2-for-1 at Butter Lane Cupcakes

• 29 January 2010

Attention New Yorkers (or anyone visiting the Big Apple anytime soon):

The next time you visit Butter Lane Cupcakes (these could possibly be my absolute favorite in New York) on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, simply mention this blog and you'll receive two cupcakes for the price of one!

Have a wonderful weekend!


lovely images by Bonnie Tsang Photography


Woodland Fairy Party

• 28 January 2010

I love planning birthday parties with my kids. I really do :) It can take awhile to come up with a meaningful theme together, but it's always worth the effort. My daughter was really into fairies this year, thanks to a sweet grandma and auntie gifting her some beautiful fairy books; but when this same grandma sent toadstool candles from Belgium for Christmas, I knew it couldn't be just a Fairy Party, but rather a Woodland Fairy Party :) They really are the cutest little things ever (Love that Dille & Kamille). You could really go crazy with this theme, especially if the outdoors were an option; but I kept things as simple as possible, using things from around my home as props. Plus, it kept costs down :)

I spotted these invitations on Etsy but found them too late :( I procrastinated on sending out invitations so there was no time for them to travel from Australia. I asked the seller if I could purchase the pdf of the invitation given the issue of time and she was gracious enough to say "yes". I hit Roberts and bought wooden spools, rounded tops, some red spray paint and a small container of white acrylic paint. Using a glue gun I adhered the spool and rounded top together and once those dried, I applied one coat of spray paint. Then, using the end of a paint brush we put little dots on the toadstools. The toadstools were so much fun to make I could've easily made 20 without blinking!

During the party we played simple old-fashioned games like "pass the pine cone" and spoon relays (while balancing a pine cone on the spoon). Since these were 8-year-old-craft-loving-girls we decorated star paper mache wands with glitter, jewel stickers, markers and ribbons. Besides eating the above-pictured treats, I also served a plate of veggie sticks. I'm always surprised at how many takers there are when it comes to eating healthy options too.

As far as party favors go, I am a big fan of gifting something meaningful and simple that doesn't cost more than $2. In the past I've found little wooden toys in the dollar aisle at Target, but this time I was able to put together a necklace for just $2 thanks to OTC and Ebay. After my daughter and I put the necklaces together I wrapped them in tissue paper and placed inside a muslin bag. The girls seemed pretty excited about them!

Sources: Fairy Charms - OTC; Ball Chains - Ebay; Wooden Mushrooms - Pentagram, Paris; Fairy Muslin Favor Bags - made by a local artist (email me for deets); Toadstool Candles - Dille & Kamille; Kraft Brown Baking Cups - If You Care; Fairy Invitations - RubyLuisa; Vintage Swedish Fairy Cut-outs for napkins - Sweet and Candy

Update:  I've recently put together a few new birthday party ideas based on beautiful postage stamps if you care to look!


Liberty of London for Target

• 27 January 2010

Did you hear? The lovely Liberty of London is collaborating with the increasingly-fabulous Target this Spring. Expect home goods, bicycles and clothing from this popular UK label. Can't wait for March 14 to arrive!

On a related note, Mango (the trendy European retailer--saw these all over Paris) is teaming up with JCPenney this year as well. I'm intrigued by this move as well.

discovered via Caitlin Creer Interiors; images via purl bee and Liberty of London


Welcome Walnut Paperie

How I love a pretty paperie with simple styling and luscious colors. New sponsor Walnut Paperie offers both! Lucky us. I think the above birth announcement is perfection and that Independence Day celebration invitation would be the a lovely addition to this party. As an added service, all of the stationery sets include envelopes with a pre-printed return address...my favorite.

And the luck continues...Walnut Paperie is offering a very generous 20% discount to my readers for the next week. Simply type in the coupon code "modo" at checkout. Enjoy!


Passion Fruit + Coconut Cream Parfaits

• 26 January 2010

There are desserts and there are DESSERTS! These parfaits qualify as the latter. If you love coconut and passion fruit, there may not be a more tantalizing combination out there. Seriously.

Read up on the recipe over at the Zupas blog today.



• 25 January 2010

Happy Birthday Littlest Sister--you've had quite the year! I feel so lucky to have shared some of the major and minor moments of 2009 with you...

1. Marrying Max in the Woods (a.m.a.z.i.n.g)

2. Your great apartment (I especially love how you display your collections)

3. Bridal images that make all of us former brides envious...they are out-of-this-world romantic.

4. Mount Auburn - our favorite in Boston (besides Christina's)

image via this post


I ♥...

Since this is about the time we all start thinking about Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share my favorite gift idea...a tee shirt proclaiming your love (this is also a great idea for a birthday too). It's not too expensive ($20 or less), it's reusable, and always evokes surprise. The look on my husband's face when I showed up to his birthday party donning this tee-shirt was priceless! We're talkin' ear-to-ear grin here folks.

Your local embroidery store will be able to create one of these for you, but if you're looking for an online source, this one comes recommended.

image via Justin Hackworth (by the way, did you hear about his Love's First Year Project?)


Abstract Expressionism Gone Postal

Just 7 more weeks until these gorgeous stamps are released by the United States Postal Service. Can't wait to smack a Mark Rothko on a letter or two!

image via usps


Laurel Denise 2010 Planner

• 22 January 2010

For my birthday last year my friend Susan gifted me with this lovely Laurel Denise calendar/planner. It was difficult to wait 2 months for the chance to use it! It's one of the loveliest I've seen and the price point is so reasonable.

image via simple song


Petit Bonhomme

When we attended church in France I spent a good chunk of time in the nursery making sure my munchkin felt comfortable. It was a good chance for me to try and communicate with the other two women helping out...the prospect of only 2 women hearing me make a fool out of myself is not nearly as daunting as other scenarios :)

On a particular Sunday, one of the other nursery leaders brought in all the fixings for a "Petit Bonhomme". While she sang this song she cut up fruit, vegetables and everything else and in the end created a delicious masterpiece. Isn't it darling?

C'est un petit bonhomme petit petit petit
Sa tête est une pomme son nez est un radis
Ses yeux sont des groseilles sa bouche est un bonbon
Et il a pour oreilles deux tranches de melon
Sa jambe est une banane son autre jambe aussi
A la main une canne en sucre de pays
Et une longue barbe et un joli chapeau
Deux feuilles de rhubarbe lui font un long manteau
C'est un petit bonhomme petit petit petit...


Seattle Favorites

• 21 January 2010

Talk about an overdue post...I snapped these way back in late November, during Thanksgiving! But, better late than never, right?

Visiting my sister's family is always a pleasure--they are wonderful company and they live in an exciting city as well. Days were spent downtown exploring the Seattle Art Museum, Pike Place Market (Moon Valley Raspberry Honey + the donuts are a must) and evenings were spent snacking on Bakery Nouveau treats and playing Mille Bournes (remember that game from the 80's?). Good times.

p.s. did you win the Alice Lane Home Giveaway? Find out here.


Pumpkin, Sage + Browned-Butter Bread

A pleasant surprise: walking out to my backyard and spotting sage peeking out from the snow. A survivor! Once I spotted this recipe, I knew I had to try it out and put all that silver sage to good use. I am happy to report that the bread was a hit with every single family member...all tried to sneak extra bites when I turned my back.

p.s. I like the organic pumpkin puree found at Whole Foods...it looks and tastes better than Libbys so when I spot it, I stock up.


Favorite Black Dress

• 20 January 2010

Little Black Dress, I am so glad you are back in stock again. You sold out way too fast the first time around! Let me count the ways I love you:

1. You're not too little, you're more like just right.
2. You have pockets--a rarity in a dress with such feminine lines.
3. I can save money at the dry cleaner because I don't have to take you there!
4. You can be dressed up and down (I loved wearing you in New York this past Fall)

Although I definitely prefer the dress in black, you can view it in a pretty berry color as well.

update: Shade's new blog goes live on Monday! See it here.


How to Make Crème Fraiche

• 18 January 2010

This summer I read one book...Julia Child's "My Life in France". I know, I know...a lousy showing for an entire summer, but we were kind of in the middle of this little project :) Reading about the making of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was an amazing experience, especially since I could relate to many of the cultural differences she observed while in France. Given my own love of food and of cooking, I was truly captivated.

You know what else is captivating? Not spending $8 on crème fraiche at the grocery store and making it yourself for about $1.50. Thank you Julia! She really figured out everything during those six years in France, including solving what is often a frustrating situation for me (I love crème fraiche but that price tag kills me every time). Now I can make this pie, this casserole, and this soup guilt-free and on a much more reasonable budget.

I've shared the "how-to", per Julia Child, in my latest post for Cafe Zupas. View it here. This is my favorite cooking-related discovery in months!


Les Madeleines Cooking Classes

• 17 January 2010

When we moved here from Boston, I set about doing what I'd already done in San Francisco and Boston...I found the best bakery in town and frequented it often :) In San Francisco it was Boulange de Polk just down the street from our apartment; in Boston it was Flour and in Salt Lake City it is Les Madeleines! Hence the reason I'm so excited to add Les Madeleines as a sponsor. Those of you attending the Altitude Design Summit this week will be interested to know that Les Madeleines is located just a block and a half from the venue. Do yourself a favor and stop by a few times...even if it is for just a drink. Her lavender lemonade is the best!

More excellent news: LM is offering fantastic cooking classes with a gourmet dinner included! (optional wine pairing too). You'll spend a few hours learning how to make world-class desserts and then sit down to a multi-course dinner that complements the desserts you just learned how to make ($75). Also offered is a simple Croissant + Pastry class ($50), a practical addition to anyone's repertoire. One of my friends attended this class and left with some mad-croissant-making skills.

It's been almost eleven years since my husband and I attended a cooking class together (it was our first date) and it's high time we press "repeat". We'll be attending the February 13th class featuring all chocolate desserts and a meal of steak frites as a birthday/pre-Valentine's Day celebration. We cannot wait! So, if you are tired of the usual dinner + movie date night and want to mix things up a little, try attending a class together! You'll have the opportunity to socialize, learn to make world-class desserts, and enjoy a meal prepared by a renown chef. Talk about a win-win :)

View the class schedule and sign up online here.

all images via Confluence Photography


Alice Lane Home GIVEAWAY

• 15 January 2010

We have our winner!

For me, and many others I'm discovering, January = the optimum time for nesting/redecorating/reorganizing. What better time of year to add a new pillow, rug, lamp, piece of art, or even a fun shower curtain to your living space?! Changing one's scenery by bringing in fresh color and texture is a sure fire way to cure the winter doldrums...to this I can attest :)

One of my sponsors, Alice Lane Home, would love to help one reader start his/her new year in style with a $100 gift certificate to the store. Based on these lovely images (go Nicole!), I'd say there are some serious temptations to reckon with at Alice Lane. I'm inspired already...

One note about this giveaway (and future ones as well for that matter): the winner/s will be announced on the specified date at the top of the giveaway post. So, come next Wednesday, you'll want to scroll down to this post to see if you won. Good luck and a great weekend!

Giveaway Guidelines:

- You have 4 days to enter this giveaway (closes Tuesday, January 19th at midnight).
- Make a comment on this post to enter.
- One entry per person please.
- Anonymous comments will be ignored so make sure we know who you are!
- The winners will be chosen via random.org and announced on Wednesday, January 20th at the top of this post.
- Winners, please respond by the end of the week to secure prize. Thank you~

all images taken by Nicole Hill Gerulat


Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes

• 14 January 2010

When your Meyer Lemon tree produces only a handful of lemons each year, you use them wisely :) I decided to put this delicious-looking recipe to the test and was not disappointed (nor were our guests). The only note I'd like to make is the dessert also tastes delicious slightly chilled...room temperature isn't your only tasty option here. I'll definitely make it again with conventional lemons too and see how it compares.


Wallpaper∗ City Guides for the iPhone

Just heard: Wallpaper∗ now has an iPhone app for all of their city guides, which are really, really cool by the way. I checked out a few of them in the bookstore at the Pompidou and was très impressed. The guides don't steer you towards anything you'll find in another guide book as the suggestions are unique indeed. If you are heading to one of these cities, you may want to invest the $4.


La Maisonnette Winter/Spring Special

• 13 January 2010

Can I tempt you with a end of Winter/beginning of Spring getaway?! We decided to reduce the rental rates at La Maisonnette for just two months (from now until the end of March). We are booked through the Summer, but have some availability during the next couple of months, and thought it would be nice to make enjoying Beynac and the rest of the French countryside more affordable. In February you will catch the tail end of truffle season (our most recent guests had a lovely time picking up truffles at the local market and then coming home and cooking them on this pretty stove) and in March you'll catch spring in the Dordogne (all of these images were taken by Scott in 03/09). Either way it's a beautiful place to spend a cozy vacation sans tourists and crowds. Plus, fares are cheaper now than they'll be for 8-9 months! Added bonus: readers will receive an extra 50€ off if you mention you came from my blog.

Also, it turns out that our favorite tour guide, Rick Steves, loves Beynac too. If you watch this video, you'll catch a glimpse of La Maisonnette about 3:54 into the clip. You'll see the castle right next door to the cottage and some seriously amazing views of the village and surrounding valley.

For those of you just tuning in, you can view all the posts about the French renovation right here.

all images taken by Scott Lunt in March 2009


Olive Juice Sale

• 12 January 2010

Olive Juice is my favorite American label for kids clothing. It's great quality, is European-inspired, and every now and again goes on super sale. I wait for the 80% off sales and then pounce. I've already purchased cute Easter dresses for my girls for only $10 each (down from $58). How 'bout that?

Catch your own deals at the Olive Juice Final Sale and then also in the outlet.


Attractive Storage Accessories

One thing I've learned about organization is that it's not enough to just set things up nicely on a shelf or in a cupboard. Unless those "things" have a permanent place to park, your efforts will be undone in the not-so-distant future. This I know from experience :) May I present some stylish storage pieces that not only reel in the clutter, but look awfully cute too.

wire basket

birch storage boxes

antique sack cozy bowl


Pretty Baking Cups

• 11 January 2010

Over at Zupas today I am sharing my collection of online resources for the cutest cupcake liners around. Consider it a one-stop-shop for your baking cup needs :) Go ahead, plan a whole party around cupcake liners...they are that adorable!

p.s. I also shared my favorite winter cupcake to make over here as well. Hello citrus season!


Winter Dinner + Charades

Loving Donata's idea of a winter dinner party complete with a lively game of charades. Now that should brighten up a cold, gray, winter night don't you think? Time for me to get planning...


Eating Healthy {and Responsibly} on a Budget

• 08 January 2010

A subject that constantly arises in our home is that of eating well on a budget. After my husband and I read a recent article in Living and watched Food, Inc. together, that subject expanded to "how to eat well in a socially responsible way on a budget". This is a tricky thing to do unless shopping exclusively at Whole Foods is feasible. Here's how we're trying to make it happen:

1. meal plan...this saves $, time and lessens stress (read more about it here). Buy fresh produce to complement what you already have in your pantry to maximize resources.

2. shop around...it's a pain, I know, to schlep to 3 different stores each week but where there's a will, there's a way. After meal-planning I stop first at Whole Foods to take advantage of the sales and the organic milk (this is the cheapest place to purchase organic milk, even over Costco). Shopping only the sales allows me to enjoy the tasty benefits of organic produce for the same price as conventional produce.

3. decide where to spend your money most efficiently...this month's Living gave an honest explanation about organic produce and I appreciated it immensely. This is particularly helpful for those who can't buy organic produce exclusively. One page highlighted the "Clean 15"...the foods with the lowest amounts of pesticide residue. According to the article, it's likely okay to buy fruits and vegetables on this list in the conventional section of your supermarket. Pineapple, broccoli (not the pre-packaged kind), watermelon, onions and tomatoes are all on the list (amongst others). See top left for more info. Also explained was the "Dirty Dozen"...the fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticide residue (kale, apples, grapes, peppers, strawberries, etc.). I've always wanted to know when it's most important to buy organic produce...now I know!

4. sign up for a CSA...support a local farmer, buy local, get better produce, spend less. It's a win-win. We've been pleased with the vegetable CSA we've participated in for the past 3 years. And just this week we also signed up for a meat CSA through this local farm. Even though we are not huge meat eaters, we do enjoy it in moderation. It feels good to know it's coming from a farm who believes in treating its animals with respect. You can sign up for a CSA in your area here.

5. purchase only what you need...if the recipe calls for 4 slices of bacon, buy just four slices of bacon (vs. the large 12-16 slice package)...if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon turmeric, and it's not a recipe make often, head to a store that sells bulk spices and buy just that amount. I've been practicing this little strategy since grad school and it's quite a money-saver. Resisting the "wants" at the store and focusing on the "needs" is also cost-effective.

6. share resources with a friend...is a 50 pound bag of red potatoes a little excessive for your family of 3? Consider finding a friend in the same predicament and split the bag amongst your households. Don't need the entire 2+ pound package of wild salmon at Costco? Apply the same concept and split the package with a buddy.

7. grow a garden...lots of benefits with this one starting with stress-relief, accessible food, minimal costs, kid-activity and full-control over how it's grown. You don't have to be an amazing gardener to follow-through with this one--I can personally attest to this! All you need is perseverance and some basic instruction from a seasoned gardener or two. There is just no substitute for the chance to grab a fresh rosemary sprig outside your backdoor. If you live in an apartment, try growing a simple herb garden in your windowsill. No backyard required :)

Curious about Food, Inc.? Here's a clip. Alice Waters called it "The film I have always been waiting for". We viewed it recently on Netflix Watch Instantly.

images via Living


Affordable French Children's Clothes

• 07 January 2010

In France the sales ("Les Soldes") are regulated by the government and happen only twice each year. Yesterday marked the first day of an almost month-long country-wide sale...hip hip hooray! Nine years ago we hit Paris in early January and boy, did we find some wonderful deals. But, guess what? You don't have to visit France to take advantage of these semi-annual sales, you can enjoy them online too.

One of my favorite French retailers for children's clothing is Du Pareil au Meme. I've found some great pieces there over the years and never spent more than 20€ on anything. Often I found tops, skirts, and even dresses for under 10€. You may have to sift through a few collections as the French are not immune from producing overpriced licensed clothing :)

A few things in my cart...this top, this nightgown, and this cape. If you live in the US your only option for shipping is international priority, which is both good and bad. Your clothing will arrive quickly (3-6 days), but you will spend about 21€. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get together with a friend and split the shipping. Oh, and if you don't speak French, pas de problème. The site is available in English too. FYI: today's exchange rate is $1.43 to 1€.

image via DPAM


More Bedrooms to Love...

Some additional bedroom images to swoon over. Ready to redecorate yet? Moi aussi.

See yesterday's post for more bedroom images.


Unison Table Linens

• 06 January 2010

It's official...the entire blogosphere is "nesting". I guess that's what January does to us all :)

Here are a few things I'm thinking about this week. I'd love to add either of these simple pieces to my meager table linen collection. They would look so good with white dishes...

Porter Tablecloth

Aqua Placemats


Taking Notice of the Bedroom

Terence Conran once said, "It seems incongruous that the bedroom, which is by far the most personal room in the house, is also the most neglected." Isn't that so true? For about 9 years our bedroom served as the dumping ground of our living space. It was a place where I put everything I didn't like or didn't have a place for elsewhere. Lame, I know. But I did end up making it right (see budget bedroom makeover here.)

There are three steps one can take to make the bedroom a more inviting, romantic and comfortable space. First, clear the clutter and feel the room become instantly more relaxing. Two, decorate it as best as you can with your budget, be it large or small. Put effort towards making it lovely, as you would with a high-traffic area like a kitchen or family room. Even on a budget it can be done! Last, put in a SoundDock or some other music-making contraption. There is nothing more romantic than music wafting softly throughout the room...on a quiet evening...when the children are in bed.

Here are a some of my favorite images of the bedroom. I am going to showcase them over two days. They are quite different from each other, but I love them all for different reasons. I hope they inspire you too!

image 1, 2 (unknown), 3, and 4


Herb Roasted Potatoes

• 04 January 2010

Since "back-to-basics" is often a theme in January, I thought I'd share my recipe for Herb Roasted Potatoes. It's definitely a basic, definitely delicious and definitely easy to prepare. You can find the recipe over at Zupas today. Enjoy!


Style Watch: AT Loft

I haven't peeked into LOFT for a few years, but a recent window display caught my eye. I went inside and on closer examination found many J.Crew-esque looks sans the pricey price tags. Plus, the quality looked better.


Vintage German Nesting Boxes

German toys are amongst my absolute favorites. Even in Paris, I noticed many of the toy stores selling German toys alongside the French ones. Apparently the rivalry stops at toys...what a relief! When I spotted these vintage German nesting boxes on Etsy today I thought, "someone would love these in their child's nursery or playroom". They are simply, inexpensive, and just adorable! I hope one of you snatches 'em up :)


Sleek + Chic Kitchen

Normally I'm a white-kitchen-kind-of-gal, but I loved many elements of this California kitchen regardless. It reminds me of a Brady Bunch kitchen gone 21st century. I love the vinyl cushions in the kitchen nook...I had no idea vinyl could look so good (a clever idea for kid-proofing indeed). I also dig the the slim glass back splash--it's simple, clean, and no nonsense. I'm also a fan of hardwood in the kitchen. It's a little tricky with small children, but the warmth it adds is irreplaceable.

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