Icebox Pickles

I have a weakness for all varieties of pickles, especially the sour ones you can buy out of old-fashioned barrels. Pickles are a summer essential and pair perfectly with deli sandwiches and picnic food straight from the grill. At the beginning of August my mum always makes up a huge batch of bread and butter pickles and cans them. While these pickles are incredible, it takes until at least Thanksgiving for them to be ready to eat. This past weekend I decided to make a batch of icebox pickles. Instead of three months for the flavors to marry it only takes 48 hours for pickled perfection. The key to amazing pickles: use pickling cucumbers and a mandolin for an even cut.

Icebox Pickles
• 2.5 pounds pickling cucumbers (4-6 inches)
• 1/4 cup kosher salt
• ice
• 3 medium onions (or one large), thinly sliced
• 1.5 cups vinegar
• 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
• 1/2 tablespoon whole mustard seed
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon ground clove
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1. Slice cucumbers into thin (even) slices and place in a large bowl. Toss cucumbers with kosher salt and completely cover with ice; set aside for 2 hours.
2. Pour cucumber, ice and salt mixture into a colander and rinse thoroughly to remove the salt.
3. Add vinegar and sugar to a large pot and bring to a boil; stirring continuously to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat and stir in mustard seed, cinnamon, turmeric, ground clove, nutmeg and celery seed.
4. Place cucumbers and onions into the pot and bring to a boil, as soon you see a small bubble remove from the heat.
5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cucumbers and onions evenly into clean jars of your choice. Spoon the mixture from the pot into the jars. Allow to cool before you cover and refrigerate.

Note: These pickles take 48 to get their flavor. The longer they sit in the refrigerator the better the flavor will be. Pickles must stay refrigerated and will last 6-8 months.

Color Report: Fall 2012

Autumn is my favorite time of the year the scenery creates such a rich color palette featuring; burnt orange, deep red and mocha shades. I have had months to come to terms with Pantone’s Fall 2012 color palette and I just can’t. These colors express a very loud 60’s vibe with limited colors that I would even correlate with fall. Nonetheless these are the colors that will be gracing clothing racks in every major department store. What do you think about these colors for fall?

Five Things: Opening Ceremony Fashion

 {2012 London: classic and clean all American look}
Olympic opening ceremonies are always filled with remarkable performances, moments that leave you in awe and of course fashion. Today athletes from all around the world will strut their stuff down the catwalk that is London’s Olympic Stadium. Here is a look back at United States opening ceremony style. What do you think of some of the past outfits? Despite controversy of the outfits made in China, Ralph Lauren has done a wonderful job of giving the United States a crisp, clean and refined preppy look.
 {2008 Beijing: patriotic prep}
 {2004 Athens: laid back casual look}
{2000 Sydney: channeling their inner Aussie }
{1996 Atlanta: outback look}

DIY: Lemon Sugar Scrub

Having beautifully healthy glowing skin is something that I always strive for. That is why no matter what season it is I find myself using a sugar scrub. Here is an easy recipe for a sugar scrub that you can make with ingredients in your kitchen.

What you will need
• 1 cup sugar
• ¼-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 5 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed  or bottled)
• lemon zest
• container with lid

Combine the sugar, olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Add in the lemon zest and mix thoroughly.  Spoon into your container and scrub away.

Fall's Must-Have Collection: Designer

I am definitely not ready to switch into chilly weather mode, but Zoya’s release of their fall collection is as gorgeous as polish gets. There are two collections with six polishes each; Designer (cream polish) and Diva (metallic polish) both collections are inspired by the runway –New York Fashion Week 2012 to be exact.  The Designer part of the collection is my absolute favorite, and it will even make you feel like you belong on the runaway (for a moment anyway) since it includes two designers’ custom colors. You can bet all six of these colors will be spending equal time on my fingers. What do you think of this collection/ what is your favorite color?
Monica is a gorgeous vampy cool-toned mulberry purple.  
Evvie is a smokey evergreen custom made for Peter Som to complement the jewel toned and off-white colors of his collection.

Natty is a dusty navy blue.
Rekha is a classic cool-toned bright red. It is a bit transparent, but would be a great polish for layering. It was also a custom color created for Bibhu Mohapatra's runway show.
Toni is a dusty maroon hue, and it is clear that the perfect combination of red and blue was used to make this color.
Noot is a murky charcoal green with a touch of gray. Inside this color didn't do much for me, but outside it quickly became a must have.

Light Summer Drink

I’ve always liked drinking my water with a slice of lemon. The lemon adds a simple touch of flavor. During the summer months I love to infuse my water with fresh fruit, cucumbers and herbs. One of my favorite combinations is lemon, strawberries and rosemary. If you want to make a pitcher of flavored water all you have to do is slice up some fresh fruit, cucumbers or herbs of any combination, and place them in a pitcher with ice and cold water and chill for several hours. I usually make mine the night before or in the morning for the afternoon. The water will pick up a light flavor and be the perfect addition to a hot summers day.

 {layer of ice}
 {strawberries and a slice of lemon}
 {another layer of ice}
 {strawberries, two slices of lemon and two sprigs of fresh rosemary}
{add water and refrigerate}

Coffee Table Basics

Coffee tables are the centerpieces of most homes, and what you have on your table says a lot about who you are and what inspires you. Mastering the art of creating a perfectly personalized tablescape may seem intimidating, but here are a few tips I have learned along the way. 

• Ambience is everything; so always have a few of your favorite candles out.
• Keep things organized.
• Add a few of your favorite books
• Let your personality show; add a few decorative pieces.

Here is what is currently on my coffee table.
• French Quarter Candles in ‘Garden District’. After a trip to New Orleans earlier in the year I fell in  love with these candles.
• An antique pineapple candle snuffer my grandma brought me back from the south.
• Bouquet of peonies. I love the addition of fresh flowers to my house.
• Apothecary jar of Holland mints. When I would go visit my great grandmother I always remember her having Holland mints on her coffee table. When I had my own place they easily became one of my favorite accessories to add to my own table.
• Hand painted ceramic angel bought at a craft show.
• Fashion, entertaining and hospitality books can be found on my table. When I am feeling uninspired, I love to flip through the pages.

Five Things

 {backyard buddy}
Ball games are a quintessential American summer activity, and I try to go to as many games as I can pack in each summer. Even when the temperatures are in the high 90’s there is nothing like a day at Comerica Park watching my boys knock it out of the stadium.  The rest of my week was spent inside with the AC cranking, and it looks like the weekend will follow the same theme. Here are a few things that have kept me inspired during this heat wave.

 {an old wagon wheel at the orchard}
 {trips to comerica park for tiger baseball}
{freeze berries in ice; to get the ice extra clear, use boiled water}
{perfect hostess gift to bring to someone on the water: freeze pops in a sand pail}

Make a Statement

In elementary school I remember learning about ancient Egyptian culture, and that is when I first fell in love with statement jewelry. The Egyptians had such lavish and beautiful pieces. Now statement jewelry combines elements from previous decades and a variety of cultures. Ultimately giving us all the glitz and glam that we love, here are some of my favorite statement pieces.

11 Ways to Beat the Heat

We are already half way through July and the temperatures are holding steady in the high 90’s. As a result it is making it miserable to spend time outside. Here are 11 ideas for beating the summers heat. 
1. Make a batch of homemade ice cream (old fashioned vanilla)
2. Create new candles from left over wax of candles you have burned.
3. Spend sometime in front of the mirror creating different hairstyles (fishtail braid, ballerina bun).
4. Create your own summer signature cocktail.
5. Play classic backyard games (croquet, bocce, badminton) in the backyard at sundown.
6. Buy some watercolor paints and have some fun! Paint cards for friends and family or create a unique art piece you can frame for your house.
7. Create an indoor herb garden.
8. Crank up the AC, and try out a new cookie recipe (banana split cookies).
9. Rearrange a room in your house to create a new vibe.
10. Make a small basket with napkins, candies, a drink in a nostalgic bottle and popcorn for an impromptu movie marathon (with girlfriends or alone).
11. Give yourself a DIY mani/pedi with a fun design (sunset manicure).

How to: Sunset Manicure

Sunsets are the prettiest in the northern part of Michigan. Particularly when they are over a lake, and it is definitely a bonus if it is over one of the Great Lakes. On a recent trip up north I was sitting on the beach near the Mackinac Bridge. The sunset that night was a stunning display of tangerine, peach and orange. After taking multiple pictures that just did not do the sky justice I decided to recreate the serene setting on my nails.
 {manicure inspiration: sunset under the Mackinac Bridge}
 {left to right: OPI 'Come to Poppy', Jessica Cosmetics 'Tangerine Dreamz', 
Orly 'Cotton Candy', OPI 'Are We There Yet?', Jessica Cosmetics 'Love Story'}
 {drop a dot of each nail polish color onto a wedge cosmetic applicator}
 {dab the cosmetic wedge onto your nail}
 {continue to use the same sponge and reapply colors for each nail}

Sweet Peach Pie

There is nothing like a midweek trip out to the country. Where dirt roads are accompanied by roadside fruit and vegetable stands, and the farms are plentiful for pick your own fruit. As soon as I pulled into the farm the aroma of fresh peaches filled the air. After spending multiple hours picking the prettiest peaches I decided the best way to use some of them was in my great grandmother’s sweet peach pie. Resulting in the perfect combination of sweet and tart.  

Sweet Peach Pie
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup sugar
• 5 tablespoons cornstarch
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup butter
• 7 peaches, peeled and sliced
• 9 inch pre-cooked pie shell (homemade or store bought)

In a medium saucepan combine water, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt, whisk until combined. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick (hard to stir). Remove from the heat and add the butter, stir until melted and combined. Add peaches and gently fold to coat. Pour into your precooked pie shell. Refrigerate until set, about five hours. Top with whipped cream and serve.