I've decided that you can’t possibly be in a bad mood around citrus. End of story. It’s too uplifting: the hyper-saturated rinds and that bracing smell plume of zest.
If you need some inspiration, or want to know what the hell to do with funky new hybrids like mandarinquats, give this segment a listen by my pal Rachael at The California Report. I’ll be trying both the pot roast and the spicy crab recipes.
For me, the easiest of all is the quick citrus-ade I make in a Mason jar. Squeeze a couple lemons or limes into a jar, add sugar to taste, and fill with water. Screw on lid and shake to dissolve the sugar. Perfect straight-up, or as a base for tart winter cocktails.
I'm pretty sure that when I was five years old, I had a sleeping bag with this flowery pink material inside. Which seems fitting, as this fabric was the tablecloth at a recent, snuggly evening of inspiration. A workshop at Teahouse Studios, with music and wine and good company – led by Amelia of GoGo Craft. As the rain fell heavy on the roof, we sat snug inside, making gloves from felted sweaters. I jaunted up my pair with bright red buttons.
I made a similar version a couple years ago on a sewing machine, but I loved the hand-stitching process this time around. They're so easy and satisfying – the hardest part is thinking far enough ahead to felt your sweaters and let them dry.
Happy Valentine's Day, all you good people with big and happy and generous hearts.
At noon today, San Francisco celebrated the 50th anniversary of Tony Bennett recording "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." All the local radio stations were asked to play the song at noon, and the city blasted it out of the PA system at City Hall.
"The morning fog may chill the air, I don't care. My love waits there in San Francisco..."
Looking for something sweet for the breakfast table? These napkins use a heart hole punch to make a stencil for printing on napkins. The heavy clunk of the metal punch is almost as satisfying as the resulting shower of confetti hearts.
Materials: Napkins (washed, dried and ironed), stencil sheets or Mylar (I used frosted Mylar cut into 4 ½ x 6” sheets), heart hole punch, painter’s tape, textile or screen-printing ink, stencil brush, paper plates, iron.
Step 1: Using the heart hole punch, cut hearts in the stencil sheet. I made three sheets – one for each color I wanted to print.
Step 2: Print the napkins by taping your stencil to the napkin. This gives a buffer for the paint as well as holding it in place. Pour small amount of ink onto a paper plate. Dip your brush into the ink and then remove excess ink by tapping the stencil brush onto plate. Apply ink to stencil using a straight up and down motion. Carefully peel away stencil and move to a new area.
Step 3: Apply a new color by repeating Step 2 after the first color ink is dry to the touch. Repeat with a third color if desired.
To make your ink permanent, follow ink manufacturer’s instruction for “heat-setting” the ink. This means ironing the fabric after it has air dried to make it permanent so you can wash and dry your napkins over and over to repeatedly brighten your table.
Big thanks to Michaels for sponsoring these posts. I hope everyone gets just the right amount of sweet this Valentine's Day. xoxo
I know it’s the thought that counts. But I also believe that if that thought is dressed up pretty, even cookies can taste sweeter. The variations on what supplies to use are endless, but here’s what I used.
Materials for the labels: Plain shipping tags, circle stamp, ink pad, pink marker, red card stock, hole punch, scissors, spray glue, embroidery thread, letter stamp. Materials for the cookie packages: white take out containers, striped waxed paper, polka dot paper, scissors, spray glue, washi tape.
Step 1: To make the arrow labels, stamp a circle on a shipping tag and draw an arrow through the center. To make the fluted corner labels, use a fluted hole punch to cut a circle. Place the cut-out circle atop the shipping tag and cut along a corner of the tag. Use spray glue to affix to label. Add an XOXO stamp.
Step 2: To add a pennant effect around the container, cut a zig-zag length of paper long enough to wrap around the container. Spray glue the back side of paper and affix to top edge of container.
Put a piece of wax paper inside a container, add cookies and affix labels to the top with a piece of washi tape. Send to all your valentines.
A note about recipes: I used this recipe for almond lavender shortbread. And this one for the chocolate cookies – it’s like a brownie in cookie form. If you are eating or serving at home, feel free to make marshmallow fluff sandwiches with fluff mixed with a little strawberry or raspberry jam to tint pink. Be forewarned: they get goopy fast. But the goop is worth it.
Big thanks to Michaels for sponsoring this post and encouraging us all to be creative and sweet in our Valentine's Day celebrations. xoxo
I’m going to come right out with it. The thought of batting my eyelashes across a candlelit restaurant dinner on Valentine’s Day creeps me out. I’m just not that kind of girl.
What I do go for, however, is cooking a great meal and making sweet somethings for the people I love. A cluster of these lightweight veneer hearts hung in a corner or over the dining room table creates a dreamy little heart forest and transmits a 'modern love' kind of vibe.
Materials: Strips of wood veneer (available in different widths in hardware stores), scissors, awl and cutting board, brads, glue, yarn or ribbon, clothespins, paint, decorative tape or glitter for decorating
Step 1: For each heart, cut two pieces of veneer the same length (I used 10” strips for the smaller hearts and 18” for the larger hearts). Bend one strip and then the other, so the cut ends line up and pinch together.
Step 2: Using a awl and a cutting board or mat, push the awl through to make a hole through all four layers of the veneer. Once the awl is all the way through, flip the stack over and push awl in through the other side so the veneer doesn’t split. Push a brad through and open ends to secure.
Step 3: Add yarn or ribbon to hang by sliding the central “stem” of the heart open and squeezing a line of glue. Position end of yarn over the glue, slide the veneer back and clothespin together until glue dries.
Step 4: Decorate with paint – acrylic gives opaque coverage and watercolor creates a softer effect. Alternatively, add strips of decorative tape to create stripes or add glitter.
Step 5: Hang in a cluster, or tie the hearts to dowels to create a mobile.
Big thanks to Michaels for sponsoring this post and encouraging us to be creative in the way we celebrate Valentine's Day. xoxo
I need some lazy mornings with rumpled sheets and dozing. I hope that’s in the cards for you too.
In miscellaneous news, you can see Melissa’s roundup of our Alt Eve dinner right over here. And big thanks to Jenn and Hostess with the Mostess for telling all you party people about Weekend Handmade. It posted while I was at Alt and I’ve been remiss in sharing. It’s quite a compliment considering the source!
Here’s to afternoon naps and eeking out small moments of slow-paced happiness this weekend.
I’m particularly drawn to the night sky in wintertime. Neck tipped up, cold air, close stars. So the inky beauty of these watercolor paintings made me gasp.
They’re from an artist named Christine Buckton Tillman and if you scroll through the drawings section of her site, your heart will become buoyant with happiness and light.
top image by Sarah
A little more about that pickling session. Sarah and I lead the group in making pickled shallots, with a buffet of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-Pickle-Spices: juniper berries, bay leaves, star anise, mustard seeds, peppercorns, on and on.
We call this a “Kitchen Sink Pickle” because you can throw in whatever vegetables you want. You could also add honey or sugar with you prefer your pickle with a punch of sweetness. This is a quick pickle, meaning you can make it before you start other dinner prep and it will be ready when you put everything on the table. It's enough time for the vinegar to take the raw hotness off the shallot.
We served this with duck confit and – this is the awesome thing about pickles – the addition cuts right through heavy, fatty dishes and brightens up the whole thing. I am a pickle convert. So I give you our recipe, as well as some ideas for different ways to dress up the final jars.
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water (plus more, if needed)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2-3 teaspoons of your preferred pickling spices
2-3 shallots, sliced thin
1. Combine cider vinegar with water, salt and spices in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
2. Place shallots in a clean, dry glass jar just large enough to fit. Pour the brine over to cover completely. If there’s extra room at the top, add cold water to cover.
3. Cover with lid and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. The pickles will keep for about 10 days.
When Sarah and I committed to cooking dinner on the night of the eve of Altitude Design Summit, I didn’t quite realize that it would feel like creating a small wedding in one day. Like a wedding, it was creative and stressful and exciting. And ultimately, a whirlwind of happiness that felt reflective of our personalities.
We landed at HoJo’s on Tuesday night and got to work binding the booklets of recipes and photos and ironing birch veneer strips into what would become the overhead table decorations.
After a few hours of sleep, we roared into a professional kitchen the next day with grocery carts, a crate of wine, a suitcase of craft supplies, and a big case of nerves. The Alt team lined up the Roth showroom kitchen in Salt Lake City, run by Marie. In the final moments before the guests arrived – as we were frantically whisking and stirring and putting on mascara – Marie IRONED OUR DRESSES. She and her team of Jamie and Brenda went so above and beyond. We were family by the end of the night.
We chopped and prepped and decorated and at 7pm, a dozen bright, glittery, stylish ladies arrived. The energy lift was awesome. We clinked champagne glasses, made introductions, ate cheese and onion jam, and then moved into the kitchen classroom to decorate dinner napkins with hole punch stencils and fabric paint.
After that, it was onto a DIY pickling session. Then finally, the sit-down dinner, where everyone sounded like old, reconnected pals. As Sarah and I shuttled plates of food back and forth from the kitchen, we made dorky, over-the-top happy faces every time we passed each other because hearing the bubbly chitchat and oohing and ahhing seriously warmed our hearts.
Then it was all over, and we released the happy group into the cold Utah night.
I’m at Alt, folks! Will I see you there?
Before I took off, Mike and I spent a weekend night with friends in Marin, where it smells so good and is so seductive. Part of the plan was to raid my pal MJ’s closet. But along with an armful of polka dots and stripes, I left with some other ideas too. Like patterns tucked into every concievable corner. MJ's oatmeal breakfast buffet. Her kids’ rad wood toy that I wanted to steal. Inspiration from Edward Emberley’s woodcuts in Paul Bunyan. And the best salt cellar ever – made from a Shrinky Dink.
Remember that little experiment with the brandied blueberries back at the end of the summer? Well, gang, this one was a winner. The blueberry brandy is even better, dare I say, than the blueberries themselves.
We cracked into a jar when we ran out of brandied cherries, and we tried them in an old-fashioned the other night. Holy deliciousness. I think at our next dinner party, I’m going to serve the blueberry brandy straight up as a digestif. It sounds like something that a 15-year old would sneak out of their parents’ drinks cabinet but it’s actually very grown-up tasting. Mellow and not sugary-sweet at all. A taste of summery berries to warm your bones in winter.
Photo: One Love Photo
Meg Keene – who is feisty and funny and smart, and with whom I have had the pleasure of ripping it up on the dance floor – wrote a book called “A Practical Wedding” based on her website of the same name.
This is the book I wish I had when Mike and I were finding our way through our wedding planning all those years ago. What we experienced is probably familiar to most thinking, feeling, discriminating couples: it felt a harder task to maintain vigilance against everything we didn’t want at our wedding than to simply make happen what we did want. This is utter craziness, yes. It's why I wound up the day before telling my sisters and best friend through blubbery tears that all I wanted was to marry Mike and that suddenly felt lost.
It turns out, that wasn’t lost. Not by a long shot.
We got married in my parents’ barn. We actually moved them out of their own home. They were totally game to put their furniture in a moving van and park it out of sight at the neighbor’s house overnight.
We loved all of it. But it wasn’t without some heartache along the way. Which Meg explains is normal. In this book she will be your friend, your advocate, cheering you on to create a day that is actually (shock!) reflective of you and your partner. She is forthright and wise and rooting for you.
Congrats, Meg. You nailed it.
I have been on a leather kick lately, starting when I messed around with leather for the cuff bracelet in the book. It's a project a lot of people seemed taken with – I think because people realized that they didn’t need big leatherworking studios to make simple accessories.
I’m lucky that I live in a city with an incredibly well-stocked leather warehouse, where they are happy to sell me “necks” off the hides. This year, I bought a couple metallic leathers and made this very simple necklace for my sisters and mom. Look for leather suppliers in the upholstery section of your Yellow Pages (yep, I still use those) and in big, higher-end fabric stores. Using a pair of fabric shears keeps a clean edge.
I cut two circles – one smaller, one larger – and then cut across one edge to remove the curve. Then I stacked the smaller circle on top, made a guide hole with a needle through both layers, pushed a jump ring through, and added some chain and a clasp. This is one of those projects that is dead simple and luxe at the same time – a combination of qualities that I am particularly fond of!
There’s something about being within the landscape I grew up in, especially in the muted winter. The cold creek that smells like wet rocks, bright stars in the inky night sky, and blazing fires in a big stone fireplace.
I couldn't get enough of it on this trip back to Virginia – especially the landscape. The slope of the rolling hills, the stripped-down winter palette, the curve of the dirt roads. Clearly, I am getting more sentimental. It's easy and seductive to imagine yourself inserted back where you became who you are. So on the plane ride back out to California, this passage from The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel – when a preacher is struggling to craft his sermon – stopped me dead in my tracks.
“That wasn’t really what he wanted to say. What he was aiming for was nostalgia, heartache, homesickness. Or stranger yet, the heart’s desire to return to someplace it had never been. He thought of his own bizarre tendency to long for other lives…
Why does this happen to us? Because we have abandoned an infinite number and variety of pure possibilities, and perhaps they live alongside the choices we did make, immortalized in the cosmic memory. Perhaps there are unknown lives walking alongside ours, those paths we didn’t take, and we reach for them, we ache for them, and don’t know why.”
Camillas are in bloom in California this time of year, when the calendar flips over to a new year. This is one on my bedside table. I hope your year unfurls beautifully and mysteriously as this cluster of gorgeousness.
I have come to love the symbolism of a new year and its fresh start — the idea not so much of leaving behind last year’s big joys and big sorrows and everything in between. But having it be okay to move on, look forward, and wonder what’s ahead. So Happy New Year. I’m so grateful and glad that we’re all here together. xo