Friday, March 26, 2010

-- Small Space, City Style --

Everyone dreams of owning that huge house with bedrooms to spare, a large yard and infinite storage areas but if you live in a large metropolitan area chances are you are limited to a smaller space which requires a little more creativity. Small spaces are tough but they are warm, inviting and you can really work wonders if you create multifunctional areas. The key is to keep a simple color palette that flows but at the same time creates a natural distinction of spaces without adding large pieces of furniture, dividers or even worse...walls. Focus on details such as accent pieces and textures that add interest to a small space without overwhelming the eyes.

Here is an example of a small space I recently redid. Hardwood floors, a new accent wall and some new multifunctional furniture pieces create a warm yet uncluttered and open space.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

--Give Me Some Sugar --

St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner... I get it, I'm almost a week early but I live in Chicago where St. Patty's is a huge deal so it's hard to avoid getting the green bug. Even the Chicago river is dyed green for the celebration! I actually did a little bit of research to find out the exact origin of this tradition and it turns out that it dates back to 1962. It started off as a way to check for sewer discharges in the river and eventually the idea of dyeing the entire river for the celebration took off. It is a pretty amazing sight...and yes the dye disappears after a few hours.

With all this talk about St. Patrick's day, I decided to make some sugar cookies and then decorated them with green and white. There are sweet, just a little chewy and simply delicious.

Sugar Cookies

3 cups of flour

2 cups of sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups butter, softened (NOT melted)
3 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla.
Combine the dry ingredients and mix on slow until the dough forms. Cool dough in the fridge for 20 minutes.
If you like sweeter cookies (or don't want to frost them), shape dough into 1 inch balls and then roll on sugar. Otherwise, use a small cookie scoop to place onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 7-9 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Remove from oven and let cool in a cooling rack. Frost and decorate however you prefer!


Thats's right...I am thrilled to announce that I am now part of the Tribune's ChicagoNow group of blogs under the Life & Style Category!

The new address is:

For my returning readers, please continue to check in for new ideas. I will regularly add new entries; and will also be adding some fun new features. New readers, WELCOME! I hope that my decorating, entertaining and food/drink ideas are a great resource to you. In order to continue supporting this blog please forward it to any friends/family members you think might enjoy it as well!

Also, if you have any new ideas/suggestions on postings you would like to see (or even need some design advice), please email me at

Look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

-- Say Cheese...Cake! --

Cheesecake is one of those delicious yet indulgent deserts that most people avoid making at home because they think its too complicated. Cheesecake's rich and creamy texture, and that little bit of sweetness (my favorite, in the form of fruit) always makes for a decadent desert. Anytime I need to impress a crowd I always cook up a batch of mini cheesecakes. These bite sized deserts are a perfect way to end a great meal. The batter is the same but you can go crazy coming up with topping variations. This way you can appeal to those that love fruit topped deserts and those die hard chocolate fans as well! This is a batch I recently made for a party. These blueberry, raspberry and caramel/chocolate topped mini cheesecakes were a real hit. They are easier to make than you would ever imagine!

Mini Cheesecakes
12 graham crackers, crushed
3 tblsp butter, melted
1 tblsp, sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 packages, cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream

Fresh berries, chocolate chips, coconut, caramel or any topping you choose.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini muffin pan(s) with foil liners. If you prefer not having liners, I would recommend purchasing a special mini cheesecake pan. You can find it online. It retails for less than $20.
In a large bowl mix crushed graham crackers, 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Add 1 teaspoon into each paper cup. Press lightly.
In a separate container, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy (make sure cream cheese is at room temperature). Add the eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix until combined.
Pour the cheesecake batter over the pressed graham crackers. Fill each until 3/4 full.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes. Cool on a rack and top with fruit, chocolate, caramel or anything else you can dream of. Here is where you can get real creative.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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