In The Kitchen: Spanikopita as the Main Attraction

Lately I have been trying to explore new recipes from my vast amount of cookbooks I have lovingly collected over the years. I get stuck in ruts and tend to make the same things over and over because I don't need a recipe. I am all for experimenting ad-lib in the kitchen, but sometimes trying a new recipe inspires new adventures and pairings of food you otherwise wouldn't have dared to try on your own.

I am a huge fan of Ina Garten, aka Barefoot Contessa. And little does she know we are on a first name basis :) I have all but one of her cookbooks and 9 times out of 10 think her recipes are fantastic. She makes the simplest of ingredients and dishes seem somehow elegant and party worthy. So I set out to try her dinner party spanikopita from her Back to Basics.

My husband is greek, and with that comes a spoilage of spanikopita. My mother-in-law makes THE BEST spanikopita and I am lucky enough to now have it as a staple with our holiday celebrations. So I was skeptical in trying Ina's version, but decided to give it a shot. I spent Saturday afternoon making them and I have to say they were a bit labor intensive, but after trying them, they were well deserving of the wait and the recipe makes enough to put aside some in the freezer to bring out for some last minute dinner guests. Instead of making them in the traditional sheet pan, these were made in to large triangles and that small change made them elegant to serve as a main dish. My mother-in law's version is still the best, but I certainly will make Ina's version again, and it's a nice change to the traditional. She adds a touch of nutmeg and toasted pine nuts...in the words of Ina, "How bad can that be?"

Oh, and I tried out my new cutting board from Epicurean. Definitely reccommend it if you are looking for a lightweight and eco friendly cutting board. They come in several sizes, but I love the large one for even more surface area to make a mess!


Another Reason to Love Scandinavian Design: Ferm Living

I came across Ferm Living browsing through the Scandinavian Design Center and loved the products they offer. Simple and whimsical. I think that pretty much sums up Scan design. They always nail it don't they? Some of their throw pillows are just yummy and the little mobile is so dear. Don't forget to check out their wallpapers too!

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!


Accent Bench with a Punch

I just got this ottoman/stool last week and I love it! It's not for everyone with it's zebra-like print, but I think every home needs a few small pieces that draw the eye and make a statement. I found this one for a steel at World Market Cost Plus and scooped it up when I spotted it. I have been looking for a small bench to have in the living room that was on the bolder side. The only thing I want to change is make it a little shorter so it's level with the fireplace hearth. But I couldn't pass it up and the bold pop it gives the room is just the ticket!


Sweet Little Birds Nest

I can't believe tomorrow is spring and Easter is right around the corner. As always, it snuck up on me and I haven't put out my Easter tree as my one and only Easter decoration. Hopefully this weekend. I did however, find this sweet little nest with two eggs nestled in the middle when I was at the garden store yesterday. I couldn't resist putting it in my ever revolving glass urn I keep on the dining room table. The urn is my staple centerpiece that I change out the decor inside from season to season. My rocks with a cream candle in the center are the anchor for most of the year, but Easter, fall and Christmas are when it gets a face lift. I love not having to put too much thought in to a centerpiece and being able to change it with minimal effort when I feel like it.

Enjoy the sun and beautiful spring flowers popping up everywhere. It sure felt like spring in this part of the country today!


Chest of Drawers: So Many to Chose From!

I have been on a quest for the last year or so to find an antique inspired chest for our master bathroom. We have an open walnut vanity with modern lines, marble counter tops and antique silver framed mirrors. Currently I have baskets below the sink storing all of my beauty products. I intend for the baskets to stay there, but instead house some more appealing sea sponges, nicely folded towels, etc. Not my red hair drier and toothpaste tube - gross!

So I have been looking feverishly, but without much success {sigh}. Don't get me wrong, I have found more than a few wonderful chests that make my heart flutter a tad, but there has been something slightly off that doesn't make it the perfect fit for my space. And that "something" is usually the dimensions. I need something farely shallow so it doesn't jut out too much and not too long so it isn't overbearing for the space. Most dressers are around 20" in depth. If I absolutely can't find something more shallow, then I may have to compromise, but for now I will continue my search. At any rate, I thought I would share my favorite findings with you all and hopefully one of these will be perfect for your home. Also, when you have a moment, Design Sponge posted a great search on chests back in 2008 that have even more fantastic options.

French Director Chest: Wisteria
Georgeous chest I would covet to have in my bathroom...if it fit :(

Director Chest: Wisteria
LOVE this chest as well and the rustic finish with formal lines!!! Again it's too wide. Ugh! Wisteria has an amazing selection of chests so check out their site for even more options.

Demilune Console: Wisteria
This is a unique option for a chest. I like the idea of placing this piece some place other than the expected entry way. The curved lines make it seem like it's taking up less space.

Carnegie Side Table: Jayson Home and Garden
A dresser with some serious presence, but without taking itself too seriously given it's rustic edge.

Jacqui Chest: Bungalow 5
Lovely little chest. I have this one in my daughters nursery. It comes in several other colors as well.

Marais Console: Ballard Design
This console/chest comes in tuscan brown as well and is perfect for a smaller space. I like this one, but think I need a few more drawers for my purposes.

Jackson Low Chest: Oly Studios
I adore this chest, but it's a little too wide for my space

Polo Chest: Bungalow 5
This one is fantastic if you want to bring a casual plantation vibe to your home.

Isabella Chest: Bungalow 5
This one comes in several colors and is a sweet modern take on a traditional chest.


Design Tip: Book Smarts

I think books are fantastic. Not only for the information and adventures they hold, but for the visual effect they provide a home as well. I can't say I read as much as I should, but I still love to have books around, especially coffee table books with great photographs and art. One thing I use them for on occasion is for a simple prop or decor element.

I miss those days when books had the classic bound look, and when all lined up on a shelf, they looked massive and stunning. To find books like that these days, you have to either take the jackets off and hope it isn't a horrid fabric bound cover underneath, cover them yourself (maybe some day when I am retired and have nothing better to do), or go to the second hand book store and purchase some old classics on the cheap. I have done this option several times and intend to go back for more for other areas in my home as I need space fillers. In this photo, I wanted an object with some mass and presence, but also wanted to avoid a cluttered look with too many objects. So I went to our local Half Price Books and bought some old italian art books that also had a jacket covering that would suite my living room. One thing I suggest keeping in mind when picking out books, is keep it relevant to a topic you find interesting. If someone does happen to read the spine and it says "Historical Hunting in America", I think my friends and family would know right away they were staged...I'm a vegetarian.


Zulily: Deals for Tots and Moms

Here is another great website offering designer discounts focused on babies, moms and tots - Zulily. It's very similar to The Mini Social which I have loved perusing for cute clothes and toys for my little one and this is one more outlet...just what I need! I really don't, but it sure is fun looking! I wish I had known about this site before I had my daughter. So far in the last week I have seen some great deals on the Maxi Cosi car seat (we have one) and the Quinny stroller. Happy shopping and I hope you find some great deals!