Entries Tagged as 'Living'

Lemon madeleines + homemade gifts

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Madeleines are one of my favorite things to bake.  Most recipes make a small batch and since they are best when enjoyed the same day, it’s perfect.  I made Lemon Madeleines for a friend’s birthday today using this recipe from Martha Stewart.  These little cakes come out perfectly every time.

Lemon Madeleines + Homemade Gifts

I dusted them with a little confectioners sugar and let them sit out for a bit before I packaged them in a jar.  While they were cooling to room temp I quickly made a tag using this inexpensive watercolor set.

I used a punch to cut out the tag shape, but I often just cut a rectangle or a square to use as a tag.  I used white twine to wrap around a jar that I found at Home Goods and delivered to her door step.  Happy Birthday sweet friend!

Lemon Madeleines + Homemade Gifts



Happy May Day!

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day + Pink Peonies

Somehow May Day seemed to sneak up this year.  I’m blaming it on the cold Spring we are having.  Peonies in our garden are no where near blooming, but eventually…and until they do I’ll buy them at the grocery store.  Last year I made these to celebrate May Day.  Have a beautiful weekend!  xo annie


New York City based Compass, a real estate platform helps people find not just their home, but the neighborhood that best fits their personality and needs.  It inspired me to share our house story!  Every purchase or rental agreement involves a story of how that house or apartment came to be your home.  Our latest home purchase was a little bit of knowing what we wanted and a little bit leap of faith.  I didn’t actually see our house until a year after we purchased it.  We were relocating back to Connecticut from Southern California and the logistics of seeing the house just didn’t align….and I really wanted this house.  It was in the neighborhood we wanted, walking distance to town,  enough bedrooms and baths and it had a front porch.   We have lived in several houses.  Fifteen.  Some for years and others for just a matter of months while we renovated another or during a long distance move.  But in every house we have made sure that the entryway is welcoming.

Front Porch

A pineapple using Sharpie paint pen on glass front door

I use Edison style bulbs for a nice warm glow in the lanterns and write different messages on the glass door with a water-based Sharpie paint pen.  Your entryway is the first impression that people have when visiting.  I hope mine says, come on in…..the door is always open!

Summer front porch

Hallowen front porch

Winter Front Porch

Front porch/home in summer months

Decorating for any holiday or season starts with the front porch.   In the summer we plant ferns and by Labor Day, it’s mums getting ready for Halloween.   While it’s still warm enough to plant, but the mums have seen better days, I look for something evergreen to put in the planters that will get us to Spring.  This year Spring has come so late that we skipped planting tulips and pansies and went straight to ferns.  Spring is still slow in getting here, but I’m ready for “porch season!”



DIY Easter Cards + Seed Packets

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Last year I made Easter cards using seed packets from Terrain.  I did something similar this year because on a recent trip to Terrain on the first day of Spring….a day that it was snowing, I just could not resist the beautiful Atomic Red Carrot seed packets from Baker Creek.  I bought the packets not really knowing how I would use them, but knew it had to a be at least slightly different than last year.  Once I got home I looked to see what I might already have on hand.  I had bright orange envelopes so all I needed was the card.  I purchased tall cards #10 at Paper Source in slate and used a uni-ball Signo pen to “doodle” a little Easter greeting.  My inspiration for the drawings came from Creativebug and Lisa Congdon. 

DIY Easter Cards + Seed Packets

DIY Easter Cards + Seed Packets

DIY Easter Cards + Seed Packets

DIY Easter Cards + Seed Packets

DIY Easter Card + Seed Packets

According to the Greeting Card Association, the average price of a greeting card is between $2 and $4.  Personally, I think that’s on the low side.  Still, even with a pack of seeds, each card is less than $4.  I love sending and receiving cards.  I look forward to a mail day that includes a handwritten addressed envelope with a beautiful card.  My friend Nancy sends the most creative cards for every holiday.  In addition to being visually beautiful, they are also clever with a play on words or something fun. What about you? Do you send greeting cards via snail mail?


Easy Citrus Panna Cotta

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My darling sister sent me a box of Arizona Sunshine!  Well, actually a box of citrus, which….basically is the same thing.  Just slicing open an orange or grapefruit makes the entire kitchen smell fresh and citrus-ey.  So what to do with all this citrus?  I made panna cotta.  What I love about panna cotta is that it’s delicious, easy and the best part, a make ahead dessert.

Easy Citrus Panna Cotta

Easy Citrus Panna Cotta with Arizona Citrus

Easy Citrus Panna Cotta

Citrus Panna Cotta

Citrus Panna Cotta

1/4 cup juice (lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange)

1 1/2 tsp grated citrus zest

1 tsp unflavored gelatin

1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup sugar

Combine 1/4 cup fresh squeezed juice, the grated zest in a small sauce pan and sprinkle the teaspoon of unflavored gelatin and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of the heavy cream to the mixture with the gelatin and heat until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat.

Add the mascarpone cheese and the sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment and blend until smooth.  Slowly add the remaining cup of heavy cream and mix together.  Stop when it starts to get volume and add the gelatin mixture to the cream mixture and whisk together until combined.  Divide into 8 ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  When you are ready to serve, dip each ramekin into a bowl of hot water and run a knife around the edge to loosen.  Invert onto a small plate and top with fresh fruit or with just a little grated citrus zest.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit on Epicurious. The recipe from Bon Appétit did not use an electric mixer, but I was unable to incorporate the mascarpone and sugar without one.  Perhaps if it is brought to room temperature, you could just use a whisk.

If you want to add fruit as in the Bon Appétit recipe just stir 2 tablespoons of juice, a little sugar and a tablespoon of butter in a skillet until sugar dissolves. Off the heat fold in the berries and add to your panna cotta with a little fresh zest.


Sunday Edition {Color} Green

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March has always been assigned the color green….obviously.  Green beer, bagels….you name it and it seems like there’s a green version for March 17th.   Like the Shamrock shake at McDonald’s.  I’ve never had one, but I think that’s been a thing for years.  So someone is apparently ordering them.  But I digress…March will always be green.  Here’s a few of my favorite photos featuring the color green taken during the month of March over the last few years.

Paris in the Springtime

Vesuvio on Prince Street, NYC

Dana Poinr Nursery, Dana Point, CA

Laguna Beach, CA

two handed coffee cup holding

1.  Jardin des Tuilieries 2.  Vesuvio Bakery, 160 Prince Street, NYC 3.  Dana Point Nursery along PCH in Dana  Point, CA  4. Tide pools in Laguna Beach, CA  5.  Madeline drinking a chai tea at Maison Mathis last week wearing the perfect shade of  “March Green” albeit a week prematurely!

For more green, even my Pinterest board covers have been taken over by green!

Painted Stone Fireplace

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

To paint or not to paint brick or stone fireplaces is always a big decision.  This question is the most popular topic I get emails about.  I have to admit I’m fearless when it comes to painting brick or stone.  I realize it’s permanent, but I have always liked the results.  When we first purchased our Connecticut home I was convinced we would demo the fireplace and replace it with something more traditional.  Once we started exploring that option, we realized it was expensive and we would still have a raised hearth.  So with expense in mind and results not what we wanted, we decided to have it painted white.  Basically that’s my answer to every design dilemma.  Have you ever painted brick or stone?

Painted Stone Fireplace

My favorite white paint is Benjamin Moore Cloud White.  Or if you are out west, Dunn Edwards Whisper White.  It’s not too white or too creamy.  It’s a true white, but still warm without any yellow.  I repaint the fireplace about once a year to freshen it up.

White Paint Colors


Painted Stone Fireplaces {Before}

Our painters were still not convinced that I really meant everything painted white.


Sunday Edition {Color} Pink

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Does everyone associate each month by a color?  I know I do and this month is definitely pink.  February is always a pink month for me and often times it’s a shot of bright pink, like bougainvillea growing wild.   Sometimes it’s a soft subtle blush pink or something in between like spring cherry blossoms.  Where do you see your favorite shade of pink?

Sunday Edition {Color} Pink

1. Springtime in Paris, 2. watercolor hearts, 3. Spring Blooms at Whole Foods Market, 4. Bougainvillea growing wild in San Juan Capistrano, CA, 5. Prune in NYC, 6. Peonies at a market in Aix-en-Provence ,  7. Sunset in Laguna Beach, CA, 8. Madeline, 9. Pink clouds in Dana Point, CA.




My sister and I had delicious Posole at The Cafe at The Heard Museum where my sister works in fundraising.  I’ve been wanting to make it and she finally asked the chef, Irene Rutigliano for the recipe.  Turns out it was in Bon Appetit in January of 2012.  Then last weekend my husband emailed me a few links of recipes we should try….and this exact recipe was one of them.  It’s a sign….  So with this ridiculously cold weather we’ve been having I knew this was the perfect time to make it.  Recipes that call for roasting the meat 5 to 6 hours generally rules out most nights when I decide on dinner at about 5 pm and still need a trip to the grocery store.  So aside from a wee bit of planning ahead that the recipe requires….this soup is perfect.  Especially on a cold winter night.  I served it with warm tortillas and a green salad.  See all the way at the bottom for the recipe or go here.

Classic Posole + The Cafe at The Heard Museum

Classic Posole + The Cafe at The Heard Museum

Classic Posole + The Cafe at The Heard Museum

Classic Posole + The Cafe at The Heard Museum

Classic Posole + The Cafe at The Heard Museum

Classic Posole + The Cafe at The Heard Museum

Classic Posole Recipe – The Cafe at The Heard Museum

By Irene Rutigliano, Bon Appetit January 2012

For the Meat-

1 T ground cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 2-pound boneless pork shoulder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 red onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 275º. Line a small roasting pan (I used a Le Creuset dutch oven) with foil.  Mix the cumin, garlic and smoked paprika and rub the spice mixture over the pork.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place pork in pan and cover with sliced red onion.  Add 1/2 cup water in bottom of pan.  Cover with foil and then with lid and roast meat until very tender, about 5 to 6 hours.  Let pork rest and when cool enough to handle, but while satill warm, shred the meat with two forks.  This part can be made up to two days ahead.

For the Soup-

1.4 c vegetable oil

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 plum tomatoes, diced

6 cups low-salt chicken broth

1 28-ounce can pinto beans, undrained

1 28-ounnce can white hominy, drained

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices, pureed in blender until smooth

1 T oregano (preferably Mexican)

2 tsp ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shredded white cheddar

Chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges

Flour tortillas

For the soup:  Heat oil over medium-low heat.  Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for two more minutes, stirring often.  Add the diced fresh tomatoes and stir until softened.  Stir in broth, pinto beans, hominy, tomatoes, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Cover, simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Add the reserved shredded pork to the posole.  Simmer uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.  Serve in bowls garnished with shredded cheddar, fresh cilantro, lime wedges and fresh tortillas.



bathroom {tiny} before and after

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When we bought this house the bathrooms had just been updated with Rohl  fixtures and Toto toilets, but the vanities….were not so great.  This bathroom is just too small for a vanity.  I kind of think under sink storage is much like a basement.  If you have it, you fill it up.  If you don’t have a basement {or a vanity} you somehow manage.  To update the bathroom we changed out the vanity for a pedestal sink in black.  I’ve used the Kohler Memoirs sink in many bathrooms over the years, but never in black.  It makes a big impact in a tiny space.

Bathroom {tiny} Before and After

Bathroom {tiny} Before and After

For a bathroom with no storage I made First-Aid kits using Ikea boxes that come in a set of three.  I use the larger box to store the overflow of items used in each smaller box and restock as needed.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found one of these kits in the garage, on the patio.  No one ever asks, “Where are the band-aids?” anymore.

Bathroom {tiny} Before and After

Other things I use in all bathrooms are hooks instead of towel bars and a trash can that has a lid.  This one has a step opener, so even better.  I used a white shower curtain from Urban Outfitters and amber bottles for soap from Aesop and Murchison-Hume.  For a night light I use a small strand of white twinkle lights. The black and white photograph was taken by my nephew at our old beach in Dana Point, CA.  The black and white rug is from Target.  This space is not perfect, but so much better with a couple of changes.

Below is how I put together the first-aid kits using small boxes from The Container Store to keep everything nice and tidy in each kit.  I used red electrical tape on the top of each Ikea box.

Bathroom {tiny} before


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