Saturday, May 13, 2006

Design-it-Yourself Trend Shifts the Decorating Power Balance

Great article in the NY Times' Home and Garden section discussing how America's demand for DIY is forcing formerly to-the-trade businesses to sell directly to the public.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Brief Baking Tip

I am spending the weekend baking cookies for an office party. I'm starting to feel a little like Donna Reed, but I have to say that if you have tried to bake cookies and they are spreading out too thinly and coming out too crisp, your oven is probably too hot. I finally had to put a candy thermometer in to check my oven's real temperature and found my old stove was running 10 degrees too hot. I turned it down to compensate and got my first batch of perfectly fluffy chocolate chip cookies.

Make this as an Excuse to Buy These

On the off chance you need an excuse to buy these adorable red creme brulee dishes ($1.95 each on sale at, make this:

Chocolate Mink:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus additional for greasing bowls

3.5 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 large egg, separated

1 tablespoon sugar

Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350 F. Butter Bowls.

Melt chocolate and butter in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and cool, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk and a pinch of salt until combined.

Beat egg white in a bowl with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar, beating until white just holds stiff, glossy peaks.

Whisk about 1/4 of white into chocolate mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining white gently, but thoroughly.

Divide batter between bowls. Cover each bowl with a small square of foil and crimp foil lightly around rim. Put bowls in a baking dish, then add enough water to reach half way up the sides of the bowls, making sure that the foil is above the water. Bake until puddings are just set, about 30 minutes. Puddings will be gooey to the touch.

Transfer bowls to a rack and cool puddings uncovered for an hour.

Just before serving, unmold and top with vanilla or coffee ice cream.

V2 3D-Wallpaper

Make your own wall art out of 100% post and pre-consumer waste paper. The 12"x12" tiles are 2.25" in height and come in brown, white, green, and orange.
$28 for 12 tiles at

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Design on a Budget

Picked up from

DESIGN ON A BUDGET: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary presents "Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset," a traveling exhibit that shows that good design is possible within the tight budgets of low-cost housing. An opening reception, including light food, will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the MAC, 3120 McKinney. Free. 214-953-1212,

Art Craving?

There's nothing more satisfying than the democratization of art and design, especially when it comes out of a formerly nic-fit inducing bad-boy like the machine above. refurbishes old cigarette vending machines to sell tiny packages of original artwork for a couple of bucks each. The closest Artomat to Dallas is at the Mercury Design Studio in Austin. I haven't had the chance to pop in, but it's on my agenda the next time I'm headed that way (hopefully soon).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Perch Container

A hunt for this back-ordered Perch container led me to the Perch Store on Velocity Art and Design's site. Their pieces are simple, white decorative elements that will be the center of conversation. Bonus: impressively low prices.

A few of my favorites:

Plant Orb, $96

Pupa, $30

Early Bird Light, $180

Monday, May 08, 2006

Almost Summer Spring Cleaning

Dallas has been lucky enough to see several days of rain over the last few weeks. We certainly don't want to complain about giving our sprinklers a break, but all that being cooped up indoors has brought to attention all of the nooks and crannies we've been neglecting while we spent the winter holed up with our Netflix subscriptions.

The idea of spring cleaning can seem like a level of hell reserved for obsessive compulsives and Martha Stewart, but if you start with a game-plan you can make fast work of the whole house. The first task is to stock up on cleaning supplies. If you don't have a plastic bucket, you might want to pick one up so that you can keep all of your supplies in one handy carry-around tote.

Cleaning Bucket Supply List:
1) All purpose cleaner
2) Glass cleaner
3) Furniture polish
4) Bleach spray
5) Bleach wipes
6) Micro-fiber cleaning cloths (these are reusable)
7) Paper towels

Other Equipment:
1) Mop with disposable wet cloths (such as Swiffer)
2) Dust mop (for hardwoods)
3) Hard-bristled scrub brush with handle
4) Reusable toilet brush with flushable cleaning pads
5) Vacuum
6) Hand Vac (I recommend Shark)

Next, make a list of the rooms you want to tackle and itemize what needs to be cleaned. Take any rugs and curtains out to the yard to shake them. This will probably result in dust being blown all over you, so don't wear your Sunday best. Curtains can be hard to wash, so have them dry-cleaned or pop them in the dryer with a home dry-cleaning cloth.

Pull your furniture away from the walls in each room(be sure to put towels under the feet to prevent scratches if you have hardwood floors) and dust mop or vacuum the floors. While the furniture is pulled out, wipe the baseboards clean (this may require a damp cloth). If you have paneled doors, give them a good dusting too, as stuff tends to collect in the recesses. Run a clean microfiber dust cloth over your walls and anything hanging on them, as well as your light fixtures and fans.

If you have house plants, take them outside and give them a gentle spray with the hose. Leaves and pots get dusty over the winter. For broad-leafed plants, you may want to run a damp paper towel over each leaf. It's a pain, but the plant will look so much better with out the spider webs and dust bunnies. This works on blinds too.

In the kitchens and bathrooms, use all-purpose cleaner or glass cleaner to remove dusty residue from any accessories or picture frames. These rooms tend to build up layers of grime due to all the moisture. Vacuuming the floor before mopping will prevent the dust from being pushed around the room. For tight spaces in the bathroom, use the hand-vac. Give the sinks and tubs a scrubbing with a handled scrub brush and bleach spray and give the toilets the once-over as well. Use bleach wipes to clean the counters and faucets.

If you are feeling really adventurous, go through your cabinets and make-up drawers and throw out anything you don't use. Plastic baskets are a great way to reorganize in bathrooms and pantries and are easy to maintain. You can group things you use together into the same basket, like your hairdryer, brushes, and hair products, or various kinds of pasta. When you need things, just pull down the basket. When you are done, shove everything back in the basket and into the cabinet.

In the bedroom, turn your mattress if necessary. If you have a bedskirt, pull it off and have it dry cleaned along with you comforter. For dusty cloth lamp shades, use a lint roller to clean them off. Use plastic containers to store winter clothes and bed linens.

Lastly, clean your windows inside and out, relax, and enjoy.

Bento Box

Great for a picnic once the monsoon season passes. $36 at Plastica.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Can't Get Enough...

...delicate, sculptural clear-glass accessories. These are fundamentally simple, yet somehow slightly prissy.

Montebello Jars, $39.95-$44.95 at Z Gallerie

Lumiere Candleholders, $3.95-$4.95 at, on back order (sniff)

Juliska Taper Candlesticks, $115 - $188 at

Pre-made Modern

Lately, I was surprised to discover that some beautiful modernist homes that have been popping up on TV and magazines are prefabricated. For years, when I thought prefab the picture was more trailer park than Highland Park, but several companies are now using efficient construction methods to create affordable modern designs. For more information on this trend and a list of companies offering modern kit-homes, check out fabprefab.

West Elm Coming to Dallas

I've ordered more than a few pieces from West Elm, and lusted after more than a few more. I was thrilled this week to read on the D Home Blog that West Elm will be coming to Dallas soon. They will be taking over the Virgin Megastore spot at Mockingbird Station. Launched in 2002 by Williams-Sonoma, Inc, West Elm specializes in stylish, high-quality modern furnishings at very pleasant prices.