Monday, November 30, 2009

Team Mount

We went to Ventfort over the holiday weekend because my family really loves touring old houses. This one had the added appeal of being decorated for the holidays, and featured a Berkshires wedding exhibit. Sold!

They filmed most of Cider House Rules at the house, and our irritating tour guide was super into this. He loved sharing "insider info" with us, like an awesome story about how they weren't supposed to film inside the house and then they did anyway.

The wedding exhibit was sort of strange, but we did learn some fun facts. The most interesting was that the tradition of not seeing each other prior to the ceremony was invented in the 1920s in a movie to add drama. But I just spent seven full minutes searching for this on Google, and it cannot be verified, so take that for what you will.

It was fun to see, but I'm team Mount all the way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for...

* Coffee in bed* Apple sauce * Down comforters * Paperwhites * Risotto * Skype * Butternut * A3 girls * Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse sale * Pumpkin crunch * Arts and crafts * Priceline * House guests * Holiday celebrations * Floats * Tea breaks * Gennaro * Tanglewood * Living room picnics * Berkshires * This American Life * Book Club * Puppies * Space heaters * Empty express trains * Martha's Vineyard * Girl's weekends * Cashmere * Flannel sheets * Park Slope * DVR * Old movies * Gap Outlet * Peanut butter cookies * HGTV * Mashed potatoes * Food & Wine * Prospect Park * Lunch dates * Farmer's Market * The New Yorker * Gin and Tonic * The wonderful guy who makes me all those Gin and Tonics *

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving, filled with lots of love and delicious things. See you next week!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Inn

Growing up, my family watched Holiday Inn almost every Thanksgiving. It stars Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and the very pretty Marjorie Reynolds.

The basic premise is that entertainer Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) is tired of show business, tired of the late nights, tired of the constant travel. He leaves it all behind to open a quiet Inn in Connecticut that will only open on holidays.

There is lots of singing and dancing, beautiful costumes, and, of course, a love story. My family adores it.
* * * * *
I'm thinking a lot about traditions lately. Peter and I have been together for enough years now that we have some of our own. Everything feels very special to me this year, I think because we are in the midst of planning our wedding and becoming a family, in the official sense.
I should stop before I make myself cry at my desk. I've become quite sappy.

Monday, November 23, 2009


One Sunday afternoon during my freshman year in college, a wonderful friend came back to the dorm with left-over pumpkin crunch. It had no crust, but a layer of pumpkin custard underneath sweet vanilla topping with pecans mixed in. Lovely hot, cold or at room temperature and so perfectly seasonal, pumpkin crunch soon became my favorite dessert.

I think it's very funny that this wonderful friend doesn't even like pumpkin crunch that much (I don't really hold it against her. She has some very nice other qualities.). But she kindly passed along the recipe her family uses to make it.

I don't have a picture of pumpkin crunch! But this is my Thanksgiving table last year.

My family has adopted it into our own Thanksgiving traditions, and this Thursday, when Peter and I are at his Uncle Jack's house celebrating the holiday, I will introduce it to them. I hope they love it as much as I do.

*A note about this recipe: Pumpkin Crunch isn't going to win any awards for being healthy or making use of local ingredients. Try not to hold that against it. I certainly don't.

Ronald McDonald would probably be excited about the amount of butter in this recipe.

You will need:

15 oz can of pumpkin
12 oz evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups pecans, crushed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 box yellow cake mix, without pudding
2 sticks butter, melted (!)
POST EDIT: My sweet friend tells me it is supposed to be 2 sticks of margarine, not butter! Use this if you want to be more authetic. And Southern.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar and eggs in a bowl with a fork or whisk until smooth. Pour into a 9x13 inch glass pan (spray first with non-stick coating). Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle pecans over cake mix. Drizzle melted butter on top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Making things

1. Check out my paper whites. I told you they grow really fast!

2. I hand sewed this cute little bird last night! I highly recommend this to new sewers looking for a quick project. It took about an hour and a half, start to finish. And that's mostly because I had to read the directions 800 times. Not that they were confusing. I was just paranoid about making a mistake.

Find the instructions here. It would be a great little weekend project. I'm going to try to make some more. And I also have another sewing project in the works! Hopefully I'll be able to share next week.


Last night I stopped at Purl Soho on my way home from work. It is such a bright, cheery little shop. I wanted to get a little bit of fabric for a project I found, and it was so fun to look through everything they have.

The girls that work there are so helpful and nice. I said some really cool things like, "This is totally the best store ever!" and, "I want to come back EVERY DAY." Not weird at all. They took it all in stride, maybe because they know they work at the best place on Earth.

Anyways, I made my little project last night. Check back later to see it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

House guest

One of my dear friends from college is staying with us for a few days while she goes to a conference in NYC. She is wonderful, obviously, but I didn't realize how much I would love having her around.

Last night, I made a pretty unsuccessful pork shoulder for dinner. I braised it in apple cider with apples, carrots and onion in the crock pot. Something I've done before, but yesterday, it was so bland. And almost greasy. Not the best thing I've ever made, by a long shot. But still, sitting at dinner with Peter and MMJ, chatting about teaching 9th graders Daoism and Thanksgiving plans. It was so lovely.

We made lime jello later on and Peter forced us to watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (hate that stupid show!), but still.

And this morning! Getting ready together and drinking coffee and having someone around to tell me that my outfit looked cute! That's one of the things I miss the most about having roommates. It is so great to have an adorable person around that likes clothes and understands what jewelry you should wear with what, and can actually form an opinion when you ask if you should be wearing flats or boots with your outfit.

I really like this house guest thing so far.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thank You and You're Welcome

"I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life."

Thanks, Kanye West.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the green

We were able to fit in 9 holes of golf on Sunday morning before heading back to Brooklyn. It was lightly misting, which of course made me feel like a very intrepid sportswoman. Tough, dedicated, and all of that.

We went to Willow Brook in South Windsor, which is an Executive Par 3 course. Beginning golfers, can I give you a quick suggestion? Seek out an Executive Par 3 course! It is so gratifying to see the hole when you are at the tee, and know that it is a manageable distance you can actually hit.

We've played on larger courses before this, and it is really difficult to not get frustrated while you hit and hit and hit the ball, creeping closer to the hole. I can't tell you how obnoxiously pleased I was to drive the ball onto the green a few times. And even to make par on one hole!

Well, I guess I will admit that it involved hand-punching, some cheering, and a lot of fishing for compliments. But that's normal, right?

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Yorker

I love this video from the New Yorker showing how the artist created this week's cover using the Brushes application on an iPhone. Such a lovely cover.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I absolutely adore these felted pillows.

And the patchwork quilt? Darling. I also kind of want the baby that's lying on top of it, but umm...not for another three to five years (Peter, are you reading this? Just checking!).

Have you guys ever felted anything? I haven't, but it seems easy enough.

We're going to Connecticut this weekend so that we can meet with a wedding photographer (and hopefully play some golf!). I'm totally going to look for some old wool sweaters I can "borrow."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The power of butter

Trattoria Sostanza makes the best buttered chicken in the world. I've already shared this wisdom with everyone I know because I would hate for anyone to miss an opportunity to taste perfection in the form of a chicken breast.

My mom has been trying to re-create this dish at home since we first went to Italy as a family eight years ago. She would make a butter sauce to go on top, fussing around with very fancy clarified European butter, baking bone-in and skin-on chicken at a low temperature.

None of it worked.

And of course, none of that was neccesary. When they were there a few weeks ago, my mom was brave and decided to just ask what they did to make the chicken so life-changingly good. The wild answer is that they heat up a lot of butter and cook the chicken in it.

I made it last night in my cast iron skillet. It was absolutely the closest we've ever come to replicating it. One of the most powerful things about the dish is its very strong, rich smell, and I'm happy to say that this achieved that. Oh, the power of butter.

Photo of the original, taken my sister. But I swear, mine looked just like this!

Trattoria Sostanza style buttered chicken or Pollo al burro

You will need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick of butter
Salt and pepper

Add the butter to a small-ish cast iron skillet. Melt the butter over a medium-low heat until it is just becoming brown, about 10 minutes. A good tip from Sostanza was that the chicken should be packed into the pan because it gets less dried out that way. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto chicken and add to the skillet. Cook on one side for five minutes, then flip. Repeat, until both sides have been flipped twice (about 20 minutes cooking time total).

Pour all of that brown butter over the chicken. Don't be stingy! You've already decided to make a dinner with a whole stick of butter in it, so don't back down now.

At Sostanza, we always order buttered tortellini to go with it, but last night I served it with swiss chard-mashed potatoes and salad. A slightly lighter combination that was delicious.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Photo from Apartment Therapy

We are throwing a little Christmas party this year, despite my nervousness. I am so excited that a few friends from DC and my sister and her sweet boyfriend will be coming. It's still a long way off (NYC friends: mark your calendar for December 19th!), but I'm starting to look at different menu and entertaining ideas:

Oh, I just love the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I signed up for the Martha Stewart Christmas Workshop last week, mostly because it sounded awesome.

Today I got an email from Martha with the Christmas Workshop shopping list. It is nine (9!!!) pages long. The list for the first week alone includes: socks, red transfer paper (?), 1/2-ounce squeeze bottle with 0.5-millimeter stainless steel tip, baby wipes, elastic ribbon, glitter glue and so much more.

So, uhh, who's with me? It will be fun, I swear! Maybe!

You can sign up here.


Monday, November 9, 2009


I have wanted to see the Rockette's since we moved to New York (three Christmas seasons ago!).

Dreams come true, my friends! Use this code: EM50SAVE to save 50% off non-peak performances through November 30th!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Every year, my mom bought paperwhite bulbs to grow in our house during the holiday season. I love this tradition, and do it every year in my own apartment. It's so lovely to actually have something growing this time of year as opposed to dying. Some people don't like the scent they give off, but I think it's very nice and clean.

This is a fun little trick from Margaret at A Way to Garden: add 1 part alcohol to 8 parts water for your paperwhites. This prevents them from growing too tall and flopping over! I'm going to try it this year with my new little bulbs. I wonder if my flowers will like gin as much as I do.

They'll grow incredibly fast -- practically before your eyes. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Quiz me

Back when Domino magazine was alive and well, they had a really cool program on the website where you could save all the decorating images you liked in one spot. Then you could label them things like, "bedroom," "patterns" or "curtains." When that awesome program was shut down along with the rest of the website, I migrated all the images into a folder on my desktop.

I thought that I had a pretty good sense of what my style was before I started collecting, but let me tell you -- it's really eye opening to see everything in one place. You get a really good sense of what your drawn to in terms of color schemes, furniture style and even lay-out.

That being said, it was really fun to take this little Ethan Allen quiz to see how they would describe my style in words. I think it's spot on! At least, this is what I'm aiming for...

What's the verdict on your style?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009


I can get fixated on things around the apartment that I want to change or upgrade. For a few weeks this fall, I spent a chunk of each day looking for a chair for the living room that I felt we just had to have. Once I found it, I moved on to looking for a new shower curtain.

This week, I really wanted to start decorating for the holidays, but I know that's a bit crazy. So to distract myself, I'm trying to find a pretty new rug for the dining room. I saw some cute things at Target last night that I really liked. But I am too cheap to buy them full price (even at low Target prices!). I will search Craigslist until I find something!

Here are some of the pretty rugs I really like:

From Pottery Barn

From Target
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