Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Design Files

On this episode of Design Files, I want to talk about a room that highlights one of my favorite things: kilims.
Luckily for me, this season kilims seem to be everyone's favorite thing so I have a plethora of drool-worthy photos to swoon over.  But let's start with this one.

So first of all, as a renter, I was drawn to the fact that this room, though bursting with color, has renter's white walls.  The white sofa, well I'm less into that.  But only because everything I eat manages to hit fabric surfaces before entering my mouth, but perhaps one day I will master the art of eating and can buy white upholstery.
But back to the kilim.  As many of you know, I have a penchant for traditional textiles.  From a $400 shipping bill in Tanzania and a very laborious and overstuffed flight home from Mexico, I am that idiot who buys way too much and then thinks about how they are going to get it back to the other side of the earth.   
Well, let me let you in on a little secret; so yeah, that painful plane trip or DHL bill blows at the time, but for the rest of your life, those textiles are going to make you really really happy.  So buy the damn [kilim, weaving, tapestry, blanket, sweater, khanga, etc ad nauseam] (except I could never throw up over fabrics).  By the way, the most hilarious story I have involves a hand-punched tin picture frame which I wore around my neck entering a Delta flight to avoid the snarky stewardesses and their excessive baggage fees.  Swear to god, that happened.  Like I said, I'm that guy.
OK now seriously, back to the kilim.  I imagine this is from Turkey, though I have been wrong before.  The colors here are beautiful; I am really into hot pink in living rooms right now.  I am holding back because I have design ADD and hot pink is a tough one to come back from when you get tired of it.
  Regardless, here the colors in the rug pick up on the coffee table books and the beautiful framed art on the back right.  Speaking of which, I am very impressed with their pseudo-gallery wall here.  I have decided that the many many pieces I have to be hung are going to wait around another month until I switch apartments.  But I am struggling with how to make divergent pieces with non-matching frames look this put-together.  I will prevail in this difficult situation, but it will take some work.  I have a month to work it out.
Two understated heroes in this room are that kickass floor lamp and the cool, industrial coffee table.  I'm going to do some hunting on that lamp and I'll let you know what I come up with (maybe it's just photo equipment (Jayme?)).  But I'll get back to you on that.  And I know this sounds horrible, but those coffee tables have been a thing for a few years now and you can definitely go and pick one up at your local flea market pretty easily.  Well maybe not your local flea market, but head to Brimfield in July or September and you'll definitely find at least 100.  Doesn't make it any less awesome, I'm just sayin'.
So not my most articulate post, but to sum up: kilims rule, white walls can work, good design makes me (and you) happy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

To be continued...

Phew, this has been a crazy week!  (Hence the lack of updates here, sorry!)  I have some really exciting (possible) opportunities coming up and I have some great friends back in NYC so this one will be a short one for now.  Hopefully next week will be a little less cryptic and filled with many more posts!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Sunday everyone!  And Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there!  I hope you all got breakfast in bed or flowers or chocolates or hugs or phone calls from all of your far away kids.  Reminder: all kids, take note and choose one of the above ASAP.

My own Mom is at home in Florida right now and I am in Brooklyn so no in-person Mom's Day love this year but I was lucky to spend a beautiful weekend in Sarasota last month where we did all of our favorite things: consignment shops, salvage yards, pool time and more consignment shops.  Seriously.  I was there for a grand total of 36 hours and I think we probably hit up at least 10 consignment shops.  I owe my love of design to my Mom and the countless hours spent in front of HGTV.  I don't think I will ever forget that during my middle school years Trading Spaces was on at 4 PM on channel 32.  But like all moms, my Mom also gave me nuggets of wisdom, some sillier, some that can't be shared here, but one that I will leave you with today.  Probably the best piece of advice she has ever given me, one that I will remember forever and that I will share with my own kids. 

Outside of one of our other favorite shopping spots, Ocean State Job Lot (what up Aunt Diane!), a homeless man was asking for money.  Being the typical snot-nosed teenager that I was at the time, after my Mom had given him a few bucks and we had moved out of earshot, I so stupidly said something to the effect of, "Ew he was gross, why would you do that?"  As we walked into the store, my Mom replied, "Emily, everyone was once somebody's baby. Imagine a mother holding her newborn baby in her arms and all of the dreams and wishes she had for them.  That man was once somebody's baby and they had incredible dreams for him."  Since then, I have learned that you can never really count someone out and there is almost always an opportunity to turn your life around.  But that day I learned to look at every person I came upon with the love and respect that their mother once, a very long time ago, felt towards them as they slept in her arms.  Maybe it sounds silly, and believe me when I come across a particularly difficult individual I have to work really hard to keep this story in the front of my mind, but it's something that I think we all would do well to remember.

Everyone was once somebody's baby.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there and particularly to mine!
Love you Mom!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Making Some Changes

So as you can see, the blog has a bit of a different look today.  

I am taking a small business start-up class and we are talking about branding and a holistic vision for our work.  While I'm still totally behind the idea of Egregiously Em, I don't think I want it defining me or my work as a whole (which I think I sort of knew from the beginning).  So let's just chalk that up to a working title and...moving on.

So, good.  Where did I get that?

Well, it's pretty multi-faceted really.  So "goods" tends to be a term used solely for describing things, products we consume.  That is a very real definition of the word and I am all for you reading into the title with this understanding.  But good is more than that.  It's a qualifier, an adjective thrown around far too often to the point that we have lost its meaning.  

I believe, perhaps naively, that we should not allow goods into our lives that don't look, feel or are...


That means no shitty stuff, no shitty people, no shitty anything.  That's not always possible, but it should definitely be a goal.  So let's look for the good.  I think you can find some here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Like Manna from Heaven...Lemon Squares

Let's start off this post with a little kudos to all fancy-schmancy bloggers out there.  I have a swanky camera and I am not absolutely inept when it comes to using it, and yet these photos look like a baby chimp got loose in someone's kitchen and decided to play Julia Child.  Forgive me.  Let's move on. 
So a few weeks ago (I'm falling behind here) I got real domestic and decided that I was going to attempt my all-time favorite dessert, the lemon square.  Like most people, I am very into eating all types of desserts, but my knowledge of preparing them doesn't really go beyond cakes and cookies.  Thus, the lemon square was a big departure for me.  And it was a delicious departure.
So here is my baby chimpanzee photographic journey through lemon square prep.  And just so we're clear beforehand, although they are delicious, you may never be able to eat a lemon square again once you see what's in 'em.
Ingredients (as described by the recipe):

1.5 sticks of butter
1 3/4 and 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon of salt plus a pinch
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest
2/3 cup of fresh lemon juice, strained
1/4 cup whole milk

Here's the issue I have with the above list, and what I am assuming all dessert recipes.  I ended up needing almost three full sticks of butter!  THREESTICKSOFBUTTER.  That's crazy!  Crazy good, but crazy.  And I'm pretty sure the person making the recipe knew this, because there is no way the flour mixture you make for the short bread can congeal with only 1.5 sticks, but I think their sneaky trick is to say less than you need so you won't get freaked out by the inevitable three sticks of butter that will soon be congealing itself right to your thighs...but I digress.
Alright, so first you take 2 teaspoons of that butter and rub it all over a wax-papered baking pan, like below.  You need to do some fancy wax-papering here, with one sheet running the length of the pan and two sheets running the width (make sure to butter in between the layers so they all stick together!).  You need both so that when you remove post-baking, your lemon squares stay relatively intact.

Alright so now that your pan is all set, grab a bowl and mix together the 1 3/4 cups of flour, the confectioners' sugar, the cornstarch and the salt.  Cut the rest of the butter into manageable chunks and get to kneading!  I added the remaining butter as directed by the recipe, but when the butter was all mashed up there was still plenty of flour mixture that was left so I kept adding tablespoons until I got it all.  Inevitably, the grand total came to three sticks of butter...but enough of that.

Once all of the mixture looks sort of doughy, sort of the consistency of play-dough, you are ready for your pan.  Transfer the dough to the pan and press into what will eventually be your delicious, fattening shortbread crust. 

Throw that badboy into the fridge for thirty minutes, start preheating your oven to 350 F and bring out the lemons!
Now you are going to combine the eggs, sugar, flour and lemon zest in a bowl and whisk away!  After it's smooth, throw in the lemon juice, milk and a pinch of salt. 

Once your oven is all set, bake the crust until it's golden brown (about 20 minutes) and then take it out to cool slightly.  Lower your oven to 325 F, re-stir the lemon mixture and then pour it onto your cooling crust.

Bake for another 20 minutes or so, and voila!  Beautiful, delicious (fatty) lemon squares!  But now the real trouble comes in.  How the hell do you get them out?


That wax paper bit only goes so far (I didn't want to tell you that earlier)... the consistency of lemon squares rules in your mouth, but perched precariously on buttered wax paper?  Not so much.  After what I consider to be nothing less than a feat of modern physics, I got the lemon squares out in one piece and onto a cooling rack. 
And the rest is a cake walk (get it, baking humor). 
Cut 'em into squares with a clean knife, sprinkle with some more confectioners' sugar and enjoy!  Really, I was pretty impressed with how awesome they were.  I thought the consistency would be much harder to get right, but they were bangin'.

And just to prove to you how really domestic I was feeling, while I was kicking ass with my baking adventure above, I was also making homemade pasta sauce my friend Dana blogged about a few days earlier, seen below.  That too turned out delicious so I was munching like a king for days.  Go check out her recipe here.

Alright everybody, I hope you all want to go out and attempt your own physics-defying,
body-enlarging baking triumphs now! 
Be sure to take some chimp photos and show me in the comments!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Design Files

Can we just talk about this for a minute?

So it's been a while since anyone has asked me my favorite color (why is that reserved only for elementary school by the way?), but I think it's an important question to consider.  More so than most people care to realize, color offers a great reflection on our mood; think more about short-term color choices (clothing).  But color also has more long-term effects; think more about the colors in spaces that surround us and how they alter our perception and interactions.  I got really into the idea of color therapy awhile back; the primary takeaway here is that the colors you surround yourself with have very real ramifications on your emotions, mood and general outlook.  Perhaps I feel a blog post series coming on? 

This would not be my kneejerk response if someone asked me my favorite color, but I am realizing that I consistently surround myself with purple: lilac, mauve, plum, doesn't matter the tone, if it's purple I'm usually down.  Speaking of which, can I surround myself with this room?
Wow, this is a thing of beauty!  I went on that rant about color because I think this space does a beautiful job of using a palette to enhance more than just the space, but also a mood.  Perhaps a "vibe" is a better way to say it, but that doesn't sound nearly as smart.  The tans throughout add the texture in the room, from the leather chairs to the luxurious, velvetly rug...seriously?  Too much buttery goodness.  I just want to walk around barefoot for days. 
But what I am really impressed with here are the walls.
A) They're round.  General rule of thumb: Round walls and round windows=awesome.
B) The finish!  At first I though that was wallpaper with the cool vertical lines, but I am relatively sure that this badboy was paint!  That's a lot of work to make that look this good with paint.  And yet another use of tan peeking through the purple striations?  I just can't. 

File this one away in the greatest rooms of all time.

Rollin' around in my Noggin

"If you want to go quickly, go by yourself -- if you want to go farther, go in a group."

-Doc Rivers