Friday, March 29, 2013

{friday cocktail: basil sparkler}

Remember earlier this week when we made basil simple syrup and a non-alcoholic drink to go along with it?  Yeah- that was great, but it wouldn't be even greater if there was champagne involved?!? I agree so here is a quick and tasty recipe for a basil sparkler.  


Thursday, March 28, 2013

{terra's mint+ fuchsia bridal shower invite}

Next weekend, my girlfriend Terra will be having her bridal shower in Southern California.  Her aunts graciously offered to throw her shower, but I couldn't help forcing myself into the paper goods situation by offering to do the invites.  Terra gave me the freedom to do what I wanted with the invites- her only request being that I use some pink since she wont be incorporating the color too much into their upcoming summer wedding. 

Sometimes it is much more difficult to focus in on a design when someone gives you carte blanche rather than being overly specific about they want, but luckily I stumbled upon this fabulous fuchsia zebra paper from Paper Source which served as the inspiration for the entire invite as well as the envelope lining.  

I absolutely love a double sided invite that leaves a little mystery when the guest first pulls out the invite from the envelope so I kept the front of the invite ambiguous with a simple "you're invited" placed upon a minty striped background.  Using the bright fuchsia as the color for all the text, I decided to keep the main information on the back of the invite simple with a fun mix of Luella font and Reina font on a plain white background.   I tied all the colors together by printing the guest's addresses in fuchsia and the host's return address in mint on the envelope flap. 

I am so happy with how these turned out- especially the unexpected zebra paper!  I love that they still feel girly and fun, but really capture a less traditional feel for a bridal shower invite. 

If you are looking for custom paper goods design, you can contact me through my etsy shop to get some pink zebra action for yourself!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

{basil simple syrup + spritzer recipe}

This basil simple syrup tastes like springtime.  Actually it just tastes (and smells) really refreshing which is the part that makes it taste like springtime.  I have been wanting to make basil simple syrup for a while, but during winter weather it just didn't feel right.  I finally got around to whipping some up the other day as well as making a cute little tag for the bottle.  Besides being great for cocktails and spritzers, I think it would make a lovely substitute to the normal bottle of wine that you might bring as a hostess gift.  See the proportions for a basil simple syrup right here.

After the basil simple syrup cooled down, I made up a simple spritzer using a few lime wedges and a splash of cucumber syrup to accompany the basil simple syrup and some fresh basil- the proportions I used were:

  • 1/2 oz cucumber syrup
  • 1/2 basil simple syrup
  • 2 lime wedges
  • fresh basil garnish
  • 8 oz of sparkling water

You could easily add some more adult ingredients such as gin or vodka to this, but sometimes its nice to have a fancy refreshing drink during the day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

{nightstand makeover with ikea overlays}

This project has been on my to do list since before we even moved to Chicago and we finally completed it this weekend!! Our nightstands back in LA were far too small.  The place we lived in before our loft barely even had space for nightstands so we didn't realize how nice it would be to have large nightstands since we were just happy to have them at all when we moved to the loft.  You can see the painting makeover we did on those in one of the first posts on this blog right here.

Although I loved those blue nightstands, they were far too small and could barely fit a lamp and a glass of water at the same time.  In our Chicago place, we went in the opposite direction and purchased these Ikea dressers to be used as nightstands.  They are massive as far as nightstand sizing is concerned and I love it!  You can't beat the price of the pieces in Ikea's Malm series and the clean lines lend themselves to many different types of decor.  While I like the simplicity of these, I did want to put my own stamp on them which is where My Overlays comes in.  There are a handful of sites out there that make overlays specifically sized for Ikea furniture, but I think the ones on My Overlays have the best range of shapes.

The reason this project took us so long to finally complete was not based on the difficulty of assembling them, it was simply because for a while I couldn't pull the trigger on exactly which overlay I wanted to buy.  Then once I made that choice and received the overlays in the mail, they sat in our bedroom forever while I debated which color I wanted to go with.  The overlays arrive in a white color which you can leave as such if that works for you.  I debated between matte black or metallic gold, finally deciding that the black would prove to be a better choice in the long run.

I absolutely love the simple transformation these overlays give to the nightstands, plus the entire process of spray painting them and adhering them to the furniture took a total of an hour and a half (including dry time!)

{lamps from right here}

Thursday, March 21, 2013

{gold bamboo tray}

I recently purchased this vintage gold bamboo tray after randomly stumbling across a link to it on Pinterest.  Maybe you have heard of High Street Market's website, but it's new to me and it took me all of five seconds within being on their site to make a purchase decision (as well as choose a dozen other things to add to my future wishlist!).  While we already have plenty of trays around our place, I have really been on the hunt for something unique to use on my nightstand.  I love the hollywood regency feel from the mix of gold and bamboo plus unique shape of the circular tray made it worth the splurge.  Get one for yourself right here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

{cacio e pepe two ways}

Even though Chris is half Italian and we have traveled throughout Italy, I had never had cacio e pepe up until very recently.  It's one of those minimal ingredient dishes that seems ridiculously simple to prepare, but in actuality takes acute precision to get it just right.  We were lucky enough to have an expertly prepared cacio e pepe at Mercato di Vetro in Los Angles on our last trip back which happened to my first time having the dish.  It inspired us to try our hand at preparing it on our own and I think we nailed it following this recipe.

Now that I know about cacio e pepe and have experienced it, I keep seeing the dish popping up everywhere.  I recently came across a version with burrata, butternut squash and kale right here.  Now let's get one thing straight- when you start adding things to cacio e pepe then it's not really cacio e pepe anymore, but I'll overlook technicalities like that when we are talking about adding three ingredients that rest safely in my list of favorite ingredients.  I loved how this dish had the same base flavor and kick from the original cacio e pepe part of the recipe, but brought in a little seasonal heartiness from the squash and kale.  It would be fun to serve both dishes at your next dinner party and let your guests compare for themselves!

{we sprinkled some of the toasted butternut squash sides on top for an added crunch}

Monday, March 18, 2013

{simple bow tie table setting}

Cooking sunday dinner together is somewhat of a consistent weekly activity for us. It's usually pretty casual and we general pick recipes we can eat as we cook - like making multiple appetizers for dinner which I showed in this post.  This past Sunday I got the urge to take it up a notch in the table setting and break out some of my favorite pieces like our gold chargers and gold rimmed glassware.

I have seen many variations of this "bow tie" napkin floating around blogs/pinterest and its been on my wishlist for a tables etting for a while.  The problem is my cloth napkins are bit too big to execute the examples I have seen, but in playing around with them I discovered a very quick and easy way to achieve the bow tie look- see simple directions under the photos!

{vintage gold rimmed glassware from here}

 {fold your napkin in a trifold lengthwise and lay it face down across your plate. tie a simple ribbon around the middle and trim the edges of the ribbon}

{flip over the ribbon and fold edges under the side of the plate in between the plate and charger.  guests will simple slide the ribbon off when they sit to use the napkin}

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

{a library of stationary}

If it wasn't already pretty apparent, I reaaaaaally love paper goods, especially beautiful stationary and correspondence cards.  People so rarely send regular mail these days that it makes the act of sending and receiving notes that much more special.  I have always had a pretty large box filled with stationary for any occasion (most of which was leftover from my high school job working at a paper store believe or not), but all the events of the past year have really been cutting into my supply of cards.

I have had my eye on this set of Russel + Hazel stationary for some time, but the price was just a bit higher than I would prefer to pay.  Until recently when the entire set went on sale at Nordstrom and I scooped up a box of each different design and two boxes of the "thank you" set! Links to the individual stationary is below each photo so you can get some for yourself (unfortunately the "change of address one is the only one still available on Nordstrom's website).  If you don't already have a good stash of cards then this is a great place to start- the designs are simple, but the color combinations are amazing.  Plus all the envelopes are lined in corresponding colors!

 {these simple thank you notes are what first drew my attention to this line of stationary.  I love that all the cards in the set are a simple flat card rather than a traditional folded version.}

 {gold foil gets me every time. every. single. time}

 {I love the unexpected citron color of the "oh how did you know" set. The "fancy that" set reminds me of something you would see in a Kate Spade store.}

 {The playful phrases on the "oh how did you know" and "fancy that"cards could really be used for an array of purposes- especially just a spontaneous note to say hello}

{I love this layout for a "change of address" announcement- this little box would make a great gift for newlyweds who will be re-locating}

{The only blank notecard in the set is also the one that is hot pink with a fabulous gold foiled edge.  I love that even though this card has no phrase or graphics it still has ton of interest from the over saturated paper color.  Perfect for any note that doesn't conveniently fall into one of the other sets.}

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

{homemade fries with pesto aioli}

Today I have a recipe for home-made fries with garlic pesto aoili.  Enough said.

Ok fine I'll give some background on this.... recently we were at very nice restaurant in Los Angeles for a private dinner and the line up on the menu was not messing around in the fancy department, but in a contradictory move from the kitchen the meal started off with fries being delivered to the table.  The fries surprised me at first because they seemed out of place among the other items on the way for dinner including quail, oysters, etc.  But you know what- really good homemade fries are just plain really good and so once I had a few I wasn't complaining one bit about their presence that evening. This experience led us to make up some fries along with a great twist on a traditional aoili as a snack before a nicer dinner the other night.

Perfecting good homemade fries is really quite difficult. So while I will tell you how we made these (at the bottom of this post), I also won't judge you if you just substitute the homemade ones for a pack of frozen ones from Trader Joe's.  We made a fabulous garlic pesto aioli to go along with these and it really turned out to be a shining star of this appetizer/snack rather than a simple dipping sauce so whether you make the fires yourself or cheat a little with the frozen ones please make sure not to leave out the pesto aioli.

what you need:

  • 2 russet potatoes sliced into fries but not peeled
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • sea salt
  1. Slice potatoes into wedges and toss with oil.
  2. Lay out on baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes- flipping once at 15 minutes
  4. Remove once potatoes have browned and crisp.
  5. Season with sea salt & fresh ground pepper

what you need:
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of pre-made pesto (you can make it yourself if you have that kind of time on your hands)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  1. Combine mayo, pesto & finely chopped garlic cloves in bowl and serve immediately. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

{the bachelor finale free printables}

I watch way more reality television than I care to admit.  It's pretty much the ultimate guilty pleasure and I find the time I spend watching it to be entirely relaxing since it requires little to no thought or engagement on my part.  One big time reality TV show that I somehow never watched up until this season was the Bachelor, but all that changed when I found a fun group of girls to get together for weekly viewing party of sorts.  All reality television is better when watched in groups because it allows you to commiserate with others about the ridiculousness on screen.

With the finale of 17th season of the Bachelor on tonight, I thought it would be fun to make some cute printables for those hosting little viewing parties of their own.  There are drink flags (because if you aren't drinking cocktails during a viewing party then you aren't doing it right) and team stickers for each of the lady finalists- pick a side and own it. Links to the free downloads at the end of the post!

{he loves it. so. much}

 {as you can tell in the photos above versus this preview image- my printer wasn't really feeling the hot pink as I had originally intended.  For the drink flags simply cut out each flag and use hot glue or double sided tape to attach each flag around a drink stirrer}

{for the "team" stickers, I printed mine on a sheet of sticker paper so that you can easily attach the label to clothing, but cardstock and a simple safety pin would be a fine substitute}