DIY:  Gift Tags inspired by a JCrew email

A DIY for simple gift tags.  I made these last year and have used every last one.  I was thinking about what I could do to make them different, but still use watercolors.  A few minutes later I received an email from J.Crew.  The beautiful email with turquoise stripes was my inspiration for these simple tags.

DIY:  Gift tags inspired by an email from J.Crew

DIY:  Gift Tags inspired by an email from J.Crew

I used a heavy piece of watercolor paper and my inexpensive watercolor set from Michaels.  I mixed the blues and added some white to try to get a shade similar to the email on my screen from J.Crew.  I then painted stripes a few different ways and cut them using a fiskars paper trimmer.  I used a Sharpie twin tip and experimented with what to write and then simply went back to a basic To: and From:

DIY:  Gift Tags inspired by an email from J.Crew

DIY:  Gift Tags inspired by an email from J.Crew

Thanks J.Crew for inspiring me today!  Where do you get your daily dose of inspiration? 

Teenage Boy Birthday Decorations

Monday, April 14, 2014

Teenage Boy Birthday Decorations

Teenage Boy Birthday Decor

Teenage Boy Birthday Decor

Teenage Boy Birthday Decor

Teenage Boy Birthday decor

Teenage Boy Birthday Decor

Coming up with a theme for my son’s 15th birthday was easy this year thanks to Minted!  I love Minted for Christmas cards of course, but their personalized party decorations make it easy and memorable!  For the banner I chose black & white photos, but it would look beautiful in color too!  The banner is made of heavy coated card stock and I uploaded three recent photos of my son playing baseball.  The banner could be used several times without the photos for other birthday recipients.  The photo collage personalized wrapping paper is amazing.  You can upload several photos and use all color, all black and white as I did or a combination.  It comes with five thick sheets of wrapping paper and instantly becomes part of the birthday decor.   One more item from Minted was the table runner.  It added an additional layer of something personalized.  I added glasses from a thrift store in silver, gold candles and black and white straws.  All of the inspiration came from Minted and Patrick’s love of baseball.  (and my love of everything in shades of black, white and wood)

Collage Wall + small Spaces

Monday, April 7, 2014

Collage Walls + Small Spaces & Black Walls

I created a new collage wall in our tiny powder room on the main floor.  It’s in our entryway right as you walk in and there’s another door that’s a closet.  Luckily, Terrain has the perfect little vintage looking metal sign with a WC.   For the collage wall I used my favorite piece from  (Top right).  It’s called Sedona and definitely has that vibe.  My husband and I were engaged in Sedona so we love it.  The black and white photo of a palm tree was in our backyard in our California house.  I say was, because apparently it was blocking someone’s view up the street from us and we had to have it removed.  I took a photo right before it was gone.   The piece on the left I found last week at Carousel Thrift store in Southport, CT.  It was $10 and it’s an original signed drawing.  It’s really quite beautiful and I love how they all look on the graphite walls.  Minted has tons of great Wall Art Prints and today is the last day of the sale.  Minted is celebrating Six years and everything on the site is 15% off, but hurry!

DIY: Easter Cards

Friday, April 4, 2014

DIY:  Easter Cards

I made simple DIY Easter cards for about the same price as a store bought greeting card.  As soon as I saw these simple, but beautiful seed packets at Terrain in Westport I knew I could do something with them for Easter cards this year.  I love the packaging, the font…all of it.  Baker Creek also has seed packets that are black with gorgeous fruit and flower seeds, but since I’m sending these to people in all different growing zones I needed something that would work everywhere.  Also, as beautiful as their watermelon seeds packets are….I kinda had a feeling that not everyone would really plant them.   So I bought the white Parsley Seed packets and cut card board squares painted with chalkboard paint.   I taped the seed packets and plant markers with a green checked washi tape to the cardboard.  I used a white chalk marker to write a simple greeting on the front and included a personalize note on the back.  Each card then went into a square envelope I found at Staples in the clearance section.  I sealed them with my tinyprints gift tag stickers.  They not only look beautiful, but they worked very well in sealing the envelopes.

DIY:  Easter Card Supplies

DIY:  Easter Cards

Baker Creek Seed Packets

DIY: Easter Cards + USPS Vintage Seed Packet stamps

Naturally I was thrilled that USPS has Vintage Seed packet Forever Stamps available right now!  How perfect is that?  The cost of each card including three postage stamps was about $4.45.  I already had the chalkboard paint and washi tape and I used cardboard from clean cardboard boxes I had on hand.


Chicken Salad

Friday, March 28, 2014

Last November we went to Paradise Valley, Arizona for my nieces beautiful wedding.  Madeline was in the bridal party and once we returned back to the East Coast she kept talking about how much she loved the chicken salad.  The wedding was at their club and there was a wonderful spread of sandwiches, fruit, drinks and cookies for the girls to keep up their energy during the day of prepping for the big event.

Chicken salad on arugula

I could not find the actual recipe, but my sister has been eating their chicken salad for 30 years.   She gave me a pretty good description and basically stressed the importance of mincing everything.   It’s not so much a recipe as it is a combination.  All I know is that Madeline has requested this on every visit home and I make it for her to take back to school.

Paradise Valley Chicken Salad

(according to Lynn)

2 Pounds of the best boneless chicken breasts you can buy, washed and trimmed.

Celery with leaves

carrots, scrubbed and left whole

one red onion, cut in half and peeled

a tablespoon of black peppercorns

Place the chicken in a large heavy pan of water and then add the vegetables and peppercorns.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and let simmer until chicken is fully cooked.   Remove the chicken and discard the vegetables.

Cook chicken for Chicken Salad

Cooked chicken for chicken salad

Cook the chicken to 180 degrees. I never trust myself with chicken so I use a meat thermometer.

Chicken salad ingredients

Chicken salad ingredients

Chicken Salad

Once the chicken is cooked, but while it is still warm, cut it into a small dice.  Add one stalk celery and one or two green onions, diced fine.  Mix it all together with about 2/3 cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.  So easy, but delicious.

Shallot Confit

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shallot Confit

Shallot Confit makes everything better.  We used to make Onion Confit and used it mainly on pizza.  The recipe was from The New Basics Cookbook.  It was 1989 and we were making pizzas with onion confit and fennel or rosemary potatoes.  We obviously thought we were very cool.  Over the years Onion Confit turned into Shallot Confit and I make it almost every week.  Last week we added it to pizza with Fontina cheese.  On the weekend we had paninis with a little shallot confit sandwiched between very thin slices of Gruyere.  Tonight I’ll be adding it to green beans.   It’s amazing.  Really.  Have you tried it?


Shallots peeled


Shallot Confit

About a dozen shallots, peeled and sliced

Olive oil, salt and pepper, sherry vinegar

In a heavy pan, add enough olive oil to cover the pan.  Add the shallots and stir often over medium heat.  It takes about 6 or 7 minutes for the shallots to start to turn a little golden.  Once they begin to turn, watch them very closely as it happens to go quickly.  Add salt and pepper and continue to stir.  Once they are very dark golden in color, add a splash of sherry vinegar and remove from the heat.  Continue to stir for a minute and then let cool.  Store in an airtight container for up to three days in the refrigerator. Shallot Confit

Happy Spring + Decorate with Flowers

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring

Happy Spring



Happy Spring

This morning I pre-ordered the new book by Holly Becker & Leslie Shewring:  Decorate with Flowers.  I actually ordered a few because the US release date is just in time for Mother’s Day.  I think it will be the perfect gift.  While I was out today I stopped at my favorite thrift store, Carousel and found this cachepot for a $1.  Then I stopped by Trader Joe’s and picked up a mini daffodil for $2 and put a few forsythia twigs from along side my driveway in a tiny bottle.  Since I live in Connecticut, I can easily find a bit of moss to tuck into the pot and cover the soil.  Seeing Holly and Leslie’s book all over Pinterest had me inspired.

Happy Spring


And of course I had to add a new message on our front door!  Hello Spring!  What took you so long?


One Bowl Lunch in less than 5 minutes

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Bowl Lunch in Less than Five Minutes

My favorite lunch takes less five minutes to make and it’s so delicious. I was tempted to stop and pick something up today while I was out, but I knew I had the ingredients for this lunch at home.   I start by putting a bag of brown rice in the microwave for four minutes.  By the time it’s beeping I have everything else in my bowl and ready to add a scoop of warm rice.  It’s comfort food any day of the week.

Here’s how I make it:

One package of Brown Rice (I buy it from Trader Joe’s in the freezer section).  I use about 1/3 for a single serving.

a hand full of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

about 6 small fresh mozzarella balls, halved

1/3 of a ripe avocado, cubed

a hand full of butter lettuce, chopped

4 to 5 basil leaves, chiffonade

Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic, salt and pepper, mix it together and enjoy every bite!


Lemon Madeleines

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lemon Madeleines

In the mail today I received a jar of Lovely Lemon Sugar from Courtney of Eventful Studio.   So of course my immediate thought was I must make something with it.  The label suggests that it’s wonderful in tea…and I’m sure it is, but that’s not what I wanted to make.  A quick google search and my decision was made.  Lemon Madeleines.

Madeleines are the easiest little cakes and they turn out every time.  I made them for Madeline’s 17th birthday as a party favor and whenever she’s home for a visit I’ll make a batch.   She’ll love these next time.  They are best when consumed right away so I’ve never sent them in a care package.  Most recipes make only one or two pans, and they are so good that they disappear way too fast!

kitcehn items

lemon zester

madeleine pan

Lemon Madeleines are easy to make, but they do require a special pan.  I don’t like having a lot of extra gadgets, but this is one recipe where I used three very specific kitchen tools that I could not be without.  A microplane grater for the lemon zest, a lemon press to juice the lemon and of course the Madeleine pan.

Lovely Lemon Sugar + Madeleines

I sprinkled a little of the lemon sugar before baking, filling each mold about 3/4 full and baking for a total of 7 or 8 minutes, rotating the pan half way through then continuing to bake.

Lemon Madeleines with Lemon Sugar

Once they are out of the oven and after a minute or two, invert them onto a cooling rack and dust them with powdered sugar.  I added a little of the lemon sugar and sifted it over the Madeleines.  They were so delicious I had two and then wrapped up the rest and took them to my darling neighbors while they were still warm.  Yum!  Recipe from Martha Stewart.

Lemon Madeleines with Lemon Sugar


Vesuvio Bakery + NYC

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vesuvio Bakery New York City

Isn’t this the perfect color of green for a shop?  I love this little place on Prince Street in SoHo.  I took this photo exactly one year ago and I keep forgetting to go back.  I love everything about it, the lighting, the awning, the gold lettering on the windows, of course the color green…it is most lovely, wouldn’t you agree?

Vesuvio Bakery in New York City

Look at the old photographs of the iconic Flatiron building in the window (to the left).  I need to go back a take a closer look.  When I did a search it look as though it may be shuttered?  Is this true?

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