Easter Grazing Board

I've been really into the idea of grazing boards lately. Loading up on a little bit of everything so everyone is happy!! Combining the best of both worlds, I used a sampling of traditional Easter candies alongside some savory cheeses & healthy options.

Easter Cheese Plate 1 Peeps

THE SWEET STUFF:

One trip down the Easter aisle in Target and you can snag ALL THE THINGS pastel (m&m's, jelly's, etc). From Cadbury Mini Eggs to Annie's Bunny Grahams to the obligatory chocolate bunny AND pink Peeps, it's Easter Candy Heaven over there!!

To make the chocolate almond dip even more festive, place it in an egg-shaped dish and make pretty swirls ala a fancy Fabergé egg.

For garnish, it's all about the chamomile flower!  Get a nice big bunch at your local grocery (I found mine at Whole Foods) and place it all around the sweet side. You can even make a fun design in the chocolate dip or place it on top of the peeps like a flower crown ;)

Wood Board from Sur La Table.

Easter Cheese Plate 2 Sweet Peeps Cadbury
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THE HEALTHY SIDE:

To balance it out, load up healthy options, like fresh fruits and veggies. Bright green grapes, romanesco, snap peas and kiwis are particularly fitting for the holiday.

Fill up a similar egg-shaped dish with creamy goat cheese and garnish with lavender for a fun spring-time feel...

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Easter Cheese Plate 7 veggie boursin

Happy Spring, everyone! Be sure to share your creations with #AintTooProudToCheese.

Simple St. Patty’s Day Cheese Board

Rainbow boards are nothing new around here, BUT add a "pot of gold" and some St. Patrick's Day flair, and you have yourself a fun board for the holiday...

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Simply, place the gold coins in the middle and arrange colorful produce across the board to achieve a rainbow effect.

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SPECIAL INGREDIENTS:

- Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheddar is a mainstay on many of my boards for it's buttery sharp taste and affordability.  

- The Pesto Gouda, while delicious, was chosen mainly for the fun green color.

- Gold coins can be found at party stores year-round, but stores like CVS and Rite Aid seem to carry them close to St. Patrick's Day.

- The St. Patty's Day flair can be found in the dollar bins at Target for added holiday spirit.

- Lastly (not pictured here, but seen in the photos below) I added some red gummy lips as a nod to "Kiss Me, I'm Irish!"

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Academy Awards Grazing Board

One of my favorite traditions is watching the Oscars and making a cheese board in my mom's honor.  It's become a really special way to get creative and channel her energy.

This year, the goal was to create a big platter to set out and enjoy for the whole show, with a little bit of everything.  Equal parts sweet and savory, I wanted to make it slightly fancy with the chocolate-almond dip and edible star sprinkles, while still including some healthy options AND the obligatory “movie” snacks like popcorn and licorice. 

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THE SAVORY SIDE:

Herbed popcorn, mixed olives, assorted salami and cheeses, this side is similar to my typical cheese board offerings (with a fair amount of rosemary for garnish).

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THE SWEET SIDE:

With the chocolate/almond spread and edible gold stars as the centerpiece, I added lots of fun items for dipping.  From assorted berries to peanut butter pretzels to caramel wafers and some fun rock candy, the range of dessert bites kept our sweet tooth satisfied throughout the show.

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Oscar Cheese Board 7
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Valentine's Day Cheese Boards

In honor of Valentine's Day, I created 3 different boards filled with all the pretty pink, purple and red goodies I could find.  While I only intended to make one board for a friend's annual GALENTINE'S DAY PARTY, I received so many great ideas from the Instagram community, that I had to style a few different options. 

HEART-SHAPED BOARD:

There are plenty of heart-shaped boards on the market that would have worked well, however, I didn't have one, so I created the heart out of wax paper and assembled the ingredients over it to get the shot:

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ROUND BOARD:

I'm a big fan of the round board. It's the perfect shape for showcasing a variety of items and textures.  You can also add ramekins to keep smaller items in place.

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CUTTING BOARD:

You can't go wrong with a tried and true, cutting board.  Simple and easy shape to "ombré" the colors from top to bottom.  I started with the reds and pinks at top and slowly worked my way into the purples.

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INGREDIENTS LIST:

Most of these items colorful items can be found at Trader Joe's, including the perfectly red beet chips, beet dip and the festive X's and O's. 

Otherwise, the Easter radishes, cherries, quince paste and lavender were found at Whole Foods. 

AND, the star of the show, THE CHEESE... is all from Sartori, including their very fitting Merlot BellaVitano®.

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VIDEO ASSEMBLY:

I started to capture these as a last-minute idea.  In the future, I'll look for some better angles and lighting, but in the meantime, they give a little peek into the making-of a cheese board.

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

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5 Charcuterie Items to Elevate Your Holiday Spread

We've already covered the one-stop cheese board shopping guide.  But for the occasions when you have a little more time to gather ingredients, here are a few items that are worth the extra effort.

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QUINCE PASTE:  Traditionally from Spain, this firm, sweet jelly made from the pulp of a quince fruit is the perfect compliment to salty cheeses like manchego.  Cut it up in slices (SEE PHOTO AT TOP - it's in the 1 o'clock position on the cheese board).

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HUMBOLT FOG:  A little pricier than the Trader Joe's cheeses, but it's creamy, mild taste is a definite crowd-pleaser.  A goat milk cheese made by Cypress Grove, with a distinguishing layer of edible ash, guests go nuts for this one.  Tastes particularly great on crackers with honey. (SEE PHOTO AT TOP- it's in the 3 o'clock position).

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GOOD OLIVES: The Trader Joe's variety I mentioned in the last SHOPPING LIST is great, but if you get the chance to pick from a good olive bar, you're golden. I tend to like Castelvantano Olives (the bright green ones), which are are also available in jars at Whole Foods and many supermarkets.  YUM!

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FIG JAM: Dalmatia Fig Spread is my favorite.  Put a wooden spoon in it and use it as a centerpiece for the whole spread. You can find this at Whole Foods, most supermarkets and here on Amazon, if that's easier.  It serves a similar purpose to the quince paste, so you can choose one or the other for your board OR go hog wild and put out both :)

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MIDNIGHT MOON: Another cheese from Cypress Grove.  It's nutty and buttery upfont with a slightly sweet finish.  Goes great with the fig jam above.  I like to cut out the inner part from the rind and crumble it up, then put it back in the shape of the rind for presentation.  SEE PHOTO at bottom.

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There you have it!  A few items to build upon your cheese board staples.  The below photo has both Midnight Moon (upper left) and Humbolt Fog (right).  There was a crazy amount of cheese on that platter for a very special friend's daughter's bday and we managed to eat it all.  Those cheeses are THAT GOOD!

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Remember to post your cheese photos, tag @ainttooproudtomeg and use the hashtag #ainttooproudtocheese so I can see all your beautiful creations.  They make me SOOOO HAPPY!!

Best Boards on the Market

Now that we have our "one-stop cheese plate shopping list," let's talk about the best boards to display that charcuterie on...

My ideal board is round with approximately 15-17in circumference and a little lip that makes it easy to transport.  Whether that's carrying it from the kitchen to the dining room or wrapping it up in tinfoil and bringing to a friends house, a lip is always appreciated for a smooth transition.   I've traditionally had lots of luck finding great options at HomeGoods.  However, a trip to HomeGoods can be hit or miss (oftentimes only finding random boards with silly embellishments or weird sayings).  "Home" might be "where the heart is," BUT there's a time and place for that... AND I don't want to see it in cursive under my cheese ;)

Aside from round, I also love the look of a rustic rectangle cutting board or square piece.  So, in the interest of rounding up the best boards for your holiday gatherings, here are some stoppable boards you can snag in time for your Thanksgiving cheese plate:

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1. Mango Wood Board // Sur La Table // 20in. Heavy // $60 This board is heavy and gorgeous.  On the larger end, so best for entertaining large parties.  But it's also perfect for entertaining with other meals.  I'm picturing a big loaf of cut bread and a few bowls of tomato soup :)

2. Boos Cutting Board // Sur La Table // 18in x 12in and 21in x 17in // $99 and $149; I LOVE THESE!! Heavy, great quality.  I'll be doing a GIVEAWAY in December so stay tuned. 

3. Acacia Wood Cutting Board // Target // 15in // $24.99; From the famous Hearth & Hand Magnolia line.  Great size.

4. Cutting Board w/ Handle // Sur La Table // 14in and 19in // $69.95 and $105 // These are a little in between sizes.  The 14in for smaller gatherings and the 19in for larger.

5. Lazy Susan // Sur La Table // 18in Heavy // $50.  I mean, you can't go wrong with a lazy susan.  Just twirl that cheese around so everyone gets a good piece!

6. Professional Style Cutting Board // Target // 24in x 18in // $55.99.  Less expensive alternative to the Boos option.

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7. Acacia Wood Cutting/Serving Board // Target // 12in x 16in // $19.99

8. Two-Tone Round Inlay Board // Target // 13in round plus handle // $19.99 : Veering towards the smaller end, but fun and cute.

9. Round Footed Tray // Target // 13in Large size // $19.99; Good for smaller gatherings. Another from the Hearth & Hand line. If not for cheese, great styling piece for the kitchen.

10. Cuff Wood Server // CB2 // 13in x 10.75in (wood area) // $29.95.  CB2 makes some of my favorite serving platters.  The bronze handle ads a nice touch.

11. Marble Lazy Susan // CB2 // 14inx14in // $49.95.  Square lazy susan? Sign me up!

12. Woodblock Cheese Board // Anthropologie // 13in x 11.5in // $48.

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13. Festive Marble Cheese Board //Anthropologie // 24in x 9in // $118.  "Don't mind if I..." throw in a fun option for good measure. 

14. Paddle Cutting Board // World Market // 13in x 35in $59.99.  Perfect for a holiday grazing board.

And, for reference, here are some of my favorite boards and how much food can fit on each:

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Happy cheese-plate making, everyone!!  Remember to tag @ainttooproudtomeg in your pics!!

 

 

Your ONE-STOP Cheese Board Shopping Guide

Want to steal the show at your next holiday gathering?  Impress all your friends & family with an epic charcuterie platter!

While my ideal cheese board is a compilation of items from just about every market in LA, ain't nobody got time to run from store-to-store over the holidays.  So, in the interest of being festive AND efficient, I've made a one-stop shopping list of items from tried-and-true Trader Joe’s:

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CHEESES

Platters should ideally have 3-4 cheeses; a mix of hard and soft.

KERRYGOLD DUBLINER- Great Irish cheddar!  Sharp, while still being buttery and sweet.  Crumble it up or cut into slices and fan out.

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BRIE- A cheese board staple.  Double or Triple cream...the creamier the better. Try to pick one of the more symmetrical slices (for looks) and garnish with a sprig of rosemary on top.

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OLD AMSTERDAM- My favorite Gouda.  Smokey, sweet and great compliment to holiday beers.  Make sure you cut off the hard rind (it's thicker than most), then cut into chunks and make “rustic crumbles” from that. 

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BOURSIN- This is hands-down the best bang for your buck. Put it in a ramekin with a rosemary garnish. NOTE: The photo up top has Manchego on it (also a good addition), but Boursin would be my choice for the hoidays :)

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MEATS

THIN CUT SALAME- These are perfect for creating "salami roses" on your platter.  Full tutorial coming soon, but I’m the meantime, fold the salami piece in half and then half again to create a 1/4 circle and wedge a bunch together in between cheese and crackers on your platter.

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ARTISAN SALAMI- If the "salami roses" sound like too much work, grab one of these guys and cut them into somewhat thick slices.  Remember to take the casing off before as you cut.  NOTE: prosciutto is also a good choice, but I personally think it gets messy and doesn't photograph as well.

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FRUITS

GRAPES- Cheese board staple.  The best are the Thomcord variety, but they've just gone out of season, so pick whatever batch looks best.  Green, Red, or the multi-pack from TJ’s.

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RASPBERRIES- Nice addition for color and texture.  Blackberries can work too (but give them a “taste test” to ensure they're not bitter before you buy them (TJ’s blackberries are hit or miss). NOTE: blueberries are pretty small and don't have the same impact on the plate so skip those.

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VEGGIES

Guests always appreciate having some healthy options on the plate.  

CUCUMBER- Get the Persian variety and slice uniformly.

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LES PETITES CARROTS-  These look much fancier than baby carrots.  They're colorful (purple, yellow, white & orange) and people love them.  If you don't have access to these, simply cut some regular carrots in think slices.

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NUTS

MARCONA ALMONDS WITH ROSEMARY- Guarantee at least one guest will spend the rest of the evening raving about these delicious Spanish-style almonds. TJ's has both the rosemary and truffle variety; guests generally prefer the rosemary.  NOTE: Pistachios, Candied Pecans or Walnuts are also a great additions, but these are all you need for a simplified platter.

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CRACKERS

FIG & OLIVE CRISPS- These are the best.  For a seasonal twist, they have a pumpkin version.

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SAVORY THINS- Good gluten-free option for guests.

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SOMETHING EXTRA

OLIVES- I prefer castelvetrano olives, but those are not available at Trader Joes.  This variety is a good secondary option.

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ROSEMARY- No platter is complete without some greenery for garnish.  I use the herb all year long, but it's particularly festive over the holidays.

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HONEY- perfect sweet compliment to cheese and crackers.  Get this awesome honey dipper from Sur La Table and you'll be using the BOOMERANG function on Instagram all night long.

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DRIED ORANGE SLICES- Great for colorful garnish. Truth be told, they don't taste that great, but they sure look pretty!  I prefer using the Dried Persimmons from Trader Joe's for a similar effect, but they aren't currently in stock.  If you're lucky enough to find them, grab a bunch and hoard them all year long :)

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DRIED BERRY MEDLEY- A sweet treat to sprinkle on the cheese board.  The dried strawberries are the crowd favorite!!

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There you have it!! A guide to all the best cheese board fixings from your local Trader Joe's.  I'll be back next week with the "Five Cheese Plate Fixins to Splurge On." And check out my "Round Up of The Best Cheese Boards on The Market."

I can’t wait to see you put these tips to use!  Be sure to tag and send me your pics :)  Nothing makes me happier than seeing your boards in action.  Speaking of, here's an @ainttooproudtomeg-inspired board from one of my IG friends, @honeyofalife:

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Happy cheese plate-making, everyone!!

GET THE LOOK: Monochomatic Moment

Normally one to style with lots of bright colors, I was a little intimidated when West Elm asked me to do a styling story using JUST black & white.  I chose the 3 spaces within my house that I constantly re-style (Entry Way, Living Room Bookshelf & Dining Room Buffet) then set out to create my very own monochromatic moment, inspired by their latest catalog.  The end product was a total success: I can’t tell you how much I love this modern and clean look in my home!! 

With my existing West Elm furniture pieces taking center stage, I was able to utilize a mix of new black & white accessories with some fun vintage finds.  In fact, my quest to find the perfect vintage pieces for this story turned out to be the most rewarding.  Enter 2 different, but beautiful black ceramic hands.  The first was the lone wolf left over from a set of bookends at the Melrose Flea.  Instead of using it to corral a set of books, I got creative and re-purposed it into a sunglass holder that now sits in my entry way reminding me to grab my sunnies on the way out.  The second hand is from an antique mall in Palm Springs... originally used as a business card holder, I converted into an air plant holder for the bookshelf by placing a round glass piece from an existing terrarium on top. 

These special touches combined with the most ridiculously fabulous West Elm Llama planter, allowed me to maintain my signature whimsy within the more simple and refined color palate. 

Check out the full post on West Elm's blog and read on for some additional styling tips (and Draper Kitty appearances) below.

ENTRY WAY:
The bones of my usual set up are not too far off from the new one.  Switching out colorful accessories didn't seem that difficult, but the idea of sourcing new art was intimidating and potentially expensive.  Enter Framebridge, a company who's making framing easy and afforable!  Once I decided that I wanted to use a photo of the Levitated Mass at LACMA (it's my favorite- I walk there at least once a week)... I took a morning stroll, snapped a few pics on my iPhone and uploaded the best one to their website for framing.  The frame is roughly 30x42in, their extra large option for $159.  It's insane that you can make an iPhone pic this big and still retain quality!!  NOTE that I edited the image size to 150dpi in Photoshop before uploading (go to IMAGE on the toolbar and select image size then change the pixels/inch to 150).  It's really easy...and if you don't have Photoshop, ask a friend...it takes less than 5 minutes.  But, had I opted for a slightly smaller frame, I could have uploaded the photo from my phone and placed the order in one fell swoop.  

PS- If you're in the market for easy framing, Framebridge was nice enough to offer this code for 15% your first purchase: PROUDMEG15.

 Black ceramic bookend re-purposed as a sunglasses holder and a closer look at the quality of the Framebridge iPhone photo print.

Black ceramic bookend re-purposed as a sunglasses holder and a closer look at the quality of the Framebridge iPhone photo print.

BOOKSHELF:
If you know me, you know that I like to switch around my shelfies every so often (i.e. ALL THE TIME).  The trick to mixing various keepsakes (old and new) is sticking to a consistent color palate.  I've done everything from a bright spring-inspired scene to a jungalow-style earthy look  to a more beachy vibe. This was my first black & white venture and I was happy to see the various elements work together to create a sleek and stylish scene.

The above-mentioned hand terrarium sits alongside my Framebridge Mini and a collection of other vintage and retail pieces, with my face vase stealing the show (per usual).

DINING BUFFET:
As a host, I re-style my buffet often.  Whether loading it up with apps for an Oscar party or Christmas Decor for the holidays, it's the perfect blank canvas for style and function.  This "milk and cookies scene" is a nod to my love of all things Khloe Kardashian....have you seen her cookie jars?!?   In all honesty, I don't know how she keeps those sweet treats around.  I consumed most of the chocolate pretzels instantaneously and I'm really lucky I didn't love Trader Joe's O's because if they were real Oreos, they would have vanished before the photos were taken.

Sometimes I put a big art piece on the buffet, but for this I wanted to keep it simple.  I've been inspired by all the abstract B&W art trending in interiors lately, so I painted this little canvas one Sunday morning.  It's so easy that I'll being doing a step-by-step blog post and getting it framed soon.  Stay tuned :)

And here's how to GET THE LOOK:

1.  Potters Workshop Ceramic Bud Vase // 2.  Black and White Stripped Box // 3.  White Ceramic Bud Vase // 4.  Mid Century Console // 5.  Llama planter (currently sold out, but I've seen it go in and out of stock in the last couple months so it might come back) // 6.  White Ceramic Jug Vase // 7.  Vintage Ceramic Hands (found these ashtrays on Etsy, which could work for the terrarium DIY I noted above) // 8.  Cross Base Terrarium // 9.   Mobile Table Lamp (similar to the sold-out one I used) // 10.  Mid Century Console //

NOW TRENDING: Round Mirrors

I know, I know... I was just going on and on about my love of round tables in the last post. Well, it's much of the same when it comes to round mirrors. They're everywhere; tying together enviable entry ways, upgrading mantles and creating the quaintest of bathrooms.  Checkout some perfect uses of the round mirror below:

 photo c/o Amber Interiors

photo c/o Amber Interiors

 photo c/o Amber Interiors

photo c/o Amber Interiors

 photo c/o @erinfetherson & @onekingslane

photo c/o @erinfetherson & @onekingslane

 photo c/o @mrorlandosoria & @homepolish

photo c/o @mrorlandosoria & @homepolish

 photo c/o @mrorlandosoria & @homepolish

photo c/o @mrorlandosoria & @homepolish

 photo c/o @jlgarvin

photo c/o @jlgarvin

 photo c/o @mydomaine

photo c/o @mydomaine

 photo c/o @lonnymag

photo c/o @lonnymag

 Photo c/o Rita Chan Interiors

Photo c/o Rita Chan Interiors

And here are some pieces currently available to GET THE LOOK yourself:

Clockwise from top left: Target Round Brass Mirror  // CB2 Victor Leather Mirror // West Elm Floating Round Wood Mirror  // World Market Brass Metal Loop Mirror

NOW TRENDING: Round Tables

I've been crushing on round tables lately.  Not just the little guys reserved for peripheral breakfast nooks... BUT the more substantial centerpieces (often flanked by gorgeous dining chairs) that are creating super swoon-worthy moments in the home. 

Here's a dining inspiration ROUND-UP.  Pun not necessarily intended, but pretty damn convenient :)

 photo c/o Damsel In Dior

photo c/o Damsel In Dior

 photo c/o @studiomcgee

photo c/o @studiomcgee

 photo c/o Laurel & Wolf

photo c/o Laurel & Wolf

 photo c/o @lonnymag // @leannefordcreative

photo c/o @lonnymag // @leannefordcreative

 photo c/o @mydomaine // MaisonetObiet

photo c/o @mydomaine // MaisonetObiet

And here are some pieces currently available to GET THE LOOK yourself:

Clockwise from top left: Crate & Barrel Apex Round Table  //  West Elm Dean Dining Round Table  //  Modernica Case Study Stainless Round Table // Dot & Bo Pedestal Dining Table 

BEST OF: Nate Berkus for Target Spring Line!

I'm definitely an online shopper, preferring the comforts of home to crowded stores.  And, I ain't too proud to admit that much of it has to do with the fact that MY strategically-purchased skinny mirror is MUCH more flattering than those fun-house dressing room ones!

When it comes to online Target shopping, I'm pretty ruthless!  Keeping an eye out for product launches and ordering immediately.  Years ago, I stayed up until 3am for the release of Justin Timberlake's William Raste for Target line (RANDOM!!).   Probably not one of my better purchases, but at the time it seemed necessary.   Even if I end up returning 90% of my loot (BUSTED!), there's such comfort in knowing I got first dibs!! 

Being that housewares are usually my focus, I log onto Target.com every couple weeks and search both "Threshold" and "Nate Berkus," filtering for the newest items.  With that, below are my picks from Nate Berkus' Spring line.  A great mix of elegant, yet totally approachable pieces!  I've already ordered that beautiful, structured vase (#3)!!

1. MId-Century Inspired Metal Desk Lamp $49.99

2. Equestrian Side Table $89.99

3. Stoneware Cylinder Vase $16.99

4. Diamond Jacquard Hand Towel $7.99

5. Fringe Stripe Bath Towels $9.99

6. Glass Canister $7.99

7. B&W Textured Bath Mat $18.99

8. Woven Wrapped Lamp Base $32.88

9.  Gem Glass Soap Dish $7.99

10. Brushed Gold Task Lamp 45.99

For more on the forthcoming Nate Berkus Spring and Summer lines, check out Emily Henderson's blog post.  Believe me when I say that I instagram-stalked all in attendance of the Target/Editor Preview a couple weeks ago :)

COLOR INSPIRATION: Salvation Mountain

 Photo by  Amelia Tabullo

With the recent rain and gloom in LA, I'm really looking forward to blue skies and sunny spring days ahead!  For some color (and weather) inspiration, I went back to look at pics from a trip to Salvation Mountain this past October.  Made from adobe clay and donated paint, this art piece located 1.5 hours from Palm Springs is a total trip!  With that, here's a few photos to help brighten our days as we wait out the weather:

Above photos #2 & #4 by friend and awesome photog Amelia Tabullo!  Check out her site.  Photo #3 by Vanessa Tevault.

We also went to the Salton Sea.  Another bizarre place!  Once designed as a swanky desert beach club with visitors like Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis...it's completely desolate (AND smelly) now.  Read the full history here.

BEST OF: Cheese Boards

To me, the Oscars are synonymous with fun appetizers, friends and my mom :) 

It was her favorite day of the year and she was a particularly great hostess!  So...every February, in her honor, I happily invite my best pals over to view the show and partake in an evening of feasting and playing Oscar-related games (BINGO being a favorite).  

One of the most important hostess skills she taught me was the art of presentation.  I most definitely have my mom to thank for any food styling saavy!  In preparation for putting together an Oscar-worthy cheese plate this Sunday, I've rounded up my favorite cheese boards of the moment.  If you're in the market to create a pretty plate, here's a nice sampling of contemporary boards with a mix of wood, stone and metal accents:

1.  Anthropologie Iona Cheese Board $42

2.  World Market Agate Cheese Serving Board $49.99

3. Jayson Home Live Edge Cutting Board $55

4.  Pottery Barn Marble Cheese Board $49 (rectangle only)

5.  West Elm Marble + Copper Serving Board $58

6.  Crate&Barrel 2-Tone Marble Board Small $19.95 & Medium 24.95

7.  Comerford Collection Perimeter Tray: $235

8.  Sur la Table Marble & Mango Wood Cheese Board $50

9.  West Elm Marble Cutting Board (Paddle) $39

10. Target Threshold Cheese Dome $19.99

11.  CB2 Streamline Board with Copper Handle $39.95

12. Urban Outfitters Magical Thinking Patterned Cutting Board $34

With that, I'm super excited to shop for cheese plate supplies this weekend.  I've been re-visiting a few of my favorites from the past year to inform the shopping list.  Per usual, I aim to find the perfect balance of meats and cheeses, complimented by a mixture of garnishes: from fresh and dried fruits to herbs, tapenades and jams.  Pretty much everything my mom loved!!  And I know that she'll be there in spirit :)

BEST OF: Anthropologie Sale

The Anthroplologie Home sale section is generally my go-to for gifts.  You can usually find unique serveware, whimsical candle holders or fun desk accessories.  The kind of things people don't usually buy for themselves, but appreciate getting from a friend.  I'll either stock up for birthday season (my girlfriends all have b-days consecutively March-June) or last minute hostess gifts.  In fact, this past weekend, as I headed out to a Galentine's Party, I grabbed a bottle of wine and went into my gift drawer to find a cute lemon bottle opener I purchased last November.  It was the perfect present to have in tow.

Even better than an Antrho sale is the Extra $40% they offer from time to time.  The most recent EXTRA40 sale started yesterday, so here's my picks for some good buys.  The fun (cheaper) stuff tends to go quick, so take a look before these links expire :)

Clockwise from top left:

Citrus Squeeze Bottle Opener: SALE PRICE $6.95 (+ 40% off)

Estella Bowl SALE PRICE $9.95 (+ 40% off)

Sonora Cocktail Napkin SALE PRICE $3.95 (+ 40% off)

Provisions Measuring Cups SALE PRICE $29.95 (+ 40% off)

Sun Grove Salt + Pepper dish SALE PRICE $9.95 (+ 40% off)

Metallic Ruler SALE PRICE $4.95 (+ 40% off)

Truth be told, my only complaint about Anthropologie is their archaic approach to shipping costs.  A little dramatic (I know) but anywhere else, it's usually free after a $50 minimum.  However, at Antro, the more items you buy, the more expensive the shipping.  The trick is to call a local store and ask them to place the order.  As annoying as it is, they are usually super helpful and I've heard that they do it all the time.  Apparently, I'm not the only one that gets amped up on shipping costs!!

And, if you're in the mood for more of a splurge, this Darby Side Table is on major sale $499 (was $798) + 40% off, so it's basically $300.  I'm a huge fan of chestnut burl done well.  This would look great next to a modern white leather sofa or or deep blue velvet couch.  See how Emily Henderson incorporated a similar look in her guest bedroom below: white leather + chestnut side tables + blue velvet = perfection.

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/36161529.jsp#/


 Photo from StylebyEmilyHenderson.com

Photo from StylebyEmilyHenderson.com

GIFT GUIDE: Valentine's Day Ideas for the Home Decor Lover

Up until last night, this was my Valentine's Day wishlist.  But then Beyoncé went and sneakily announced her Formation World Tour... and everyone knows Beyoncé is the way to a girls heart.  Soooo...Paul, I hope you are listening!! VIP box seats preferred ;)

For those of you that don't have Beyoncé on your list, here are some household items I've been coveting that would make great gifts for that special someone, a good friend or yourself!!

Clockwise from top left:

Marble Bookends $135 - Kinda 80's, kinda awesome.

Wood & Marble Duo Server $180 - Choosing between a marble or a wood cutting board is like choosing your favorite Helmsworth brother: It depends on your mood, but if you could get two at the same time, why wouldn't you?!?

West Elm Hedgehog Planter $14 - Animal planters are the new face planters. Get 'em while they're hot!

Anthropologie Tall Pitcher $98 - So simple, so pretty.  One day, when I have my dream summer home in Mexico, I'll take dips in the pool and whip up batches of margs using this pitcher.   Picture those enviable paparazzi shots that surface every year of Jen Anniston and Chelsea Handler vacationing in some beautiful Mexican Hacienda.  Yep..that's exactly what it'll be like.  PS- Have you checked out "Chelsea Does" on Netflix yet?  Good stuff!

Jonathan Adler Ceramic Gazelle $150 -  Tall, sculptural and a great talking piece.

Indigo Arrows Pillow $88 - Neutral, modern and fun.

Black & White Cups $10 each - These ceramic cups are from Japan.  I'd love to fill them up with cold Sapporo, invite my best girlfriends over and order Sugar Fish for delivery.

Clement Pedestal $150 - Great pattern that reminds me of the Atelier Stella ceramics I'm forever coveting.

Ceramic Bells $135 - I saw these in Emily Henderson's living room re-do a little while back...they've been on my wishlist ever since.

Crate & Barrel Marble Fruit Bowl $49.95 - The Pedestal shape is great for styling.  Grab a bunch of tangerines, limes or even artichokes and place it in center of your table for a simple, but elegant everyday centerpiece.

GET THE LOOK: Valentine's Day Buffet

Valentine's Day decor shouldn't JUST be reserved for hearts and roses (though I do like both very much).  Here's a little "drinks for two" set-up mixing metals (copper and gold), with light wood accents and less traditional blooms (pincushion flowers and an air plant):

And here's how to GET THE LOOK:

Clockwise from top left: A Beautiful Mess Copper Pipe Wall Hanging //  Anthropologie Candle Snuffer (no longer available, similar on Etsy here)  //  Target Threshold Serving Tray $29.99 (beautiful and heavy, high quality piece. It's sold out online, but there may be some left in stores) //  Copper Bar Tools $50 // World Market Moscow Mule Mug $19 // Anthropologie Totem Candle Holder $78 (more affordable light wood taper option at CB2 for $7.95) //  West Elm Carafe Vase $34 //  Vintage Brass Bottle Opener $18.99 // See this post about finding wooden hand sculptures similar to the one in the photo at top.

And, as always, here's my favorite styling canvas, the West Elm Modern Buffet:


BEST OF: Target's New Neutrals

I used to have to go to estate sales or raid your grandmother's house for my rattan fix.  But grandma can rest easy now that Target has satisfied our rattan and wicker needs in a major way this season.  There are a number of new pieces throughout the Threshold line (and a few from Nate Berkus), including retro-inspired mirrors, sweet storage baskets AND most notably a rattan bar cart.   I'll say it again guys, A RATTAN BAR CART!!  This is huge considering previous options were paying a premium + shipping on eBay, finding a moldy old one on Craigslist or shelling out $500+ on Serena & Lilly.  Admittedly, I LOVE the Serena & Lilly one, it's just nice to know there's an alternative price point out there.  Target has done it again!!

Here are my favorites:

 

clockwise from top left:

Wicker Rim Round Mirror $49.99//  Rattan Charger $9.99//  Rattan Round Wall Mirror $49.99//  Large Rattan Basket $39.99//  Linear Weave Lounge Chair $99.99//  Threshold Weave Stool/Bench $69.99//  Rattan Oval Tray $29.99//  Nate Berkus Woven Basket $34.99//  Rattan Bar Cart $129.99//  Black Rattan Basket $34.99

For some inspiration on how to incorporate wicker and rattan into your space, look no further than Amber Interiors.  One of my favorite designers, Amber flawlessly weaves in these pieces to create fun, but cohesive spaces.  Some more bohemian than others, it's all about how you accessorize.  Pair a wicker peacock chair with colorful kilim pillows and a fur throw for a boho chic look, or keep it minimal by laying a rattan stool next to a marble coffee table or mid-century sofa.  Like any element in a room, the trick is NOT to over do it.  Mix and match materials to let each piece stand out vs. overwhelm.

 Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

 Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

 Amber Interiors via Domainehome.com

Amber Interiors via Domainehome.com

 Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

 Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

 Photo from amberinteriordesign.com

Photo from amberinteriordesign.com




COLOR INSPIRATION: Argentina!

I often joke with friends about my "greatest regrets."  From NOT piercing my nose to NOT buying that vintage Scandinavian vase at the flea to NOT ordering the right cocktail off a super complicated mixology menu (why didn't I pick that delicious looking one with all the cucumber slices?!?...as much as I want to like jalapeno bitters, they're always too spicy for me).

One of my "bigger regrets" is NOT visiting Argentina when my good friend, Allison, was living in Buenos Aires in 2009.   However, this year, I finally made up for it by heading there with my boyfriend, Paul, to visit his family for Christmas.  Most of our time was spent in Rosario, a lovely port town about 3 hours north of Buenos Aires.  We had about 5 days total in BA, half of which had me laid up in a hotel room with food poisoning, but Paul was the ultimate tour guide!!  He managed to cram in all of BA in a matter of 2 days.  From Recoleta, to La Boca, to Belgrano, to all the Palermos (Hollywood, Soho and Chico), to driving outside the city to see San Isidro and El Tigre. 

The colors in this country are absolutely amazing.  Below are some of my favorites from the trip.

LA BOCA:

One of the many barrios in BA, I had this on my list simply because I wanted to take photos of the colorful houses.  It's pretty touristy, so we were only there about 15 minutes (enough for a few snaps), but well worth the visit.  I'm in LOVE with this vibrant palate against the blue sky!!

BUILDINGS, TILE & ARCHITECTURE:

 My favorite color combo of the trip in Pasaje Pan.

My favorite color combo of the trip in Pasaje Pan.

 Legit old school tiles in a toy store in Victoria. 

Legit old school tiles in a toy store in Victoria. 

 Stained Glass in Pasaje Pan.

Stained Glass in Pasaje Pan.

 I'm not quite sure people need to see my feet this close, BUT I really do love those tiles!!

I'm not quite sure people need to see my feet this close, BUT I really do love those tiles!!

 One of the many beautiful homes in Palermo Chico.

One of the many beautiful homes in Palermo Chico.

CAFE/RESTAURANTS:

 New restaurant in Rosario with cute decor called MALALA.

New restaurant in Rosario with cute decor called MALALA.

 Speakeasy disguised as a flower shop.  An industrial refrigerator door opens to a stairwell, which leads to the underground bar.

Speakeasy disguised as a flower shop.  An industrial refrigerator door opens to a stairwell, which leads to the underground bar.

 Sweet (grandma chic) cafe decor in Rosario.

Sweet (grandma chic) cafe decor in Rosario.

Lastly...speaking of regrets, I've decided I really want to add to my single ear lobe piercings and get 2 more per ear.  Unlike that nose piercing that I NEVER got...I actually have do this!  At first, I was going to do it here in Argentina (b/c... what a fun thing to do on a trip), but I know myself and I would probably get an infection or second guess the placement of each hole with the piercing person (and that's hard to do with a language barrier).  So, I'll be holding myself to it and getting them done my first week back in LA.  If you know of any great piercing places, let me know!! #noregrets ;)

GET THE LOOK: Modern Wreath Centerpiece

I was super excited when CB2 reached out with an opportunity to design one of their awesome holiday wreaths.  After hearing that another blogger was being incredibly creative and designing an advent calendar, I knew that I also wanted to make something original to set myself apart.  Enter the idea for a modern take on the traditional (and OUTDATED) wreath centerpiece. 

Here's my INSPIRATION:

And here's the FINISHED PRODUCT:

Modern Wreath Centerpiece

Instead of your traditional greenery and red accents, I focused on eucalyptus and rose gold (both having their moment right now)...and tied it together with black and white accents.

It was really easy to make.  I just turned the wire wreath upside down and laid the rose gold garland along one side, then looped the eucalyptus in and out of the wires.  I also choose to leave a bit of the wire exposed to underscore the modern nature of the wreath, but you can fill with your desired amount. From there, I just propped up the platter in the center and added a mix of hurricane, taper and tea light candles to tie the centerpiece together.

GET THE LOOK:

  Photo of the Baby Blue Eucalyptus by SomethingTurquoise.com

Photo of the Baby Blue Eucalyptus by SomethingTurquoise.com

Clockwise from top left: Stamp Table Runner // Eucalyptus (I used the Baby Blue type, but you can also create a beautiful wreath with the Seeded and Silver Dollar type of Eucalyptus) , Rose Gold Garland // Halo Taper Candle // Drohgo Taper Candle // Wire Small Hurricane // Round Slab Server // Gami Rose Gold Candle Holder (tea lights).  CENTER: The CB2 Wire Wreath

Note that the wreath is pretty big, so it's best as a centerpiece on larger tables.  But, It also looks great hanging up. 

NOW....Go nuts with your own CB2 wreath. Share it with us using #MYCB2. CB2 will be regramming some of our favorites throughout the rest of the holiday season.  See their blog for more wreath inspiration.

CHECK OUT THESE CB2 WREATHS YOU CAN USE and be see how Vanessa Diaz of Brite & Bubbly turned the galvanized bubble wreath into a disco advent calendar and Amelia Rose Posada of Birch & Bone combined greenery, succulents, antlers and feathers to fill the inner peace wreath.