Sunday, December 30, 2012


For all the parents who will be holding their heads in their hands on New Years Day, my husband Adam has the cure....

People have all kinds of ideas about Bloody Marys. Recipes haggle over what kind of this to add to how much of that, but for me, a good drink begins with construction.  It's the process that creates the product.  With that in mind, here are the steps to create a damn fine Bloody Mary:

Begin with a glass.  I recommend a pint.  Why fool around?

Salt the rim.  We used a blend of smoked sea salt, lemon zest, and black pepper.

Ice the glass, most of the way to the top. Drop a teaspoon of horseradish over the ice.

Pour 2.5oz of cold, cold vodka over the horseradish, as if to wash it off the ice.  Then add 4 or 5 dashes of worcestershire sauce to the glass.  Stir carefully to infuse the horseradish and worcestershire into the vodka, but not to disrupt the rim.

Add your mix.  Go fancy if you want, but you don't really need much more than a good Trader Joe's garden patch.  Too many ingredients can muddle the flavor.  Fill to near the top of your glass, about 6oz.

Hot sauce time.  This is where you must follow your passion, from Frank's or Tabasco, to the crazy stuff your cousin's uncle brought back from his time in the Merchant Marines. I used Trader Joe's Chili Pepper Sauce.  Good flavor without all the bravado.  Three dashes, for me.

Stir again, mind the rim.

Now you garnish.  Squeeze of lime, drop in two olives, dust with white pepper, a finishing salt, your celery and a straw.


Saturday, December 29, 2012


My friend Jeph is another cocktail connoisseur.  He likes to create and name his own drinks.  This one will keep you warm on a cold winter's night....

Red Hot

1.5oz Single Barrel Rum
1oz of fresh grapefruit juice
.5oz homemade cranberry syrup*
.25oz homemade grenadine
3 dashes of Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters

*Cranberry Syrup
1.5 cups of fresh cranberries
1 cup of water
.75 cup of sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and put over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook until cranberries start to break apart (about 15 minutes).  Remove from heat and strain, removing all solids.  Place syrup in refrigerator.

Friday, December 28, 2012


To kick off fellas week I invited my friend Derick to write about his new signature cocktail... 

I've been a cocktail enthusiast for a while now - mixing various bourbon-based creations, and even recently took my mixology a step further by making my own home made bitters. Bourbon is my spirit of choice - and as a longtime fan of Manhattans and Old Fashioned's I like my bourbon drinks fairly simple so I wanted to branch out from the old standbys and try something new. As a semi-frequent visitor to the trendy bourbon joints in the Bay Area, I'm constantly asking the mixologists to make me something new - but within the Manhattan and Old fashioned family - and I've gotten everything from Vieux Carre's to hand-made Whiskey sours, but a while back a bar tender made a me a cocktail using Bourbon, Bitters and Benedictine and said it was called a Derby. At the time I wasn't familiar with Benedictine, but one sip and I was in love. Upon researching this drink I've realized that there are many variations and that the average bartender will have no idea what you're talking about if you order one. You can take your chances and explain it (sometimes this isn't well received)  or you can simply enjoy them at home.

So I'd like to share with you my recipe for my current favorite adult beverage which I call  "The Daily Derby." I call it this because it's based off the standard Derby but with some subtle variations. 

2 oz Bourbon or Rye (I use Bulleit)
Angostura Bitters
Orange Bitters
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Cocchi Americano
Lemon twist

Fill a pint glass with ice and give a healthy shake of bitters to the cubes. This is where you can get creative with your variations. I always use Angostura, but often add others to the mix, such as Orange or Maple. Pour the bourbon (or rye if you like it spicier) and the Benedictine and Cocchi over the rocks. Stir (DO NOT SHAKE) and strain the drink over fresh ice in whiskey tumbler or serve up. Add a lemon twist and serve. Taste wise this drink will reminder you of a Manhattan, but my palette enjoys the herbal liqueur more than the sweet wine flavor of vermouth. What makes this drink unique to me is the addition of Cocchi Americano which is italian aperitif wine from italy.



Derick Daily is not only my friend, he's also married to Jen from the lovely photo blog Day By Daily

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pop Rocks

My friend Zach recently pointed out that for all my hand wringing, Jasper really just likes pop.  So despite the fact that he looks like a young Britt Daniel here, know that he is probably practicing something by One Direction on his new axe.  

I've had the whole darn family here for several days which explains my disappearance from the interwebs. It was loud, crazy, and incredibly messy, and I've probably put on 5lbs, but oh how I miss them already!  To wrap up 2012 I thought I'd do a special dude contributor week, and in honor of New Years, I'll be featuring cocktails...stay tuned!  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sweet and Savory Cookies

Martha Stewart's Rosemary Cookies

It's the last week before winter break, and I'm in the kitchen baking dozens of Rosemary-Pine Nut Cookies for the teachers at Adam's school.  Our favorite holiday cookie, it is most coveted by my sister-in-law Stacey who will be up visiting with her family on Sunday so I'll make her a special plate. I found the recipe in a Martha Stewart Living several years ago and it's become tradition for us. To make them yourself, follow the recipe below...

Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies

  • 3 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, plus more for topping cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Finely chop rosemary in a food processor. Add pine nuts; pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in 2 cups flour, the baking soda, ginger, and salt; set aside.
  2. Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in oil. Reduce speed to low. Mix in flour mixture. Add cream; mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg, then remaining 1/4 cup flour.
  3. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls, and space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with fingers, and top each with a pine nut. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  4. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, about 13 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on sheets on wire racks. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 3 days.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For The Birds

We have a few bird lovers in our family and they're in for a special treat this Christmas...

These birdseed ornaments are so easy to make, putting to use left over egg cartons and plastic Easter eggs.  Simply dissolve 4oz of gelatin with one cup of water over low heat.  Stir in 6 cups of birdseed until completely coated. Scoop into egg molds, close, and put in an egg carton in the refrigerator for an hour.  Allow to set for 3 days. Pop out of the mold, and tie with jute twine.  I spray painted egg cartons gold and wrapped with more twine for packaging.  They are so lovely hanging in a winter tree, and draw songbirds to your garden!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Now and Then

I made a version of this wreath last year with red and white straws, and I loved it so much that it stayed up well past Christmas.  Using dark gray and white or Kikkerland's new beautiful birch print straws make the look more neutral and sophisticated. To make this, all you need is a flat craft ring (this one is 10"), a box of 144 straws and hot glue.  Begin by gluing down straws at the 12-3-6-9 position and subdivide until full filled.  Clip 2" on an angle from every other straw to create texture.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Takes My Breath Away

I just want to look at their little faces right now.  Being a parent puts you in a very vulnerable position... your heart is on the line. You have to send them out into the world.  Sometimes you're in a hurry and you forget to say I love you. My husband is a Principal which always makes days like today especially hard to swallow. Going into this weekend I have a million little projects to complete, and parties to attend, but I'll be thinking about those parents and siblings, and the families of those teachers and administrators.  It's heavy. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Woodsies

Every year I like to give all of the kids in our extended family  a new ornament.  Being that they are all boys, and boys sometimes need a little sentimentality provided for them, the idea is that when they grow up, their parents will hand 'em over, and they will put them on their own tree with their families, and have a sweet memory of cousins and Christmas. This year I'm doing woodland critters, because all of the boys are nuts for animals. Here's a tutorial for making a felt fox.  The concept is very simple, and easy to make if you have basic sewing skills, which I do. To make a fox cut out, think of a heart, with the rounded tops cut down the middle.  Materials include: craft felt, stuffing and tacky glue.  Trace the shape onto a piece of paper, cut out two pieces of felt for front and back.  Cut out and glue down the features (I added the eyes and nose after I sewed down).  Face the outsides in and sew all around leaving a space open at the top of the head.  Stuff and hand stitch close.  Sew a hanging loop at the top and you're all set!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Black and White

I loved this pillow from Picnic's Etsy shop so much that I bought one for myself and one for a lucky girl in my family .  I wonder who will get it?  

Black and white is back (did it ever really go away?). My house is certainly seeing a lot more black and white these days. I revamped my housewares this year when we moved and added a lot of impactful black and white accent pieces, including a graphic kilim rug like this one, new throw pillows and ceramics, with a little gold and copper thrown in, to create a vibrant neutral palate. West Elm, CB2,IKEA, even Target all have affordable black and white textiles and accents to help you jump on this trend. And I can't say it enough, check out ETSY for artisan made pieces. 

Oh and if you happen to be my husband...I'm loving THIS dress.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Put On A Happy Face!

I take thousands of pictures a year, but save for a few self- portrait head shots meant for facebook, you're pretty hard pressed to find a picture of me. I'm fine with this, because I am one of those people who dreads looking at a full body picture of myself. I immediately scan to my mid section, and then up to the area above my mid-section, and then to my big hair. Being "voluptuous" is a source of frustration for me, so I'm happy to be on the other side of the camera.  The problem is that there are no pictures of our family, together. This makes people like my elderly grandmother very sad, and I don't like to make my grandmother sad.  Today we put on our very best Gap clothes, set the timer, and said cheese (about 100 times).  There was no clear winner, except for the totally unacceptable picture above, so I chose this one:

Jasper's eyes are mostly closed and my hair is living large, but it's good enough.  I recently read an essay by Allison Tate on The Huffington Post, about the phenomenon of not wanting to be photographed after having kids. It kind of struck me, I've been hiding from the camera, while celebrating the fresh faces of my children. I used to love seeing pictures of myself, as evidenced by the stacks of high school and college pictures I have lying around. Her point was that despite our own hang-ups about our bodies, and aging faces, our kids don't care. They will want to see pictures of us when we were younger, playing with them, being their parents, even with a muffin top. I suspect that I will want to see them too. It gives me pause to think about what I'm really hiding from anyway. Something to think about.  

Have a lovely weekend. Get out there and do something fun! I'll be going to Bar Tartine with my special ladies tonight...  

xo, Heather 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Well Dressed

I love to look at images of beautiful packaging, but rarely do I actually have the time to wrap each gift uniquely, let alone with Martha Stewart perfection, plus nice packaging is really expensive!  Keeping it simple, and understated is my trick to making presents look special.  This year I will be wrapping my gifts with craft paper and I'm employing an old kindergarten trick of writing with school glue and sprinkling with old fashioned glitter which adds pizzaz and takes the place of a gift tag. Craft paper is so versatile. You can use it year round, switching out the embellishment to suit the occasion.  I've spent about $15 on wrapping supplies this year, including tape, colored yarn and glitter. I've been using the same sturdy gift bags for 3 years (IKEA), and I'm using trimmings from the tree to make festive accents.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Post: Lisa from Picnic

On a recent gloomy afternoon, we headed one hour west from our home in Berkeley to the calm seashore of Tomales Bay.  Tomales Bay is famous for their oysters but as it turns out, has quite a nice collection of driftwood as well. My eldest took in the scenery and my youngest kept me on my toes with his attempts to swim in the frigid waters (with his clothes on), and both were enthusiastic for my driftwood scavenger hunt.  I had this very project in mind.

A Nature-themed Mobile

Step 1: Collect driftwood and allow it to dry out back at home. This could take up to a week. A hair dryer can speed up the process.

Step 2: Spray paint the driftwood or keep it natural if you prefer that look. I choose black. Children 6 and over are capable and more than willing to help with this step.

Step 3:  Use bright or metallic paint to paint stripes in various thicknesses onto the driftwood.  I used silver screen printing ink since that is what I already had lying around but acrylic paint would work well too.

Step 4: Collect feathers or use the craft-store variety to plan out your design.  I choose natural-toned feathers with just two bright yellow ones to add some pop.

Step 5:  Heat up your glue gun. Make a ring of glue on the driftwood and lay twine into the hot glue.  Add more glue and wrap the twine several times around so it is strong.

Step 6:  Repeat step 5 to complete the structure of your mobile.

Step 7:  Using bird twine (very thin), attach one strand to each feather.  I put hot glue along the stem of the feather and set the twine in the glue and held it until it was cool enough to stay in place.  If you tie the twine onto the feather stem, the feather will not hang vertically.

Step 8:  Attach the feathers with bird twine onto the mobile by tying knots.

Hang from the ceiling and enjoy!

Lisa Fontaine is the creative force behind the blog Picnic. To see more of her work click here and here.  Thanks for the beautiful post! -Heather

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

All That Glitters

So, a funny thing happened.  I was updating my Pinterest boards and stumbled upon a project that as it turns out, I have had sort of half-finished for a few weeks.  Their tutorial was fabulous, and it's definitely going viral. As it's pretty much exactly the same design, and tutorial that I had photographed to post I can't help but feel disappointed. Does it make my balsa wood modernist Christmas trees any less relevant?  I feel very silly for even saying that.  

So what the heck, I'll share anyway. Here are two simple projects to add a little minimalist sparkle to your Christmas decor. I have a few sets of wooden slat trees that I put out at Christmas (and sometimes leave out all year).  The way they work is quite simple.  See below:

To make them, cut out a tree stencil from some card stock.  Using thin balsa wood, a ruler, and an X-acto knife, cut out the tree shape (x3).  Cut a slit up the bottom of one, about 2mm wide, at the center, about 2/3 way up the tree.  Cut a slit at the top of another, with the same width and depth.  Cut a third tree, 1/3 from the top and 1/3 from the bottom.  Paint one of the panels with clear glue, then coat with old fashioned glitter.  Allow to dry, then coat the other side.  

The next project is a painted glass bulb.  I use blush colored acrylic paint to secure the glitter, which makes it quite pretty looking in through the glass.  Tutorial below:

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