Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yum, Yum, Give Me Some

Apparently yum yum bars are something different to just about everybody. I've found recipes that include cherries, marshmallows and chocolate shavings, but the yum yum bars I grew up with were a sweet, chewy, cream-cheesy bar, which I could eat a whole pan of. The recipe is super easy and just plain, well...yummy.

Yum Yum Bars

1 yellow cake
1 egg
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup of finely chopped pecans

2 eggs
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 box of powdered sugar, 16 oz.

Preheat oven to 350. Press the crust down firmly in a 9x13 inch pan. Top with filling. Bake 35 minutes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Put the Lights on the Tree

While one day I hope to have a home filled with Christmas trees to suit my every decorating whim (like this one for instance), for now I am limited to just one tree, so I opt for the nostalgic look -- lots of Hallmark ornaments and colored lights on a tree with some character. There's something about a tree like this that reminds me of being a kid, so I think I'll keep the tradition around a while. How do you decorate?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Style: Gift Bow Ring

I came across this adorable gift bow ring by Maison Martin Margiela today, but it seems that it's no longer available anywhere. Still, I couldn't resist sharing this whimsical little find. I am absolutely in love with it. Just think of all the charm this one piece of jewelry would add to your holiday party dress! The price was pretty steep at $245, so maybe a cheaper imitation will come along with matching earrings to boot. "Dear Santa...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Southern Sides: Sweet Potato Casserole

So this is a little late, but I'd like to think I'm just early for next Thanksgiving. By far, the Thanksgiving side I look forward to most is my sweet potatoes. This dish goes by many names, sweet potato casserole, souffle and bake, but no matter what you call it, it's always tasty. I top mine with the brown sugar-pecan mixture as well as miniature marshmallows. I know it's tacky, but I just can't resist. Though some might find it too sweet to sit alongside your turkey and dressing, it's my favorite dish on the plate ... and come on, it's a vegetable.

Sweet Potato Bake
Recipe adapted from Paula Deen

3 cups cooked, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients for bake except the cream. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add cream; mix well. Pour into greased casserole dish. For the topping, mix together brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter with fork; sprinkle over top of casserole along with mini marshmallows. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Handmade Handbags for the Holidays

I came across the most adorable clutches this week. Emma Gordon designs these glamorous and girly handbags out of London. Her handmade designs, which she describes as "ladylike with a twist," can be found in boutiques throughout the world, on etsy and on her official website. I can’t get enough of her satin clutches detailed with flowers, the perfect accessory for a special occasion, and her more casual clutches for everyday use. She also specializes in headbands, many of which feature those same charming silk flowers. As a special offer from Emma, if you purchase a bag through etsy before December 1st, you’ll receive a free headband along with it -- a perfect holiday gift for someone special or for yourself.

See more of my holiday gift ideas at (my day job).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not Your Grandma's Quilt

There's nothing like curling up on the couch with a quilt when you're feeling sick, cold or just plain lazy. While nothing beats a handmade quilt from grandma, I recently came across a patchwork quilt from Urban Outfitters that would serve the purpose. This chaotic and colorful quilt actually has a certain handmade charm to it, but with a young and modern feel. The squares feature different floral designs and the bold colors are irresistibly adorable. Plus, it would look great wrapped around a sleepy someone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays

Gloomy, winter weather has officially hit Seattle. It's the time of year when it gets dark at 5 p.m. and drizzles all day long. When it comes to rainy days, I've found it's best to embrace the weather as an opportunity to don your most adorable rain boots, raincoat and of course, a chic umbrella. I'm not talking about the cheap, black umbrellas sold on New York street corners that get blown inside out within 5 blocks. I'm talking about an investment umbrella that's as much an accessory as a handbag or jewelry. A couple of my favorite online umbrella shops are Pare Umbrella and Bella Umbrella. Of course, you can find more affordable options that offer just as much style in department and thrift stores. Just venture outside of the traditional solid colors and choose something with a little personality. With ruffles, polka dots and patterns available, you can think of bad weather as a reason to accessorize.

"I didn't invent the rainy day, man. I just own the best umbrella."
-- Dennis Hope, Almost Famous

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Hostess Finds

With Halloween upon us, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite finds and some sweet treats I've come across. I hope these liven up your Halloween weekend or give you inspiration for next year.
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sculpted Fashion

Anthropologie currently has a site section highlighting their "sculpted grace" clothing. The collection which includes skirts, jackets, tops and dresses features unique fabric details, particularly around the shoulders and neckline, that add a little pop to standard winter clothing. The designs are structured and modern, but still manage to be feminine and romantic. My favorites are this short sleeve blazer, this pleated sweater and this pencil skirt. The whole trend actually reminds me of Leanne's winning collection from Project Runway's Season 5 finale. I'm liking where fashion is headed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Glassy Gifts

One of my favorite gift items made right here in Seattle is called a glassybaby. What exactly is a glassybaby you ask? Well, it's a charming, little candle holder that comes in just about every color imaginable. And with names like duck egg, ballet and glacier lake, you'll probably want to collect them all. Handmade through a multi-layered glass-blowing process, the glass can range from translucent to opaque, lighting up beautifully when you put a votive candle inside. The candle cups create a perfect ambiance for cozy dinners and holiday parties. They do run a bit steep, $40 a pop, but each is uniquely handmade and sort of a collector's item if you ask me. The company also does a lot of good. Each year glassybaby makes a donation to benefit local and national organizations contributing to cancer patient care and research. Talk about shining a light.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Football Food: Balsamic Chicken Drumettes

While I'm not a big sports fan (I know, I'm a bad southerner), I do enjoy the food associated with watching a game. When I tire of the standard buffalo wings, I opt for a recipe that's a little more sophisticated but equally satisfying. These slightly sweet balsamic chicken drumettes are a tasty change of pace but provide all the enjoyment (and messiness) associated with wings. I even think they are perfect for a cocktail party, provided you supply plenty of napkins.

Balsamic Chicken Drumettes
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and the Food Network

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves, halved
10 to 12 chicken drumsticks
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves, in a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the honey and the brown sugar. Add the chicken drumsticks to the bag and seal with as little air as possible in the bag. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the chicken drumsticks on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the skin is caramelized and very dark in spots, about 30 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil (in order to kill bacteria). Reduce the heat to simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Reserve. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cozy Comfort with Scarves

Scarves are one of my favorite accessories. I love when the weather gets cooler because I get a whole other item of clothing to incorporate into my wardrobe. I usually knit my own scarves, and I already own too many to wear, but I could not resist buying this super-soft scarf from Gap. The fabric is irresistibly cozy, like as cozy as your favorite t-shirt, and it's wide enough to wrap up in. I bought one in an eggplant color, which is no longer available online, but they still have black, an earthy brown and a sea blue, which I might just have to buy as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn Days and Apple Crisp

It was a chilly, rainy weekend in Seattle, providing the perfect opportunity for a meal in the crock pot and apple crisp for dessert. I combined a basic recipe from Paula Deen with the topping from Nigella Lawson's equally delicious blackberry crisp. It's a warm, comforting treat, which goes nicely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for a little added sweetness.

Apple Crisp
Recipes courtesy of Paula Deen and Nigella Lawson

6 large apples (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (I recommend Granny Smith)
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/4 cup sunflower kernels
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the apples, water and lemon juice in an 8x8-inch baking pan. Melt the butter and set aside. Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, almonds, kernels and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir the melted butter into the crisp topping and spoon on top of the fruit. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and browned.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fashion Plates

When it comes to sets of dishes, why not collect different patterns for different occasions? And if one of those occasions happens to be a girls' night in or an afternoon tea, then by all means get yourself a set of Rosanna dishes. The charming and feminine patterns feature pastels, intricate designs, even Marie Antoinette -- who, by the way, would probably love these plates. A few of my favorite collections are Boho, La Soiree Parisienne, Red Dots and Darjeeling. Rosanna makes plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, tea sets and candlesticks, which are all perfectly suited to your stylish, girly girl activities.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bringing Fall Indoors

Although summer weather is still hanging around, I can't help but think about my fall wardrobe, favorite crock pot meals and the seasonal touches I can bring into my home. Crate and Barrel's latest designs have got me inspired. The color palette features rich jewel tones and warm, inviting colors. A few of my favorite finds are these deep purple dining room chairs, these sleek vases, this glossy brown bowl and these cozy alpaca throws. It's enough to make you want to curl up on the couch with a piece of pumpkin pie.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wedding Belles

Engagement and wedding related posts have been an unexpected focus as of late. And to cap it all off, I'd like to point out an especially beautiful wedding blog called Southern Weddings. With inspiring photos, you get a detailed look at some stunning weddings. Ideas for invitations, food, flowers and those important personal touches can translate beyond the wedding world and are helpful for all kinds of entertaining. If you're looking for some bridal inspiration, here's a particular southern wedding I can't help but recommend.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunshine in a Jar

Here's a home decor item that serves double duty. This simple mason jar would make an adorable addition to a bookshelf filled with eclectic items, but it also serves as an energy efficient LED lamp. Just keep the jar in direct sunlight during the day, and at night, a soft glow will emanate from the glass. The jar can function as a disguise night-light, leading the way to those late night snacks, or you could place several throughout your garden (they're waterproof), creating a romantic atmosphere for outdoor parties. The light from Urban Outfitters is a little steep at $45, but I think it makes a great gift for the girl who has everything.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Entertaining Italian Style

Well, I'm back from New York. The highlight of the trip was hostessing a fabulous engagement party with the help of some friends. Since the groom is Italian and the bride spent some time in the country, we decided on an Italian-esque food theme, which included bruschetta, salami and prosciutto and skewers of mozzarella, basil and grape tomatoes. Dessert included chocolate-covered strawberries, mini cheesecakes and espresso granita. We paired the food with red and white wine and a variety of Italian soda, including cranberry and tangerine. The food was tasty, the atmosphere was lovely, and the guests were hopefully happy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New York Calls

I'm off to New York to visit friends, throw an engagement party and enjoy the city. Hopefully, I'll return with a full hostess report and plenty of new finds. In the meantime, here's a little taste of my favorite town...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Coconut Cupcakes for a White Wedding

Last weekend, I prepared 100 mini coconut cupcakes for a friend's wedding. It was my first "catering" job, and luckily, it went off without a hitch. The bride and I are both fans of coconut and we thought the white, snowy cupcakes would look very bridal. For the cake, I used a recipe from Ina Garten and for the frosting, a royal icing recipe from Nigella Lawson. The end results were dainty little cakes that were pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

Coconut Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and the Food Network

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes (for mini cupcakes, bake 15 to 20 minutes), until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Royal Icing

Recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson and the Food Network

2 large egg whites (or substitute powdered egg whites)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine the egg whites and confectioners' sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, this will thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cheater Cheesecakes

I think these mini cheesecakes are a perfect party food. The recipe is simple, and you can whip them up the day before an event. Feel free to put your own spin on the dessert with different toppings and crusts. For mine, I went with a sliver of fresh strawberry, but mini chocolate chips, chopped pecans and caramel sauce would have made for a tasty turtle cheesecake. And while I'll never turn down a opportunity to use chocolate, vanilla wafers, gingersnaps or shortbread would also work for the crust.

Mini Cheesecakes

16 oz. softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

One Oreo pie crust
4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat all ingredients until fluffy. Fill mini muffin pans with cupcake liners. Combine the Oreo crust with melted butter. Press crust in the bottom of each liner, then fill two-thirds of the liner with the cheesecake mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 24 cheesecakes. Allow the cheesecakes to cool before topping with a slice of strawberry or whatever you choose. Refrigerate overnight.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pink Moons and More

So no joke, I was just listening to music on my computer and browsing the Internet. As Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" started playing, I landed on the Etsy home page, which was featuring what else? Pink items!

Here are a few of the featured pleasantly pink finds: pompelmo rosa earrings, pebble bowl, cranberry moonglow beads and a peony silk-lined clutch. Check them out with some terrific background music.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Daring Dishes

When it comes to cocktail parties, I tend to focus on the food and often overlook what it's being served on. But recently, I came across an Etsy shop where dishes get all the attention. Dishfuls of Doodles specializes in whimsical hand-painted tableware, including bowls, platters and vases. Porcelain whiteware is decorated with bold colors and intricate designs that fit together like a puzzle. The pieces are food-safe, hand-washable and full of personality. If you're not careful, they might even steal the show from the food.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Homemade Ice Cream Experiments: Chocolate Sorbet

This week my ice cream maker and I returned to our first love: chocolate. I opted for a sorbet because it must contain fewer calories, right? The result was a deadly rich, dark chocolate concoction that's smooth, tasty and disappears all too quickly.

Chocolate Sorbet

Recipe courtesy of
The Perfect Scoop

2 1/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Let it boil, continuing to whisk, for 45 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it's melted, then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup water. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 15 seconds. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.

While it will be hard to stand the wait, I suggest keeping the sorbet in your freezer overnight before serving.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bubble Toes

When I'm hankering for a new pair of flats quick and cheap, I always check Old Navy, and this week, they didn't let me down. Their bauble ballet flats available in purple, pink, blue, gray and more are absolutely adorable. The bevy of bright colors and the flare on the toes will spice up any outfit built on basics. I think I'll buy a pair or two to get me through all those events that seem to pop up at the end of summer.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Corn at the Right Time

Who can resist sweet summer corn? Well now, you have a new way to serve it at summer potlucks and barbeques. It's fresh, colorful and super simple.

Grilled Corn Salad

Recipe courtesy of The Neelys and the Food Network

6 ears fresh corn, husked with silks removed
2 tablespoons canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 cups packed arugula

Lemon Dressing:
1 lemon, juiced
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Neelys Barbeque Seasoning (paprika, sugar and onion powder) to taste

Preheat grill or broiler to medium heat. Rub corn with 2 tablespoons of canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil corn for 7 minutes or until ears are lightly browned. Remove from grill and allow to cool. Remove the kernels form the cob and place in a large mixing bowl along with the cherry tomatoes, red pepper, scallions and arugula.
In a small bowl, prepare dressing by whisking together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and Neelys Barbeque Seasoning to taste. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hanging Handbags

I've come across an unusual gadget that should serve fashionistas well. It's called ClipChic, and it's a handy item if you need some help keeping your handbags pristine. I recently read a study about how much bacteria ends up on the average woman's handbag simply from resting it on the floor. It's kind of scary, but ClipChic can help solve the problem. The small device is a compact hook that latches on to any flat surface, allowing your purse to hang in midair while keeping it secure, clean and nearby. The clips, available for purchase online, cost $19.95 and come in a variety of colors which you can coordinate with your purse if you're so inclined. They're clever, cute and would make a great gift for those stylish gadget-loving girls.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Winner of The SoHo Giveaway

Congratulations go to cupcake monkey! This morning, I closed my eyes and had an old-fashioned drawing to find the winner of one copy of Savannah Classic Desserts. I'll be contacting cupcake monkey and sending the book her way. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SoHo Giveaway!

So I've hit a milestone, not a major one, but a milestone none-the-less. It's my 100th blog entry and to celebrate I'm hostessing a giveaway! It's your chance to win a copy of Savannah Classic Desserts. The cookbook is a collection of fabulous dessert recipes from popular restaurants and cafés all over my hometown of Savannah, Georgia. The chosen recipes exemplify the Savannah lifestyle and hopefully the SoHo lifestyle.

Simply leave a comment between now and midnight on Sunday, July 27th, and you'll be eligible to win. The winner will be chosen at random and notified via blog post. Thanks for supporting The SoHo over the last 100 posts! I look forward to sharing many more explorations in cooking, shopping and entertaining.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Homemade Ice Cream Experiments: Butter Pecan

This week, I tried out butter pecan in the ice cream maker. The sweet milk-based vanilla with slightly salty pecans tossed in was a perfect treat. And if you're into the homemade ice cream sandwiches, try butter pecan on a pecan sandie.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Recipe courtesy of Cuisinart

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste

Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in a 10-inch skillet. Add 1 cup roughly chopped pecans and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the pecans are lightly browned. Remove from the heat, strain (the butter will have a pecan flavor and may be reserved for another use). Allow the pecans to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Pour chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and let mix until thickened.
Add the toasted, buttered pecans during the last 5 minutes of mixing. Recipe yields ten 1/2 cup servings. Put the ice cream in a plastic container and keep it in the freezer overnight if you want a firmer consistency.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Necklaces Make a Bold Statement

My J. Crew catalog arrived today and on the cover was a bright yellow double-stranded necklace. The necklace features glass beads made in Japan in the 1960s. Secured by an ornate medallion, the jewelry definitely has a vintage look, but the lemony color provides an unconventional modern twist. While the necklace is beautiful, it's a steep $228 and supplies are limited, so I went in search of similarly appealing neck-ware. At Banana Republic, I came up with another necklace featuring a brooch as well a selection of bold three-strand beaded necklaces available in orange, purple and turquoise, all retailing for $59. Anthropologie's lemondrops necklace is just $38 and with its candy-inspired design, looks good enough to eat. So be bold and throw on a colorful necklace of any price range to make your summer fashion shine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Sips: Raspberry and Lemon Sorbet Float

This drink/dessert is a quick fix that's perfect for an outdoor summer meal. The recipe is courtesy of Martha Stewart Living, but it couldn't be easier. While the recipe calls for raspberry and lemon sorbet, I opted to go with just the raspberry sorbet (because the grocery store was out of lemon) and squeezed in a bit of lemon juice to add tartness. The ginger ale provides a sweetness and fizz that's kid-friendly, but Prosecco would make for a more grown-up treat. Overall, it's a refreshing drink that serves as a light and tasty dessert.

Raspberry and Lemon Sorbet Floats
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

1 pint lemon sorbet
1 pint raspberry sorbet
2 bottles (12 ounces each) ginger ale, preferably naturally brewed

Use your favorite sorbet in this recipe. High-quality, naturally sweetened ones work especially well. Place 1 scoop lemon sorbet and 1 scoop raspberry sorbet in each of 4 tall glasses. Fill each glass with 3/4 cup ginger ale, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Garlic Hands Be Gone

I absolutely love cooking with garlic, but one of my biggest pet peeves is the odor that's left on my hands when I'm done. For flavor, garlic's a yes, but for perfume, a big no. Luckily, there's a solution and it comes in the deodorizing form of stainless steel. Simply wash your hands with soap and water, while rubbing them against something made of stainless steel. Anything from a faucet to a knife to pots and pans ought to do the trick. If you're looking for a sleeker solution or a gadget for your foodie friends, many companies, like Lekker, make a stainless steel "soap" designed for this exact purpose. Apparently the stainless steel method doesn't work for everyone, but it did work for me. So next time you're making spaghetti sauce, give it a try. Your loved ones will thank you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Budding Decor

There's nothing like bringing flowers indoors, especially if you're an apartment or condo dweller who's lacking in the yard department. If you're bored with standard glass vases, there are a variety of possibilities when it comes to floral decor. CB2 currently has some beautiful and original options, including these inline vases that stand like a fence, this hanging bottle design, which can be mounted on the wall and this porcelain, carton-shaped vase. The affordable containers bring a refreshing charm to a basic home decor item. They might even steal the show from your flowers.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Homemade Ice Cream Experiments: Adventures with Strawberry and Gingersnaps

What's more American than ice cream? This week, I went with strawberry, combining the ingredients from my handy Cuisinart recipe book with the method used in The Perfect Scoop. I ended up with a slightly sweet, very pink ice cream, which I decided to pair with gingersnaps for a little crunch. I liked the combination so much, I made gingersnap ice cream sandwiches. You can make and serve them immediately, or make them and stick them back in the freezer to set up. Work quickly though because this ice cream melts fast. Happy 4th!

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pint fresh, ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar; stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed. Stir in the heavy cream. Run the strawberries in a blender until puréed. Pour through a sieve or mesh strainer to remove all seeds. Combine strawberry purée with heavy cream mixture and add vanilla. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker and let mix until thickened. Add sliced strawberries in the last 5 minutes, if desired. Put the ice cream in a plastic container and keep it in the freezer overnight if you want a firmer consistency. Recipe yields twelve 1/2 cup servings.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Feed Bag

Whole Foods Market is doing a lot of good with something as simple as a shopping bag. The grocery chain is currently selling a reusable bag known as the Feed 100 bag, and the sale of one does just that. For every purchase, 100 nutritious school meals are provided for children in Rwanda. $10 of each purchase is donated to the United Nations World Food Program, supporting the Rwanda School Feeding operation and raising awareness for world hunger. While the bag is a steep $29.99, it's a steal when you consider the great work being supported in the African nation. The bag is also eco-friendly, so you'll be helping out the planet as well as its inhabitants.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Grown-up Night-Lights

Is owning a night-light acceptable for an adult? I'd like to think so. They're really handy for those midnight snack trips to the kitchen, and they're more compact than Lite-Brite. Thanks to Lucy Lambtail's Etsy shop, you can even disguise your night-light as a chic and quirky home accessory. Her design consists of a bronze-colored base which holds interchangeable glass plates. The plates feature photos of Bob Dylan, Audrey Hepburn and The Beatles, to name a few. The night-lights are affordable and charming home decor, and they'll probably keep you safe from monsters under the bed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cover Artists

I recently came across a band on YouTube called Boyce Avenue. The group has recorded an album of original material, but they've acquired a strong Internet following by covering current pop songs. The band has done acoustic versions of everything from Coldplay and John Mayer to Jordin Sparks and One Republic. There's even an Office Theme Song thrown in there. If you really like Boyce's cover versions, they're available for purchase on iTunes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Homemade Ice Cream Experiments: Chocolate Chunk

I spent the weekend with my new ice cream maker, and I think I'm in love. For my first foray, I went with a basic chocolate ice cream from Cuisinart's accompanying recipe booklet. I threw in chunks of semi-sweet chocolate for some crunch, and the results were tasty!

Basic Chocolate Ice Cream

Recipe courtesy of Cuisinart

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the whole milk until it is just bubbling around the edges (this may be done on the stovetop or in a microwave). In a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse to process the sugar with the chocolate until the chocolate is very finely chopped. Add the hot milk, process until well blended and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and let the chocolate mixture cool completely. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Chill 30 minutes or longer. Pour chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and let mix until thickened. Recipe yields ten 1/2 cup servings.

If you want to add chocolate chunks, nuts or anything else, pour them in about 5 minutes before the ice cream is finished churning. The ice cream was a bit soft serve-esque when it came out of the maker, but I like it that way. Put the ice cream in a plastic container and keep it in the freezer for an hour or two if you want a firmer consistency.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Must-Haves for Summer

Today is officially the first day of summer, so I've put together a list of five items that are perfect for stylish living during these hot and hectic months.

5. These cheerful slingback wedges by Shoes For Lovely People are available at Piperlime. The fabric print and peep-toe are sweet and demure, while the cork heel and yellow patent leather bring some summer heat.

4. Why not look at the world through rose-colored glasses? Anthropologie's Hidden Agenda shades make it possible.

3. Cynthia Rowley has partnered with Target to create a charming line of house wares called Whim. Among the items is a set of colorful, acrylic tumblers, ideal for sipping lemonade outside.

2. Nothing says summer like seersucker. (Try that five times fast.) J. Crew has brought the fabric to the beach with adorable swimsuits, available in a one or two-piece.

1. I just bought a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker for myself. It's compact, affordable and will be put to good use during the summer months. If you're looking for recipe inspiration, I suggest The Perfect Scoop.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Snow in Summer

Snow cones are one of summer's quintessential treats, and while I'll always have love for the Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker, there is actually a sophisticated way to serve up the icy concoction? For starters, Nature's Flavors offers some grown-up syrups, including almond, butter rum, gooseberry, papaya and lychee. Or you can opt for a recipe like espresso or cosmopolitan slushies. Serving up a snow cone in a martini glass or tumbler will also add a touch of sophistication, but if you're outdoors, I suggest these colorful, melamine cones. They'll keep your guests' hands from getting cold, and unlike paper cups, they're reusable.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Simple, Summery Strawberry Shortcake

There's nothing complicated about this summer treat. It's as easy as looking to a box of Bisquick. My only suggestion is to go with real whipped cream. It will make all the difference.

Strawberry Shortcakes

Recipe courtesy of Bisquick

4 cups sliced strawberries (1 quart)
1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups Original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Whipped topping

Mix strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar. Set aside.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons sugar and butter until soft dough forms. Drop 6 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6 shortcakes.


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