Friday, December 17, 2010

The Trend is Our Friend Friday

In our last trend poll, we voted we were more likely to incorporate the rope trend into our work than the paint by number/missing pieces trend.

Big Picture Trend 2011 - (by David Report)

RESPONSIBIZ (responsible business)

The keywords for this trend are holistic, sustainable and ethical.

This trend isn't about greenwashing but integrating social responsibility into the soul of business. "The types of products and services we will see more of in the future will more visibly benefit both humans and the society at large." (

This is a trend that small designer/makers can embrace when we make educated sourcing decisions for our materials, create long lasting work, work with recycled and upcycled materials and packaging, pay ourselves a living wage and educate our customers about our practices.

Small Picture Trends 2011 from Trend Bible - Figurative characters - think embroidery, string art, watercolors and strong linear interest
Small Picture Trends 2011 - Natural Neons - think about combining natural elements like wood, glass, metals and fibers with bold, bright neon color

1. wire cups 2. in a pale place 3. marysgranddaughter 4. esthercoombs 5. corporan glass 6. wren willow 7. Trend Bible 8. lulu bug jewelry and the gorgeous vase top right from white earth studio incorporating another Trend Bible 2011 standout from the London Design Festival - white textured ceramics.

So for this week's poll we are asking if you would be more likely to incorporate figurative characters or the neon/natural combination into your own work?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tea Time

As winter settles in up here in Maine few things are more comforting than a slice of bread with a little butter still warm from the oven.

Here is the recipe*
3 cups unbleached white bread flour
3 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
Dissolve yeast in warm water for 5 minutes
Mix together flour and salt add water and yeast
Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth (10 minutes)
Place dough in a large oiled bowl and let rise until double (45 minutes)
Punch dough down, cover and let stand 5 minutes
Shape into a round loaf and let rise on baking stone or cookie sheet 45 minutes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread is brown on the bottom and sounds hollow when you tap on it.
*In all honesty I very rarely measure anything and this is my best attempt to do so. Making good bread comes from practice- so don't be afraid to experiment- you can add honey, maple syrup, fresh or dried herbs, oatmeal, the possibilities are endless. You'll have to play around with the proportions but this recipe is a good jumping off point.(Christina)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tea Time: Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce

This week's tea time is a recipe from Bon Appetit, November 2006. There's no better description than the one they provide. "Here's a grown-up spin on the caramel apple--in tart form." Makes 8 servings.

Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Bring sugar, cream, and butter to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves.

The caramel will get thicker. Boil the sauce (whisking often) until the caramel coats a spoon thickly.


1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 large egg yolks

Mix flour, powdered sugar and salt together. Add butter and blend until a coarse meal forms. Add egg yolks. Mix until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball, then flatten it into a disk. Wrap and chill 1 hour.

When ready, roll out dough or pat out dough into a 9 inch pan with removable bottom.


2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 large McIntosh or Golden Delicious apples (about 2 3/4), peeled, quartered, cored

Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon and cardamom in a bowl. Add apples and toss until evenly coated.

Arrange apple quarters, cut side down, along the outer edge of the crust. Cut remaining apple and fill in the rest of the crust.

Bake at 375 degrees F until apples are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with some of the caramel sauce. Cool to room temperature. Rewarm the caramel sauce and drizzle a bit more over the apple tart. Any leftover sauce can be served separately (we scooped vanilla ice cream over our tart, then added a bit more sauce).


Monday, December 6, 2010

Creative Inspiration: Snow

It wasn't difficult to find motivation for my blog post this morning. When dawn broke, I took a look outside to see the world covered in a dusting of white. Here in the northeast corner of the United States, we are having our first snowstorm of the season. The temperature is 29 degrees Farenheit and the white stuff is coming down at a steady pace.

Snow and snowflakes are a wonder. The natural beauty of a single snowflake boggles the mind.... how does water form into these 6 sided crystallized, symmetrical marvels? I'll leave the science to the experts and will always admire snow with childlike fascination.

Snowman mischief

chicken prints

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tea Time: Chocolate Cupcakes

OK, chocolate lovers, here's a recipe for you: Chocolate Cupcakes from The Barefoot Contessa. This recipe makes 14-15 of the yummiest chocolate cupcakes. They're sure to "hit the spot."


12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cream butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together in a bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Stir until well blended.

In a separate combine buttermilk (we used Kate's Real Butter Milk--OMG! The absolute best!), sour cream and coffee. Whisk together. Then, in a third bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Add wet and dry ingredients alternately to the butter mixture, starting with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended.

Line muffin tins with cupcake papers (we used If You Care unbleached and chlorine free papers).

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes and remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting.

We frosted our cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting.

These cupcakes didn't last long around our houses. We hope you enjoy them, too!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Postcards From Home #19 Nancy from White Earth Studio

Thanks to Nancy for sharing this beautiful part of the U.S. with us! Another AC team member who lives on a National Wildlife land! I am sure they have snow by now so we also get a little glimpse back at summer and fall! Enjoy and leave comments!

I live just outside of Onalaska , Wisconsin, (Sunfish capital of the world) , Population 14,000. Our home and my studio are built on the banks of the Mississippi river. We are on a National Wildlife Refuge so are really amazed to watch all the migrating Eagles, Great Blue Herons,Pelicans and all kinds of Ducks. I never seem to get used to the beauty of it all. Also tons of racoon and ground hog and possums that get into the garbage, the sweet little things.

My Home and the Maple tree we planted 5 years ago.

View of the back of our house from on our Pontoon boat while out fishing this summer.

View from my studio window. That is the Mississippi river and on the other side is Minnesota.

Me in the studio cleaning up Thousand Petal vases. I dressed up for the photo by removing my wrist and elbow braces !! Too many years of repetitive motion! Take care of yourselves!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Postcards From Home #18 Fierce Mally

Thanks to Mallory Larson from Fierce Mally for this week's postcards. She was very prompt in sending them to me and describing everything wonderfully. I, unfortunately, had a "senior moment" and totally got sidetracked by the holiday. So, I totally forgot to post them on Wednesday!! Please accept my apologies and enjoy them today. Leave comments and let Mallory know what you think of her charming neighborhood!

I moved to Brooklyn, New York about 6 years ago from Fargo, North Dakota. It was quite a change, but the Park Slope neighborhood where we live is a little like a small town (but just a little).

The street I live on is 1 big hill and can be a workout to climb with an armload of groceries.

Just outside my “office” is our tiny kitchen. This is where I find a lot of my inspiration and often grab things out of the drawer to draw. It’s of course also the source of that wonderful life giving fuel, coffee.

This is our little kitchen garden. We don’t have a backyard so this is the bit of nature we have to tend. The plant on the far right is a relatively new addition and it’s a Peruvian Purple Pepper plant (hot hot!).

A couple of blocks from my apartment is beautiful Prospect Park. This is my favorite bench to sit on and people watch.

Just at the edge of the park, is a street lined with beautiful old homes. This little cluster is one of my favorites. I love the old iron entries on the 2 little brick houses in the middle!

Also in the neighborhood (I don’t get out much) is the paper shop where I work as the buyer, window decorator and invitation designer.

At home, this is my workspace. (Note the “storage room” under the desk. )

Finally, here I am along with Melvin the turkey in Times Square. I bought Melvin during an afternoon out, so lucky for him he got to tag along to dinner and a show that night near Times Square. Melvin and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tea Time: Cinnamon Rolls

Christina and her husband are off celebrating with their family for the day (it's Thanksgiving in the United States). She and I were thinking we'd skip "Tea Time" this week, but I made cinnamon rolls this morning, so I thought I'd share the recipe. Enjoy!--Janyce

Cinnamon Rolls (from the Betty Crocker Cookbook)


1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour


2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, then stir in the milk, sugar butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Stir until smooth, then mix in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until double (about an hour or so). Punch down dough and roll out onto a lightly floured surface (roughly 12x18 inch rectangle). Mix sugar and cinnamon together. Spread dough with butter, then sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly across surface. Starting with the long end, roll the dough tightly. Pinch edges of dough to seal well. Slice the roll into 18 one inch slices and place in greased muffin tins, cookie sheet, or cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. I like these plain, hot out of the oven, but you can glaze the rolls when they're cool using a mixture of 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a tablespoon of milk.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Favorite Tool/Creative Process - Karl of Half Pint Salvage

This week’s Favorite Tool/Creative Process comes from Karl of Half Pint Salvage who creates uniquely-original, eco-friendly and household items using vintage, salvaged and recycled materials. I asked a few questions and Karl gives us a bit of insight into his work. 
How did you start your craft?
I always envisioned my space looking a certain way, but could never really find creative household items that matched my design aesthetic. So out of necessity, I started creating those items myself. One fateful morning, while shopping at the local Goodwill, one of my first creative breakthroughs took place. Instead of seeing solely discarded possessions, I began to envision these items as materials, ideas and projects. Suddenly a whole new world took shape. I painted old picture frames, upcycled wooden furniture and used vintage finds to fulfill my storage needs. But the seedling (of what has become Half Pint Salvage) really sprouted when I found a vintage 80's television, still encased in its original wooden cabinet. I gutted the tube and it's attachments, painted the exterior, added a few internal shelves, attached a vintage window and presto--it became my new (and current) television stand.

More and more crafty projects would follow. And what at first was a part-time hobby, slowly became a full-time passion.

Half Pint Salvage studio space

Retro Eights-inspired Mini Chalkboard

Favorite tool/process? Why?

My favorite tool is simple: my paint brush. A paint brush is a magic wand for the upcyclers and recyclers of the world. You can take the nastiest, gnarliest piece of wooden furniture and instantly transform it in to a living room masterpiece. Plus, painting is such a visually rewarding process. And the routine of painting can be so relaxing; somewhat meditative too. Even better still, gratification through painting, is a fairly quick process. Typically, I round up 7 - 10 items that I want to paint, pick a couple stylish colors to use, lay on some paint layers and within 48 hours, my projects are on their way to hopefully being the new conversational piece in someone's home.

key racks in the process of being painted

Bicycle Themed Key Rack

 To see more of Karl's unique and wonderful work, visit his shop at Half Pint Salvage. Thanks Karl!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Soups

Here in the states, we celebrate Thanksgiving this coming Thursday. Menus are tweaked, turkeys are thawed, and the table extension comes out. This is a time of sharing with loved ones and creating a monstrous feast for an army of at least 40.

Have you thought about a first course yet? This soup would fit the bill perfectly. Rich flavor and oh so creamy.... only a small portion needed to start the meal off right. A perfect pairing for turkey, squash, and cranberry indeed!

Baked Onion and Garlic Cream Soup

6 large onions, cut 1/2 inch slices
2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth/stock
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
4 TB unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 TB chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place onion and garlic in a roasting pan, add 3 cups of the broth. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Dot with the butter.
3. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Stir a few times while baking.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and puree the onions and garlic with the liquid in a blender. Pour the mixture into a soup pot. With the blender on, gradually add the remaining stock and cream and add that mixture to the puree soup.
5. Adjust the seasoning and heat slowly through, but do not boil.
6. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
6-8 portions

Happy Thanksgiving!!