Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Missing Sandra Lee SemiHomemade Kwanzaa Cake Story

I am so disappointed! I learned today that the witty post written by Denise Vivaldo about Kwanzaa Cake is no longer up on Huffington Post. This story had over 8,000 views, 1,900 shares on Facebook and 270 comments. Someone sure was enjoying reading it. If anyone has a copy I'd love one -I always wondered how that holiday miracle came to be.
But the great part of this story is that it introduced me to Denise and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her beautiful book "Food Stylists Handbook". I'm totally motivated now to get back into the kitchen and come up some photo-worthy plates of my own. And I promise, no store bought angel food cakes, apple pie filling, "acorns" or oversized tapers will be harmed in the process.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Truth Behind Sandra Lee's Semihomemade Kwanzaa Cake

Many of you may be familiar with Sandra Lee - the Food Network personality. On one of her first shows she introduced us to her infamous Kwanzaa cake, and I've been confused ever since. She assembles an angel food cake adding chocolate frosting, apple pie filling and "acorns" - which most of us call corn nuts.  To this day the recipe calls for acorns which is frightening since actual acorns aren't edible to my knowledge.
We got a very special holiday gift this year - the incredibly talented food stylist Denise Vivaldo has come forward in an article in the Huffington Post to let us know it was actually Denise who came up with the Kwanzaa cake, and the Chanukah cake as well. Her recipe did call for corn nuts - not acorns though, and she does give Ms. Lee total credit for the massive tapers that were inserted in the top.
For the record, Ms. Vivaldo is actually an incredibly talented food stylist -I'd dare to say one of the best. I would give anything to spend a few days and learn from her. Since that probably won't happen, I'll settle for the next best thing - a copy of her new book The Food Stylist's Handbook. It shows you the right way to pay homage to food, and I'd even dare to call it "food porn" - you'll be lusting after everything you see in the book. Denise can also be found on Twitter. She is very generous with her knowledge and also has a great sense of humor!
So if anyone wants to know what would be the perfect gift to give this Lifestylist®, now you know!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pixie Dust

I just returned from a magical week in Orlando. Someone said they scatter pixie dust at the airport when you arrive, and I'm starting to believe them. Not only was I able to take part in a home that will probably be one of the the high points of my Lifestylist® career, but I was also blessed to spend some very special time with my kids and grandkids and share my Lifestylist® approach with them. Being a Lifestylist incorporates life and style, and getting creative in the kitchen is definitely part of that.
As part of the staging for The New American Home, I purchased a large amount of beautiful granny smith apples to add color and lifestyle to the kitchen. After we were finished with the shoot, I thought why not recycle them and make a pie with the grandkids? Neither of them had tried making a pie before, and with Thanksgiving being only a week away I thought this could be a great time to make their first.
Jenna may only be 8 yrs old, but she loves to cook and is really good at it. She has taken part in the Jr Chef Camp at the Gaylord Texan that Chef Joanne teaches, and was excited about trying out her culinary skills making a pie. Many adults would be daunted by this task, but Jenna dug right in. After teaching her some basic knife skills and precautions, she peeled and cored all of the apples herself. Brother Christian decided to help us make the crust, and we made a huge mess (sorry Trish!) but I'm sure it was a day that they will always remember.
I am so grateful to have the loving, supportive family I have, and the amazing clients that believe in me and what I do. Here's to the start of a holiday season filled with hope, happiness and lots of pixie dust!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sharing is Caring

One of my favorite things to do every year is entering the State Fair of Texas cooking contests. Being a Lifestylist to me is about all of the ways you can live your life with style - not just design.Not because I want to win, but because I really enjoy sharing all of my entries with different workers at the fair afterward. These are the people who really enjoy my cooking and know it's made with love. Officer Stevens is usually by the entrance we use every day, and after she tried my peanut parries she was hooked. I've never won a ribbon with these, but I keep entering because they are the favorites of Chuck and Linda at the Chili Parlor and we've become good friends because of them.
When I brought Officer Stevens her cookies on the last day she said that we had no idea how much our sharing meant to her - and how nice it was just to have people appreciate her. There is no ribbon that can ever top that great feeling when you know you are doing something for the joy of it, but others get to share that joy as well.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Fair Time!

Finally - The Great State Fair of Texas is less than a week away! Honestly, I'm way behind on testing recipes, but I'm ready to get started. One of the great things about entering a lot of the cooking competitions is that if you do that for 3 consecutive years you get a season pass! We live only a few miles away from the fairgrounds so many evenings we'll head over to the fair to have dinner.Talk about being a Lifestylist® - I can't think of a better lifestyle than people who are involved with the state and local fairs, and how interesting and diverse the people are who attend them.
After spending so much time on my fair entries, I've come up with a new concept that I've started working on - The Lazy Cook. Note I say cook, not chef -it drives me crazy when people call themselves chefs yet they have no professional training or work experience. To me that totally takes away from how hard these people have worked to earn the title of chef. I love to cook, and as the years go by I'm even more concerned about eating well.
Keep your fingers crossed that this will be a good year - I plan on sharing not only my entries but also the unique (and sometimes weird!) food you can find at a fair.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Z Gallerie: From Soap to Sofas

Finally! The cooler weather is almost here and the stores are filling up with beautiful new accessories and goodies to seasonalize our homes with. As a Lifestylist® I like to constantly be on the prowl for what's new and exciting, and get an idea of what people are really buying for their homes.
I love Z Gallerie - they are my favorite "go to" source when I am working on a new model home. They are masters at offering personality pieces that help make a room or home memorable, and they also stock those big exciting works of art that you can never find when you need them. But on a recent visit they made me think of them for something I hadn't purchased from them in the past - furniture.
Z Gallerie started out in 1979 as a family run poster shop which has quickly grown to include 54 locations in 18 states! Their beautiful stores have expanded into becoming a one stop shop which make it easy for consumers to get everything they need for their home in one place. The stores are organized into different color stories which make it easy to find everything you need. They offer great accessories and furniture that are so unique people would think you had them custom made.
Speaking of personality pieces, as soon as I walked in the store I fell in love with two chairs I think I'm going to have to have - "Eddie" and "Bella". Eddie was just stunning in leather that was the perfect shade of teal, and Bella was a pearl grey fabric that was just sexy. You know you found something you must have when you can't stop thinking about it, and that's the case with these two chairs.
Make Z Gallerie a destination for your next shopping trip, and let us know what you fall in love with.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lifestylist® Designed Cafe Gets a Bobby Flay Throwdown

I am so excited! I just learned that Bobby Flay traveled to Tucson and had a "throwdown" with the Matias family at Teresa's Mosaic Cafe. This is a restaurant that we did the interior of, and as with all Lifestylist® Designed challenges we spent a lot of time getting to know the family and their needs before we came up with a plan.
Teresa's is all about family and the wonderful handmade food so the interior had to have as much personality as the family does. To do this we designed tables made of handmade tiles - thousands of them all that we made by hand. It was an extensive amount of work but the results were definitely worth it.
The episode airs on the Food Network - check out dates and times for your area.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting Inspired by Your Surroundings

When I work on a model home, my first priority is bringing the outside in - what's going to make the buyer feel like what he experienced before he walked into the model continues into his model experience?
My son just gave me the perfect example - he is buying a new home in Florida, and was troubled after seeing the new model home because they didn't like the colors or feel of the home after it was merchandised. It bothered them so much they actually considered canceling the sale. The colors and the lack of lifestyle felt like they could have been in any city in any community, but it didn't have the warmth that they anticipated their home would have.
At Lifestylist® Design we focus on lifestyle, and what they buyer hopes to experience in his new life in your new home. We just finished doing a Lifestylist® Designed home for @home Builders in Baldwinsville, NY and I thought I'd share the thought process on how we came up with this home.
Timber Banks is a new incredible planned community near Syracuse, NY that features an 18 hole, Nicklaus designed golf course, river frontage with it's own marina, clubhouse, and a stunning, natural beauty all around you that you can call home. It seemed only natural that I would bring this lifestyle and the colors I saw all around me into the design of the model. We went with some of the foggy greys, clear blue sky, river rocks and eco-greens that we discovered on our walks and as a result when you are in the home it truly pulls the outside in.  Plan a visit to the Timbers yourself and see what we accomplished - contact Teresa Carpenter with @home Builders for more information at:  315-635- 6006.