Friday, February 27, 2009

Design: Your Blog = Awesome

Has anybody else noticed the new gadgets that Google has embedded on our Blogger pages?
The new 'Friend Connect' promises to help us enjoy more of the social networking aspects we were used to on such High School Musical sites as Myspace, but were severely lacking from blogland. I signed up for it, and the code is simple to embed. Just click on the icon below your 'Followers' section. Hurray iGoogle!

Kids: Mommy is a Slacker (in Blogland)

My in-laws were visiting this week, and I haven't had much time to post.
I did complete a couple of projects: my friend, Sarah's, hooter-hider for her new baby boy (due in April! Yay!), and a stuffed octopus out of scrap fabric. Sadly, I cannot post photos of either of these yet as they are both gifts to mommies who read this blog.
Instead, here are a couple of photos from the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Ciao!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kids: This is the full extent of our Mardi Gras partying.

Happy Mardi Gras to everyone! Our baby was overjoyed when Dad came home from work with beads. I hope you have a rip roarin' time, too.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Design: Beautiful... Too Bad I'm Poor.

I love this beautiful wallpaper from Julia Rothman ! And it comes in all sorts of gorgeous colors. Too bad I'm a mommy on a budget! Check out her work anyway - it's lovely and inspiring. I'm feeling a mural in the hallway or some decoupage...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Food: Mama's Easy Kung Pow

This is my man's favorite dish, and whenever I make it, he gets all glowy with the knowledge that he is loved. Though it might be the red pepper...
1 lb. Lean Chicken, cubed (the picture doesn't show 'cubed' - please forgive me.)
2 Carrots, cubed (or close to cubed)
2 Bell Peppers, one red, cubed
1 Large Onion, cubed
2 Pieces Celery, sliced
4-5 Cloves Garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp. Corn Starch
Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
3 Tbsp. Black Bean Paste (or equivalent)
2 Tbsp. Red Chili Paste (like sambal or sriracha)
2-3 Tbsp. Natural Peanut Butter (If you only have the Jiff-type, skip the sugar later)
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
Soy Sauce to taste (probably a couple of tsp.)
1 Cup (approximately) Dry Roasted Peanuts (Half Crushed)
1 Tsp. Orange Zest, plus a couple tablespoons Orange Juice
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine, or Cooking Wine

Got it? Good. Let's Begin:
First: In your wok (if you don't have one, they can be had pretty cheap at Target or Wal-Mart), fry the carrots in a little vegetable oil for 3 - 7 minutes - enough time to soften them, but not fully cook them. Set Aside.
carrots cooking in the wok:

2. Princess the chicken. This is done by placing the chicken in a smallish bowl and coating each piece with corn starch.
Princessed Chicken:

Fry the chicken in small batches in your wok using a little more oil and one tablespoon of the sesame oil until each piece is golden. Set aside. (You'll want the exhaust fan going while you do this)
3. Add a little more oil and the other tablespoon of sesame oil to your wok. Over medium heat, fry the garlic for about 3 minutes, but don't let it burn. Add: Peanut Butter, Chili Paste, Black Bean Paste, Orange Zest (but not the juice), Brown Sugar, and half of the Peanuts. Cook until incorporated, and you notice the glorious scent.
If you can't make it to your trusty Asian market, there's a good chance your normal grocer has this stuff in the 'ethnic food' section. It works as a substitute for bean paste:

4. Add the Onion, and cook until it is just translucent. If your wok is getting 'sticky', turn the heat down, and slide a touch more oil in.
5. Add all of the Vegetables to your wok. Turn to coat, and cook for about 3 - 5 minutes.

6. Add the rest of the peanuts, stir to mix.
7. Deglaze the sides of your wok with the wine and orange juice. Stir.
8. Add the Chicken, and turn gently to coat and mix. Cook just long enough to reheat the chicken.
Serve with your choice of rice, grain, etc. Around here we tend to use a lot of Whole Wheat Cous-Cous because it's so quick and easy, and soaks up the juices like a champ.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Design: What's Inspiring Me Today

I have been working on the designs for my Fall'09 scarves, and here are some of the things inspiring me:
peacock feathers

And, of course, his Peacock Room


Japanese prints, and night skies
Ming and Delftware

Indian sweets:

Golden Asian Pheasant

So many beautiful things every day! I think this is the root of the artist's ennui: the inability to truly capture the perfection of beauty, and the resulting resignation to attempt merely to grasp at the essence of inspiration, knowing she will never be truly satisfied with the result.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fashion: A Sample Spring Color Palette

Here's a roundup of spring colors from several designers

Posted by Picasa
From Top Left: First 9 are Rodarte, Next 8 are Nina Ricci, Next 11 are Gucci, next 21 are Marc Jacobs (love what he did for spring!), next 7 are Alexander McQueen

Food: Real Men Can Cook

On Sunday we had a few people over for dinner, and it was such a lovely time that I forgot to take pictures! The boys cooked for the ladies, which was a nice treat: They served us an appetizer of two artisan cheeses with crackers, followed by a classic 'St.Louis' salad (mixed greens with tons of chopped vegetables, sweet Italian dressing, left to chill for an hour). Dinner was surprisingly delicious organic angel hair with red sauce into which they had infused red wine, garlic, peppers, onions, chicken and local salcissa (delicious Italian sausage), served with locally baked Italian bread (and I admit that they had slathered it in garlic butter - there were no complaints).
Our baby has been afflicted by a touch of 'stranger anxiety' recently, but she warmed to our guests within an hour, and was flirtatious and smiling by the end of the night. I thought that it will be truly wonderful for her to be witness to the richness of adult social interaction, and we plan on developing our own mini-'salon' (a 'demi-salon'?) - I think a weekly or bi-weekly gathering at our humble, cozy house would be healthy for everyone involved (Mom, not least of all).
I've been introduced to a wonderful beer that I was drinking that night (out of my own crystal draft glass - in the Netherlands, Grolsch produces a beer named 'Amber' 'The Dark Blonde Beer'- my grandfather gifted me with a whole set of these- *Gasp* Have I just revealed my name???). It's a lovely dark beer, but it has none of the bitterness or 'stoutness' one usually finds in dark beers.

You can check out the site for 1554 here. I recommend it heartily for your next gathering.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Design: Love it! Updated Blu & White

I've been trying to amass Spode Blue Italian and mismatched blue/white salad plates and antique coffee cups (coupled with a variety of the Napoleon flatware colors) to go with my vintage silver, and hopefully create an eclectic, rich and slightly whimsy-pop-goth-antiquey table. Now, I know I must have a couple of these:

Damn you Cat Merrick!!! You have created a new obsession!
Must have...must...have...!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Arts: Yay for Spring Exhibitions!

One good thing about the early days of spring when it's still too cold and mucky to really go out, but every fiber of your being is screaming 'GO OUT!': There are almost always good art exhibitions to see. I'm such a fan of free museums, but, sadly, those are few and far between (St. Louis and DC? Anywhere else?) Here are the upcoming exhibitions (and current in some cases) for several cities. Now you have no excuse - Go Out!

St. Louis Art Museum
February 22nd - May 17 2009

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty

Atlanta: The High Museum of Art
Through April 5: The Treasure of Ulysses Davis

Through Sept. 6th : Louvre Atlanta: The Louvre and The Masterpiece

April 21 - August 2: Evolution: Five Decades of Printmaking by David Driskell

New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Too many to list in this granddaddy of American art museums, but here are some highlights:

Through April 19: Pierre Bonnard: The Late Interiors
Through March 1: Calder Jewelry
Feb. 24 - May 24: Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture From Renaissance to Revolution
March 17 - June 21: Art of Korean Renaissance 1400 - 1600

Dallas Museum of Art
Through October 4 2009: Postwar American Art

Through May 17: Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
Through March 22: Take Your Time: Olafur Elisson

Chicago Art Institute Museum
Through March 16: Beauty of the Beast: Artists and Their Pets in 20th Century Art
Through March 8th: East Asian Ceramics: Then and Now
Through April 26th: Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety and Myth
Opening March 24th: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper

San Antonio Museum of Art

Through April 12: Marcia Gygli King: Botanical Paintings
March 14 - August 2: John Hernandez: Zoe's Room

March 14 - August 2: Ry Cooder/Vincent Valdez: El Chavez Ravine

I didn't mean to be so East Coast-centric here, but I'm not sure if anybody out West is reading this...let me know if you are, and I'll be happy to do research for you, too!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gardening: I Need Some Spring!

I am feeling the gardening itch, and I am so ready for spring to hurry up and get here! We moved into a tiny old house with its own tiny backyard, and I think some gigantic elephant ears are on the top of my list for things to plant first.
I have been obsessively reading up on gardening tips because, although I would like to believe I am a great garden guru, I am not. Last year squirrels ate every one of my tomatoes (we had a container garden on a second story deck), and my bell peppers were mere thimbles.
So here are a couple of photos I liked. I'll probably stick to a lot of container gardening again this year because our dog likes to tear around in the yard like a fiend, and I shudder to think what he would do to a 'real' garden.

Glorious lobelia chandelier I found on Apartment Therapy:

I'm going with a lot of geraniums this year - high impact, low maintenance, and one of the only annuals that really survived the summer last year. Plus, I can plant them in pots and window boxes by the front door, and pretend I live somewhere like the South of France:

What my container garden would look like in my dream life (except for the silly cat statue thing) (Found on

And, just pure kitschy cuteness (found on

Food: Healthy & Delicious Southwest Chowder & Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls

I generally try to cook as healthily as possible, but at my core, I friggin love food. So here are two recipes that you can feel good about, and actually enjoy eating:

SW Chowder
1 Red Onion, Chopped
4 Strips Turkey Bacon (I prefer Oscar Meyer or ButterBall)
2 Stalks Celery + leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Lb. Chicken tenderloins, or trimmed breasts
1 Fire-roasted Bell Pepper (Green or Red), either roasted on your home grill, or store bought in
jar, chopped
16oz Frozen Cauliflower Florets (fresh works too)
12oz Frozen Sweet Corn Kernels
3 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup Water
1 Tbsp. Ground Cumin
2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp. Chili Powder
2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Corn Starch
Optional: 1 Tsp. Cayenne
Optional: Grated Sharp Cheddar and Lite Sour Cream

If you are making the rolls also, make the dough first, and set aside to rise while you make the chowder.
In a large, heavy pot, saute the onions, olive oil and bacon over medium heat until the onions just begin to become translucent. Then cover pot, and turn heat to lowest setting to carmelize onions. Pan-fry the chicken with a little seasoning (garlic powder, salt and pepper works well) until just done. Do not over cook. Let the chicken cool a few minutes, and shred it. Set aside. Add celery to your onion mixure, and stir. Try to 'destroy' the bacon as you are stirring. Add cauliflower and corn, spices, bell pepper, chicken stock and water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour.
Ladle about 1/3 of the stew into the bowl of a food processor, add corn starch and pulse until well pureed. Return to stew pot and add shredded chicken. Simmer uncovered over medium heat for about 10 more minutes. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream if desired.
For veggie mamas: This would be good with vegetable stock, some liquid smoke, and ground Quorn added last.

Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls
makes about 9 - 10
3 Cups King Arthur Brand 'White Whole Wheat' Flour
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Cup Olive Oil, or Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup water at 110 degrees F
1 Packet Highly Active Yeast
2 Tblsp Sugar
Coarse Salt
In small bowl, whisk together water, yeast and sugar. Set aside until yeast has 'fluffled'...about 5 minutes. In a larged bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, salt. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture, and add oil. Blend together until incorporated (add more water/oil if your dough is too dry to form a ball). Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Coat dough with olive oil, put back in large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled in size: about 1 - 2 hours. A warm, draft-free place is best. If your house is pretty cold in the winter, try putting the dough on the stove and turning the oven on low for a while.
Preheat oven to 350
After dough has risen, oil a cookie sheet, and form dough portions into balls - there should be about 9 - 10 -- and place on sheet. Sprinkle the tops with coarse salt, and bake for about 17 - 20 minutes unitl the rolls just begin to tun light brown on the tops.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Great Product: Smith's Rosebud Salve

I know this product was first popularized six or seven years ago through the likes of US magazine and InStyle, but I have rediscovered its greatness. I bought a pot of it at Sephora, and subsequently forgot to use it (I am more of a Burt's Bees girl when it comes to lip balm). One night a couple of weeks ago, I forgot to bring the baby's diaper cream into the restroom to apply after her bath. She has sensitive skin, and gets diaper rashes pretty easily. Not wanting to get up and take her out of the toasty-warm bathroom, I applied a little of the Rosebud Salve instead. It worked brilliantly, and I applied the little bit that was left over to my knuckles (I get crazy dry winter skin, especially with all the hand washing that comes with being a mom). Both the baby's bum and my hands are in fantastic condition now after nightly use. And I smirk now to think this stuff is aptly named.
You can read up on Smith's and their products here.

Design: Incredible Clock

I found this on the Wired Magazine website. If you thought Steampunk design is something that more properly belongs at ComicCon, then this may get you thinking.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Interiors: Bibliophiles Anonymous

If you are a bibliophile like I am, have read all your books, like seeing them, but hate lending them out (they never do seem to make it back home, do they?) then why not try this?: Remove all the dust jackets from your non-collectible hardbacks (don't worry, you can store the jackets for later if you get book-rapist remorse), and stack them according to size and color. It's unexpected, less cluttered-looking, fresh, and just publicly OCD enough that new friends to your house will be slightly afraid of you. Which is never a bad thing, no?

Kids: Happy Five Month Birthday!

My baby Emerson is five months old today - yay! I have been spying on Etsy crafters to get some ideas for toys I can make, and in the future, I am definitely making some 'Felt Food'! How fun and cute!
Here are some of the Etsy makers that you can buy from, but I also rounded up a couple of tutorials for those of you with a sewing machine, pinking shears and felt. I'm inspired to make a whole mini French market!

These bananas are by Handmade on Etsy

This delicious green salad is by FeltGourmet on Etsy

This amazing 'build your own' fruit sundae is by Onenonly88 on Etsy (Who has some pretty amazing felt food!)

Cute strawberries



Sunny-side Up Eggs and Oranges


Eat up, girls!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Food: Easy-Peasy Recipe for Week of 2/1

Here's a pretty easy muffin recipe I designed to be moderately healthy, wholesome tasting, and still something your kids will devour. If you have a butter substitute that you just love, try it out here... I just have never found a good faux-butter. Serve them warm for the best taste and texture:

Wholesome Yum-Yum Blueberry Muffins
makes a dozen
  • 1 stick unsalted butter - room temp, plus a little to schmear in the pan
  • 1 cup white all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I prefer King Arthur brand)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (if you were trying to be sneaky, and only had salted butter, just omit the extra salt here)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries ('cause I know you all bought a huge pallet of them this summer, and froze them for the February doldrums...right?)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (or acceptable sugar substitute if you want to get really healthy), plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (olive oil works fine -- just don't use 'Extra Virgin' as it's too flavorful)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice, plus a splash extra if your batter is looking too dry
  • fresh grated nutmeg for the top
Preheat oven to 375. Butter the tins of a regular 12 muffin tin, and flour them, tapping out excess.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together your flour, salt, baking powder. In a wide, shallow bowl, add some of this flour to your berries and spin and toss to coat them.
In either your KitchenAid, or by hand with beaters, beat the butter and sugar together until it's a bit frothy...about 3 min. on medium/high. Add egg and oil, beat 'til combined, then add your vanilla.
Slowly, on low speed, mix in your flour mix until just combined. Don't over-mix or you will get tough muffins (which might be a nice way to describe you, Maven Mama, but should never be applied to one's baked goods, no?). Add milk and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. Fold berries into batter gently with spatula.
spoon evenly into muffin tin, top with sugar and nutmeg.
Bake for approximately 24 minutes, turning halfway through.
Cool them for a few minutes, then serve warm.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Please excuse our mess

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