7.30.2010

Great reproduction furniture for a fraction of the price.

If you are OK with having a good-quality reproduction furniture piece to save some of your hard-earned money, then go see a collection Advanced Interior Designs has on their website. I checked out the clearance section and here are some of great steals under $200:









7.28.2010

Eggplant hearty dip



Eggplants are in season now. I've got three in my fridge now, waiting to play major roles in three different dishes within the next week. Here is the first one:

Eggplant Hearty Dip

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Carrot large
  • 1 Red bell pepper, large
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
All the above to cut into 1/2" cubes

  • 1 Onion, medium, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic, minced
  • Fresh herbs - I used cilantro, dill- a handful
  • Oil, generously cover the bottom of the saute pan
  • Salt, pepper
1. Heat the oil on medium, add onion, saute until golden and soft
2. Add carrots, bell peppers, saute until just soften, 5-7 min
3. Add tomatoes, saute 5 min
4. Add garlic, herbs, eggplant, saute 5 min
5. Reduce to low, cover, and leave for 20-25 min, until all eggplant softens and becomes almost invisible in the mix
6. Cool, and serve with toasted bread.
Enjoy!

7.27.2010

Baby Sleeps - Mama shoots!

Oh my, I just found this amazing blog and just had to blog about it! See for yourself!
 Aren't these images just Sooooo Dreamy?





New kind of baby bottles

If you are one of those parents that worry about harsh chemicals leaking into your child's drink from the plastic bottle ( even BPA free), but not a big fan of heavy glass bottles, maybe you should consider new stainless steel bottles from Pura Kiki. These bottles are antibacterial, toxin-free, chip/break-free and are compatible with variety of  nipples & spouts. Plus, look how cool, stylish and colorful these are!


Image via Cultmodern.com

Not your ordinary dish rack!

Don't you love when an ordinary utility object becomes almost an art piece? This dish rack from High&Dry is exactly what I am talking about. Well-designed, beautiful and practical. Oh, have I mentioned  - totally affordable? Just the way I like it.

Color me pretty!

Remember my $200 store credit from Home Decorators? I have decided to buy this rustic looking chest. 
My home is pretty contemporary, and I tend to select more modern, clean line furniture pieces. But lately I find myself admiring antique objects, or beautifully aged, weathered, old, history-bearing pieces of furniture. I especially love the contrast of old and new.




This piece is long -46"! And what looks like numerous little pull out drawers ( they were the reason I looked at this chest in the first place) are actually 2 large drawers, which is great! Who wants to open one by one every little cubby looking for something?
Another factor that made my choice is its versatility. This muted red color chest can work in almost every room of my house ( or should I say, I can MAKE it work ;) I've never actually done a makeover of furniture, but really want to try. There are so many possibilities!!!  First, I'll see if I can use it as is. Perhaps, I will leave it like this for a little while....until I am bored. Then... and here some the fun part, I'll paint it some fun color to give it new fresh look.  Here are some options:

  • Paint it Fire Tuck Red - and use it the hallway/ entry with a cool modern mirror for an eclectic look.

  • Paint and age it into a sage green - and use it with a oversize traditional mirror or set of vintage prints.

  • Paint it HIGH-GLOSS BLACK- use it with an oversize black/white photo for a more glamorous look.

  • Paint & Age into CREAMY WHITE - use it with antique looking mirror for a relaxed-beach-house look.

  • Paint it GRASS GREEN or TURQUOISE - use it in kids room with shelves above or a colorful framed poster.


This list could on and on, and this piece could re-live many lives and serve different purposes, I am looking forward to receiving it! Will let you know what I have decided to do with it.

Meanwhile, here is an example of how this chest would fit into a child's room. What do you think?

7.23.2010

Mini Boden

I got this adorable little catalog in the mail today. Mini Boden. When I opened it, I was blown away by the cuteness of the clothes! The kids in the book look sooo stylish and cool! I really want to buy something for my little girl. Her upcoming birthday  + 15% off sale= A pretty good excuse to shop!

My obsession with mirrors

In the process of looking for a perfect mirror for our small bathroom, I kind of got obsessed with them. In my mind I am lookng for available wall space around my house to place my newfound favorites from Ballard Designs:
Allier
Bellesol

Emma

Lavello
Octagonal Shutter mirror

Punched Metal mirror

Richmond


7.22.2010

A healthy alternative to store-bought juices & soda

I had some random fruit laying around and they looked kind of sad ( no one was eating them)

I had a whiny baby walking around who kept asking for something to drink... ( his 5th-6th drink?? yes, it is HOT today)

So I put two together and made a fruit punch ( no booze here!) as a healthy alternative to store-bought juices for kids.

All you need is: some fruit ( whatever you have on hand) , sugar, water.
I used 5 apples, 1 pear, some cherries, a couple of a strawberries, 2 slices of lemon, 6 cups of water, 3/4 cup of sugar ( you can adjust it per your taste)
Cut all your ingredients into large bite pieces, cover with water in a pot, add sugar and let it come to a boil. Then simmer for 5 min. Done!
Let it cool, strain the liquid and enjoy!


7.20.2010

Backyard Renovation- Update!

Sneak peak! Our fence is being put up as I am writing this!
I love the clean look of horizontal red cedar planks!


Our backyard is all tiled now, nice & smooth! Yey!

Large circlular design reminds me of Asian motifs ( chinese lanterns? japanese hand fans?)

Well, when the fence is up, we'll definitely have a zen place for relaxation. That's the plan anyway.



My mom checking out the progress :)



What a good looking family......of cleaning products!

I was touching up the bathroom today and realized I had quite a collection of Method cleaning products. Well, I guess I am kind of drawn to well-designed packages, heavenly smells and "non-toxic" qualities of these guys. I especially love how the scrub container holds my scrubbing sponge! So clever!
Is it silly that I am blogging about cleaning supplies??? Sorry, I just had to share... :)

7.19.2010

My mom's famous raisin & walnut squares

No, no, no - I did not make it today... As I said before it is WAY too hot to bake. But I have documented this process a few weeks earlier, and today after lunch when the usual craving for something sweet came over me, I remembered about these raisin & walnut squares. And I thought I'd share them with the world, if I cannot have them, does not mean you can't. So if your weather permits to bake, I urge you to try these. You won't regret!
Thank you MOM for this recipe!


Raisin & Walnut Squares

2 sticks of butter, very cold, I even put them in the freezer for 15 min
3 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 container of sour cream ( 16 oz)
1 tsp salt
1.5 cup of raisins
1.5 cups of walnuts
1 egg, separated
1/2 cup of sugar

1. Working fast, grate 2 sticks of cold butter ( large holes side) into 2.5 cups of flour. Add salt, sour cream, and quickly mix together. Gradually add the rest 1/2 cup of flour as you mixing. As soon as you can put together a ball, stop mixing! Wrap with plastic and put in the coldest ( not freezer!!!) part of your fridge for 1-2 hours.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Whisk the egg white with sugar, add to the mix of nuts and raisins. Easy, right? When the dough is ready, take out of the fridge and divide in two parts. Wrap one with plastic & put back in the fridge. Put the other one on a piece of parchment paper to fit 17x14 baking sheet and roll it out thinly. Carefully transfer parchment+dough together onto the baking sheet. Spread the filling evenly. Now put another parchment sheet on the counter and roll out the second part of the dough from the fridge. Immediately after that pick up the parchment from the counter and put it dough side down on the filling. Peel off the parchment paper. Pinch the edges.
Everything needs to be done quickly so the butter pieces in the dough wouldn't have a chance to melt. Parchment paper prevents the dough from sticking to your hands.
Now add a little water to the egg yolk and whisk. Brush all over the top of the dough, poke a few times with a fork, and into the 375F pre-heated oven for 45 min or until golden! Once it cools down, cut into desirable size pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar if you want to make it extra fancy.
Enjoy!

7.18.2010

Summer Borsch

Now that it's sizzling hot and humid outside, my constant problem is - what to cook??? I have no desire to turn on the oven or to spend more than 20 min in front of the stove. We eat a lot of green salads, tuna salads, chicken salads, simple sandwiches or BBQing outside ( Thank God for my father-in-law who loves BBQ-ing in any weather!) Nevertheless, one absolutely needs ( especially one with kids!) to dedicate some eating time to soups, its healthy for your digestive system and reminds kids that food not only consists of watermelons and blueberries! And ice cream!

Anyways, I made this light summer version of borsch, without any meat or chicken stock. Satisfying veggies in all their glory! Its taste reminded me of classic tomato soup, only it had a lot more texture and a wider variety of vegetables. Sweet and creamy, and soooo good for you!


Summer Borsch

  • 1 large fresh beet, julienned
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 large onion - I use Vidalia sweet onion, but any will do, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, ripe and juicy, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small head of green or Chinese cabbage, chopped ( I find Chinese cabbage more tender so I prefer it)
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  • Cooking Oil of your preference
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Sour Cream
  • Fresh herbs ( I like cilantro, dill, fresh scallion combo, basically the more the merrier!)

1. Fill a medium pot with water and put on high heat for the water to boil. ( keep in mind that you will have to add veggies later, so leave some room for it)
2. Meanwhile, saute the onion& garlic in a large skillet with some oil until translucent( enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan), season with salt & pepper.
3. Add carrots & beats, season, saute for another 5-7 min on medium heat.
4. Add tomatoes & tomato paste, work the paste into the veggie mass, add a little water if necessary.
5. When tomatoes soften and paste integrate into the sauce, add cabbage, mix well, season, saute for 5 min.
6. By this point you should have a pinkish/reddish vegetable mix, carrots & beats still crunchy a little bit. This is the time to add this whole thing into a simmering pot of water.
7. Add Bay leaves, reduce heat to very low, and close the lid. Let it simmer for about 20 min.
8. Taste and adjust accordingly, salt if not salty enough, some tomato paste if not sweet enough (this might happen if beats, carrots and/or tomatoes are not ripe enough or not in season)
9. When ready to serve, put a dollop of sour cream in the middle of the bowl, and top it off with a healthy heap of fresh herbs.
10. Fresh garlic bread or croutons complete the dish.
Enjoy!

7.17.2010

Baby Gift Ideas

There is something in the air.... We currently have 3 couples/friends that expect a baby this year! And one couple expects twins!!!! Yey! I am so excited! Therefore I am on constant look out for cute and unique baby gifts. Here are some that I love so far:


Adorable clothes from Pajama Squid

Absolutely lovely toys from Pajama Squid



I wouldn't mind getting something like this for myself ;) These custom wooden puzzles - Nuzzles are from this Etsy shop.

7.16.2010

Mirror-Vintage or Modern?

I happened to have a store credit for $200 from Home Decorators. And I am thinking of buying a mirror for my small second bathroom ( toilet & sink only).
We moved in 1.5years ago with a newborn and an 18-months-old, and ever since that, decorating the rooms to 100% completion has been on hold. But now I think I am ready to start filling up the blanks, giving the rooms that finishing touch that crave.
So....for my small bathroom I just have to decide whether to buy a clean modern mirror or a vintagy one. I can make it work both ways. Oh, decisions, decisions....


Amberly Mirror


I know its too big for my bathroom, but I just love the oversized scale of it.
I'll keep an eye on it for future projects.


Prisca Mirror

My perfect cup of coffee!




I have to admit, for a coffee lover I've been drinking instant coffee way too long. But, finally a real Turkish coffee pot has joined my team of kitchen gadgets! And it is sooo pretty! Thick heavy metal walls allow for a slow even heat distribution. And a long intricate golden handle is beautiful, and stays cool.


Making coffee in the morning has certainly became a pleasant ceremony: carefully measuring the finely ground coffee, filling the pot with cold water and arranging it on the smallest burner with a lowest heat. Then....just wait. Wait until the water heats and a wonderful coffee aroma fills your kitchen. Then slightly stir once in a while -that's what creates that yummy light brown foam on top, and wait some more... Then, 10-12 min later, when the pot appears steamy, the foam has darkened, and almost breathing, right before it reaches the boiling point, turn off the heat and S-l-o-w-l-y pour into a cup. Enjoy!


I also add some cream to wake up my taste buds ;)

7.15.2010

Decorating a Cake- attempt number ONE.




I love to browse various food blogs, baking blogs, food photography blogs, etc. So its only logical that after seeing so many gourgeous cake and cookies designs, I had the urge to create one too. So, one lazy afternoon, my mom and I made an attempt to create a beautifully decorated cake.
Well, I think its not bad for a first try. ;)

Inspiration - modern fence


This company has many modern fence designs in their portfolio, too bad they are all the way in California :(

Another Ipe Fence







How cool is that bench?!



I absolutly love this Ipe Fence
As we decided to update our backyard, I've started to collect images of cool, contemporary outdoor spaces/ elements to get some inspiration.

Our backyard design has to be an organical extention of our house and our lifestyle. It has to be practical too, and pretty, and easy to maintain, and pleasant for our all our family members who spend time there. Oh, did I mentioned easy on the wallet? Yea, that too! So, many debates, hours of research, and tons of phone calls later, we dived into the process.
I want to share some of the images I've collected, perhaps they will help you too. Most of them feature modern fences.
A couple of pics dont show the source, sorry, I am working on it.