A few weeks ago, after Susan Dworski mentioned that she carved stamps out of erasers, we started thinking about all the things you could do with home-made stamps. Why not stamp a pattern on sheets or rolls of paper to make your own fab holiday wrapping paper? (It’s easy, you just get yourself some Staedtler Mars Erasers and start carving, with whatever tools you have…dip in paint and stamp away — check out our how-to here).
Two images in a recent Remodelista post illustrate an essential principal that just might let you off-the-hook over the holidays: linen table cloths don’t need to be ironed to be beautiful, nor do they even have to be hemmed. We offer proof below, in the lovely tables set ‘au natural’.
But if prefer an ironed look but are short on time and energy (and don’t need more stress), here’s a way of making linen LOOK pressed without having to iron it; we heard about it from a reader named Joan who learned it from her sister-in-law: read more…
While we were poking around floral designer Emily Thompson’s website, we came across this swell little tabletop decoration: pillar candles arranged on the bed of a vintage toy pickup truck (all sorts available at Ebay.)
Related posts: fab bird’s nest wreath (+ other found holiday decor ideas)
diy holiday wreaths (out of just about anything)
alt christmas trees made of string lights n’ things to d-i-y
d-i-y tape trees for walls, windows, or…
alt (wall) Christmas trees
holiday tabletop decor from the farmer’s market
After we posted about making wreaths of “just about anything“, Maria Robledo sent us a picture of a wreath that pushes that idea in the most wonderful and surprising way: a real bird’s nest nestled into winter branches whose leaves have dropped. It was a gift from inspired floral designer Emily Thompson, who even left bits of New York City debris that were part of the find.
Maria photographed on story on Thompson’s “wild” wreath-making for Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Wrote Maria: ”Emily’s wreaths are always naturally-shaped. Doesn’t use the pre-wreath gadgets.” We found a slide-show here.
We love that Thompson often uses found and foraged materials. Any of the materials she winds into wreaths could simply be arranged on the holiday table, instead of flowers… read more…
We’re not sure what Cara de Silva was doing reading Garden and Gun, but we love the story she spotted on wreaths made in the South. There’s a beauty made with tobacco leaves and a few sprigs of red berries, and another made from cotton plants: materials sourced from fields. It reminded us that a holiday wreath can be made from just about anything. Grapevine, which can be bought already wound into a wreath is lovely as is, and makes a fine round base into which to arrange all sorts of materials, from pine and holly to paper origami (It was the base of the cotton sprig wreath): read more…
Some time ago, Michael Druzinsky, an acquaintance of mine who is a composer, emailed his friend Mark Bernstein, who created the idea-mapping softwear Tinderbox, to ask if he’d mind talking to me about his very interesting software. Michael forwarded Mark’s reply: “Sally Schneider’s book, A New Way to Cook, changed my life. I’ve given it to lots of people. I’d be delighted to meet her.” Wow. There is NOTHING like a good unsolicited compliment. Then I discovered that Mark had devoted a blog post to the A New Way to Cook, unsolicited. Mark GOT the book so well, I’ve excerpted his post.
I happened across Sally Schneider’s A New Way to Cookin a chain bookstore one day, just about three years ago. It’s very big and very broad, and The Joy of Cooking is clearly not far from its mind.
But while Joy of Cooking is a vast collection of recipes, A New Way to Cook is trying to explain a much smaller core of ideas, expressed in the form of recipes with variations. We have, for example, a core recipe for “braising small fish” or “rustic fruit tart”, and then examine a host of ingredients that we can add or subtract — and the changes that these additions and subtractions will require. In the fruit tart, for example, we might use apples or pears or strawberries (less water, more flour, add rhubarb) or blueberries (try a little thyme) or raspberries (even frozen — add more flour because they’re wet) or reconstituted dried apricots. It’s all the same idea.
And that’s a powerful idea, read more…
We’re not big on bought gifts, preferring to donate money to charity in our friends’ name, or give food gifts we’ve made. That being said, it’s nice to have an arsenal of useful, well-designed, not-too-expensive treats to give on the holidays or otherwise — our favorite gift-giving is just for the hell-of-it when we’ve found just the right thing for someone we love. Mostly those gifts are things we’d love to have ourselves, like these this set of numbered, Bauhausian espresso cups designed by Arne Jacobsen (he also did letter cups; the letter of your choice for $21). They’re available from The Finnish Design Shop which has all sorts of swell stuff. A pack of four is $55.
Interior designer Suzanne Shaker recently sent this email:
Sally, I’m craving your cherries in grappa. Would you please post the recipe again, as it is that time of year ..our last year’s supply is just about finished.
I’m making them for gifts as you always do.
A gift that lasts and brings such joy to the table.
I serve them in little green Moroccan glasses from John Derian, that we fill with the cherries and grappa and eat with a small spoon as we sip the syrup ..so comforting.
Suzanne is referring to the Dried Cherries in Red Wine Syrup recipe I devised years ago and published in The Improvisational Cook. (Last year, I gave her a huge jar to thank her for advising me on my apartment renovation.) They can be eaten as-is for a lovely, non-alcoholic,cherries-in-winter treat. Better yet, spike them with grappa, the clear Italian alcohol distilled from grape pressings. Somehow the earthy flavor of grappa marries with the cherries in an extraordinary way. Then they become a perfect, slightly boozy end to a meal, or a sleep-inducing midnight snack.
The recipe could not be easier. read more…
Kate Payne over at The Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking is giving away a copy of Sally’s award-winning cookbook The Improvisational Cook, plus a bunch of other goodies at one fell swoop. To enter, visit Hip Girls’ giveaway page, scroll to the bottom and fill out the form, RIGHT AWAY. The contest ends Wednesday (tomorrow) December 12, at midnight CST.
As the holiday party season ramps up, we’ve been mulling ways to decorate the table in simple, charming ways (We’ll be talking about this very subject on The Splendid Table on December 21st). A favorite strategy is to make herb bouquets, a play on our penchant for arranging the table with an array of tiny flower bouquets in odd miniature “vases”, like apothecary and canning jars, juice and shot glasses. We’ve amassed quite a collection over years of combing flea markets and second-hand stores. We’ve also found that CB2 and Amazon have lovely inexpensive bud vases in interesting shapes (check out this Chive vase and this set of 4 little vases that will hold a place card or a perhap an INSPIRATIONAL SIGN. (Now there’s an idea…)
Making herb bouquets couldn’t be easier: read more…
Since we first got our copy of Christopher Hirscheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s Canal House Cooks Every Day, we’ve been inspired by its simple, straightforward, delicious and REAL recipes (we made their dry-brined roast turkey for Thanksgiving.) Right now, their Apple Tart recipe (below) is calling us.
Thanks to the word
that gives thanks.
Thanks to the gratitude
for how excellently
the word melts snow or iron. read more…
Recently, we were stopped in our tracks by this yellow exclamation point. It is by artist Richard Artschwager, whose work is the focus of a retrospective at the Whitney. Knowing nothing about him, we poked around and found this potent snippet about his amazing !.
…Artschwager’s “blps,” black punctuation-like marks..are intended to make their immediate environment, in the artist’s own words, more “see-able,” and they also offer a chance to pause and reflect.
We figure Artschwager’s exclamation points are a fitting image for Thanksgiving: reminders to pause and reflect on all the teeny miracles around us…
For the past couple of days, we’ve been getting calls from friends asking for recommendations for the Thanksgiving meal: the best way to cook the turkey, what side dishes, what to drink. So for all our readers who may still be at odds with what they are going to make tomorrow, here’s our round-up of favorite Thanksgiving recipes (which, taken together, make a perfect menu). And since we view recipes as rough formulas and idea generators, we encourage your to take them in whatever direction you want. read more…