For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.
These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.
*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Anyway, clicking around I found THIS marvelous structure -- ready to go and just $20,000. It's about 7 X 13, is on a trailer, and is already plumbed and electrified. I LOVE it. There is a sleeping loft above, a generous desk below, a kitchenette and a bathroom with a shower. What could be better? tow it inot the woods and structure 1 is done. Done done done. Observe:
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
found via decor8
I need a medicine ball pouf, for reals.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Try it, report back. I am making my friend Erin my guinea pig. She has to say hello to five people (of the male persuasion, in her case) next week.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Apparently you do wanna see my kitchen. Here are some more shots, per Brad's request. Taken with a Blackberry...sorry about quality.
The much talked about sink.
The baking center.
The cook top, which I prefer to a range (though if you gave me a Viking I would happily accept.) That allows you to cook things undisturbed on the stovetop while your Thanksgiving turkey is tended by someone else.
This I particularly like. It's an old coat closet. Most of it was used for the wall oven and microwave on the opposite side but about 6 inches was left. So I had shelves installed, painted it Bronze Gold, and use it to store my glasses. I love it. It feels like I'm walking into Williams Sonoma everytime I have wine. Which is a lot. I used to work at Williams Sonoma and ironically I got repeatedly scolded for not dusting the glassware well enough. Can you tell my favorite libation is champagne? I think I have 22 champagne glasses.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Most dinners of course require something fresh -- I rarely make garlic and oil pasta without a fresh lemon to zest over the top -- but you'll be able to feed yourself directly from the pantry in a pinch: black beans and rice, risotto, lentil soup, pasta with a great sauce of oil and garlic or a quick tomato sauce, chick pea stew
I will break this up into categories that make sense to me:
olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed)
hot pepper flakes
pastas in all shapes and sizes
jarred sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
jarred pesto, unless you make your own and freeze it in the summer.
Sundried tomato paste in tubes (or tomato paste in tubes.) (or cans)
San Marzano plum tomatoes in cans
stock (beef, chicken veggie, veal)
pepper and grinder
truffle oil for finishing a risotto
real parmesan cheese
fish sauce (mixed with lime juice, brown sugar and fresh grated ginger, fantastic dressing for noodles)
toasted sesame oil
sake (with brown sugar, white miso and mirin, an unbelievable marinade for sable or chilean sea bass,which you shouldnt buy but you do, oh well. me too)
bean thread noodles (fantastic in the fish sauce sauce mentioned above, with or without fresh julienned veggies, scallions and cilantro and mint)
udon or ramen noodles (easy soup with stock and a few veggies and aromatics)
black vinegar (perfect on its own as a dipping suace for dumplings)
spring roll wrappers (you never know when the desire will hit)
fresh ginger (keep it in the freezer)
Mexican sort of
black beans (canned or dry)
white beans (canned or dry)
dried chiles -- guajillo, japon, ancho
corn tortillas (fresh)
salsa of some sort
garbanzo beans (chick peas).. with tomatoes and onions and saffron and garlic, an excellent stew
tahini (right there you have hummus)
lentils (green de Puy)(for soup or cold or room temp salad in a vinaigrette)
canola for making popcorn
popcorn kernals (easy to make, and easy to make kettle corn or caramel corn when you need something sweet in a hurry)
rosemary (fresh is better. grow it on your window sill)
curry powder (or your own mix of garam masala)
nuts: walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds
dairy: sour cream, heavy cream, greek yogurt
meats: as you wish to keep in the freezer, but I like grass-fed beef flat iron steaks -- they defrost quickly -- frozen line caught wild salmon and tuna, pastured chickens (whole for roasting, and parts. chicken breasts are easy but we eat way way too many of them), grass-fed hamburger (grassfed is better for you, for the environment, and certainly for the cow).
One of my easiest dinners is a salmon filet, covered in coconut milk with a minced jalapeno and a grated knob of ginger, and a good sprinkling of salt. You bake it till the salmon is done -- 10 or 15 minutes at 375 or so -- and serve with rice and haricots verts. The vaguely indian sauce (I learned it from the wife of the Indian press attache in DC) is great on the rice and beans too...
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The contractor now is trying to convince her NOT to paint the cabinets (which are made of furniture grade plywood). I oppose on all fronts. Its going to be the millennial version of that horrible 70s paneling in the basement. However, contractor promises to paint it over if she doesn't' like it stained. I will do my damnedest to make her not like it because what kind of life runner would I be if I let people decorate willy nilly without a thought to the final product?
I did a slightly altered second mosaic -- new rugs (West Elm and Dash and Albert) to take in some of the colors she likes (golds and orange), a new sided table-- more leggy and airy, and a new zebra element - a long bench.
Friday, September 9, 2011
- flour (large bags, in a large crock with a tight fitting lid that is big enough to dip your baking cup into)
- whole wheat flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
- yeast (envelopes are convenient. you can get a jar to keep in the fridge)
- corn starch (you can use this to make your flour into cake flour. Google it)
- sugar (extra points if you get organic cane)
- light brown sugar. dark too if you're felling fancy
- powdered sugar
- sanding sugar (the large crunchy kind, perfect for Naked Scones)
- honey (for bread and granola bars)
- corn syrup (for pecan pumpkin pie and spiced nuts)
- molasses (NOT blackstrap)
- salt (kosher or sea, fine grain)
- salt (sea, large crystal)
- cocoa powder (dutch process and the other kind, if you are particular. I don't really notice a difference)
- good vanilla
- vanilla beans (for fancy times)
- almond extract
- rose water (nice to have! and keeps for ages. ditto orange water)
- baking chocolate squares -- a must for homemade brownies
- dried cranberries
- sliced and or slivered almonds
- oooh, almond meal
- chocolate chips
- fresh nutmeg (ie, the nutmegs themselves and a grater)
- cream of tartar in case you make snickerdoodles, about the only possible use you could have for it. that and a souffle.
And: lurkers please explain why, consistently, in the top 10 Google searches that lead you to this site, your search term is "Nate Berkus feet."
Nate Berus Feet. Nate Berkus Feet. Nate Berkus Feet.
(driving page views)
Thursday, September 1, 2011
These are the parameters: mostly western light with great windows. Several pieces of Cuban art -- paintings mostly -- emphasis on red. A bedroom, living room, study. No furniture currently.
Red is hard to live with as a color but as an accent it's awesome sauce. I lurv red. So that is going to figure into the room. I'm recommending a warm gray for the walls, white trim. It's masculine and neutral and will be good with the red.
The study should be a deeper shade of the same gray.
I'm still dealing with the parameters on the bedroom -- he has a navy blue and sand silk chinese duvet that I havent seen or wrapped my head around yet. So we're just going to address the living room in this post.
Neelish doesnt have or want a TV. He wants to entertain, cook, have cocktails... he's in a happnin downtown neighborhood so is a potential first and last stop for nights on the town.
With that in mind, I found these pieces at Miss Pixies and Good Wood online -- not sure if they are still available, but are a good guideline to what he should consider. Masculine, with personality.
Every room needs a great mirror. Any of these would do, but I especially love the standing silver mirror in the back. The foxing -- the spots -- are awesome.
This floor pouf is excellent. Gray, to work with the walls, soft. Looks like an old timey medecine ball. Can be used as a foot rest or sat on or leaned against. Multifunctional, plus a great patina. Good Wood.
Everyone needs some instant relatives in the form of weird old paintings. I love this one. Good Wood.
These are the cool chairs. Miss Pixies. The mushroom color, the tubular 70sness -- masculine luxury. It's good to buy things in pairs -- not too many pairs. But you can never go wrong with a pair of great matching lamps, chairs, cocktail tables. Gives a room rhythm and serenity. Then you can do some really strong art and weird objets, and it all makes sense.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
click on architecture. the rest of it is a little too inaccessible for me. But the tree houses! the prefabs! oh my word. observe:
and if you haven't discovered it, check out manhattan-nest.com.
The boy is a CHILD (a sophomore maybe at NYU) but is both brilliant and hilarious with impeccable taste and none of the terrible snobbiness that afflicts many design bloggers. He just is, and I love.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Your delicious little leaves deserve the utterly minimal effort of a homemade vinaigrette, and they deserve to be dressed ahead of time, lightly. You wouldn't want your host putting you out in front of guests naked, would you? (Maybe you would. I don't know you.)
Nothing worse than tossing your own salad (stop it!). Individual salad bowls do not have the room to do it yourself at the table, so some leaves are covered and others are dry. Totally unacceptable.
If you are a remotely interested cook, and I mean remotely, you probably have everything you need on hand: It's three parts good olive oil to one part acid - vinegar or citrus, or a mix of the two. That's it.
Got it? pour three tablespoons of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon acid -- balsamic vinegar is sweet, red wine vinegar less so, cider vinegar works on and on. OR squeeze in a lemon (not the whole thing, just a tablespoon, or maybe a hair less). Whip it together with a fork until its thick and cloudy (this is called emulsifying... the natural way). That's it. You're done. Less time than opening the fridge and plunking that nasty cold bottle on the table.
You can gussy it up with all sorts of stuff -- I usually add a touch of Dijon mustard (not regular mustard). You can grate in citrus zest. The juice of a tomato. A wee bit of honey. A tiny bit of coarse salt. Lime juice (fresh only). You can put in grated ginger and replace a little of the oil with sesame oil (then add in just a splash of soy sauce). Minced garlic. Minced shallots or scallions. But let them all float in a sea of three to one, olive-oil to-acid.
Put this mixture in the bottom of a salad bowl. Not too much -- too much and your salad is limp and wilted and you don't taste any green. Put your cleaned greens on top (I am partial to JUST greens -- a mix of baby lettuces, especially arugula, maybe purslane, snipped herbs -- basil, tarragon, dill -- edible flowers for gorgeousness (try the lavendery basil flowers you snip off your herb garden). Toss gently, scooping up from the bottom. As the leaves touch the bottom of the bowl they will get a nice touch of dressing.
If the salad is too dry, add a bit more, toss gently.
BANISH THE BOTTLE. In this case, it shall be I who thank you.
("You're welcome, Pam!")
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
OK, I know I promised Special Face But I have a Half-Assed Craft to Share: Industrial Swing Arm Lamp
I also like things cheap.
So I hied on over to Fragers Hardware, most fabulous hardware store in the US, and started piecing together copper pipes, elbow joints etc. Then a nice lady found me a lamp kit and I searched and searched and finally found a silver-tipped lightbulb -- necessary so as to avoid blinding.
(yay I'm back!)
(I got the copper to tarnish/go verdigris with a mix of salt and vinegar. didn't take but an hour or so to turn green)
Saturday, July 2, 2011
If you've ever wondered if I can play Blackbird poorly, here's the proof.
Also, I've been very busy with the magazine and my Insanity workouts (ha, not really). So. Hello again! Next up: How to Look Good in Pictures. It's called "Special Face."
Friday, May 27, 2011
Ciara and Jason's wedding: My pitch for Black and white stripe and sunflowers and black-eyed susan and then I will forever hold my peace
But let's back up. My friend Jason proposed to my friend Ciara last week in a veeery Washington (I mean this in a good way) manner: through pulling some personal strings, he arranged an exceedingly rare tour of the Capitol dome. That is, up in the dome, next to the frescoes and the windows, and on the balconies around the dome... places most people don't get to see, unless they are a senator. Gorgeous views, rarefied air, and a romantic, on the knee, will you spend the rest of my life with me thing.
Ciara, thank heaven, said yes. This came at the end of a long week of planning. First there was the tour to arrange, then the ring to procure, and then, of course, a surprise (for her) cocktail picnic in the summer house on the grounds of the Capitol for a handful of close friends. That, as you might imagine, was my department. I have long dreamed of being an elf like this -- setting up something gorgeous and wonderful and public. So public that this happened in the middle of it:
But back to the important part: the best hors d'oeuvre ever: BLT on a stick
1. Get yourself some slab bacon. This is not necessarily an easy task. Whole Foods didn't have it, but Canales Meats in Eastern Market did. I got a pound of unsliced bacon. Took it home, cubed it, then roasted it at about 350 for 30 minutes, till it was crisp.
2. I drained it on a paper bag, then speared an organic grape tomato, some lettuce leaves (baby lambs ear) and cube of bacon. Voila! I made an avocado mayo to go with (pureed ripe avocado, a little lemon and a bit of mayonnaise to smooth things out).
3. I laid it out on a bed of more lamb's ear lettuce. Super hit. Delicious. Make. You can do it while you're watching the Barefoot Contessa on your couch.
Let's see some more pictures, yes, before we get to crowd sourcing their wedding? Because they are getting married in August at her family's home in Rhode Island (yes, there's a sweeping green lawn, shingles and a water view). They figure just get er done so they can go to Sudan or wherever.
Where the deed was done. In the background! Way up!
The Summer House, a Frederick Law Olmstead folly. Lovely and cool and a little sheltered in case the threatened rain came, which it didn't.
A view of the party
There they are again. It's like it's about THEM or something, instead of my BLTs On a Stick.
So now on to the crowd sourcing.
- the wedding will be at the end of August in Rhode Island
- They love love love good food
- They (I think) want it to be more of a party than a traditional wedding, take off the garter thing (I think)
- They don't want a nautical theme
- The rehearsal dinner, however will likely be a crawfish boil/clambake in honor of both their roots.
- The expect around 120 to 180 and it will be a destination wedding for most people.
1. They need to start somewhere -- maybe with the menu they want to serve, and let that dictate style -- or with a color palette, or a flower (sunflowers?). I'm currently pulling for black and white stripes, with sunflowers and black-eyed susans. Or maybe dahlias in orange and hot pink? That would be kind of fun and mad hattery.
2. write the seating chart on a giant chalkboard (made with chalkboard paint). I love chalkboards.
12. they are not wedded (ha) to a wedding cake so maybe a dessert table of homespun pies and cakes and cookies?