what I do

what I do

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Severed Finger Cookies

Every Halloween, besides carving pumpkins, I make my severed finger cookies. They are not the easiest cookies to make but they are so worth it. You can find the recipe that I use here. There are many other recipes but I like the taste of this one the best (the hint of almond is what makes it so good). 

I keep all my recipes in 3-ring binders covered with page protectors. That way I can use the recipe as I am working and if I spill I can wipe it off. I have several binders. One for general recipes, one for my most often used recipes and one devoted just to holidays arranged in order of months. I also have one just for Christmas as I am a big Christmas baker. The holiday binder also has ideas that I clip from magazines, etc. for each holiday or season. Another thing I do, is I put my most often used recipes on my computer. That way, when someone asks me for a recipe, I can just print it out for them. I have been able to make duplicate binders for each of my daughters when they left home with their favorite recipes.

Tip of the day: if you get a piece of eggshell in your eggs, just take one of the eggshell halves and scoop out the little piece with it - the little piece will stick to the larger piece!

In order to get the nails to look very life like, I use whole almonds and slice them in half. Slivered almonds that you can buy in the store have a little edge of brown on them and they are flat. I like the roundness of the almond half - they are more authentic. I boil the almonds and the skins come off easily and while they are still warm they slice in half fairly easily. Be careful though, I almost severed my own finger today! The directions say to paint on the food coloring. I just douse them with dye and let them dry. It is a good idea to wear latex gloves or you will dye YOUR fingers!

The most important part of getting the fingers to look good is to make them very thin to start with as they will expand during baking. It is a tedious process of rolling each one, making the knuckle, scoring the lines and putting on the nail. It reminds me of making Playdoh snakes! The colder the dough the easier it is to roll them thin. I roll mine approximately 3/8" in diameter and about 4" long. They will not look good until they bake so don't worry if yours don't look very finger-like yet. 

Going into the oven ... 

and the finished fingers!

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Things that inspired me today

I was looking over the new Ballard Designs catalogue that came in the mail today and was reminded how much I like Suzanne Kasler's work. Here are a couple of photos from her office. I love these drum shades, the round ottoman (I have a smaller version in my own office), the modern chairs on the one table and the softer chairs on the other. It is a space that is interesting but calm. The neutral colors keep it from being a distraction from working and creating. It is also orderly which is an important factor in a work environment for me. I am so happy that Ballard has partnered with her. You can see her Ballard collections by clicking here. Both photos are courtesy of designpublic.com.

 And another office (and designer) that I love ...

Barbara Barry via Traditional Home
Did you notice that both offices have an orange box? That is what I love about white so much - it just begs for that great pop of color.

Here is another workspace designed by an amazing designer ...
Sheila Bridges
This has my name on it! I can picture myself baking my Christmas cookies in this kitchen.

And finally, while I was waiting to pick my daughter up from the airport today I went in to Pottery Barn to browse and kill some time and came across this chair:

Calais Chair - Pottery Barn
Love it ... and not bad for $299! I can see it as a wonderful desk chair or around a round dining table. 

Tomorrow morning (Saturday), I'll be baking my severed finger cookies for Halloween (stay tuned, hopefully I will have some photos for tomorrow). I am planning on going to this later in the day: 

Dia de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery 

photo: Ofrendas Inc.
I can't wait! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

There's no place like home

I have certain clients that I have worked with for years ... we finish one project ... wait a while ... and then start a new one. Not everyone can do everything at once and then of course, as time goes on, needs change and families enlarge ... not to mention the normal wear and tear and updating that becomes necessary (or desired!). I have changed rooms from first nurseries to second nurseries and children's rooms to teen rooms. It is those clients that become like family. I am working with one right now moving three sisters around (two rooms / three girls) and turning a nursery into a 'tween' room. The rooms they have now are precious and hard to let go of, but it is time.

It is with these families that I sometimes get asked to do things that go outside my scope of 'designer'. I have been asked to decorate for baby showers, birthday parties and holiday parties. That is not really something I 'do' normally (oh, bless you who are party planners) but for them, I am happy to help. I appreciate the trust they have in me and thrilled to be part of their lives.

So today I am working on a 4-year-old birthday party. This soon to be 4-year-old girl wants to have a Wizard of Oz themed party. Her two sisters before her have had their big 4-year-old party as is the tradition in their family. She is the youngest and so this will be the last one.

Part of my 'research' was sitting down today and watching the entire movie ... um, really? How great is that! I did fast forward through much of it but was actually surprised at how many details I have never noticed. One of my favorite parts (oh, there were so many!) was when the tin man is getting his 'heart' from the wizard - and the wizard tells him, now remember, "the heart is not judged by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others." And then later, when Dorothy is saying goodbye to him, he responds with, "Now I know I've got a heart because it's breaking." Those lines just tore me up.

So in perfect timing, UPS dropped off the baskets and the Totos for the party favors today. I found the baskets wholesale for $1.25 each and little stuffed toto dogs were around $5 each. I will line the baskets with blue and white checked gingham and then will add a rainbow lolipop, some stickers and rainbow colored crayons in the basket.

Each family member is dressing up as one of the characters and the guests will come dressed up as well. The birthday girl will be Dorothy of course!

We will serve these cupcakes for dessert:
image from cutestfood.com
And these witch hat cookies will be at each place setting (except with green 'ribbons' and they will each be wrapped in cellophane)

I'm sure you will hear more of the party as it progresses and I will show you photos after the big day! And if you have time, sit down and watch the movie again!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Simply white

Phillipe Starck white interiors via Apartment Therapy

via Belle Maison
Skona Hem via Splendid Willow
Skona Hem via Splendid Willow
source unknown via Pure Home Style
Elle Decor
I cannot get enough white. I think I have more design books on 'white' then for anything else. White feels clean. It makes me feel uncluttered. And when white is clean ... you know it is clean. I guess that says a lot about me. I need clean.
I love my white slipcovered furniture. It has lasted longer than anything else. I don't get tired of them and and I can change their look anytime I want with new pillows. And they wash (even bleach if necessary) beautifully. I went through a period where I thought I needed color ... and so I switched. But it didn't last long. It wasn't me. I changed back.

I also love the contrast between white and dark woods, or with pops of color. I prefer white bath towels, white sheets & white candles. I love a vase filled with all white flowers (preferably the same kind of flowers). I like white mouldings and prefer painted white kitchen cabinets. I love to dine on white china. I use white platters everywhere. I like a wide white mat around framed photos. And white Adirondack chairs are perfection. I have white pedestal cake plates in every shape and size (well, not every). White can be dressed up and it can be dressed down.

And I have the BEST white DOG named Milo!
Here he is ... at the local shelter ... when we first met him ...

Ummm what a LOVE he is! 
So for me, white is the color of choice. But for my clients ... rarely. Most people prefer color. And so I bring in white (I always bring in white!) in other ways. I bring in white with accessories, books, furniture and even dishes. Nothing pops color like white.

What is your favorite color?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I have a 'thing' for spheres. I love the simplicity and organic nature of them.
I saw this room from Aaron Hom in House Beautiful a while ago and clipped it for inspiration.
Gorgeous isn't it?

I like this next one as well ... but I wish the sphere was resting on the table not on a stand.


My husband brought this back from a surf trip in Mexico a few years ago - Ah, nature at it's best!

This is my 'budget' sphere from West Elm.

And a few I picked up from Crate and Barrel. I love to use them inside & out. They are like a punctuation mark for me; a perfect finishing touch.