Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Reading Material

A few new books on my wishlist:

This book is incredible. I've looked at it a few times in B&N, but I haven't had the chance to purchase it yet. Its on my holiday wishlist though! And it comes with a free subscription to Domino! Woohoo!

I'm eager to read this while I sip my morning coffee.

I'm looking forward to trying some of Ina Garten's newest recipes! They look simply delicious!

And a new book to help me plan for the big day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

I made pumpkin muffins last week and they were a big hit around here! The recipe made a ton (maybe 5 dozen), but you wouldn't be able to tell by the empty plate of muffins only four days after baking them. I woke up to a cool fall breeze and decided that today was the day to make more muffins. After brewing a pot of hazelnut coffee my mission for muffins continued! Mmmm. My recipe is one that was handed down from my grandmother's friend ( I can't trace the origins before that... but it has been a hit in our family for years!). It is delicious and reminds me of all the fall has to offer. At my house, we like to bake half of the batter as muffins and use the remaining half to fill loaf pans. In the mornings we just toast a slice or two and spread a little cream cheese on the warm bread. I also like to freeze some of the loaves and save them for a busy morning when there is no time for baking.

Here's the recipe:

3 cups of sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups of pumpkin (1 lb can)
1 cup salad oil
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp alspice
2 tsp salt
2/3 cup water

Combine sugar, eggs, pumpkin and oil. Sift dry ingredients together and add to sugar pumpkin mixture, alternately adding water. Place in muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees F. Muffins take about 25 - 30 minutes. The small loaf pans take approximately 45 minutes to bake and a large loaf pan will take nearly an hour to bake.

I am trying to make this slightly more healthy than it is. I know... I know... its never going to be Weight Watchers friendly or Sugar Busters friendly, but I will try and add a few more nutritious ingredients. See my notes below for some successful substitutions.

1. sugar - I use 2 1/2 cups. I'd like to try to substitute the sugar for honey, but I haven't tried this yet.
2. salad oil - I use 3/4 of a cup. I think that the recipe could be reduced a bit more too... maybe even 2/3 cup. Next time I will try that.
3. flour - Instead of using 3 1/2 cups of flour, I have tried adding a cup of oatmeal (run it through the food processor to blend it up first) and 2 1/2 cups of flour. Personally, I enjoy the slightly crunchier texture, however some of my family prefers a smoother texture to the muffins. Its all in what you prefer.

Enjoy and good luck! Tell me what you think of the recipe and any other substitutions you may have!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I don't know about you, but I've spent the past month fresh out of ideas. Maybe its from 4 years of design school sucking every ounce of creativity out of me, or maybe its just that I've been busy doing other things. I think its probably a combination of both. Anyways, I'd like to officially announce that I am out of that rut. I'm back and feeling incredibly design savvy, creative, and resourceful.

I decided to make a tufted pinboard covered in linen the other day. Its been on my mind for a while, but I haven't had the chance to approach the design of it until Monday. I'm not completely finished with the tufting process (just a steady border of upholstry tacks three inches inset from the border of the pinboard) but I'm looking forward to finishing it by the end of the day tomorrow. I have to run back out to Lowes to buy a few more packs of upholstry tacks. One note to those interested in using upholstry tacks - buy more than you anticipate needing!!! I cannot say this enough. I bought 150 tacks and thought I would have enough... but I've only made it around three sides of the board. For some reason the tacks keep getting bent after I hammer them in and then bounce back out of the board (VERY annoying!). I am hesitant to post a photo, only because the place is a mess.... but I want to give you an idea of how its going to look. Here it is:

Making the pinboard made me want to rearrange a bit. I've flipflopped the dresser and small kitchen table/workdesk and I think there's a bit more space to work on projects now. I also want to find a way to display some of my purses. I don't have a walk in closet, but I think that I could use a small wall outside the closet to display them on. I think I'll need to install some simple shelves - probably white lack shelves from Ikea (good price point and relatively easy to install). Before that happens though, I think I need to save up a bit of money!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Oh Baby!

These are the cutest baby pillows! I found a link from Beach Bungalow 8 about the new textile design company called Rikshaw Design. This company sells baby bedding and accessories made from hand blocked fabric - in soft soothing shades and patterns. I have some friends who are expecting and also have childrens fabric laying around (well, I've been trying to save it for the perfect project). I think this is the perfect use of that fabric. I'll probably make other animals though... maybe a scottie dog or a dashound or a bunny and mouse. Here are some other images from their website.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What I'm Loving - Right NOW

I've been cooking a lot recently. Except for last night, nearly every meal this week I've made from scratch. Woohoo! Right now one of my favorite cookbooks is The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I got this for my birthday a few months ago and I have just started using it. This week I made Ina's granola recipe and today, I just finished baking almond shortbread cookies. Both are delicious!

I was uncertain about the granola, since I tend to enjoy very sweet treats and this recipe only called for a little honey, but let me tell you... DELICIOUS! I am completely impressed and I have already consumed half the jar of granola. The shortbread cookies are a delicious and very buttery (Paula Deen would love these!). I wish I had cut mine smaller, because they are very rich.

Go pick up a cookbook and try a new recipe or two! You'd be surprised what delicious treats are out there! Enjoy!

New Art

Here are two paintings I completed recently. I'm really happy with the way they turned out, especially the flowers! Neither took too long to do (maybe an hour each) and I love the sketchy and imperfect quality of the brush strokes. Hopefully my painting skills will improve as I continue, but if nothing else, its fun to do something that brings a carefree feeling of joy to my heart. :)

My next goal is to paint a series of three canvases with scenes from my parent's town on them. I envision them being unique with cheerful colors. I'd love the setting of one to be at the beach, another in the gardens between the small shops in town, and the third to be of the bridge.

We'll see when that happens - but hopefully I can get started on them very soon! I'll be sure to keep you posted. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Selling Art

So, I'm thinking about selling a few different paintings and small pieces of art I've made recently. The main reason is that I just don't have space for them, and though I love them, they are cluttering my life! Does anyone know about selling on Etsy? I've noticed that there are many people who sell their art using that website, but I wonder if its oversaturated with stuff. Will I actually ever sell my things there, or is it better just to sell things word of mouth or at local stores.

My hairdresser has ample room to display art, and has offered to put mine up in the past. I've considered putting it up there for sale. I always wonder though, is this the right "environment" for my work? I know that I appreciate it, and other design students value it, but I wonder if the everyday person would understand the design as I originally had. Hmm... maybe its just me having separation anxiety with my stuff (its been known to happen).

Anyways, I'll post more photos shortly. If you're interested in them, leave a comment with your email and I'll get back to you. Thanks!

- L.Alden

Sunday, August 10, 2008

City Chic

So, I just took an interior style quiz on My Deco's website. I wasn't familiar with the website, but saw a link to it on The Inspired Room's blog. According to the quiz, my style is City Chic. Here's the description...

"The classic look ranges from the opulence of a Louis XV armchair to the simplicity of a Georgian dining table. Fortunately, you don't need original antiques to recreate the look in your own home, even on a budget. Classical influences served the Georgians well, and they still hold strong today. Elegant, sophisticated and - in your hands - supremely confident, classic interiors ooze style and luxury: an elaborate chandelier hangs above a simple but beautifully crafted oak dining table, perhaps, or crisp white linen is showcased within the 'theatre' of a four-poster bed."

I think that some of this is true, but I would disagree about the formalness of my style. I love classic lines, but I also appreciate casual cottage-y interiors that are calm and inviting. I think the best way to achieve that look is with classic furniture pieces (some new, some antique-y looking) and simple linens. I'd like to add art and accessories to my space that are full of color and unique in style.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Today is a beautiful day - temps in the mid 80s with a cool breeze! Needless to say, the air conditioning has been cut off and the curtains billowing in the breeze. Days like today make me want to relax in a clean and uncluttered home. As a result, I've been sorting through old school stuff recently and have tossed a large amount of things. There are things I need to keep (school supplies, sentimental things, and furniture that is too expensive to be replaced) and there are things that I am saving for an updated room in a new home. Among those things include simple white cube vases I found in the dollar section at Target a few years ago (back when they had good stuff!), Jonathan Adler style vases from Ikea (at a fraction of the cost), wallpaper scraps waiting to be framed, and two beautiful and nearly perfect linen lampshades in someone's trash pile.

I'm eager to get past the clutter and simplify my life with these neutral accessories. I think they'll work well with my many mood altering styles (modern one day, beach cottage another). I want to start collecting original art to be dispersed across my future home. I recently visited a friend who has original art in every room. Each space is layered with large and small pieces, each holding sentimental value to her. The colors in some are bright. Many are landscapes or local places around town. This is not financially possible for me right now, so I've been doing some paintings of my own recently. They are not what I always have in my mind, but I think I can work to improve them. Plaza art sells linen canvases that are a bit more expensive than the regular white canvases I'm used to, but they look chic on walls, even unpainted! I've purchased three for now (two 8x8s and one 4x4) and can't wait to go back for more.

I also picked up a small coffee table book this week. Paris Style is a great addition to any library. It is a small collection of French rooms. I would like to try and have a more European method of furniture selection in the future. I'd like to choose long lasting pieces that are neutral but inviting. I've noticed that many of the rooms include layers of materials, mirrors, textiles, accessories, etc. I think this may inspire rooms in my future home. We shall see!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Something New

Ok, Its time for something new. Summer has definitely set in and strangely, I'm missing school projects. Well, not exactly school projects, but the structure and creative thinking that school projects bring. Soooo... I think I need to start doing some fun projects on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Maybe I'll even teach you all how to do them with me. Lets aim for How-To Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hopefully this will motivate me to keep the blog going. I'll try and post the first project today, along with photos.

In other news - I made the most delicious coffee this morning. I used my french press to brew coffee (just like normal) and then (here's the exciting part) combined my half and half with some hazelnut and vanilla espresso syrups. Before adding the half and half, I microwaved it for 30 seconds in a glass container and then frothed it with my Ikea milk frother. Then I poured it on top of my coffee and voila! The most delicious coffee concoction I have ever made. Yummy!

Oh, and I'm hooked on French Music right now. iTunes has a great compilation called French Dinner Party in their iTunes Essentials collection. Give it a try! Also, must love the Something's Gotta Give sountrack. Its perfect for these lazy summer days!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

All Things Boston

Well, I must admit, I've been missing M a lot recently. Since he up and left for Boston earlier this week, I can't help but notice anything and everything Boston. Today I got up and checked my email, only to find that DailyCandy Boston had an article on a new cupcake bakery, SWEET, located in Back Bay. I've already shot M and email telling him to go scout out this new delicacy!

The space was designed by Boston up and coming designer, Annsely McAleer, voted one of Domino Magazine's top 10 designers last year. I have yet to see images of the interior, but I'll have M take photos when he stops in for a cupcake.

Remember the Swan Boats? I jokingly told M that when I come visit I'll be riding them every day. I went to the website and found out that it only costs $2.75 per ride. What a deal! I really may go for a daily ride! If I can't ride the Swan Boats each day, I'll atleast try and watercolor in the Public Gardens each day that I'm there. I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New and Inspiring

Welcome to 2008; so many new and inspiring things await this year. I can just feel it. I received my new PotteryBarn catalog in the mail today. This season's colors seem so fresh and cheerful. The new (and final) Blueprint magazine also came today. I can't wait to sit and read.
This morning it snowed a little bit. Just a little, but enough to put me in a cozy mood. I plan on curling up on the couch and watching a movie or some mindless television. May I recommend that you do the same.
Have a nice afternoon.

- L.Alden