help! how would you cook purple artichokes?

I keep seeing these gorgeous purple baby artichokes at my local fruit and veggie market. I am enamored by them, but I have no idea how to cook or serve. I’ve done some seplaceing, and most of what I have found is how to use them as decoration. They make lovely tabletop pieces, as seen here in this Food Network story about Thanksgiving ideas or this suggestion from CasaSugar on alternative wedding bouquets.

Surely they must be more than a pretty face? Any suggestions on how to cook? Do you just steam them like regular ‘chokes and take tiny bites? Sounds unsatisfying… Help!

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new reason to celebrate: john derian at paperless post

We blame John Derian for many of our design obsessions: antlers, vintage wooden mirrors, butterflies under class, and of course, decoupage. So you can imagine our excitement when we learned that our favorite natural nature collector was bringing his signature look to our go-to online invitation source, Sprouting with sea shells, butterflies, whales, toads and other delightful creatures, Derian’s digital cards are just the excuse we need to cook up some summer soirees. Check them out here.

From our partners

kinda genius: universal wrapping paper

Confession time: I’m terrible at wrapping presents. I always have the best intentions. I walk by Paper Source’s windows and think, “Ohhh, that’s what I want to be!” I want to be one of those people with a gift wrapping station complete with a dozen different colors of washi tape and tinsel bows. I want to present my wedding shower gift and have everyone coo over the homemade tissue paper violets perched beside the bow. But, let’s cut the crap, I never am. I don’t have the time, money, or energy to make paper turkeys to decorate Thanksgiving cards. I always end up wrapping birthday presents in leftover Christmas paper. My cringe-worthy, rock bottom moment came when I presented a baby shower gift in a slightly used Halloween trick-or-treat bag.

There is hope for me yet! A light on the end of the horizon has appeared in Wordless Design’s universal wrapping paper. The paper allows you to choose your own celebration by circling the appropriate sentiment. Not only is the paper universally usable (cutting down on having to stock rolls and rolls of specific birthday, mother’s day, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, Festivus, etc. paper), but it’s also sharp, clean, and minimalistically appealing. Five sheets of this rad wrapping is about 15€.

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surpisingly clever entertaining advice from tori spelling

I remember years ago, perhaps in an early InStyle magazine or on Robin Leach’s Lifestyle’s of the Rich & Famous, I learned that Candy Spelling had a gifting room in her Beverly Hills mansion. In other words, she had a whole room dedicated to wrapping presents. Twenty years later we’ve all been Martha’d and the idea of having a space in our homes to wrap presents doesn’t sound preposterous at all. Indulgent, yes, but not preposterous.

Today, there is another Spelling stealing some of the spotlight away from Martha, and it’s 39-year old Tori Spelling. She’s grown up to be a professional mom-to-be (she’s on number four), reality show queen, web hostess and someone who gives really good advice on how to throw a party. Her new book, celebraTori: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner to Entertain Friends and Family, is chock full of clever tips and insanely steal-able ideas. Here are a few gems of advice from Tori:

Always serve soda in liter containers
: When you put out cans, guest often take a whole can, drink a few sips, then set it down and abandon.

Make a Mood Board for your party: Tori suggests making a real one for your wall, but obviously a great way to do this is through Pinterest. Don’t just clip not ideas and recipes, but also colors, photo inspirations, music you want to play, anything.

Set your food as far away from the bar as possible. You want people to be forced to cross the space and mingle.

Give carnations a chance. Flower arrangements don’t have to be pricy. Just buy a ton of carnations in the same color and present them clustered in thick balls in short vases.

Deep clean the week before a party.
Then, plan to spot clean the day before and you can start with clean slate without wasting time.

For more party advice from Tori, check out this feature at iVillage, or click on over to to purchase for yourself. It’s a keeper.

From our partners

a new take on campers: the cricket trailer

Another Wednesday, another vacation fantasy creeping into my head. Last week it was tree houses, this week, it’s campers. Just look at these beauties! They are from Cricket Trailer and they are made to order starting at around $15,000. They are made from lightweight, eco friendly materials (go Earth Week!) and are just the right size for a small family of three, like ours (sorta). Each camper is about 6 and half feet by 15 — or the size of my first NYC apartment. True, that’s tiny, but when the whole wide world is at your doorstop, who cares! You can customize it to suit your needs — adding kitchen, bathroom, storage and bunking comforts. Because Crickets are made to order, you need to “get in line” for yours. Roadtrip spring 2013, anyone? What a fun caravan we would make.

BTW, I spotted Crickets on Pinterest, via our friends at Charles & Hudson. Their other awesome and insanely inspiring site, Built by Kids was just nominated for a well-deserved Webby. Please vote for them here!

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