Center Peace

Lately I have been laboring over what to do with the island in our kitchen- it has been a blank canvas for a long time (minus the candle I put on a pitiful plate and tried to pass it off as a centerpiece for a while), and so I have been trying to figure out how to dress it up to fit with our kitchen. For some reason when I think of centerpieces, I always think of old-fashioned, overly flowering arrangements. I knew I wanted something more simplified and modern, so the idea of orchids came to me. I have this really cool glass pedestal bowl that I had no idea what to do with, so it finally came to me to fix it up with the orchids to make a centerpiece that is more permanent (provided that I can keep the orchids alive), yet still made up of living things. I heard Oprah say once that centerpieces should always be made up of real things- fruit, flowers, pine cones, whatever, but something real- not plastic. Now I don't typically put a lot of stock into anything Oprah says, and this statement of hers is an easy one to make for someone with billions of dollars and probably her very own personal centerpiece-maker on the payroll, but for whatever reason, it stuck with me. So here's to putting together something modern looking and made of (mostly) "real" things that can serve as a centerpiece for a long time!
I used my own glass pedestal bowl, and I bought fake greens and preserved moss at Michael's and used them to line the bowl and to add a giant flash of green. Then I bought 5 orchid plants (from Kroger, mind you, so they were relatively inexpensive) and a bunch of fake curly willows. Where the orchids came clipped to ugly blue posts, I swapped out the posts for the curly willows as I planted the orchids to give them the stability they need to stand up. So I'm at peace now with the large centerpiece I have to dress up our kitchen island- and it should last me a long time, which will make it cost-effective in the long run (again, provided I don't kill the orchids). P.S....learned a very cool trick about how to keep the orchids alive- they need very little water- 3 ice cubes, once a week will do it!


Gourmet Twist on an Old Classic

Who doesn't love tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich? I know I love that combo, and here's a new, more grown-up take on that old classic! Roasted tomato soup with croutons and Parmesan cheese!

What you need:
  • 4 lbs of Roma tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (you can use dried rosemary too- sub 2 tsps)
  • sea salt (or regular salt)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Garlic or seasoned croutons
  • Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

What you need to do:

This first part is the hardest, and the only time consuming part of the whole deal- you need to cut the tomatoes in half, length-wise, and pull out the seeds and juice and discard. Throw the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, a few pinches of seasalt, and red pepper in a bowl and toss together so that the tomatoes are well-coated with the seasonings. Let marinate for about 20 minutes. Then lay the tomatoes (cut open side up) on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle remaining oil mixture over the tomatoes. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 (until the tomatoes start to get blackened on the bottoms and start wrinkling up like prunes). Remove the tomatoes from the oven and place half of them in a food processor to puree....then dump the pureed tomatoes into a large pot on medium heat; then place the rest of the tomatoes in the food processor and "pulse" until they are just broken up into nice chunky pieces. Then dump the chopped tomatoes into the pureed tomatoes. Simmer on low until you are ready to serve- you may need to add a touch of salt to season. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a handful of croutons and Parmesan cheese- there you have it! FYI- it's even better a few days later- microwave it and top with croutons and cheese! Enjoy!


Baby Shower Activity (and Decor and Gift)

Ok, so as before on this blog, I am going to feature a stolen idea- well, most of it was stolen, I suppose I added the element of it being an activity done at the baby shower, rather than before the shower, but whatevs, it's mostly stolen (yea for originality, right?). Recently at a shower for my friend Jane (the original onesie embellisher) the gals who threw the shower had the great idea to have everyone bring a onesie they had embellished and hang them all on a clothesline at the party- they doubled as a cute decor element and gifts! So I ran with that idea, and for a couple's baby shower we just had for our friends Leah and Kirk, we had a onesie-making station at the party to get everyone involved. Then as people made their own masterpieces, we hung them on the clothesline- adding to the cute baby decor! All you need to copy this fun idea is the following:
  • onesies- wash them first (get different sizes so the babe will have some to grow into!)
  • an iron
  • an ironing board
  • double-sided iron-on adhesive
  • scrap pieces of fabric
  • scissors

I went ahead and ironed the adhesive onto the scrap pieces before the party so that all the guests had to do was cut out their shapes, peel off the adhesive paper, place the shape on the onesie and press with the iron! (as demonstrated here by the lovely Kalyn) This is such a fun and easy activity and it's a great way to get everyone involved in the party without making them play painful baby shower games! (even the guys got involved with this one!) Have fun!


Oscar Fashion: Must Weigh In....

Far be it for me to critique the work of famous fashion designers, but I am going to anyway, at least briefly...

Vera Farmiga in Marchesa- Hated it! Looks like a bunch of fuchsia lily pads or fungus growing up a tree trunk.
SJP in Chanel- Loved it! But what was she trying to pull off with all of that added hair? Lady, let's be real, it's not even possible for someone to have that much hair attached to their head- if it was, you would have to walk bent over sideways at the waist with a shopping cart next to you in order to carry the weight of the hair.
Sandra in Marchesa- Loved it, and not another word!
Rachel McAdams in Elie Saab- Loved it! The way Elia Saab accomplished such sophistication with a print is breath-taking.
Miley Cyrus in Jenny Packham- Loved it! Hated it at first, but then it grew on me- only wish someone other than a toddler was wearing it.
Meryl Streep in Chris March- Loved it! Loved Chris March on Project Runway, love Meryl for wearing him on the red carpet.
Maggie in Dries Van Notten- Not sure- loved the print, but the shape was sort of boooring me!
Kate Winslet in YSL- Hated it! Don't wear a pant suit to the Oscars.
Diane Kruger in Chanel- Hated it! Reminds me of the dress the fairy godmothers tried to make Sleeping Beauty when they were still sticking to their whole "let's not use out magic wands" schtick.
Carey Mulligan in Prada- Loved it! Splendid! Love the length in the front.
Charlize in Christian Dior- Hated it! Why draw attention to your ta-tas in that manner? Just looks weird.

Amanda Seyfried in Armani Prive- Hated it! Too structured, and too full for me- fabric seems too thick for the shape or something.

Elizabeth Banks in Versace- Loved it!!

Demi in Versace- LOVED it!


Parchment Meals, Revisited

So I know I've already blogged about this once, but seriously, I cannot get over the amazing-ness of this parchment meal that I recently made. It's from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, and she made it on the Today Show recently too. Now I know I vowed to be my own person and not just another Martha wannabe, but what can I say? The woman is a genius, or at least she has geniuses working for her, so I just have to share her recipe with you! It's incredible!!!

1 large mango
2 chicken breasts
1 piece fresh ginger (about 1"), peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 medium jalapeno, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the mango and slice into bite-sized chunks. Divide the mango chunks in half, and place them in the center of 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Top the mangoes with chicken, ginger, jalapenos, and cilantro. Drizzle 1/2 a tablespoon oil over each packet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring the edges of the parchment up to meet in the middle, and then fold them over, creating a seam. Twist the open edges, sealing the packets shut. Place packets on a cookie sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. Once they're cooked all the way through, slide the contents of the parchment packets onto plates and ta dahhh! YUMMO!