Monday, February 24, 2014

Chic Chinoiserie Wallpapers

After staring at boring cream colored painted walls for years I've been dreaming up a change... except what I'm dreaming of is WAY over budget!  That's why it's called dreaming.

I am absolutely in love with the fine hand-painted wallpapers of Gracie, de Gournay, and Paul Montgomery.

"Chinese Scenic" by Gracie

They produce different types of wallpapers: hand painted silk wall coverings and tea papers.

de Gournay
The companies take their inspiration from wallpapers from the late 1600s-1800s.

Time to start drooling over these silk wallpapers...

"Abbortsford" by de Gournay
 I just love the green color of the next room... I think it just goes so well with mahogany.
"Askew" by de Gournay in olive williamsburg colorwave

"Badminton" in pink colorwave by de Gournay

"Badminton" again, this time in green by de Gournay
 I just love the color design of this next one... so soothing...
"Earhlam" in blue by de Gournay

"Earlham" again, in green, by de Gournay

"Dunmore" by Paul Montgomery

"Callaway" by Paul Montgomery
The paper below is a tea paper. If you look closely you will notice it is made up of much smaller panels. This is a technique developed in the 1700s.
paper by Gracie

David Easton's apartment in NYC, wallpaper by Gracie
"Kew Garden" by Paul Montgomery
 Pricing... they start at about $1000 per panel. Each panel is about 3 feet by 8 feet.

A company has recently come out with digital chinoserie wallpapers. They go for about $200/panel. 
The collection is from Et Cie by Designer Wallcoverings

"The Rockefeller"
The one above, "The Rockefeller" looks EXACTLY like "Kew Garden" by Paul Montgomery. (scroll up). When I was saving images at first I thought I saved the same one twice!  I guess Montgomery designed these digital wallpapers then.

The one below looks like "Callaway" by Montgomery. (scroll up 4 images to compare!)

"White House" by Et Cie
The whole digital set about would cost about $1000 vs 1 panel for $1000.

Let's say you still want the real thing... hand painted silk wallpaper. Don't blame you, I do too!

What you could do is just purchase 1 panel. It gets the look for a cheaper price.  It's sort of settling, but at least it's the real deal!

I have the same lamp as in this photo. Now I just need a framed piece of wallpaper!

Then I thought, you could wallpaper the smallest room in the house. The powder room! 
On second thought, someone might splash water on the wallpaper... and it'd be ruined!
On third thought, why should the powder room have the most expensive wall covering?

Then I found this... a chinoiserie mosaic that looks like wallpaper. No idea how much it costs! Probably the same amount as the wallpaper... but at least water won't ruin it!

Or you could splish splash in the tub and get new wallpaper when you grew tired of it.

from de Gournay
That should do it today.  Are you inspired? Time to wipe that drool off the desk now!  

Did you like this post? Check out my other post about Chinoiserie - How to Add Chinoiserie Decor to your Home

See my other Chinoiserie inspired posts:

You can also follow me by clicking on these: bloglovin, instagramtumblrtwitterpinterest, and google plus

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Macarons: Martha Stewart and 'lette macaron review

Macarons... Part Deux. 

A Martha Stewart macarons magazine and " 'lette macaron" shop review!

My new issue of Martha Stewart arrived today, and to my delight macarons were featured on the cover!  Macarons are one of my favorite things, I wrote a whole post about macarons which you can see here.

First, Martha Stewart Magazine March 2014 issue:
Eye candy! 
Add caption
Of course, in Martha Stewart style, she makes her macarons from scratch. I mean, you blanch your own almonds and then grind them yourself.  I prefer to buy almond flour instead of make my own!  Macaron making is already difficult enough!

Below, she has suggestions for flavors and fillings.  She has (clockwise, from top left) chocolate hazelnut filling, espresso, rose raspberry, vanilla bean, and mint chocolate.
the different flavors
For the recipe, I recommend this recipe she has on her website, as you don't have to make your own almond flour. 

After seeing this beautiful cover, it reminded me that I meant to write a review of 'lette macarons.

'lette macarons... a review. 

'lette macarons is a macaron shop located in Southern California. They have several locations, the original in Beverly Hills.  They have another at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, one in Glendale, Larchmont Village, and Pasadena. 

official picture
I visited the shop at Fashion Island.  When you walk in your a greeted with a whole counter of macarons.  The store is cool... macarons will melt if it's too hot!
fuzzy cell phone picture! 
 They have 12 flavors everyday with 3 seasonal flavors.  They of course box them up in cute boxes. For macaron cookies, presentation is half the joy!

left to right: earl grey, violet cassis, rose, pistachio, sweet wedding almond, raspberry
 The flavors I have tried:

  • Salted caramel:  Delicious. Definitely try this one! 
  • Lemon: Wish it tasted more lemony.
  • Sicilian pistachio: Good, wish there were bigger pistachio chunks in the filling, but that's just my preference!
  • Earl Grey Tea: It was interesting.  It tasted like... Earl Grey.  It would be a good breakfast cookie!
  • Violet Cassis: the purple one, it was really really good. I had no idea what "violet cassis" would taste like, and I can't really describe it.  It is worth trying!
  • Rose: didn't really have much flavor. just tasted like a plain macaron to me.
  • Raspberry: Of course, raspberry macarons are delicious. Never had a bad one!
  • Sweet Wedding Almond: well, I love marzipan. And I love macarons. This was like a marzipan macaron. My favorite, but probably not for everyone. If you don't like marzipan, skip this one.

Other flavors I have not tried: Caribbean chocolate, coconut, coffee, vanilla, passion fruit.
ok, so I ate two in the car.
 And here's a picture from a different trip!

The salted caramel. It is DELICIOUS. My favorite one.

When you walk into the shop, they always have a macaron tower.  You can purchase a tower for a party.  I would... if I was going to host a party!

Or you could always get a huge pretty box!

 If you go, I would go in the morning. As the day goes along and they warm up, they don't taste as good. Like most French desserts, they are fickle!

Thanks for stopping by.  If you're in LA, check out 'lette if you're too lazy to make your own!

I've linked up with The Scoop!, Tablescape ThursdayWow us Wednesdays!Open House Party Feathered Nest FridaSeasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been,  life of the party the style sistersFavorite Things Blog Hop, and What's it Wednesdays. Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Best German Pretzel Bite Recipe!

I had been craving a good fresh pretzel for a while.  After a bit of time, I finally have an excellent authentic German pretzel recipe to share!  I made pretzel bites with it as it is a little easier, but the same recipe will do for pretzels too!

Here's the recipe: (or get the printable version here)

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 packet active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 quarts water for bath


1. Add yeast to warm water.  Let it settle for about 5 minutes.  Then add the sugar and salt to the yeast and mix in.
2. Add the yeast, sugar, and salt mixture to the flour. Mix together. I used the dough hook on my kitchenaid and mixed for about 5 minutes on speed #2.  Let dough rest for 30 minutes.
3. Cut dough into about 5-6 equal parts. Roll out on a clean surface.  Don't need to flour the surface, the dough shouldn't stick.  Roll the dough in a line until it is about 1 inch in diameter.  Cut 1.5-2 inch pieces and place on a lined baking sheet.
4. Place the baking sheet uncovered in the fridge for approx. 1 hour. This is key. This helps build a skin making it have that nice crust.
5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Bring 2 quarts of water to boil. SLOWLY add in baking soda into the boiling water little bits at a time. *caution* this creates quite a bubbly reaction for a few seconds so stand back and don't get burned!  It will eventually simmer down after a few seconds.  Then add more.  You have been warned!
7. Add the pieces of dough into the soda bath.  Let it sit for about 10-20 seconds and then remove. I used a pasta server to remove it and found it to be the perfect tool.
8. Sprinkle with coarse salt (I like mine unsalted, so I didn't).  Bake the pretzels for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.  Move to a cooling rack. Grab some honey mustard, nacho cheese, or a slice of cheese and enjoy!

Pictures of the process:

the pieces freshly out of their soda bath!
 Look how nice and brown they turned out... too hot to eat!
nice and done!
Now grab some honey mustard and enjoy!  My Bavarian figure loves to eat pretzels!

Now for some tips, tricks, and other info regarding German pretzels.
  • The traditional German recipe calls for a bath made of lye (yes, lye!!).  The baking soda is a safer alternative.  It tastes *almost* as good.  I'm not willing to go playing around with lye just to make my own pretzel.  Go figure, the real German pretzel is dangerous to make. 
  • Letting the dough rest in the fridge allows a nice skin to form which is key.
  • You can use this recipe to make pretzel shapes. Just row out about 20 inches of dough and then fold.
  • Some recipes call for an egg wash prior to baking.  I tested the pretzel bites with and without an egg wash.  I honestly couldn't tell a difference in appearance or in taste.  Obviously not needed! 

I've linked up with The Scoop!, Tablescape ThursdayWow us Wednesdays!Open House Party Feathered Nest FridaSeasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been,  life of the party the style sisters, Favorite Things Blog Hop, and What's it Wednesdays. Be sure to check out all of these fabulous blogging parties! A big thank you to all of the wonderful hosts!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Celebrate Valentine's with Staffordshire Swans!

Swans are often associated with Valentine's day.  I thought it would be a perfect time to share with you my antique Staffordshire swan collection!

Staffordshire was made by several different companies in the 1800s.  To read more about Staffordshire and see my cat collection, click here.

I found my first pair on eBay a year ago.  It's a pair of inkwells. These are my favorite!  I love the pale pink on them. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

San Francisco French Pastry Shop: Craftsman and Wolves

About 1-2 weeks ago my husband and I were watching a show on tv called "Unique Sweets" .  They had a whole episode dedicated to chocolate shops in San Francisco.

As we sat there drooling, we decided we could go check it out! Here's the report:

The shop is called "Craftsman and Wolves".

picture from official website
They have a whole bunch of goodies in the cabinet.  The far right contains the baked pastries.  The left is the refrigerated cakes.

We chose several items.

#1. The Chocolate, Caramel, and Vietnamese Cinnamon Cube Cake.

This was what was featured on the show. And rightly so! It is divine! The outside is actually spray-painted with chocolate, that's why it looks so perfect!

A look at the inside of this cube cake... it is a nice fluffy chocolate on the outside.  The middle has a layer with cinnamon.  And the bottom is this yummy crunchy caramel crust.  My only complaint is that the crust isn't big enough! It needed to go all the way to the outside. 

#2. Next up, the Caramelized Hazelnut Financier.  It was GOOD.  I mean, you could eat like 5 of these.

If you don't know, a "Financier" is a type of "Petit Gâteau".  It is a type of little French cake and it is made with almond flour.  It isn't quite as sweet as the traditional American cake.  It is most similar to the pound cake.

Here's how you say "financier": fy-nan-see-eh
Here's how you say "petit gâteau": puh-teet gah-toe

Hazelnut Financier
 #3. Hot salted sipping caramel with buttery croissant bites.

Wow. This was seriously delicious.  It's like a hot chocolate, but hot... caramel. I've never had one before.  It was just... good. It was a small espresso shot size, not too overpowering with sweetness.

Okay. Well there ya go.  Now I just need to figure out how to make my own hot sipping caramel. 
Or... I could just go visit the bakery again.

My one and only complaint: parking is nearly impossible to find.  If you can walk, bike, or take a bus to the Mission District in SF, it's probably a lot easier!

Now visit Craftsman and Wolves Instagram and look at some of their pretty pictures!

 I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog, Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch',Wow us Wednesdays!at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here, Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage,Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and life of the party at the grant life, and the style sisters, and Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pretty Valentine's Day Tablescape

One of the things I love about Valentine's Day is the use of the color pink.  Pink is one of my favorite colors to wear so I am happy to see it widely used!

I made this pretty Valentine's day tablescape.  I would have set it up for a table for two for my husband and I... but it looked so silly with only two place settings on such a big table I set it up for four just for looks.

A look during the daytime.  I used some vintage Valentine's Day printouts I found online.  The heart cups my mother-in-law gave us at our rehearsal dinner!