27 January 2010

Barn House Marketplace

My sweet friends Joe and Jermonne, of Barn House fame, are opening an online store, BH Marketplace!!!! Not only do they have an incredible style that has generated a huge following, they are the nicest people ever!!!! They have been recently featured in Somerset Life magazine and will soon be featured in the newest Flea Market Style magazine. Wait until you see the treasures they will be sharing.... This is a wonderful opportunity for those who live far to have a little taste of Barn House life!!! Visit their blog to see some sneak peeks of what you will find tonight at midnight (pacific time) when the online store officially opens!!! I am so excited for them and I know they will continue to enjoy a tremendous success!!!

Portuguese fish stew

This recipe did not come from a cookbook, it is, rather, my interpretation of a classic portuguese dish... Fish is truly king in Portugal, and if there was one thing I wanted to do when I started a family was to make sure my kids loved fish as much as I do!! This recipe is one of our family favorites and can be made in less than 30 minutes! I cook it in a portuguese cataplana, but you can use a regular pot.

Portuguese Fish Stew

1 1/2 lbs fish (we love it with red snapper or mahi mahi), cubed, or seafood (shrimp, scallops or lobster)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 cups cubed potatoes
1 large green pepper, cubed
1 can diced tomatoes
fresh cilantro, chopped (or parsley if you prefer)
olive oil
fish bouillon (I use Knorr)
optional: fresh bread

Sautee the onions, garlic and green peppers in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil for about 3-4 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes and bouillon and cook for another minute of two. Add the cubed potatoes to the pot and enough water to cover them. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, then add the fish or seafood and cook for another 5 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are cooked, test for salt and pepper and add the fresh cilantro. The best part? Dipping fresh bread into the sauce... Yum!

23 January 2010

Gum Drop Pillow

From the first moment I saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to try it... The gum drop pillows designed by Amy Butler remind me of the Moroccan poufs I have always been so fond of, ever since we lived in Rabat. I finally bought the pattern, and started cutting fabric last night. It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought and I had a pillow in less than 3 hours!

I'm already gathering fabrics for my next one! Can't wait to get started...!!

15 January 2010

No means I love you....

We've had a lot of stumping up the stairs lately.... The culprit? My temperamental 6 year old son. He has a really hard time accepting the word no. Unfortunately, he gets to hear it quite often...

"No, you can't have ice-cream before bedtime..."
"No, I don't think it's a good idea to sled down the stairs head first..."
"No, you can't use that sharp knive to cut the apple..."
"No, you are not to use the ceiling fan blades in your bedroom (he has a bunk bed, therefore the reach...) to dry your underwear..."
"No, you cannot attach the wagon to your bycicle with scotch tape..."
"No, you cannot jump on top of mommy's car..."
"No, I don't think that umbrella will make a good parachute..."

You get the picture! Everytime he hears the word no, he gives me the dirtiest look, holds his breath until his face is red, and stomps up the stairs. So, it was no surprise to me when, one day, he came back downstairs to deliver me a note:

May I draw your attention to the little face on the top right side of the paper... What a stinker!!!

One day, my son told me I could not enter the kitchen, as he was making something for me. To my surprise, he presented me with this bigger-than-life creation... I was elated and touched! How sweet was that!!! I made plans to proudly display it in the refrigerator...

What a wonderful sweet-hearted child of mine... Until the next time I said no! He grabbed this wonderful piece of art, which had warmed his mother's heart, made sure our eyes were locked, then proceded to tear it into little pieces....

12 January 2010

At the foot of my bed...

A couple of years ago I found this darling pink tufted bench at Goodwill for a song... It sat in my booth for a while and, since it remained unsold, I brought it home. At the time I did not know where to put it, as the girls rooms were already full and I had my Great-Aunt's trunk at the end of my bed. Eventually, I moved the trunk somewhere else and placed the bench in front of the footboard ~ I find myself doing than constantly... Moving things from one place to the other, until another "brilliant" idea comes along and things get shuffled again!! ~.

The pink color was just a tad bit deeper than I wanted in my bedroom (where the colors are more muted), so I covered it with a vintage light peach knotted quilt. I then used a darling old victorian crib skirt I bought at an antique show and surrounded the bench (I used a few safety pins to make sure it holds in place). The skirt features a pink lining and this very sheer tan dotted swiss fabric.

I am in the process of sewing a pillow for the bench, but until then I am using a barkcloth covered feather pillow that I made for my porch swing. I found a body-sized feather pillow at Goodwill ( thrift stores are great places to find feather pillows at inexpensive prices!) for a mere few dollars, and used a darling panel of pink Glencourt barkcloth to make a sweet and comfy pillow!

I do love how it all turned out!!! Until I get the next "itch" to start moving things around again...

In fact, just as I was closing this post, I remembered this adorable barkcloth covered trunk I bought at Tarte... It resides in my great room with all the blankets, but I bet it would look sweet right in front of my bed... Honey, come home soon, this trunk is heavy and I need some help carrying it upstairs!

09 January 2010

I bought it for ME!

I don't normally shop for myself. Many times, I carry that mother's guilt, you know, "the kids need it more than I do"... If I do decide to look for myself, I always go straight to the clearance rack... But then it comes the time when I tell myself "heck, I deserve something pretty"!! So, when I saw these Sperry rain boots I knew I had to have them!! I am absolutely in love with them, the top portion is a quilted wool with a cool buckle! And the best part is that I did not have to feel much guilt... The boots, which retail for $120, were found at the Stride Rite outlet store for a mere $20!!!

I also found this adorable hat on Etsy and instantly fell in love... How adorable is it?!! It is made by Bkm Hattitude and I can't wait to get out and about wearing it!

Once in a while, it feels good to pamper yourself!

07 January 2010

Pão de ló

When I was a child, I remember spending a lot of time with my mom in the kitchen. I would watch her closely, absolutely fascinated by how she could combine different ingredients to make the yummiest of meals! I was my mom's helper, no one else ever wanted to help and for me, it came naturally. Day after day, I would ask what she needed, and found myself peeling potatoes, stirring the béchamel or pouring a thin string of olive oil for the mayonnaise. I treasured those moments and acquired an everlasting love for cooking (even though still to this day anything I try to replicate still never tastes like my mom's...!).

Baking was by far my favorite thing to do (maybe because I am such a sweet tooth!!), so my mom taught me how to make the simplest of cakes: pão de ló. A staple in Portuguese culinary, with as many varieties as there are regions in Portugal, the simplified version of this sweet cake only requires four eggs, same weight in sugar, same weight in flour and a tablespoon of baking powder. When my mom finally let me make this cake all by myself from scratch, I felt a tremendous sense of pride and I knew my love for cooking would last a lifetime!


4 large eggs
same weight in sugar (about 1 cup)
same weight in flour (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon baking powder

Separate egg yolks from whites. Beat yolks with sugar until creamy in consistency and color. Add flour and baking powder. Beat egg whites until they peak, then gently fold into the mixture (add a little bit first, as the mixture might be thick, then add the rest). Cook in greased bundt pan at 350 F for about 25 minutes. Enjoy!

P.S. I have struggled for a long time with the fact that my computer keyboard does not allow me to write accented letters... In case you haven't noticed, the Portuguese language is heavily accented!! After searching online, I found a table for Alt Key codes, and it has been a blessing!!! I am sure there is an easier (and faster) way to do it, but until then, I am sticking to this! Just press the alt key and the corresponding number on the table, and you get an accented letter!! You can find it here.
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