The End... of 2008

Image via Grundlepuck at Flickr. 

Well, well, well. It's been quite a year, eh? It's been a year of many ups (getting married) and downs (Hurricane Ike) for me, as I'm sure it's been for you. For one night, forget the downs, celebrate the ups, and welcome 2009 with style! Happy New Year everyone! A virtual toast to us all!

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It's Beginning to Look a lot Like...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good vacation from work!
Have a great holiday everyone, and please, stay safe! We'll be back after Christmas!

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The Year of the 'Stache

via Skogen Blog.

I came across this little jewel on NotCot and couldn't resist sharing. The moustache is not over yet! Now you can decorate your tree in them. Sweet.

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Weekly Obsession: Leave the Light On

See that ornate crystal chandelier hanging out in the background? Sometimes that hits the spot, but sometimes it's just too much. That's why I'm more interested in the simple glass cylinder in the foreground. An old-timey light bulb adds some interest, but it's great either way. Picture a row of them hanging over a kitchen island or a group of them hanging over a dining table at various heights. Imagine the possibilities!

Luminaries Glass Hanging Cylinder, $189 at High Fashion Home.

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Budget Cuts


I discovered a very cool artist the other day via NotCot. Her name is Justine Smith as she creates amazing scultures and works on paper using international currency. Well, that's one way to spend your cash. Nothing I say could possibly do justice to her work, so it's best if you just check out her website and decide for yourself. I bet you'll think it's fab!

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Cupcake Madness: What Some People Can Do With Icing...

I've always thought the iPhone would be a lot better if it was edible...
Cupcake Design by Nick Lamp; Danielle Bilton.

I would not even begin to presume myself to be a cupcake artist. My cupcakes are delicious, sure, but pretty? Not even close. I pretty much slap some frosting on haphazardly and call it a day. That's why I am amazed by what some people can do with icing! Works of art on a surface smaller than my palm! All designs below are via Hello Naomi on Flickr.





And who could resist Pac-man?

Check out her website for many more adorable cupcake creations!
If you'd like to see examples of what not to do, be sure to look at Cake Wrecks, and observe the dreaded CCC (CupCake Cake). It's a life lesson for us all.
Bon appetit!

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Stuff Your Stocking! Part Two


I hope you enjoyed part one of the Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide, but if you didn't, maybe these will win your over! Twenty-five more tiny treasures for someone you love (or at least kind of like). Take a peek...

From top left, by row:
Tarina Tarantino Large Oval Cocktail Ring at Zappos, $92 (duh! Free shipping!)
Viva Terra Organic Chocolate Truffles, $36
Suck Uk Hymn Book iPod Case, available at High Fashion Home, $26
Pluma Feather Headband in Blue at Revolve, $48 (Other colors available and so in style!)
Pottery Barn & SurEvolution Frangipani Server Set, $27
Umbra iPod Nano Bungee in Blue, about $11
Uncommon Goods On/Off Duty Pillowcase Set, $32 (For those new parents!)
Victoria's Secret Pink Cotton Button-front Hipster in All Heart, about $8
White House/Black Market Grey Glass Pearl Starburst Pin, $41
Lutz & Patmos Cable Pillow Cover at West Elm, $39 (Don't forget a pillow insert!)
Benefit "That Gal" Face Brightening Primer at Ulta, $28
Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel at Sephora, $45
Ikea Skimmer 11" Candlestick, $10 (Buy one of each size and mix them!)
Pier 1 Notepads, $6 each
Chef'n Garlic Zoom at Sur la Table, $10
Melissa Joy Manning Chain Wrapped Amethyst Drop Earrings at Shop Bop, about $88
Urban Outfitters Mix Tape Flash Drive, $15 (Add your own personalized mix!)
Williams-Sonoma Olive Wood Salt Keeper, $49
Papyrus Rainbow Swirl with Glitter Thank You Notes, $10
ZGallerie "Not Yours" Luggage Tag, $7
Oneida Set of 4 Cheese Spreaders, $20
Melie Bianco Diagonal Zip Clutch at Piperlime, $59
Restoration Hardware Rubik's Cube, about $10 (Everyone has to have one of these!)
MoMa Mini Sky Umbrella at Target, $35
RabLabs Agate Coaster Set of 4 at High Fashion Home, $59
Merry Christmas!

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NY Times: 25 Holiday Gifts for Under $25

Everyone is out scouring for gift ideas. It is always a bonus when you can find the perfect home decor gift at a great price. The New York Times released their top 25 Holiday Gifts for the Home for under $25. Here are my top 5 favorites.



$16-24: Mercury glass birds; West Elm




$16: Ornate alarm clock; Urban Outfitters





$5, Kallt decorator set; Ikea





$20, Tea Forte Cup: It was a featured item in Oprah; Bloomingdale's.




$10: Vintage camera photo album; Anthropologie.

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Stuff Your Stocking! Part One


On the hunt for miniature gifts to put in a loved one's stocking? Look no further! There are only 9 more days until Christmas, and I'm giving you 50 ideas to finish up your shopping. From five dollars to four hundred dollars, I've gotcha covered this holiday! And the best part? All of these things are available online. That means no battling the packed parking lots and insane register lines. That's my Christmas gift to you!

From top right, by row:
American Apparel Opaque Pantyhose in Golden Poppy, $14
Anthropologie Initial Pocket Mirror, $14
Apple 8gb iPod Nano in Yellow, $149 (psst! You can engrave it for FREE!!!)
Banana Republic Men's Deerskin Wool/Cashmere Lined Gloves in Brown, $79
Barnes & Noble Twilight by Stephenie Meyer audio book, $21 (Come on, I had to!)
Rayban Aviator Sunglasses in Silver from Barneys Co-op, $130
Slatkin & Co. Scentportable in Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin at Bath & Body Works, $5 (I have it! Smells Fantastic!)
Garmin Nuvi 265WT Portable GPS Navigator at Bed Bath & Beyond, $350
Sony Cybershot Digital Camera at Best Buy, $400
The Body Shop Invent Your Scent, $15
Noel by Josh Groban at Borders, about $13 (His version of "O Holy Night" makes me melt!)
Brooks Brothers Repp Tie, $75
CB2 Stainless Steel Snack Bowls, $11-20
Claire's Nailpolish Set, $10
Coach Hamptons Signature French Purse, $198
The Container Store "That Laptop is Mine" Organizer, $12
Crate & Barrel Sliding Tea Infuser, $7
Dylan's Candy Bar Gourmet Pretzels, $34 (Big time Yum!)
Forever 21 "Evita" Satin Clutch, $16
Gap White Reindeer Boxers, $9
High Fashion Home Luke Skywalker Mimbot USB Port, $40 (We've also got Hans and Leia!)
James Avery Jingle Bell Charm in Sterling Silver, $33
J. Crew Metallic Foil Skinny Belt, $38
Kate Spade "Jane Street" Debra Organizer, $165
MICHAEL Michael Kors Slouchy Leather Gloves, $170
Stay tuned for another 25 ideas in tomorrow's part two!

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Chester Goes to the Eye Doctor!


This is by far the coolest optometry clinic I've ever seen. When the customer mentioned that they were going to use the Chester Sofa in a TSO store, I thought the sofa would probably be under-appreciated and overkill in an optometry clinic. It probably still is overkill, but overkill has never looked so chic!

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Gingerbread Cupcakes, As Promised

So, this picture belongs to another recipe, found here, but it was the best picture I could find!

I got this recipe from Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor, by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, and Maren Caruso. It is absolute pure heaven. My mouth is watering just thinking about them! Enjoy, but don't blame me when you get addicted!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with White Chocolate- Lemon Topping:
Makes 12 cupcakes


The cupcakes:
2 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
1/2 cup flavorless vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water
Lemon glaze: 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice + 3/4 cup powdered cane sugar


The Topping:
Lemon syrup: 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon granulated cane sugar; 1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean, split horizontally; 1/2 lemon.
3 3/4 ounces white chocolate, very finely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter with 82% butterfat, at room temperature
1 lemon


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine the egg, molasses, granulated sugar, and oil in a medium bowl and whisk by hand until well mixed. Whisk in the boiling water. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

Using a tablespoon, divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling them about half full.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the cupcakes are puffed and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the lemon glaze; Whisk the lemon juice and powdered sugar together until smooth.

When the cupcakes are ready, remove them from the oven and immediately poke four evenly spaced holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer. Spoon the lemon glaze evenly over the cupcakes waiting until the glaze is absorbed before adding more. It will seem like too much, but use it all.

Let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. When cool, remove the cupcakes, still in their paper liners from the muffin cups.

Make the lemon syrup: Put the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil until the syrup is reduced by half- 3 tablespoons- about 3 minutes. Pour the syrup into a small bowl and refrigerate it until it cools to 70 degrees.

Put the chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Put the cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and beat on high speed until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the butter in 3 equal additions on medium speed until blended. Switch the mixer to high speed and beat until the topping is pale, fluffy, and doubled in volume, about 4 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the cooled lemon syrup. If the topping is too runny to pipe, cover and chill in the refrigerator to make it firmer.

Put the topping into a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8" star tip. Pipe a swirl on the top center of each cupcake, distributing the topping evenly among them. Garnish each cupcake with lemon zest, grating the zest with a Microplane grater from the lemon directly onto the cupcakes.

Store in a cool place until serving, and serve them the day they are made!

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Cupcake Madness: Bake 'Em and Display 'Em!


First thing's first: Pick your poison. Chocolate on chocolate? Red Velvet with cream cheese icing? It's all in here. Get creative. From Crate &Barrel.
Who doesn't love a cupcake? It's cake, which most people inherently like (or love), and it's individually sized, which makes it easy to eat, too. They're just so darn cute!


There had been a cupcake explosion in our country since several boutique cupcake shops have opened up all over the nation. People are crazy for cupcakes: baking them, decorating them, eating them... There are lots of nifty things out there to make your cupcake days simpler!


Forget gingerbread cookies! Give me gingerbread cupcakes! (I'll post a great recipe for them soon!) Use these adorable silicone cupcakes molds from Williams-Sonoma for added holiday spirit.



Crate & Barrel usually carries these cute cupcake stencils for every occasion. It makes decorating a snap!


These are just too pretty! Don't put them in the oven though! From ShopModi.


Sometimes you just want to show off one... Cupcake stand by Amanda Goss for Fred Flare.


...And sometimes you want to display 'em all! Tiered cupcake stand by Crate & Barrel.


Maybe you'll bring them to work to score brownie points with the boss! You'll need the Cupcake Courier to avoid smashed cupcakes.

Or, you could just take one for your lunch. Use the Cup-a-Cake to keep it pretty! From Sur La Table.

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Shell House: The World's Most Stunning Home!

The Shell House is quite possibly the most breathtaking, architecturally design house that I've ever seen. The house was designed by Artechnic. Designboom recently highlighted this icon, which balances the "futuristic man-made structure and the environment which surrounds it."


How the shell-like structure just bends and surrounds the tree is a sight to behold.

I can read on that patio all day long.

I would host more barbecues if I lived in a house like that.

Yes, those are two skylights there.

Does anyone know where I can find some interior photos showing the home decor in this place? If it looks half as good as the exterior, I would probably be speechless....

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Stars Wars USB Coming Soon to a Tree Near You!

Luke, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and many of the Star Wars characters have been miniaturized and USB'd. The Stars Wars USB from Mimoco have a limited run of 3500, so you should go ahead and stock up for all of your loved ones. Also, every time you insert your USB, your favorite character will say a line from the movie. How cool is that?


Princess Leia: Rocking the Buns!



Han Solo USB: Harrison Ford has never looked so young.




Luke Skywalker USB: Where is Mark Hamil now?

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Holiday SOS!


The situation: You're sleeping on the sofa, when you should be snug in bed, because you bought your size 6 wife and size 10 skirt.

The solution: Before you shop, get the Mrs. to fill out a Christmas Cheat Sheet by Made in England. You'll have all the information you need to make smart gift purchases.

The outcome: You're snuggling under the blankets with your lovely, happy wife.

Don't worry, ladies... There's a version for you, too.
Download the cheat sheets, for free, right here.

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Discover the "Green" in you!!

posted by *The Eclectorator* at 0 Comments
Attention Houston! 
We have a NEW park in town and it's the coolest because it's green! I know, you're sitting there saying, "Aren't most parks...green??" Well, yes and no. The special thing about this park is the fact that it's LEED certified. Again, "What's that?" Well, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a new organization that regulates and sets standards for sustainable construction.
 
Discovery Green has an acre sized lake, a children's park, interactive water features, public art works and spacious lawns. It's located downtown near the George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park, and the Toyota Center. How 'bout this? If you're bored one weekend, (especially since it's "winter") you can go ice skating for $10! Or, check out the park's calendar and see what's going on at the amphitheater! Take your dog, of any size, for a run! You could even grab a couple cocktails or a trendy meal at The Grove, or The Lake House--two of Houston's up-and-coming restaurants.


Once you visit you might think, "This park doesn't look any different than any other park I've been to..." Au contraire, my friend! The park uses recycled water is used to fill Kinder Lake, and what's even cooler is the oak trees seen throughout the park were rescued and transplanted to shade the trail!

The park encourages the community to be involved by offering a recycling every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as hosting the Downtown Green Market that is held Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. where local growers sell fresh fruits and veggies just for you!
 
Last but not least, The Grove has a green roof where they grow herbs and spices and the energy produced from the solar paneled roof on The Lake House could run two average American households! Yep. Awesome.

So, I don't know about you but I'm definitely going to be making a trip to Discovery Green. I better see you there!

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Breaking News!

I'd like to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to bring you this breaking news bulletin: I found a really beautiful calendar over at Linda Lamp; Harriet that, I think, I must have. Each stunning page of the calendar is hand lettered with playful and colorful patterns adorning them. It's a perfect gift for someone on your list (namely, me), because, really, who doesn't need a calendar? I promise you, whichever friend says they don't use a calendar, is probably the flakiest friend you have. Do them (and me) a favor- get them this calendar. It's limited edition, so act quickly! I will now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. Good day.


You cannot tell me these are not wonderful.


July is mermaid month!

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Get Outta Town

Cozy and modern and I love the light fixture at the top!


I've been sitting on this idea for a while, waiting for the appropriate time to blog it, and I'm finally getting to it. I think you might be in the mood for something non-Christmas related, and this is it, so I hope you appreciate it, because I'll be back on the Christmas bandwagon shortly. My apologies, but I LOVE Christmas.
The Fornasetti Apartment in Milan is a beautiful representation of this artist's work and it is available for rent. Interior design lovers and art buffs alike will consider this place a treat. The pictures are nice, but I'd rather see it in person. Maybe someday...


Gorgeous, saturated green in the bedroom.





The kitchen area is a Spring haven of butterflies. Talk about a theme!


A closeup of the kitchen table. Every butterfly is beautifully done.


Another view of the bedroom. Love the multicolored glass containers in the window. I may have to mimic that somewhere!


According to Gladstonehotel.com, the best time to stay is at the end of the summer, when you can take advantage of ripe figs, pears, and kiwis in the garden. For more information, email info@fornasetti.com.

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