Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is so much more fun when you have a little one and you can relive your childhood through her. We started off the afternoon with a visit to Sophie's grandparents' house, where they were just smitten with her dragon costume. Then, we went home and spooked up our home. I thought the decoration was pretty good: trusty spiderwebs, strobe light flashing in our foyer, and a CD playing creepy sounds in our front yard. But to Sophie, it was probably a bit too good--she was pretty scared by the music and her parents' bloody appearances!

Clam Chowder

Yes, I accidentally threw a lot of black pepper on the top of this. Still tasty.

Now that the weather is getting colder, I've been craving more comfort food. And for me, chowders are some of the most comforting food of all! This recipe for clam chowder comes from my sister, who adapted it from somewhere else (I can't recall). It was simple to make, and it really hit the spot on a chilly autumn night.

3 (6.5 ounce) cans chopped clams
1 cup minced onion (about 1/2 of a large onion)
1 cup diced celery (about 2 celery sticks)
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup diced carrots (about 2 large carrots)
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks of butter)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 bottle of clam juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
ground black pepper to taste
1. Drain juice from chopped clams into a large skillet over the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots. Add the bottle of clam juice to cover, and cook over medium heat until tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in vegetables and clam juice. Heat through, but do not boil.
3. Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much, they'll get tough. When clams are heated through, season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Designer Spotlight: Barbara Westbrook

I love the spare simplicity of Barbara Westbrook's designs. This home exudes the warmth and casualness that typify cottage-style design. The images shown are all from the same lakehouse project, but you can see her other residential projects here.

Note the use of black interior doors!

I like the spindle leg detail used throughout this room.

How much air does that ceiling fan really push?

all images from Westbrook Interiors

Firehouse Birthday

Last weekend, we attended our first non-family birthday party. We were greeted by the adorable birthday boy, who politely said, "Thank you for coming to my party." So cute! The festivities took place inside a local fire station, and Sophie was spellbound by the fireman's demonstration. She also had a lot of fun pushing around a baby's lawnmower and licking the icing off of her own cupcake. I think in the end, she was just thrilled to be at a place where she could run around with a lot of other little kids.

I will allow you to touch my nose only because you are so cute.

The birthday boy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Otomi Bedspread

Another Cookie Magazine inspiration for my design files: Otomi fabric as a kid's bedspread. I love the folksy and ethnic look of this fabric. It could be used in many ways--framed, upholstered as a headboard or ottoman...but I like simply draping on a bed like a coverlet. It's available through many sources, among the most popular being Jacaranda Home or Ebay.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reading Wall

The November 2009 issue of Cookie Magazine arrived at my house a few days ago. I was already feeling nostalgic about the magazine as I read through it for the last time. True to form, it was packed with great ideas and tips. I'm going to incorporate my favorite idea into Sophie's big girl room:

Designer Kelly Wearstler turned an unused room into a library for her boys. Her trick was to line the walls with custom built shallow bookshelves which displayed the book covers facing out.

image via Cookie Magazine, Nov. 2009

I'm going to copy the look and turn one entire wall of Sophie's room into a reading wall by using the Ikea Ribba Picture Ledge.

image via IKEA

Monday, October 26, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge

The main objective for our trip down to Williamsburg was to go to Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park resort. My first impression was that it was a lot cleaner than I expected, given that it caters to families with small children. The slides were very exciting, but left me feeling nauseated. Darren and Sophie had a nice time, and I would probably make this a yearly, or bi-annual little getaway. I didn't take pictures of the waterpark, since I was too busy watching Sophie. I did, however, take pictures of the kids horsing around before bedtime.

I don't even want to know who the kids called.

A kiss before leaving to go back to our own room.

Colonial Williamsburg

We had a lot of fun this weekend, going on a very short road trip to Williamsburg. One of the places we visited was Colonial Williamsburg. We were there only briefly, but were able to see most of the area nonetheless. Sophie loved running around freely on the car-less streets and seeing the horses that helped people get around in the old days.

There were actually some very chic wares for sale in Williamsburg. I especially liked this blue and white pottery and the various bell jars.

Rustic wool throws. If only I didn't have so much clutter in my house already.

No cutesy bonnets for my little patriot--three-cornered hats are so much cooler!


Yay! Sophie's birthday made Ohdeedoh, one of my favorite blogs for kid-friendly home decor. See the post here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

At the Carwash

We have a lot of things going on this weekend, so Sophie and I were up and out of the house early today. We started off the morning by doing Meals on Wheels, and then came home and cleaned out our car. The inside of my car was getting pretty filthy, and since we have a little road trip planned for this weekend, I went to get it washed and detailed.

At one point, Sophie turned away from her video and noticed that she was in a dark, wet tunnel and she was not liking it.

Killing time inside the building, while our car is being cleaned.

Admiring the greeting cards, which have probably been there for years.

Pretty darn bored.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Best Meals are Simple Meals

I've been running on empty lately in the energy department, and have really been slacking on the cooking (and blogging) front. My poor family has resorted to foraging for the past few dinners, so tonight I was determined to make a healthy meal for them. I'm trying to minimize the amount of processed food that we eat, so usually I cook really simple, straightforward recipes. I ended up making this, which was super easy and only took about 20 minutes from beginning to end:

Wild Sockeye Salmon with Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette
Organic Golden Mashed Potatoes with Green Onions
Organic Baby Spinach Sauteed in Olive Oil and Garlic

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dreamlets Thinko

Another really cool gift that Sophie got was a Dreamlets Thinko. There are ugly dolls, and then there are Dreamlets. What sets Dreamlets apart is that each doll has a different "personality", which is supposedly reflective of its owner. So, Thinko is "booksmart and thoughtful", which is what her benefactor thought of Sophie. Very sweet.

Food Face

Originally, I wasn't going to write about the gifts that Sophie received for her birthday, even though everyone was so generous and thoughtful. Some of her gifts were so clever however, that I just had to share these newly discovered products with you. OK, maybe they've been out there forever (but I've never heard of them before).

One of our most creative friends gave Sophie Food Face, a Mr. Potatohead-esque plate crafted from "hotel-quality, food-safe, high-fire ceramic". This plate is a culinary canvas of sorts, with a simple face that can be transformed into a myriad of looks by whatever you're serving for dinner. We haven't tried it at mealtime yet, but Sophie loves it so much, she's napping with it in her crib right now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Black Interior Doors

A sneak peek of interior designer Ellen Hanson's New York City apartment via Design*Sponge has got the gears in my head churning about painting my doors black. We've already painted the front door a glossy black, but now I'm thinking that turning the boring old builder's standard six-panel doors in our house into shiny black doors would really make them pop.

all images via Design*Sponge

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crewcuts Winter

For some strange, unknown reason every time the cold weather starts creeping in, I feel as though I'm not dressing Sophie warmly enough. Therefore, I am constantly looking at winter hats, scarves and gloves. J.Crew just debuted their first cold weather accessories for this season and I'm loving it. Now, I just have to decide which set to go with!