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17 posts from September 2012

29 September 2012

Saturday Link Love

 

piebox

 

At Piebox, they create raw pine boxes designed to transport a 9 inch pie safely and easily.  I may well be investing in one of these.

carrie-bradshaw-apartment-floorplan

Inaki Aliste Lizarralde draws incredibly detailed floorplans of the dwellings in famous TV shows. The post I wrote several years ago about Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment still gets hundreds of hits a week.

 

fictitious-dishes-heidi

 

In Fictitious Dishes, Dinah Fried recreates iconic food of literature in her food photography.  Here’s the grilled cheese from ‘Heidi’  that sounded so delicious when I was a child.

 

fruitleather

 

Sheri Silver has been making fruit leather from all the excess fruit sitting in her fridge and I must do the same, since we’ve been going a little crazy picking wild blackberries recently.

 

lottajansdotterfishseddy

 

Lotta Jansdotter is launching a new line at Fishs Eddy.  The above invitation is from her Facebook page.

Have a great weekend!  I will be going to the North West Chocolate Fest tomorrow. Anyone else got some exciting plans?

   

28 September 2012

WTF Friday: Prada Spring 2013 Shoes

 

prada shoes spring 2013

 

Here are Miuccia Prada’s latest shoes.  Apparently the ‘socks’ are soft leather booties to which you can strap different shoe platforms. I’m not sure that makes them better or worse.

I have to admit that though my first reaction to these was ‘WTF?’ as I’ve been putting this post together I’ve come to appreciate them more as, I dunno, performance art or something.

And if I were very tall and very skinny and very rich, I might be tempted to wear the pink ones with skinny jeans and a simple cashmere sweater.

What do you chaps think?

   

27 September 2012

Father Rabbit

 

Why oh why oh WHY isn’t beautifully curated online shop Father Rabbit based in the US?

 

father-rabbit-onlineIt is incredibly unfair.  The good news though is that the New Zealand-based shop, run by husband and wife team Claudia Zinzan and Nick Hutchinson will shp worldwide at flat rates. 

Don’t tell the Husband, but I may have placed a teensy order today.

   

26 September 2012

Adventures in Cooking: Oven Dried Tomatoes in Oil

 

It’s been the most incredible warm, dry, sunny September here in Seattle and the whole place, even my little sidewalk veggie patch, is overflowing with ripe tomatoes. (If you’ve ever been to Seattle in September before you’ll know that it’s usually green tomato central round here).

 

roastedtomatoes-3

 

The farmers’ markets are teeming with fragrant ripe toms of every shape, size and hue and I’ve been desperately roasting them, drying them, making sauce and jugs of gazpacho (on the blog soon) until it comes out of our ears, in a frantic race against time to make the most of the bounty.

One quick and easy way to use up great tomatoes, particularly any pretty cherry or small tomatoes you can find, is to dry them in the oven.

Pick off the stalks and calyxes and wash the tomatoes.  Pat them dry with kitchen towel.  Put them in a bowl and add around a tablespoon of olive oil and a little pepper and good salt (I usually use Maldon Sea Salt). Swish everything around with your hands until each tomato is coated with oil and seasoning and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You could add some chopped fresh herbs at this point.

 

roastedtomatoes-4

 

Heat the oven to its lowest possible temperature – my oven goes down to 180 degrees F (around 80 degrees C) – and then bake the tomatoes for a number of hours until they reach the level of dryness you want. 

These have been cooked down to a medium level of squishiness (mi cuit),

 

roastedtomatoes-2 roastedtomatoes

 

Some of my mi cuit tomatoes have been stored in Ziploc bag in the freezer, ready to be slipped into sauces, casseroles, soups, stews in the winter months, but I also experimented in preserving some of them in oil.

Sterilise a pretty jar and pack with dried tomatoes.  I added my tomatoes hot from the oven so as to the flavour the oil as much as possible. Pour some good olive oil over the top leaving around an inch of headspace and tuck in garlic, herbs, spices or small chilis for flavour. I used branches of rosemary and slivers of garlic in this batch.

 

roastedtomatoes-5

 

I’m not sure how long these will last as they have not been properly canned.  I suggest you use yours up with two or three weeks (this will not be a problem as they so utterly delicious).  I’ve had mine for two weeks now and they are still perfect and taste mindblowingly good in salad or as an accompaniment to charcuterie. When you’ve used up all the tomatoes, the flavoured oil will be fabulous on salad or pasta.

Last night I chopped some of mine up fairly finely and added them to some melted butter and lemon juice as a topping for roasted halibut and they truly were exceptional.

   

25 September 2012

Go Fug Your Room: Nina Garcia’s New York Apartment

 

This month Architectural Digest is featuring the Upper East Side apartment of legendary fashion editor and US Project Runway judge Nina Garcia.

Which I was very much expecting to like as I enjoy her personal style very much (check out Sirs T and Lo’s ‘Judging the Judges’ columns for some examples). 

 

nina-garcia-apartment (2)

 

And at first I thought I did. The light airiness of the apartment itself is lovely and the colour scheme seemed refreshing and unusual.

 

nina-garcia-apartment (3)

 

But oh, Nina, Nina.  The more I looked at it I realised that I didn’t really like it at all. The colour story is only interesting because the stylist brought in some hot pink flowers and green leaves.  Look more closely and you’ll see that it’s a rather bland combination of white, grey, terracotta and camel, with some powder blue accents.

It also all seems rather uptight and uncomfortable – I think due to the lack of personal items beyond busts and artwork, and the spiky, brittle, skinny, fashion model legs on nearly every single piece of furniture. These are chairs and sofas made for perching, not for cosy snuggling.

The stone bust, vase and fireplace surround also seem rather hard and unfriendly, while the hideous carpet in the dining room, which admittedly is one of the few things with any personality in the entire apartment, looks like some fiendishly complicated children’s board game.

 

nina-garcia-apartment

 

This is apparently the apartment that Nina shares with her young family, and though I’m a great believer in keeping some spaces free of kid stuff, the fact that there is no trace of them in any of the rooms on show – no photos, kid art, toys, clothes or kid-friendly furniture -  seems a little sad. Or perhaps they’re occasionally permitted to play on the dining room carpet when their mother isn’t looking.

All in all the whole ambience just seems too controlled and impersonal, with any hint of quirkiness, personality, warmth, exuberance or life, expertly stifled by layer upon layer of expensive ‘good taste’.  But heck what do I know.

 

nina-garcia-apartment (4)

 

The closet, on the other hand, is completely and utterly to die for.

 

nina-garcia-apartment (5)

 

What do you chaps think?

 

   

24 September 2012

Emmys 2012: Canary Yellow Dresses

 

So you’re an uber stylish mega lady celebrity attending one of the big celebrity bashes of the year and you decide to wear a colour which is rarely seen on the red carpet but which will really make you stand out in the crowd.

Unfortunately for you, you have forgotten that mirrormirror is clearly the uber stylish mega lady celebrity’s fashion blog of choice (which is astonishing since we rarely discuss fashion) and that back in September 2011 we were discussing Caitlin Moran’s maxim that ‘yellow goes surprisingly well with everything’.

 

yellow-dresses-emmys-2012

So if you thought you were going to stand out in the crowd wearing your canary yellow dress, you clearly had another think coming.

Can you imagine how pissed off these women were yesterday evening?

UPDATE: Oops. Just found another one.

 

leslie-mann-emmys

   

22 September 2012

Saturday Link Love

 

I’m trying to be a bit more active on social media nowadays, posting up interesting things I see around and about to the mirrormirror Facebook page and to my Twitter stream.

I thought I’d also start doing a regular Saturday link round up for those of you who inexplicably don’t follow my aimless meanderings on social media, just in case you find yourselves with time on your hands at the weekend

 

Liberty Christmas Crackers

 

Apologies for talking about Christmas in September, but these Liberty print Christmas crackers are too beautiful not to share {via the beautiful new blog from erstwhile British rock chick and now designer Pearl Lowe}.

 

roasted2

 

I went to a class at the Pantry at Delancey a week or two back and was lucky enough to try their homemade roasted pepper hot sauce.  Which was amazing. You definitely need to make this.

 

Gold-Marmite

Marmite has brought out a limited edition gold version with edible golden flecks. I love it. (British in joke). Poor bereft overseas Marmite fans such as myself can order it from the official expat page on the Marmite website, which ships worldwide.

 

dowlingduncandollars
dowlingduncandollars1

 

Finally someone has worked out that it would make sense to have differently coloured dollar bills. And making them different lengths to ensure better money management is a fabulously ingenious idea.

I just wish these were real,  I get so confused. {From designboom via the lovely Tula}.

   

21 September 2012

WTF Friday: WTF Stamp

 

I don’t think I’ve ever needed a piece of office equipment more.

 

WTFstamp

{Available from Knock Knock.  I love that according to the site it now comes with a ‘smooth, satisfying ker-chunk’. That makes all the difference.}

   

20 September 2012

Fifty Shades of Decor

 

Come and visit Christian Grey’s penthouse at the Escala in Seattle.

I have yet another terrible confession to make. I have been reading over-hyped spankbuster Fifty Shades of Grey.

   

escalapenthousefiftyshades

 

And yes it is excruciatingly badly written, the sex scenes are repetitive and surprisingly dull, the hero is a borderline psychopath and the heroine is gobsmackingly, or rather, bottomsmackingly irritating. But yes I read it through to the bitter end (and, oh the shame, the two sequels) and yes, I will go and see the movie if they cast Ryan Gosling.  I really hate myself though.

 

escalapenthouse50shades9

 

As an aside, by far the best thing about it are these hysterical reviews on Goodreads featuring the most inspired use of cheesy animated gifs ever. It’s worth reading the books for these alone.

One extremely amusing aspect of the books, for me at least, is that British author E L James set them in Seattle, evidently without having set foot on the American continent, let alone in the Pacific Northwest, and having seemingly done most of her research from a map (held upside down) and real estate websites.

I can see the fabulous Escala condo building, where Christian has his wicked way with lip chewing, ever flushing, Ana from my bedroom window, and for the delectation and delight of the mere handful of my erudite readers who will have read such garbage, I have found some photos of Christian’s penthouse online.

And it is amazing. Enjoy.

 

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escalapenthousefiftyshades10 escalapenthousefiftyshades3

 

escalapenthousefiftyshades2

 

escalapenthousefiftyshades5

 

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{All photos by Choi Yee Wong from I.C.E Digital Studio}

Inexplicably there are no photos of the ‘red room of pain’ though.

   

19 September 2012

Seattle’s Great Wheel

 

Yesterday was my birthday and for a special treat we decided to take a spin on Seattle’s Great Wheel - the new super Ferris wheel which opened this summer on Seattle’s waterfront. 

 

ferriswheelseattle-10

ferriswheelseattle

ferriswheelseattle-15

 

It’s not quite the London Eye, but the views over downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay are just as spectacular.  The sun shone for me yesterday and we were lucky enough to board just as the sun was setting over the Olympic mountains.

 

ferriswheelseattle-12

 

The Husband treated us to the exclusive, all black VIP Gondola – which was expensive but worth it I think for the super comfortable bucket seats, which for some reason made me feel much less nervous (I’m not so good with heights), the see-through glass floor and the fact that we didn’t have to share with another party.  I think we also got a longer ride than others too (and some super uglyass tee-shirts).

 

ferriswheelseattle-6

ferriswheelseattle-13

 

Here’s the view down through the glass-bottom of the gondola

 

ferriswheelseattle-11 ferriswheelseattle-9

ferriswheelseattle-5

ferriswheelseattle-3

 

And here’s a gratuitous shot of some folks on the pier watching the sun going down, just because I like it really.

 

ferriswheelseattle-14

Seattle peeps, I highly recommend this if you haven’t been already.  I understand the light show is pretty major too.

14 September 2012

WTF Friday: Wenlock and Mandeville, A Retraction

 

And so the Paralympics have drawn to a close - though you’d never have noticed if you were relying on the shameful lack of coverage by NBC in the US – and Britain can go back to being its normal curmudgeonly self.

But in the meantime I have an apology to make.  Do you remember this recent WTF Friday featuring Olympic and Paralympic Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville? And how scathing I was about their godawful ugliness (an opinion shared here by the Guardian)? And how no one in their right minds would possibly buy them?

Designer Grant Hunter has always defended them against the most scathing criticism by saying that children love them.

 

union-jack-wenlock

 

And guess who has pride of place amongst the very special stuffies who get the honour of sleeping with the Minx?

And who did we spent hours chasing after in London? (Though unfortunately we didn’t make it to Regent’s Park to find Sherlock Wenlock).

 

wenlock2

 

wenlock

The Minx adores him. We have four in total, in various sizes and colours.  The kids we were staying with in London adored him too.

Grant Hunter, Wenlock, Mandeville. I apologise.

   

13 September 2012

Monthly Trend Report: Chalkboard Paint

 

Hello again! It's me, Tina Ramchandani, from Life in Sketch. I'm back again with this month's trend report. It's a little funny, actually. When I wrote last month's polka dot trend report, I felt the polka dots becoming more popular, but I didn't think they would explode so quickly. As soon as the article posted, I felt as though I was seeing dots at every turn! It could just be that I had been noticing them more, but I really feel the trend is in full form now, and here to stay for a while. I've even invested in a tone on tone polka dot sweater. I can't wait for fall to arrive so I can wear it!

 

clip_image001

 

via Nicety // Onszelf // DesignSponge // DanataMachi // From Scandinavia with Love // Curbly // Houzz

This month I'd like to talk about chalk paint. Painting walls with a chalk board finish is an easy DIY idea for the home. It's also great for those who are scared of change, because you can always erase your chalk drawing and start over again. Benjamin Moore makes a chalk paint product, and I know there are others out there as well. The obvious use for chalk paint would be in kids' rooms, so the kids can have free range to be creative, and draw on the walls without causing much trouble. Another area would be a multi-use room, like a living room or kitchen. Yes, chalk paint is a nice decorative item, but it can also be useful for list making and recipes.

 

chalkboard-calendar

via VTWonen

Have you jumped on the chalk paint bandwagon? What do you think of being able to draw on the walls?

Thanks again Tina. Personally the very thought of chalkboards/blackboards sends me into paroxysms of goosebumps but that’s probably just me.

As ever, we’d love to know what you think of the trend – do you love it? have you used it? or do you just wish it would go away? Please comment and show Tina some love on her blog. I want to persuade her to stick around.

   

Love This Site: Catalog Living

 

You know those days when you seem to spend all your time picking up the cats’ stinky toys from the carpet, the daughter’s myriad accessories from every single freaking flat surface in the entire house and the Husband has left a trail of towels, paperwork and back copies of the Economist in his wake?  And you’re wishing that just occasionally your house looked just a teensy bit more like the the homes in the interiors mags?

Fortunately for my peace of mind, and thanks to the extremely amusing Catalog Living, we now know EXACTLY what those people who live in catalogs or even catalogues are REALLY thinking.

 

catalog-living

Elaine rushed to the dining room in a panic but was relieved to see that she misunderstood what Gary meant by “the number two on the table.”

 

catalog-living1

After years of using a computer, Gary was admittedly out of practice when it came to dramatically ripping paper out of the typewriter and tossing it in the trash.

 

catalog-living2

Gary thought his rough day was going to get the best of him until Elaine set down a tray holding what every man dreams of coming home to: an ice cold gin and tonic and a bound together stack of coverless paperbacks

More discussion of egregious interior styling here and here.

   

{Via Domestic Sluttery and lovely commenter Bushra }

11 September 2012

Fancy Hotel of the Week: Babington House

 

babington-house-5

Babington House’s cute little chapel

When it comes to fancy hotels, it’s not after all the décor or the food or the mattresses or the service which is the most important thing. It’s the ambience. That indefinable, indescribable ‘je ne sais quoi’.  That combination of all the aforementioned and more, which infuses the whole experience, and determines whether you’ll want to return.

Some hotels go for glamour, others for grandeur, some go for hipness and others prize efficiency.  At Babington House they do relaxation and and laid-back comfort on an epic scale. The sort of deep relaxation you’d love to experience at home -  if only the house were tidy, the chores were done and the kids were somewhere else. And if home really were a beautiful old stone country house with hundreds of years of history and its own stone chapel set deep in the English countryside.

 

babington-house-21

The grounds and pool are scattered with gloriously huge and comfortable loungers

 

This summer was our first time back at Babington since the Minx was born and we were not disappointed, if anything it was even more beautiful and cheerfully laid back than ever.

 

babington-house-3

Two storey ‘suite’ with its own terrace and gigantic bath

babington-house-2

Babington House

How do they achieve this? Well stunning décor, which gives the whole place a modern ‘country house’ vibe helps a lot. As does the beautiful planting throughout the grounds. Seriously it’s impossible to take a bad photo in this place.

The rooms are incredible. We were in a two-storey family suite with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small outside roof terrace, all equipped with every possible creature comfort.

The food is fabulous.  Classic and beautifully cooked comfort food at its very finest, served in either a beautiful formal dining room, the ‘deli’ where you could wander in whenever you want for coffee, breakfast or kids’ supper, or outside on the lawn.

 

babington-house-12

Breakfast. I wanted to steal all their ‘props’.

 

Add to that a ton of squashy loungers, deep leather sofas and soft velvet armchairs; unbelievably friendly staff; enormous and beautiful indoor and outdoor pools; funky chandeliers; quirky artwork; an exceptionally accommodating attitude towards the Minx and a bar which serves the most delicious caipirinhas known to man, and you’re onto a winner in my book.

 

Babington House1

babington-house-27

babington-house-20

 

Babington House2

This time we paid for all hotel accommodation ourselves.  It was worth every penny believe me.  Do treat yourselves next time you’re out in the Somerset countryside. Babington House, we will be back.

Fancy Hotel of the Week: Babington House

 

babington-house-5

Babington House’s cute little chapel

When it comes to fancy hotels, it’s not after all the décor or the food or the mattresses or the service which is the most important thing. It’s the ambience. That indefinable, indescribable ‘je ne sais quoi’.  That combination of all the aforementioned and more, which infuses the whole experience, and determines whether you’ll want to return.

Some hotels go for glamour, others for grandeur, some go for hipness and others prize efficiency.  At Babington House they do relaxation and and laid-back comfort on an epic scale. The sort of deep relaxation you’d love to experience at home -  if only the house were tidy, the chores were done and the kids were somewhere else. And if home really were a beautiful old stone country house with hundreds of years of history and its own stone chapel set deep in the English countryside.

 

babington-house-21

The grounds and pool are scattered with gloriously huge and comfortable loungers

 

This summer was our first time back at Babington since the Minx was born and we were not disappointed, if anything it was even more beautiful and cheerfully laid back than ever.

 

babington-house-3

Two storey ‘suite’ with its own terrace and gigantic bath

babington-house-2

Babington House

How do they achieve this? Well stunning décor, which gives the whole place a modern ‘country house’ vibe helps a lot. As does the beautiful planting throughout the grounds. Seriously it’s impossible to take a bad photo in this place.

The rooms are incredible. We were in a two-storey family suite with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a small outside roof terrace, all equipped with every possible creature comfort.

The food is fabulous.  Classic and beautifully cooked comfort food at its very finest, served in either a beautiful formal dining room, the ‘deli’ where you could wander in whenever you want for coffee, breakfast or kids’ supper, or outside on the lawn.

 

babington-house-12

Breakfast. I wanted to steal all their ‘props’.

 

Add to that a ton of squashy loungers, deep leather sofas and soft velvet armchairs; unbelievably friendly staff; enormous and beautiful indoor and outdoor pools; funky chandeliers; quirky artwork; an exceptionally accommodating attitude towards the Minx and a bar which serves the most delicious caipirinhas known to man, and you’re onto a winner in my book.

 

Babington House1

babington-house-27

babington-house-20

 

Babington House2

This time we paid for all hotel accommodation ourselves.  It was worth every penny believe me.  Do treat yourselves next time you’re out in the Somerset countryside. Babington House, we will be back.

06 September 2012

Les Jardins Macarons by Pierre Herme

 

pierre-herme-macaron

 

Since we’ve been chatting about both macarons and interesting food styling I thought I’d share the latest creations of master macaronier Pierre Herme’.

Through his online club ‘Les Jardins’ he is making a new limited edition flavour macaron available every month. Tragically they will only ship to the UK and Europe (which is officially NOT FAIR). 

Us poor unfortunates in the US and elsewhere in the world will have to make do with gazing longingly at the breathtaking food photography of French photographer Bernhard Winkelmann or attempt to make our own using Pierre Herme’s book ‘Macarons’ which I have, but which has officially scared the sh*t out of me, starting as it does with a chapter entitled ‘Thirty Two Steps to Successful Macaron Shells’.

I’m also wondering if some of these flavour combinations aren’t in reality ‘a step too far.’ Does someone want to buy some and report back?  I think I like the sound of Lime, Raspberry and Piment d’Espelette best.  What do you chaps think? The full list of monthly flavours released so far is here.

 

pierre-herme-macarons

Green Tea, Chanterelle and Lemon

pierre-herme-macarons6

Lemon and Caramelised Fennel

pierre-herme-macarons2

Lime, Raspberry, Piment d’Espelette

pierre-herme-macarons7

Chocolate & Lime

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Violet & Aniseed

All pictures by the amazing Bernhard Winkelmann.

The End of Summer

 

canoe-island-french-camp-3

 

It’s a sparkly, warm day today in Seattle but the leaves are turning just round the edges, the evenings are growing cooler, the Minx and I spent  yesterday picking blackberries and there’s definitely an undertone of autumn in the air.

We’re back after an incredible weekend at the Labor Day Family Weekend at Canoe Island French Camp in the San Juans and the Minx went back to school this morning.  My little tiny, itty bitty scrap of a baby has just started third grade.

It’s been a wonderful summer, but I can’t wait to start a new year for me too.  I have BIG PLANS and maybe this year I’ll even get to execute them.

In the meantime here are some photos of our weekend on Canoe Island. Man, that place is good for the soul.

 

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canoe-island-french-camp

canoe-island-french-camp-24

canoe-island-french-camp-13

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