My Mom’s Valentino Pumpkin

This high-fashion pumpkin has a Valentino stole:

My mom dreamed of a pumpkin inspired by the Valentino’s cascading rosettes and ruffles we’ve been lusting after for a few years, so she twisted some fabric into rosettes (mix a few fabric textures), and added feathers and bits of lace. Try this rosette tutorial if you’d like to make your own.

Afterward, she used hot glue to attach the Valentino stole to the pumpkin.

I think it’s an excellent translation

Above: Charm Magazine, 1954.

And here’s a sneak peek at the next pumpkin coming in my series: metallic color-blocking. I can’t wait to show you the rest.


By |2012-09-24T08:30:11-07:00September 24th, 2012|DIY + Projects|4 Comments

My mother’s pumpkin ode to Jonathan Adler

My mother and I have a penchant for white marble sculpture  — anything that looks like it came off of the David, Venus di Milo, or escaped from the Louvre. Either we have romantic, Renaissance leanings or we think that filling our homes with the ideal human form could help us lay off the chocolate. You decide.

During the Rose girls’ pumpkin fest, I floated the idea  of Jonathan Adler-inspired pumpkins and my mom’s eyes lit up. We went back to the craft store for tall, thin pumpkins and modeling clay, and then she did this:

Inspired by this: Adler’s Misia and Salvador vases, $98 each, at Neiman Marcus.

And also this, the pitcher — lips on one side, mustache on the other:

It is something to be continually impressed by one’s mother.

To make them, procure pumpkins. (If you want to upgrade the stem on faux pumpkins, my tutorial is here.) You also need white modeling clay (from Michaels) and spray paint: Krylon Fusion in Dover White, satin finish.

First, paint the pumpkins. Next, form the clay into a mustache and lips with your fingers. It isn’t as difficult as it looks. Summon your Play-Doh skills.

Press your clay creations against the pumpkin to get the curve right on the back.

Next, dry them out in the oven according to package instructions. (Really simple.) Then, spray paint them the same color as the pumpkin. Using hot glue, attach lips and mustache to the pumpkins.



Clearly, I am a very mature person.

By |2012-09-11T07:43:40-07:00September 11th, 2012|DIY + Projects|3 Comments

September is for soup on Sundays: cheddar corn chowder recipe

Come September, I play a little game with myself. It’s called Fake Fall. It involves sweater-buying, soup-eating, pumpkin-stalking and all activities that help me forget the actual weather outside. (Where I live, autumn arrives at the end of October.) Making cheddar corn chowder on a Sunday is one of my favorite activities. The house smells autumnal, Tyson watches football on TV, and we nestle in with bacon-topped bowls.

I started with the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe and lightened it considerably so that I could fit in my sweaters and have my soup, too. I halved the fat, replaced the cream with milk, and amplified the corn flavor instead. I like it better than the original.

Recipe: The Barefoot Contessa’s Cheddar Corn Chowder, Lightened Up

  • 6 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 2 T good olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups medium-diced yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled (1 pound)
  • 5 cups corn kernels, fresh (5 ears) or frozen (1 1/2 pounds), cobs reserved if you’re using fresh corn
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated, plus more for topping


In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Pour off and discard the bacon drippings in the pan, except 1-2 tablespoons. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and reserve the corn and the cobs. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, potatoes, and corn cobs, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  Remove cobs and discard. Add the corn to the soup, then add the milk and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon and additional cheese.

Trick: if you lighten up the Barefoot Contessa’s Cheddar Corn Chowder for dinner, then you can absolutely have her peach-raspberry crisp for dessert. And that — that is worthy of every smidge of butter you can cram inside.

P.S. Remember that time I received a thank-you note from the Barefoot Contessa herself? Every time I see it in my drawer, I want to order orange-script stationery.


By |2012-09-05T06:44:09-07:00September 5th, 2012|Recipes|2 Comments

Rainy Friday leather jacket bliss

I woke to rain this morning– rain on the metal roof of our modern, boxy house. Yes, just like the Norah Jones song. It is a calm, constant sound that wants you to nestle back in against the pillows. I stayed in bed with my eyes closed for awhile and listened.

Then I came downstairs and thought about autumn — about leathery, warm things. I’ve been wanting them around me as harbingers of fall. It’s coming, and today it seems just on the brink. Here are the autumnal suggestions that I’m enjoying at home:

Above: my favorite leather jacket, an outdoor fireplace, and a view of Lake Tahoe earlier this summer. (Do you ever visit Tahoe? I love the patio at the Hyatt in Incline Village — and that it’s chilly enough in summer to reach for a jacket at night.)

I brought home this white leather biker jacket from Zara, South Coast Plaza. It was on sale, but their new biker jacket offerings are plentiful online. (Biker jacket: autumn must-have.) Also: unpacking leather jackets so they don’t become wrinkled messes — a Jaimee “Must Do.”

These collected books from my summertime wanderings suggest nestling by an indoor fireplace with cocoa and beautiful words. I brought Poems of the Sea home from the Hotel Del Coronado. The  vintage volume of Keats poems is from Powell’s Books in Portland, and the Webster’s Pictorial Dictionary was discovered during a fall trip to New York City with Marni.

School supplies: brass and horn-rimmed scissors from Lucca Great Finds in Seattle — an incredible Ballard-area shop that you have to visit if you’re ever in town. The gray-striped pencils are from the $1 bin at Michaels. The notebook is an old souvenir from Venice, Italy.

I discovered these vintage brass letters at Maison Luxe in Seattle — another destination shop. To me, the “IQ” suggests autumnal learning. It is also why I fell in love with Tyson, a smartypants anthropology major who wanted to read Emerson together on our second date.

Don’t you want to be going to college back east, in Connecticut, to a place where Ivy drapes off the columns of the library? Don’t you want to live in an episode of Gilmore Girls? Yes, me too.

Happy autumnal dreaming. What are you doing at home to celebrate the approach of the season? I really do love to hear your ideas.





By |2012-08-17T07:59:58-07:00August 17th, 2012|Style|2 Comments

Recipe: Pumpkin Soup with Curry and Coconut

The mythical white pumpkin party that previously existed only in my mind took place this weekend, in the form of a casual little brunch. It was our first party in the new place. I’m excited to show you the photos this week.

First, the pumpkin soup that I served to my guests in shot glasses. (And am now enjoying for dressed-up weeknight dinners with Ty.)

Pretty, isn’t it? (The mini tureen is from West Elm, and everything else I’ve had for awhile.) Delicious, too. My friend Billy said I should enter it in contests. I told Billy he can come to all of my parties from now on.

It would make a fabulous first course at Thanksgiving dinner.

I started with this recipe, but messed around with it so much that I’ve typed in my version below.

Pumpkin Soup with Curry and Coconut

1 T butter

1 T olive oil

1  yellow onion, chopped

1 shallot, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp salt

ground pepper to taste

3 cups chicken broth

1 15 ounce can pumpkin

1 13 ounce can light coconut milk

for garnish: half and half, chopped chives, pomegranate seeds

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter together. Saute onions and shallots until almost translucent. Add garlic, curry, salt and pepper and cook for one minute. Add the broth and pumpkin, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk. Puree with an immersion blender. Just before serving, garnish with half and half, chopped chives, and pomegranate seeds.

By |2012-01-11T12:27:57-07:00January 11th, 2012|Recipes|1 Comment

Pumpkin Brunch

Scenes from my pumpkin brunch:

(My new mercury glass bell jar from FOUND — a beloved birthday gift from Christina.)

Pumpkin mini muffins with maple cream cheese icing — my most evil creation of the year.

Pumpkin teapots (above) and pumpkins on the orchids (below):

Pink calla lilies with pumpkin undertones:

Happy friends:

A buffet piled high with pumpkin things: soup and muffins and yogurt-granola parfaits topped with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Utensils lined up on a tray:

Pumpkins lined up on my table:

An autumnal salad with Gruyere, toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds:

I cheated and used paper napkins, and you know what? The world is still turning.

Lynne Bonnell’s burlap pumpkins came, too:

Roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary:

Mimosas like mad:

Piles of pumpkins, everywhere I could fit them:


Homemade quiche — my first, and I’m converted (recipe here):

Treats galore:

And another one for the road:

(Pumpkin muffin recipe coming tomorrow, and I’m not sure whether to apologize or curtsy. They’re diabolical.)

By |2012-01-11T12:26:56-07:00January 11th, 2012|Parties|0 Comments

Five for Friday: Fall! Officially! And it’s Fall Craft Week, too.

ONE. Happy first day of autumn. I was outside at 6:30 this morning and you know what? Totally gorgeous and 75. I thought for a minute about going back in for a sweater. (Cindy and I recently brought home matching versions of this Anthropologie cropped piece, which has such cool layering proportions.)

TWO: So, then I toasted the occasion with a pumpkin bagel and pumpkin cream cheese from Einstein Bros. I only allow myself one per year, and I’m thinking it will be a Happy First Day of Fall tradition.

THREE. The annual TV turf war has begun chez moi. He loves football, and I love idiotic escapist TV. (Um, Grey’s Anatomy, which sounds embarrassingly like a soap opera if you watch it during daylight.) I have three new guilty pleasures: the Hamptons-set drama Revenge (I’m all about setting), New Girl (Zooey Deschanel!) and Happy Endings, which a writer friend told me about because it’s smart and well-written and slightly unguilty, too.

FOUR. Next week is Fall Craft Week on this blog, so send me pics of your creations. I’d love to share what you’ve done. (

I’m deep into pumpkinland, and can’t wait to show you this year’s offering. Here’s a hint, from Country Living:

FIVE. My family has spent the last few days in the hospital with my Granna. There was an unspeakable moment when we had to watch my Grandpa tell her goodbye. Then, we got a SIXTH opinion. Finally,  a brave surgeon said something different than the five before, performed surgery at midnight, and everything changed.

I am grateful for that surgeon, for sixth opinions, and for my sassy, gorgeous Granna, who listened last night as my mom and I planned the annual Halloween party in her hospital room. We were trying to give her something to look forward to, which is what we all need. Happy fall.

(This year, for the party, I am attempting Martha’s Fungus Tart.)

By |2011-09-23T17:24:33-07:00September 23rd, 2011|Style|1 Comment


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