Iâ€™m sending some serious thanks to the rad scientists over in the ThinkGeek laboratories for capitalizing on what I like to call “the transitive property of rock.” I can explain property thusly: If my brother is a guitar god, and I always buy him T-shirts for his birthday, then the best gift to get him would clearly be an electric guitar T-shirt. This was a simple thought process until my eyes were opened by the Electronic Rock Guitar T-shirt, winner of my personal “most versatile toy” award at the Toy Fair, and answer to this yearâ€™s birthday gifting prayers. The essence of wearable rock, the shirt comes complete with two magnetic picks and a mini amp speaker that clips to your belt. All major chords are recorded from a real electric guitar, proving that the only thing better than a real guitar is a wearable one — consider my shopping done! See and hear the shirt in action or visit ThinkGeek for more on their whole interactive T-shirt line. — Sarah C.
We love when readers send us cool stuff out of the blue! Abby Stavig got in touch with us this week to share the fab cake she made for her daughter’s birthday. Abby says:
My daughter recently turned two and we had her birthday at Chuck E Cheese so I thought a pizza cake would fit the theme nicely! I had decided I was going to try to make her cake myself this year as a challenge, so I set out to find inspiration. Your site and many others all had great examples of DIY cakes, and I wanted to share my success with you.
I purchased a 16″ round cake pan from Michael’s Crafts and asked my local pizza joint to donate a box and they were happy to oblige. It was SUPER easy to make, and I think it turned out great! Hope you enjoy taking a look!
When I grow up I want to be like Paola Navone. The renowned artist and designer exudes warmth and a love a life that is evident in all her work, whether it be Anthropologie’s vibrant color-pop bedding, overly-tufted, welcoming sofas or her new vibrant and playful pieces at Crate & Barrel. She’s also a not-to-be overlooked Italian who gained prominence in the male-dominated design space, and displays a short hairstyle and a prominent nose that I can’t help but identify with. If I can’t grow up to be like her, perhaps we could have dinner one day?
I’m not sure how or when that may happen, but in the meantime I am going to take some inspiration from Crate & Barrel and channel a little Paola for my gatherings this fall. She’s created three collections all centered around entertaining.
The Como collection features bold blue on white designs with organic swirls and patterns. It reminds me of dining al fresco in Sicily, with smells of almond pastries mixing with Mediterranean breezes. Splashes of red wake you up.
The Mallorca collection is more calming, with white on white ceramics that have delicate, feminine edges. Aluminum trays with gentle dimples appear ready to elevate any dish.
All three themes bring a worldly sophistication to the table, without being stuffy or too precious. As the holidays encroach it’s easy to get drawn towards Northernly designs, but a few Navone bits sprinkled about will make sure your dinners always have a sunny disposition. Here’s a little peak at the artistry behind the work.
As if her new designs weren’t enough to inspire some noteworthy dinners of our own, Crate & Barrel even offers up a few recipes from the master herself. This one below, pasta with zucchini, in an interesting take on one of my favorites. I would add a sprinkle of crushed pastachios before serving, to give it a final hint of richness.
Pasta with Zucchini by Paola Navone
What You Need:
2 lbs. baby zucchini; no more than 1¼’ in diameter
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup fresh mint (smallest leaves only), thyme, rosemary
Saffron threads, a pinch
Fresh cracked pepper
Ground red pepper
Coarse sea salt
1 lb. uncooked dried mezzi rigatoni – shorter, ridged rigatoni
1/4 cup coarse sea salt to season pasta cooking water
To pass at the table:ricotta di bufala *
** Buffalo milk ricotta is less sweet than cow’s milk ricotta.
How To Make:
1. Wash and drain the zucchini. Slice into ¼-inch-thick “coins” and set aside. If using larger zucchini, slice lengthwise, core out the seeds, then slice.
2. Place a large, nonstick sauté pan over low to medium-low heat. Glaze the pan with olive oil. Add crushed garlic, herbs and saffron to the pan to flavor the oil. (Reserve a small handful of the herbs for garnish.) Stir and cook until the garlic just starts to color and become fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove garlic.
3. Add the zucchini to the pan and season with ground pepper and sea salt. Sear the zucchini until slightly soft and the zucchini begins to brown and caramelize. Remove from heat.
4. Remove ½ of the zucchini mixture; place in a food processor and puree.
5. Add a small drizzle of olive oil to the sliced zucchini still in the pan; gently fold in pureed zucchini. Add more olive oil to taste, but sparingly. The consistency of the sauce should be creamy, not thick.
6. Fill a large pasta pot ¾ full with cold water and place over high heat. Add ¼ cup** of course sea salt to water and bring to a rolling boil. Add dried pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
7. Drain pasta (reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water) and place in large serving bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
8. If needed, thin zucchini sauce with a bit of the pasta cooking water. Add zucchini sauce to pasta and toss gently. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately. Pass ricotta di bufala for guests to stir into their pasta, to taste.
Note: This post is sponsored by Crate & Barrel.
I love the idea of pairing a few old transferware serving pieces and plates with Targetâ€™s new Liberty of London Dining collection. Not only would the mix of materials and patterns be fun, it would also be a great way to stretch your dollars. Ruby Lane, Tias.com, and eBay have plenty of listings for great antique transferware in pinks, blacks, and pastels. The problem is actually finding the Liberty of London collection in stores! To date, Iâ€™ve made two trips but the Target closest to me only has bedding and apparel in stock — some, like this dinner plate, are only available online. Having better luck? If so, what do you plan on doing with your new plates and bowls? Do they live up to the hype? — Sarah L.
Liberty of London is selling out of Target stores fast, but lucky for you, we’re giving away a whole set of goodies to Shelterrific Facebook fans! Click for the details!
Walking into Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, or even Anthropologie, you’d think that an adorable apron is just as essential to making a good meal as an understanding of baking soda verses baking powder. They’re always displayed in fancy baking stores alongside the cash rack (primed and ready for impulse buys), as bright and cheery as a Doris Day movie. I, for one, love the bright pink apron that I wear on busy baking days, but can’t recall ever seeing anyone else (outside the movies) wearing an apron while they bustle around the kitchen. So how about it, readers? Is everyone wearing a cute apron while cooking or entertaining, or am I just watching too much Mad Men? — Katie D.
Nerds around the world, sharpen your pencils and shine your calculators — Pi Day is upon us again. Every year, 3/14 is a day we set apart to celebrate Pi, the mathematical constant describing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, because the first three digits are 3, 1, and 4. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution (H.RES.224) recognizing the holiday, which is also Einstein’s birthday. That’s all the justification I need to party.
Because this year’s celebration, isn’t until next Sunday, we have plenty of time to get our pi-parations in order. Visit PiDay.org to learn more about the greatness that is Pi, or send your most deserving friends an e-card. Stock up on your Pi apparel, like this T-shirt from Neatorama or hoodies and housewares from ThinkGeek.
And get those Pi-cecubes a-chillin’ for their signature Pi-Tini, because once Pi Day eclipses, we’ve got 365 long ones until it’s here again. (Unless, of course, you count Pi Approximation Day on 7/22.) And if you need a little Pi year-round, check out Katie D.’s Pi dresser find for some furniture inspiration. — Sarah C.