Monday, June 30, 2008

I don't know if many of you regularly visit, but if you don't, you should find the time. It's a wonderful site for home cooks who aspire for more or who entertain a lot. The site consists of recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines. It's amazing. You should imagine basically having years worth of both magazines at your fingertips .... for free and with lots of nice features for searching and storing.

My favorite feature is the online recipe box. It lets you save recipes you find to your own personal recipe box. And it must last a long time, because I recently perused mine and I find that I added my first recipes on February 13, 2002. Below, I'm pasting in a recpie I added that day - a favorite of ours, Boursin Stuffed Turkey Burgers.

(The photo above is of another burger - the Open-Faced Lamb Burger with Mint Yogurt Sauce. I have a dear Greek girlfriend whose mother used to use ingredients like these in the authentic food she used to prepare for us. I will try this recipe in honor of Mrs. Hontzas.)

Boursin Stuffed Turker Burgers - Gourmet Magazine, August 1999

Serves 2

1/2 small red onion
3/4 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons Boursin cheese (preferably peppered)
4 slices challah or 2 English muffins
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Accompaniments: tomato slices and watercress sprigs

Prepare grill.
Finely chop onion. In a bowl gently combine onion and turkey (do not overmix) and form into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Center 1 tablespoon Boursin on each of 2 patties and top with remaining 2 patties, pressing edges together to seal. Season burgers with salt and pepper and grill on a lightly oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through.
While burgers are grilling, brush bread with oil and toast on grill.
Serve burgers on bread with tomato and watercress.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

the inside out

I have jumped all over this trend. I love the concept of making our outdoor space look like your indoor space. Earlier this summer, I totally redid my back patio at everyone's favorite cheap big box retailer, Target.

I started with the loveseat. Since the throw pillows that came with the love seat were hideous, I tossed them and decided to use five regular pillows in ikat blue and chocolate colorways.

The outdoor furniture I had was black and had belonged to a great aunt. It dated to the 1940's, I think. I spray painted it that brownish-bronze and voila... instant outdoor living room. I'll try to post a photo soon. (I have a new camera, and I haven't yet figured out how to upload the pics. I feel old.) I completed the look with the outdoor lamp and I've instantly added square footage onto my house.

Ultimately, I would have done something similar had I had more money. I don't like complete matched sets of furniture on the patio... just like I don't care for it in my home. When was the last time you opened a shelter mag to see a whole room of bedroom furniture in "The Magnola Collection" (or whatever)? Only in ads. So for all the non-designers out there, take a cue from our more gifted bretheren: don't buy matched sets. Take inspiration from the Cottage Living photo above.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

making the shelter mags real

I love magazines. All kinds. Shelter, fashion, food. I subscribe to at least a dozen and I eat them up when they come. I'm a very visual person.

House Beautiful is one of my top three favorites. I love the photo above and tore it out when it was in the mag. There is a lot in this photo that I can't possibly replicate... not now, anyway. The windows, room scale, quality of the furnishings, etc. That doesn't mean that the rest of us can't find inspiration there, however.

I am very attracted to this color palette. It's very soothing and clean, free of lots of pattern and excessive ornamentation. What pattern is there, is of a scale that appeals to me and tends to be more of the tone-on-tone variety (like the screen). When you run across a photo like this one that appeals to you, figure out how you can convey the gist of the look while working on a budget.

For instance, the vase above pictured on eBay right now is a nice stand-in for the one in the pic. It provides a needed punch of color on that dark table.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

eBay today - Blanc de Chine

My previous post about the white sea urchin lamp made me want to go back to a favorite old search on eBay - blanc de chine. This is a favorite of mine. There are usually lots of Hollywood regency lamps like the pair above, which I love.

I have also had passing ideas of buying a figurine or pair of figurines and turning them into lamps. My main stumbling block is knowing what I'm buying. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert on Chinese export porcelain. The bidding at the single figure alone, however, is at $9.99 right now. So I suppose if you get it for a bargain and you love it, who really cares if it's a knockoff and not something from the Tang dynasty. If you don't know, nobody else will either.

Also, try to buy from an eBayer with lots of positive feedback...more than 200 as a place to start. That indicates someone who is a serious seller and someone who's description should be trustworthy (assuming they are not unwittingly misdescribing the item).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Williams-Sonoma Home - another look

I have been tearing through my latest issue of Elle Decor, and I noticed the glorious sea urchin lamp from Williams-Sonoma Home. Of course, I'm totally into the all white blanc de chine look of it, but I also love the organic thing pulling in from nature. (In case you are new, I still decorate with coral and shells and I love it. I don't care that it's been done over and over again. It's a classic).

After going over to the site, I found some other great stuff I would love to have. I have always liked the Williams-Sonoma Home site well enough, but it seems like I was never wowed.

So, check out the great lacquer trays, pillows and rug.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I'm still here!

And I'm cheating on my post today. I'm going to link two posts I admire from two of my favorite bloggers. Why try to find something creative and wonderful when they have done it for me already?

Anyway, for my three readers, you might be wondering where I've been the last week and a half. Well, my oldest son went to camp for the first time! I can't believe I have a child old enough to go to "sleep-away" camp! He was gone for 10 days to Alpine Camp for Boys in Mentone, Alabama. During that time, I taught VBS (it wore me out!) and spent my computer time on the Alpine website looking for photos and updates on my boy. You see, they have this great password protected system called Campminder. The program uploads pictures daily and has a diary about what the boys are doing. So basically I spent the last ten days missing him and logging onto the site endlessly to look for him.

Anyway, he's back and so am I. Post more comments when you can. The feedback helps.

So check out these posts from Pigtown Design and The Peak of Chic. The photos are a teaser. You'll have to link the post to find out what they wrote about.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

eBay today - coin silver

I've posted about coin silver before, I know. I'm just such a fan. It's easy to find and can be cheaper than sterling. I have a set of sterling flatware, but I find that when entertaining, I rely on my coin silver strays most often. Besides, I'm young and I don't have a huge dining room, so the kind of entertaining I do is of the buffet variety, no seated dinners. I tend to prepare food that doesn't require a knife and I have a julep cup full of forks, all mismatched. And for dessert, a julep cup full of spoons is ready for serving homemade lemon lotus ice cream, a Southern delicacy. Doesn't that have so much more character?

Coin silver is often embellished with hand chased monograms that just can't be duplicated today. Pick up singles or small sets where you can and mix and match. It will look better as a mismatched set, trust me. It looks like silver several different great- great- grandmothers buried to hide from the Union soldiers. Invent your own story and use your coin silver often.

A note on buying: sets of spoons are fairly easy to come by. Pick up a few sets and singles where you can. Don't ever eat cereal from stainless steel again. Just quickly hand wash your coin silver - don't throw it in the dishwasher. I know, I know... it's it a bit of a pain in the neck, but a little sacrifice is necessary for beauty. Forks and knives are harder to come by and are therefore a little pricier. Be patient but be ready to buy when you find a set you like.

Check out these listings here, here and here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

lovely vintage china

I love china. I'll admit it. I buy sets of salad plates, tureens, tea sets... whatever strikes my fancy. I mix and match with my Herend gold band china pieces. I love the sweet vintage sets by Spode and Royal Copenhagen above.

Also... I adore the English Edwardian silverplate tea caddy. Not china, but something I'm watching on eBay. You could keep tea bags in it, sugar, whatever. Use what you love.