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How To Be A No-Bake Baker

Hi there!

I’m back with another food-related post. Only this time it involves my personal favorite food group, sweets! Side Note: I am working on a decorating related post that I think ya’ll will love, so stay tuned!

Almost every night after dinner, I crave something sweet. I don’t know if it’s just out of habit, or I am literally craving sugar, but it happens.

One rule that I have adopted in this New Year, is that if I’m craving it, I have to make it myself. Kind of like what Michael Pollan says in this book. For months, I have been paying visits to my local chocolate store and “treating” myself to processed chocolates with fillings that leave me feeling bloated and icky. Don’t be fooled, I’m not churning my own ice cream over here (I am highly sensitive to ice cream actually!), just some simple vegan, gluten-free, no bake treats. It’s with these kind of desserts that my belly most agrees with, and it’s a sense of domestic accomplishment to produce something that tastes so good and is equally good for your body.

I’m intrigued by all the no-bake balls, cookies, bars, and bites out there, and I usually have the ingredients already on-hand.

The other night, I decided to make Buckeye balls. My mom makes the real deal for Easter, but I wanted to try the vegan, gluten-free version.

I started with the filling of this recipe, subbing Brown Rice Flour for the coconut flour, as I did not have coconut flour, and the rest was very simple!

I used 1 cup of Santa Cruz’s crunchy light roasted peanut butter, 1/2 cup of Brown Rice Flour, and 3 T of pure maple syrup. After stirring in all the filling ingredients, I rolled them into balls the size of a tablespoon on a lined baking sheet.

pbballs

Once I used up all the filling, I placed the peanut butter balls in the freezer to harden slightly while whipping up the chocolate using this recipe for vegan chocolate bars. The key  players for a vegan chocolate coating are the following:

vegan ingredients

It is important to get the ratio of cocoa powder to coconut oil right, because either you could end up with it being watery or too thick. Fortunately, the consistency of my chocolate was spot on!

vegan chocolate

After dipping the balls in the chocolate mixture by hand, I placed them in the freezer so the chocolate could set.

dipped

The next morning, I treated myself to the finished product. Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast?! 😉

buckeye

 

XOXO,

Ellen

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Behind The Design: The Cobblers Bench

This week’s Behind The Design post is all about the Cobblers Bench.

During the Civil War,  the army was known to subcontract such tasks as the making of boots and uniforms. The cobbler’s bench, mostly made from pine, was very functional. It usually consisted of a seat, sometimes with a leather cushion, cut-outs in the wood for the cobbler’s legs, and lastly, small drawers for storing the cobbler’s tools for shoemaking. 45401052c1418c8e9c46d46f2ed7b307

The furniture in an Early American-themed home is simple and handcrafted, with a look that only comes with age. Pieces from the colonial era are becoming more and more difficult to find, but talented craftspeople across the United States are building reproductions so authentic-looking it is almost impossible to tell the difference. In a primitive-style home, furniture pieces are not always used for their original purpose but instead put to work in other roles around the home.Cobbler's Table

I love their retro take on it!

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When my parents were just starting out and raising my sister, brother, and me, I feel like our home was very much Early American with flare. My mom sewed and did some needle-point work, and this cobbler’s bench was passed down from my grandparents. My great aunt and her husband also owned one, which I remember as well. My mom said she learned to walk around it, and I remember using it as a desk in our family room; coloring in my coloring books for what seemed like hours. I can even remember separating my crayon colors in the built-in compartments on the bench, and I can still see the hints of sparkle that my “Magic Swirl” crayons left on the wood.

Cobbler Bench Coffee Table

You can see, I used it as a coffee table when I was just starting out. Okay, I finally bought my fabric covered bench just last year, only because I wanted an updated look and more storage. But, the cobbler’s bench definitely served it’s purpose while I had it!!

redwine

This thrice loved bench is now back at my parent’s house in their basement. My mom plans to re-paint it and use it as a coffee table in the screened-in porch she hopes to have in a future down-sized home.

I’m sure I’ll get it back again one day, and maybe my kids will too learn how to walk around it!

Do you have a piece of furniture that has been passed down and re-purposed in your family?

XOXO,
Ellen

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PB & Cocoa Smoothie

Good Saturday morning!

I wanted to pop in and share this delicious smoothie I’ve been blending up for weeks. It’s quick, tasty, and refreshing after a Friday night of one too many craft beers at this fine establishment 😉

Smoothie 1.17.14

The mix:

1 1/2 cups frozen banana

1 scoop Organic Vegan Protein Powder (found here)

1 T Natural Peanut Butter

1 T Hershey’s Cocoa Powder

1 cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk

***Top with Old Fashioned Rolled Oats for some whole grains if you desire

I’m trying to make my coffee last all morning over here, what are your plans this weekend?

XOXO,

Ellen

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Top 5 Reasons I LOVE working for a Small Business

Hi there!

It’s hard to believe just 15 months ago, I made a major career change.  I decided to move on from a job that was not creatively satisfying and pursue my passion for interior decorating at Janet Brown Interiors. I mulled over the decision for weeks. Knowing that I would be taking a big pay cut and that my employer would no longer be paying for my health insurance, I decided to follow my “dream job” and accepted the position.

This is not to say that every day is sunshine and rainbows. Some days I come home feeling frustrated about my financial situation. I know I don’t make as much money as most of my peers, but I knew that going in. I also knew that the opportunity came into my life for a reason, and it could not have been at a more perfect time.

Working for a small residential Interior Decorating business has been something I’ve always seen myself doing, but had filed it away in my “one day” folder…until I made it happen! Sometimes I feel like I literally fell into this position, but it has led me to so many wonderful opportunities. Here are my Top 5 Reasons why I love working for a small business:

small business

1. Feeds My Creativity

Working for a small residential interior decorating business allows me the opportunity to utilize my creativity every.single.day! From designing mass e-mails to merchandising the store windows, and a whole lot in between, at the end of the day my creative side is very satisfied.

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Suzani Window

 

2. Helping People Make a House a Home

Since working at Janet Brown Interiors, I’ve met so many interesting and influential people in the Richmond community. Helping them find that special item; whether it’s new throw pillows for their sofa, or table linens for the Holidays is incredibly humbling.

 

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3. Increased Confidence and Managerial Skills

With helping customers, comes confidence. Not only am I working to sell our products, but I have to feel confident behind the item they are buying and feel certain they are getting the best value for their money.

In working for a small business, you have to put in what you want out of it. Often, that means being your own boss. Everyday, I make decisions with the customer in mind, i.e. product placement and “ease” of shopping, while also making sure all administrative tasks are getting done with efficiency.

 

Old St. Nick Ellen

 

4. Everyday is Different

My fourth reason for loving working at a small business, is that not one single day is ever the same. Aside from design clients, we can’t predict when customers will come in and what they’ll want to buy. One day we might have a $3,000 day in sales and other days, we barely break $500. While  the unpredictability can be frustrating when you are juggling several tasks at once, most of the time it’s fun and it keeps you on your toes!

5. A Stepping Stone for What’s to Come

At Janet Brown, I have access to hundreds of industry resources. From a simple project like figuring out fabric pricing per yard, to custom made pillows for a customer, I have already learned so much about the industry I love. With this experience and some further education, I feel sure I am in the right place at the right time to further my career goals.

 

Are you happy at your job? Are you willing to take a leap of faith and follow your passions? Feel free to vent or share your success stories with me!

XOXO,

Ellen

 

 

 

 

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Out & About: The VMFA!

Hi friends!

As you all know, I love when I have a random week day off. On these days, I’m sometimes more productive than on the weekends, and I try to schedule some “me” time or find something or somewhere to go to boost creativity. So after a challenging but fun new workout (I took my first Barre class and LOVE it!), sending a few emails, shopping for a friend’s birthday present, and dropping off my Christmas decorations at my parent’s house, I carved out some time to go to the VMFA!

Established in 1934, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, offers many wonderful collections with over 33,000 works of art! From African Art to 21st Century Art, there is definitely some art to appreciate for everyone.

Since a major renovation and expansion in 2010, the VMFA has had a re-birth in my opinion. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m older now and can appreciate the Wine Tastings every second Friday of the month, or indulge in a delicious brunch at Amuse Restaurant, like I did last year for my birthday.

Birthday Brunch

With the expansion, came an additional area for traveling exhibits like Chihuly’s Glass exhibit a few years ago, which the VMFA acquired these fabulous red ferns!

Red Ferns

And this year (and last year’s) Forbidden City exhibit, which is so popular, the museum has extended the exhibit until January 19! I got to experience it for myself yesterday. While no photos were allowed, some of my favorite pieces were the ink on silk paintings that depicted a traditional wedding ceremony during the Qing Dynasty. Another favorite piece was a wood + ceramic tile screen from a garden in these ancient times. The details were phenomenal!

So, if you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, visit the VMFA, you won’t regret it! AND, if you’re a member, you can view The Forbidden City exhibit for FREE!

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XOXO,
Ellen

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Behind The Design

Happpy New Year!! Without a doubt, I feel that 2015 will be my year of learning, perseverance, experimentation (on the blog), and hopefully lots of fun! My love for design and interiors runs deep, and I always am interested to learn the history or inspiration behind an iconic design. I recently came across an article from Houzz on the history of the ever-popular Sunburst Mirror.

Shell.Roses Sunburst

The sunburst as a decorative motif may have its roots in the halos surrounding figures in medieval religious art. During the 17th century, the Catholic church began using elaborate monstrances — decorative stands used to display the communion wafer — adorned with gilded rays. Churches in Italy (most famously St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome) often had gilded sunbursts above the altar.

Early mirrors were small and convex; it wasn’t until the late 17th century, when Louis XIV established his own glassworks in France, that the world saw a significant improvement in the quality and size of mirrors.
Vintage Sunbursts

But even then, mirrors of any kind were rarities — antiques expert Judith Miller notes in her book Furniture that a 40- by 36-inch mirror sold at the end of the 17th century would have cost the equivalent of $36,000 today!
Gothic Sunburst
Antiques dealer William Bloomfield, of Jacqueline Adams Antiques in Atlanta, says early sunburst mirrors were often used in churches as symbols of God overlooking the parishioners.

Sunburst mirrors look great in entry ways, over mantels, or even grouped together.
Sunburst with Plates
orchid sunburst

Check out these sunburst mirrors we have where I work. There’s one made of pencils on the top left! Cool, uh?
Janet Brown Sunburst

Until next time.

XOXO,
Ellen

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