4

Nie's Back to School Feast

• 31 August 2010



































I love Nie Nie's back-to-school feast this year (and every other year really). She is such an inspiring mother and the fact that she goes to all this effort to do something so utterly special for her children makes her a great example to me. What a fine, family tradition, don't you think? Maybe next year I'll have my act together and make something like this happen.

Read about Stephanie's other Back-to-School Feasts here: 2008, 2009 & 2010

p.s. did you see her fabulous basement makeover by Alice Lane Home? Uh-mazing...both her living space and the store, which is a healthy mix of luxury and affordable ($15-ish) pieces.

2008/09 images by Stephanie Nielsen; 2010 images by Justin Hackworth

3

Easy Ice Cream Popsicles



































Just because school has started doesn't mean it still isn't hot! In my book, it's still popsicle season, and I had to share with you the easiest popsicle recipe ever. Think 5 minutes of preparation friends. F-I-V-E minutes.

Read about them here!

16

Homemade Rolls + Mini French Jams

• 30 August 2010
































When in Paris earlier this year, I picked up these miniature jars of Bonne Maman jam. I'm a big fan of anything "mini" and these were no exception. I thought it would be fun to whip up a batch of homemade rolls in my bread machine (easiest, yummiest roll recipe ever) and assemble little treat bags for a few of my neighbors. I admit, I had a lot of fun putting these little packages together :)

Amazingly enough, you don't have to travel to Paris to pick up these fun little 1 oz. jams! You can find them on Amazon and at Saveur du Jour aussi.

4

Global Vintage Stamps

• 27 August 2010





























A lovely find...gorgeous, reasonably-priced, vintage stamps from all over the world. I picked up a set of hot air balloon stamps recently and can't wait to figure out a fun way to use them. I also have my eye on those mushroom stamps--they could be a lot of fun on an invitation or place card for a Woodland Fairy Party.

4

Japanese Clothing for Little Ones

• 26 August 2010






















Sweet, simple, children's wear from Japan that doesn't cost a fortune! True, you have to sift through the website a little, but it's worth it for that handful of great pieces.

2

Project La Maisonnette

• 25 August 2010


















Eleven months ago we left Europe after {finally} completing an extensive renovation of our cozy, Medieval cottage in southwestern France. It's hard to believe it ever happened to be honest...so much has changed in our lives since then. Anyway, for those of you who feel like reading a little "refresher" to get pumped up about your own renovation, or for those readers just tuning in, I thought I'd compile a chunk of posts into one tidy post called "Project La Maisonnette"--a one-stop-shop if you will. You can even access the end results featured on Design*Sponge. Just the thought of some of those "before" shots make me shudder!

images by Candace Stringham

4

This Week's Great Finds + Deals



































A few things you may be interested in this week:

Kitchen favorites over at Givers Log - Amberlee created the prettiest collage of all my favorites, don't you think?

Groupon coupon at the Gap...such a sweet deal. Although it's expired (the deals are good for one day only), it might be a good idea to sign up if you haven't already. They hook you up with great local (i.e. Les Madeleines in SLC) and national deals. It's the only coupon site I subscribe to and there's a reason for that.

Dying over this black currant syrup...it is incredibly delicious on waffles and pancakes. If you don't have access to something like this at your local farmer's market, try your Middle Eastern markets as well. I've found black currant syrup there as well. On a side note, my kids really enjoy it too.

I saw "Eat, Pray, Love" and enjoyed it despite the bad reviews (perhaps because I never read the book so I couldn't compare?). It was an entertaining chick flick for any gal who enjoys Julia Roberts and was a nice change from the serious, foreign films that I typically opt for. Just don't take your man--he'll consider it the worst $9 he ever spent :)

image by Amberlee of Givers Log

2

European-Style Yogurt + a Parfait

• 24 August 2010


























Over at Zupas today, I am sharing a super easy recipe for a healthy snack (see above :) as well as my favorite European-style yogurt labels found in the US. It's no secret the Europeans (namely the French) produce some of the best yogurt in the world and now we can have a little taste without hopping the Pond.

Find the recipe + recommendations here.

42

Cherry Birthday Party

• 23 August 2010


























































































































































Update: Cherry Lollies from Europe now available in the shop!

I had more fun planning this "half" birthday party for my youngest daughter, than just about any other party I've spun for my little ones. The truth is, I've been planning it for over a year--ever since I spotted those adorable cherry lollipops at Mamie Gateaux. But when my daughter's birthday arrived earlier this year, I was super sick with HG, so the whole day ended up being a bust and any thought of a party went on hold. Fast forward 6 months and we find ourselves in the midst of cherry season. Well, how about that? I decided to put to use these cute party supplies and throw a "half" birthday party for my little redhead instead. She had such a good time being a part of it all and now I finally feel satisfied. With a new baby coming, she really deserved a day being just about her--every little person does!

Sources:

1. Napkins + Notepad Favors by the fabulous Amy Redden of Vintage Fern...isn't she amazing?
2. Balloons inspired by Chelsea's project for Project Wedding
3. Vanilla Cupcakes with Rainier Cherries (loved this recipe--it's my new go-to Vanilla recipe)
4. Tablecloth purchased at a flea market in France
5. Cherry Ribbon - Michaels Arts and Crafts
6. Crocheted Cherry Pin
7.
Cherry Lollipops


Update:  A few new birthday party ideas for your enjoyment posted recently.

13

Menu of the Week

• 20 August 2010



































Fettuccine with Shrimp and Creamy Lemon Sauce, Peas, Sourdough Toast
(see below for recipe) - a very rich, unique pasta. I don't make this very often, but when I do it is enjoyed thoroughly. It's so different from anything else I make. The ingredients are so good...fresh rosemary, lemon, shrimp, shallots, yum! I think grilling the shrimp next time would add great flavor.

Blackened Steak Salad with Maytag Blue Cheese - the husband's favorite dinner salad ever. I'm not sure how this happened, but most of my kids seem to enjoy blue cheese too, which makes this a keeper. I guess I'm shocked as I never enjoyed it as a youngster myself, but I'll take it! Now if I could just get them keen on watermelon again (??). Crazy kiddos :)

Cashew Chicken with Steamed Rice - again, that homemade hoisen sauce really came through (I opted for the PB and honey when given an option as that's what I had on hand). Tastes so much better than store-bought. Also, I sometimes add a colorful pepper to the mix as well and then go a little easier on the meat. I really love my rice cooker when it comes to dinners like this. What a great little gadget.

Tangy Pork Roast, Buttered Egg Noodles, Peas, Garden Salad with a simple vinaigrette - craving something "comforting" this week and since I had all the necessary ingredients to make this, I went for it. I'd consider making it again, but it didn't knock my socks off or anything.

Black Bean Tacos with Avocado, Green Salad, Fresh Berries from the farm stand- super fast, super simple, and a great little vegetarian option. I use those flour tortillas you cook yourself (Tortillaland from Costco being one example). They are the best.

For more dinner ideas, click here or view the Recipes to Love section of this blog.

Fettuccine with Shrimp and Creamy Lemon Sauce by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound large, shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 1/2 lb when I made it to save $)
1/3 cup chopped shallots
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth (don't get the kind with corn syrup; opt for a natural version instead for best flavor)
4 teaspoons finely chipped fresh rosemary, plus small springs for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound fettuccine (Barilla or De Cecco are my favorite brands of pasta)

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, just until they turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook the shrimp, as they will be subjected to more heat later. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and melt it. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the lemon zest and juice-the juice will immediately evaporate into a glaze. Stir in the heavy cream, chicken broth, and chipped rosemary, bring to a boil, and cook until the sauce has reduced to about 1 3/4 cups, 5 to 7 minutes. During the last minute, return the shrimp to the skillet. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fettuccine and cook just until tender, about 9 minutes (I follow the instructions on the box for "al dente"). Drain well. Return the fettuccine to the pot.

4. Add the sauce to the pasta and mix well. Serve hot in individual bowls, garnished with the rosemary sprigs.

image by William Meppem

5

{More} Grouping Frames on a Wall

• 19 August 2010

I'm fascinated with the way people choose to hang pictures--everything from the choice of "art", frames, style and manner in which they choose to group pictures together. I previously shared some excellent examples here, but of course have found more inspirational images since. Now I find myself looking at my walls and thinking, "how am I going to mix this up a little?".
































































































































images 1, 2, 4 -
Elle Decor; image 3 - Metropolitan Home


13

From the Mouth of Babes: Recording Special Moments

• 18 August 2010























Several years ago I read an article about a father who wrote down a cute/funny/memorable thing his son did every day of his child's life. After 18 years of continuing this tradition, he presented the book to his college-bound son. The son emotionally shared how touched he was that his father put forth such great effort to create this priceless gift. Can you imagine a better gift from your parent?

As this story resonated so deeply with me, I began a little project of my own. I had to tweak the idea a little as I am a terrible (I should really spell that out in all caps) journal writer. The key for me was making it manageable; I wasn't sure it would happen every single day, although I am certainly in love with the idea. What I did was create a document in Microsoft Word called "Cute Things My Kids Say and Do". It isn't perfectly organized (I figure I'll do that later when I put it into a Blurb book or something), but it has all the facts, names and dates right and those are the things that matter to me most. Just recording these cute happenings and sayings feels like an accomplishment to me and I am satisfied with the arrangement. It's interesting because you think you're going to remember all the clever things they say and do, but in reality you don't. It's a sad day when a mother comes to this realization!

When I created this document, that I've slowly added onto over the years, blogs weren't popular yet (it was 2004). If I were to start this now, I would consider creating a private blog where my husband and I were the sole authors, and then record the sayings directly onto the blog. This would be fun as it would allow images to be added and for posts to be created remotely. But if you are an excellent journal writer, I'd recommend writing these down in a book of some sort, as the handwritten aspect would be such a treasure to your child.

I think the key to all this is writing things down immediately. If you are in the car, pull over and jot the saying on a stray piece of paper or an old receipt hanging out in your purse. Or, if you have an iPhone, download the Dragon Dictation app, which will allow you to record a special moment with your voice, and then have it sent to you via text or email. In my mind, I envision finding solace in re-reading all of these endearing moments someday when I am struggling with teenagers and am desperate to remember the "good ol' days". And of course, presenting a book to my own children someday, which I imagine will be one of my favorite days as a mother.

For more simple organizing tips, begin here.

image via ancestry.com

7

Triple Berry Pie

• 17 August 2010



































My neighbor Tamara is a great pie-maker and her influence has rubbed off onto me over the years. I never understood the hullabaloo behind homemade pies until I tried making a pie from scratch myself...even the pie crust. Now I totally get it!

I'm sharing my recipe for a Triple Berry Pie over at Zupas today. It's a delicious way to use up all those inexpensive berries so readily available in late Summer.

6

Japanese School + Desk Supplies

• 16 August 2010





















































If you're like me, you'll want some of these for you and some for your children...or perhaps you'd share a few things too :) I can't imagine not smiling every time I pulled out a tulip topped pencil from the drawer, can you? And the Japanese crush continues...

Set no.1:

Deer Pencil Case / Kraft Brown Notebooks / Koi Washi Pencils / Red Riding Hood Wooden Clip Bookmarks

Set no.2:

Fruit Notepad* / Tulip Pencil Top Erasers / Acrylic Pencil Display Case

* I haven't tried the process, so I can't personally vouch for it, but it appears this site will serve as a mediator between English-speaking buyer and Japanese seller. So if there is an amazing Japanese site you want to order from (like the one selling the fruit paper pads), you can hire Rinkya to do the middle-manning for you. Interesting concept...let me know if you try it!

12

Wishing I Were Here

• 13 August 2010



































A little escape from reality sounds good right about now :) What about you? Where do you wish you were going this weekend to escape from projects, chores, your to-do list and life's worries? Or perhaps your weekend will be an escape?! Hope so :)

Happy Weekend to you all!

xo

image via Deco Ide├ęs

9

Seafood: What is Safe to Eat and What is Not





















Real Simple consulted a marine scientist who works for a non-profit regarding seafood safety and I use this often when meal planning. To read more details on the matter and to print out a pocket-size guide, click here. Very enlightening!

9

Beautiful Reading Nook

• 12 August 2010



































I'm not sure what I love more about this private space...the collection of porcelain, the shadowbox intermixed with decorative objects, the radio or the big, rectangular baskets on the bottom storing who knows what. Toys? Mags? Junk? :) Whatever it is, it's all pretty in my book.

p.s. don't you love reading nooks? shouldn't we all have one as a little respite?

p.p.s. did you notice that the bookcase is actually 3 benches stacked and attached to one another?

image via Martha Stewart

15

Planning Ahead: Easy Holiday Prep

• 11 August 2010




























You may be wondering why I'd post such a thing in the hot month of August...allow me to explain. This year, I'm determined to have an enjoyable, stress-free holiday without sacrificing things I love. My kids are already starting to sing Christmas songs and talk about making gingerbread men and I can't help but feel committed to creating a beautiful experience for our family in December. I've vowed to make this year different than years past by making simple, budget-conscious preparations in advance.

For example, I've procured nice holiday cards from the sources listed below; buying letterpress off-season = affordable. Last year we didn't send out cards for the first time in 10 years and although it was the right thing to do, I was still bummed about it. I've also started planning what I'd like to make for my neighbors (I'm leaning towards nicely packaged homemade granola or musical compilations). I've also started making notes regarding gifts for my children and think we'll probably do just one nice gift to keep things simple and less commercial. Plus the one big gift has a lot of "wow" factor with the little ones anyway (I can still remember the Christmas I received the big Barbie house). In my experience, planning and procuring gifts ahead of time makes for more thoughtful gifts and simplifies the holiday season exponentially.

So tell me, what types of things do you like to do in advance to prepare for the holiday season?

Great deals on Holiday Cards can be found at the following sources:

1. Vandalia Street Press - this lovely sponsor moved their Christmas in July sale to August so take advantage! You'll find gorgeous, letterpressed cards from this Minnesota-based shop for just a little over $1 per card. Plus, these are large enough for that 3x5 family photo you'll want to include :)

2. Night Owl Press - the perfect little holiday cards for tucking into a special gift to a friend. And for less than $1. Also letterpressed.

3. Write Image - this local stationer is hosting 75% off all their holiday cards, including Vera Wang, Crane and Kate Spade! At this price, even the most high-end stationery brands are affordable. Needless to say, I picked up a few packages. Plus, the gals who work there are very nice and talented in their own right.

7

Favorite Salmon Recipe

• 10 August 2010

























Yay! Wild salmon (vs. farmed or Atlantic) is back on the market at Costco, which is the most affordable place to purchase fresh fish for us land-locked folks. To celebrate I'd like to share my all-time favorite salmon recipe. As an added bonus, it is really healthy and light, yet still filling. You'll love the nutty crust against the smoothness of the salmon.

You can view the recipe over at Zupas today. Yum!

3

Gorgeous Terrariums + Sources

• 09 August 2010




























I'm fairly certain I've never laid eyes upon a more exquisitely-designed terrarium than this one by Paula Hayes (note: her website is amazing). It's more fancy pancy than the ones I put together around here, but I do enjoy the inspiration. I think I'll branch out the next time I re-design our terrarium and perhaps include a few things other than plants alone (although tweezers may be necessary). I have to say that over the years I've really enjoyed having it around and the vessel I purchased was definitely worth the investment. Terrariums not only add that necessary "touch of green", but visual interest as well. People are expecting a simple plant, not so much a terrarium!

Not sure how to design your own simple terrarium? Here is a step-by-step video tutorial posted by Design Sponge showing an employee of New York-based Sprout Home (love!) talking us through the process; but keep in mind this video does have music so if you're at work consider yourself warned :) For a simple how-to sans musical accompaniment, click here. It's not as thorough, but you'll get the general idea.

Terrarium sources for every budget:

Terrain / Sprout Home / Pottery Barn / Roost / Ebay

image by Eva Heyd

1

Old Town Imports Warehouse Sale

• 08 August 2010
























Remember Warehouse Sales? Weren't they the best? Great deals could always be had. Well, today each of you can take advantage of sponsor Old Town Imports' Virtual Warehouse Sale--yes, it's open to everyone! OTI is offering up all their party/entertaining/decorative delights at 50% off normal retail prices.

Simply fill your cart with the pieces you'd enjoy for holiday entertaining, gifts, etc., before only having to pay for half of your purchase; you get to pay the rest later when the items arrive, just in time for the holidays! Basically you get to check holiday gifting off your list and don't have to worry about storing them in the meantime. It's a win-win. I've been purchasing these pieces for years and love them...well before they ever became a sponsor. This is the best deal I've seen yet. Sale continues through Friday, August 13.

ribbed bowl / cake plate / servers / textured tray

p.s. Lesley creates some amazing, yet simple parties with her OTI pieces. You can check them out here and here.


images by Kensington Blue Photography

7

Tart Cherry Crumb Cake

• 06 August 2010
















































This month's obsession with cherries began when I saw this recipe on Jaime's blog and then spotted locally-produced frozen pie cherries at the local farmer's market. I decided it was fate and soon enough found myself making it over and over. In fact, I made it 3 times in under 3 weeks, with a second trip to the market to purchase another tub :) And I'm planning a third trip to stock up as I know I'll want to make this post-cherry season. But I'm not infatuated or anything...

Since I didn't have the size pan Jaime recommended using for this recipe, I decided to put to use mini-springform pans* I bought at E. Dehillerin in Paris almost 2 years ago and have never used (??!!). They turned out really cute in their miniature state and were the perfect size for an afternoon snack (okay, so a slightly large afternoon snack). I'm guessing you could use a tube pan as well, a larger springform pan (about 8") or even mini-loaf pans.

The only change I made to the recipe was to include more cherries. I just can't get enough of these fresh cherries...they are incredibly tasty in this cake. If you don't have access to fresh pie cherries, buy cherries that are canned in water, not syrup. Oregon makes a cherry-in-water version you'll want to get your hands on (these are what Jaime used before I introduced to her to my local source :).

* similar mini-springform pans can be purchased here.

images by Stephanie Brubaker

5

This Week's Great Finds + Deals

• 05 August 2010


































Clockwise starting top left:

These simple, deckled G. Lalo cards have long been a staple in my stationery box. They come in pretty hues and are of excellent quality. Usually I've picked them up in France or in Quebec, but I found them reasonably priced at this online US retailer this week. Sweet!

Ann Taylor LOFT has a maternity line. Oh why didn't I know this? With 7 weeks left, I probably shouldn't indulge.

Major discount on this classic, serveware piece from French retailer, Comptoir de Famille. Anyone who entertained would appreciate it...perhaps your MIL?

Cute striped top at UO. Debating whether to pick it up for next year and if so, which color?

On nights when I'm not up to cooking, we enjoy cashing in on our restaurant.com gift certificates. While we purchased them for a mint awhile back, there appears to be a decent promo going on currently. Our family can eat for just pennies now.

4

French Wedding

• 04 August 2010



































J'adore this French wedding my sister Kristen shared with me. Apparently we'll be seeing more of this gorgeous event post-honeymoon in Tahiti (sigh...).

Some of her stylish guests shared some images over here as well.

image by UK-based photographer Marianne Taylor--an amazing wedding photographer. Take a peek!

6

Spiced Fresh Apricot Crisp

• 03 August 2010
























Oh, you're going to love this one! It's perfect to make with the apricot bounty at the farmer's market right now (or in my case, on my neighbors' tree). My husband and I can't stop eating this crisp...we're on two days in a row now. For us, it's the perfect way to celebrate these lovely Summer nights.

View the recipe here...it's over at the Zupas blog today.

image by SB

2

Fabric Scrap Flowers

• 02 August 2010
























A beautiful and resourceful way to put to use random fabric scraps too little for much else. I love Amy's version (pictured above), which is based on Dana's original tutorial here. You go girls. These would make fantastic decorations for parties, showers, brunches, gifts, etc. Plus, they are reusable and could also double as favors.

image by Amy Redden

6

Garden Beds of my Dreams


















This is such a fabulous back yard...those garden beds are killing me. They are the perfect size, shape and totally satiate my inner OCD (come on...everyone has a little of that in 'em, right?). Somehow I have it in my mind that a pretty set-up like this would cure my brown-turning-black thumb. And while I'd love a nice, grassy plain for my kiddos, I have to admit that the idea of an outdoor fireplace, grill and sink sound quite nice as well.

See more images right here.

images via Sunset Magazine

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