Tuesday, March 31, 2009

tuesday inspiration: natalia vodianova

I'm usually not one to ooh and aah over professional models, but ever since I first saw Natalia, I thought there was something very special about her.

she always seems like a real person to me, and she has a real family to boot...

these pastel-y photos of her and her children are too cute and very real.  Though, I can't help think that in most of them she looks like she could be their older sister or at least their young aunt!  I hope I look that good after 3 kids... ;)

Monday, March 30, 2009

soft pretzel saturday

One thing that I always have to eat as soon as I hit american soil is a soft pretzel.  I still can't figure out why they don't sell these in England.  Considering the deliciousness of a warm and fluffy soft pretzel, I'm sure they would go over with flying colours if sold here.  But alas, they are not, so we have to resort to making them ourselves.  I found a good recipe for them last week and we attempted our first ever soft pretzel making on our rainy Saturday.

We followed the recipe to a T and they turned out very well.  So well, in fact, that we decided we were having pretzels for dinner and they were almost all gone by 10pm...

Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Pour warm water into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook*. In a small bowl, combine water and 1 tablespoon sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

recipe from smittenkitchen.com

bunny of the week 4

Friday, March 27, 2009

springtime in london

we took these flower photos on sunday walking through hyde park.  It was a beautiful sunny, beginning to be warm day, which held promise for a wonderful spring to come.

cherry blossoms mean springtime in london

bright and cheery pansies and daffodils

okay, this is a cheating picture.  This pie was made back in the usa, with home-grown orchard cherries that were frozen since last summer, defrosted and reconstituted into a summery winter pie :) 

*fyi, I brought back crisco, hidden in my suitcase, to make pies in England.  Pie isn't pie without a crisco crust.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


coming home just makes a girl realize how much her guy really understands her...

a chocolate bunny whose ears vanished last night

a vase of beautiful simple flowers

an antique bunny tile

art supplies to occupy empty time

soft pastels

various lead weights

makes a girl feel something special :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

tuesday inspiration: michelle williams

I love her attitude and carefreeness and her nonchalant style and cute hair.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

weekend home style: i want to live here

Clingstone, an unusual, 103-year-old mansion in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, survives through the love and hard work of family and friends.

Henry Wood, the owner, runs the house like a camp: all skilled workers welcome. The Jamestown Boatyard hauls the family's boats and floating dock and stores them each winter in return for a week's use of the house in the summer.

The Newport Bridge is visible from the windows of the Ping-Pong room, to the left of the fireplace.

Mr. Wood, a 79-year-old Boston architect, bought the house with his ex-wife Joan in 1961 for $3,600. It had been empty for two decades.

The total cost of the construction, which was completed in 1905, was $36,982.99.

There are 10 bedrooms at Clingstone, all with indecently beautiful views.

The house is maintained by an ingenious method: the Clingstone work weekend. Held every year around Memorial Day, it brings 70 or so friends and Clingstone lovers together to tackle jobs like washing all 65 of the windows. Anne Tait, who is married to Mr. Wood's son Dan, refinished the kitchen floor on one of her first work weekends.

Clingstone had been built by a distant cousin, J.S. Lovering Wharton. Mr. Wharton worked with an artist, William Trost Richards, to create a house of picture windows with 23 rooms on three stories radiating off a vast central hall.

An early sketch of the house. Mr. Wood is as proud as any parent of his house, and keeps a fat scrapbook of photographs and newspaper clippings that document its best moments.

The dining room table seats 14. Refinishing the chairs is a task on the list for a future work weekend.

A sign by the ladder that leads to the roof reads: No entry after three drinks or 86 years of age. "It used to say 80 but we had a guy on a work weekend who was 84, so I changed it," said Mr. Wood, ever the realist. It would have been a shame to curtail the activities of a willing volunteer.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Now that I am heading back to the UK I will have to put some of my wedding projects on hold.

The last one I have semi-completed is the 'program' for the wedding.  While I understand why some people need to schedule every moment of their special day, I don't like those programs that dictate every speech and every activity.  I do, however, think a program is useful for giving a general idea of the celebrations and can act as a handy who's-who.

Here's what ours will look like (without just initials of course).

We'll print them on some extra cream paper left over from making the invitations.  Just one piece of paper, printed on both sides and folded in half.

I'm quite pleased with the Playbill format :)


flying out today, back to the island of crumpets and tea :)

* I've pre-scheduled the home post tomorrow in case I wouldn't get around to it

Thursday, March 19, 2009

when harry met sally old people

when harry met sally is one of my favorite movies.  

the best part?  the clips of old couples retelling the story of how they met and married.

Couple 2:

He: "She was just as beautiful as she was at 16."

Her: "He was just the same, he looked exactly the same."

Couple 4:

He: "I rode up 9 extra floors just to keep talking to her"

Her: "9 extra floors."

Couple 5:

Her: "At that moment I knew, I knew the was you know about a good melon." 


I found this picture within a cup of jo.  On the left is New York City imaged in 1609, on the right is New York City now.  It's amazing what a little people can do to a place...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

la maison d'amelie

one of my favorite movies is Amelie.  I love the story, the cinematography, the colors, the clothes, the photo booths, the story, the scavenger hunts, the garden gnome, the vegetables, did I mention the story?

Amelie's house is especially quirky and cute.

cozy, comfy wrought-iron bed

adorable animal portraits

dresser in the bathroom :)

checkerboard floors

quirky country kitchen

this sounds weird, but I think SJ has that blue lamp...

cutest thing ever

I have watched this far too many times today. It makes me very happy. I want a tiny puppy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

tuesday inspiration: helen mirren

In honor of my *knock on wood* return to old blighty, this week's tuesday inspiration is a British institution, Helen Mirren.  I remember that when I first saw her in a movie, Gosford Park.  Now I'm going to make a list of her movies to watch, one of them definitely being Calendar Girls. Is it just me or is she pretty smokin for someone at 63?  She's the epitome of aging gracefully.

Did you know she was the voice of Deep Thought in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

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