House Beautiful

Archive for the 'Entertaining' Category

Steph’s Favorite Kitchen Essentials

When we had to create a registry for our wedding last year, it was honestly really tricky (but I mean, listen… I MANAGED)… at that point in time at the ripe age of 38, I’d already amassed loads of great kitchen swag… so we just didn’t really *need* a whole lot.  I had (in previous years) written guest posts for other publications about “the Perfect Registry” – which was really more a matter of making pretty eye candy on a mood board than actual functionality.  And after we got engaged, I read oodles of blog posts on the stuff people *actually* ended up using that they registered for (versus what looked pretty but took up space & got dusty after the wedding – e.g. a KitchenAid mixer… but it all depends on your lifestyle).  Anyhow – the extra swag I wanted to register for were things that would be timeless, so we did add a few rad things to our arsenal.  I also once heard a married friend say that the best part about wedding gifts was that (you’ll think of the person who gave it to you) every time you use it – and that I have found to be true.  So, I thought I’d round up my favorite things like this shun classic knife set, in case it might be useful for any soon-to-be brides, or just anybody who wants to give their pantry a refresh!

1. Charcuterie Board, $140.  Not sure if these are supposed to be used for cutting (or just for cheese & meat spreads) but I have literally butchered ours and I love it more for the wear.  Karrie & Melissa got this for me for my birthday back in 2016 and it still looks great.

2. Gingham Napkins (20″ x 20″), $20 eachComing mid-February to the shop! (message me for pre-order)  We have the tea towel version of these now and it is one of my favorite things.  Neutral enough to look good with everything (but not beige), the perfect weight and rumply-ness, washes up nicely…  all that jazz.  I know, I know – $20 seems a little steep to spend on a single napkin, but I bought (similar linen striped ones) in the Hamptons probably 8 years ago that are the same texture / quality / weight, and they are still my favorite thing, and something we use daily.  How’s the old saying go that I tell my clients all the time?  “Buy the right thing the first time around and you’ll only cry once.”

3. Oval Nesting Measuring Cups, no longer available.  This is a jerk thing to put on a list of favorite things because they’re so scarcely available, but I freaking love these suckers.  My homegirl Lindsay Aherne turned me onto them – they’re from Williams-Sonoma, they’re oval so they tuck a little easier into space in a drawer, they’re stainless steel so they’re bulletproof, and they come in all the odd increments (e.g. 1-1/4 cups, 2/3, 3/4 etc etc).  Here’s the link – some are still available for pickup in select stores.

4. SMEG Electric Kettle in Cream, $160.  We make French press coffee every morning, and (for the longest time) I would boil a big saucepan of water, then wobble & painstakingly pour it into the French press and try not to also pour boiling water (all over myself).  We had a friend staying with us from out of town last year and she watched me doing it and was like: “Honey, it’s time for a tea kettle.”  This is SO MUCH BETTER.  Works great and looks cute as a button on the countertop, too.

5. Lodge 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet, $22.  I think we use this at least 3x/day.  I find that eggs (over-easy or over-medium) do much better in this than a non-stick, and it’s the best for grilled cheese, searing any sort of meat… anything.

6. Joule Sous Vide, $250.  This thing might be the #1 thing on this list I’d recommend you buy if you want to make restaurant quality meat at home.  The first time we made filets with it, we took a bite and looked at each other and were like: “EHMYGYAH are we at Elk Prime Steakhouse or are we in our living room?”  IT. ROCKS.  Thanks Cousin Liz!

7. Italian Wine Glasses, $26 eachThese beauties from Nickey Kehoe are the closest I can find to the vintage ones I got at a little shop in Paso Robles during our mini-moon.  They are uber timeless, feel nice to hold and are just a little more special than a standard wine glass.  I always reach for one of these first when I hear the pop of a wine cork.

8.  Staub 7-quart Dutch Oven in Truffle, $375.  I use this thing all the time.  A few times a week, at least.  I wondered when I registered for it if it would be that thing that I used once a year, or if it would be too big (they also make a 5 quart and a lots-of-other-smaller-sized-quarts), or if it was too pretentious to register for something with that price tag (luckily, my amazing mother-in-law who’s a great cook and loves nice things got it for us and was like: “IT IS MY FAVORITE THING AND HOPEFULLY IT WILL BE YOURS!”)  And it is!  It’s perfect for a pot of chili for me & Chris (plus a few rounds of leftovers), or a big pot of soup, or last year on New Years, I made a short rib dinner for 6 (also Joyce’s recipe).  The Truffle color was super hard to find (still is) but it is SO PERFECT.  It’s somewhere between an off-white and grey but with these little speckles in it.

9. Modena Tumblers in Lilac, $54 per set of 2.  I would never say purple is my favorite color-color, but it may be my favorite accent color.  So these – in the palest lilac – look great with EVERYTHING.  If you won’t take my word for it, Julia Berolzheimer also has them, so you know they’re kewl.  You’re welcome.

10. Mauviel Copper & Brass Roasting Pan, $270Another thing that felt frivolous putting on a registry, but another thing I use all the time and will have forever.  It’s surprisingly non-stick, roasts super evenly, and is really easy to clean.  Looked gorgeous on Thanksgiving with a turkey in it, and looks gorgeous with veggies roasting in it on a Tuesday night.  Thanks Mulligan!

11. Hamilton Beach 8-cup Food Processor, $40.  I generally believe that you get what you pay for – so I’ve seen $300 lookalike food processors, but this thing, I swear, has about 1 zillion horsepower.  Works & cleans up like a boss, and we’ve had it for years.  I do everything with it – make homemade pesto, salsa and hummus, chop nuts, and chop onions & garlic when I don’t want to (touch them) because we know that makes your hands stank for days.

12. The Ove Glove, $17Not the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, but who cares because it’s heat resistant up to 540 degrees, and that’s the key.  Also, the glove (versus a mitt) gives you more control when handling hot potatoes.  Perfect for anything, but especially for touching the cast iron pan handle or pulling something out of the broiler.

13. Microplane Cut-Resistant Gloves, $15.  Chris said once that (for having been a D1 college athlete back in the day with good hand-eye coordination), I might be the clumsiest person he knows.  He is not wrong.  I grated my knuckles one too many times on cheese graters & zesters, and then I found these.  I wear them when I’m using anything sharp… including a mandoline.

14. Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus Cetrifugal Juicer, $150.  If you’ve ever wondered why fresh squeezed juice from a Juice Joint is so dang expensive, try using any juicer and it makes you realize just how many fruits & veggies you have to use to make 1 measly glass of juice.  That said… this sucker is totally worth it.  I use it daily.  You can throw in whatever you’ve got, but here are a few favorite combos:

for every day – a few stalks of celery, a few carrots, a HUGE hunk of ginger, 1/2 an apple, 1/2 an orange and a handful of fresh spinach.  Beets are always great if you have them.  Makes about 1.5 glasses.

if you are feeling sick – a raw lemon (or 2), an even bigger hunk of ginger, an apple and a few stalks of celery.  I woke up last Saturday sneezing and with my nose running like a faucet, so I made myself a glass of (this) and it knocked it right out.  Makes 1 glass.

One other thing I love that I couldn’t fit on this mock-up: this mandoline (thanks Aunt Diane & Uncle Pete!)  It’s so scary I call it the guillotine – ha!  You HAVE to be extremely careful, then use the cut-resistant gloves, plus use the safety tool that comes with it.  And maybe a hazmat suit & some armor.  But it’s a boss.

Happy Shopping!!


8 Things To Entertain Yourself With During Lockdown

ISN’T THAT THE TRUTH?  GRACIOUS!  Um, ok – so, we are where we are.  What felt like semi-normalcy about a week ago has since escalated to utter insanity and uncertainty, to a zombie apocalypse degree.  The best advice I’ve heard thus far is this:

Even if you don’t have symptoms, self-quarantine and distance yourself socially as if you DO have it, so as not to perpetuate the spread of this thing.”

And we’ve probably all seen this but it’s about all you need to see to get the picture – video version of it here:

Plus Gaga said basically the same thing and when she talks, I listen.

This is going to be tough on and impact EVERYONE for a million different reasons… but let’s stick together, shall we?  Cuz WE ARE ALL IN IT.  Sales people can’t go out and sell.  Hospitality has to be losing their a$$.  People who work in sports stadiums have no stadiums to tend to.  Health care workers are going to be worked to the bone.  People like grocery store checkout folks and UPS drivers are completely exposed to the virus because they don’t really have the option to self-quarantine.  How do people who DO still have to go to work care for their children, whose schools are closed for at least the next few weeks?  Chris is a medical sales rep and since the surgeon general just advised that all elective surgeries be halted for the time being, he’s basically out of work for a month.  There’s no one this thing isn’t touching.  Quel mess!

And, the smallest potatoes (seriously) but: we’re going to have to reschedule our April 4th destination wedding which has taken a solid year to orchestrate…it’s a stinker and a pain in the arse and it’s disappointing – but really, no bigs… There is absolutely nothing we can do about it and we certainly can’t afford to put anyone at peril.  Plus… this way in the Summer we’ll all have tans, I guess?? (#silverlining).  And it’ll be plug & play.  Luckily, all of our vendors are AMAZING and have graciously agreed to transfer our deposits to a future date – for which I have a few on hold.  The only thing that hasn’t been so easy to swallow is THIS situation, which I’m sure anyone & everyone with a vacation rental coming up is also dealing with, to some degree:

ANYHOW.  Here we all are – sequestered in our individual casas, twiddling our thumbs and wondering if we have enough food to last us for the next few weeks.  Whatchagonnado????  Welp, those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, we can work from home.  And I have a LOT of work catch up to do.  But outside of that – I can think of a few things:

1. VIRTUAL MUSEUM TOURS (here): Hey. Let’s be honest – most of us are glued to social media to a brain-melting degree and could all use a little cultural timeout.  Includes some of my favorites like the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery in Firenze, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

2. (FREE!) COREPOWER YOGA CLASSES ONLINE (here): HPF isn’t quite the same when it’s not 105 degrees, but hey.  I’ll take what I can get!  Safer than going to the gym and touching all the sweaty things with cooties.

3. NETFLIX & CHILL.  Here’s what’s on my watchlist:

Homeland Season 8 – GASP!  Literally one of the most gripping shows on television.


Super interested to watch this.  I’ve always been pretty lukewarm on Hillary, but I do think she’s smart as a whip and I certainly respect her.


Um, this is our friend Steph Turner!  She wrote, directed AND starred in Justine.  You gotta be a talented mofo to do that.  Cannot wait to watch.


And if you haven’t binged any these below yet, you’re in for a treat:




4. PAINT SOMETHING, PICASSO!  Or whatever crafty venture tickles your pickle and takes your eyes away from a TV or computer or iPhone screen for awhile.  I have canvases & oil paint in a drawer that I bought almost 2 years ago that I haven’t even opened yet.  And a cross stitch kit so I can stitch out one of those: “Please don’t do cocaine in the bathroom” things and hang it on the wall.

Or, maybe this one would be more appropriate this week:

5. GO OUTSIDE & PLAY.  We live in a place with tons of open space so we’re super lucky, but surely even a walk + some fresh air is good for the soul, right?  Just don’t hug or like, make out with any passersby.

6. SPRING CLEAN!  I mean… what if we all come out of this thing with closets that look like Athena Calderone’s???

Anuschka Rees’ Closet Detox Cheat Sheet is a good place to start.  If I can get Chris to do this with me it’ll be like the 8th wonder of the world.  Pretty sure he is holding on for dear life to drawers-full of unmatched socks from high school.

Honestly… I am also seriously considering going through my iPhone pics (all 30,000 of them – #brainexplosion) and deleting the goofs and filing the others into folders if need be.  Sounds about as fun as watching paint dry but would feel so cleansing.

7. DO YOURSELF A LITTLE SPA DAY. Got Epsom salts, a nail file and some nail polish?  Treat yo self!  My dome is currently marinating in Olaplex and I’m about to do a deep soak in a lavender epsom salt bath.  If you soak to prune-y perfection, you can give yourself a scrub with my favorite $3 exfoliant – Domino Granulated Sugar – and then slather on some coconut oil.  You’re welcome.

8. GET INSPIRED BY VINTAGE COVET LIVING POSTS!  haaaaaaaaaaa.  Wait I’m actually not kidding.  I do a favorite things-esque post almost seasonally (which is filed under “Mishmashes & Musings“) – compilations of the most beautiful things on earth I’ve seen.  I go back and troll them often and am always re-inspired.  Have at it!  I’m long overdue so maybe I’ll write a new one this week.

What else??  What did I miss?  What are you guys doing this week to be productive (or not productive) and entertain yourselves?

Everybody stay safe and hang in there.  Sh%* is nuts, but maybe we try to think of it as a way to remember what’s really important… to pare down, reconnect with your family, and reconnect with yourself.  Good juju like that.