SoInLove EveryDay.

“He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.”- Kahlil Gibran

So in love.

That’s me.  Utterly.  Completely.  Divinely.

Sow in love.

Planting seeds.  Patiently awaiting the first bloom.  Envisioning the wonder of spring.

Sew in love.

I’m a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  There, I said it.  And there are few things sweeter than a handmade Valentine.

Embroidered Heart Valentines

pink heart embroidered valentine

 

Materials-

card stock & envelopes, I used 4 Bar size

embroidery thread

embroidery needle

scissors

*optional add-ons

washi tape, glitter, stamps, ribbons, etc.

 

This is a true DIY.  You can go wherever your wild heart leads you.  Hearts, Be Mine, words of LOVE, XOXO…….let loose!

A few suggestions to assist in execution- the card stock needs to be the right thickness.  I got flat 4 bar cards at Paper Source and they worked beautifully- just the right structure, no creases and no breaks.  I also used a larger embroidery needle (think the big guy in the middle of the mixed set.)

I sewed my hearts free hand, since I like the imperfect nature of the form…..much like our own hearts.  🙂 But feel free to lightly pencil in an outline and erase after sewing.  A simple running stitch does the trick- A.K.A. up and down and up and down through the paper.  Small knots on each end fasten the thread in place.

Each card only takes a few minutes and each one is a unique expression for your valentine.

DIY Embroidered Valentines

 

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” -The Beatles

GiveLove EveryDay.

FeelLove EveryDay.

LoveEverywhere Everyday.

AutumnAir EveryDay.

“Listen! the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves.
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves.”  ~Humbert Wolfe

There is a chill in the air….just the other day I began the seasonal cycle where I unpack sweaters from storage underneath my bed.  Its getting to be that time of year for hats and scarves and mittens and boots.

Fall is here, and she’s wrapping us in her cool embrace.

Time to turn on the oven and fill the apartment with warmth and roasting!  I love a good two for one- cozy up the house while cooking up some seasonal food!  So get your cashmere on and get to it!

roasted cauliflower with parmesan & lemon zest

Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan & Lemon Zest

1 head cauliflower

2 shallots

4 oregano sprigs- broken up a bit

4 unpeeled garlic cloves-cut in half

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt & Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Although available year-round, cauliflower is at its peak season in the fall.  When selecting cauliflower look for a clean, creamy white and compact head- the more thick green leaves protecting the head, the better.  Cauliflower will keep in the refridgerator for up to five days if stored in perforated plastic.

pan of roasted cauliflower

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut cauliflower into florets; toss on a baking sheet with sliced shallots, oregano, garlic cloves, and olive oil; season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and lemon zest.  Toss to coat, and roast 10 minutes longer.  I like my cauliflower al dente!

Everything in the pan carmelizes to perfection!  Browned cauliflower, crispy parmesean, candied zest, and oh so sweet garlic.  Can you say yum?  Have fun with this easy dish swapping out herbs and additions……thyme and currants?  raisins and walnuts?  pumpkin seeds and olives?  Do I smell a new Thanksgiving side?

“Autumn, that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness, that season which has drawn from every poet, worthy of being read, some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling. “~Jane Austen

Roasty&Toasty EveryDay.

Cozy&Comfy EveryDay.

AutumnAir EveryDay.

 

 

Desert EveryDay.

“What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the little prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…”  – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

No, you read that correctly.  Desert, not dessert- the latter every day is obvious, the former necessitates some thought.

So, I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching lately……seeking purpose and unearthing deep truths.  Sometimes that can make life seem like a great big drought.  A wasteland.  A dry spell.  A desert.  This kind of personal work is exhausting because there is a long, deserted road to travel before you reach the mythical oasis, the trickling stream, the well of knowing.

When in doubt, get your hands dirty.  And trust that you can survive, flourish even, with the smallest amount of watering.  After all, you’ve been keeping reserves this whole time, right?

Indoor Succulent Garden

mini succulents for planting

Materials:

-various succulents

-hanging baskets, I got mine at Anthropologie, hard to resist on the sale rack!

-drill, hooks & screws

-cactus potting soil, special formula for succulents, don’t use regular potting soil!

succulent hanging baskets

As a general rule of thumb,  when picking succulents to grow indoors- go for green!  The greener the succulents that you select, the greater the chances they’ll survive inside.  Your tender loving care is powerful, no doubt, but a lot of natural light is crucial!  Water your succulents sparingly, the soil should dry completely before getting a shower.  About once a week is good.

Lots of good tips for Succulent and Cactus Care can be found here.

Cacti and succulents grow in some extremely hostile environments, and as such have evolved some very inventive ways of defending themselves.  Think of your succulent garden as your little tribe of warriors- defending you, protecting you, and safeguarding nourishment for the driest days.

hanging indoor succulent garden

 

StoredReserves EveryDay.

WarriorTribe EveryDay.

DeepWell EveryDay.

Desert EveryDay.

 

RatatouilleEveryDay.

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients.”- Julia Child

Say it with me,

RAT-AT-OO-WHEE!

Fun to say,

Fun to make,

Fun to EAT!

Seriously folks, I had no choice when I went to the Farmer’s Market this weekend.  It was a clear sign from the harvest-

farmers market vegetables ratatouille

MAKE RATATOUILLE.

Fresh summer flavors….and so many colors on one plate.  I followed Julia’s recipe.  Duh.  Again, is there a choice?  I suppose there is- after all Alice Waters & Eric Ripert have lovely versions.  But I’m a purist!

So, Julia’s modus operandi is to cook everything seperately, that way each vegetable retains its particular flavor, texture and character.  Ratatouille is known for being a rustic Provençal dish that is fairly easy to prepare and every good french cook worth their weight in butter has their own take on it.  Speaking of butter- Julia often gets a bad rap for using butter and cream in all her cooking.  Well, here’s a recipe without either indulgence!  Take that, naysayers!

Julia Child’s Ratatouille

julia child's ratatouille recipe

 

from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 lb. eggplant

1/lb. zucchini

1 teaspoon salt

6-7 tablespoons olive oil, more if necessary

1/2 lb. (about 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions

1 pound firm red tomatoes, or 1 1/2 cups pulp

2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers

2 cloves mashed garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.  Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.  Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain.  Dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, saute the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly.  Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned.  Stir in the garlic and season to tastes.

Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8 inch strips.  Lay them over the onions and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice.  Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil off several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of parsley.  Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley.  Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices.  Correct seasoning, if necessary.  Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil.  Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

Set aside uncovered.  Reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold.

ratatouille dish farmers market fresh

To be honest, this did take me over three hours to prepare.  But what’s more fun than sipping on some Bordeaux and listening to Edith Piaf while you blanch and dice and chop and sauté?  The effort does pay off and once you make it the first time, you can shave time off in your next execution.  We enjoyed the fruits of our labor as a maindish with some crusty bread on the side, but the real beauty of ratatouille is its versatility.  Serve it in a crepe, over rice, along roasted chicken….let your imagination go wild!

EatTheRainbowEveryDay.

Harvest’sChoiceEveryDay.

Julia’sWisdomEveryDay.

RatatouilleEveryDay.

FarmFresh EveryDay.

“A good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.” -Wendell Berry

As all good cooks know- the quality and origin of your ingredients make all the difference in the flavor of your dishes.  This weekend I went to the Farmer’s Market at Grand Army Plaza to get the freshest milk I could find for my cheese-making expedition.  Cheese is my favorite food group.  Seriously, I cannot live without it.  So I figured, why not try making my own.  Brooklyn is a haven for locally sourced, artisanal everything!(pickles, gin, mayonnaise, bitters, popsicles, you name it!)  So why not join the band wagon?

Which brings us to…….(drum roll, please!)…..making farm fresh ricotta cheese at home!!  I sourced my milk from Ronnybrook Farms.  They are legendary around these parts for their milk, cream, yogurt, and ice cream.  And they come in glass bottles which are just too cute!

farm fresh ricotta ingredients

Farm Fresh Ricotta

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 1 heaping cup of ricotta

3 1/2 cups whole local milk
1/2 cup local heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon, my favorite!)

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a saucepan. Heat the milk to 190°F- you can use a candy thermometer or watch it intently to the point where the milk is just beginning to boil.  Stir milk mixture occasionally to keep bottom from burning.  Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, stir mixture once or twice in a figure eight, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

farm fresh ricotta cheese colander

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a soft, oozy, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, and more crumbly. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.  It’s truly incredible to slather on toast bread when its still a little warm.  The lemon juice essence adds a wonderful brightness in contrast to the rich, creamy texture.  Small pleasures indeed!

Keeps for up to 3 days.  I dare you to let it sit in your house that long!

I made these delectable crostini with my ricotta.  Truly, it was all quite simple and easy…..and an opportunity to slow down.  Ahhhhh.

fresh ricotta crostini, grapes, lavendar honey

Roasted Red Grapes with fresh Thyme. (halve and roast grapes at 350 degrees for 15mins)

Lavendar Honey with Meyer Lemon Zest. (Let lavender soak in honey for 15 mins, make sure to purchase “for consumption.”)

Curds&Whey EveryDay.

Bread&Cheese EveryDay.

FarmFresh EveryDay.

 

“He who does not eat cheese will go mad.” -French Proverb

Blush EveryDay.

“I believe in pink.” -Audrey Hepburn

I love pink.  Always have, always will.  Yes, its girlie and sugary sweet but it’s also the color of innocence and charm.

It’s the color of people who believe……. in love & in life.

I love everything pink, including my wine.  With spring finally upon us I consider drinking rosé to be another herald that the seasons have officially changed!  I’m sure some of you folks aren’t interested in pink wine.  I know what you envision- a box of wine with the name “Blush” on it.  Well, let me tell you, times have changed!    rose spring wine recommendationsRosé is an experience unto itself.  And these days there is a plethora of unique varietals readily available to choose from.  No matter what you typically drink there is a way in to suit your palate.  The hard core red drink may enjoy a Spanish or Argentinian rosé since they tend to be darker and bolder(and made from the same exact grapes you toss back all the time!)  Rioja?  Malbec, anyone?  Yep, those grapes produce deep, rich colored rosés with dark fruit on the nose- think cranberry, cherry giving way to a crisp, dry finish.  It’s a little known fact that all wine is white when it is first crushed, its the time that the juice spends macerating in the skins that gives it color.  A day or two on the skins equals pink, or a few weeks for red.

As for you white wine drinkers, you’ve got an easier entry.  When in doubt, go with a Provence.  Provence rosés are considered by most to be the best in the world, and for good reason.  The palest of pink wines is so elegant, so dry it is the perfect compliment to a variety of dishes or all on its own.

A big misconception with pink wine is the supposition that it must be sweet.  This is not the case.  (FYI, dry is the opposite of sweet in the wine world.)

A good rule of thumb is-

Old World wine(European)=typically dry

New World wine(Everywhere else)=less dry

Rosé is also as easy on your wallet as it is on your eyes!  Win, win!  A nice bottle in the $15 range is easy to come by.

So come on!  Drink your pink wine with PRIDE!  I dare you.

The wines picture above are-

Charles & Charles 2013 Rosé www.BielerandSmith.com

La Source Chateau Vignelaure 2013 www.vignelaure.com

Cune Rioja Rosado 2012 www.cvne.com

PrettyinPink EveryDay.

ARoseisaRose EveryDay.

Blush&Bashful EveryDay.

“Pink is my signature color.” – Steel Magnolias

 

 

MyFunnyValentine EveryDay.

“Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!”  -Thomas Hood

I don’t understand the intense loathing some people feel towards Valentine’s Day.  Never have.  How can you hate LOVE?  Calling it a “Hallmark” holiday is a load of hooey.  Listen up people!  It’s not about red roses, and heart shaped boxes of truffles, or over-stuffed animals or even the candle-lit dinners…..it’s always been about the cards.  Duh.  St. Valentine!  Ever heard of him?  Patron saint of lovers….the man who sent the first love letter enscribed “from your Valentine.”  We can all get behind that, right?  The passion, the longing, the desire, the need to put your feelings in writing!  This day isn’t about presents or showy displays, it’s about how you FEEL.  Get it?  Don’t let the floral and greeting card industries get to you- turn inward and investigate what’s happening in that beating heart of yours.

Love is the answer.  Love is all you need.  Love is a many splendored thing!

And don’t tell me its only about romantic love, cause I will fight to the end on that. Single, coupled, lonely, blissful- give all the love you got to your friends, your grandmother, your nephew, your mentor, your neighbor, your SELF!  A day to commemorate love sounds like something we could all use!  Am I right?

When I was in elementary school we always made our valentines.  That’s right, no drugstore superhero valentine’s for this family! (I wonder where I get my craftiness.)  We would buy those heart- shaped paper doilies and construction paper.  We were old school- we would fold the paper in half, cutting the shape of half a heart & unfold it to reveal the perfect heart,  oh yeah!  I still remember the intense pleasure I felt in those creations crafted by my little hands.

So here I am, twenty years later, with an update.  I think they turned out kinda chic.

diy doily valentine pink pain

DIY Paper Heart DOILY VALENTINES

SUPPLIES:-paper doilies     -kraft paper & envelopes     -paint(I ended up mixing my red & white to make PINK!)     -paint brushes      -glue stick

diy doilies valentines supplies materials

Arrange doily on paper and use as a “silk screen” by painting over doily.  Allow each coat to dry before layering the colors.

paint silk screen doily valentine

If you like you can paint the doily, let it dry and then glue stick onto the paper creating an inverse of the design.  The options are endless!

diy paint doily valentines

Keep in mind-I got about 4 good cards out of each doily.  The paper begins to break down after that and makes a less clean image.  Now all you need to do is write from the heart.

“My funny valentine, sweet comic valentine, you make me smile with my heart…..Each day is Valentines Day.” -Rogers & Hart

diy doily valentine

FeelItAll EveryDay.

PutItInWriting Everyday.

diy valentine

SpreadLOVE Everyday.

MyFunnyValentine EveryDay.

Pin It

Luxuriate EveryDay.

“The best things in life are free.  The second best are very expensive.” – Coco Chanel

New Year’s is such a thought provoking holiday.  Looking back in remembrance and looking forward with vigor and hope.  Celebrating the high moments of a year, while acknowledging and honoring the lows.

I happen to think that it doesn’t really matter what you do on this holiday but who you spend it with.  Something about the act of looking into the eyes of loved ones at the stroke of midnight and setting intentions together is sacred to me.

The glitter of fireworks, the silly hats, the confetti, and (dare I say even the champagne,) are all fun and festive ways to be in the spirit, but let us always be mindful of the people we are surrounded by.

As you raise a glass with your friends, your family, & yourself……perhaps a little luxury to ring in 2014?

Here’s to having the best as well as the second best things in life!  Here’s to the highs and the lows!  Here’s to health and happiness!

champagne meyer lemon lobster tails

Champagne & Meyer Lemon Broiled Lobster Tails

INGREDIENTS-

2 lobster tails

2 tablespoon meyer lemon juice

2 tablespoons champagne

2 tablespoon unsalted butter(you can use more or less depending on how you prefer)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to broil.  Begin by butterflying the lobster tails with a pair of kitchen scissors.  Insert the scissors at the end of the hard top shell.   Cut to tip of tail.  Pry shell open a bit to expose the flesh and slowly work the meat up to the top of the shell. Rinse well.

Place tails in a saute pan.  Mix together the juice of the meyer lemon and champagne.  Baste tails with half of the mixture. Place in oven and cook for 5 minutes.  Baste lobster with lemon & champagne mixture once more and return to oven for 4 more minutes.  Remove from oven and place tails on plate.  Melt butter in pan liquid(there will be a delicious lobster champagne broth!) and season with salt & pepper.  Garnish tails with parsley & serve with lobster butter on side.  A fennel and arugula salad & some crusty bread make lovely compliments.

SetIntentions EveryDay.

RaiseAGlass EveryDay.

BestThings EveryDay.

SecondBestThings EveryDay.

Luxuriate EveryDay.

 

“Luxury is in each detail.” – Hubert de Givenchy 

 

ChangeColor EveryDay.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  -L.M. Montgomery “Anne of Green Gables”

autumn leaves brooklyn

It’s autumn in New York.

The crisp air….the cardigan sweaters…..the pumpkins….the pies baking…..the harvest…..the changing leaves.  My favourite time of year.  Autumn always feels so potent with possibilities…..the circle of life mirrored in the children starting a new year at school to learn & grow & become.

Let’s take a hint from the trees and open ourselves up to change.  I know, there can be a lot of resistance associated with such a notion, but I’m simply suggesting changing color.  Don’t let the grey days make you grey.  Be the vibrant orangey-red leaf that has more hues contained in its veins than one could imagine.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” -Albert Camus

TrustTheWind EveryDay.

BeCarriedAway EveryDay.

LetYourselfFall EveryDay.

ChangeColor EveryDay.

JustPeachy EveryDay.

“But the peach … ah, yes … the peach was a soft, stealthy traveller, making no noise at all as it floated along. And several times during that long silent night ride high up over the middle of the ocean in the moonlight, James and his friends saw things that no one had ever seen before.”-Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

The Farmer’s Markets are in full bloom this summer with stone fruits.  The perfect peach is within reach my friends!  Ripe and juicy with sweet aromas of lazy childhood afternoons.  Peaches have a way of transforming your day- for what else matters when you are biting into such a gem of nature?

I decided to pair two of my favorite summer refreshments for this recipe- peaches and rosé.  And the marvel of this dish is that poaching turns every peach into perfection!

poachedpeachesrose

Poached White Peaches & Apricots in Rosé Wine

Ingredients:

3 white peaches *don’t worry about ripeness of fruit as poaching magically tenderizes

6 apricots

2 cups rosé wine

1 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

peel from one meyer lemon, mine made 6 strips

1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

6 star anise

a pinch sea salt

fresh mint

fresh whipped cream

 

Begin by bringing wine, water, sugar, salt, anise, lemon zest, and peppercorns to a boil in a large pot, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add halved peaches & apricots; cover with cheesecloth or parchment to keep submerged. Reduce heat; simmer, turning fruit once, until tender and skins are loose, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Let cool, covered with cheesecloth to keep moist, for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove fruit, and slip off skins; discard. Strain poaching liquid; discard solids. Serve peaches & apricots in liquid, with chiffonade of fresh mint and a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Summer in a bowl!  This poaching liquid is liquid gold- refined and infused with flavor.  The perfect light dessert for a hot summer night.  Adapt this recipe how ever your heart, garden or pantry desires- substitute vanilla bean for the anise, lemon verbena for the mint, sparkling wine for the rosé, raspberries for the apricots- the variations are endless.

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

 

PeachyKeen EveryDay.

Rosé EveryDay.

JustPeachy EveryDay.