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5 Things I Love RIGHT Now.

21 Feb

1.  Marbleized Anything

marble paper(source)

I love the idea of framing a piece of marbleized paper.

marble paper

I acquired a DIY marbling kit for Christmas so I might be trying this soon. Hopefully I’ll spring for a marbling tray so I don’t stain my bathtub, but I’ve been known to be a less than careful crafter when I’m struck with an urge to make something.

 

2. Making Candy

gummy candy

I experimented with chocolate and toffee and truffles during the holidays, but I’d never made gummi candy before. Until a few weeks ago. And the thing is, it’s SO easy! You just mix a large box of Jell-O with 3 packets of plain gelatin and 2/3 cup of water, let it sit for 5 minutes, then boil it until the crystals dissolve. Then you pour it into little silicone molds (it makes about two molds since there is so little liquid involved), let it sit for half an hour, and they pop RIGHT out. Easiest thing ever. Totally gross and artificial, but who am I to criticize that. I love candy.

 

3. Nurturing A Creative Soul

My son is really coming into his own as a tiny artist. He is not one to receive instruction or take direction often or with ease, but he has been asking for drawing lessons lately, and I oblige. He even added some…umm…”flair” to a rough sketch of mine. I’m not sure that it needed purses or Christmas trees, but he thought it did.

Collaborative Sketch

 

4. Rocks

A few weeks ago I rediscovered my childhood “100 Rocks of North America” chart, and it brought back awesome memories.

2014-02-21 04.35.20 pm

It’s hard to tell from my picture, but they really are super colorful and cover a wide spectrum of neutrals. They remind me of these agate platters from LEIF ($50 – currently sold out, but they should be back in stock soon).

2014-02-21 04.37.25 pm

 

5. Free Stuff!

I’ll be doing a GIVEAWAY on the blog next week! Look out for it – it’s a good one!

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Spicy Pickled Carrots – A How-to!

30 Jun

I haven’t pickled anything since last summer when I went over to a friend’s house, and a group of us had an afternoon of pickling and preserving. Before that I hadn’t pickled anything, well…, ever. We made pickles, dilly beans, spicy carrots, and a blueberry jam (which never quite set up but was great on pancakes). These were our creations, minus the blueberry syrupy/jammy whatever-it-was.

Pickled Carrots!

So this weekend, almost a year later, I decided to take on some spicy carrot pickles all by myself. They turned out pretty well! I haven’t tasted them in their final stage yet because they need a few days to marinate, but I’m really hopeful. The best part was that they were incredibly fast and easy to make. So here’s a how-to in case you’re interested in making them for yourself.

Spicy Pickled Carrots: a how to

Actually, before I start, let me tell you one thing: if you ever want to feel what it might be like to have non-functioning lungs, try chopping some jalapenos then boiling some vinegar. Then you’ll know what that feels like.

So now that that has been said, here we go:

All you need is 3 1- pint jars, 2 pounds of carrots (the big bag, if you buy your carrots from the grocery store), about 4 cloves of garlic, 1 jalapeno, 4 cups of distilled white vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of salt.

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to

First you peel the carrots. It’s a lot of carrots to peel, but it’s worth it. Don’t judge me by how clean my sink is, but rather, judge me for how fast my hands are moving and my cool and retro yellow colander.

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to
Then you cut the carrots into sticks about the size of your little finger. That’s a lot of carrots to cut.

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to

Slice up the garlic and jalapenos. This is the part where your husband starts to complain about how spicy things smell and how they’re “bothering his nose.” Just ignore him; he is not as tough as you when it comes to the kitchen.

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to

Next, you take three pint jars and put the garlic and jalapenos in the bottom (divide them up evenly, or you can experiment with different amounts of spice between the jars if you’re not sure what you’re up for in the heat department). If you like things super spicy, add an extra jalapeno or some crushed red pepper flakes.  Add the carrot sticks to the jars, making sure they’re short enough to leave about 1” of room at the top. Note: Make sure your pint jars are very clean; I had my assistant who is also my webmaster who is also my lawyer who is also my husband wash them for me while I chopped the veggies.

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to

Boil your vinegar on the stove in a non-reactive pot (stainless steel, glass, and enamel are fine; aluminum, copper and cast-iron are not fine). Try not to breathe. Add the sugar and salt when the vinegar is boiling, then stir to dissolve.

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to

Once the vinegar/sugar/salt solution was all dissolved, I let the brine sit off of the heat for a few minutes so it wasn’t super duper hot, then I poured it over the carrot jars with the help of a ladle. Make sure you have liquid about 1/2” over the top of the carrots, and that you then leave about 1/2” of space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar. Then, cap those jars and you’re DONE. That’s it. I said it was easy!

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to

These will be ready to eat in about a day, and will keep in the refrigerator for about a month. Keep in mind this is cold-packing and not preserving. So you can’t put these in the pantry and expect to pull them out for Thanksgiving, know what I mean? That would make your mouth pucker for an entirely different, really unpleasant reason.

Spicy Carrot Pickles How-to

Let me know if you make these or if you have any other good pickling recipes. I’m a sucker for vinegary things, so I’d love to hear about it!

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Pinata Cake!

26 Mar

My son turned FOUR yesterday, which is a big deal if you didn’t already know that about turning four.

It’s also a big deal to me, because I feel like this:

Pinata Cake!

Pinata Cake!

 

…turned into this overnight:

 

Pinata Cake!

And I guess it kind of did. I guess that’s just how it happens.

His cake of choice was a “Pinata Cake” which I found here at A Subtle Revelry. If you want to make this for yourself, I definitely encourage you to try via the tutorial: it wasn’t too difficult, and the end result was awesome.

Pinata Cake!

 

Basically, you bake two “layers” in pyrex bowls. After a thorough cooling session, you carve the insides out (to make each half like a scooped out melon). Then you fill one of the “bowls” with candy, top it with the other to form a sphere, and frost it.

It looks like this from the top. Just like a regular cake.

Pinata Cake!

 

And when you cut into it, it looks like THIS:

Pinata Cake!

 

So fun. So good. So easy. Give it a try for your next 4th or 5th or 35th birthday – I bet you’ll like it!

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Thai-inspired Peanut Noodles!

5 Jul

Here we go again…another deviation from my specialty – design – into the world of food. But this is worth it. Trust me.

It’s a miracle in my house is all three of us can agree on the same dinner, save for mac-and-cheese/pizza/tacos. But I think we’ve found a new item for the “sure-thing” rotation: Peanut Noodles! These are thai-inspired (which means that I disclaim any actual authenticity) but the flavors are there. Here’s the basic idea:


 

If you’re interested in trying this dish out in your house I’ll give you my basic instructions; as you probably know if you follow my blog, I’m not big on exacting recipes.

First, make some noodles: we use fettuccine,  but you could use spaghetti, penne, ditalini, soba noodles, or what ever you like. 

While the water boils and the noodles cook, saute bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots in some canola oil; use between 2 and 4 cups of fresh veggies. (I didn’t include canola oil in my collage: forgive me, it just isn’t that sexy). When they’re basically done, throw in some frozen shelled edamame. Turn the heat off.

Mix together your sauce. For half of a box of noodles (4 servings) I use the following proportions: about 1/2 cup of peanut butter, about 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and water, and 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil. Into that mixture, grate about a “thumb’s worth” of ginger; you’re going to need a microplane. Squeeze in the juice of about 1/2 of a small lime. Whisk it together; you’ll need a whisk because the peanut butter is stronger than your spoon.

At this point your sauce is ready to roll. Your veggies have cooked but are still crunchy. Your noodles should be just about done. When they are done, drain them and put them back in the pot they cooked in. Add the veggie mixture, pour in the sauce, and stir it all up. Throw in about a handful of chopped cilantro, and you’re DONE.

It’s that easy.

If you’re like me and love spiciness, there is one last crucial step:

There. Now you’re done.

You can get the yellow and white bowl pictured above here at CB2 for $30.

I hope you enjoy this easy dinner as much as we do. Have a great rest of the short week!

 

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Treat Round-up for the Fourth!

29 Jun

In an attempt to be festive..and because I’m hungry…I’ve rounded up some Fourth of July treats that you can create this long weekend. Each are relatively simple, look incredibly tasty, and of course pass the “adorable” test. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

 

This Fruited Cheesecake Flag from Martha Stewart is summery and sweet. She has all the best ideas; I’d never think to make the “white” stripe from powdered sugar…I’d probably be peeling strawberries to achieve a similar color.

Here’s an easy one for you: a Red, White, and Blue Sangria, with the fruit densities already thoughtfully calculated to give you a perfectly tiered beverage!

My Juice Cup has the cutest Cake Pop project for the Fourth. One of the process-shots reminds me of Oreo Truffles, and honestly, I’d be content to make those in the style of these. …You say you don’t know what Oreo Truffles are? Oh my. Google it. You’re welcome.

I always hesitate to include two or more crafts or treats from the same source in a round-up, but damn Martha. What can I say. Enjoy these simple flags – you’ll love them if you loved those Rainbow-in-a-bag St. Patrick’s Day thingys that took over Pinterest the entire month of March!

Even though red, white, and blue food is pretty simple to make, it doesn’t have to be super sweet or 100% fruity. Try this ultra-easy-but-still-I’d-never-have-thought-of-it Watermelon and Feta plate from Wenderly.

And just because this is a decorating blog and I can’t help myself, don’t forget to throw these pillowcases (which are a set of two from Urban Outfitters…for $34!) on your guest or beach house bed. Love them!

Happy Fourth!

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

What’s For Dinner? Chili!

29 Feb

It’s cold and rainy again. Which is a bummer after lots of 60 degree “winter days” so far this year. But not to worry – dinner will be warm, tasty, and restorative. Best of all it’ll be easy, because we’re having chili! I’m not big on recipes (which occasionally…just occasionally…can cause problems) but I’ll give you my how-to version here so you can make your own pot.

Here goes…

1.) Grab some veggies, chop them, and give them a quick saute in olive oil or vegetable oil: garlic, an onion, a red pepper (or green, or yellow), a jalapeno (seeds if you love the heat, no seeds if you don’t), and any tomatoes you have on hand. Don’t forget to salt and pepper them!

2.) Throw these sauteed veggies into a crockpot.

3.) Add a can of rotel, about a cup of chicken or veggie stock, and can or two of tomato sauce/paste/crushed tomatoes, or whatever liquidish tomato products you have on hand. Don’t forget to pour in about half of your beer.

4.) Drink the rest.

5.) Throw in a handful of chopped cilantro (but save some for serving), chili powder (a packet, your own mix, whatever you feel comfortable with) and some cumin. I love extra cumin.

6.) My secret weapon enters here: cube up a sweet potato into little pieces, each about the size of a big pea. Throw these in, too. They’ll add some nice sweetness and texture. You can throw your beans in now: two cans is about the right amount. I like black and kidney. But you might not.

Now that was easy, wasn’t it?

Cook all this stuff on high for a few hours, then turn it to low. You may want to leave the lid askew to evaporate some of the liquid and thicken up your chili. After a few hours, season to taste with more salt, pepper, spices, and cilantro. Bake yourself up some cornbread, and serve this in pretty bowls (like the “Gemma Link” bowl above from Crate and Barrel) garnished with sour cream, cheese, green onions, more cilantro, and some chopped avocado (my favorite).

Enjoy! What are you having for dinner?

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Cauliflower: Three Ways!

15 Feb

So this is a bit awkward: another cooking post from me…a designer. Not a cook. 

If I can deal with it, I’m confident you can too. In fact, since you’re being so cooperative I’ll throw you a bone and point you toward this colorful olive oil jar from Dean & DeLuca. Who cares about how convenient it is when you see how cute it’ll look on your counter?

Antico Frantoio Muraglia 'Intenso' Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $48 at Dean & DeLuca (image via Dean & DeLuca)


So, moving on.

Lately we’ve been struggling to get my son to eat new foods. A boy can not live on strawberries, black olives, and bacon alone. We’ve implemented a “new food chart” with stickers, and we’re introducing lots of new veggies, grains, and meats to him on a regular basis. One other thing we do is vary preparations often so that he’s exposed to a wide range of flavors and textures: I know I hate wilted, soft broccoli…but throw it in a super hot oven for half an hour and I’ll eat POUNDS of the crusty, brown-edged roasted stuff. Recently, cauliflower has been something I’m using a lot of lately around our house. It’s versatile, cheap, and lasts a long time. It doesn’t smell so great raw though, but that’s just a temporary issue; you can’t win them all!

Here are three basic cauliflower recipes that all start the same way: a roasting pan or pyrex dish, olive oil + salt and pepper, cauliflower florets, and a 400 degree oven. The add-ins are what make it special, and I love them all equally (but differently!). To make these scrumptious sides, just toss the ingredients, throw ’em into a hot oven, and bake away until they’re as crunchy or brown as you like them. A shorter cooking time will get you brighter, crunchier veggies; a longer bake time will get you a more rustic result with deeper flavor (especially the tomatoes). Hope you enjoy the veggie combos!I know we do!

 

Cauliflower + Chick Peas + Cumin.

 

Cauliflower + Brussels Sprouts (halved, flat side down!) + Balsamic

 

Cauliflower + Grape Tomatoes + Lemon Zest

 

There you have it – super easy sides that go with just about anything. What’s your favorite veggie these days? Got any secrets to share?

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Color Friday is: Matte Black!

20 Jan

Basic black is beautiful. It’s dramatic, masculine, and can be both sophisticated and playful. While I love a glossy black finish as much as the next glam aficionado, I also have a huge soft spot for matte black. The flat finish of a matte black object is easy to keep looking good (no fingerprints!) and it plays well with shine just as well as it does with rustic woven baskets. It’s also the finish of a chalkboard, which you know I love. Have a look at these matte black finds below; many of them you can craft yourself using some DIY blackboard paint (I like the one from Benjamin Moore)! Enjoy!

Clockwise from pendant at top: Noir Pendant Lamp from CB2, $249 (image via CB2); Nars Eyeshadow Compact in Nightbreed, $23 (image via Drugstore.com); Benjamin Moore's Chalkboard Paint, $18.99 (image via BenjaminMoore); Morten Table Lamp by West Elm, $149 (image via West Elm); Architect Desk from CB2, $149 (image via CB2); West Elm Storage Baskets, $39-$59 (image via West Elm); Cast Iron Skillet by Lodge, $10-$60 (image via Amazon.com); Ottavio Vase by ZGallerie, $69.99 (image via ZGallerie); Stoneware Vessel by John Ward from Moss via 1st Dibs, price on request (image via 1stDibs)

 

I should point out that two of these items are, to me, examples of great product design. The Nars compact is one of my favorite  “things.” The almost rubbery black case is soft but firm to the touch, and it wipes off beautifully if you get fingerprints on it. Combined with the sleek text, its matte black finish is something I love seeing every time I pull it out of my drawer. Also, the Lodge cast iron skillet is a staple in my kitchen. The perfect matte black finish becomes a little shinier and browner over time, and if you don’t already have one you’ll love using it for everything from frying chicken to sauteing peppers – I promise.

Have a great weekend!

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.

Mmmmmmac and Cheese!

18 Jan

Both the men in my house love mac and cheese, and I do too. And by “mac and cheese,” I mean real, homemade, from scratch, with butter, macaroni and cheese. Any pasta shape will do.

The Geometry of Pasta by Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand (image via CuratedMag)

If we’re being honest, my son and husband like the boxed version of mac and cheese a lot too, but I have never been able to justify sprinkling gelatinous powder over mini elbow noodles and calling the resulting buttery, orange concoction real macaroni and cheese – it’s isn’t, and the homemade version takes the same amount of time because you can make the cheese sauce while the pasta cooks. (Full disclosure: this isn’t to say that the infamous blue box has never made an appearance in our kitchen, it definitely has, but I cringe to see it. Every time.)

My favorite kind of mac and cheese to make is a baked version. It’s actually very simple: just cook your pasta a little al dente (because it will continue cooking in the oven) and while it’s boiling away make a roux (roughly equal parts butter, flour, some milk) and stir in your cheeses of choice. I almost always use cheddar, sometimes mozzarella, sometimes provolone, and often fontina for a smoky note. When the sauce is uniformly melted mix it up with the pasta and put it all in a casserole dish. I top it with thinly sliced or grated cheese (sometimes the same cheese that’s melted in with the noodles, sometimes different), bread crumbs, and grated parm and pop it in the oven to brown. It takes about 15 minutes more than stove top version, and it’s great. That said, you can definitely stop at the stove and just go straight from pot to plate; I do this a lot, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the crunch and complexity of the oven-baked version.

But last night, I had this great idea for a cheat…

While the sauce was resting and the pasta was still cooking, I took some leftover grated cheddar and parm and thew it into a nonstick pan. Just a thin layer. It melted into this awesome “cheese chip” that was crispy, crunchy, and intensely cheesy. See?

It’s kind of like when you’re making a grilled cheese and a little bit of  yellow creeps out of the sandwich and crisps up in the pan (who doesn’t love that part?). I sprinkled bread crumbs on the melted cheese, and the oils that bubbled up from it kind of crunched and crisped the bread crumbs, too. JUST LIKE when you bake a mac and cheese casserole in the oven. So three minutes later, I had a topping for my stove top mac and cheese that evoked the extra touch of an oven baked dish, but took no extra time (and no actual oven). Here’s what it looked like with the “cheese cracker” crunched on top.

Yum, am I right? I served it with a green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette (in my opinion, cheesy richness needs something acidic for balance, and balsamic is just right). What do you think? Think you’ll try this trick?

 

Design consultations for all styles and budgets: JGB Interiors.