Monday, May 18, 2009

HandMade House

My husband and I recently visited a local contemporary art museum and picked up a free art magazine. It was typically full of ads, but there were a few interesting features, including one about The HandMade House at the Ramble.

This home features work from 116 artists, and pretty much everything was designed and made custom for this project - from the door fittings, rugs and chandeliers, to the furniture, sinks, and countertops. I love the living room above, but every room is amazing. Please visit the website to see lovely photos of each room and many of the handmade pieces. I've spent hours ogling the beautiful details and making plans for my own dream home someday.

I'm very fond of craftsman design and the prairie/arts & crafts/bungalow/mission style and much of that was incorporated into the HandMade House. This bathroom is beautiful and the last picture is my favorite. I have always wanted built in bookcases for a long hall somewhere, especially with an open feel on the other side, like the stair banisters here, or a row of tall windows for the dream house in my head.

Photos courtesy of the HandMade House at the Ramble ©2008 Stewart Young

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thanks for making my day

This YouTube video by Jon Schmidt was the bright spot in a day full of lows (so far). Things are bound to be better after naps.

Thanks to all those who passed it on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Boys Love Thomas

Thanks to Mom Select, my family saw the show: Thomas the Train, Live on Stage. The closest performance was in Tucson, about 2 hours away, but we turned it into a fun overnight trip. So in addition to seeing the show, my boys also enjoyed staying in a cheap hotel and visiting the Air & Space Museum.

The seats were pretty good, and could have been better if I had read the fine print and mailed my vouchers in early for the best available seats instead of waiting until the day of the show. Here's my husband and sons at the show:

My husband live Tweeted during the show:

Reporting from Thomas & Friends Live On Stage: the anticipation for Thomas
& James is unbelievable!
6:53 PM Mar 17th from web

Reporting from T&F LoS: Heeeeeere's Thomas! (Mass hysteria & bedlam ensue from 3000 4 year olds)
7:02 PM Mar 17th from web

Reporting from T&F LoS: Sir Topham Hatt, Master of Ceremony (turn off phones & no flash photos). *Can we hire this guy out? What authority!
7:11 PM Mar 17th from web

Reporting from T&F: Oh no! Confusion & Delay in Sodor!
7:16 PM Mar 17th from web

Reporting from T&F: Cinders & Ashes we need to hurry if we are going to save the circus!
7:20 PM Mar 17th from web

Reporting from T&F: Henry, James, & Percy join Thomas to prove themselves "Really Useful Engines." Toot Toot!
7:37 PM Mar 17th from web

If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does. We really enjoyed it. Thanks, Mom Select!
(Yes, that says Mar 17th. I'm a little behind on the reporting.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top Three Idol Fashions

I sat down to write my weekly post about what the American Idol contestants were wearing tonight, but I'm giving up. I already skipped the post last week. I can't write about fashion when the top four are dressed up for rock week. I barely wanted to come back and watch again this week.

I was ready to start again, and am writing this on my laptop while I watch - but I can't do it. All the girls in pretty outfits are gone and we're left with three guys. And they wear mostly grey and black and I'm tired of it. I'm not saying they should wear something different, but I don't want to analyze it.


I'm saving myself for Project Runway.

Monday, May 11, 2009

If I had a girl...

... I'd choose this bedding for her room. I love the colors, the birds, and all the fun coordinating patterns. It's made from organic cotton and only $45 for an entire set! Walmart really delivers sometimes.

There is a similar set for boys, which is also adorable, but does not contain enough super heroes or the color orange for my guys.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pancakes, Mmmmm

Pancakes are my favorite food, followed closely by waffles. I do use a mix sometimes, but I will not use any mix that calls for water as the only addition. I like the Bisquick; I grew up on it. Every Sunday morning, or afternoon (depending on church times) my dad would make pancakes. And a couple years ago my friend, Jane, shared her make-a-mix recipe, which uses half wheat flour & is extra delicious. I now keep that mix on hand & am planning to make it in bulk and can it soon.

This morning I tried Pioneer Woman's pancake recipe, freshly posted this week. And it made the most beautiful pancakes I've ever seen! Perfectly fluffy and golden brown. They smelled great, thanks to the 3 teaspoons of vanilla. But they tasted kind of... blah. I hate to say it. Syrup helped. But the 3 tablespoons of baking powder made the taste way too strong for me. My four year old wouldn't even eat them, saying they tasted funny. I need a different leavening agent.

My favorite, tried and true recipe is Martha Stewart's Best Buttermilk Pancakes. It only has 2 tsp. of baking powder and 1 tsp. of baking soda to react with the buttermilk and give you fluffy pancakes. They are moist and a little spongy, but in a delicate way and are great with add-ins like blueberries or chocolate chips. (Photo and recipe from Martha Stewart's website.)

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes nine 6-inch pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle

1. Heat griddle to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
2. Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or reserved bacon fat onto griddle. Wipe off excess.
3. Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
4. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm.

I'm also a huge fan of this recipe for Banana Sour Cream Pancakes, which I found years ago in a Redbook magazine. I only make them occasionally, because they're a little more work, but so worth it. The recipe in the magazine is listed as coming from Bette's Ocean View Diner - visit their website to buy mixes and view other recipes. (Recipe and photo from January 2004 Redbook)

Banana & Sour Cream Pancakes
2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a separate bowl, beat together:
2 large eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 & 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. melted butter
Add wet to dry ingredients and stir in:
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 ripe banana, thinly sliced
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Cook on a lightly oiled skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Top with sour cream, sliced bananas, chopped walnuts, and syrup.

If you love pancakes I know you will enjoy these recipes. For more mouth watering recipes visit Randi's Recipe Box Swap. Randi posted about pancakes this month too, and included a delicious looking berry syrup.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How To Have Style

While browsing at my local library several months ago, I came across a book called How to Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi. And I've perpetually had it checked out since then. I'm seriously monopolizing it and should probably just buy a copy, but the library has more than one. To buy your own copy at a great price, click on the image below.

The biggest thing I learned from this book is that I need to be chosen as the subject of a book or television show about makeovers. Because having a group of professionals on your side makes a world of difference. The style team for this book includes a fashion stylist, hairstylist, makeup artist, and Isaac Mizrahi himself. I guarantee they could make me look fabulous. And I suppose the point of a book like this is to glean some of the expertise they use on the subjects in the book and apply it to yourself. Not as satisfying, but financially a much more viable option.

How to Have Style starts with some basic information and concepts in the introduction, then jumps to chapters featuring one lucky woman each. Isaac and the team polish up each woman, making changes where needed, but keeping all the good too. That's one plus of this book compared to tv makeover shows - Isaac really goes with what the women like/want and what will suit their personality and lifestyle. He doesn't throw everything out and start over. He doesn't do an entire makeover, changing these women into something they are not. He works with them.

This book includes twelve women, of varying ages, vocations, body shapes, and style parameters. I love this! You will find someone who matches you, and will find tips in many other chapters that work for you too. We learn How To Have Style...
... on a Budget
... When You're Petite
... When Traveling on Business
... and Reinvent Yourself
... and Wear Denim
... When You're Not a Size 12
... and Wear Colors
... by Spending More on Less
... and Be Funny and Sexy
... in the Evening
... by Growing Up
... and Wake Up from a Jeans Coma

Finding your style starts with an inspiration board. Isaac suggests creating your own from a basic cork board, compiling any images or items that speak to you. And we find each woman's inspiration board at the beginning of her chapter, and then discover how the team turn that into a personal style.

I loved the information sections at the back of the book too. My favorite was What You Need - listing key items in shoes, bags, jewelry, and bras. Visit Isaac Mizrahi's website to learn more about the How To Have Style concept. There is even an online community - make your own inspiration board and view others' boards and profiles.