Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let Them Eat Lots of Cake

We had a little secret santa gift exchange last night... 
We ate lots and lots of sugar coated things and gave each other cute little gifts.
After watching a documentary on Marie Antoinette, I thought it would make a great little gift theme...
I wrapped up a biography on Marie (the same book made into a movie by dame Coppola) and a cute little cupcake. I wanted to do macarons, but they were harder to hunt down than I thought.

I think it would have been right at home in Marie's bedroom

Monday, December 17, 2012

Last Minute Gifts for the Dreamer

I admit that I am partial to gifts of experience over objects, unless those objects are incredibly old and beautiful.  Then I can't really complain.  I find the whole economy of Christmas a little bit disheartening, especially when you walk by big box stores or a busy mall- people running in to heat up their credit cards just to bring home more stuff that will end up in the garbage by the next year.  But I still love gifts... The act of giving and receiving makes Christmas that much brighter.  I just prefer to exchange gifts that can be experienced or consumed, like homemade jam and a pair of old silver serving spoons. This year, we aimed for less "stuff", finding an array of gifts, old and new, that we combined to make quirky little gift baskets and packages- wrapped and topped with enough glitter and stars to make anyone gush with delight.

For  friends, neighbors, and colleagues:
A good book and a bottle of something red.   I would call this gift 
"Here's to a good night this holiday season"  
(For some friends I might throw in a pack of lucky strikes). 
We made a list of some cheap wines to try here

For anyone that loves food:
Old cookbooks offer endless wonder and delight
It deserves to be wrapped up with a fork and knife or a big wooden spoon

To add to any food basket:
A vintage ice cube tray. You can buy new metal ones here
but it takes a few years to look this good

For the special people in your life:
Vintage slips, velvet robes, and silk kimonos. This one is a 
1930s dress by Vionnet, but it would make a beautiful night gown... 
if it wasn't in the Met

For Moms, Aunties, and Best Friends:

As for me:
All I want for Christmas is this studio

Thanks Santa,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter is Coming

The ornaments I made are on a little tree in the living room.  I need some twinkle lights and maybe some homemade garlands with pine cones and cloves.  This weekend I'm going to bake cookies and save some for spice ornaments... as if I don't have a million things I should be doing.  But this is Christmas, and it's made for indulging.

And it's snowing! I booked my ticket to LA this winter- a whole 10 days in the sun! My dad asked if I was going go anywhere else while I was there, which was more of a demand than a question.  I think he's scared of being in the same house with me for more than a week.  I might start rearranging his kitchen.  So I think I'm going to go to San Francisco for a long weekend!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Savage Beauty

Erika and I headed out to do some fancy shopping yesterday.  I told myself that I was going Christmas shopping, but I came home with a disproportionate amount of presents for myself.  We both wanted new makeup, and I've been wanting to try out the foundation stick from Bobbi Brown so that's where we started.  Erika started working with a makeup artist at the counter, and I wondered around a little bit.  I tried all of the Bobbi Brown foundations, but I didn't love the way they were sitting on my skin.  I had this idea that it would be clean, light, and flawless, but it looked more like I was wearing a layer of concealer all over my face.  I ended up at Shu Uemura nearly begging them to show me different products (a nice relief from the usually over pushy counter girls)  and I came home with both a foundation and a base.  They only have two foundations, and I really liked the texture of the Face Architect Smoothing Fluid Foundation ($55).  It's smooth and moisturizing, and not too pink.  With the UV Underbase Mousse ($45), which comes in an aerosol, my skin had a nice even glow to it and I didn't feel like I was wearing too much makeup.  I kind of regret not coming home with the cleansing oils after reading all of the stunning reviews.  I tried some when I was stripping off my makeup, and they felt absolutely amazing on my skin, but I was scared that they would triple my bill.  Online, the small bottles sell for about $40 which means I'll be back.  

The online prices seem to be quite a bit cheaper (almost $10 on every product I tried) which is good to know for the future for those with a US address, but it looks like I won't be checking into any Shu Uemura counter in LA, because they've pulled all of their retailers from US markets! It's hard to imagine, given how happy I am with my purchases.  I've tried almost every foundation under the sun.  Nars, Smashbox, and Laura Mercier were the biggest and most overhyped disappointments, while Hourglass and Armani are fantastic but almost double the cost. At $40 a pop, Shu does the job really really well.

Meanwhile Erika was being fawned over at Bobbi Brown and came home with her own stash of goodies, from foundation to eye makeup.  The colour match was amazing and she also got a complete makeup tutorial on liquid liner. On our way home, we jumped into Mac for some orange lipstick (something, I guess, we both felt necessary) and I ended up with Lady Danger ($18), an orange-ish red that apparently looks good on everyone.  At least that's what Glamour says.  I wanted something bright and fun and its awesome! Like equal parts polka dots and leopard print.  I can't wait to wear both!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Muffins and a Bread Pudding

This week I made muffins, and then I made bread pudding!  Both hit the spot, but the bread pudding was the clear winner, and felt like such a big warm treat for a cold night.  My boyfriend hates bread pudding, but I think I've almost pulled him over to the other side.  He still isn't devouring it the way he does with chocolate chip cookies, but I really think that's fine, because there's more for me! I love bread pudding... and I can't understand not loving bread pudding.  It's rich, moist, and addictive.  This bread pudding has a spike of rum and a sprinkle of cranberries, which really makes it feel like it's ready for Christmas. I almost wish I could send it over to my dad in Los Angeles, because, like me, he loves bread pudding.  The last time I made it, I brought him a taste when we went for coffee, and the whole time my dad interrupted me saying, "This is really good. I'm serious. mmm. This is really really good."

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Muffin Scones

3 c. flour
1 1/2 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/4 baked pumpkin (about 1 c.)
1 1/2 c. cranberries
1/2 c. dark chocolate

Mix the dry ingredients and combine eggs with milk and pumpkin.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until smooth.  Add the cranberries and chocolate until well combined.  Line muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees until golden (about 20 minutes).

I made these muffins and they really hit the spot. I made them into a last minute dessert by using them in bread pudding! I love bread pudding, and it seems to be the most versatile, easiest thing to make in the winter.

Pumpkin Cranberry Chocolate Rum Bread Pudding with Sour Cream frosting phew

1 recipe cranberry muffins 
2-3 c. cubed bread*
3 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
few splashes of rum
1/2 c. butter**
1/2 c. sugar

2-3 c. icing sugar
1/2 c. butter**
3-4 tbsp sour cream

Crumble the muffins into small pieces and add them to a buttered pan with the rest of the cubed bread.  In another bowl, mix the butter, rum, milk, sugar, and eggs.  Add the mixture to the bread and bake at 350 degrees until a set (about 45 minutes).

While the pudding cools, mix the butter, icing sugar, and sour cream until creamy.  Add more sugar to make the icing thicker, or sour cream to make it smoother. 

*I used 2 english muffins and a bagel.  It turned out delicious!
**Coconut butter or earth balance works well too!

Friday, November 30, 2012

I'll Have a Victorian Christmas

This year, I'm determined to reuse more and waste less.  I was raised with the idea that Christmas is a serious sport, and traditions are not something taken lightly.  For our family, that meant glass Christmas ornaments, vintage tinsel, wreaths, and tree garlands.  Like other European families, we put chocolates on our tree (no candy canes allowed) and open gifts on Christmas Eve, not Christmas day.  There is an overwhelming amount of citrus, nuts, chocolate, and Czech cookies that are put out Christmas eve and linger until New Years.  This year, Christmas came early, and my family made Victorian ornaments on my Mom's birthday.  It was so much fun, I had to be told to stop, and they turned out really charming.  We used Victorian cutouts from my Aunt, and tons of leftover glitter, bells, pipe cleaners, with bits and pieces from broken wreaths, and lots of hot glue.  I will post our creations soon. The ornaments also made me realize how fun it is to make homemade decorations, and that they don't have to be hokey.  Growing up, kids crafts didn't go on our Christmas tree (maybe they went on the fridge, but I don't remember them there either).  I remember there being a clear division between my families' trees, and those of my neighbours.  If featured homemade ornaments, they usually looked like someone threw some crafts on and covered it with popcorn and candy canes.  

Clockwise from top:
 Cranberries ready for baking in a pretty bowl; Cinnamon ornaments and dried orange slices from Frugal Interior Design
Tin Boxes from Sharp Studio; Bunting garland from Emily

But this year I'm planning on making my garlands from scratch.  It would be great to get my hands on some vintage baubles, but I think it would be fun to do a real Victorian Christmas, with homemade ornaments fashioned from Christmas cards, and garlands with dried cranberries, oranges, and cloves.  I'm not sure if the latter was actually a Victorian tradition, but it sounds beautiful, and since the Victorians were skilled at repurposing basically everything, I'm sure I can dig something up.

In the mean time, I need to get my hands on some glass glitter.  My mom picked some up at a Christmas store, and I'm really jealous.  It has a texture and patina that regular glitter could never begin to replicate.  It's gorgeous!  Sometimes you can get it at fancy gift stores, but I found it here.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

French Film and Thursdays

Skirt- Vintage, Tights- Wolford, Shoes-Jeffrey Campbell
It took me about a quarter of a second to fall in love with Rust and Bone.  I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but any director who frames a silhouette with a whale like that, has my applause.  I think I need a little romantic melodrama in my life and I'm watching this NOW.

I found this movie listening to an interview with Marion Cotillard on NPR this morning. There's a full review of the film here.

Too much of the day was spent inside, staring at a blank page. But I did manage to fill up a few pages by the end of the day, with mostly nonsense that needs to be rewritten.  Still, Bachelard never fails to tickle the senses.