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3.29.11

I fully expected to put up a post today that said something to the effect of “Now that the Royal Wedding has happened and we’re all completely OVER IT, here are some links you should read this weekend!”

But after (accidentally) waking up at 4am and watching the wedding footage for an hour, then seeing clips of the pair at the altar (with Will telling Catherine how beautiful she looked), watching them kiss (and blush, big time), then smiling as they drove away from the palace in a vintage Aston Martin adorned with streamers and a license plate that said ‘JUST WED,’ I can’t even pretend. I’m so not over it. The wedding was stunningly beautiful, and even with the entire world watching, managed to be heartfelt and real. It’s such a wonderful thing to celebrate in someone else’s joy, even when you obviously don’t know them. But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were beaming and radiant, and it was hard not to smile with them. Congratulations to the happy couple!

So, once the wedding euphoria wears off, and you’ve had a nap, and really are ready to read about something else, here are a few non-wedding related links from this week (they were hard to come by this week, not that I can blame anyone! I’m guilty as charged too).

Roxy from My Cup of Te shared this delectable looking stuffed tomato recipe. Thing is, they’re stuffed with eggs. I love savory breakfast items and I can’t wait to try this recipe soon.

And here’s another recipe I think you’ll love. Yesterday, I introduced you to Lesley. Today, let me introduce you to her linguine with asparagus, chanterelle and shiitake mushrooms! Looks delicious, right? The good news: it’s super simple to make.

I thought this DIY tutorial on painted paper cups from Design*Sponge was awesome. This would be such an easy way to customize disposable cups at your next party — much more chic than having people scribble their names on cups with sharpies!

I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but have you seen Lauren Conrad’s new blog, The Beauty Department? I am really, really loving it! They’ve had some great tutorials, useful tips, and the site is very well designed. Way to go LC and team!

I was swooning over this mini-home tour featured on Honestly…WTF. Bet you’d never guess in a million years which major Hollywood actress apparently has a penchant for buying and flipping high end homes!

I can’t quite remember where I first learned about Taigan, and to be honest it kind of doesn’t matter. That’s because I’m not enjoying the shopping element of the site so much as their magazine, Fetch, and their blog site (I guess that’s what it is?), Taigan Finds. Their various blogs have some really interesting features! This one on Strange Invisible Perfumes, a promo for one of the shops Taigan is currently hosting, had me intrigued. I’m going to LA the first weekend of June, and am already planning to stop by SIP in Venice. I’ll report back for sure!

Have a lovely, blissful weekend everyone!

{Image credits: 1 2 3}

a tea fit for a queen

Remember being little and having tea parties with your friends (or stuffed animals)? There is something so chic and posh and lovely about taking afternoon tea, with its dainty sandwiches and delectable pastries. I know having such a formal tea is not common in daily British life these days, but if the Royal Wedding isn’t the perfect excuse to throw a little tea party, I don’t know what is.

I was curious to learn more about the origins of afternoon tea, so I headed to Wikipedia to see what I could find out. Here’s the scoop:

Afternoon tea, also known as low tea, is a light meal typically eaten between 3pm and 5pm. The custom of drinking tea originated in England when Catherine of Bragança married Charles II in 1661 and brought the practice of drinking tea in the afternoon with her from Portugal. Traditionally, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served in teacups with milk and sugar. This is accompanied by sandwiches (customarily cucumber, egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon), scones (with clotted cream and jam, see cream tea) and usually cakes and pastries (such as Battenberg, fruit cake or Victoria sponge). Nowadays, a formal afternoon tea is usually taken as a treat in a hotel, café or tea shop. In everyday life, many Britons take a much simpler refreshment consisting of tea and biscuits at teatime.

High tea (also known as meat tea) is an early evening meal, typically eaten between 5pm and 6pm. It is now largely followed by a later lighter evening meal. High tea would usually consist of cold meats, eggs or fish, cakes and sandwiches. In its origin, the term “high tea” was used as a way to distinguish it from “low tea” or afternoon tea. The words ‘low’ and ‘high’ refer to the tables from which either tea meal was eaten. Low tea was served in a sitting room where low tables (like a coffee table) were placed near sofas or chairs generally. The word high referred to a table, this one on a dining room table, and it would be loaded with substantial dinner dishes – meats, cheese, breads, perhaps the classic shepherd’s pie or steak and kidney pie.

Who knew that high tea originally referred to the table height??? I love learning about the history behind cultural customs!

Are you going to be having tea while you watch the Royal Wedding? If so, you simply must try this recipe for delicious currant scones, written by my friend Lesley Elliott, from Five o’Clock Food.

Based in Orange County, Lesley is a fabulous cook and even picks up catering jobs on the side when she can (so if you’re in OC and need someone to cater your next shindig, she’s your girl!). According to Lesley, “these scones are perfectly light, not too sweet, and the flavor of the currants balances very well with all of the other flavors. You can use this “base” scone recipe and add a myriad of ingredients: chocolate chips, cinnamon and apples, lemon zest…the sky’s the limit.”

Currant Scones (recipe posted with permission from Five o’Clock Food)

4 C All Purpose flour
4 tbsp sugar, plus a little extra for garnish
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
5 tsp baking powder
8 oz butter, cold, and cubed into pea-size pieces
1 C currants
1 1/2 C (plus extra for brushing) heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder to the mixing bowl; turn on mixer and thoroughly combine dry ingredients. [Editor's Note: If you don't have a stand mixer, you could make these scones using a food processor, a pastry cutter, or even a wooden spoon and your fingers if you work quickly. I don't have a stand mixer, so these are the techniques I use when making pastries.]

Next, add chilled butter to the dry ingredients. Make sure to try to separate each of the cubes into the flour.

Turn the mixer on, starting slow and working up to medium speed, allowing the butter to “break up” or “cut” into the flour mixture, creating what sort of looks like crumbly sand. This will take about 8 minutes if not longer.

Next, add the currants to the butter-flour mixture. Turn mixer on to low to combine all of the ingredients thoroughly.

Add the cream to the mixer, and starting on low mix the ingredients together until the dough just comes together. Then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; lightly knead the dough until it comes together in one cohesive mass.

Roll out the dough to about 1″ thick, and cut as you desire. Lesley prefers cutting the dough into triangular shaped wedges. Brush each scone with a little cream and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake at 375°F for about 10-15 minutes or until the scones are light brown on top and appear cooked through on the sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 8-10 minutes before serving.

{Image Credits: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. If you would like to see more pictures of the scone recipe, please visit Lesley’s blog here}

The architecture and interiors of Robert Adam


If you’re anything like me, you love a good Jane Austen movie. Who hasn’t seen the stunning Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley, or laughed over Gwyneth’s perfect interpretation of Emma? But besides the costumes and the romance, a major supporting character in many of these films are the colorful interiors. Recently, I learned that the style of interiors so commonly seen in Jane Austen’s time can almost all be attributed to a Scottish gentleman named Robert Adam.

So who was Robert Adam? Robert Adam, along with his brothers James and William, was a well-known and very well-respected Scottish architect and interior designer from around 1760 through the end of the 1790s. The Adam style of decorating is very recognizable and often associated with Jane Austen’s time; this is mostly because they were the first to design rooms that coordinated everything, from ceiling, to paint color, to carpet to furnishings. Building off roccoco and baroque, the brothers sought to simplify these styles while still keep things elegant and refined. As things often go in history, however, Robert Adam became the most famous of the brothers, and projects he worked on with his brothers often seem to be credited to only him.

Common features of Robert Adam designs: pastel paint colors, LOTS of plasterwork on the walls and ceiling, painted ornamentation on the walls (think of those plaster tied ribbons you always see), and also the use of domes and curved walls.

Here are some classic examples of Robert Adam work:

Note the use of the dome and the symmetry of the entrance to Kedleston Hall. Robert Adam based this design on the Arch of Constantine in Rome.

Hopetoun House

These next few images are all from the interior at Home House in London. They are CLASSIC Robert Adam and give you a good idea of just how influential their style was. These rooms would be perfect for any Jane Austen set!

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Here are some more Adam designs:

One thing you might’ve noticed in these pictures is how the furniture coordinates with the walls, which coordinates with the ceilings, and so on. Robert Adam would plan these details out meticulously. Below is a drawing of coordinating furnishings, light fixtures, paneling and ceiling design for Derby House in Grosvenor Square.

Robert Adam also designed furniture (naturally — the furnishings had to match everything else so I’m sure it was easier for him to do it himself versus always commission someone else to do it for him!).

He even designed a sedan chair for Queen Charlotte! Can you imagine if Kate Middleton showed up at Westminster Abbey in something like this? I have to say, I think the Rolls Royce she’s scheduled to arrive in is a bit more appropriate…:

I’m sure you guys recognize some elements of the Robert Adam style. What do you like most? The shameless use of pea green paint? The crazy attention to detail? Or the head to toe coordination?

{All images from Wikipedia, with the exception of the furniture pieces, courtesy of Museum Furniture. Click through links for image sources}