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LATE SUMMER CHEESE BOARD

LK_OHFox_August2015-29I don’t know about you, but it still feels a bit like summer around Chicago. The sun is still warm and it’s still totally acceptable to wear those cute peep toe heels you just don’t have the heart to put away yet. Thanks to Candice & Ashley, we are getting one last squeeze out of summer & celebrating the end of that beautiful season with this gorgeous cheese board! I feel like a cheese board is just about the best way to celebrate anything, so here’s to it! xo- LK


Labor Day weekend was the sweetest, last sip of summer with road trips, grill outs, and long nights (for us anyway!) But the weather hasn’t changed… I’m not quite ready to roast pumpkins or make a big pots of soup.  So recently, when we headed over to a movie night with friends and they served the perfectly seasonal cheese and snack boards, I was dying to share it with you all!  My sweet friend Ashley agreed to have me over and share all of her secrets…

First up, Ashley says it’s the perfect time to serve homemade Italian sodas!  They’re refreshing at a time when you’re over lemonade, but not ready for hot apple cider.

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BLUEBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP

1. Boil 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add 1.5 cup blueberries (or berries of your choice) and continue boiling for 10 minutes.

3. Strain. Keep the syrup, discard the berries and voila!

4. Pour over ice and top with sparkling water.

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Next, Ashley showed me the secret to preparing the most delicious artichokes.  These babies absolutely stole the show!

Artichokes totally intimidated me until Ashley demystified the whole process!

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1. Start with a super sharp knife – if you’ve been looking for an upgrade that won’t downgrade your wallet, I’ve got to recommend these.

2. Quarter the ‘chokes and steam them for about 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Melt 1/4 stick butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan.

4. Then, pan fry the artichokes flesh side down for 5 minutes until brown and crispy.

5. Finish with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice!

LK_OHFox_August2015-33You’ve got your beverage, the ‘chokes are on the stove, now it’s time to prep the most main event – the cheese board!

Pick up late summer fruit – stone fruit like peaches and plums plus fresh figs are perfect.  Halve and quarter into bite sizes with a safe, good knife.  The Edge of Belgravia makes the most absolutely beautiful knives that are incredibly sharp and definitely affordable if you’re looking for a big – girl knife option! I use the precision series.OHFOX2

Add three various cheeses based on softness – buy what you love!  I adore sheep’s milk cheese so my picks were along the same flavor profile, but differed in softness, which allows guests to maximize their favorite combinations.

Include the classics like marcona almonds and a salty olive.

LK_OHFox_August2015-22 (1)Finish with sardines.  I’ve never seen anyone serve sardines like Ashley, soaked in oil and topped with parsley.  But with a dollop of dijon on a cracker, they couldn’t have been better.LK_OHFox_August2015-21 (1)

What do you think – are you inspired, feeling creative?  It’s amazing what simple snacks laid out can do to make company feel relaxed and at home.  Secrets and real life stories flow freely when folks are full and there’s something tasty to drink.  I hope this post gives you that little nudge to invite a few friends over to share real life!OHFOX3


Beautiful photos by Becca EwingCandice Button

DINNER WITH FRIENDS | BRITTANY PIGORINI

birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-7Hello & happy Tuesday! Brittany here and I am so excited to share our Dinner With Friends feature. As an event designer, my world is a beautiful place filled with lush, perfect imagery of ornate floral bouquets, styled vignettes, and more inspirational Pinterest boards than one could ever possibly imagine. Because these curated moments occupy my work life, I crave a more simplistic lifestyle and surroundings when I leave the office. I know many fellow creative folks can relate, as there’s always a tendency for comparisons, which can certainly lead us down a slippery slope.birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-12birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-16My friend hosted a small backyard bash for new and old friends alike, where we could all mingle, enjoy a glass of sangria, and relax amongst a candlelit dinner. With a no-fuss menu of a summer quinoa salad and roasted veggies, it was a menu that could be prepped easily and allow her to focus on conversations, not slaving away in the kitchen.birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-19birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-10birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-13Entertaining doesn’t need to be a huge production, and I think allowing guests to help out is the key to success. Rather than pretending you have it under control when you’re secretly drowning in a sea of failed recipes and wishing your home looked like a West Elm catalog, why not entrust in your friends to bring dessert, help set the table, or make a unique cocktail menu? You don’t need to do it all yourself!birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-23birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-18birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-2As the owner of a vintage rentals company, I was able to provide all of the tabletop goods and set the table quickly. Another friend is a talented calligrapher, so she easily whipped up a few name tags that were carefully placed to ensure people made new friends. Another guest owns a succulent and terrarium shop, so we of course incorporated her stunning creations as our centerpieces. Of course, we also were fortunate enough to have a photographer friend snap a few photos during the intimate occasion.

birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-27birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-1birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-21With only an hour of preparation, the entire party was setup and guests were able to share a special evening together. That’s what entertaining is all about – conversation, laughter, and bringing people together. Trust me, nobody cares if your napkins aren’t perfectly pressed or if your yard needs to be mowed.birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-28birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-30 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-39 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-37 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-35 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-34 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-32


Tabletop items and design: Birch & Brass | Calligraphy: Wondrous Whimsy | Hostess and Menu Planning: Modern Whimsy | Terrariums: Slavonk & Hortus Terraria | Event planning: The Daily Romantics | Photography: Chelsea Laine FrancisBRITTANY BUTTON

DINNER WITH FRIENDS | BRITTANY PIGORINI

birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-7Hello & happy Tuesday! Brittany here and I am so excited to share our Dinner With Friends feature. As an event designer, my world is a beautiful place filled with lush, perfect imagery of ornate floral bouquets, styled vignettes, and more inspirational Pinterest boards than one could ever possibly imagine. Because these curated moments occupy my work life, I crave a more simplistic lifestyle and surroundings when I leave the office. I know many fellow creative folks can relate, as there’s always a tendency for comparisons, which can certainly lead us down a slippery slope.birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-12birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-16My friend hosted a small backyard bash for new and old friends alike, where we could all mingle, enjoy a glass of sangria, and relax amongst a candlelit dinner. With a no-fuss menu of a summer quinoa salad and roasted veggies, it was a menu that could be prepped easily and allow her to focus on conversations, not slaving away in the kitchen.birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-19birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-10birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-13Entertaining doesn’t need to be a huge production, and I think allowing guests to help out is the key to success. Rather than pretending you have it under control when you’re secretly drowning in a sea of failed recipes and wishing your home looked like a West Elm catalog, why not entrust in your friends to bring dessert, help set the table, or make a unique cocktail menu? You don’t need to do it all yourself!birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-23birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-18birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-2As the owner of a vintage rentals company, I was able to provide all of the tabletop goods and set the table quickly. Another friend is a talented calligrapher, so she easily whipped up a few name tags that were carefully placed to ensure people made new friends. Another guest owns a succulent and terrarium shop, so we of course incorporated her stunning creations as our centerpieces. Of course, we also were fortunate enough to have a photographer friend snap a few photos during the intimate occasion.

birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-27birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-1birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-21With only an hour of preparation, the entire party was setup and guests were able to share a special evening together. That’s what entertaining is all about – conversation, laughter, and bringing people together. Trust me, nobody cares if your napkins aren’t perfectly pressed or if your yard needs to be mowed.birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-28birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-30 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-39 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-37 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-35 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-34 birchandbrassdinnerLOWRES-32


Tabletop items and design: Birch & Brass | Calligraphy: Wondrous Whimsy | Hostess and Menu Planning: Modern Whimsy | Terrariums: Slavonk & Hortus Terraria | Event planning: The Daily Romantics | Photography: Chelsea Laine FrancisBRITTANY BUTTON

DOLCE NEVE GELATO

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Hello! Brittany here & I am so excited to be introducing you to one of my favorite spots in Austin! It would be an outright lie if I said that I didn’t indulge in gelato on a weekly basis. I’m not much of an ice cream gal myself – blasphemous, I know! I much prefer the unique flavor combinations and “light” feeling of Italian gelato.

I’ve had the pleasure of making friends with the lovely folks at Dolce Neve, a local gelato shop here in Austin, TX, whom opened their charming storefront last year.

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Marco Silvestrini, one of the three shop’s owners, left the corporate world as a management consultant in New York to open the shop after feeling unfulfilled and looking at his past to see what truly makes him happy. “I had great memories of my childhood, when almost every day I was paying a visit to my favorite local gelato shop,” says Marco.DolceNeveWebResDelivery-2DolceNeveWebResDelivery-3But, what exactly makes gelato different from ice cream? Well, for starters, it has a 6-8% fat content versus 15-50% in traditional ice creams. In my mind, that means I can eat three times more gelato without feeling guilty….Right? Additionally, Marco points out that, “gelato has less air than ice cream, so it’s denser and creamier.” It’s also served at a higher temperature, so your palette can pickup the flavors easier. DolceNeveWebResDelivery-5 DolceNeveWebResDelivery-7

It goes without saying that gelato’s my top choice for dessert at a dinner party. You can bring a few flavors in a to-go carton and provide everyone with spoons to eat directly from the package. Simple and no fuss! Or, bake the cookies below and guests can make their own gelato sandwiches at your next gathering.

Marco recommends bringing two flavors: Stracciatella, the Italian version of chocolate chip (and my personal favorite), as well as a specialty flavor, Pistachio,. They make theirs from a raw pistachio paste.
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As a small business owner myself, I also love that Dolce Neve keeps much of their business local. They source their coffee beans directly from the Austin-based roaster Texas Coffee Traders, shop at local farmers markets, and most of their suppliers are local farmers.

It goes without saying that gelato’s my top choice for dessert at a dinner party. You can bring a few flavors in a to-go carton and provide everyone with spoons to eat directly from the package. Simple and no fuss! Or, bake my favorite chocolate-chocolate chip cookies from Epi Curious and make a gelato sandwich. Bonus: You can freeze them for up to 2 days, so make them ahead of time and eliminate any day-of stress.
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CHOCOLATE-CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE &

STRACCIATELLA GELATO SANDWICH

INGREDIENTS:

• 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

• 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

• 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

• 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

• Fresh Stracciatella gelato, slightly softened

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Add the first 4 ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add in both sugars, then eggs, individually. Beat in extracts, then the flour mixture. Next, fold in chocolate chips.
  • Drop a tablespoon of batter onto baking sheets, spacing them 2 to 3 inches apart. Flatten the batter mounds to 3⁄4 inch thickness.
  • Bake cookies for 5 minutes. Reverse sheets. Bake until cookies are soft to touch, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Freeze on baking sheets for 15 minutes.
  • Spoon 1/3 cup stracciatella gelato onto flat side of 1 cookie. Top with second cookie, flat side down; press together. Wrap and freeze.
  • Repeat!

YIELD: Makes about 12 sandwiches
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Story by  Brittany Pigorini

Photography by Chelsea Laine Francis 

 

MY FAVORITE KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

OH!Fox_17Summer is officially here, and outdoor grilling and easy entertaining are the name of the game!  We’ve been talking a lot here at LaurenKelp.com HQ about minimizing clutter, cutting back on excess, and going after that dream/goal/idea you keep having. So, in the spirit of going after dreams, I spent the Spring designing modern kitchen essential pieces that truly help make the transition from grill-to-table seamless and beautiful.

Taking into account durable materials, helpful shapes and sizes and pieces that can be used for multiple purposes, I decided to make a cotton towels, cutting boards, ceramic vessels, and leather placemats.  If you haven’t read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” but Marie Kondo (which you totally should it’s truly life-changing), Marie talks about getting rid of the things that no longer serve you. There are so many kitchen products out there made from crappy materials, don’t work well, and aren’t worth their weight. When designing this collection, I wanted to focus on quality materials and honest craftsmanship so we could cut down on the clutter and take back some of that coveted counter space.

Here’s a peek if you’d like to see the collection…

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The first essential is the perfect cotton towel that can be used as a napkin, hand towel, or even placemat. You can wipe down your counters with it or hang it over your stove to dry your hands.  I love having cotton linens on hand to dry the dishes, too.  The uses are endless!

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The next essential is a cutting board.  This one is made from Texas maple, Peruvian walnut, and bloodwood which are beautiful woods that will age over time.  I use ‘cutting boards’ to serve cheese and charcuterie, make a beautiful snack plate, or just as a surface to prepare a sandwich.  Here, I simply laid out stems I picked from the garden to arrange a small bouquet.

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One essential that I didn’t even realize I loved is a multi use vessel!  After using the same cups over and over for wine and vases on different occasions, I knew the collection needed an industrial, modern take on the glass. You can use these in place of stemware for a  cocktail, as mugs for coffee or dishes for a yummy scoop of ice cream.

OH!Fox_5Last up is a leather placemat.  I honestly use a placemat most of the time when I sit down at the table – it transforms daily meals into a special time.

Now I want to know – what are your essentials?  What several pieces do you use over and over in the kitchen to keep it uncluttered but beautiful?


Dreamy photography by Becca Ewing

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HOME TOUR WITH KATE LESUEUR

MH20150327-109Candice here, and I’ve known for a while that I wanted to share Kate LeSueur’s home with you.  Mostly because she totally upended how I think about hosting, serving appetizers, and the like.  Mostly because she prepares food beautifully and casually.  Mostly because conversation with her is so easy.  Scroll through the beautiful photos below and be inspired by her inviting leather Chesterfield, marble top furniture that ushers in the spirit of New Orleans, and most of all, her hospitality.MH20150327-21

{Kate’s mismatched cane-bottom chairs and marble table takes me straight to a Louisiana bistro.}

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{The photography above the couch are Kate’s originals.}

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MH20150327-38{This afternoon, Kate served pickled carrots and made a batch of homemade potato chips for us to snack on with Campari Spritzers.}

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{Here’s little peek of her latest work below and here:}

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How did you find the space?

We found the space by just driving around the neighborhood.  We knew what part of town we wanted to be in, so we just persisted.  This old complex of 6 apartment units was built in the 50s.  They were being refurbished at the time, so we left our names and phone numbers on other tenants’ cars and doors with hopes of a call back.  We got super lucky.

What do you love about your space?

I love how quiet it is.  Walking in this neighborhood has yet to get old.  And it’s really a privilege to be able to so easily and quickly walk or bike to run errands or go grab a drink.  And, I love that it is where we are now, in so many ways.  It’s far from done, which can be difficult at times since we’re constantly over stimulated with social media and the internet — seeing everyone’s perfect nook, wall, room.It’s exhausting, frankly — the sense of urgency to have everything perfect now, how it’s hard to find originality, and largely, that it’s rare to see something that feels honest.  I’m guilty of it, trying to make things look perfect knowing it will be photographed – running around town trying to find new furniture, etc etc.  I quickly had to can that feeling not only because I had no luck in finding anything, but also remembered that a beautiful, personal space is collected slowly, created over much time.   I think a challenge also lies in that when one does creative work, there is sort of an expectation that every part of their life is perfectly curated.

Pretty please share that Campari Spritzer recipe!

We were outside of Venice once with a big group of friends and missed a train we hustled to catch.  So at the tiny station, we ordered Campari spritzers.  They served them with a big salty green Cerignola olive.  It was everything.  A favorite food memory for sure.  It’s just Campari and sparkling water.  And that green olive.

Give us your top entertaining tip.

People love potato chips.  And warmed olives.  They are the perfect easy bite with a good drink.  Both are great with a sprinkle of dried herbs de provence.  The more approachable you keep things (including yourself and your home), your guests are more comfortable and everyone is happier.

Stay on the look out for more of Kate’s work here on the blog – it’s coming soon!  And finally, thank you so much Kate for sharing your home, such an intimate space, with us.

Stunning house tour photographs by Minette Hand.


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HOME TOUR WITH ALEXIA BROWN

MH-20150327-27Candice here, and I’ve got a total knock out home tour to share with you today.  Thanks to beauty Alexia Brown, the Owner & Curator behind Byron & Blue, who was so gracious to have me and Minette come spend an afternoon talking about life and drinking cold beer, today’s post will inspire you to be you.  From the way she styled her shelves to the way she organizes pots and pans, Alexia’s comfortability in her own skin is a true breath of fresh air. Scroll through my favorite photos from the shoot and find words of decorating and entertaining wisdom from Alexia below.

MH-20150327-33{Personal details on a vintage record cabinet greet guests.}

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{Using hooks and a mirror she transforms this potentially tricky space into a foyer.}

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living room details{Don’t you love the way Alexia layers rugs and uses vintage textiles to color her couch and living space?}

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MH-20150327-11shelving details

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{This shelving unit helps divide the long living space and is filled with sentimental treasures.}

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{Utilizing another vintage staple, she created an open space – perfect for storage and conversation.}

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MH-20150327-37{Simple open shelving and hanging pots make getting around the kitchen easy.}

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{Just up the ladder is Alexia’s bedroom loft.  With no storage options, she’s built in creative, functional shelving.}

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{Alexia also transformed a tiny space behind her bathroom door into a makeshift closet for extra storage!}

What do you love about your space?

I love the lofted bedroom and high ceilings. It makes the space feel airy and un-cramped, even though there isn’t a lot of square footage.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

The lack of a proper closet! I have a lot of clothing hanging in the bathroom, but what’s great about lack of storage is that it’s forced me to get rid of unnecessary belongings, which is a great feeling.

You took a long, open area and were able to break it up into spaces that made sense.  Tell us how you visualized and executed that.

I think the rugs help break up the space and the former tenant left these great shelves behind that helped create a separation, so it feels like I have a proper living room. And putting a dresser and some chairs and plants in the corner made it a little nook and separated it from the rest of the area.

Describe your interior style and maybe a little story about who influenced it. 

I make it a point to never over think my style. I feel that if you fill your home with what you love, it will just come together. It’s important to me that my home be unfussy and lived-in and comfortable.

My dad has always influenced my style – we did a lot of thrifting together when I was young and he was always bringing home great vintage finds.  It’s such a thrill when you find something that you can’t wait to take home.  He taught me that you should never put anything in your house you’re not excited about.

Give us your top entertaining tip.    

Always have Cards Against Humanity and lots of wine on hand.

Thank you thank you, one million times thank you, Alexia, for sharing your space with us.  If you want to get your hands on Alexia’s style check out Byron & Blue, her online shop.


Dreamy photos by Minette Hand 

Love Alexia’s style? Follow her Instagram!

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