Follow Our Blog! By: Fayeruz Regan
Some people are bemoaning the end of summer, while others are already up to their necks in pumpkin spice everything.
Whichever side you're on, we can all agree that decorating your house is one of the things that makes it a home. If your home reflects changes in the season or holidays, it helps to mark the passing of time. And if you do it well, familiar scents and sights start to feel like a tradition.
How to get cozy
Pumpkin spice isn't the only seasoning of autum. Cinnamon and apples go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and this fruit is in season. Bring on the warm and fuzzy with spiced apple cider, spiked apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, and this new treat at Ladles and Linens: Cider Pancake and Waffle Mix. On lazy fall mornings, you can whip up a batch to fuel the family before a trip to the pumkin patch, or go right back to bed to doze off and digest.
Trigger memories, or create new ones
Scientists say that our sense of smell is most sharply tied to memory, which means we should be igniting our our olfactory nerves. Simmer this concotion in a saucepan on your stovetop, and the smell of autumn will sweep through your house. You likely have all these ingredients on hand:
- 1/2 lemon (thinly sliced)
- 1 small apple (thinly sliced)
- 2 cinnamon sticks (or a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon)
- 2 tbsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Textures, layers & gourds, oh my!
Remove any summery remnants from your living space, such as collected seashells and flamingo throw pillows. Save them for bringing joy next year, when it starts warming up. Decorate the mantle with striking bare branches, perhaps found on a walk. Wicker, burlap and berries evoke an earthy feel, while velvety throw pillows in burnt orange feel luxurious. Faux fur throw blankets, brass candlesticks and white pumpkins make the space feel lush.
First impressions matter, even if you are rolling up to the same home on the daily. Be greeted with warmth even before opening the door! Harvest is a time of abundance, and it's fun to convey that outdoors. Collect rare gourds and pumpkins, grouping them together on the porch. It's not only appealling, but compostable and good for little critters storing up for the winter. In a word, sustainable.
Know that dried Indian corn just might produce a crop, as evidenced by three homes on my block, ourselves included.
In the dog days of summer, I often eat cheese, watermelon and crackers for dinner. Not only is it a tradition from childhood, but it kept the oven off! Come fall, the oven becomes our hearth, and a gathering place. Throw on an apron (like pictured above) and get baking! Fill your home with the smell of warm sugar, croissants and beer bread.
As they say in the South, happy fall y'all! Can I get away with that yet?
I blame Chrissy Tiegen. She is the driving force behind so many tasty dishes I've tried, and shared with you.
Once, her husband surprised her with a taco food truck, and I was mesmerized by the seasoned shell and gooey cheese. And they were dipped in something au jus. Turns out they were birria tacos - a Jalisco specialty. I ate the less-traditional "quesabirria" - because cheese.
Unlike the traditional stew dish (pictured below), quesabirria is a grilled, cheesy taco for easy dipping into the stew. The shell features a red color from being dippped into the stew before tossing into a sizzling pan.
The particular food truck sent to her was in demand, and when I went to L.A. I stood in a ridiculous line just to get a taste (pictured top). It did not disappoint. At home, I wanted to replicate this recipe. But full transparency: we did a variation on the recipe based on what we had in the house. While the stew was delicious, we winged it. Here's a highly-rated recipe with over 400 reviews.
Making the stew for dipping is the most work, so make it in bullk, stack flat portions in the freezer, and enjoy as needed. And once the stew is cooked, making it is a cinch. Simply...
Dip your tortilla in the birria stew.
Toss in a hot pan with lard (we use bacon drippings), and top with meat.
Add cheese (not too hard or soft - think cheddar, colby or Monterey Jack.
Fold and flip.
Before I go, it's worth noting that the zestiness of the stew will make or break a dish. I wanted a tangy flavor to pop on my tortillas, so I added extra tomato paste, tons of squeezed lime and was generous with the Himalayan pink salt.
All cultures have a sexy way to reimagine leftovers. Britain has the bubble and squeak, Italians whip up leftovers and eggs for frittatas, and the American Midwest can't get enough of a sturdy casserole. But I found something sexier - pizza!
Our fig tree exploded with fruits in the past week, and I'll never eat fig jam if I make it. So I grabbed some figs, and some leftover food in the fridge and cupboard, and made an unforgettable little pizza. Well, two.
You don't need marinara or tomato sauce if you want to make a less-traditional, flatbread-type of dish. And these days, there are endless versions of pizza crust to acommodate different diets. There's gluten-free crust for those with Celiac, cauliflour crust for the keto folks and good old-fashioned pizza crust for traditionalists like me.
But once you have your crust, throw open the fridge doors, rummage through shelves and have fun with pizza toppings. Pine nuts, truffle oil, spinach - almost every food group works if you combine the right flavors.
I took an abundance of figs, sliced them into discs and laid them atop pizza crust, prepped with basil olive oil and goat cheese. I drizzled with a little extra oil and a balsamic glaze that bubbled and caramelized in the oven. You want to keep the crust in the oven until the cheese melts and the pizza dough starts to brown.
After baking at 450 degrees for 12 minutes (follow the recipe for your favorite type of crust), we topped it with fresh basil leaves and an extra drizzle of balsamic.
But why stop there? We had yellow squash and portobella mushrooms in the fridge, so we sauteed them in truffle oil and placed it on the crust, along with mozzarella, basil and pine nuts. The special topping that made it pop is pictured above, and available online.
You can throw fistfuls of cold arugula atop the oven-fresh pizza to give it a crunch and depth of flavor. No need to worry about measurements or formal recipes, and any type of cheese will do. Relish the challenge of making leftovers the best version of themselves. Take some chances, and enjoy!
It's that strange time of year that feels like a mash-up between two seasons. We're flooded with back-to-school messages, and indeed some kids are in school. But we associate this time of year with fall. Outdoors, it's anything but.
We're still in the throes of the dog days. Quaint fireflies that mark the beginning of the season have mostly gone away, replaced by cicadas the size of small birds, screaming from the treetops. The heat and humidity is forcing me to hydrate to the point where, well, I'm getting kind of sick of water.
Do you ever get sick of water? Palm Springs knows a thing or two about heat, and when I stayed at a resort there, the front entrance had a hydration station that was anything but perfunctory. Frosted glass dispensers were lined up, and a rainbow of diced fruit and herbs were stashed into them. This simple feature, usually reserved for spas, was to be enjoyed by everyone. It elevated the whole resort.
It's a low-cost way to beat the heat, and it makes your home feel luxurious. Keep a pitcher in the fridge to delight your family and guests. If you don't have one large infuser, grab a few small tea infusers for stuffing the goods in. It keeps the nozzle free from getting clogged by seeds or tiny herb leaves, and your glass of water free from debris.
Below I've listed some tips, along with tried and true combinations. So grab some fruits and herbs and let's get chopping!
Tips for great spa water
- To give your water more flavor and color, slice thinly or chop to release the juices. Pomegranate seeds would need to be smashed.
- Pull out your infusers on day two. If you finish the pitcher before day two, keep the infuser in, and refill as many times as you'd like.
- Play with measurements, depending on taste and the size of your pitcher. Nearly all flavors will remain subtle. The only listed ingredient that can be overpowering is the rosemary, where I suggest one or two small sprigs for a pitcher.
- I should mention that most of the below ingredients would do well as a stand-alone item, such as mint, strawberry, cucumber or orange. But over the years I've mixed and matched, and am happy to share some tried and true favorites.
- Remember, the possibilities are endless!
Infused water combinations
- Strawberry and basil
- Blueberry, lemon & rosemary (1 or 2 small sprigs for a pitcher)
- Mint and cucumber
- Grapefruit and mint (add pomegranate when in season)
- Mango, raspberry & ginger
- Lemon, lime and mint
- Blackberries, orange and ginger
- Watermelon, lime and mint
I don't know about you other parents out there, but my son is nervous about school starting. He's been out of in-person school since halfway through kindergrten, and is preparing to go back for second grade.
We're all looking for ways to navigate this strange moment in time. We do our best to instill a sense of normalcy through a phase that feels anything but. Between the separation anxiety from his parents and social anxiety of going back to school, we're finding ways to ease the transition.
One thing we did was to mark the passing of time, by celebrating the end of an era. We reserved a table on the portico of Blue Atlas, eating small plate dishes from around the world against the backdrop of the city skyline. We toasted to the final days of us three together at home, with little adventures thrown in to break things up.
But no matter how many pumpkins you adorn your porch with, the first day of school looms large. At the end of the day, they won't get over it until they go through it. Below, I've listed some back-to-school essentials that infuse a sense of humor, a pop of color, or a convesation piece that will bring them some positive attention, and a boost of confidence.
Bento Box Lunch
Regular Tupperware is just so...provincial. Go cosmopolitan with a Japanese-inspired bento box lunch kit. Featuring an array of colors and designs, it brings the wow factor to the cafeteria.
Mind your beeswax
Want a more sustainable option to all that plastic that goes into packing lunches? Your child will! These reusable, washable wraps seal the freshness in, and come with designs such as cats, dinosaurs, polka dots and bees!
It's in the bag
Whether your child is a social justice warrior or lover of space rockets, there is a lunch bag to fit every personality. From minimalist canvas designs to padded paisley bags that hold ice packs, there's a little something to suit every need!
From hot tomato soup on cold, wet days to ice-cold lemonade for a post-recess cool-down, these travel mugs maintain temperature for hours. And the dog design makes it a conversation piece, as classmates will undoubtedly point out the pups that resemble theirs!
Stepping it up
When kids get home from school, they're usually ravenous. Give them a little independence by allowing access to the snacks or the microwave oven via this folding step stool. They may be able to fold the stool back up when done, but it's likely your counters will remain in a post-apocalyptic state.
So there you have it. Load up on face masks they'll love, a fall wardrobe they'll positively destroy and build them up before they step into the next grade level. We've got this!
I love potatoes. I shake my fist at the heavens for making my body process potatoes as a starch rather than a vegetable. But potato salad? Never been a huge fan. That is, until I tried Jake Bailey's family recipe.
Jake Bailey is a difficult man to describe. On paper he's been a bigwig at major Richmond companies such as Car Max and Snag. But you can't put Jake into a box. He's gone on archaeological digs, and was hired by the company that makes Tabasco to find the location of their original pre-Civil War factory. His team found it (!) on their Louisiana property. He has an eclectic collection of several thousand artifacts, which includes 4+ billion year-old stardust, a swatch of Steve Jobs' iconic turtleneck sweater, and a sample of Princess Diana & Prince Charles wedding cake! And he makes the best damn potato salad I've ever had.
Lucky for us, he has shared the recipe. When he went away to college, his parents handed down a recipe book to him, filled with family favorites. He relied on this recipe when feeding large groups of friends on archeological digs. It's filling, simple and will make everyone want to be your best friend.
I thought it would be charming to share an image from the family recipe book. The well-worn page makes you feel like you're in in a family secret, and you can save the image for easy reference.
Friends, this dish doesn't have the congealed quality of mayonnaise-based potato salad. The earthy potato flavor isn't masked by mustand, green peppers or celery. The crispy bacon gives it texure, the vinegar gives it tang and the eggs make it feel almost healthy. I dare anyone to come at me with a better recipe. If you can find one, I promise to stand corrected. Enjoy!
These hosts were gracious, and it inspired me to list a few ways you can make guests feel right at home - even pampered. After all, there are just a few more weeks left of summer, and people are trying to squeeze something in.
Remember that scene in Clueless when Cher runs around her house frantically, preparing for Christian's arrival? One tip she offered was to have something baking when they arrive. Though her attempt ended in disaster, there's something to be said for stepping into a home filled with the aroma of baked bread, or chocolate chip cookies.
It's a great touch when you can offer a fresh-baked treat for weary travelers upon arrival. And nothing fills a home with a more cozy and warming scent than a batch of Soberdough bread. Most packages of Soberdough require only a can of beer to mix in, and they are delectable.
Live and let live
Give your guests the freedom to be themselves, and let them come and go as they please. They may be excited to see loved ones that live nearby, or take in some tourist attractions. While you are the host, their vacation may not be all about you.
Regardess of how busy your guests' schedules may be, morning is always a great time to regroup. People are sleepy and shuffling out of their rooms, so give them a great start to their day. Before they head out, brew a strong batch of French press coffee, slice up some ripe summer fruit and make some eggs. You can even prepare a strata the night before, if you're feeling ambitious. Some of my best catch-up sessions are over a hot cup of coffee.
There are toiletries, and there are spoiletries. Toiletries are hiding in your bathroom, for guests to try and locate. Spoiletries are laid out in a basket or decorative bowl in the guest room. It's common to forget a necessity while packing, and house guests would delight in some offerings. It will give you a chance to use up all the sample soaps and lotions you scooped up on your last vacation. Or indulge them with luxurious Beekman products! Don't forget to leave some folded towels and washcloths on the bed, and fresh-cut flowers on the bedside table.
An over-anxious host running around to fluff up pillows can have the opposite effect on visitors. When you are relaxed, they are relaxed. So whip up a batch of cocktails to share with guests, and take the edge off. Have a reggae playlist going in the background. Stop running around to pick up dog toys and errant cups. Rather than trying to be too formal, we often start up a game of Tetris. It's a nice dose of nostlgia, that ends up getting pretty intense. But no matter what you do, just sit down.
I don't just enjoy chocolate. I consider it a vitamin supplement. Just a small dose will remind me that everything will be okay. Let's just call it emotional nutrition...before Gwenyth does.
But in the dog days of summer when craving a sweet treat, I don't want to use the oven. If you're creative, you can whip up a dessert without baking. You can make cereal bars that don't involve any snap, crackle or pop. You can invent combinations that are spicy, playful - even a little healthy! And it could not be easier.
Let's talk about the base. It's so easy it's almost boring.
Cereal Bars - Base Recipe
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus more softened for the pan
- 1 10 ounce bag of mini marshmallows
- 5 cups of cereal (your choice)
- Mix-in ideas (listed below)
You still need a little more substance to absorb all that gooey marshmallow and melted butter. How you choose to fill up the rest is up to you, as long as it's about 1.5 cups. That way, the texture is perfect. Whatever cereal base I use is going to dictate the mix-ins, and I have some ideas below.
Mix-In Ideas for Base Recipe
- The Chunky Monkey: 3/4 cup of banana chips & 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (Note: Cheerios would make a great base for this)
- The Trail Mix: 1/2 cup of peanuts, 1/2 cup M&Ms & 1/2 cup of dried fruit (Note: Raisin Bran would make a great base for this)
- Tropic Thunder: 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, 1/2 cup of dried mango & 1/2 cup of chopped macadamia nuts (Note: Corn Flakes would make a great base for this)
Cereal Bar Cooking Instrutions
- Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with melted butter, and set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.
- Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
- Stir in cereal and chosen mix-ins to combine. Press into prepared pan; let it cool so that the mixture can firm.
- Cut into squares and serve - the bars keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.
Like I encourage with most recipes, experiment and play with flavors. If you'd like to make the mix healthier, protein will make the snack bars more filling. Add chopped nuts, chia seeds or flax seeds. If you want to add a dash of sweetness that isn't chocolate, butterscotch chips work in a pinch. But my guilty pleasure is a dash or two (or ten) of Fruity Pebbles. Let us know the ideal combination you come up with!
It's all about saturated colors, splashy prints and tropical fruits. The latter is the perfect way to cool off. I already blogged about bringing back the pina colada (are you on board?) but have you ever had a mango lassi? Mango is mixed with yogurt to make it smooth, cardamom to make it exotic, and blended with milk and sugar to make a drink that cools you down on a sweltering day. There's a delicious recipe right here.
It's a time for muddling. Muddle papaya into your lemonade, muddle mint into a sparking batch of mojitos. I'm a huge fan of coconut, inside and out. I slather myself with coconut-scented sunblock, stay hydrated with coconut water, and at night, I moisturize my sun-soaked skin with dollops of organic coconut oil.
And as far as saturated colors and splashy prints, Ladles & Linens stores have recently been decked out in cheerful hues: hot pinks, canary yellow and of course those cool shades of blue. Here are some joy-inducing photos of our Richmond and Lexington locations, stocked with everything you need to make the most of summer.
We can't wait to see you!
In 1999, famed architect Michael Graves partnered with Target to make high design more accessible to the masses. He created bubbly toasters and tea kettles with spinning whistles. Customers snatched up these playful takes on daily objects, and he moved on to design over a thousand pieces for Target. And the term "cutensil" was formed.
One reason for this success was that he imbued a bit of joy into everyday life. An unexpected dash of humor takes us out of ourselves. Playful, fluid lines loosen up the rigidity of right angles. Ladles and Linens knows how to put the "fun" in functionality. See below for a curated list of our own "cutensils" and add a little whimsy to your home!
The sloth tea infuser is already sold out, but Ladles & Linens carries a Narwhal spiked tea, a Purr-Tea Cat, a Tea Lion and Koala-tea infuser, pictured above. Make your cup of tea an even more joyful ritual, and grab one while it lasts!
These candy-colored ice cream spoons might just make your indulgence taste a little sweeter. How can these colors not cheer you up?
Why use a regular measuring cup, when you can use a monkey measuring cup? Or rainbow-colored baking cups and basting brushes? If you have kids, it will surely get them in the mood to help, and hopefully become creative cooks themselves!
I'm just going to leave this right here.
There's a lot more where this came from. Stop on by or visit our website - it's always a kitchen party, and everyone's invited!