Planning a summer party? You may be able to save yourself some backyard clean up while saving the planet by using Jelloware! Created by the girls over at The Way We See The World, these cups are made of agar agar, a seaweed extract that actually promotes the growth of plants when discarded. Available in different flavors including ginger-mint, rosemary-beet and lemon-basil, the flavor of each cup can compliment your drink of choice and is designed to be cast to the ground after use. I love the intricate glass cut design and green-thinking, but tell me, would you put them into practice at home? — Sarah C.
I cringe every time a glass touches my table without a coaster but I never want to be the fussy (read: lame) hostess nagging her guests to use one. Lucky for me, I just discovered these hibiscus slip-on coasters. Made by etsy seller Dimmalimm Home, the unique covers can be slipped on when you pour the drinks so everyone is already issued a coaster. A set of twelve is only $24 and makes a great hostess gift for any of the summer BBQs youâ€™ll grace this season. Bonus: they also serve as drink tags! Since theyâ€™re all different colors, guests can easily distinguish their drink from others without the jangling, weird wine stem charms. — Katie D.
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.
Last week was the summer solstice which means itâ€™s officially picnic season! From the extravagant wine-and-cheese variety to the ultra casual take-out-chili-dogs-on-the-beach, nothing beats the luxury of dining alfresco. Letâ€™s hear it, readers: what are your picnic essentials? It is a â€˜canâ€™t missâ€™ potato salad recipe, a cooler you love more than your TV, or a picnic spot you swear by? Share the wealth and slather on the sunscreen. — Katie D
image by flickr member margaret.stranks
Last weekend I attended a beautiful bridal shower for a childhood friend. Held at the home of one of the bridesmaids, the event was highlighted by a few personal touches that I really enjoyed. First, each guest brought a recipe (baked oatmeal from me!) that we wrote on printed cards that accompanied our invitations, as well as an assigned spice to round out the bride’s spice rack. We each also created scrapbook pages that were then compiled into a lookbook detailing the bride’s “single years”, and between each gift, the bride answered questions about her relationship and we compared her responses to those of the groom, who had been asked separately. A mix of common traditions and new twists, it was a wonderful few hours spent celebrating the bride-to-be. With many friends who have recently become engaged, I’m just starting my run of the wedding gauntlet and am looking for some inspiration,Â so tell me: what are your favorite bridal shower traditions? — Sarah C.
Pictured above: the wedding dress cookie favors made by the bride’s sister. Gorgeous!
For some it’s the promise of summer. For others, it’s the extra day off with family and friends. And still for others, it’s the food, or the moment Â spent in national reflection. It seems there are innumerable reasons to love Memorial Day, and all of these fall high on my list, but as I get older I’m realizing that much of the appeal is that for me, Memorial Day is always the same. Every year I go home to my parents house. We have Â a casual garden buffet across the street with the neighborhood, and all walk down to the corner to watch the annual parade. It’s small town America at its best and while the faces change as children grow up and move away, the tradition of it has stuck, and the simple ritual makes it one of my favorite holidays. And this year, my Grammy’s in town! How about you readers? How will you be spending the weekend? — Sarah C.
Photo by Flickr user ginnerobot