The tree carved messages are adorable!

Treemail lets you adjust the size of your knife and carve by touching your finger to the iPhone screen. The application also offers pre-carved symbols like hearts and arrows, which is a good thing, since it's hard to get a perfect line when drawing with your finger (not my child-like Be Mine message below).

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