Thursday, December 4, 2008

Frugal Foodie

[Photo credit: La Tartine Gourmande (left) and amNewYork (right)]

Yesterday, a dear friend was kind enough to pass along this post by La Tartine Gourmande. The topic was potatoes and it was surprisingly very fascinating. In fact, I was completely enthralled by Bea's stories of growing up in France and picking potatoes with her grandmother. It was so sweet and charming and made me think of my own Granny who was formidable cook herself.

With Thanksgiving feasts now a fading memory (hope everyone had a good one :-) whipping up Christmas goodies is my latest fixation. I already have some of the basics like cranberry sauce, corn muffin mix, and sliced pineapples which I swear makes all sort of casseroles seem fancy :-) As you're guessing by now, I'm no Martha or Granny for that matter, but I do love being in the kitchen. And since ours is tiny, everything in it must be functional and preferably do double-duty.

Our local freebie newspaper, amNewYork, recently did a great feature on the kitchen gadgets you need to get your cooking on for the holidays. Their recommendations included:
1) When purchasing knives, start with either an eight-inch chef's knife or a seven-inch Santoku. Then add a paring knife and a bread knife. Yep, no big block of knives - those three are all you need.
2) You should have a cutting board - never use a countertop.
3) Invest in a cast-iron Dutch oven as it's very versatile and can go straight to the table.
4) Beautiful bakers are great but a simple Pyrex 9 x 13 dish is a real workhorse for anything from baking brownies to a lasagna.
5) In terms of pans, you need a two-quart and a four-quart saucepan. Also, a good sized saute pan and a 10-inch skillet. For baking, two round cake pans, an eight- or nine-inch square plus a loaf pan for baking bread or meatloaf are all you need.

I really love the practicality of these suggestions and I also thought they may help those of you who want to pare down a kitchen that's a bit over-stuffed with utensils and gadgets. Are you already planning menus for the holidays. I'd love to know what's cooking in your kitchen!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Early Blessings

An early Happy Thanksgiving! Here at Pretty*Practical we have so much to be thankful for and I'm sure you do too.

Tonight, in the spirit of togetherness we ventured to Macy's pre-Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Despite the brisk weather, we put on our game face and travelled several blocks of back-to-back balloons weighted down by nets and sandbags. Random moment: spotting Mayor Bloomberg! Looks just like he does on the tele :-)

Anyway, we had an awesome time. Above, the Pretty*Practical sneak-peek before these babies take flight tomorrow. And look out for Horton the Elephant - he makes his Parade debut tomorrow. Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pretty Palettes: Ethnic Modern

So here's the new color inspiration I'm loving. The images are from two separate Better Homes and Gardens spreads. Although the style of each homeowner is completely different, I think their aesthetic is totally tied together by a palette of deep chocolate brown; coral red; pink mustard; and lots of white.

Both homes also incorporate natural area rugs as a textural accent. I'm calling the look ethnic modern. It really great way give a bright white interior big personality, no?

Saving these for the dream house files...

[Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens]

Friday, November 14, 2008

Window Shopping: Kinokuniya

Want to go shopping with me today? I've been saving this one for you. :-) After hearing 'blog-whispers' about an awesome Japanese bookstore in Manhattan, I made a point of popping in after a meeting. And I was not disappointed.

Located opposite New York's fabled Bryant Park, Kinokuniya is a product-packed gem boasting three floors of hard-to-find goodies. In addition to tons of Japanese magazines and books of all genres, you can expect sweet finds like stylish stationery; kitschy toys; pretty kitchen linens; and exquisite wrapping paper. For intrepid crafters, instructional books on origami jewelry; soap-making and sassy knits abound.

Confession: I actually missed the entire upper floor. Sensory overload! Don't worry, I'll keep you posted on my next trip. Saw anything you liked? I have my eyes on the lovely koi stationery but that's another story. :-) In the meantime have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Gonna Be a Bright Sunshiny Day...

[Photo sources unkown]

Happy Wednesday all, and thanks to those of you who inquired about Pretty*Practical. I'm here nursing a round of musical colds in my family but wanted to let you know I'm still ticking! I swear there's a 10 degree drop in temperature between our home and kindergarten pick-up that doesn't help any. So do share your fave home remedies as I have a feeling I'll be needing them this season. In the meantime, these pretty pics are a real shot of visual vitamin C. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

West Coast Chic

Seriously, it rained cats and dogs all day here in NYC. I couldn't believe at 9:00 a.m. the sky looked pitch black! To channel some sun, my thoughts turned to the gorgeous California home of Karen Kimmel and James Bond found via Apartment Therapy.

Carefully considered but not overwrought, this cozy home is the perfect antidote to today's torrents. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Jonathan Lo for Apartment Therapy

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tinkering With Time

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. - Benjamin Franklin

Good afternoon my practicalistas! Hope everyone is feeling psyched about the weekend. I sure am. Lately, I've been super-busy with my real job (freelance writing/PR) but no fear I'll still be sneaking in some fabulousness this Friday! :-)

By the way, I have a confession. Since last month's earnest promise to tuck in early my words have haunted me. Here's the skinny: I . Just. Can't. Do it. Unless I'm terribly ill or suffering from severe exhaustion, my night-owl tendencies simply threaten my resolve to hit the sacks early.

A couple nights ago however, I tried something different and I'm liking it. To give me a buffer between busywork and bedtime, I've taken to curling up with a good read before drifting off to sleep. It's so wonderful I actually look forward to getting into bed - something I dreaded before. I've also rescheduled my bedtime to around 10:30 p.m. - a more realistic time based on my well-documented nocturnal struggles. :-)

Hopefully this little tweaking will help. In the meantime, I think lovely timepieces like the ones above would inspire me to stay on track. Anyone else in the same boat?

Friday, October 17, 2008

DIY Fridays: Medallion Wall Art

[Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens]

Today's quick-and-easy DIY idea comes from Better Homes and Gardens via CasaSugar. Here, large (but lightweight) ceiling medallions are painted varying shades of yellow to create bold wall art. I really love how these rosettes provide a fresh alternative to mounted plates or baskets - a perfect unexpected touch! For more quick projects click here.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Finding Family-Friendly Digs

[Photo credit: Michael Falco/New York Times]

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope you had a wonderful Columbus Day!

I actually spent yesterday afternoon catching up on a ton of reading. One article that caught my eye was a New York Times piece on city families and the trials of apartment-hunting. It was really interesting to see other families sharing similar challenges like trekking up and down flights of stairs; worrying about bothering the neighbors; and having enough space for storage or play. The Times also offered some great tips for finding kid-friendly apartments. You can check them out, here.

In the not so distant future our family will definitely require more space as the kids grow-up and need to spread out. On my wish-list: a backyard! Really, it's all I care about and it's the most practical of all my desires. To be able to open the backdoor and say "go run" is a heaven to me. In fact, I'm still drooling over the modern Brooklyn backyard (below) featured in the May 2007 issue of Domino. Definitely my idea of an urban retreat!

[Photo credit: Domino/Lucas Allen]

Another nice extra would be a bay window. So fantastic! I imagine myself outfitting it as a cozy reading nook like Victoria from sfgirlbybay.

[Photo credit: Sfgirlbybay]

Oh, and a large dining area to accommodate a Big Sur dining table - seating for all! Ok, enough day-dreaming! :-)

[Photo credit: Crate and Barrel via Trendir]

If you're looking to make your next move, what's on your wish-list? And if you are already in your dream home, what do you love most? I'm excited to hear what you have to say!

Monday, October 6, 2008

What I'm Loving Now: Moroccan Poufs

[Photo credit: David Netto for Teen Vogue]

I saw it the other day via Desire To Inspire. It called out to me. It yearned to be mine. Do you see it? There. That little red-gumdrop-of-a-pouf tucked under the sleek white desk. Yes, that's the one. I haven't stopped dreaming about it ever since.

While some may dismiss Moroccan poufs as a trend that's so last year. I think these ottomans are in fact a beautiful basic - fun and functional for everyday living. And, I've rounded up my faves just for you. From the pricey square orange ottoman that will make your room to the smaller scale (and budget friendly) camel patchwork ottoman that's great for kids.

Clockwise from top left: Chocolate brown pouf, Mosaik$295; orange cylinder, Tazi Designs $120; red pouf, John Derian $265; camel patchwork pouf, Yurdan $25.50; orange square, Tazi Designs $450. See anything you like? They are all so yummy!

Last, but by no means least, a big thank you to Ancil at Kicker Inc. for the new Pretty*Practical banner. I love it! And of course to all of you, Happy Monday! :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Too Cool For School

[Biscuit cards (left); Over the Rainbow Notebook]

With all the talk of 'bailouts' and 'buy-ins', some good old-fashioned window-shopping seems in order. So today, we'll travel across the pond to England to take a peek at Present and Correct an amazing paper goods store featuring a host of unique finds.

Born out of a "long term obsession with stationery", P&C is a design-lovers paradise. Really, there is so much to love here! But if pressed, my faves are those yummy Biscuit cards; the sweet XYZ print; and that adorable Smile Pen. See anything you like?

[XYZ print (left); Paper and Brass Clock]

[Big Boy Wraps (left); Smile Pen]

[Colouring Chalk (left); Animal Drawing Cards]