Living room details


I snagged a couple more touches for our living room last week, yahoo! Per usual, they popped up when I wasn’t specifically looking. I had anticipated all we needed to “complete” the room was a rug and some new throw pillows, but of course I happened upon these ikat lamp shades before the perfect kilims or rugs ~ 

New lamp shadesI love the deep blue of the shades with the muted, earthy tones of our cave painting reproductions ~ 

Cave paintings

(Those, however, are not new. They’re my grandparents’.)  I also grabbed this yummy candle. At first sniff, I was worried it would be too sweet, but actually Reserve Moonsparkle emits just the right amount of sweet and fresh perfume. 

Reserve moonsparkle candleThey offer a lot of other options, as well. A good hold over till I can stock up on Diptyque candles next summer in France 🙂 

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Coco-pine nut chocolate chip cookies


D has been craving homemade chocolate chip cookies of late and so a totally unexpected snow day last Monday carved out the time for me to complete such a worthy activity. I’m by no means a talented baker, but do love sweets, so was delighted when my spin on the Trader Joe’s chocolate chip cookies recipe turned out so well. Here are all the ingredients you’ll need ~

Chocolate chip cookies ingredients

I halved the butter by substituting a 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt in lieu of  the second stick. I also was amazed (as I am every time I use brown sugar) at how fluffy my stock was ~ 

Brown sugar toolDid you know, when moistened with a bit of water, a terra-cotta disk will prevent your brown sugar from packing and hardening? You can get them at any kitchen supply store, mine came from Sur la table.

Whilst pulling out all my ingredients, I felt inspired to experiment a bit and so decided to add flaked coconut and pine nuts, as well ~

Coco pine nuts ready for oven

I wasn’t sure how D would feel about the experiment and so opted halvies for flavors ~

Finished chocolate chipsThe entire experiment was a success, both flavors were delicious and moist and didn’t taste like they were missing butter. Unfortunately, Riley took care of about 2/3 of them while we were visiting D’s grandparents … 

Guilty rileyOf course we were unhappy with our 8-year-old-acts-like-a-2-year-old buddy, but next time we’ll wisen up before leaving such tempting treats on the counter!

Coco-pine nut chocolate chip cookies
You will need ~ 
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1 cup of flaked cocounut

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in medium bowl and set aside. In a separate, larger bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, softened butter, Greek yogurt and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add eggs invidivually and beat into creamy mixture. Gradually add in dry ingredients and incorporate completely. Drop mixture by generously rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool for three minutes and then eat ASAP!

Yields almost 3 dozen medium cookies or 4 dozen small cookies. 

Mirror mirror on the wall


I’ve had this mirror I snatched up from the antique mall for some time now. It has comfortably rested propped against the wall in our guest room for two years, but I feel like we’ve found its rightful home in the living room …
MirrorI like the extra light it invites in when the front door is open, but I especially love the reflection of our ever-expanding gallery wall …
Gallery wall reflectionIt’s amazing how much a mirror will open up a space. Just a rug and the perfect pillows and I shall declare this space done! (For now 😉 )

Nature prints


I have to say, there’s nothing quite like stumbling across something “just so” that you’ve been musing upon for ages. This list of mine is random (bright yellow and royal blue kilim pillows, the perfect “tutu” skirt, an antique globe) and generally kept mentally rather than written. Topping it include some natural history-like prints, similar to those pictured here ~

Guest room with nature print

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I had about given up finding any that weren’t seriously pricey (not an option), when I happened upon this steal in Barnes & Noble ~

Natural history book & plates

Feast your eyes on all these possible combinations and options (not to mention pretty gifts – there are 40 so I won’t be able to use them all) ~
Nature plate optionsI love that I won’t have to stick with any one theme (so many choices!), but I’m thinking I’ll start with the black and whites as they’ll go well with the lavender/black/grey motifs dominating our guest room at the moment. Before and after pics coming in the next couple weeks!

Bonne année !


Bonne année à tous et à toutes !

It’s hard to believe I last artsdevivre’d almost two months ago. Eep. Things happen. Like life. Since I made that lovely coq au vin, we’ve been busy in our little corner of the world … D re-did our kitchen while I was in Michigan visiting my niece, nephew, brother and sister-in law for Thaksgiving.

La nouvelle cuisine

It was so sweet and thoughtful of him to take on such an aggressive project, and actually finish it (well!) in only five days. It’s so fun having the open cabinets I’ve been admiring for months on Pinterest. And the chalkboard paint is a super-fun bonus, too! 

I took on a few projects of my own (not nearly as expansive as re-doing the kitchen). I gave our front door a makeover, transforming from typical grey ~

Grey door

 ~ opting for a cheerful green ~

Green paint

I felt pretty nervous at how bright it was, but was ecstatic with the result ~

Green door

I love the contrast of the green door and black shutters. It was even more festive with this simple DYI wreath I hot glue-gunned together ~

Wreath

It was a bit perkier the first week in December than it is now (pesky gravity), but I’ll supplement it with additional ornaments next year.

We of course did the usual holiday rigamorale, spending time with friends and family (in person and on face time), sending and receiving holidays cards and well-wishes. 

Cards

I’m pretty militant about online privacy, which is why this one is blurred out. You get the idea though 🙂

I tried out new recipes ~

Christmas roast

~ learning how to improve ones like this simple roast via my personal favorite, the Barefoot Contessa (you really should cut a roast this thick in half to optimize a medium-rare temperature). I was fine with the end pieces, but the middle was really too rare for my family’s liking. I shockingly succeeding at intricate ones like an authentic French Bearnaise sauce. The key is to continue stirring for quite some time. (I think Maman and I together put in about 35 minutes.)

We celebrated NYE Charm City style, and were so ecstatic to happen on a small-time ball drop in Hampden, ‘hun. So fun and festive, I couldn’t believe we haven’t been attending annually.

I’d lost my motivation for artsdevivre the past couple months. I’m an habitual comparer of myself to others and was feeling frustrated with my utter lack of knowledge of photography and graphic design. I can’t give the time to this blog that I’d like, what with my job that actually pays me. But I started to really miss this whole process, from brainstorming, to documenting, to writing and publishing. So me re-voilà les amis. I don’t promise perfectly taken photographs (I’ll still be sticking with my trusty iphone, instagram and diptic for now), or super funky layouts but I do promise (most importantly to  myself) to continue documenting all the little daydreams and real-life experiences that add up to create the artsdevivre in our lives. 

Frankenstorm-proofing


Usually I write about food and recipes on Mondays, but what with Frankenstorm bearing down on the lovely state of Maryland this afternoon, I thought I’d share our preparations (some practical, others maybe not at all as much, but they make me feel better). Here are a couple of prevention measures we’ve picked up from the crazy weather we all deal with now.

1. The most practical prevention we learned after Isabel last year was to clear the basement floor of anything that is not plastic or that will be a disaster to clean up when soaking wet (in case the the basement floods).

Don’t be jealous of our gorgeous basement. While I was gone at a wedding this weekend, D found time after his twelve hour day (he works in emergency management) to clear up anything that would be potentially yucky in a flooded basement – drop cloths, cardboard boxes of ornaments, etc. His dad and I had a blast cleaning up after our sump pump stopped working during a courtesy-of-Isabel power outage last year, so that’s our attempt to avoid it this time around.

2. Which brings me to tip #2. Shop vacs are your best friend. 

Here you see ours ready to perform its magical sucking up of tropical storm water. Last year it was buried behind many other various and sundry basement inhabitants (Christmas tree stands, ornaments, painting supplies, lacrosse gear) but it now waits in an easy-to-access place of honor. Once again, hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it does, it will be relatively easy compared to last time.

3. I prepared a “go kit” yesterday. A go kit implies a need to leave and go to a shelter, but really you should have one in your vehicle and your home, for “shelter in place” situations when you can’t (or shouldn’t) leave your home (like right now). 

Here’s a list of what you should have ready in your kit. The rule of thumb is you should be able to be self-sustaining, without power, for 96 hours (four days). We have plenty of non-perishable food, a can opener (super important), water, batteries, candles and matches in a waterproof container, re-chargeable flashlights, a first aid kid, blankets, pillows, pet food, other practical odds and ends like duct tape and a mini-tool kit, and a laminated list of emergency (police, fire, power) and family contact numbers. Optimally, I won’t need to burrow in a (hopefully) non-flooding basement, but should the need arise, I’m ready to go. Which brings me to tip #4.

4. Create a space that is relatively cozy to hunker down in.

I stored a bunch more candles, extra pillows and blankets, flashlights, etc. Not being able to leave the basement is, of course, worst case scenario (especially if we get water in), but if the wind were to get so violent that windows were an issue, I’d be ready. And maybe I wouldn’t be thinking about it if the situation got that bad, but it really makes me feel better to have some nick-nacks around that I like – dried flowers, pretty pillows and a candelabra. 

Of course I followed other practical tips like ~

1. filling up all the pitchers in my house with water (by the time I got to the store, there was literally no bottled water, but why buy it when I can get it out of the tap?) You should account for at least one gallon per person in your household per day,

2. filling up the bath tub in the event water stops running (to be able to flush toilets),

3. charging up cell phones and computers fully,

4. using as much refrigerated and frozen food as possible in case the power goes out.

If you’re on the East Coast, good luck with Sandy! 

Festive table setting


I love this table setting from my cousin’s wedding last weekend ~

I usually tend toward a more antique aesthetic, probably because I love nothing more than my Gramma Rose’s china I use every day ~

 

… so that when everything is all put together (and I actually have table linens, etc), I’m thinking of a setting like these …

Retro table setting

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fresh

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textures/colors

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Some of those are a bit springy, but it’s got me thinking about setting the perfect Thanksgiving table, which I’ll be handling this year. I’m on the lookout for more inspiration. What is your favorite kind of table? Simple, antique, elegant, rustic, eclectic?