Archive for February, 2009

Fashioning Interiors with Spring Dresses from Tobi

February 20, 2009

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One of my most-missed Domino columns will be their ‘Outfit to Room‘ transformations. So when I saw the fabulous patterns on these new spring arrivals from Tobi—some of which are 20% off until Monday!—I couldn’t resist pairing them with a few of my favourite interiors. The swinging ’60’s London vibe of this See by Chloe dress perfectly reflects the boho granny appeal of a vermillion velvet settee.

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Baby pink gets an edgy update with a graphic black and white print in this piece from Alexander Wang. I love the look reinterpreted as a bold wallpaper and a sweet, curvy chair!

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If grown-ups went to preschool, we’d definitely hit the playground in clothes like this button-up jumper by Insight. Storytime would find us gathered on a very familiar looking rug, and then we’d all retire for a nap beneath a vibrant rainbow of flowers.

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This striped textured dress by Aussie label ‘Something’ is so fierce it hurts. Channel glam rock cool by contrasting clean-lined antiques in black and gold with a pebbly, washed out rug.

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The temptation to pair this maxi-dress from Velvet with a hippy-inspired room was strong. But I’d rather see it dressed up with a cropped leather jacket in cream and a pair of delicate lace-up sandals–much more classy continental than crunchy granola!

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Leave it to Juicy to throw us a curveball with this Jackie-O style dress. The prints say ‘See you at the PTA meeting’, but the gold details—the buttons on the bodice, a swing-arm lamp in the room—ask ‘Which way to St. Tropez?’

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Finally, a soft jersey sundress from Velvet is translated into the serene pinks and mauves of a casual mid-century seating arrangement. Tie-dyed swirls speak to a relaxed beach locale—makes a vacation sound pretty good right about now!

All fashion credits courtesy of Tobi.com. Interiors credits: 1. William Waldron 2. Vogue Living Australia
3. Living Etc. 4. Domino 5. Annie Schlecter 6. Source Unknown 7. Carlu Seaver

Crazy Easy German Chocolate Cake and Our Giveaway Winners!

February 19, 2009

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Well we have the results of our ‘Baked: New Frontiers in Bakinggiveaway: Melanie from You Are My Fave will be receiving a copy of this incredible cookbook and Rachel from Heart of Light is the lucky winner of the fancy pants muffin papers! Both lovely ladies have awesome blogs that I encourage you to check out. And before I part with my copy of the cookbook, I leave you with the recipe for the cake that I made for a co-worker’s wife on Valentine’s Day (long story, don’t ask; suffice to say that I’ll take any excuse to bake a cake).

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The great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. Often with cakes I get one of two things: scrumptious cake that melts in your mouth but is too delicate to work with, or sturdy cake that holds up well but tastes like sawdust. This cake gives you the best of both worlds. A rich crumb offered deep chocolate flavour, and a firm but fudgy texture allowed me to manhandle the layers into the two-tiered creation you see here. Top it with your favourite ganache, throw on some fresh flowers, and get ready to beat your adoring fans away with a stick!

German Chocolate Cake
Recipe courtesy of ‘Baked: New Frontiers in Baking‘ by Matt Lewis

2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose with good results)
3/4 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 1 /4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Dust the pans with cocoa powder and shake out excess. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine coffee and buttermilk. Using an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until fluffy, then add eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add vanilla and beat. Mix in flour mixture, alternating with coffee/buttermilk mixture, in three additions, beating after each. Fold in melted chocolate. Divide batter into prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, and remove when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack, then invert pans to remove cake and let cool completely. Frost/devour as you desire!

Can’t Get Enough: JessLC Jewelry

February 19, 2009

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I am so thrilled to introduce you to Jessica Constable, the designer and driving force behind
Jess LC Jewelry. Jess has been creating jewelry since she was 15, and now at the tender age of 24 she is running her own design studio and producing some of the most exquisite handmade pieces I have ever seen. Fresh from her launch of a brand new collection of must-have bracelets, Jess chatted with me about her design approach, her inspiration, and her passion for jewelry!

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I first asked Jess to describe the overall ethos of her line. “My design philosophy centers around the idea of being “naturally graceful.” When I began the line a few years ago, my perspective was very functional- the jewelry needed to compliment the customer’s outfit. The items were everyday pieces that could become chameleons- working with every outfit in a closet. The best example of this is our State St. Collection.”

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Always staying true to her mantra of ‘naturally graceful’, Jess has grown her line considerably. “As I have evolved the collections, I have added more “statement pieces” which can actually take basic clothing, like jeans and a tee shirt, and transform it into something special. The most distinctive examples of standout jewelry in my line are the Elm St. Feather Earrings and the Rush St. Swarovski crystal necklaces. I really like how the line now has these complementary “staple” and “statement” pieces.”

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Above all, Jess focuses on creating pieces that are at once on-trend and timeless. “Inspiration for my jewelry can come from something abstract, like a texture, color, or shape I see repeated in clothing trends. Right now I like to keep an eye on what J. Crew is doing with their colors for each season, since it’s a good gauge of what women buying my jewelry will have in their closets. I also like looking at vintage jewelry for silhoutette ideas and then mixing it up by adding a more contemporary material.”

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Jess is not only a talented designer, she’s also a thoughtful and savvy businesswoman. “Listening to customers is very helpful. My newest collection, Addison, launched this week and is entirely bracelets. We got so many requests at jewelry shows for more bracelets that we pulled inspiration from our other Chicago collections and repeated those themes- which not only makes the overall Jess LC collection more distinct, but customers can collect pieces from the line that will relate to one another nicely.”

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Of course Jess loves all her pieces, but even designers play favorites! “The most personally satisfying pieces in my collection would have to be the Elm St. Feather Earrings, the Rush St. Horizontal Swarovski Crystal necklace in silver and gray, and the Rush St. Layering necklace in silver. I love these pieces and wear them throughout the week. Then there is the new Addison collection, which has the Three Strand Bracelet with Links. This bracelet complements my other favorite pieces beautifully and is perfect as a standout piece on it’s own.”

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Not only is JessLC jewelry gorgeous, it’s incredibly affordable; Jess believes that everyone should have access to jewelry that makes them feel special. Plus she has devoted a portion of her line to raising funds for social causes. Activist, designer and business brain behind a line sold in over 95 stores nationwide: is there anything this gal doesn’t do? Oh yeah, she has an awesome blog as well!

Tune in next week for tips from Jess on how to build your jewelry wardrobe!

Book Review: A Passion for Collecting by Caroline Clifton-Mogg

February 18, 2009

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Confession time: I picked up a copy of ‘A Passion for Collecting ‘ over two weeks ago, and I’m so captivated by the photos that I have yet to read a single word of text! But really, this is one of those rare interiors books in which you can actually feel the presence of the people who live in these homes–their personalities shine through the objets they collect and the way they display them. I want to meet each and every inhabitant of these spaces. Don’t you just adore the mix of Rococo opulence and sleek modernism in the office above? That tall purple glassware on the desk has me drooling!

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Clearly the person behind this dining vignette has spent a lot of time at French flea markets. I’d love to have tagged along while they hunted down that stunning chandelier and those folding bistro chairs. And I can’t even imagine how riotous it would be to have afternoon tea with the proprietor of the salon below!

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I don’t usually go for loads of antiques, but the colors of this parlour keep the look fresh and youthful. If I had such gorgeous architectural moulding, I’d for sure paint it just like this!

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Collections don’t have to be obscure and exorbitant; sometimes everyday objects make the loveliest collections of all! This hall of mirrors elevates the humble reflecting glass to a work of art.

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Not every room in the book is overflowing with objects. The restraint of this sitting area–the carefully balanced mix of modern art and classical furniture—is simply exquisite. Plus you know I love me some pink walls!

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A collector after my own heart: I adore vintage fashion prints and have a small but much-loved collection of my own. The casually organic display here makes the prints seem less like artifacts and more like members of the family.

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Another room from the same house: the colors of the bedding pick up the vibrant hues of the fashion drawings above the bed. A spot-on example of how a collection can inspire the rest of your decor without getting too matchy-matchy.

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And finally, it’s not even clear to me what this person collects but I want some! The mix of black and white photos, ink drawings, rustic farm tools and ceramics–the pieces are completely disparate yet they work perfectly together. Is it possible to collect a feeling, a sensibility? Would you say, “Hello, my name is Anne and I collect serenity?”

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Tell me: Do you have any collections? What do they say about you? And if you don’t, what would you collect if you could?

All images courtesy of ‘A Passion for Collecting ‘ by Caroline Clifton-Mogg.

Brooklyn Bridge + Pink Balloons= Best Proposal Ever!

February 17, 2009

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I couldn’t resist spreading the word about this one–Jill over at My Spinning Wheels helped her brother propose to his girlfriend over the weekend. They recruited strangers to hold balloons as the lucky lady walked across the bridge towards her beloved. Read the whole story here and tell me if it’s not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!

P.S. While you’re there be sure to explore Jill’s fabulous blog. It’s one of my new faves!

I’m Everywhere Today!

February 17, 2009

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I don’t often post about beauty products, simply because I’m such an addict that I’d have to start a whole other blog to fit in all my favourites. So I was thrilled to get my beauty gab on when Tina of the fabulous Luphia Loves asked me to participate in her Beauty Tuesday interview series—please pop over to read my top beauty picks!

Also check out the terrific article that Lynne (of Tea for Joy) wrote for the Times of London. It’s a really insightful piece on food blogging—I’d recommend it even if I didn’t have a cameo!

And speaking of food, don’t forget to enter the cookbook giveaway below!

Image Credit: Amy Neunsinger

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins and a Giveaway!

February 16, 2009

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Well the long weekend is over and it’s back to the grindstone. However I’m still basking in the warm glow of three whole days with nothing to do but hang out with my sweetie! These muffins are a great example of why I love a long weekend; when else can you laze in bed before heading to the kitchen to whip up something hot and tasty for breakfast? So in honour of long weekends, I’m giving away a copy of the cookbook that this recipe came from. It’s called ‘Baked: New Frontiers in Baking‘, and it’s an amazing collection of decadent recipes from the Brooklyn bakery of the same name. All you have to do is tell me your favourite breakfast to enjoy on a lounge-about morning! I’ll randomly draw a name on Thursday and announce the winner Friday.

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Of course you didn’t think I’d leave you hanging without the recipe for these beautiful muffins, did you? As sweet treats go, these verge closer to cupcake territory but don’t let that stop you from eating them for breakfast! Moist and heady with fragrant banana, they hide gooey pockets of melted chocolate and boast a perfect—not too light, not too dense—texture. I had never used the fancy baking papers pictured here in the photo, so I picked some up on a whim and I’m never going back! They are foolproof, and you don’t loose half your muffin to the accordion folds of a typical baking cup. In fact I love them so much, I’ll pick a second name and give away a stash of ’em!

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
Recipe Courtesy of ‘Baked: New Frontiers in Baking‘ by Matt Lewis

1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I used about a tablespoon ’cause I love me some coffee!)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (next time I would use less, and I’d use bittersweet chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either line a muffin tin with papers, spray with non-stick cooking spray, or if using fancy pants papers as above, just set them on a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, stir together bananas, sugars, butter, milk and egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, stirring until barely combined. Gently fold in chips–don’t overwork the batter!–and then fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing. Enjoy!

Guest Post at The Lil Bee!

February 16, 2009

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The lovely Miss Melisa over at The Lil Bee was kind enough to ask me to participate in her fabulous series, Bee’s Stimulus Package. I put together an inspiration board that I think is very stimulating indeed—please pop over to see the whole board and read my commentary!

It’s a holiday here in the States so I’ll keep my posts light, but I’ll be back tomorrow in full force after some much needed R&R. Have a good Monday everyone!

In the Bedroom with Diane von Furstenburg for The Rug Company

February 13, 2009

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I had so much fun with my virtual shopping trip inspired by Alice Temperley’s collection for The Rug Company, I thought I’d do a little Valentine’s Day round-up based on Diane von Furstenburg’s gorgeous rug designs! So what’s your Valentine’s Day bedroom style?

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It’s all about refined girly romance with this fun and flirty heart rug. A tufted velvet headboard is perfect for long, loungy breakfasts in bed. Store your collection of silky pink underthings in this curvy chest of drawers. Vintage suzani pillows and a handblown glass chandelier add artisinal flare, while softly scented lotions and potions are gentle enough for the even most delicate lady!

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Perhaps you’d like to spice things up a little more? A sleek leather fainting couch and a leopard rug are just what the doctor ordered! African wood pedestal tables march to the beat of a jungle drum, and a flashy floor lamp provides glam mood lighting. A needlepoint pillow pays homage to the days of disco, while a sexy massage set says, ‘Are you trying to seduce me Mrs. Robinson?’

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone, and have a great weekend no matter what your bedroom style!

Dream the Impossible Dream: Philip Lim Cropped Trench

February 12, 2009

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Okay, so I promised only to invest in sensible, timeless classics this year. But that doesn’t stop me from craving this completely frivolous of-the-moment trench from Philip Lim! I’m loving the abbreviated length, the shoulder details, the casual drape. And that tiered ruffle cape has sent me into convulsions of ecstasy! I’d wear it with my new favourite jeans, a clean lined yet brightly colored shopper, and a pair of punky studded flats to offset the avant-garde girliness of the trench.

Tell me: what is your most impractical desire this season?