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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fatherly Ties

The go-to gift for Father's Day is, of course, a tie. I don't think there's anything wrong with the traditional gift as long as you add a twist, a little youthful flare for pop. A great place to look is an Etsy shop called Toybreaker. Detroit-based designer Bethany Shorb has created some original neckware that will definitely make dad stand out at that next board meeting or cocktail party. The beautiful silk ties come in simple, muted colors, but they feature unusual designs that you aren't going to find at the mall. It's the perfect combination of class and quirk. Each tie is screen-printed by hand and is made to order. A few inspired designs feature poppies, caviar and beehives. It's a great present for easing your dad out of his fashion comfort zone and giving him something that's as unique as he is.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Off the Cuff

I've been seeing cuff bracelets everywhere lately. Designs of the chunky pieces seem to be getting increasingly elaborate and interesting. These attention-
grabbing accessories can take a simple outfit to whole other level. A few of my favorites are J. Crew's starfish and magnolia cuffs, this turquoise design from Banana Republic and this mosaic style bracelet from Nine West.

Olive Oil Service

There's nothing like bread dipped in olive oil at the start of a decadent meal, so why not put the olive oil in a fabulous serving dish to make it all the more enticing? This unique porcelain dish does the trick. Its series of rings were inspired by the terraced olive groves of Italy, and the design showcases the beautiful tones in each layer of olive oil. It will be the highlight of your dinner table and makes a great Father's Day gift for a dad who loves to cook or eat. If you're looking for the goods to accompany the dish, try O & Co. They even sell an olive oil tasting set.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Brown Sugar, How Come You Taste So Good?

I absolutely adore brown sugar. It's my second favorite thing in the kitchen, next to the smell of vanilla extract. When I was a kid and my mom was baking, I would scoop myself a spoonful of brown sugar and eat it. Yes, I would eat pure sugar, and maybe, on occasion, I still do. Luckily, I've found a carb-free way to indulge in the same sweet taste. I picked up a tube of Gap's brown sugar lip balm the other week, and I've found it is almost as satisfying as the real thing. The lip balm, which is not available online but is in stores, contains coconut oil, beeswax and flower extracts and has an SPF of 18. Sweet!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shower Yourself in Style

I'm of the opinion that shower curtains are a key component of bathroom decor. There's a wide world beyond the solid colored plastic, so why not spend some time looking for something that's completely you. Styles range from educational and iconic to romantic and silly. Since shower curtains are usually a focal point of the bathroom, they can be a great starting point for choosing a color palette and bath accessories. So go bold or subtle, just pick something you like looking at every day.


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