Lorca + Coffee + Stamford, CT

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lorca + Coffee + Stamford, CT

When my daughter is home from school one of the things we love to do is go out for coffee.  Not just any coffee shop will do, we make a day of it.  We make plans, we map out two or three places we want to try in the city and off we go.  It’s a great time to catch up and check out some fun new places.  But sometimes.…we don’t have the whole day to drink coffee.  I know…shocking, right?  That’s when we discovered Lorca right near us in the heart of downtown Stamford, Connecticut. 

Lorca + Coffee + Stamford, CT

Lorca + Coffee + Stamford, CT

Lorca + Coffee + Stamford, CT

Lorca is owned by Leyla Dam who describes herself as an architect with a love of food and coffee.  She grew up in Spain drinking Cortados and eating churros.  In 2010 she traveled to Sevilla to learn the art of making churros and returned to Connecticut to learn the craft of coffee.  Lorca opened in the winter of 2012.

Lorca + Coffee + Stamford, CT

One of our favorite items on the menu is the Alfajores cookie.  A rich butter cookie with dulce de leche, coconut and powdered sugar.  Leyla said her mom made them for their opening and they soon became a Lorca favorite.  I like to order them by the dozen for dinner parties at home.  They are so good, you may want to get two dozen!

Lorca is located at 125 Bedford Street in downtown Stamford, Connecticut. 

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

                                                           Before

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

                      Before

I get a lot of emails asking about my favorite thrift stores.   There are quite a few, but these are the ones I love.  The great thing about thrift stores is that they are always adding new things everyday. I love thrifting with friends or my daughter because it’s just that more knowledge about the stuff we are seeing and potentially buying.  Madeline found a summer shift dress just after the holidays that was priced $60.  It fit perfectly and after a little research, she found it for $495.   I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it, but that’s what’s fun about thrifting with friends (or Madeline)!   When I’m out and about and close to one of these shops, I’ll always stop in to see what they have. The ladies that work at these thrift stores are all volunteers and are absolutely the sweetest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet.  They seem genuinely thrilled when you’ve found a treasure.  So below is my short list starting in Greenwich, then Darien, New Canaan and ending in Southport, Connecticut.  The one thing I would advise is to call first!   They have different hours and often close for extended periods during the holidays and in the summer.  If you know of a thrift shop I should check out, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Thrif Stores + Fairfield County, CT

I found another copy of Joy of cooking and a copper vessel for $7 yesterday.

ACT II-Greenwich-CT-Thrift-Stores

One of our favorites is Act II Boutique in Greenwich.  It’s on the main floor of this beautiful stone house on Maple Avenue, just a few blocks from Greenwich Avenue.  Also in Greenwich is the Greenwich Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop .  A little further north is the Darien Community Association Thrift Shop. Next Stop is The New Canaan Thrift Shop, which is about 15 minutes away. And here’s an interesting fact, The New Canaan Thrift shop is the oldest volunteer run thrift shop in the country.  From New Canaan head over to the Carousel Thrift Shop in Southport, Connecticut.  If you are in these areas and need a little sustenance, here’s our list of faves for coffee, sweet treats or a little lunch.

Greenwich – Meli-Melo

Darien – Brown and Co.

New Canaan – Gingerbitz

Westport – The Granola Bar

Thrift Stores + Fairfield County, CT + Silver Tray Collection

A few of the silver trays we had, most came from thrift stores I mentioned and a few from Goodwill.  The most I paid was $10 and once I had the idea to put them on a wall, I think we found at least six of them in one day.

Valentine’s Day banner {diy}

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Last year I made tiny watercolor hearts.  This year I made my watercolor hearts in the same way, but instead of tiny ones using a heart punch, I used a cookie cutter to trace the heart shape.  Not as quick and easy as a punch, but it still allowed me to see the pattern that would be on the heart shape.  This project is perfect for children of all ages.  Even preschoolers could paint and then see their work made into heart shaped watercolor masterpieces. 

Valentine's Day Banner {diy}

Watercolor Hearts {diy}

Watercolor hearts {diy} banner

watercolor hearts banner {diy}

My birch branch with white twinkle lights started out as decoration for Thanksgiving, then Christmas–  I’m still loving the extra light, so it will be around at least through Valentine’s day!

watercolor hearts banner {diy}

I used a small heart shaped hole punch, but any hole punch would work.  Twine that’s a little wax coated makes it easy to lace through the holes if this project is for little ones.

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