Search Results for becki

wanna get organized for the holidays? let’s do it together!

We know what you’re thinking: Here it is just 20 days until Thanksgiving and I don’t even know who’s coming over for dinner, let alone what I’m cooking yet! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The holidays manage to hit all of us like a snowstorm in October. This season, Shelterrific is excited to be working with the folks over at iVillage in The Get Organized For the Holidays Challenge. Sign up for the challenge, and starting November 14th you’ll receive daily tips in your inbox written by some familiar voices: Us! Week one is about planning a menu and a budget for Thanksgiving with Angela M.. Week two, Becki S. will put her shopping know-how to work and help you tackle your gift giving strategy. Week three, Mary T. will guide us through holiday decorating and some fun craft ideas, and finally former Shelterrific contributor and current iVillage food editor Lisa Cericola will help you host a holiday party with ease and grace. There will also be a dedicated message board where you can give and get advice to specific questions. We may not have all the answers, but together we can figure it out.

So stop worry and sign up today!

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inspired by san fran’s huntington hotel


I was lucky enough to spend a few days at the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco last month, and it was an amazing experience. The property is still family-owned (it belongs to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group) so it has that boutique hotel feel, but with all of the luxury amenities you’d expect from a large property (and then some!).

One of the things I was particularly struck by was the decor in the rooms. I’m so used to hotel rooms all looking exactly the same: white bed linens, white or cream walls, generic Impressionist art prints on the walls, and wood furniture in a dark cherry finish. But when I stepped into my room at the Huntington, I was shocked – the room was actually decorated. With thought, and attention, and individuality. So impressive!


The centerpiece of the room (aside from the amazing view) was a huge canvas photography print by Thomas Seawell. I was in love with it…and even more so when I realized it had been the color inspiration for the entire room.Using one multicolored piece to pull the color scheme of a room is a classic decorator’s trick, and it worked perfectly in this case. By using the palette in the photo, the designer was able to pull together a group of colors that wouldn’t have worked without the art to anchor the room, and the final result was flawless. The walls were painted a pale chartreuse, the armchairs and lamps were a warm, bright orange, and there were hints of creamy linen, black and gold throughout the room to add a luxe, cohesive touch.

Have you tried using a single piece of art, upholstery fabric, a rug or some other statement piece to define the color scheme of a room? –Becki S.

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the joys of cooking with enameled cast iron


I’ve never been one for traditional cast iron – I just don’t have the patience for keeping it in tip-top shape. But ever since I splurged on my first piece of Le Creuset (on super clearance at Macy’s, if memory serves) a few years ago, I’ve been smitten with cooking in enameled cast iron. Expensive though it is, enameled cast iron is unquestionably my cookware of choice now, for nearly everything but crepes and fried eggs. It has just enough non-stick properties to make clean-up relatively easy, browns food beautifully, heats evenly and holds onto that heat well, and is so bright and cheery, it’s a joy to look at in my cupboards. Plus, the stuff is virtually indestructible. In fact, I still have two pieces of enameled cast iron my grandmother gave me years ago, that she had gotten from her mother. While there are a few chips here and there, they still cook perfectly.

Are you a fan of enameled cast iron? Do you have a favorite line? I tend to remain partial to Le Creuset, if only because there’s an outlet 45 minutes from my house (if you have one nearby, get on their mailing list – 30-40% discount coupons are prolific!), but I’m always curious about Staub, and some of the excellent vintage enamelware out there (all perfectly fine to buy, just make sure there aren’t any chips on the cooking surface). I recently found a piece of Dansk at Goodwill, and brought it home, but it’s incredibly thin, which means it’s screaming hot in a matter of seconds. Great for stir-fry, but not much else.

Have you tried enameled cast iron? Do you have a favorite brand? And if you collect it, I’m curious – do you stick to one color, or do you go for the rainbow effect? –Becki S.

From our partners

real life test kitchen: summer cobb salad











I think it’s a universally-held truth that cooking in the summer is awful. Heating up the kitchen in an already-sweltering house, standing over a hot stove…even eating hot food is just more than I can take when the mercury starts to climb. But lately, I’ve been throwing together (‘cobbling’, if you will) this salad for our summertime dinners, and it’s the perfect solution. I’m calling it a Summer Cobb, because it has the same hearty, meal-worthy feel of a Cobb, but it’s packed with bright, sweet summer flavors like fresh corn and peaches, and those heirloom tomatoes I can’t get enough of this time of year. Plus, it’s as good for you as it is good to eat (unlike a traditional Cobb). My husband actually said to me, “If it tasted this good to eat healthy, I’d do it more often.” How’s that for an endorsement?

Truly, this deliciousness is summer on a plate. And best of all? Virtually no cooking required.
click for the recipe, after the jump!

From our partners

first look: our new gravel backyard

gravel backyard

The back yard at my house has always been a bit of a problem. Well, a disaster, really. It’s cloaked in full shade, and I have two dogs, which means that when the rainy season hits, we’re dealing with a (probably) malaria-ridden swamp pit for most of the winter. It also means I spent much, much, much too much time with my Swiffer, cleaning up all those muddy paw prints.

Finally, I’d had enough – and this summer, we decided to pave over it. Except that paving over a yard is expensive, and tricky. So, we went cheap and opted to install landscaping gravel instead. I was actually really nervous about how this would turn out, but after spotting these photos in Sunset Magazine, I had to give it a try. I had visions of an awful urban jungle, devoid of color and personality, but the end result is so fantastic, I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner. The whole project took one day, and was under $500 to complete (including labor!). The new yard is so incredibly liberating – no more mowing, seeding, digging around in piles of mud. And it’s much prettier than I imagined, even calming. The borders are edged with soil, so we can plant a few shade-friendly plants around the perimeter, and the rest is totally, 100% maintenance-free. I can hardly wait to throw an outdoor rug underneath my patio table (which can finally come out of storage), and have a little end-of-summer barbecue to celebrate! The only down side I can think of is that one of my dogs isn’t so crazy about walking on the gravel (you can see her scoping out the situation in that photo). But she’s coping, and my other dog loves being able to lay on the warm gravel in the sun…so I’m calling it a trade-off.

Have you ever considered eliminating the grass from your yard? –Becki S.

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