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March 31, 2010

French Chicken in Vinegar Sauce with Pepper-Spiked Polenta

image Last week, I needed to cook something quick while everyone was working on projects. I pulled out The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook as most of the recipes are pretty easy and healthy. French Chicken in Vinegar Sauce with Pepper-Spiked Polenta sounded really good, and it was! I adore polenta, and even my husband (who doesn’t really like polenta) liked this pepper spiked version with crushed red pepper and parmesan. I read the reviews online today, it seems that it was a hit for most even with substitutions here and there.

Speaking of substitutions, I didn’t have straight tarragon, so I used Parisien Bonnes Herbes from Penzeys, and I used regular olive oil (just used less) versus olive oil cooking spray.

Tip: Buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or ask your butcher to bone and skin them for you.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 thighs, 1/2 cup sauce, and 1 cup polenta)


  • Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
  • 2 1/2  cups  coarsely chopped onion
  • 8  (3-ounce) skinned, boned chicken thighs
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free chicken broth
  • 3  tablespoons  tomato paste
  • 2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
  • 1  teaspoon  minced fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  red pepper
  • Dash of black pepper
  • Pepper-Spiked Polenta
  • Tarragon sprigs (optional)


Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add chicken; sauté each side 3 minutes or until browned.

Combine wine and next 8 ingredients (wine through black pepper) in a medium bowl; stir well. Add wine mixture to chicken mixture; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve with Pepper-Spiked Polenta. Garnish with tarragon sprigs, if desired.

And today, I made Phở. Seriously, Phở real! BTW – thanks for all the bad puns last week on my comments. I loved them!

As I was emailing with Jamie from Doxa Home yesterday, I was reminded of what I should be doing with the chicken stock I made last weekend. Our lunch today is pictured below.  YUM!


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March 30, 2010

Spring Fever: Landscaping and Gardens Galore!

My in-laws have been in town, which means that a ton of projects were completed over the last couple of days. Seriously, they want to work when they come to visit! How lucky are we!!!

But, we do always make time for a visit to the Dallas Arboretum when they are here. With Manitoba temperatures hovering at 1 F (yes, you read that correctly), his parents enjoy the mild climate and especially the flowers. Amazing, that only 5 days before, we had a freak snowstorm.

So, other than taking pictures of flower, we were landscaping. My husband and his father completed a 45 ft bench that is going to provide tons of seating for outdoor parties this spring and summer. Today, we have more plants being delivered, and yards of crushed limestone and river rock. I will give you some before and after pictures later as we make progress on our backyard.

mosaic673e54f5d56c192b6dfc59dc9b7ab1af4d966788Meanwhile, I used Mosaic Maker  to give you a snapshot of all the beautiful scenery! Visit Flickr to see all of my pictures, one of these days, I will upgrade to an SLR for even better photos.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

snowdog March 21, 2010

Untitled-175 days later…March 26, 2010

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March 24, 2010

Phở Sure!


OK, that was the world’s worst title, but I couldn’t resist. And I do know that it is pronounced fɤ̂ (like [o] but without the lips rounded, something like a cross of [ʊ] and [ʌ]); there are even articles on the correct pronunciation of Phở. But please allow me a small attempt at humor.

My sister was always telling me about her funny friend Jenna, who writes a blog about parenting, Land of Lovings. I met Jenna when we were last in Atlanta, and yes, she is funny, cool, and her blog is just like her.

She posted on Facebook that she was making Phở for her family. Of course, I asked for the recipe, then yesterday there was a post with a delicious looking picture! I love soup, in fact, I just made a huge batch of Pasta Fagioli for us to eat for a couple of days. This will be on the menu for next week, it sounds exotic, but Jenna swears it is easy. And as the mom of three young children, I don’t doubt it! Click for the recipe.

Photo courtesy of Land of Lovings

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March 23, 2010

Artsy Industrial

I thought I would go back and revisit the images from an earlier post, What’s Your Domicile Style, as each category was from a house tour on Style at Home. I have been meaning to do this for a while, but you know how time flies and things get pushed to the back burner! Oh, and I have been trying to spend less time on the computer to rest my wrists. It has been hard to stay away!!

The categories featured are:
Artsy Industrial
Contemporary Comfort
Modern Eclectic
Country Chic

Today, let’s look at the first category, Artsy Industrial, which is an industrial loft made into a modern condo space.

industrial-living-kitchenIn my next house, no upper cabinets. I love the travertine tile backsplash in this kitchen.

industrial-living-diningInstead of a chandelier, the owners chose to use an iron sculpture, Linienshieff #7, by Knopp Ferro

industrial-living-sofa Stools used as a coffee table are easy to move around.

industrial-living-sittingarea Great idea: a low wall of IKEA cabinets provides space to display items and hidden storage. I keep thinking of doing a similar look in my media room/game room. 

industrial-living-masterbedroomMaster bedroom. They don’t identify it, but this looks like an IKEA MALM bed. Definitely a lot of mixing of high and low in this home.

industrial-living-bedroom     Guest bedroom. Art is Laura Wood's Chandelier #28.

industrial-living-bathroomThat shower is on my list of things for my dream home! How spa-like is this space!

So, on the style spectrum, this house probably doesn’t have enough color for me, but I do love the calm, clean lines throughout.

Photos courtesy of Style at Home, photographer Mark Burstyn

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March 16, 2010

California Dreaming: Beverly Hills Mid-Century Home

Material Girls recently had a link to Lara Spencer’s home tour in the L.A. Times. Spencer is the host of “The Insider” celebrity news show on CBS. Lara and her husband (a former CNN anchor) moved from Greenwich, Conn., to Beverly Hills last year.

After looking at over 100 houses, they saw this one, a split-level, 4,000-square-foot home. The buyer before them was planning to rip it down!

“It had been in and out of escrow three times during the year we were house-hunting, and the buyer before us was planning to rip it down.” They saw beyond the dark paneling, the shag carpeting and the heavy curtains. “It was packed with junk, but I could tell this house had great flow and potential,” she says.

Kudos to them, that they choose to work with this house and uncover its true potential. In my opinion, the finished project is divine!! I will admit to being just a teeny bit envious. Make sure to visit the full tour, as there were so many pictures, and I could only show a few.

52439545A cool palette makes for a seamless transition throughout the first floor. Dark bamboo flooring replaced the shag carpeting and contrasts with the original terrazzo in the rotunda. The 1960s cityscape is from This Is Not Ikea website.


Hidden under old shag carpeting, the house had metallic-flecked gray terrazzo floors! What a find! Spencer covered the rotunda's walls with silver-threaded grass cloth. "It has five openings, so you can stand here and see into the dining room, living room and family room — and outdoors."

52440061 Before: the family room is separate from the living room

52440106 After: partitions are knocked down to create flow. Look at that sofa, it invites you to relax and have a martini! 

52440138And speaking of martinis…the refinished bar. The patterned mirrored panels were found at a vintage shop in Palm Springs.

52440123 Before: the living room was furnished with traditional pieces.

52440134 After: the space is now open and airy, furnished with high end and flea market finds. Spencer spent her childhood picking through suburban flea markets and yard sales with her mother.

This month, she shoots the pilot for "Fleaflip," where teams compete to discover and repurpose buys that they find at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. No date yet for the debut on the Game Show Network, but it sounds like great fun!

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March 15, 2010

Flower Power: Liberty Of London for Target

target-libertyThe benefits of living in Suburbia? It is a shopping haven, with a wide variety of retailers (high & low) all around. Right across the street from my tree-lined subdivision is a SuperTarget. Which I need to visit today to see what is in stock from Liberty of London’s offering for Target. 

The press was enormous for this launch! In almost every magazine I read, there was mention about this pairing, so response was bound to be large. For example, Target had a pop-up store on Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street. 6,000 New Yorkers visited on Wednesday alone, when it opened, forcing it to close Thursday evening, two days earlier than planned.

So, I will be heading by today, to do some browsing and perhaps pick up something fun and spring-like!

image image

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March 12, 2010

Friday Finds: Great Design Under $100, Easy Wrap, Before/After & Every Room Needs…

Here are my favorite finds from around the web for this week.  

Architectural Digest: Great Design Under $100

imageAsian-inspired Dupioni silk jewelry box. It retails for $29.50 at Design Hut and is available in other colors.

Cashon & Company: be inspired by her her beautiful use of Martha Stewart’s decorative tape at Michael's.

image photo courtesy of Cashon & Co.

Nest Interior Design: Local Dallas interior design firm and their before and after designs featured on Design*Sponge this week.

image photo courtesy of Kevin Dotolo Photography

Ragland Hill Social: go decide which furniture you need for your home. “Every Room Needs a Handsome Man” (great couches, the Jon Hamm is my favorite) and “Every Room Should Have a Superstar” (beautiful chairs, I loved the Julianne Moore and the Cameron Diaz. Hip, cool, fun and funky – just like me)!

photo courtesy of Ragland Hill Social

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March 10, 2010

Pickled Apricots

201002-r-pickled-apricotsThe downside of buying a huge bag of apricots from Costco? Having 3 lbs. of dried apricots sitting in your pantry. The upside of having such a large bag? You have more than enough to make this sweet-tart condiment. They suggest serving with Pork Rillettes and whisky based cocktails, such as an old-fashioned. Cooking Lessons From Bar Chefs has some mouth-watering ideas from chefs short on space.

For the record, here is where the practical side of me steps in. The condiment – easy recipe, low-fat, therefore an easy choice. The rillettes, and the thought of using a quart of rendered pork fat, gives me reason enough to skip that recipe. But I wonder if I could use olive oil (we did for tuna confit), or just slow-cook the meat until really tender and not worry about it being pate-like. Or, wait and make this for a party, and then don’t feel so guilty about the wanton decadence. I made Gale Gand’s breakfast strata the other day for a party using full-fat ingredients and it was wonderful! And I only felt a tiny bit guilty.

  • ACTIVE: 15 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 40 MIN Plus overnight pickling
  • SERVINGS: Makes about 3 cups
  • Make-Ahead
  1. 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  2. 3/4 cup water
  3. 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  5. 2 cups dried apricots (1 pound)
  6. 1/4 cup dark raisins
  7. 1 bay leaf
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and mustard seeds and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. In a heatproof bowl or jar, cover the apricots, raisins and bay leaf with the hot brine. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 month. Just before serving, coarsely chop the apricots.

Recipe by Sam Filloramo and Oliver Strand

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March 9, 2010

5 Keys to an Organized Workspace


I said I would share some tips from The Container Store about how to keep your workspace organized. I am currently trying to put these tips to use in all areas of my house!

The average person wastes anywhere from 55 to 90 minutes a day (according to my research) searching for things. Getting organized can help you accomplish more in a single day! 


Since a significant amount of time is spent sitting behind a desk or in front of a computer, design your work area so that there's a place for everything and that the telephone, note pads, pens, pencils and appointment book are at your fingertips. Place additional resources – but only those that are essential – within easy reach. This will minimize movement and allow you to be more productive.


I love this Stacking Desktop System, available in frosted or smoke, and in 3 different widths for any size desk.


To prevent unnecessary clutter – and wasted time – limit the amount of items on your desk. Enter deadlines and notes directly into your PDA device, calendar or Filofax. This will prevent little scraps of paper from piling up on your desk.


Have a centralized location for calendars and message boards. Keep one erasable calendar for the current month, and one for the next month. Use colored pens for each family member. Once a day, update your calendar from your PDA or Filofax.  


Categorize files into two categories: active and inactive. Keep active files accessible (on your desk, in a rolling file cart or in a filing cabinet) and store inactive files in a labeled storage box. This will reduce time spent rummaging through a huge stack of files that may not be current.


Brocade Desktop File is an example of how to keep active files within reach on your desktop.


Don't forget to utilize the often-wasted space available behind the door or on the wall over your desk. Using products such as wall-mounted grids or over-the-door hanging storage racks to hold desk accessories, magazines, CDs or videotapes will truly optimize limited workspace.

CascadingLetterFileBoth_l Translucent Cascading Letter File Tote

elfaSycamoreWhiteHomeOffice_l elfa Sycamore Office Solution


Reading a document over and over can waste valuable time. Minimize the number of times a document is read by immediately filing, discarding or placing the items in a "to do" file. The amount of paperwork on your desk will be greatly reduced by making this a part of your daily routine.

UmbraSynchronicityCan_lHave one can for trash and one for recycling. Shredding scissors make quick work of small items. Synchronicity Can by Umbra.

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March 6, 2010

Friday Finds: 13 DIY Projects

imageThe outpouring of creativity on the web this week has been astonishing! It almost (just almost) inspires me to try it myself!!

I was thinking about doing a stencil behind my new closet, as I really meant to paint the wall BEFORE installation. The Benjamin Moore Portico Wall Tattoo was my first choice (shown above). Thinking about a fresh green pattern (BM Cedar Green) on a white wall. However, then this week was full of wall art projects! Now I have at least three to choose from, not sure if that is good or bad.

imageFrom Hello Gorgeous, we have an Imperial Trellis Stencil How-to.

image Design*Sponge featured a DIY project from Doggie Eyes using spray starch to mount images copied onto colored paper. The great thing about this idea, is that it is easy to remove when you want to change it. I could see this technique used in a children’s bedroom.

In addition, I did a post last month on “How-to Renovate Craigslist Finds” from Sunset Magazine, featuring 5 projects. Their style editor asked if I had seen the follow-up, "I Found it in My Garage?”. Thanks for the heads up Miranda, about 5 new projects! Here is a sampling.

image Outdated clothing as throw pillows!

image Bedside tables become a hall console.

Here is hoping you all have a great weekend. The sun in shining in Texas; I am thrilled that the gray, gloomy weather has disappeared!

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March 3, 2010

Chinese Chic

chinese chic
Most days, when I rip out tear sheets, it is because there is one thing on a page that I want to remember or refer to (this does not include images of rooms, those I keep for inspiration).

However, in this Food & Wine spread from December - Chinese Chic, I found myself wanting everything featured (especially the pagoda salt & pepper set)! This issue had some unique gift spreads, each with a great assortment of items, plus a recipe.

Click on the image above to enlarge it. To see a slideshow, with links for each item, visit here

Photo credits: Burcu Avsar, Amazon, Anouk Jansen, Home, James! East Hampton, Fissler

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March 2, 2010

Designing Moms

I have been a little obsessed lately with designers who have big families. I am especially intrigued by the notion that having 5 or more children does not mean that you have to settle for a less stylish home. To me, a very large family means a different sense of style, a more relaxed type of style, as evidenced by the style of these three talented moms.

Cortney Novogratz, Sixx Design. The press loves the founders of Sixx Design, and their seven children (shown above). Cortney and Bob Novogratz are self-taught developers who take on rundown buildings and transform them into amazing spaces. They have a clean, modern sense of style showcased in their first book, Downtown Chic: Designing Your Dream Home: From Wreck to Ravishing and a TV show on Bravo this April, 9 By Design.

Anya Hindmarch. Purse designer and mom of five, Vanity Fair describes her as The Queen of Cozy Cool. Of course, we first met her on the pages of Domino (pictured below).

6a00e398222b658833010535a75188970b-800wi image Hindmarch’s London living room

Anna Marie Horner. Textile designer, book author (Seams to Me: 24 New Reasons to Love Sewing) and mother of six, Anna Marie Horner is colorful and creative. She chronicles her life on her blog (not sure how she has time), and shares glimpses into her life, her work and occasionally, her home.

annamariehornerDrawing Room fabrics

image One necessity for a big family is sharing bedrooms.

If you know of any stylish big families, let me know. I am keeping my eyes out for inspiration and ideas.

Photo credits: James Merrell, Sixx Design, Anna Marie Horner

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