Monday, September 30, 2013

Shopping Bags Wall Art

Am I the only one that has a stack of shopping bags in the top of their closet? I haven't made many designer purchases over the years, but the ones I have, well there was no way I was going to throw away the bag! I spent way to much on the purchase to just discard the evidence. :) Plus, designer shopping bags are fabulously designed. They're incredibly cute!

Thanks to Pinterest, here's a great idea for that lonely stack of shopping bags. Transform them into instant art!

Friday, September 27, 2013

FRIDAY'S DISH: Taste of the Sea on the Q53


I just can’t give up summer! You see, I’m a lady who lives in Queens, New York and I’m lucky enough to have a bus that can get me to Rockaway Beach with little to no hassle. Whenever I decide to make that trip I simply must pick up a snack to enjoy by the water. To me, what I’m eating is just as important as remembering to pack sunscreen. While waiting on the bus I stumbled upon a hidden gem. There is a man who works at the bodega just opposite the bus stop who makes a refreshing shrimp cocktail that is perfect to enjoy beach-side.

The shrimp cocktail that I grew up with was always a treat but nothing like this version filled with all of the vibrant flavors of Mexico. The old school version I know is made with boring boiled shrimp and served with a side of somewhat bland cocktail sauce and a lemon wedge. This Mexican version pops with cilantro, lime, sweet tomato juice, and is topped with a few slices of creamy avocado. The cool thing about it is that it’s served with saltine crackers which are the perfect salty vehicle to get the juicy concoction into my mouth.

This last time I stood outside to catch the Q53 bus to Rockaway, I went to my bodega and the man wasn't there! I vowed to replicate his briny snack but I’m afraid I didn't even come close. Summer’s over now and I can only hope he’ll be back.
  • ½ lb of raw peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into chunks
  • 1 small can of tomato juice
  • Your favorite hot to taste (I kept it authentic with Cholula)
  • ½ cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. of ground cumin
  • Juice of 2-4 limes depending on how juicy they are
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Ripened avocado
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
NOTE: All of these measurements are estimates and not exact

What I did:

I put the shrimp in non-reactive bowl and covered them with the juice of the limes. Season with salt and pepper and stirred until coated. I covered them with plastic wrap and placed in the fridge. The shrimp will “cook” in the lime juice. I think it took mine about 45 min to an hour but you have to check them and stir them occasionally to gauge.

When the shrimp turn pink throughout, drain them and add them to another bowl with all other ingredients except the avocado and I reserved a small amount of the cilantro for garnish. At this point you’ll want to add the juice of another lime and a little more salt and pepper to season the juice. Stir it all together, dip it out into “cocktail” glasses and garnish with 3 slices of thinly sliced avocado. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. (I always add more avocado ‘cause I’m greedy like that.) Now you can dip and enjoy with saltine crackers!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Midcentury Mix Houzz Tour

My latest Houzz Tour is up! I had so much fun photographing this home. Dallas interior decorator Jessica Hasten is so unbelievably talented. When you walk into her 1930s Tudor style home, a burst of vibrant color greets you at the door. Oh and her cutie of a dog, Frito Pie too. I enjoyed them both, we laughed, talked design, and became instant friends. Such a great experience. Check out the complete home tour HERE. Enjoy!

Fall Decor: Crate & Barrel is Bringin' Sexy Back


When I think of Crate and Barrel, I don't necessarily think sexy. That is, until last week. Have you been to one of the stores lately? I was glad to find the perfect vessel for my current project, but was thrilled to find a lot of dark stained woods, leather, brass (polished and brushed), and a lot of unexpected luxe.

The Zander 8-Drawer Dresser

A dresser that could be used as a media console or credenza as well. Brushed brass hardware, a little Gaudí, some mid-century, this one is a ‘contemporary stunner’ indeed.

Milo Classic Lounge Chair

Originally designed by Milo Baughman in 1966.  Amazing, chic, manly, comfy. This chair even smells good. (One would hope, at nearly $3000 each.)

Tip: The guys at Fresh Kills in Williamsburg, Brooklyn are huge fans of the designer and occasionally have originals on hand, direct from Thayer Coggin.

Lucida Side Table

I love the dodecahedronic shape of this side table, but even more, I love the brushed brass. It’s a great accent table, or perhaps, an extra thing-to-sit-on when entertaining. In NYC, where square footage is sacred, some pieces need to serve not one, but two (or more) purposes. This would be one of those pieces.

Libations Bar Cart

I’ve had my eye on this since it was introduced a couple of years ago. If you like Paul McCobb's style, you'll love this. Kevin Sharkey received this cart as a birthday gift from Alexis Stewart, which seals the deal as far as taste-worthiness. And nothing says sexy like a great bar cart! I just hope it's still available when I find the perfect spot for it. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

SHOP LOVE: GeometricInk

Watercolors have always been a favorite of mine, I just love the transparency of the paint colors. I am blown away by these dreamy watercolors from Arkansas based artist Kara. Prints are sold in her Etsy shop GeometricInk. Not only are they beautiful, but they're super affordable too. Check it out!

Friday, September 20, 2013

FRIDAY'S DISH: Kitchen Sink Frittata


There are days when I feel like having a hearty breakfast but the same old boring scrambled eggs and toast just won’t do. I usually go searching around the fridge looking for inspiration and find all kinds of things.  Like that half of an onion I didn't use when I made those tacos last night or that quarter of a bell pepper. And somehow I always end up with 1 potato left out of a bag. I never know what to do with just that one leftover spud.

The easiest way to use up all of these left over ingredients is to put them into a frittata using everything but the kitchen sink.
Frittatas are good for morning or even as a light lunch. On this particular day I had the following things:
  • A box of sliced mushrooms
  • A few green onions
  • A handful of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 potato which I scrubbed and diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 6 eggs
  • Some milk
  • Part of a green pepper, diced
  • A sprinkle of smoked paprika
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
How I made it:

Preheat the oven to 375°.

I used an oven-safe sauté pan to brown the potatoes first and then added the mushrooms. Once the potatoes were tender and the mushrooms began to brown, I added the rest of the veggies and seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Soften everything then turn off the heat.

I whisked 6 eggs and some milk (remember this isn’t a precise recipe) and seasoned with salt and pepper. Once combined, I added the potato mixture to the bowl and then poured the entire thing back into the sauté pan making sure to distribute all of the goodies evenly. This is the time to sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and the tomatoes.
I turned the heat to low and cooked it until it was firm on the bottom. I then transferred the pan to the oven and cooked about 10 minutes until it was firm.
Once was cooked I used a knife to loosen the sides of the frittata and flipped it out onto a plate…

Success! Now I cut it into wedges and enjoy with a dollop of mascarpone cheese.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Transitioning to Fall with a Few Storage Upgrades


The Bedroom: California Closet

When sweater weather sets in, I’m a bit torn. On one hand, I am very excited to bust out my mom’s handmade knits, my Fiorentini + Bakers, and my amazing, huge down comforter. On the other hand, I know I will be lacking the space for all this cozy stuff, once I start unloading it.

A few months, ago I had a consultation with California Closets. I am so ready for this closet makeover, and I should just make it happen before the holidays. I will finally have room for every thing, every season !

photos via California Closets
photo via my dream. also on Pinterest

The Dining Room: Dinnerware & Wine Storage

Cooler weather, to me, also means comfort food & holiday dinners at home. I absolutely adore the fall and winter holidays, and I love cooking and entertaining. My tiny little dining room is slowly starting to show that. Just a few additions will bring it to the level I need for the upcoming seasons.
Acrylic wine holder via Gus* Modern

Since it is a small room, no console or buffet tables (that I like) will fit in the space I have. But I still want one, which is why I'll be turning a tall / skinny shelf into a console / buffet. (More details on this DIY to come.) It's finished size will be typical buffet height at 36", by 10"deep & 72" wide. Occasional glassware, ice buckets and cloth napkins will fit perfectly in those 5 little nooks! 

The Kitchen / Living Room: Built-In Shelving

This idea is more of a custom millwork job, and less likely to happen quickly. But I can still collect inspiration, right? This would be great, since I have many cookbooks and more than a few countertop appliances. And kids toys? Lots of those too, and I'd rather put them behind closed doors. But with easy access for the tot, of course.

Now I just have to design this multi-purpose-storage-dream, and hire someone to build it (oh, and come up with a couple grand, I assume). Realistically, this one might be more of a "Spring to Summer '14 Transition".

so, for now, let's just enjoy the fall... 

A few of my favorites: 

photos: 1 / 2 / 3

Friday, September 13, 2013

FRIDAY'S DISH: Last Kiss of Summer + Lavender


Summer, don’t go! I’m not ready for autumn yet. I have managed to find a way to keep summer going just a bit longer, with lavender simple syrup. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make and when I combine it with lemon I am instantly transported to the South of France.
What you do is heat a cup of water in a sauce pan. Turn off the heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers (I found them at my local Food Emporium grocery store in the spice aisle.) Steep them like tea for 10 minutes and strain. Add the liquid back to the saucepan along with 1 cup of sugar. Heat gently until dissolved. Now you have lavender simple syrup! Remember the syrup recipe can be increased if you’re making a lot of drinks.

I used it in these 2 applications. The Lavender Bees Knees combines my love of floral flavors with my new love of GIN! The floral notes in the gin really go well with the actual flowers. If you want to make it official, use honey instead of sugar when making the syrup.

If you’re not in need of that extra kick from the gin you can still enjoy what’s left of the warm weather by using the syrup to make Lavender Lemonade.

Lavender Bees Knees:
2 – shots of good quality gin
1 - shot of lavender syrup
Juice of half a lemon

Combine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Put your feet up and sip. Ah, I’m relaxing already.
Tip: I put my glasses in the freezer while I’m getting the cocktail together.

Lavender Lemonade:
Juice of 1-2 lemons (I’m not that exact. How tart do you want it?)
About 1 – cup water
¼ - cup of lavender syrup

Combine the ingredients and serve over lots of ice. Garnish with a lemon. Sip and enjoy!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Feizy Rugs DIY Contest

Feizy Rugs recently held their 2nd Annual Design It Yourself Rug Contest. I've been creating and designing patterns for quite some time now, so I decided to enter. Well...drumroll. I won!! I'm so very excited and overwhelmed by the positive feedback. Thanks to everyone who voted for my design on Feizy's Facebook and Pinterest page.

I'm not sure what's going to happen next or if the rug will actually go into production. I can say, this was an awesome opportunity and I enjoyed participating. Thanks Feizy!

Oh yeah...I won 1000 dollars too! Not bad for a day's work. Not bad at all. =)

Monday, September 9, 2013

DIY: Two-Tone Bentwood Chairs


I was working on a project recently, where the budget was a bit tight. (more details on that later.

Basically, we had to use some furniture that already belonged to the client. It didn't 100% work for the look they wanted, yet we had no choice. Enter DIY mode: how to make these neutral pieces more young, fun and colorful, (aka: the new and improved look) with not so much money?  

I had 3 Vienna Side Chairs & some spray paint to work with: 
Thonet originally designed the chairs around the the 1840's to be held together with only screws, no glue. Luckily Crate and Barrel followed that design, so removing the back was a cinch. I removed said screws from the part I wanted to change, (remember to wear a respirator) and got spraying. 

*After your last coat, wait about 24 hours for the paint to cure, and then reassemble. 
Be patient. I know, it's difficult. 

Here's the end result: 
So simple, but changes the entire look! 
Perhaps do this with other types of chairs, or some that you already own. 
Just examine the way they are assembled like I did.  
Or try a different combo; these side chairs are available in 5 colors.



Friday, September 6, 2013

FRIDAY'S DISH: Beauty From The Beast


OK, this is the first time I’ve ever done this and I’m going to admit it to you right here, right now. I set my kitchen on fire. Well, not exactly my whole kitchen but my oven for sure.

I was in the process of baking pre-made pizza dough for a dessert pizza and I unknowingly dropped one of my potholders onto the bottom of the oven, which was set at 500 degrees. A pizza with a crispy crust comes from an oven that is set to “Hades”.

I was to leave the pizza crusts in the oven for 7-8 minutes, but about 4 minutes into the cooking time, as I sat on my living room couch, I began to smell smoke. I turned to the kitchen to see thick acrid smoke filling my apartment. The smoke was worse than the actual fire but it did set off the smoke detector and forced me to have to open every single window in the place.

All was not lost. I was still able to use the crusts and they didn’t even have the charred taste of smoke. The pot holder, however, was not so lucky. I was actually able to make something beautiful out of something so, so time it’s going to be Boboli!

Super Easy Raspberry Dessert Pizza
  • 1 - Package of pre-made pizza dough (you can make your own or use pre-baked)
  • 1 - 8 oz container of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 - tbsp honey
  • 1 - splash of milk
  • 1 - splash of champagne
  • 1 – Pint fresh raspberries
  • Flour for dusting
  • Chiffonade of basil
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone or a cookie sheet. Dust a clean counter with flour and cut the room temperature dough into 4 equal rounds. Roll out the dough adding flour as needed so that it doesn’t stick. (You can shape them into a heart shapes too.) Place the rounds onto the pizza stone and bake per the package instructions.

In the meantime, combine the mascarpone and honey with a little champagne and enough milk to make it spreadable. When the dough comes out of the oven, cool it COMPLETELY on a rack. Spread on the
cheese mixture and decorate with the raspberries. Garnish with basil and ENJOY!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Elegant Update Houzz Tour!

I'm so excited to share my latest home tour with you. You can now view the lovely home of Ilya and Arina Gurfinkel at It was such a pleasure shooting this amazing home. Not only is it breathtaking, but the couple renovated their home themselves which makes it even more special. Plus, they have created the most adorable nursery ever! Seriously, you're going to love it!!

CLICK HERE to check out the full feature on Houzz. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In Defense of Chalkboard Paint


Chalkboard paint was really popular a few years ago, but why has the trend faded? Honestly, I still love having an 20 foot wall of dusty, chalky awesomeness in my kitchen. Maybe these reasons below can convince you that it's still useful, and really why care too much about what's 'in'? Do what's right for you. It's only paint. Trends shmends...

1. It's a great faux venetian plaster look, even if you never write on it. Cover a wall (or a really big canvas) with chalkboard paint, write all over it with chalk, erase it, and leave it like that. I think it looks amazing. I recommend using a slightly damp, clean rag to achieve this. Then put a bird on it, if you want. Or don't.
The photo above is a good example of the texture you'll get.  
Other colors available here if the classic chalkboard black (or green) doesn't appeal to you.

2. Scoreboards for game night. They are epic when they're on a huge wall. (even if you're losing, like I was here).  

3. Use it to create a backdrop for cute photos. Here's my holiday card from a few years ago. I drew the snowflakes, and my daughter sat for 30 seconds. Text was added later. 
Quinn, Christmas 2011

Appear really busy and important. Even if you're not. Here's my over-planned July 4th weekend. (not that much happened).

NYFW: Lauren Moffatt's NYC Pad

As we continue our celebration of New York Fashion Week that starts tomorrow! Here's designer Lauren Moffatt's mod New York City apartment.

Photos via Refinery29

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