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  • December 16, 2014 Brooke Rawlins


    I had a cute bearded dude shake up a few cocktails the other night using this leftover spiced apple cider. The Harrison Smith House inspired fall sours Matt whipped up turned out just sweet enough, a tad spicy, and perfectly refreshing. Even if you're not typically a bourbon fan (me!), you'll be won over and instantly warmed up after a few sips. If you're looking for a Christmas/New Year's Eve Drink, give this one a try!

    Ingredients (1 drink): 1.5 ounces bourbon, 4 dashes bitters, 3/4 ounces lemon juice, 1/4 ounces spice syrup (star anise, cinnamon, allspice, clove, turbinado sugar - Matt used nutmeg instead of star anise and raw cane sugar instead of turbinado sugar), 1.5 ounces cider

    To do: Shake with ice and pour

    Have any go-to winter cocktails? I'd love to hear!

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  • December 9, 2014 Brooke Rawlins


    I've been really inspired by all these creative people making their own wrapping paper this year. It really does make the act of gift giving that much more special. If there's something really meaningful and heartfelt inside the package, it just makes sense to have the outside reflect that sentiment too, right? There are so many cool wrapping ideas floating around the internet, but I honed in on a few DIY designs with Kraft paper – mainly because I package with it all the time, and always have a huge roll of it on hand. It's also more rustic looking, and a completely blank canvas, which I like! Read on for four really easy, inexpensive, make-your-own wrapping papers + more info on our complimentary gift wrapping special!

    Deer Print: stamp // white paint or white ink pad // tree sticker // cinnamon stick // red/white twine – sponge white paint on to your stamp (from Michael's) and stamp on to kraft paper however you'd like. Let dry, wrap, and finish with the sticker, cinnamon stick and twine. 

    Glitter Dots: clear adhesive dots (I used Zots) // glitter // miniature twig wreath (from Michael's) // tag – apply the adhesive dots onto the paper in any pattern. Sprinkle glitter over each dot and shake off the access, wrap, and finish by glueing or taping the wreath to the package. 

    Stripes: Washi tape // glitter tape // wood snowflakes (from Michael's) // tag – plan out the order/thickness you'd like your stripes, then stick in place. You can use a ruler and pencil marks to ensure the stripes are straight if you'd like. Adhere snowflakes to the package with glue or tap, placing one snowflake over the whole on your tag. 

    Small Picture: small image // piece of thicker paper for backing // ribbon // small ornament – I love the idea of printing out a small picture that means something to you, whether it's a photo of the person you're giving the gift to or a small picture of what's actually in the package. I simply printed my image from my home printer and secured to a square of thicker, textured paper. Adhere the photo to your wrapped package and tie with ribbon. Finish with a small ornament, sprig of greenery, or something else!

    Because we're really keen on the idea of wrapping to reflect the special gift on the inside, we're offering free gift wrapping of any original 8x8 canvas by Vicki Rawlins purchased before 12/15 (the last day for delivery-by-Christmas orders!). Your painting will come wrapped similarly to one of the examples above and ready to be given to a (really lucky) loved one. 

    Shop the 8x8 canvas collection here

    Happy wrapping, guys!

    PS. Photos by the wonderful Matt Sampson who says I still have glitter in my eyebrows!  

    Looking for more holiday inspiration? Check out this, this and this!

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  • December 5, 2014 Brooke Rawlins


    Did you buy one of those huge jugs of cider at the apple orchards this year and need a way to spice up the last of it? Or maybe you need a warm drink to fill up that to-go cup while you walk around the Christmas tree lot, or wander around looking at the lights. Either way, you can't go wrong with this way too easy spiced apple cider recipe. I made mine yesterday afternoon (and shot these photos) between other work to-do's and have been sipping it ever since, not to mention smelling it throughout my apartment!

    If you made the homemade eggnog lattes that I posted a few weeks ago, this is the perfect way to use up some more of those spices, like nutmeg, cloves, etc. 

    Ps. our beautiful Copper Foil Cork Coasters made an appearance in this post!

    What you need: 1 gallon good apple cider // 2 apples // 1 orange // 1/2 lemon // cloves // allspice (whole) // cinnamon sticks // grated cinnamon // grated nutmeg // spiced rum (optional)

    1) Pour your apple cider into a large pot or slow cooker

    2) Prep your fruit by slicing the orange and the lemon, and poking the apples with cloves

    3) Add your sliced fruit, apples, small palmful of whole allspice, grated cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, and grated nutmeg to the cider – I didn't measure the spices here, that's what makes this recipe so easy (and right up my alley). I just covered the top of the pot with a sprinkling of each spice, and tweaked to taste. 

    4) Let simmer for about 4 hours

    5) Ladle into mugs and finish with a hot orange slice and fresh cinnamon stick 

    I've made this drink a few times, but this is the first I've added lemon slices. I'm so glad I did because they cut the sweetness of the cider just a bit!

    See, just 5 steps. 'Gotta love that. 

    Enjoy and stay warm, guys!

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  • November 20, 2014 Brooke Rawlins


    Not that there's a single thing wrong with a green spruce wreath finished with some sparkly bows and ornaments. Again, I think it's the un-fall like weather and the never ending holiday inspiration on the internet that's got me craving a less traditional, more earthy, but just as statement-making wreath. 

    I rounded up a few photos I liked and eventually decided on two vibes. One that didn't scream Christmas, but still worked the green and red, and one that can be enjoyed in fall, winter and even spring!

    WAY 1: 

    What I used: pre-made twig wreath / a few different types of Eucalyptus / pink, red, white and plum colored berries and pinecones from the craft store / wire to tie down stray pieces 

    I simply wove branches of Eucalyptus through the twig wreath and tied down pieces that had a mind of their own, making sure the branches and leaves were all moving in the same direction. I knew I didn't want the greenery to cover the entire circle, just to add more whimsy and undone-ness to the look of the wreath. So I chose to concentrate my Eucalyptus on the right side, adding most of my berries and pinecones there as well, and tapering everything around to the left. A trick: actually hang your wreath on the wall when you get stuck or think you're finished. You'll probably notice a few bald spots, or places that need to be trimmed or need more berries, etc. 



    Way 2: 

    What I used: pre-made twig wreath / yellow Eucalyptus / Celosia from the farmer's market / a feather and grasses from the craft store / wire 

    I started this wreath like I did the first one, by deciding where I wanted to focus my "special stuff", like my Celosia and feather, and then weaving the yellow Eucalyptus into the wreath in the same direction the twigs were moving. I cut the tops of the Celosia and wove those in next in the bottom right corner of the wreath. Because this wreath is pretty neutral, the hot pink flowers make it work. I then wove in a a few grasses and finally my single feather. I don't know if I achieved the "Bohemian Christmas" vision that I had so lustfully imagined in my head (ha!), but I'm happy with how it turned out. 

    I'm not a planner, but making a wreath is so much easier when you plan it out somewhat. Find photos that inspire you, buy more than you need at the craft store and return what you don't use later on. It's much more fun to have a lot of wreath toppings that fit your vibe to choose from than not having enough (did you see that spread of stuff on my table?). 

    Any non-traditional holiday wreath ideas you'd like to share? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear!

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  • November 12, 2014 Brooke Rawlins


    This drink post was inspired by two things: 1) The fact that it's tough sometimes to get in the holiday spirit when you're a Chicagoan living in Southern California. San Diego does weird things in the fall/winter, like insists on being sunny and warm. 2) The fact that I love eggnog and coffee, and the two mixed together is pure genius.

    My aunt makes a mean eggnog latte, so I thought I'd try my hand at a homemade eggnog version. I'm not exaggerating for the sake of the blog post when I say it turned out insanely delicious. We're enjoying in both warm latte form and in cold, normal eggnog form! Also, homemade eggnog sounds tedious and hard, but believe me when I say it's not, otherwise I wouldn't be making it. Find the full ingredient list and recipe at the bottom of the post. 

    Ps. our adorable Grey Speckled Mug and 5" Copper Foil Cork Bowl made an appearance in this post!

    So first for the eggnog part of the eggnog latte. I combined a few recipes that I found on Pinterest in order to exclude white sugar and include coconut milk. Even if you're pro-white sugar and maybe haven't tried coconut milk before, I highly recommend making yours this way for the sole reason that it's so rich and delicious, and not so sweet! 

    What you need: 2 cups whole milk // 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk // 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon // 5 cloves // 4 egg yokes // 2 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (plus more to taste) // 1 (additional) cup full fat coconut milk // 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg // 1 tsp vanilla extract // orange zest

    1) Combine milk, cloves, cinnamon and coconut milk over low heat in a deep sauce pan until the mixture is heated through. Slowly increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a low boil, not rolling boil.

    2) In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and room-temperature syrup. Beat eggs using a mixer or by hand until fluffy. 

    3) Slowly temper the eggs by adding about 1 tbsp. at a time of the hot milk mixture into the egg and syrup mixture. Once enough of the milk mixture is in the egg mixture, pour it all back into the sauce pan. Heat over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. It's thick enough when it makes a clear line on the back of the spoon. 

    4) Add the second part of the coconut milk, nutmeg, vanilla extract and a bit of orange zest to the mixture and heat through. Do not bring to a boil.

    5) Strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer to catch the spices and any clumps. If you're making a latte now, keep the eggnog warm. If you're waiting 'til later, or not making a latte, refrigerate the eggnog for a few hours before pouring yourself a cup. 

    For the latte part of the eggnog latte, simply brew your favorite coffee at double strength. If you have an espresso machine, then make a few shots of that!


    6) Fill about half of your mug with coffee or a few shots of espresso

    7) Shake up about 3/4 cup of eggnog in a mason jar to make it really frothy. If you have one of those magical hand frothers, use that! Also, depending on your taste, you can dilute your latte with a bit of whole milk. I added a small pour to my mason jar before shaking it up.

    8) Pour your frothy, hot eggnog in your coffee cup holding the froth back with a spoon to save it for the top. 

    9) Top it with orange zest, a pinch of ground nutmeg and a cinnamon stick! 

    I'm all ears for any really tasty holiday drink recipes you guys have - share 'em!

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  • May 15, 2014 Brooke Rawlins


    Apartment living poses a few challenges when it comes to decorating exactly how you might like. First of all, it's a really small space. It's also not actually yours, so painting walls, installing fixtures, and anything involving holes where there weren't holes before, can cost a price. So when all the beautiful design trends seem nearly impossible to pull off, you have to get creative. It helps to choose a room that inspires you. If you know what you're going for - in this case it's bringing a combination of marble and copper into my space - then it's easy to be on the lookout for and find small-scale items that can actually work into a tiny, rented place. 

    Disclaimer: The hanging clothes rack and wall sconce might involve a few holes. But hey, live a little, and maybe learn how to do a quick patching job. 

    Clockwise from Inspiration Room1234567, 891011

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