Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!


It's Christmas - yay!!! I wanted to share a few family traditions with you:


potato chip cookies (recipe to follow sometime next week after I've recovered from Food Coma 2K9)

the house lit up like a twinkling Winter Wonderland (the whole street is - no colored lights!)

watching "A Christmas Story" (I finally see the whole thing after several hours of catching snippets of the 24 hour marathon run)

opening presents on Christmas Eve (it always starts with just one)

elaborately wrapped presents (I inherited mad wrapping skillz)

complaining about having to listen to Christmas music over and over again (Lady Gaga mandate in effect this Christmas)

going to Children's Mass which begins at 4pm
-and it is because of this tradition that I must get ready now, as we have to be there by 3pm (gahh) - Merry Christmas to all of you and Happy Holidays!

Big festive kiss xx WTSTA

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010 Food Predictions



As I sit here and finish an entire box of French butter cookies, peruse the below predictions for "hot foods" for 2010 from Always Hungry NY:

1. Artisanal Italian beer everywhere.

2. Large-format alternative (not steak or chicken) proteins for two.

3. Lamb belly becomes the new pork belly.

4. Italian Small Plate (aka “Stuzzichini”) Restaurants

5. Brain is the hot new Offal

6. Mexican Infusion: Fusion Cuisine and Sandwich Revolution


Their food trends of 2009:

Steaks not from a steakhouse (a la Minetta)
Octopus (truth - I've had way more octopus in recent memory)
Haute Dogs (a la DBGB - coincidentally, they also serve octopus)



image courtesy of Minetta Tavern

"Fetching is Your Dior"



Lisa Taylor, Dior Ad, 1976, shot by Chris von Wangenheim.

via Chloe Van Paris

Whee! Easy and Fun, Like Popping Bubble Wrap

From Harvey Nichols in London:


Not to be outdone, QVC has their own line of insta-bows, which you can buy here.

What I'd Buy If I Had All The Money In The World

A Prada pirate bear necklace.

from the Prada Bobo collection

Running Out of Time?


Running out of time? Forget those last minute gifts? I'm not endorsing it by any means (you should have done this ages ago!), but if you must regift, please keep these guidelines in mind:

"RULES" for REGIFTING


- Make sure the item is in good condition.

- Make sure all the seals are in tact.

- Regift in different social circles.

- Only use items that are a good match for the recipient; don't just try to unload extra or unusable gifts.

- Remove the evidence - how embarrassing if the original card was in the box!

- Give anything unwanted away to charity. (My charity of preference if you live in Virginia, New Jersey, or Maryland: The Lupus Foundation, http://www.lupuspickup.org/)


So you don't have a social faux pas next year, try these simple rules for Stress-Free Giving:

- Ask for wish lists. If you know they want it, it's not wrong to get it for them!

- Trust your judgment. If you think they would have to fake a smile upon opening, reconsider.

-Don't buy just so people have things to open. Someone will appreciate one nice, well-thought out gift versus a few okay gifts.

- Stick to a budget. You're not impressing anyone by going into debt to buy him that flat screen or her that sparkly bracelet. If you don't make a lot of money - straight out of college, for example - people expect gifts within your price range.

- Buy it when you see it. If you see something in August that would be perfect for someone, buy it then! You can store it until the holidays. Your wallet will thank you as well if you buy gifts here and there rather than all at once.

- Get a gift and card closet. Learned this one from Mama - always have things on hand. Stock up on fancy candies, bottles of wine, books, stationary sets, etc. that you can give if you are in a pinch. Same with cards.


Georgia Peach In an Empire State of Mind

A little sentimental, I know - especially since I'm usually the one rolling my eyes at the PDA on the streets of New York, of which there is a lot (European invasion?). But this is just such a classic New York moment, and jives well with Daily Candy's video today, "Empire State of Mind." The rest of America thinks we're the most unhappy place in the country, but prove them wrong when watching the below video. You won't be able to help yourself: defrost your cold little heart, smile, and think, "Yeah, bitch! I'm from New York!"
image via Cityfile

A Little Pink & Well Done

From the Georgetown home of Alessandra Branca, author of New Classic Interiors, via Chinoiserie Chic is this beautiful, tasteful, and very pink room. I like my pinks as much as the next girl, but in interiors it reminds me of my childhood room (Pepto Pink, I know you had it, too!). This, however, makes me want to reach for the Krug Rose, kick up my stocking feet, and settle in for a long winter's nap.

Martha Stewart Bows to Masterstroke Canada

From the Martha Stewart Wedding Blog is an interview with what has got to be one of the most interesting jobs I've ever heard of: ribbon expert. Get yourself in the mood for wrapping those last-minute gifts with the below interview with Steven Fraser.
















Katie: What are the ribbon trends you are seeing?
Steven: Dots and stripes are really big right now, and customized or printed ribbon, which we do in house, is very popular for bridal bouquets.
K: Is there an ideal width or type of ribbon for a bouquet handle?
S: 1 1/2-inch-wide ribbon is the most common for wrapping a bouquet, but a 2-inch-wide ribbon makes a nice bow, depending on the size of the bouquet (and the bride carrying it). 3- or 4-inch satin would even be good for the bow, with the stems wrapped in the narrower satin to cut down on costs.
K: What is the craziest thing someone has done with your ribbons for their wedding?
S: I should have been writing them down over the years because we've had some really elaborate requests. One bride used 1000 yards of organdy ribbon to do basket weave toppers on all the reception tables. Another went through about 10 shades of blue trying to match her bouquet to the guests' favor boxes, which were gifts from Tiffany & Co.
K: What are the most popular ribbon colors?
S: The most popular color for bridal is basically cream, or as we know them, ivory, ecru, creme, lattel, bridal white, winter white, candlelight, bone, etc. The most popular color we've had in recent years is surprisingly chartreuse green. It has become a year round favorite, used in everything from bouquets at spring weddings to holiday wreaths.
K: What's your favorite new ribbon?
S: I love the new iridescent 5"-wide striped taffeta ribbons I did last year; the colors are deep and rich for holiday decor, but there are also a couple of pastel shades for weddings, too. I love it when I have the chance to create ribbon colors, so this one is kind of special to me. I'm also in love with our new reversible dots from France--very "au courant."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes, Kate. We want that, too.

November 2003

An Essential List: Barware


House Beautiful and interior designer Miles Redd have the below list for the ultimate, stocked bar.

VODKA

GIN

BOURBON

RUM

SCOTCH

RYE

SWEET AND DRY VERMOUTH

TEQUILA

TRIPLE SEC

COGNAC

COINTREAU

CAMPARI

One bottle each of RED WINE, WHITE WINE, AND CHAMPAGNE

BITTERS

LEMONS

LIMES

COCKTAIL ONIONS

CORNICHONS

MARASCHINO CHERRIES

A bag of KETTLE POTATO CHIPS and a can of SMOKED ALMONDS

MIXERS: soda, tonic, ginger ale, 7Up, Coke, Diet Coke, cranberry juice, Clamato juice, tomato juice, Campbell's beef broth with the pullback tab

A PEPPERMILL

TABASCO

WORCESTERSHIRE

FRESH ICE, preferably chipped

A GOOD ICE BUCKET. Mine is glass. I find it easy to clean and I like the look of a sweating bucket.

AN ICE SCOOP. It works much better than a spoon.

A GLASS STIRRER

TWO COCKTAIL SHAKERS, one open and one closed. A closed one is good for frothy drinks; an open one is good for stirred drinks.

A BOTTLE OPENER

A CORKSCREW

A STRAINER. Good for a poured drink

COCKTAIL NAPKINS. I prefer cloth to paper.

A VARIETY OF GLASSES. A good drink is also about a good glass. If you're serving martinis, nothing tastes better than a chilled martini glass. The minimum is lowball and highball glasses; martini glasses; wineglasses; and champagne flutes, beer glasses

Four Booties For Your Tootsies

Dolce Vita, $250
Velvet Angels, $350
Michael Antonio, $54.95
Pour La Victoire, $340

Feliz Navidad from the Spainards





Elle Espana, Dec 2009

Cookie Swap: Cookie Death Match

I don't know about you, but I grew up thinking cookie swaps were the ultimate competition (and now, I still think that, second only to Rush!). Every woman in my neighborhood would try to out do the others with their cookies and packaging. Every year, the poor women whose first swap was upon them would bring cookies on nice plates, unprepared for the deluxe Santa and reindeer sleigh/box/ornament that sings from their new friends. Seriously. In honor of mama and all those women, here are a few of Southern Living's best cookie recipes, for this time of year and any other. (Ed Note: Peanut Blossoms were something I grew up eating - I never knew how easy they were!)

MISSISSIPPI MUD COOKIES

Prep: 25 min., Bake: 12 min. per batch

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. miniature marshmallows

Preparation

1. Microwave semisweet chocolate morsels in a small microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.

2. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to chocolate mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chopped pecans and 1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels.

4. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Press 3 marshmallows into each portion of dough.

5. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks.


CRUNCHY FROSTBITE COOKIES

Prep: 22 min.; Cook: 14 min. per batch; Other: 1 hr.

Yield: about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked regular oats
  • 1 1/2 cups cornflakes cereal
  • 12 ounces white chocolate baking squares, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preparation

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; stir well until blended.

Beat 1 cup shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Stir in oats and cornflakes.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2" apart, onto lightly greased baking sheets; flatten slightly. Bake at 325° for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Microwave white chocolate and 3 Tbsp. shortening in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until white chocolate melts, stirring once. Stir in peppermint extract. Dip flat bottom of each cookie into melted white chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place dipped cookies, dipped side up, on wax paper; let stand 1 hour or until white chocolate sets.



TEA CAKES

Yield: Makes 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla extract, beating until blended.

Combine flour, soda, and salt; gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended after each addition.

Divide dough in half; wrap each portion in plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour.

Roll half of dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut out cookies with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, and place 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown; let stand on baking sheet 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.


PEANUT BLOSSOM COOKIES

Yield: 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups biscuit mix
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 (9-ounce) package milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Preparation

Combine milk and peanut butter, stirring until smooth; stir in vanilla. Add biscuit mix, stirring well.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in sugar, and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in center of each ball of dough with thumb or spoon handle.

Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from oven, and press a chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Only The Best of The Best: Gift Guide for....The Boyfriend

You didn't think we'd forget them, did you? Men (boys) are hard to shop for, with the reasoning that they\ would buy xyz for themselves if they wanted it. They're terrible gift receivers, too. First and foremost I think that experiences are best for guys- concert tickets, plane tickets, autographed sports memorabilia, events they can look forward to. But here are a few things that will make them smile, excite them, and possibly tear them away from sending crazy cat pictures at work and Sports Center.



Roadie cups, The Monogram Shops, $3 each (at this price, who cares if he leaves it in the cab?)

Custom m&m's, Target, $30 for 3 bags (so you can write anything from "Girls Rule, boys Drool"  to "I love you hunny bunny")

Refresh charging station, A Plus R Store, $90 (because he likes things that simplify his life)

Pirate bandages, Perpetual Kid, $3 (so you can partially fulfill some Johnny Depp dream)

Tartan scarf, Pendleton, $40 (because surprisingly, a lot of boys don't own scarves)

Marshmallow shooter, Amazon, $24.95 (A fun gadget-y thing. He'll definitely like it.)

20th Century Art Book, Jayson Home and Garden, $24.95 (for the one that likes this sort of thing...or needs to fill his half-empty bookshelf)

In God We Trust "In It To Win It" card case, Refinery29, $60 (a cute little reminder for him to see every day)


iKareoke, Fred Flare, $60 (so he can practice his Enrique solos in the living room instead of the shower)

Golf organizer, Gumps, $60 (because you want to get into the car without sitting on stray tees)

Portable grill, Design Within Reach, $60 (another gadget, but this one makes fire!)



Only The Best of The Best: Gift Guide for....The Girl Who Has Everything

You know her as well as I do - she's got super-refined tastes, seems to have everything first and best. Show off your gifting skills with these things she never knew she wanted or needed:




Jack BB Dakota faux fur vest, Fred Flare, $60 (because she needs a cheap topper)
Thread Social bow sweater, Net-A-Porter, $155 (to wear on her "off" days)
Monogrammed matchboxes, The Monogram Shops, $45 for 50 (for all her dinner party candles....and for those cigarettes you shouldn't reach for)
Tromp d'oeil bathmat, Conran USA, $110 (the ultimate in bathroom indulgences)
Hilarious canvas ballet flats, Slow & Steady Wins The Race, $110 (she'd never know she needed them)
Removable chalkboard decal, Off the Wall Expression on Etsy, $20 (for her very specific grocery list)
"When Life Gives You Lemons" laser cut paper plaque, Julene on Etsy, $65 (for a pick me up and a giggle on a rare bad day)
My Other Bag is Hermes canvas bag, Jessica Cushman, $45 (because when the word Hermes is involved, the cheese factor goes down)
Heart umbrella, Felix Rey, $65 (so even in the rain, she's happy)
Monogrammed catch all, Dabney Lee at Home, $40 (to place the few trinkets that don't have a place)



Only The Best of The Best: Gift Guide for....The Tomboy


This is for those that prefer rugby shirts and flannel to bows and lace - who aren't afraid to be cool, calm, collected, sporty, and fashionable. Here, for the Tomboy in your life:

Tory Burch striped glitter cardigan, Net-A-Porter, $295 (when she needs to dress it up a bit)
Lego iPod speakers, Fred Flare, $25 (for those that have a severe aversion to fashion-y stuff)
Canvas glasses case, Jayson Home and Garden, $24
In God We Trust horsebit kneesocks, RefineryShops, $20 a pair (give her a little flare when her socks peek out of her boots)
Hunter fleece socks, Nordstrom, $30 a pair (to warm her feet when she's clomping through the mud)
Sequined canvas shoes, Forever 21, $10.80 (because for $10, everyone needs a pair)
Elizabeth and James plaid shirt, Intermix, $245 (oozes chic and comfort)
Comme des Garcons zip pouch, Opening Ceremony, $145 (the preferred wallet of the downtown set)
Plastic green bike basket, A plus R store, $70 (retro chic for the street)
A retro blue bike, A Bike Store for similar styles, around $289.99, (Blair Waldorf's bike! Not really, hers is Cynthia Rowley and $1200, but similar...)
Bensimon canvas shoes, Piperlime, $55 (to give the old Converse a break)
Rhinestone frog earrings, Anthropologie, $80 (so she can remember all those forts in the woods)



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