Inspired by…home of Bill & Giuliana Rancic

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So I am totally obsessed with this couple, mostly because of their reality t.v. show that follows their crazy daily life (he’s a real estate developer and motivational speaker, she’s a television host, news anchor and fashion critic on E!) and their trials and tribulations as Giuliana overcame breast cancer and their difficulty to have children. They are so real and hilarious through everything that it’s hard not to love them. A couple season’s ago, they bought a home in LA and Bill led the design teams in a complete remodel. The result is quite possibly my dream home (at least one that I feel is somewhat within my reach…in 10 to 15 years).

What I love most about this home is how beautiful the decorating is while still being so neutral, calming and serene. The perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day. The interior decorating was completed by Lonni Paul and the home was photographed by Michael Garland for Traditional Home Magazine.

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“A carved wood chandelier from Circa Lighting illuminates comfy furniture and a neutral-toned rug from Safavieh.”

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“Comfortable wicker chairs around a wood table provide a relaxing spot to check out the pool.”

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“Atop an RH striped rug, sofas from Lane Venture are upholstered in white Sunbrella fabric and accessorized with blue-and-white pillows. Tables, including a black coffee table and a ceramic garden stool, offer handy spots to place an arrangement of flowers or a drink.”

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“A pair of blue linen poufs are tucked beneath a sofa table from Hickory Chair in the family room, decorated in classic blue and white”

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“The Ralph Lauren four-poster that Bill and Giuliana moved from their former home finds its niche under a vaulted ceiling. A bench with a matching dark finish wears linen and is topped with monogrammed pillows from Jonathan Adler. Toss pillows on the bed complement the rug from Surya.”

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“Blue grass cloth by Phillip Jeffries encloses the nursery that Paul designed with a water theme in mind. A crib she designed for her PetitNest line features Duke’s initials. Globe poufs from RH sit atop a chevron-patterned rug by Jonathan Adler”

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Spinach Bacon Crust-less Mini Quiches

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The great thing about these little cuties is that you can easily turn this into a full size quiche for Sunday brunch by baking in a quiche dish rather than a muffin tin. I made them for weekday mornings last week so the smaller muffin size quiches worked a bit better for us.

Spinach Bacon Crust-less Mini Quiches
Makes 12 servings

Cooking spray
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices thick cut bacon, sliced crosswise 1/4 in thick
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cups spinach
4 ozs shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add bacon and cook until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook 3 more minutes, until onion is tender. Add spinach and cook 2 more minutes, until spinach begins to wilt.
3. Drain most of the olive oil out of the spinach mixture, transfer to a bowl and allow mixture to cool for 3 minutes.
4. In separate mixing bowl, combine cheese, milk, salt, pepper and eggs and whisk together. Add spinach mixture to the egg mixture and whisk again.
5. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray and divide egg mixture evenly among cups.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until cups are puffed at top. Serve immediately.

Slow-Cooked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs

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On Tuesday, I had a late afternoon appointment downtown, my husband, however, was off work that day so I told him that morning that he was in charge of dinner that night. He leaves for the grocery store around noon to scour for both lunch and dinner fixings. He returns with a full rack of pork spare ribs, a pork spice rub and BBQ sauce for dinner. Mind you, he loves to do this, pretends like he can’t manage to make a piece of toast and then out of nowhere whips up lamb chops or lobster so tasty I think he might have been a chef in another life. I just shake my head at him and get ready to head out. Boy was I wrong to doubt him!

I asked him if I could share his recipe for these oh-so-delicious ribs, he was pretty excited that he’d made the cut for the blog 🙂 It is unbelievably simple to get these fall-off-the-bone ribs, the key is the slow-cooking, which makes them perfect for your summer weekend BBQ.

Now, if you have a favorite pork rub and BBQ sauce, by all means use those. I included a link to what my hubby used, both of which are our favorites so if you can find these at your grocery store, I highly recommend them. The pork rub may be a bit harder to find for those of you not in the Northwest as it is Rub with Love Pork Rub by Tom Douglas (a famed chef in the Seattle area) but it can be ordered on his website. The BBQ sauce is Stubbs Hickory Bourbon sauce.

Slow-Cooked BBQ Pork Spare Ribs
1 rack pork spare ribs
1/2 cup pork rub
1 cup BBQ sauce

1. Rub entire rack of ribs with pork rub, front and back. Double wrap in foil and refrigerate for 5 hours to allow the flavors to blend.
2. Prep a grill and set heat to low. Place foil covered ribs on grill and allow them to slow-cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning once at the 40 minute mark.
3. Open foil, slather ribs with 2/3 cup BBQ sauce, close foil and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
4. Remove ribs from the grill, place on a large cutting board and cut ribs apart between the bones.
5. Drizzle with remaining BBQ sauce and serve immediately.

Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Who knew that one little ingredient could make a regular chocolate chunk cookie so incredibly amazing!?!?! There’s nothing too crazy different about these cookies, except the salt flakes on top, and let me tell you, I’ll never make chocolate chunk cookies without salt flakes again!

Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 ozs semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Maldon or other flaky sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixture on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add egg yolks, egg, and vanilla. Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.
3. Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.
4. Bake cookies until just golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes (the cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Parmesan Fritter Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing

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This was course #2 from my first-day-of-summer dinner. Not your usual salad with tons of different toppings but oh so much flavor thanks to the fritters and dressing. A great crowd pleaser when you are hosting dinner guests but I recommend making the fritters and dressing ahead of time (up to 2 days) to limit your kitchen time when your guests are mingling. Warning: be very careful with this dressing…you may want to lick it all from a spoon and have none left to serve with the salad! It’s that good! Original recipe from Fine Cooking.

Parmesan Fritter Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing
Serves 6

For the Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise 1/4″ thick and cooked until crisp
For the Fritters and Salad
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and coarsely grated on a box grater
2 cups coarse breadcrumbs
3 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil; more as needed
6 oz. mixed salad greens

To make the dressing:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic paste, scallion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
2. Crumble the bacon and whisk it in.
3. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

To make the Fritters and assemble the salad:
1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add 1 tsp. salt and the fennel and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until cool. Press out as much water as possible from the fennel, and then transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pat dry with more paper towels.
2. In a large bowl, gently mix the fennel with the breadcrumbs, Parmigiano, eggs, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
3. Heat the  oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot.
4. Using your hands, form a heaping tablespoonful of the Parmesan mixture into a patty about 1/2 inch thick. Add it to the skillet and repeat to make 3 more patties, adding them to the skillet as you form them. Cook, turning once, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat, in batches, with the remaining Parmesan mixture, adding more oil as needed.
5. In a large bowl, toss the greens with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat. Divide among 6 plates, top with the fritters, and then drizzle with some of the dressing.

Inspired by…home of Joseph Abboud

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My latest home obsession is that of fashion designer Joseph Abboud. Located in Boston, Abboud had admired the old architecture of the tower building on Chestnut Street since he was a boy and took advantage when the building went up for sale. The home is a gorgeous combination of strong and bold neoclassical pieces, beautiful old world architecture and natural textures, fabrics and colors. Abboud’s pied-à-terre was photographed by Eric Roth for Traditional Home Magazine, designed by Abboud himself in collaboration with the design team from Restoration Hardware, and the story written by Candace Ord Manroe.

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“The room’s neoclassical bent is articulated by Ionic capital coffee tables from RH.”

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“An iron spiral staircase accesses the five-story tower in the family’s pied-à-terre.”

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“Acanthus leaves hand-painted on canvas in the ceiling coves are “an ode to all the beautiful things I’ve seen on my travels in Italy,” says fashion designer and homeowner Joseph Abboud.”

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“Located on the same level as the living and dining rooms, the kitchen includes a small staircase that leads to the master bedroom. A Faber range hood and Fagor cooktop are backed by a wall of copper slate stone and Olympia marble.”

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“Symmetry is created by a pair of sconces that flank a Jeffrey Terreson horse painting and wing chairs that bookend the console table. Nailheads trim natural linen on the turned-wood dining chairs as a quiet detail. Juxtaposed with smoother wood, the farm table’s scrubbed look adds another layer of textural interest.”

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“The private deck at the top of the tower overlooks Bradlee Reservoir. The columns honor the neoclassical style Joseph loves.”

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“Grass cloth covers the walls in the guest bedroom.”

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“An antique French bronze clock with a 66-inch diameter was conveyed to the upper level of the tower by a freight elevator with only a quarter inch to spare. “Good karma,” says Joseph. The darkest room in the apartment, the winery is also his favorite.”

Fig & Camembert Crostini

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I spent most of the first day of summer cooking up a DELICIOUS 4 course meal yesterday and I have to say, I loved every single course! The appetizer was these little crostini with Camembert cheese and a fig spread. They were so flavorful but yet so quick and easy to prepare, a perfect appetizer for the next time you are hosting dinner guests. Part of what made them so easy is that I didn’t take the time to make the fig spread, but rather just bought a jar at the store. You can find fig spread with the jam & jellies at your grocery store but I also found a brand that makes different flavors of fig spread in a cute little display near the specialty cheese where I shop. The brand I used was Three Little Figs, a local Portland company who makes a great variety of flavored jams. I chose the Balsamic Fresh Fig.

1 baguette loaf
8 ozs Camembert cheese
9 ozs fig spread
olive oil for drizzling
(makes 24 crostini)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Slice the baguette to approximately 1/2″ pieces and arrange on a cookie sheet
3. Slice the cheese like it is a pie, making enough pieces to have 1 slice of cheese for each slice of baguette. Do not remove the rind as Camembert is meant to be eaten with the rind intact.
3. Drizzle sliced baguettes with olive oil and top with one piece of cheese each, followed by a spoonful of fig spread.
4. Bake in the oven for 4 minutes or until cheese is melted.
5. Serve hot and watch your guests “mmm” and “ahhh” with mouthfuls of deliciousness

🙂

Table Arrangement

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I know, I know, you can just buy this in a store rather than spend the time making it yourself. However, an arrangement this size would easily cost you $100-$150 at a higher end home décor store. My main motivation for making a faux arrangement myself is because I had a specific idea in my head of the style and size that I wanted, I couldn’t really find exactly what I wanted already made and I already had the 2 magnolia branches that I wasn’t using. And, as much as I would like to be like Lisa Vanderpump and fill my home with giant fresh flower arrangements every week, it’s just not going to happen. So, what the heck, I thought I’d give it a try and see what I came up with.

I started with a stone container from Home Goods, which was actually grey. I wanted a black container so I used the leftover paint from my chandelier and put a thin coat of black paint on it.

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Next step was to create a base to stick the stems into. I used Floral Craft dry foam from Michael’s Craft Store. It comes in a package of 5 bricks and you can cut them to fit your container. I ended up using 2 1/2 bricks to fit the container and the cut the tops off so the foam was even with the top of the container.

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Then I started creating the arrangement. I started with the 2 magnolia branches that I had on hand from Z Gallerie. You have to be careful with faux flowers because they can look very cheap so this is were you want to be discerning and spend a few extra dollars (I think I paid around $15 per stem for mine). I also got 2 packages of curly willow branches from Michaels to fill in the spaces between the blooms in the arrangement. The nice thing about faux flowers is that they are wired, so you can bend them anyway you want. I place the magnolia branches in the center of the arrangement, stems about 2 inches apart, then bent the branches and blooms to get the placement I wanted. Then I started adding the curly willow branches, one at a time, turning the arrangement as I went, to make sure I was placing the branches evenly all around. Be sure to think about where the arrangement will sit in your home and whether it will be one sided or seen from all angles.

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Now, I didn’t do this with mine, but if you really want to keep the arrangement nice and sturdy you can use a hot glue gun to attach each stem to the foam. Take them stem, place it in the foam where you want it, take it back out, put hot glue on the end and put it back. Once you are done placing all the stems you can finish off the container however you prefer. I chose to use moss as my foam cover, but you can also use rocks (just cut your foam down 1-2″ below the top of the container). And again, you can use hot glue to adhere your foam cover. I had a lot of stems to wedge the moss between and a small gap between the foam and the container to tuck in the edges.

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Done and done!

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Foyer Table Re-do

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  I’m SO excited about this table you guys!! This was my first project with Annie Sloan chalk paint and I’m hooked. My mom has been using Annie Sloan paint on her furniture (she re-finishes old furniture and does an amazing job, check out her Facebook page…Simply Country Quilts & Antiques) and she swears by it.

I wanted to get a distressed and “roughed up” look with this so I really got after the sanding but I love how it turned out. The great thing about finishing your own furniture is that you don’t pay much and if you don’t like it, just paint it again!

Here are my steps to get this kind of look…

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I started with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White, the Soft Wax in clear and her small pure bristle brush. Her paint brushes are a little spendy but the quality is amazing and you can use the same brush for paint and wax by just washing with soap and water and letting it dry completely in between uses.

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I found this round pedestal table at a thrift store for $35! I did sand the table down before I painted it but only because I was using white paint and there were some stains in the finish that would come out with cleaner that I didn’t want to show through the paint. Otherwise, you can paint right over the top of whatever color or finish is on the furniture. Keep in mind that if you are going to sand the furniture down to get an “antique” look, whatever color is underneath is going to show through.

I put on 2 coats of paint, letting it dry for about 2 hours in between coats. Then I applied a coat of the clear Soft Wax, which helps to protect the furniture and seal in the paint. I applied the wax 1 section at a time and then after a minute or two, used a clean, dry cloth to wipe away the excess. Once I was finished waxing, I began to sand the table to get the desired worn look I was going for.

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I used a small electric sander because I knew I wanted a fairly distressed look, however, if you want it less distressed, just use a piece of sandpaper and lightly sand the edges and moulding by hand. Once I finished sanding, I wiped the table down to get rid of the dust left behind by the sander and then applied a second coat of wax.

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And that’s that! I can’t wait to add some decorative touches to the foyer now and I especially can’t wait to do my next piece of furniture!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

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I’m always looking for easy on-the-go breakfast items for my husband to eat on the way out the door that are still relatively healthy. These whole wheat blueberry muffins certainly fit the bill. I tried to keep the ingredients whole wheat and organic and rather than using milk, I used Almond milk instead. They turned out DELISH and perfect for workday mornings. Try them out and let me know what you think!

1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup brown sugar (topping)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (topping)
1/4 canola oil (topping)

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
2. Prepare muffin tin with liners
3. In a large bowl, combine oats, whole wheat flours, baking powder and baking soda
4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, almond milk, canola oil, vanilla extract and sugar together
5. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir
6. Gently fold in the blueberries (to avoid smashing them)
7. Pour the mixture into the muffin cups, filling 3/4 full
8. Mix together brown sugar, unbleached all-purpose flour and canola oil
9. Evenly distribute brown sugar mixture to the tops of the muffins
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes

Enjoy!