Tuesday, December 28, 2010

5 Things I Heart - Annette Joseph Edition

Fantastical style genius Annette Joseph is super fun and thankfully was willing to do a 5 things segment! I was tempted to ask her for like, 105 things because she has such incredible taste and knows where to find the coolest stuff! I did however let her get away with 6, because I couldn't resist one particular item...can you guess which one I died for?

Marwari Bag~ Hermes
This is the best bag ever, I bought one in Monaco, for myself for my birthday this year, with the encouragement of Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn…It will be with me for a lifetime, and the best thing is it’s comfy and functional.

Vetiver candle ~ (malin+goetz) best flavor ever, I burn it in my studio~ I got it from a friend, ( Gwyneth Paltrow’s chef Julia) it’s her fav flavor and now it’s mine! Available at Bloomingdales.

Hunter gold wellies~ on my holiday gift list, found by my oh so chic and cool new assistant Ginny Branch…I love them so, again pretty and functional just my style. Available HERE!

Axel 3 seater~ Anthropologie LUV LUV +LUV this clever chair~ the fabric the bomb, and the 3 way seats make me smile.

Ordinal Dresser~ also from Anthropologie very me with graphic numbers, I love numbers and letters on anything!

Color saturated rugs from ABC carpets~ I think that this is brilliant, in idea and color! Probably my most fav trend of the year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Cocktails according to Betty (Crocker not Ford...obviously.)

Slammed slammed SLAMMED! But I am not to busy to post about something that matters, a drink at the end (beginning and middle are ok too...) of the day.

Ginger Bread Cookie Cocktail

Gingerbread Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons mild-flavor molasses
1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves

Gingerbread Cookie Cocktail
Orange wedge
Brown sugar
1 oz Gingerbread Simple Syrup (2 tablespoons)
1 oz vanilla vodka (2 tablespoons)
1 oz half-and-half (2 tablespoons)
1/2 oz coffee liqueur (1 tablespoon)

1. To make Gingerbread Simple Syrup, mix sugar, water, molasses, gingerroot, cinnamon sticks and cloves in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; set aside 1 hour to cool. Strain syrup into glass jar; discard spices. Cover jar, and refrigerate until needed. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

2. To prepare cocktail, moisten rim of chilled martini glass with orange wedge. Sprinkle brown sugar onto small plate, and dip moistened rim into the sugar to coat lightly. Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 ounce gingerbread simple syrup, vodka, half-and-half and coffee liqueur; cover and shake. Strain into martini glass.

Tip: If you can't find mild-flavor molasses you can use full-flavor molasses but reduce the amount by 1 tablespoon.

Coconut Macaroon Cookie Cocktail

Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Coconut Macaroon Cookie Cocktail
1 oz Simple Syrup (2 tablespoons)
1 oz light coconut rum (2 tablespoons)
1 oz half-and-half (2 tablespoons)
1/2 oz white crème de cacao (1 tablespoon)
Toasted shredded coconut

1. To make Simple Syrup, mix sugar and water in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; set aside 1 hour to cool. Pour syrup into glass jar. Cover jar, and refrigerate until needed. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

2. To prepare cocktail, fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 ounce simple syrup, coconut rum, half-and-half and crème de cacao; cover and shake. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with toasted coconut.

Tip: To toast coconut, sprinkle coconut in ungreased heavy skillet. Cook over medium-low heat 6 to 14 minutes, stirring frequently until browning begins, then stirring constantly until golden brown.

My favorite kind of cocktail after a long long day...

on the rocks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I have decided to recycle a post, it's not ideal but I wanted to share this with you all. Every year my father and I make Vasilopita, a traditional Greek New Year's Bread. It's about that time and we are going to be baking all weekend, so if you have nothing better to do bake along with us!

Let me reiterate the fact that I am by no means a cook, it's all I can do to not set the oven on fire (for the second time) But this recipe is special, it's my Yiayia's (Grandmother's)recipe for Vasilopita. Vasilopita is a Greek Tradition, it is a special bread that we make for New Years. It's a sweet bread, super tasty, and we bake a coin into each one for luck. Vasilopita is the bread of St. Basil the Great who's saints day is celebrated on New Years Day. When you cut the bread on New Years Day, whoever gets the piece with the coin in it is supposed to be "King" or "Queen" for the year (meaning they will have a good/lucky/exceptional year) The most senior member of the household is supposed to cut the bread. The first slice is dedicated to my homeboyJesus, the second is for the Virgin Mary, the third is for St. Basil, then a slice for the church, for the house, and then for the members of the family. This is something that I make every year with my father. We spend all day in the kitchen and make a huge mess. My late uncle passed this recipe on to us after he documented my Yiayia making it in 1986--when she was about 78 years old. It isn't super exact or precise, you kind of have to feel it out. If you have made bread from scratch before the whole process won't feel so foreign. It's a long process so settle in for a few minutes of reading.

This recipe makes 4-5 loaves of bread, you will need....

-7lbs flour (high gluten works really well)
-5 sticks of butter, melted and cooled
-11 large eggs
-3 cups of sugar
-4 packages of dry yeast
-4-5 cups of milk
-1 cup brandy (Metaxa)
-1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
-.5 tsp ground cloves
-.25 tsp salt

In a bowl, dissolve the yeast with a little water and a pinch of sugar. Add 3 cups of warm milk (not hot or it will kill the yeast; not cold or it won't activate) Stirring with a whisk, add enough of the flour, a little at a time, to reach the consistency of "gruel" or oatmeal. This is called..."the Sponge"...I know. Cover the sponge and let it rise in a warm place until puffy and bubbly. It takes between 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl (I do this in 2 bowls because it's just too much for one) Add 3 lbs of flour, the sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and make a well in the center for the wet ingredients. Add 10 of the eggs (eliminate 2 of the whites if you can), melted butter, Metaxa, and the rest of the milk. Then add the sponge. With your hands, begin kneading the mixture into a dough. If it is too wet add more flour, if it is too dry add more milk. Knead until it is smooth, not sticky. Pull out some of the dough--the size of your fist--and set it aside.

At this point pull out your cake pans and butter them up. Shape the dough in to round loaves (in a 9" cake pan it makes about 4 loaves--leave about 2" all the way around the loaf in the pan, it shouldn't fit snug because it still has to rise again) Take a quarter, wrap it in aluminum foil and insert one coin into each loaf. Grab the dough that you set aside and you will need to shape it into the numbers of the new year...I don't really know how to explain it, so just look at the pictures.

Once the loaves have risen--they should almost double in size and fill the cake pan, it is time to bake. I do my oven at 325 for 50 minutes. Take the one remaining egg and beat it with a little bit of milk. When the bread has baked for about 40 minutes, pull it out and brush on the egg wash. Then again when it has about 8-5 minutes left of the oven. This will give the top a pretty, shinny, golden brown color. When you remove it from the oven, run a butter knife around the edge and when cool-ish flip them over and get them out and then let them cool on a rack.

If you decide to try this understand it's like and all day process, but it's really fun. It's a tradition for my Dad and I, we make them every year and I give them away to friends and family. This also happens to make the most AH-MAZING French toast, just an FYI. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cartoules Letterpress

First off I think it's a bit sad that we don't correspond in writing anymore. There is something to be said for a personal, hand written thank you note or just a simple card to say hello. My friend from Cali, founded Cartoules Letterpress; which means "Little Cards" in Greek, a couple of years ago when she was getting married. A self proclaimed "paper fanatic" -- it started because she wanted her invitations to be bilingual (Greek of course) and so she did it herself! She has beautiful cards and can really do anything...visit her Etsy shop for some examples, including lovely personalized note cards.

In addition to being super fantastic and crafty like that (which I fully respect because I am not...not even a little bit) she loves interior design. She asked me to answer some questions for her blog for her one of her Designer Profiles and I was thrilled to do it! So check it out HERE!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What I don't want...

It's that time of year where everyone is rushing around trying to figure out what the perfect Holiday gift will be for their friends and family. While so many people are coming out with their wish list and holiday gift guides, let me help in the opposite direction, by eliminating some of the guesswork. So many times we tell clients, "tell us what you don't like" because it helps us narrow in on what they would like, this is a list to help do just that. Let me tell you what I (and I assume most women) don't want.

1. The latest "As seen on TV" item that is on sale at the checkout counter at CVS. I don't care if you think it will make my life easier/better/more convenient.

2. Any jewelry/bag/scarf/accessory that you are also buying for your mother, but in a different color. We aren't 3 year old twins.

3. Household items, including but not limited to: cooking items, appliances, towels, hangers, trivets, coffee cups, electric blankets, etc. *EXCEPTION* if someone clearly expresses that they want a specific item that falls into this category. Get them the exact item, not a similar version. EXAMPLE: I wanted a Cuisinart Griddler a few years ago, I was very specific and my fabulous sister-in-law got it for me and I love it. However, buying a pink blender is not the same, don't do it.

4. A star in our vast galaxy. If you are going to spend money on something intangible, make sure it goes to a worthwhile cause. Y.S. approved examples:

WWF - World Wildlife Foundation. Adopt an animal for me...something cute of course.

Heifer International
- Buy a Llama in my name. The money you spend goes to giving a lovely llama to a family in the mountains of Latin America where they can sheer the fleece off the llama and use it to make clothes for themselves or for sale. If you aren't into llamas they have several options including, geese, goats, rabbits, just to name a few.

World Vision - For $25 you can give a child clean water, or for $32 you can give them notebooks and materials for school.

The point is, if you are going to spend on something, don't buy me a damn star that I will never be able to find.

5. If you are going to buy me clothes, and you don't know my size, DO NOT mess up by getting me something too small. If you think I might/maybe/almost am a medium, get me a large. If you lower my self esteem on Christmas Day, I won't be naughty or nice to you, just indifferent--that's worse.

Happy holidays--go forth and shop!

Monday, December 6, 2010

5 Things I Heart - Scott Laslie Edition

Scott Laslie used to be my boss (along with Mark of course) back in the day at The LW, now he is super fly fabulous and all over the place. Specifically he has been getting press for his new concept Found Market - which, in a nutshell is a virtual designer in a box! Check out BPF's Decor Demon profile on the business here. Today I bring your Scott Laslie's 5 things, all of which I am coveting as I type.

I absolutely love the abstract paintings by Atlanta artist Dixie Purvis…especially her works in black and white…they are wonderful paired with something primitive, ethnic or traditional...it is artwork that truly works in any interior. Dixie is fine home grown talent at it’s very best!…Available through Sandler-Hudson Gallery, 404-817-3777 Sandler Hudson.

I love the scent from FRESH, called Cannibis Santal…available through Neiman-Marcus…I actually get stopped by someone every day I wear it…its kinda fun!

I love the leather Moroccan poufs in all colors from John Derian. These are great additions to any interior...great to bring out for extra seating or just to put your feet up on. They add great color, too!

European hand tied floral arrangements from Suzanne Cummings Flowers in Chicago…this is truly floral at its best! The presentation is dynamite and these flower arrangements don’t necessarily need a vase...they stand on their own!

I love our new concept FoundMarket.com! It helps people find their personal style in their living space and opens the world of professional interior design to a whole new audience.

Stay tuned for the next installment of 5 Things I heart by Annette Joseph!