Tuesday, May 31, 2011

wedding: melissa + jason, puremotif photography

well, it's wedding season people! here's a favorite from the wedding i helped Rach with on Saturday:

check out the rest on her flickr or facebook!

strawberry cream cheese tart

i bookmarked this recipe from Annie's Eats as soon as she put it on her blog a few weeks ago. i could not wait to try this. it pretty much tastes as amazing as it looks.

i found the tart/pastry portion definitely the most challenging and time consuming. i refrigerated it for an hour but it still proved extremely hard to get off my silicon pastry mat and into the tart pan (which i had picked up earlier in the day for $8.50 at Wegman's). i ended up rolling out the dough, freezing it for about 10 minutes, then i was able to get it in the tart pan a lot easier. definitely need to work on my tart-pastry skillz as the dough could have been a little more evenly dispersed...however, it still tasted great.

my chocolate ganache was actually left over ganache from the freezer from my birthday cake. it worked really well, even with the little bit of peanut butter that was in the ganache. it was perfect because i didn't have to spend extra money on more chocolate or any heavy cream and it saved 10-15 minutes of time.

also, these strawberries - AMAZING. they tasted so good. and arranging them like this? took 5 minutes. it looks gorgeous but is so easy and quick. anyone can do it!

check out the recipe here and try it for yourself! it was a big hit at our Memorial Day celebration with family!

today i also got to use the 35mm lens that my sister and i purchased together last year. it's not been working well on her cameras and she doesn't have any shoots soon so i get to hang out to it for a while. my camera is dinkier and less fancy, so maybe that is why it's been working better for me. so! i enjoy these pictures more because i finally got to use a good lens!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

UPMC Hamot Women's Hospital

We were honored to win the bid for the Patient and Waiting Room furniture for this project last year. We worked with our Hamot contact and the interior designers from Rectenwald Architects to finalize the furniture and layouts as well as coordinate the fabrics, vinyls and finishes. The hospital has been open since December 2010 and was featured in this month's Healthcare Design Magazine!

Hamot is on the cover! You can read the article here.

For the project, we used Carolina and Versteel furniture in both the patient and waiting rooms. The waiting rooms were composed of the Voyage, Embrace and Basil series and Versteel Companion side chairs. The patient rooms have Carolina's Orchestra recliners, Coronado sleeper loveseats/chairs and Solace gliders in select areas. The patient rooms also had the Versteel Companion side chairs.

Here are some pictures.

you can check out more images on flickr. these pictures were taken by my sister, Rachel Lusky of Puremotif Photography or by me (they are noted on the flickr site).

double chocolate chip [sandwich] cookies

so, the main reason i made these cookies was because i wanted to use up some leftover frosting in the freezer.

that is acceptable, right?

recipe from Real Simple. i added all i had left for chocolate chips as well as some chopped white chocolate. i also used shortening instead of butter...because i didn't have any butter.



my favorite was the browned butter cream cheese frosting cookie sandwich. also, i haven't tried the strawberry butter-cream or chocolate ganache sandwich cookies because i probably ate about five cookies before they made it into the oven so...that's enough for one night. maybe.

Friday, May 27, 2011

grilled chicken + sweet potatoes

this was our dinner the other night. sweet potatoes grilled in foil packets (my new favorite thing) with butter, cinnamon, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of sugar. chicken was grilled pretty simple with salt, pepper and some pre-made seasoning combination.

the corn on the cob was on sale - 5 for $2 - so i threw that in the meal plan when i saw that price. mmm love corn on the cob. this was pretty good stuff, sweet and tasty - boiled w/ salt and served with the staple - butter, salt and pepper.

i made this the other night and finished grilling 20-some minutes before a major downpour. that turned into the first of two nights of tornado warnings. the weather's been nuts here, but we're looking forward to better temps and clearer skies this weekend!

fabric friday: 05-27-11: CF Stinson vinyls

we're working on another healthcare project, which means the desks are littered with carpet and vinyl samples. we found a few new great patterned vinyls from CF Stinson that we are hoping to incorporate in this project.

these three are my new favorite patterns:

FIZZ in color Bubbly

OLYMPUS in Laurel
Fizz has moisture barrier and bacterial, microbial, mildew, oil, bleach and sulfide stain resistance. It is also anti-fungal and exceeds 100,000 double rubs.
Olympus has moisture barrier as well as bacterial, microbial, cold crack, mildew, oil and sulfide stain resistance. Olympus exceeds 100,000 double rubs.

Whitney has moisture barrier as well as bacterial, microbial, mildew, oil, bleach and sulfide stain resistance. This vinyl exceeds 200,000 double rubs.

Check out the other colors here: FIZZ | OLYMPUS | WHITNEY

images and information from CF Stinson website

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WANT: Moleskine Recipe Journal

Moleskine Recipe Journal. Image and info here.

so, i've seen these on two blogs now, and i want. first, it was Monday of last week on Sprinkle Bakes and then it was two days later on We Are Not Martha (um, where they got to meet Kelly Ripa!).

i know you can get them online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but i really want to check it out in person. my hope is to check out B&N this weekend to see if i can find it. any one have one? what are your thoughts? right now i keep any recipe alterations (when i make different serving sizes) or created recipes in just a boring notebook.

also this weekend, my goal is to paint two of our six dining chairs in red. my hope is to get a feel of the process, how long it takes and see the end result in red (mostly to confirm that i in fact want to paint the other four that way). seeing as we really only use four at a time, i have no problem with two being a different color, if in fact they don't turn out how i am picturing. so, i hope to have more pics and fun things on that.

happy Thursday, people! one day closer to the weekend...

Monday, May 23, 2011

weekend update

i really thought i'd come to this week with some pretty pictures, recipes or design-fun, but unfortunately, not much of that happened this weekend.

we had a great night on Friday at my brother-in-law's 30th birthday party! i made buffalo chicken wing dip (yummo!) and forgot to put a card in my camera. we had tons of food and just hung out, ate and then josh, brian (brother-in-law) and dustin had a little Muse cover-band concert.

saturday was a beautiful day and i took full advantage of sleeping in, took a walk, got inspired and made a list and plan for painting the chairs and table we received from josh's Gram and we had burgers and veggies on the grill. delish! oh, we also went to the store to pick up something for those dang bees, but unfortunately they are strong and so far seem immune to our attempts at ridding them. i suppose we should try again, or our landlord should get rid of all the rotting wood fences so they are gone for serious.

sunday josh and i were desperate for a lazy day together, so we slept in again, had breakfast together and just laid around all day, then i realized how gorgeous it was outside so we took a drive and a walk at the peninsula. also, i finished a book. and by finished, i mean i had only 10 pages read in the morning and it was done by 9pm that night. water for elephants. book club. amazing. had to finish. since the movie just came out, the SKANK book club is going to see it in June for our discussion day. i can't wait! it's gonna be suuuuper fun.

anyway, so here we are. another work week. remember when you were in high school and you could look forward to summer and vacation? i want that again!! (i didn't have that luxury in college as i always worked through summer vacay, though i never worked 40 hours, so it was still fun.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

fabric friday: 05-20-11: fun drying mats

so i've been on the hunt for a REALLY REALLY small sink dish drainer ever since we found out the fun one we got from our shower was way too big. turns out our sink is too good for normal-sized strainers and is not quite a square, causing it not allow anything larger than 11X11 to fit inside.

because we have a dishwasher, we don't wash dishes THAT often, but you've got your knives, metal bowls, cutting boards, utensils etc that are used almost daily and can't be thrown in the dishwasher. we also run our DW maybe every 4 days (max), so certain things need hand washing.

i've gotten into the habit of using a dishtowel on the counter to set everything on, but i don't really like it. it gets super wet, takes up counter space and isn't that great looking.

while discussing other options with kc, i did a search for fabric patterned dish drying mats.

i found these fun ones on etsy:

 images/mats from etsy: sistersofthewildwest

i think i love them. such fun patterns! free shipping plus machine washable. and maybe i could customize my fabric? not sure if Josh will okay another item to go on the kitchen counter...but we'll see. anyone see anything [fun] like this at any stores?

banana cupcakes with browned butter cream cheese frosting

i swear i only made these because i had a banana that had gone bad and i will not waste things. especially when you can make said things into deliciousness such as this.

cupcake recipe from Food Network: The Neelys. browned butter cream cheese frosting recipe originally from Big Red Kitchen. the cupcakes were AMAZING. they had sour cream (interesting addition) and were super moist and delicious. i used shortening instead of butter so i could save that for the frosting. and of course i made my alterations - only had one banana so the whole recipe was halved and the cream cheese recipe was made up as i went to accommodate for the 8 cuppies. (about 2 T butter, browned; 2 T butter softened; 2 T cream cheese; probs about a cup of powdered sugar and a few drops of milk to keep a good consistency.)

turns out the cupcakes were a little warm still...turns out that is a great thing.

i'm only sorry i could only make 8 cupcakes and that i'm going to eat them all and no one else will know the greatness that is these cupcakes!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

shoutout: thanks

i just wanted to give a big thank you to all you new readers/commenters out there. i really appreciate my friends for loving on me [even though they know alllll about me] and you new readers who only know me for my crazy blog-food-designer life. your encouragement and comments always make me happy and brighten my day!

i don't know about you, but i'm looking forward to the weekend! we're celebrating my brother-in-law's 30th birthday tomorrow and i've done some pretty unadventurous cooking this week (hotdogs...salad...baked beans anyone? sometimes a person needs these simple things in one's life) so i'm looking forward to more fun foods this weekend!

have a great one!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

s'more cupcakes: graham cracker cupcakes

i've been craving s'mores cupcakes for a LONG time. well, s'mores in general. anytime the weather gets nice - i want that melty chocolate, graham cracker crunch, crispy outside/gooey inside marshmallow goodness.

these s'more cupcakes were a little different than what you usually see when browsing the web, but amazingly delicious. graham cracker cupcake goodness, melted chocolate delight on top and oozing in the middle, easy marshmallow frosting on top.

the cupcakes alone were amazing. great texture, great flavor. not to mention the other bits of deliciousness on top.

graham cracker cupcakes recipe from Nabisco. (i made a 1/2 batch because i didn't have enough graham cracker crumbs. i still used the 2 eggs, but everything else was halved.) my plan was to pipe the chocolate goodness inside the cupcake, but the chocolate didn't really want to cooperate, so i ended up smearing some on top as well. the frosting recipe adapted from Rachael Ray. since i ended up with only about 10 cupcakes, i had to alter this recipe too. i did 4-5 T butter, around a teaspoon of vanilla, about 1/2 cup of marshmallow fluff and about 1/4 cup (eyeball it) of powdered sugar.

i used this "cake decorating" tool for the first time, even though i had purchased it years ago. this was SO much easier than piping from a bag - way more control, way easier to fill and do you see that image below? yeah, no wasted frosting. every ounce scraped out.

also, isn't that fabric cute that the cupcakes are on? it's actually an apron (with an "A" on it!) that i received at my bridal shower. i don't use it as much as i should...(i always forget to put aprons on...) but the pattern i thought was perfect for something different than my usual countertop or tablecloth pics.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

chocolate lava cakes (for two!)

if my husband asks me, "are you making (carmelitas, brownies, cookies, cake, cupcakes, s'mores bars, etc) tonight?" i'm in no way the kind of person to say, "not a chance, i'm fat and need to go on a diet."

i always say, "let me see what i can make." and search for yummy things i can make with what's in the cupboard. so yes, this is part of the reason why i've gained 15 pounds since being married.

i found this awesome recipe on Budget Bytes after searching "chocolate cake for two." i've made a similar recipe before which involved lots of (Godiva) chocolate, heavy cream, rolling said chocolate and cream into balls, chilling them, making the batter, combining the two, baking and devouring. though those lava cakes were scrumptious - this cake was just as amazingly delicious and SO MUCH EASIER. also, way cheaper - because you can use chocolate chips (which most people have on hand) and all the other ingredients are basic staples as well (flour, eggs, white sugar and butter).

yes this cake has lots of butter. yes it has an ooey gooey delightful center (when pulled out before the center sets). check out the recipe here at Budget Bytes and browse her site. she has a lot of great ideas for tight budgets and lists the cost per serving/meal as well (pretty cool).

Monday, May 16, 2011

grilled veggie packets

so, can we talk about how awesome grilling is for a minute? i mean, we grilled a lot at my parents, but i never really did the grilling or the cleaning up (i was a spoiled little girl).

my sister and her hubs were awesome enough to give us their little propane grill. it's circular, small, lightweight and perfect for our bee-infested "patio." (we have a major infestation of carpenter bees.) after our yummy meal, i was super excited with no pots and pans to clean, no baked-on casserole dish and no hot-from-the-oven kitchen.

so, we cleaned up the grill, i got the propane tank filled up, and i set to work on cleaning and sterilizing the final parts at home. i thought chicken with veggie packets was the perfect way to break in the grill.

the main "recipe" for this came from Pillsbury Grilled Vegetable Medley Packets. it was really the only thing online i found that seemed worth trying.

allows for 2 [large] servings - these are the amounts I used. you could easily add more or different veggies per your own faves!
3/4 zucchini (medium sized)
5 (small) red potatoes
3/4 white onion
1/4 red pepper
2 T butter (i used unsalted)
1 T olive oil (about)
1 sprig fresh thyme

  1. preheat/prepare grill.
  2. chop all your veggies and combine in bowl.
  3. melt butter, add S+P, thyme and olive oil; pour over and mix veggies.
  4. make a foil packet, add veggies to center, fold top and fold edges. leave an inch or two at the top for expansion.
  5. i had my grill on pretty high and cooked for 25-30 minutes. the potatoes were perfectly soft. probably could have come out a little sooner, so if your grill is really hot - don't go more than 25 minutes. i would have liked the zucchini and pepper a little less soft.
  6. open packets carefully, allowing steam to escape.
this recipe is pretty simple. limited seasons and herbs, and i liked that. however, probably could have used a little more salt and thyme and maybe some garlic cloves thrown in (but discard instead of serving). oh - and the chicken - i marinated in olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper - josh's had balsamic and mine had fresh lemon juice. those took about 15 minutes or less to cook. (seriously, that grill was HOT.)

big thanks to sissy and her hubs for the grill!! i see lots more grilling happening! (as long as i don't get attacked/scared away by bees...) and yes - we'll have you over for dinner sometime :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

thoughts: interior design

i was out at Mercyhurst College the other night for the Interior Design senior show and every year i'm struck by how things are continually changing and improving. back when i graduated (five years ago) we only had one or two seniors doing computer rendering (that's right - i rendered my entire 10-board museum project on craft paper with chalk and oil pastels). almost every year since, 100% of the students have been using some form of computer rendering. this year, many of the students printed their renderings directly to formcore with the help of FastSigns. they looked awesome.

most of the projects start in AutoCAD. some students go from there to Sketchup (if they haven't started in Sketchup). somehow it goes through PhotoShop and Artlantis (i don't even know what that program is) and this year, they have been starting to use Revit along with the others.

i've been using AutoCAD for over 10 years, so it's definitely something i'm comfortable using. because of the nature of my job (mostly furniture space planning, layout design and coordinating fabrics and furniture finishes mostly in existing buildings), we don't have a huge need for rendering programs other than those like 20-20 Visual Impressions, or sometimes throwing things into SketchUp for a quick visual.

so, here's my first question - what do you interior designers and architects out there use? still hand sketching? have you transferred to Revit? if you're a student, what are you learning or what do you prefer?

another thing i noticed at the show is how the students' focus is really on the architecture portion of the interior (and sometimes exterior) and the finishes that go along with that (flooring, paint, wallcoverings). however, they don't really put any emphasis on furniture AT ALL - they just pull in random symbols that look cool. being a major furniture nerd (and selling it for 6 years), i don't think this is such a good thing. personally, i think that Interior Design of both commercial and residential spaces is based HEAVILY on the furniture and fabrics that are used in the space. i think they affect the design thesis equally as much as (if not more than) the walls, floor plan/layout, room placement, etc. i think it would be nice to see a focus back on that in future shows. working in healthcare a lot, we really see a focus on how the furniture affects the patients and healing (with comfort, anti-microbial finishes, functions) as well as the paint colors or layouts of the space. i think it would be good to know the rational of why for the furniture they pick.

i'm not sure about other colleges and schools and what they are teaching. interior designers (and students) out there - what's your opinion? what's your preferred platform and how do you see the industry of interior design changing today?

Friday, May 13, 2011

fabric friday: 5-13-11: knoll exhibition

"Knoll Textiles, 1945 — 2010" exhibition opens at Bard Graduate Center on May 18, 2011. The project focuses on the progression of KnollTextiles and was featured on New York Times blog - T. check out the full article here.

the goal of the project is to shift focus - people may know they have an amazing designer chair, but plan to reupholster their chair because they do not realize that the fabric is just as iconic as the furniture itself.

many fabrics were originally experimental, so often times they were discontinued with only a few years of production.

in random fabric friday news: there's a chance we may be going to Neocon this year. if that happens, i hope to get awesome pics of fabric vendor showrooms to share for fabric friday posts!

image from Knoll.