Conflict Kitchen

• 31 March 2011

After stumbling on this post over at White Canvas Design, I can't stop thinking about this interesting concept--a take-out restaurant in Pittsburgh that only serves cuisine from countries that the US is in conflict with. The restaurant is appropriately deemed Conflict Kitchen. Apparently, the storefront rotates identities every four months, which I find somewhat deflating--I'd prefer a much longer time period between rotations, as it would indicate less world conflict. {sigh} Also augmenting the take-out storefront are events, performances and forums about the country being highlighted--all an effort to educate locals about its cultural and political issues. I'd love to see something like this expand all over America.

Currently being served: cuisine from Afghanistan. Next up: North Korea + Venezuela.

images 1 + 3 - Conflict Kitchen / image 2 - Renee Comet Photography (used with permission)


White Dishes

• 29 March 2011

After emptying out a cupboard the other day and placing my dishes on the dining room table, I noticed how pretty they looked in the morning sun just beginning to come in (when sun is a precious commodity, as it is here in Seattle, you take in and appreciate sunshine in a new way!); and then I started thinking about how much I've enjoyed my white dishes over the years. Many things have changed, but I've never tired of these everyday essentials.

Today, over at Zupas I've shared lots of sources for clean, crisp white dishes (including my own). Take a peek here.

images by Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo


Cinch it: Spring's Best Belts

My new favorite accessory is a fat leather belt I can clasp around my waist in seconds. In my opinion, thick belts are more flattering to a woman's waist than skinny belts because they hold you in a little...if you know what I mean! These belts are great with a tunic, flowy top or with a button-down shirt that isn't super fitted I also love the way it's shown here as well--over a high-waisted jean (the best kind of jean!) and a tucked in seersucker blouse. It kind of seems like the perfect transition piece, no?

Here are some of my favorites on the web right now: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

p.s. did you win the Tea Giveaway?

image via EmersonMade


Spring Cleaning

• 28 March 2011

Living in a smaller home with no garage means serious editing. I've decided that if it's going unused, then it's outta here, even if I love it. Hopefully some of you will find a place for a few "new" things in your own living spaces. Prices are very reasonable / garage-sale-esque.

You can view all items for sale here. Just email me if you're interested in any of the items...I'm operating on a first come, first serve basis. Thanks friends!

e: stephmodo@gmail.com


Saturday Outing: a Retro Estate Sale in Seattle

• 25 March 2011

My friend Jihan is hosting a retro estate sale in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood tomorrow. There will be lots of little mid-century treasures as well as a few things from her personal stash. And since Jihan has great taste, it's bound to be a destination worth visiting!


Outstanding in the Field

Ever since Outstanding in the Field announced their 2011 schedule almost two weeks ago, many-a-foodie (don't love that word, but due to the lack of a better, more descriptive word, let's go ahead and just say it) have been scheming, dreaming, and some scheduling trips in order to attend. Admittedly, I am amongst them, at least when it comes to the "scheming" and "dreaming" parts. I would love to spend 5 hours in the middle of a field, forest or beach eating freshly prepared food amongst strangers. Sounds like magic to me!

And then they go and offer European locations this year...sigh.

So, who is going? I'd love to hear when and where :)

images via Outstanding in the Field


Tea Collection Spring GIVEAWAY

• 24 March 2011

I guess we are all in agreement...we love Tea! And, the winner, according to random.org is:

Spring is in the air here in Seattle and it feels so good after such a dark winter. I can't take in enough sunshine these past few days and it's making me want to put away all my winter clothes and think about bright, fresh colors. It's also making me want to freshen up my closet a little, and start thinking about what my kids are going to wear for Easter. I'm sure many of you are feeling a tinge of that too...so what do you think about a giveaway from Tea Collection?

One lucky winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to spend any way you'd like. Buy yourself a few tops (they carry women's clothing now too!), buy a few outfits for your little one, or just stock up on a couple pairs of fun shoes--they're all fantastic options! And even if you don't have children, this is a great giveaway to enter as some of my favorite baby gifts are from Tea and you know at least one person that's about to have a baby, right?

Some of my children's favorite pieces are from Tea and I have to admit I wish I had a lot more of it in their closets. I love the mix of modern patterns with classic styling and my kids love the fresh colors and soft fabrics. It's a win-win! My oldest daughter, who prefers jeans and converse over anything else, loves wearing this dress on Sundays. I was happy to find something that we both loved. My youngest, who is very girly and loves to wear dresses every.single.day. prefers this dress. You can tell she feels like a million bucks wearing it :)

So, what will you pick up if you win? You can take a peek at their new Spring catalog here and start dreaming!

{Usual} Giveaway Guidelines--please read...thank you!

- You have 5 days to enter this giveaway (closes Monday, March 28th at midnight).
- Make 1 comment on this post to enter.
- Anonymous comments will be ignored so make sure we know who you are!
- The winner will be chosen via random.org and announced sometime on Tuesday, March 29th at the top of this post.
- If you win, please respond within one week of the winner announcement to secure prize. Thank you!


How to Upgrade Your Cooking with Just 5 Ingredients

• 23 March 2011

If you're looking for an easy way to improve your cooking that doesn't involve an expensive cooking class, check out this week's Zupas post. I'm sharing 5 ways ingredients that will instantly upgrade your pantry, and subsequently your cooking! All 5 of 'em can be procured at your local grocery store, which means no one is excluded. You can peek at the post here.

p.s. Tomorrow not only brings a new day, but a fantastic giveaway too. See you then!

image by Stephanie Brubaker


Wistful Woodcut Collages

• 22 March 2011

Enamored with these pretty collages created by Kristen DeFontes...they are diverting my mind today and making me wish I was off adventuring somewhere exotic. Funny how Tuesdays sometimes feel like Mondays!


Real Life Home No.5

• 21 March 2011

I'm excited to start the week of with a good dose of inspiration from the lovely Lynne, of Sugar City Journal (up and running again...yay!). I think the world of Lynne, which makes me even happier to share these images from her home. She is a constant inspiration to me and I often feel like she shares little tidbits with me at just the right time...like she's reading my mind and knowing just what I need to hear. Beyond her wisdom, though, are talents galore; and if you've read her blog over the past few years, you know this to be true. Her style is unique and I appreciate the special details so carefully considered.

Without further adieu, some more pretty snapshots of Lynne's home in California...

For those of you just tuning in, this series showcases living spaces decorated by people who are not formally-trained interior designers; people who mix new finds with antiques and secondhand pieces from Craigslist (or the like). People who have figured out, on their own, what looks and feels good in their living space.

More "Real Life Home" lovin'...isn't it fantastic how many great ways to decorate there are? A little variety certainly keeps life interesting:

Real Life Home No.1 - Cherilee (mid-century modern)
Real Life Home No.2 - Maria (white kitchen love)
Real Life Home No.3 - Kirsten (whites + woods)
Real Life Home No.4 - Emily (clean + ecclectic)


Last Minute St. Patrick's Day Treat Ideas

• 17 March 2011

If you forgot to put food coloring in the milk this morning or send your child off to school in something green, don't worry...you can still make the most of this fun holiday! Here are a few things you could easily start and finish in an hour:

1. Pick up a six-pack of Stewarts Lemon/Lime Soda; then, peel off the labels for a cleaner look. Let your child decorate a tag and slip it around the neck of the soda bottle. Deliver to friends/neighbors or use as a host gift for a St. Patty's Day get together.

2. Make a batch of lemon/lime cupcakes using green liners. If you don't have access to fun liners, opt for white instead and add green sprinkles. I used this recipe, but this one looks awfully good too.

p.s. we had our own impromptu morning...turns out I tossed the food coloring before moving here, but I did have some green sprinkles. So my kids ate scrambled eggs with green sprinkles this morning...random, but they loved it!



It's hard to know where to start when discussing all of the calamities that have taken place in Japan this week. It's heartbreaking to watch all of the video clips of the tsunami striking--there is nothing more frightening than watching someone's village being completely obliterated in a matter of minutes. I can't help but start thinking about how unprepared I am for a disaster of this magnitude. Not good!

To jumpstart the preparedness process, I asked one of my friends to share with me the contents of her family's 72-hour-kit. A few things in her kit struck me as particularly useful--head lamps, baby wipes, power bars, $2000, and all of their important docs in a binder (i.e. passports, birth certificates, medical records, etc.). I'm in total awe of her organization! I know I'd feel more relaxed about living in this crazy world if I were prepared to leave my home quickly.

Tell me, what do you put in your 72-hour-kits, if you have one? I'd love to start an impromptu forum of good ideas so we can all learn from each other. Thanks!

p.s. some video clips you may not have seen just yet--they were broadcasted on Russia Today:

clip 1 / clip 2 / clip 3

first aid kid by Best Made, found via Polkadot / also love this 72-hour-kit...well-designed and looks easy to carry


Hot Air Balloon Birthday Party

• 16 March 2011

The latter part of the La Maisonnette renovation took place during the Summertime, when hot air balloons dotted the blue skies everyday. My youngest daughter was two at the time and would call out "hot balloon" several times a day...and each time held the same amount of excitement as the previous exclamation. It was so, so cute.

We recently looked through some of the many pictures we took during those last months at the cottage and I was reminded of these sweet experiences with her. Since we'd just begun her birthday party planning, it was decided that a "Hot Air Balloon" Birthday Party it would be! This was such a fun party to plan, and it made me nostalgic for those days when she and her two older siblings would hang out on the balcony watching hot air balloons every morning and then again at sunset. I love those memories.

p.s. here is a picture of the balcony by day and by night.

The inspiration for the color scheme came from this wrapping paper I found in a local children's store called Clover . I loved the stripes, polkadots, and overall vintage look. I had the paper dry-mounted on foam board and originally wanted to use it as a backdrop; however it ended up being the perfect piece for her "pin-the-flag-on-the-hot-air-balloon" game. I cut a kraft brown muffin cup in half and used it for the basket. I free-handed the hot air balloon (as you can tell by it's slightly wobbly shape), and then used pom pom trim for decoration...everywhere :)

I only own a couple of tablecloths, so it's good to have a nice, basic one I can re-use for different occasions. I'm not sure if you remember, but I used this same cloth for my oldest daughter's Paris Party too.

Cupcake liners doubled as snack cups--choosing colors that coordinated with the hot air balloon paper--and I filled them with little savory snacks my daughter likes to munch on. I had to make some kind of effort to compensate for that huge, chocolate cake she requested!

Lucky for us, a dinner guest who joined us the previous night brought hydrangeas as a hostess gift--so happy to realize they matched the paper too! When it came down to the wire, I realized the table needed some extra pop of color. And speaking of color, how about that giant, red balloon? Totally worth the $12 it cost me--the kids were enamored with a balloon of this size and brought an element of surprise to the party. Plus, it didn't collapse within the day like regular-size helium balloons do. This bad boy is still afloat and continues to bounce around the house...over a week later!

Little boxes decorated with vintage stamps and twine served as party favors for the little ones. They held little hot air balloon necklaces, which were just vintage pendants I found on Etsy made into a piece of jewelry with the addition of some thin, satin ribbon. They weren't expensive or difficult to create, and my daughter loves having a memento from her birthday party, after the fact.

There are so many fun ways to recreate a "hot air balloon" party with just Etsy alone--here are some of my favorite finds I just couldn't squeeze in:

tags for invitations / rubber stamp / cards for invitations thank you's / more vintage cards / vintage mug - use as a vase / more tags / tape / vintage stamps for invitations / fabric

Update:  Following the trend of using postage stamps as inspiration, I've posted a few new birthday party ideas


Making the Switch to Steel Cut Oats

• 15 March 2011

I'll admit, I've always enjoyed oatmeal. When I was younger, it was all about those flavored instant packs; but, now that I'm older {and wiser}, it's all about making it from scratch, using steel-cut oats. Their texture and nuttiness are so much more satisfying than their instant counterparts. Even my non-instant-oatmeal-lovin'-husband enjoys a hearty bowl of steel cut oats, and I don't doubt you will too!

I'm sharing some delicious recipes for steel cut oats over at Zupas this week. If healthy eating is anywhere on your list of New Year's Resolutions (remember those?!), you may want to give this post a look-see.

images by Stephanie Brubaker


Little Paper Airplanes

Loving the gorgeous {and surprisingly affordable} works of art over at Little Paper Airplanes. I'm having difficulty not getting sucked in...there is just so much loveliness in one place. What a great place to start when looking for something pretty to don your blank walls!


Striped Tees for Girlies

• 14 March 2011

My love for striped tees doesn't stop at my own closet...look what I just picked up for my two girlies. For $10, I couldn't resist the ruffles, the piping and the stripes! (promo code here)

p.s. this is my first time shopping at the Children's Place--is it me or do they have some darling pieces this year?


How to Arrange Pretty Flowers {a Class} by Marigold + Mint

• 10 March 2011

I took a flower-arranging class in college because it was a skill I wanted to learn; however, I quickly realized that the methods being taught really only applied to people who wanted to create formal arrangements, which really isn't my style. I'm more interested in being able to go to Costco, Whole Foods, or a Farmer's Market, pick up a few bouquets of mixed flowers, and come home and arrange them in a pretty, thoughtful way.

One of the prettiest storefronts (and websites!) I've visited here in Seattle is Marigold + Mint over in Capitol Hill's Melrose Market. During my last visit, I noticed that Katherine (organic farm owner + floral arranger extraordinaire!) started advertising a couple of classes to be held at the shop after hours. I immediately wanted on board...I can't imagine anything more relaxing than sitting around a farmhouse table with lovely ladies learning a lifelong skill. I am so excited for this class, I can hardly wait!

There are only 4 slots available (in a class of 8), so please call and sign up if you live in the Seattle area and are interested in attending. Here are the details:

Floral Arranging Class - Wednesday, March 23rd from 6:00 until 9:30 p.m. at Marigold + Mint marketplace on 1531 Melrose Avenue (inside Melrose Market). The class fee is $100 and that includes everything--class fee, materials, etc. A reasonable price considering the length of the class (3.5 hours) and that the flowers are fresh from Katherine's own organic flower farm and orchard on the Snolquamie River. We will each go home with our own large, Spring arrangement (I already know of a certain birthday girl who will be getting mine...).

Call 206.682.3111 to register...or drop by Marigold + Mint if you're in the neighborhood. But hurry! For those of you who live out on the Eastside, this would be a fun excuse to come into the city that night.

p.s. for those of you interested in Felt Sewing with the talented Kate Golda (published by Chronicle Books), you can read more about her class--also held at Marigold + Mint--right here.

images via marigold + mint website and archive


Welcome Jylare Ann Photography

• 09 March 2011

So many of us are looking for a talented, affordable photographer, which makes me excited to tell you about Jylare Ann Photography (pronounced "ja-lair" fyi :)). Her repertoire is varied and I'm quite in awe of her package prices given she lives in one of the most expensive counties in our country. Bang for your buck is always appreciated and Jylare appears to have it! I quite love the maternity photos shown above (I highly recommend doing this!), as well as the mommy/daughter image at the beach (great idea!) and the engagement portrait. They are crisp, clean, colorful and full of pretty, natural light.

Not in the OC? No worries, Jylare travels. And speaking of traveling, she will be in Utah the first week in April and hosting a limited amount of sessions. View this blog post for more details and availability. Get 'em while they're hot! Otherwise, Jylare prefers to be contacted by email or phone (jylare@gmail.com or 714.474.5836).

all images by Jylare Ann Photography


Handcut Maps of Paris

Loving this gorgeous, cerulean blue print of a handcut map of Paris from UK-based shop Famille Summerbelle. Now this is the kind of thing I want hung on my walls--it's truly the perfect Parisian souvenir for grownups. I could gaze at all the little details all day long.

Here's another handcut map of Paris--it's more expensive than the one shown here, but it's an original, handcut piece. It must've taken nothing short of serious patience to create such a work of art.


Adorable Food Packaging Resources for Homemade Treats

• 08 March 2011

I am confident that all of us would take a homemade cupcake in any form--on a piece of cardboard, a styrofoam plate, etc.. But, it's even more fun to present a homemade treat that's gussied up in something sweet and little. I'm sharing some adorable and affordable food packaging resources over at Zupas today.

Read about them here!


Menu of the Week

• 07 March 2011

Last week's menu was full of good intentions, but turned out to be a comedy of errors. The recipes seemed fantastic, the ingredients on target, and I was excited to make all of them! However, despite strict recipe adherence (when trying new recipes, I always follow the directions closely), most of them just didn't turn out. Perhaps you've had the same experiences with some of these recipes ? Or perhaps you have some input? Here it goes:

Cassoulet with Red Leaf Salad and Crusty Sourdough - I've always wanted to try a cassoulet recipe--it's a favorite meal in France. So, when I spotted duck confit at a local butcher shop/charcuterie (Rainshadow Meats), I decided to celebrate the occasion by making Kelsey's cassoulet. It's an easy recipe--perfect for those of us slightly intimidated by the true, French versions. My family enjoyed it, as my kids are huge bean fans, but ironically had a tough time with the confit. Oh well, more for me and my daughter's preschool teacher :) Also, I used panko instead of traditional bread crumbs and loved the substitution. I've got to find a bakery here in Seattle that offers fresh bread crumbs. I used to buy them at Harmons and Liberty Heights Fresh in SLC. This cassoulet recipe was just 1 of 2 recipes from this week's menu that I'd make over again.

Pork + Tofu Stir Fry over Jasmine Rice and Steamed Broccoli - I tried recreating my stepmom's recipe and totally bombed...if anyone has something like this they'd be willing to share, I'd be grateful! I love the combination of ground pork and tofu for some reason.

Potato Leek Soup with Roasted Beet Salad, Roasted Parmesan Brussel Sprouts, Strawberries, and Rolls - An attempt to recreate a delicious soup from the Walrus that turned out okay (sans the truffle oil--mine expired sadly). I know there is a killer potato leek soup recipe out there, I just have to find it. If you've discovered such a thing, do share :) When the months are cool, I love to cozy up with a good soup and lots of delicious vegetable sides. I seriously love these brussel sprouts.

Warm French Lentils with Carrots + Leeks, Crusty Bread, Butter Lettuce Salad - my first attempt at a recipe from Ina's new book "How Easy is That?". I have to confess I was surprisingly disappointed. The lentils sounded so good and since I even had a package of French lentils I brought back from France (not sure why I did that...they are available at fine food markets everywhere in the States), it seemed like a match made in heaven. Sadly, this was not the case.

Hazelnut Encrusted Salmon with Parsley + Meyer Lemon, Roasted Asparagus, Herb Roasted Red Potatoes - a great way to use up all the herbs from the cassoulet and my favorite salmon recipe to date. This is a fabulous meal and is included in my "Recipes to Love" section--a collection of my favorite standbys.

Sunday Breakfast: French Toast Bread Pudding - another attempt at a recipe from Ina's new book--it was "okay". Love the concept of baked French Toast, but this one wasn't worth the money I spent on challah alone. So bummed!

image 1 - Iain Bagwell / image 2 - moi


Be a Part of the 30 Strangers Project

• 04 March 2011

Have you heard? It's time to apply to Justin Hackworth's 30 Strangers Project...four years and running! I hope you not only enter, but that you are one of the 30 people selected. Why? Because this is both a cool project, and an important fundraiser. Keep in mind that you don't need to live in Utah to participate--at least half of last year's participants came in from out-of-state. You know you want to an excuse to head to SLC and check out my favorites or to experience world-class skiing...

Find out the details here; but, don't wait too long to enter...the contest closes on Tuesday, March 8. Bonne chance!

p.s. isn't the lovely Marta (and her mama)...well...lovely?

image by Justin Hackworth


H&M Favorites

Last night I popped into an H&M for the first time in 4+ months and boy it felt good to be in a store full of affordable, cute clothes. My standard H&M protocol is to grab about 15-20 pieces and end up with just 1 item that's fabulous. So I went through my usual routine and snagged {yet another} striped tee...I'm wearing it as I type this in fact. I love a new top--a new anything really--it's such a treat!

My friend tried on an amazing black dress that was just $50...if you need a classic, black dress with a little pizazz, ask the sales associate for this one--it has a half sleeve, a v-neck, an exposed zipper up the back, and is knee-length. Love. And then I popped onto their new site--those lucky northern Europeans with their access to shop H&M online! I'm dying to get my hands on some of their Home items...has anyone seen them in person? I also spotted these two pieces in their webshop (see above image), which of course I didn't see last night. I kind of think H&M's can be hard to shop and it's easy to miss things. So my question for you is this, what is your favorite piece at H&M right now ? What are we all missing?

images via H&M


Koo de Ker Spring GIVEAWAY

• 03 March 2011

And the 3 randomly chosen winners of the Koo de Ker Boutique GIVEAWAY are:

1. Ich bin ein Berliner who said..."Love to shop at Koo de Ker as well. In fact, I got my favorite necklace there.
Thanks so much for this opportunity."

2. Haley, who said..."I would love something fresh and bright for spring! What a fun giveaway! Thank you!"

3. Rosemariee said..."i really like all of their accessories!"

Ladies, please email me at "stephmodo@gmail.com" once you've read the good news. Thanks!

One of my favorite places to shop in SLC is Koo de Ker--a hip little boutique in the 9th & 9th District. I not only love the chance to "shop local", but am also drawn to buying something unique--something no one else will pick up at the mall or at Target that week. Plus, it's fun to ask Kyong's advice and styling tips as you browse and try on a few pieces. When I'm in Koo de Ker, I like to browse the jewelry, accessories, sale jeans and patterned tops in particular.

So, guess what? You'll have the chance to choose your own favorites in this week's giveaway. In fact, 3 of you will receive a $50 gift card to Koo de Ker...now that increases the odds doesn't it? I love the chance to award multiple winners so hop to it and comment away. Just think of the cute somethin'-somethin' you'll get to pick up for Spring. Oh, and if you want to stay ahead of the game and be the first to know about sales at promos at Koo de Ker, check them out on Facebook. Good luck!

As usual, please peruse the guidelines below...remember, the giveaway winners will be posted at the top of the original giveaway post. Thanks!

Giveaway Guidelines:

- You have 5 days to enter this giveaway (closes Monday, March 7th at midnight).
- Make 1 comment on this post to enter.
- Anonymous comments will be ignored so make sure we know who you are!
- The winners will be chosen via random.org and announced sometime on Tuesday, March 8th at the top of this post.
- Winners, please respond within one week of the winner announcement to secure prize. Thank you!

images by Steven Wood


Pretty Party Supplies

• 02 March 2011

G-g-g-gorgeous party supplies from Australian vendor, Emerald + Ella (named after the shop owner's future children :)). And if you're lucky enough to live in New South Wales, you can even rent her pretty goods for your next photo shoot; which brings me to my next thought, doesn't a trip to Australia sound amazing right now? I feel like this is the time of year when travel sounds most enticing as we are stuck somewhere between winter and spring for the moment...

But seriously, aren't these some of the loveliest party goods you've seen in some time? I'm swooning! You?

P.S.  If you're planning a party in the near future I've recently posted some great birthday party ideas


Baby Gray's Birth Announcement

Don't judge me...I am mailing out a petite stack of birth announcements today. Yup...it took me a good six months to finally pull this project off, but I'm going for the "better late than never" attitude on this one. Plus, did you know that according to the rules of etiquette, that it's appropriate to send out announcements up until 6 months after baby is born? Talk about cutting it close...

Poor fourth child :) All the other kiddos have handmade announcements that were mostly done prior to birth. I'll admit, I'm a little bummed I wasn't able to pull that off this time, but I also realize that it wasn't realistic to take on such a project in the midst of a major move and pregnancy drama. I'm sure Baby Gray will understand; but, in the meantime, I'm enjoying these sweet announcements from Minted. I love the way they turned out and would definitely order from them again. Although, my baby-making days are done so Christmas cards next year perhaps? :)


Sugar Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes + Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

• 01 March 2011

Ironically enough, now that the holidays have come and gone, I'm in the mood to bake with pumpkin...like a lot. Perhaps it's because the holidays were a blur, and I don't feel like I amply took advantage of the season of baking and giving due to all the crazy changes going on in our life (or lack of preparation?). But since I am a huge pumpkin fan, and not ready to give it up just yet, I've decided to just run with it. So, if you're like me and enjoy a delicious cupcake that isn't overly sweet, you'll enjoy these Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting any time of the year.

Find the recipe over at Zupas today. Enjoy!

image by Stephanie Brubaker

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