Greece, Revisited

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View from Oia, Santorini

I visited Greece this Spring for the first time, and like many far-flung places I’ve been to, the memories of the food are some of the most vivid, sticking with me months – sometimes years – after I get home.

So it’s only fitting that I had my fellow travel buddies over for a soiree back in the city, and we recreated our favorite dishes from Crete, Santorini, and Athens, where we found a nice mix of local tavernas and seasonal eats.

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Happy campers. Just add rosé.

I’ll admit I was giddy as a school girl getting ready for dinner:  sprucing up the deck, hanging twinkle lights, and decorating the table with white cheesecloth napkins (maybe a nod to the process of making Tzatziki?), a potted oregano plant, and lanterns.

IMG_2165But back to our travels.  Some of the best dishes from our trip were just awesome ingredients simply prepared, so we did our best to recreate them:  a simple Greek salad, grilled squid with fresh lemon, zucchini fritters, and a team favorite, feta.  While always great plain, I dialed it up a notch and recreated an appetizer we had at Floga, a restaurant in Oia, after a 3-hour hike from Fira:

We were sweaty and nasty and ravenous after the hike, so of course everything we ate at that lunch seemed incredible.  But this one feta dish stood out:  it was rolled in slivered almonds and sesame seeds, lightly pan-fried to a golden brown, and served with a pomegranate reduction.  Talk dirty!

Feta final

Golden Fried Feta

So that’s what I set out to make at home (above).  Here’s my attempt to recreate the recipe.  I’ll caveat that it was a mess to make, and certainly not for the impatient.  But after one bite into the toasted nuttiness and warm cheese, I knew it was time well spent.

Golden Fried Feta

Ingredients:
– 1 c. pomegranate juice (ie Pom)
– olive oil
– 1 square block of feta (8 oz)
– 1 egg
– 1 T. milk
– 1/3 c. flour
– 1/2 c. slivered almonds
– 1 t. sesame seeds
– Pita wedges, for serving

Heat the pomegranate in a small saucepan over high heat until it simmers; reduce to half and set aside to cool.  In the meantime, heat olive oil in a heavy pan on medium, enough to coat the bottom by about 1/3″. Beat egg and milk in a large, shallow bowl. Set aside. Combine flour and pepper on a separate plate, set aside. Pour almonds on a third plate, set aside.

Quarter your feta block into 4 equal wedges and prep each as follows: dredge triangle in egg mixture, then flour, then egg mixture. This will give you a gooey base. Sprinkle a few pinches of sesame onto the wedge, then gently press the almonds onto each side, coating as much “cheese space’ as possible. Repeat on remaining wedges.

Fry two wedges at a time, alternating sides until they are golden brown. Drizzle with pomegranate reduction and serve with greens and pita.

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Summer Luminaries

It turns out I’m a lantern lady.  Actually, “luminary enthusiast” sounds better.  I’m not much of a collector in general, but my lantern count has hit double-digits.  I’ve collected some great little vessels over the years, even before I had an outdoor table (or indoor table for that matter).  My favorites are the ones found in old second-hand stores, or on the cheap.  A sampling:

I love them because they remind me of nights spent at the Jersey shore, when family dinners culminated in front porch nightcaps.  My mother would – and still does – light every wick possible until the porch glows from afar (fire hazards be damned!)

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This weekend I added to my collection with what is probably my favorite score yet:  blue glass lanterns with beautiful bronze detailing, a steal at $6.99 each at The Christmas Tree Shoppe.  (It’s not just for holiday decor!)  I stuck with the same turquoise hue as some other pieces, and I’m excited to light them.  (And to my past roommates who coined me #FireMarshallKate, you’ll be happy to know I’m still just as diligent with my extinguishing duties).

Shoe Storage Upgrade

In my scurry to move forward on new projects, I’ve been remiss in posting some of the nice little moments that have come together in my apartment.  One of my favorite nooks is this one by my front door.  It’s a chair + crate combo that’s nice on the eyes, and also holds and conceals my shoes.

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The chair is CB2, and the wood crate is a find from Maine during a drive home from my friend Kim’s wedding.  A few of us stopped by some antique stores in Wells, and I founds this Hood Dairy crate for $28.  It dates back to…well, I’m not sure.  But it’s old.  And I was drawn to its red check pattern, and of course its crustiness.  I think this montage is a good reminder that mixing old and new is easy, as long as you can find the similarities that tie the pieces together.  In this case, the red tones do the job.  I may add wheels or sliders, TBD.

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OH and my friend Silvia scored a mink that day and we got a $20 discount for paying cash and bundling our purchases.  wooo! #effectivenegotiation

 

Fun with Seedlings

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I had a full summer in my place last year, so I had some time to try my hand at gardening.  I learned a few things, including the benefits of watering plants at night (do it) and that I’m terrible at growing roma tomatoes (I have no idea why).  Most exciting though was learning what I could grow and benefit from on a daily basis, like summer salad add-ons, like mint, basil and cherry tomatoes.

All well and good.  But this time I’m venturing a bit further into veggies, in addition to planting some classic potato vines and impatiens.  I picked today of all days to do so…not ideal given I leave for a 2 weeks in exactly 3 hours.  (I’ve have always done my best work under pressure).  Here’s what I opted for (UPDATED to reflect 2 weeks of growth).  Note the handy watering “picks” I found on Amazon; you just screw them to the top of a used soda bottle.  Or in my case…sacrificial tonic:

Before:

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Radish plantings from seed

After:

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Radish plantings from seed

Before:

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Mixed impatiens

After:

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Mixed impatiens

Before:

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Cherry tomato seedlings

After:

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Cherry tomato seedlings

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First tomato of the season

Curtain Contemplation

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My weekend mission: throw some weight into sprucing up the guest bedroom.   It’s funny…the smallest space in my apartment is actually the one I adore the most, with its dark walls and close quarters.  I’ve established a solid palette:  charcoal … Continue reading

Holiday House NYC

Academy Mansion

Academy Mansion

I had a chance to check out Holiday House NYC this weekend, an annual benefit to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  The event was held in an old mansion on the Upper West Side.  I volunteered through my school and had pretty sweet access to the rooms on display.

While the rooms were  fabulously done (more below) the old soul in me was fascinated by building itself, The Academy Mansion (aka Ziegler House) and it’s been vacant for 8+ years.  No one lives there!  Once a year, it’s brought back to its shiny self by a team of 12 designers who each take a room and put their own stamp on it.  I came away with some good nuggets of inspiration.  Here are some of my favorites.

This Living Room, by J. Cohler Mason Design.  I love the clean lines and the way the draperies draw the eye up to the ceiling that’s wallpapered in a glossy black snakeskin print.  Sexy!

Living Room

Living Room

Not sure who designed the power room, but sometimes it’s the small rooms that pack the most punch.  I’m loving the wallpaper motif.  It’s reminiscent of a half moon pattern I’ve been thinking of painting behind my headboard in my bedroom.

Powder Room

Powder Room

Speaking of my bedroom accent wall project, I’ve been cataloging a few inspiration sources and recently spotted a similar pattern on a tube of lipstick at Sephora in Tarte’s Glamazon Lipstick, below.  Just shows that inspiration can come from anywhere.

Glamazon Lipstick by Tarte

Diversions: Neighborhood Jaunt

Some days I need to step back from making design decisions and feast my eyes on something other than fabrics and furniture sites and such.  Today I did just that.  A walk around the neighborhood reminded me of why I moved here.

Brownstones

Neighborhood brownstones

I love a good stoop.

View of downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Bridge park

Brooklyn Bridge park

On a Mission: Carpeting

One of the lessons I’ve picked up about design schemes is to start with the floors, and work your way up from there to create a cohesive space.  Ie, find a good carpet that you love, and pull from it, letting it dictate the color palette and style of the room.

I was set on finding a coral carpet, the perfect shade of bright, “off red” that would complement my accessories and breathe life into the living room.  I had my heart set on the below Brooke pattern from Madeline Weinrib in Pink, but not only is it overpriced, the 8×10′ has been out of stock for awhile (probably a sign):

Brooke Carpet in Pink

So I just Zipcar-ed it out to the ABC Carpet & Home Warehouse this weekend in the Bronx and was blown away.  What a place.  It’s spilling with cast-offs from the pricier flagship store in the Flatiron, and there’s a full floor devoted to rugs.  Here are three frontrunners I pulled:

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They’re all close to what I’m looking for, but not close enough.  But they say those with an open mind are rewarded!  I found a cute lamp (on the floor, above) that’s already made its way onto a bookshelf:

ABC Lamp

…and a new coffee table as well.  A mirror-topped neoclassical shape that brings a strong masculinity to my space:

Coffee Table

You’ll notice it’s resting on my current carpet.  Babysteps..

Dining Decisions

Tablescape

Nothing would make me happier than rolling up my sleeves, donning some protective eye wear and constructing a wood farm table out of raw materials.  But I’ve come to terms with the fact that this won’t happen anytime soon.  Luckily there are great dining table choices out there , from the handmade variety on Etsy to the big box retailers.  I decided on something in between and chose this number from Restoration Hardware, the Flatiron Table with rust legs.  It’s made from a reclaimed elm door so it has a nice wear to it.

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Kitchen table

When choosing my chair arrangement, I decided on a mix of old + new.   The bright powder-coated steel chairs are from CB2, and they pack a punch of color inside, and double as extra seating outside.  I’ve had the wood chairs with me for 7+ years.  They’re original finds from Housing Works that I stained and reupholstered in a simple printed fabric from Calico Corners.

My advice here:  don’t be afraid of mixing genres or styles, as long as there’s something that ties them together.  For me, the coral was an extension of a prevalent color theme I’d already established.  And the green chairs felt organic, pulling color from the plants inside and outside.  And I love both equally.  When you love an item, it will always work in your space.

I’m now a few steps closer to hosting Thanksgiving this year, and no longer fear having enough seating.  What I do fear is having a big eater make himself comfortable in one of my dainty wood chairs… #homeownsersinsurance  #thirdhelpings

Painting the Bedrooms: Before & After

BR before

Master Bedroom (before)

Master bedroom (during)

Let me caveat this by saying that the word “after” isn’t accurate, as this is really just the beginning.  Design for me these days is a work-in-progress.  I had painters tackle the two bedrooms and the bathroom (I drew the line at those bookshelves, and my back thanks me).  They did an awesome job (PaintYourApartment.com) and left me with a nice canvas of neutral.  The grey in the master bedroom is taupe-ier than I expected (Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore), but it works.  More putty, less pewter.

Master BR - after 1

Master Bedroom (after, accessorized)

I brought some life into the room but I know I’ll have more tweaks to make, by bringing more texture and layers.  For now, I’m going with a green/brown/natural theme because, well, I had a green blanket handy.   I had planned on pulling teals and reds in from my living room, but once I started to set up shop, the room had other plans.  It’s funny how that happens.  The green from the trees outside fought to come in.  So hunter green + warm accessories = my new palette!  Who knew.  And let’s not forget my new #biggirlbed that arrived  this weekend.  Huge change for me considering I’ve been sleeping in the little bedroom on a full bed for months.  I guess you could say I’m comfortable in small spaces…

Speaking of, the dark paint in Bedroom #2 did wonders:  Days’ End by Benjamin Moore.  Out with the orange, in with a rich palette that moves from navy to gray to black depending on what time of day it is.

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Second bedroom (before)

Second bedroom (after)

Second bedroom (after)

Many people think painting a dark color in a small space will only make the room look smaller.  I think the opposite is true, and I’m loving the results:  the dark walls bring some drama and play nicely with the white trim and walnut floors.