June 21, 2012

Hello, Dream Office

I love my office.  I have much-coveted window real estate that I campaigned for...hard...and a credenza and new carpet and a cute lamp I found at Ikea.  It's spacious and it's mine.  

The decor is kinda meh though.  

When I pictured having an office someday, I always imagined that it would effortlessly look amazing.  Like this:

I put together the little 'vision board' below for inspiration.  Something modern with a neutral base and pops of bright colors and patterns. 

 What does your dream office look like? 

June 18, 2012

Sequin Sewn Cards

I read an article somewhere that talked about how to sew embellishments on to cards, just like you would do embroidery or cross-stitching.  I had completely forgotten about this until yesterday when I was wandering the aisles of Joann's Fabric like a craft-starved zombie looking for my next project.  I noticed that all their blank cards are 40% off right now so decided to experiment with this new technique. 

The cards below were made using just blank note cards, sequins (yay!), embroidery floss, a size 24 needle and a little stick pin (you could just use a push pin too).  

First, sketch out the pattern or design of your liking using a pencil.  Then, open up your card so it's flat and lay it on a piece of cork board so nothing gets damaged. 

Using your pin, punch holes about 1/10th of an inch apart along the pattern.  Erase the pencil markings. 

Then, just thread your needle and sew through the holes in your regular up/down motion, adding sequins along the way!  After a few failed attempts, I was able to crank out all three of the ones below within an hour or so and I can't wait to give them to someone special. 

June 13, 2012

Crafty To Do: Chevron Walls

I've been hemming and hawing about painting our apartment's walls for at least a year, not knowing how long we'll be in our current location.  I've considered doing a single, large wall in a grey shade (maybe the one behind our bed or the main wall in our family room) or going the more ambitious route with a chevron pattern.  Pinterest has me seriously lusting over the look below.  

What do you think?  Should I embark on this sure-to-be time consuming wall painting experiment?  Should I assume that if Ryan doesn't speak up now, he's volunteering to help? ;)

June 11, 2012

Practically Martha: Travel Edition

This past weekend, Ryan and I traveled out to my hometown of Denver for my dear friend Emily's wedding.  We were both in need of a weekend together and this was Ryan's first official Denver adventure with me.  Shocking, right?  I wanted to share a highlight of what our 48 hour adventure brought: cute shops, delicious food and a gorgeously executed backyard wedding.  

We got in on Friday and after settling in to the hotel, headed right out to explore the area, landing at Osteria Marco in Larimer Square.
This this darling little gem feels like Shabby Chic's Rachel Ashwell opened up an Italian eatery.  The lobby area had a few rows of bar seating, the cute little chalkboard piggy diagram below and gorgeous chandeliers.  We grabbed a spot out on the patio, which was brimming with wrought iron tables and chairs and people enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. 
Their menu featured an array of meats and cheeses which immediately filled my dairy-loving heart with glee.  We ordered the Chef's Assortment Cheese Plate to start, which came with a mix of burrata, mozzarella, robiola and more, along with a side of pickled jam and crunchy, olive oil coated bread.
Ryan had to do a little bit of work, so I savored my glass of Garganega (2009 Grisela Soave Classico).  I'm not one to wax on about how earthy/fruity/mineral-ly/blah/blah/blah my wine is - that's pretentious - but I have to say that this glass literally tasted like figs & honey.  It was incredible.
Next stop was a little houseware boutique a few doors down called Posh.  It was brimming with Johnathan Adler goodies, yummy candles and one of my all-time favorite things in life: cute cards!
Saturday was the wedding and my friend Emily got seriously creative for the big event.  She met her fiance (who is Canadian) in Australia while they were both in med school and they're now doing their residencies in North Carolina.  She's also from Denver.  So you can imagine how many people traveled from far and wide to attend their nuptials.  The theme for the night really centered on this idea of travel, with each table representing a different area of Australia and featuring vintage-y postcards as decor.  

She painted the table assignments on the glass window pane below with table names like: Bondi Beach, Great Barrier Reef, Australian Outback and Sydney Harbor.  There were also wines and beers for each different locale - Buffalo Gold Beer, Foster's, Lebatt Blue, Yellowtail wines, and more.
The entire event was stunning, from the twinkly lights strung in the backyard trees to the centerpieces bursting with pale pink peonies to the rustic mason jars filled with candles. 
 She even hand crafted the menus, seating cards and favors!
Ryan looked handsome as always and didn't complain once about wearing a full suit in 95 degree weather.  I, on the other hand, donned the infamous Flight of Swans dress (which proved to be much more forgiving in the heat than Ryan's outfit) thanks to my super generous friend, Jessica (aka Tita).
I got to hang out, dance and laugh hard with my best friend, Jenny (aka: Baatchie).
And of course, we took a Delta Delta Delta sorority reunion shot with the beautiful bride. 
We finished the whirlwind weekend off with brunch with my family, including my two amazing little sisters.  (Note: in the photo below, they're both wearing heels and I'm in flats.  I literally don't know how they got the short end of the O'Malley height stick...pun intended.  I did get the matching large forehead though...)
We went to a little tucked away spot called Root Down in the Highland neighborhood, a few minutes outside the heart of downtown.  Their menu was full of locally grown, organic dishes ranging from a pulled pork omelette to the lemon ricotta poppy seed pancakes that I devoured.  Everything was fresh, tasty and got polished off by the six of us after several rounds of 'bite-for-a-bite' passing plates around the table.
The best, best part of the brunch though was their $14 bottomless blood orange mimosas.  All weekend long, Ryan and I kept getting reverse sticker shock by the affordable food and drinks.  The hotel bar The Corner Office was more or less our home base after 10pm and amazingly, it boasted a killer late night Happy Hour from 9p-12a! $2.00 PBRs, $4.00 cocktails and $5.00 glasses of Prosecco were flowing right up until the clock struck midnight.  The bottomless mimosas took the cake though, so naturally, I had to have 3 to get my money's worth. 
 I hope that the next time you're in Denver (or if you live there already) you can check out a few of the spots I visited and enjoy them as much as we did!

June 3, 2012

Homemade Salted Caramel Chocolates

One of the many domestic skills that Ryan's Mom, Carol, has taught me over the years is how to make homemade chocolates.  The process is so ridiculously easy and the outcome so, so decadent.  To make the chocolates below, you'll need little candy cups (similar to muffin tins, only smaller), chocolate discs, caramel, a variety of nuts (pecans, pistachios, almonds etc) and some coarse salt.

Lay your candy cups out on a flat surface like a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet.  Grab a small bit of caramel, roll in to a ball and press down in to the bottom of the candy cup.

Place your chocolate in a glass measuring cup and heat until soft.  This is tricky and you'll be tempted to nuke them longer than needed.  I recommend microwaving for 30-45 seconds at a time to avoid overheating, which will cause the chocolate to re-harden.  When they're 'done' they may still look like little solid discs. But when you stir them, they should blend together in to a nice smooth chocolate mix.  Add a few pinches of salt to the mixture and re-stir.

Spoon roughly a tablespoon of chocolate in to each candy cup atop the caramel.

Top your chocolates with whatever variety of nuts you prefer.  Salt them generously.  I literally just tossed a handful of regular pecans with some coarse salt.  Place your sheet of chocolates in to the fridge for 5-10 minutes for them to set.

You'll end up with a delicious, singular bite of salty nuts (I know), rich dark chocolate and creamy caramel.  All in under 15 minutes.