Built: Nature In The Raw

This time of year is all about getting out of the house – we’ve been cooped up for many long months! But there is a desire to freshen and rejuvenate our lives indoors as well. We’re opening windows, purging excess belongings, excavating the dust and grime that accumulated during the darker months; and cutting the first spring blooms to proudly display indoors. The raw shapes and forms of natural objects can be a refreshing addition to our interior decor; adding texture, beauty and functionality to any space.

In the bathroom:

As storage and shelving:

The natural angle of branches become shelf brackets

Branch shelf three ways

Tree branch hooks

Driftwood as a clothing rod

As furniture:

Tree stump coffee table

a gorgeous natural slab table top showcases the shape of the wood

And as lighting:


Birthday Cake All Grown Up


The past week was the best kind of whirlwind; full of birthdays, elaborate meals, a weekend away, and best of all, lots and lots of cake.

I looked in the pantry at 6pm on my husband’s birthday and realized two crucial things: I had procrastinated baking a cake until 6pm, and I had no butter or white flour. Undeterred, I stumbled upon a gem of a recipe I will be revisiting time and again. Imagine an unbelievably tender orange scented crumb studded with the faint crunch of poppyseeds. A generous drizzle of a glossy orange-chocolate ganache takes this cake completely over the edge. The wonders continue: its made completely with whole wheat pastry flour and only 1/2 cup of olive oil and it comes together in a flash with minimal dishes, no mixer required!

Evan and Matt

Our wedding cake table

I am not a big cake person. I find they’re often dry and lacking in flavor, topped with a shelack of overly sweet frosting. Not my thing. So when I got married last summer, I wasn’t eager to go the wedding cake route. We ended up baking 5 varieties of bundt cakes for the wedding — the cake is super moist and flavorful and paired with a light glaze rather than frosting. And the shape of the cake is already so fancy, it needs little in the way of decoration.

Since we had so much success with the wedding cakes, bundt cake has become my go to when I need to bake something. Essentially the same thing as a pound cake (a bundt cake recipe usually calls for 10 cups of batter; roughly two pound cakes) olive oil cakes adapt especially well to the format. They stay very moist, and actually improve in the days immediately after baking. More pictures and recipe after the jump… Continue reading



Waxing poetic about the transformation power of fresh flowers in the home is hardly unusual for a blogger. Its probably downright repetitive. But the dogwood trees are blooming outside my window, you guys, and tree branches covered in gorgeous pink, white and green blossoms are too good a topic to pass up. They really do light up a room.


this is the gorgeous view from my bedroom window

Every year, when the trees explode into bloom, I’m astounded. This is my first spring in a new part of the country, with new varieties of trees (flowering quince!) to ogle and appreciate, and let me tell you the magic is as strong as ever.


a dogwood shades the new patio

Cocktail: Habanero & Grapefruit Margarita

We’re packing up the car and heading into the city for a weekend away. We rented a house through VRBO, and are meeting a few good friends there to celebrate Matt’s birthday. I was cooking until midnight last night trying to get as much prep out of the way as possible: I’m very excited about the menu. I’ll post recipes and pictures next week. For now, a cocktail to enjoy this weekend. Its delicious! Have a great one. P1040271

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 bottle of 100% agave tequila. I use Blanco here, but Reposado works well also. Save the Anejo tequila for sipping; this cocktail doesn’t showcase the tequila enough to warrant the aged stuff.

1-2 small habanero peppers, cut in half (I remove the seeds so I don’t have to strain it)

fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice

squeeze of lime (optional)


Combine tequila and peppers in a pitcher. Cover and let infuse for about 3 hours, or longer. Taste frequently for heat. If you overdo it, add plain tequila to balance it out. Remove chilies and return to bottle.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix 2:1 juice to tequila. Taste, I usually like to add a squeeze of lime but it depends on the tartness of your grapefruit. Shake & strain into glasses.

Optional: Fill a small plate with water. Dip rims of glasses into water, then dip half the glass rim into salt. Alternately, put a small pinch into the cocktail shaker before mixing drinks.

Have a wonderful weekend!

A Spring in my Step


After last weeks mini heat wave — Wednesday was 96 degrees!—spring has finally sprung. For real this time! I’m thrilled. There are blooms everywhere you look; cherry, bradford pear and magnolia blossoms, but also a sprawling bush with neon yellow flowers I couldn’t identify. Turns out its forsythia (or, as Matt calls it for-cynthia) Around here, you see it everywhere you turn. Could there be more wonderful sign of spring?P1040256

And the garden is growing! More garden pictures after the jump…

Continue reading

Whisper Thin Sandwich


This is my favorite kind of lunch — a few staples and leftovers come together to create something wholly satisfying in a matter of minutes. Thin slices of whole wheat toast are slathered with creamy Greek yogurt, and topped with a spicy, tangy tomato chutney. Leftover grilled pork tenderloin is shaved into whisper thin slices, and topped with sharp white cheddar and fresh pickles. Finished with a dusting of lemon zest and a handful of micro greens. These micro greens are actually garden tinnings of radish, beet, spinach, arugula and turnip greens. Nothing wasted and delicious to boot.

More a template than recipe, I always change it up based on what I have on hand. But I find it so helpful to have a handful of go to lunch ideas when mid day rolls around and I’m suddenly starving.

The bread is really key, I like something with lots of seeds and grains (this is a current favorite). I love to build off a creamy base; I’ll often use thick Greek yogurt, but ricotta, labneh, hummus or avocado are all delicious (Heidi has a wonderful post up about labneh)

To this I’ll  add something with a little pop to offset the creaminess — like spicy chutney, stone ground mustard, pickled vegetables or marmalade

I think the key with a sandwich like this is the textures and balance; the bread should provide structure and plenty of crunch, while any vegetables, meats and cheeses are shaved thin to keep things light and delicate.

Excellent toppings include: zucchini or asparagus ribbons, thin slices of cucumber, onion, pepper; fresh peas; a little later in the season tomato slices topped with a sprinkle of finishing salt. I’m always heavy handed with greens — I’ll finish with as much fresh arugula, spinach, micro greens, or herbs as I can.

Happy lunching!

Have a Wonderful Weekend!


Its the first weekend of April and it feels like Spring! Matt and I worked in the greenhouse today— so many little seedlings to tend! — and drew up plans for an exciting new addition to the garden. More on that soon! We’re having grilled shrimp tacos with fresh pineapple salsa tonight to celebrate the great weather. Saturday we’re making a trip down to DC to visit friends for dinner. Can’t wait for the (2 hour) premier of Mad Men Sunday night, should be good! Hope you have a relaxing and refreshing weekend!

Photo by Laura Taylor

Massaged Kale Salad with Garlicky Lemon Dressing

After spending years stumped by “what is your favorite food” questions, I realized my answer is rather surprising.


Raw in salad, sauteed with garlic, on pizza, or whirled into a smoothie,  kale is an integral part of my diet. I love its texture and flavor, it keeps me full, and its just so darn good for you!

This is more of a template than a recipe, you can take the concept of a kale salad in many directions. Top with any combination of goodies you have on hand. This recipe makes a bright, springy dressing with a fresh kick from the garlic.

Full recipe after the jump… Continue reading

Wear your Vegetables

Kale! My favorite vegetable is now available in the form a necklace. How cool is that? The etsy store Live-Love-Leaf sells necklaces made from actual kale leaves dipped in copper and then silver or gold plated. And what a great conversation starter!

Kale is such a gorgeous plant naturally; its structure is so perfectly captured by this jewelery. Would you wear a kale leaf?