31 January 2011

No More Kitschy Kitchens

As I search for inspiration for my mama's kitchen renovation, I am seeing so many smart spaces designed to be both functional and fabulous.  Gone are the days of "pretty" kitchens for show and display.  The spaces I'm seeing are efficient, ergonomic and so stylish. 

My first set of pictures comes from My French Kitchen .  This "cuisine" makes me think that if we ever decide to gut our kitchen, I will spend my money on the nicest commercial appliances and use whatever I have left to piece together shelves and storage.  Cabinets are so overrated.

I'm not sure where this picture came from, but I love the clutter.  This kitchen would probably send my roommate (fiance) into cardiac arrest, but I think it's wonderfully chaotic.

The next picture comes from Dorie Greenspan, my food and life idol.  I recently snatched her cookbook from my mom and I've been using it non stop and loving everything I've made.  Her kitchen is narrow and cluttered and just plain chic.  Only a French kitchen could have this much stuff and still look so perfectly assembled.

The next kitchen is from DesignSponge and it teeters perfectly between pretty and practical.  The natural light, the farmhouse sink, all that counterspace, that hood and those shelves.  This is my new dream kitchen.

27 January 2011

More Treasures Plus A Word on Scavenging

I am convinced that scavenger is a gene passed down from generation to generation.  My mom loathes junk stores and Antique shops and my dad would never buy anything second hand, but my grandfather was a one-of-a-kind scavenger.  His children will call him a junk collector who hated to throw things away, but I call him a trailblazing treasure hunter and most likely the reason I turned out this way.  My affinity for all things old, used, and/or unique started very young and I notice the trait in both my niece and nephew, a mere eight and three, respectively.  They will insist on keeping dried up leaves, seemingly ordinary stones, and other interesting items that have been carelessly discarded by the non-scavenger and regarded as "trash."  Recently, during a weekly clean up, my sister consolidated lincoln logs into one large bin and planned to discard the others, until my nephew (age 3), angered at the thought of sending them to the trash,  sternly convinced her that he would be needing those spare receptacles in the future.  I felt for the little guy and know that one day he'll take comfort in the fact that he is not alone, but comes from a long line of scavengers and pack rats.  And so today I salute fellow treasure hunters and stuff keepers around the world, without whom there would be no shrines full of treasure where I go to worship Saturdays or Tuesdays or any day I need to be inspired. 
Here are some thoughts and photos from my latest pilgrimage:

The Dude abides.  Yes, indeed these are bowling pins.  They are old, heavy, and so sculptural.  I want them for an entryway tableau or to use as bookends perhaps. 

Creeper.  This picture pretty much sums up why I love antique shops, especially old, damp, smelly warehouse ones.  As I quietly go up and down each aisle, I feel like I'm searching for lost treasure, encountering ghosts, thieves, and the occasional creepy bald mannequin.

I recently saw one of these in Country Living as part of a very glamorous all white tableau and I want it for my mantle.

 Tommy and I have been desperately seeking ice bucket for months.  I was so excited to show him this one that I found, which I think most would agree is cute as a button.  He did not enthuse, but I may have to get it anyway...

I thought this little guy was so cute.  I would love to spray him hot pink.

I think this is an old buoy of sorts.  It would look lovely next to my fireplace or on top of our china cabinet with some other found objects.

I bought three of these wooden shoe forms.  I didn't know what I was going to do with them, but I thought they were neat.  A couple days later, I saw this little arrangement over at dreamhouse :

Bust or bust!  I want a bust so bad and this little fella is real cute... and kinda sad.  Don't worry guy, you're destined for far greater things than holding up that lousy needlework!

After I told Tommy that it spun in circles, he was completely sold on this mod desk chair.  Cha ching!

I thought this coffee table was mod and fabulous.  So, apparently, did the seller and priced it as such.

I love this sink.  I would buy it with my imaginary money, restore it with my imaginary skills and install it in my imaginary bathroom.  I love my imaginary life.

When I was a child, I was afraid of mannequins.  At the site of them being dressed or assembled, I would always exclaim, "I can't worry about it."  I can't imagine what these images would have done to my childhood mind.  The lady in the first picture doesn't look too happy about the whole thing either.

22 January 2011

Homesick or My Other Love

I am a wholehearted believer that everything happens for a reason, but I often think that the universe made a small mistake in the course of my life.  My parents met, got married, had two beautiful children and then one night in Paris, they made me.  Everything was pretty much right up until the day I was born in Lima, Ohio - the armpit of the universe. 
You see, I'm positive I was supposed to be born in some French hospital in Provence or Burgundy to two wealthy American ex pats who had escaped to France to lead a simpler life, buying a modest chateau to raise their three children.  I was to attend French schools, summer in Brittany and speak English only with my father, whose eyes would glaze over everytime an all French conversation ensued.
Since I left France in June of 2009, I haven't stopped missing it.  I regret nothing and am grateful for everything.  I have a charmed life, a wonderful family and more than I will ever need, but sometimes when the five o'clock sun hits my face just right or the sky is particularly blue, I think of other days.  French days.  I think of weaving through the hills along the Cote d'Azur.  I think of the long walk home from school, perfect for talking or saying nothing at all.  I think of the people I met, the food I ate and the soundtrack of my French life.  I think of those things and my heart hurts just a little.

The view from the balcony in my room

Floats at Nice's Carnival

Mount St. Victoire behind the house I always tried to paint

On the way home from class

Mimosas at the flower market

12 January 2011

Retro Charm

No matter how hard I try, I can't stop loving retro.  My roommate (aka husband to be) loathes the stuff and I've attempted to kick the habit, but it won't go away.  So in keeping with my New Year's resolution, I am going to celebrate my tastes and preferences, no matter how inconvenient they may be.  I think you would all agree that these rooms just wouldn't be as good without a little retro charm.

Image DesignSponge

Image DesignSponge

Image DesignSponge

Image Domino Magazine via http://www.marligrace.blogspot.com/

Image courtesy DesignSponge

                     Image courtesy Lonny Magazine

                            Image courtesy Elle Decor

Image Domino Magazine via Decorology

Image courtesy Elle Decor

Image courtesy House Beautiful

                         Image courtesy Lonny Magazine

                             Image Domino Magazine

Image Domino Magazine

09 January 2011

Mmm... Madeleines

Attention fellow foodies, home cooks, gourmands, and food enthusiasts:  Run, don't walk to pick up your copy of Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  Perhaps I am late to discover this gem of a cookbook, but I am just thankful I discovered it at all (Thanks, Mom).  It is absolutely fabulous.  I am literally going to work my way through it one mouthwatering recipe at a time.  Today, I made the Classic Madeleines and oh mylanta.  I take a bite, close my eyes, and pretend I am still in Provence.  Mmm.

Classic Madeleines
"These are the madeleines you find in just about every pastry shop throughout France.  To make 12 large or 36 mini madeleines, whisk together 2/3 cup flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, and a pinch of salt.  Put 1/2 cup sugar and the finely grated zest of 1 lemon in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and use your fingers to rub them together until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  Add 2 large eggs to the bowl and beat, using the whisk attachment or a hand mixer or whisk, for 2 minutes, or until the batter is light colored, fluffy and thick.  Beat in 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients followed by 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) melted and cooled unsalted butter... You can use the batter now, but it's better if you give it a little rest.  Or, for real convenience, you can spoon the batter into buttered-and-floured madeleine molds, cover, and chill, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge.  In either case, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight.  
When you're ready to bake, center the rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400F... Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, minis for 8 to 10 minutes... Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.

Follow the fascinating Dorie Greenspan through all of her delicious French adventures at http://www.doriegreenspan.com/

07 January 2011

Forty Dollar Kitchen Makeover

I was going to wait to do this post because I just did a before and after, but I just got too antsy!  As you know, we are in the midst of "redoing" our home.  The kitchen is one area that is constantly bugging me, mostly because I spend more time there than anywhere else.  This past weekend, on our DIY binge, we were visiting our local Lowe's store and decided to pick up a can of countertop paint.  We had talked about this before, but never got around to doing it and since we're going to replace the coutertops anyway, we thought, What do we have to lose?  So we went for it and I am personally loving the results! 



I removed the cabinet doors, which was obviously free.  The paint was $20.97, the brushes, etc. were about $10.00 and we bought a can of spray paint for the knobs, which was about $5.00, so it's actually a $35.00 kitchen makeover, but forty sounded better.