Monday, January 31, 2011

We Have Progress!

Today kicks off the start of the work on my brother's home. Since he only has one bathroom, we chose to do this first, so that the home would be livable through the rest of the work. So we hope, at least.

Here is what the bathroom looked like before:


The bathroom is all gray, which is a mood killer in itself.  How can one wake up in the morning in a dingy gray bathroom? The fixtures are all nice (Kohler) but are also gray, and the lights and old medicine cabinet have seen better days. The pedestal sink is nice and wide, but provides no storage. And the tile on the floor is that 80's faux marble looking stuff. Not a terrible bathroom, but definitely one in need of a face lift. 

And today, we made progress (and in we, I mean the demo/tile guy Brian):
Since some of the walls had minor water damage from many, many years ago, we decided to tear out all the drywall and put up a moisture resistant rock board to prevent future damage. The new vent fan, to be installed later, will help this problem too! The tile can then be installed over the new walls once they have been prepped and sanded.

And this weekend, I spent a few hours with my brother ordering the new additions for the bathroom:

Kohler Kelston Vanity and Sink (l) with the Kolher Bancroft Faucet:
This sink gives the feel of a pedestal sink, but with a little storage for towels and a drawer for other toiletries. The faucet is nice with easy, hands free (using your elbow or arm to operate) controls for the hot and cold, and the shiny chrome will really stand out from the white tiles. We will be using white subway tiles (like the ones below) for the bathroom walls and will be incorporating some warming teak accessories:
The towel racks have been discontinued but are originally from West Elm. And a few of their friends from Crate and Barrel:
That's the recap for now. What do you think? I can't wait to show you more of the progress to come!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Eleni's New York - Cookies

Valentine's Day candy and gifts hit the shelves the day after Christmas this year. And as much as I dislike Valentine's Day, I do love the candy and cookies associated with it. One of my favorite and very well known cookie companies is Eleni's in New York. You can purchase their cookies through their website, or other major retailers like Dean and Deluca

My favorite part about their cookies is their icing. I am not a huge icing fan... I don't go for the thick fluffy stuff. I like theirs because it is thin and crispy, but sweet! And today on One Kings Lane, you can buy their Valentine's Day sets on sale! If you are not a member of One Kings Lane, go here to become one!

Months ago, I was looking for a new Christmas cookie recipe online, and found an Eleni's Cookie recipe. At this time, I am not sure where I found it to give credit where credit is due, or to verify if it is the actual cookie recipe. However, it looks pretty close to what Eleni's makes, so try it out! Here's the recipe:

Eleni's Sugar Cookie Recipe

• 5 cups all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1½ cups unsalted butter at room temperature
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar using a paddle attachment until light and fluffy for three to five minutes. Add the eggs one by one and vanilla and slowly mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle.

Add the dry ingredients last and mix just until combined.

Divide the dough in half and shape into a circle onto parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to roll – about two hours. Roll approximately ¼-inch thick and cut into desired shapes.

Bake on parchment lined sheet tray until firm and golden around the edges – about nine to 11 minutes, depending on the size. Cool completely before icing. Yields about five dozen two-inch cookies.

Eleni's Royal Icing

• 3 tablespoons meringue powder
• 4 cups sifted ten times confectionary sugar
• 6 tablespoons warm water

Beat all ingredients on low speed seven to 10 minutes until icing forms peaks. It is important to keep all utensils and equipment grease free or the icing won't set properly. For stiffer icing, use one tablespoon less water. For thinner icing, add one teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Add ½ teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

Leave me a comment and let me know how they turn out!!!

I did not receive compensation by either Eleni's New York or One Kings Lane for the contents of this post. I just really like their stuff!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday Givewaway from

Invitations are so easy these days with online sites like providing quick and free e-mails to invite all your friends and family for that big bash. Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday (Feb 6th), is giving away a Super Bowl package worth $100 of game-worthy snacks from Harry and David! You can enter following the directions below, through this Friday, January 28th. Three (3) winners will be announced on Monday, January 31st in time to order those snacks in time for the game.

Here is how to enter:

1. Go to and choose a design from their Football Collection, or even upload your own picture!
2. Choose FOOTBALL PARTY GIVEAWAY as your Event Theme, and complete the remaining details of your invite.
3. Send the invite to 3 or more guests, and you're automatically entered to win!

Easy as that! If you need more information, you can also go to their blog here.  I have also picked out some of my favorite Football themed invites below:

If you aren't hosting a Super Bowl party, send an invitation for another event! Enter today and best of luck!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Years...and Counting!

It was 2 years ago today that I said "I do", and I can't imagine life without my amazing husband. But instead of talking all about him, I have to bring up the subject of anniversary gifts. For us, we don't really buy each other big gifts for Christmas or our birthdays, but we are pretty traditional when it comes to our anniversary. We still get each other small things, but we have stuck to the traditional guidelines for each year (check out the chart here). So for year 2, it says gifts of Cotton or China....


I did go a little traditional and get him some nice cotton handkerchiefs. But I went a little non-traditional and also got him this:

TWO book from Starbucks I bought at Christmas time, at the recommendation of a good friend. It has quotes and anecdotes about love and relationships, and has places where you fill in your feelings about the other person. It is very cute, and I hope he likes my answers! I don't know if Starbucks still has them in stock, but if they do, it is a great gift for an anniversary or even Valentine's Day!

I also made this for him:

It is a photo album of our trip to California. It took me a while to get all my favorite photos fit into one album, but I really think he is going to love this. I have photos from all our stops in San Francisco, Monterey & Carmel, and Napa Valley. I think my favorites are the series of whale pictures and the beautiful wineries.

Speaking of wineries, tonight, besides the company of my husband, I am going to love every minute of this:

We were fortunate to get a bottle as a gift for our first anniversary, and this past summer, we visited the Silver Oak winery, where we purchased another bottle for this year's anniversary. It just may have to become a tradition!

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Notice Anything Different?

With each year, new changes come. Personally and professionally, there are MANY new things in store for 2011. Hence the new design.

While I may be all about parties, food, and entertainment ideas, I also love interior design and decorating. I have been helping some friends find pieces for their new home, and am beginning a major renovation on my brother's home. I wanted the blog to look a little more rustic and organic, because I am currently inspired by my cooking and decorating in the same ways. Its all about going back to basics and the heart of what you love.

Here are some designs that I have done for a living room and dining room for a new house.  The clients actually wanted a more modern and fun feel, with some grown up elements in their furniture pieces. We actually ended up kind of combining the two for both rooms, and I love how they are coming along! Hopefully I can share pictures soon!
For my brother's home, I am designing a mid century meets surf chic. We are putting in wood floors, white moldings, white subway tile in the bathroom with teak accessories, and his kitchen is going to be a fabulous beachy white. Here are the design boards I did for him:

I really like where his is going, and even though we have a lot of work to do, it is going to look AMAZING in the end. I will have some before pictures soon so you can see the progress!

And if you are interested in having me do a room board for you, please contact me at and we can discuss details!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy January

After taking down all my Christmas decorations on January 1st, I was a little down. How is it that a house in which there is not more room to buy more furniture suddenly feels empty without a giant Christmas tree?

On New Years Day, as my husband was watching football, I made a trip to Wal-Mart for groceries and extra bins to put away the last Christmas ornaments. I checked out their Christmas clearance section, which at this point had been picked over for a week. However, I did come away with some fun items that I can use throughout the year, all for under $1. Also during my trip, I picked up some flowers, because they always make me feel better.

When I returned home, I took the silvery blue garland that I purchased for 50 cents and used it to fill the vase in which to put my flowers. For some reason, that icy blue color always reminds me of January and snow (elsewhere, since we only get frost in Florida). I then dug out some candle holders to complete the table. The clear glass ones I bought a few years ago at Crate and Barrel, and I believe the silver ones are actually the Star of David, and these I picked up on clearance at Restoration Hardware. I also added my table gems from Pier 1 that look like tiny diamonds. Add a little candle light, and my spirits perked right back up! An easy table scape to bring me into the new year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year 2011 and Hostess Tip #3


With the end of 2010, we start what I feel will be an interesting year for 2011. My husband and I were talking last night about New Year's resolutions, to which I replied that I don't make any. I'm not trying to be pessimistic or dispirited, but years ago, the only resolution I ever made was to "be true to thyself".

In that spirit, I am not going to make resolutions that I know I can't keep for a whole year. Everyone always says they will drink less, eat better, work out more. Sure, I am going to try those things, but I am not going to kill myself if I throw a party and have a few too many glasses of wine.

So with the beginning of 2011, I bring you Hostess Tip #3: Be True to Thyself. In life, this is a given. You're only cheating YOU if you lie to yourself. This doesn't mean that you can't strive to be more or better, but know where you are right here and now, and what you are capable of. Life will be so much easier if you know YOU.

The same rule applies for many things, parties and celebrations included. Don't put on such a big production that you are so stressed out even before the party starts. Don't try new, complicated recipes the day of a big party, because you are asking for disaster. Don't try to overextend yourself on details that matter to no one but yourself. Know what you are capable of and what you are willing to say "to heck with" by the time guests arrive. Parties, dinners and celebrations, believe it or not, are supposed to be stress-free. The hostess cannot be frazzled when she opens the door.

In keeping with my mantra, be true to thyself,  in the past, I admit I have been the frazzled hostess. I have taken on too much and not given myself a chance to relax and enjoy the occasion. But lately, I do just enough to be "The Hostess" without all the stress. And this year, I turn the big 3-0, and instead of throwing a party for 100 people like I did 2 years ago for my husband (talk about frazzled... It rained 30 minutes before the party started, and it was a lawn-game themed party! Can you fit 100 people in your house?!), I think I am going to go the stress-free route and do nothing. Well, not nothing.... maybe get out of town, or have a quiet night in. I may have a few parties planned throughout the year, but the big 30 will be stress and Hostess free. Talk about an interesting year....

Best Wishes in 2011!