In the Kitchen With: Rosie Birkett’s Semifreddo

In the Kitchen With: Rosie Birkett’s Semifreddo

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When I recently came across the Instagram feed of Rosie Birkett, a London-based food writer, food stylist, and cook, the first image I saw was of this amazing salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake. It turns out that it is one of her trademark desserts from her first cookbook, A Lot on Her Plate. I invited Rosie to the In the Kitchen With column, but timidly asked if she might develop a semifreddo version for D*S readers. Fortunately for us, she said yes, and that’s what we have on the column this week — Rosie’s salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake semifreddo. Once you see how easy it is to make, I am sure you will start experimenting with your own variations. If you do, let us know, and stay tuned for a few of my favorite versions here on the column this summer. —Kristina

Why Rosie loves this recipe: One of the superstars of my first cookbook, A Lot On Her Plate, has without a doubt been the salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake recipe. I think the secret of its appeal is the fact that it looks so evil and rich, but is in fact amazingly light and moreish — and of course, an irresistible combination of sweet, salty, creamy and crunchy. When I did my restaurant residency (a crazy week of cooking dishes from A Lot On Her Plate) at Carousel in Marylebone, the cheesecake was a favorite of the diners, to the point where people came up to me after the meal and raved about it — the most amazing feeling! When I started thinking about variations of the recipe to create exclusively for Design*Sponge that would still tick all of the boxes in terms of taste and texture, I thought it would be really cool to create a frozen version for readers to make at home, without needing an ice cream machine. I hope you enjoy, but be warned, it is rather addictive… This dessert pays homage to my favorite snack of all (popcorn!) and is perfect for a summer dessert – what is not to love?

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Photography by Helen Cathcart

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Home Ec: Skip The Store & Grow Your Own Flowers

Enjoy your flowers and replant! Be sure to cut stems long so you have room to arrange them and create something special and be sure to add new plants if you're planting annuals (plants that will complete their life cycle within one year). I prefer to plant perennials whenever possible because they will come back at least one more time the following year. Photo via Frances Palmer (her pot and her flowers from the garden).

Home Ec: Skip The Store & Grow Your Own Flowers

One of the most incredible things about gardening is that with a little extra work, you can often grow your own things for a fraction of what they would cost in a store. Living in NYC, I got used to paying incredibly high prices for flowers, both because of the high markup and because of the distance they often traveled to get there. Cut flowers make me so happy that I worked them into my budget as a part of regular life (in exchange for not buying new clothes) and got used to sometimes paying $10-$12 a head for truly special flowers, like giant tree peonies or fritillaria. But now that we live in a rural area and have access to some space to grow, I’ve been making plans for a small cutting garden so I can grow my own flowers and not only save money, but learn something and enjoy the journey of watching them sprout from seeds and tiny plants into full grown beauties.

So for today’s Home Ec, I decided to focus on flowers you can easily grow at home — or even in a window box if you don’t have outdoor space. All you need is a little patience and some dirt and next season you’ll have beautiful flowers you can cut and display at home. xo, grace

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

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The National Stationery Show: House Plants

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The National Stationery Show: House Plants

When living in the city, it can sometimes be hard to find enough nature in your life. Being cooped up in a studio apartment doesn’t allow for much space for houseplants, making it difficult to fill that wildlife void. If you are craving a bit of unruly nature in your space, these six designs from the National Stationery Show are perfect for you. From Screech Owl Design’s  plant motif wallpaper card, to Banquet’s houseplants print, to Our Heiday’s beautiful illustration of a fiddle leaf fig tree, these designs are great for the nature-deprived or the habitual plant-killer. Best thing is, they require no pruning or watering. X, Emma

Photography by Emma Tuccillo

 

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New Colony Furniture by Annie Evelyn

New Colony Furniture, on Design*Sponge

New Colony Furniture by Annie Evelyn

Annie Evelyn of New Colony Furniture comes from a line of fine furniture makers, with her grandparents at the helm of Old Colony Furniture back in the 1920s, well before her time. Currently in the midst of a three-year artist residency at Penland School of Crafts, Evelyn takes a novel approach to new design work by “upholstering” seating surfaces with uncommon materials such as concrete in an effort to precisely control their surface patterns at rest. At ICFF, the mosaic seats of hard materials set within classic oak, ash, and aluminum frames appeared to be rigid and unyielding upon first glance, but the tough upper crust is backed by a resilient foam pad which conforms to the human backside. While her furniture has little of the colonial-revival appeal of generations past, she maintains the handmade and hand-carved characteristics that still populate her beloved childhood associations with furniture. —Annie

Photography by Mercedes Jelinek via New Colony Furniture

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Before & After: Brooklyn Backyard Makeover

Matt and Jessi's garden, before & after.

Before & After: Brooklyn Backyard Makeover

One of my biggest dreams related to moving to the country was getting to build my own garden. I made grand plans, bought a car-full of plants, and now I feel both a little overwhelmed but also overjoyed by the prospect of having space to grow things. So far, I’m mainly focusing on tending to fledgling bushes and trying to avoid the giant black snake that likes to sleep in our lilac tree, but it would be amazing to make-over everything in one fell swoop. That’s not in our budget right now, so I’m living vicariously through this Brooklyn backyard makeover that comes to us from Matt and Jessi of Green & Ground.

These two were lucky enough to find a house that came with a (rough) backyard and through a lot of hard work and some major plant bed planning, they’ve create a little urban oasis for themselves, plant ladder included. Click through to check out their process. I can only imagine how lovely it must be to have breakfast outside and watch all those beauties grow. xo, grace

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DIY Painted Cat Nails

DIY Painted Cat Nails

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I’ve always been someone who shied away from trends and “must-haves” from the fashion and beauty world. Mainly because they tend to be expensive or designed for someone that looks very different than I do (ie: long skinny fingers for stacking rings, thick blond hair for beachy waves). So when I heard from one of our Brooklyn friends, nail artist Jessica Washick, about doing another DIY nail tutorial, I had a request: can we do something for those of us with short nails? All of the gorgeous nail art I see popping up in Instagram feeds around the world seems to be modeled solely on people with mega-long (to me, anyway) nails, so I asked Jessica if we could do something fun with short nails in mind. And she came back with a winner: black and white cat nails!

Jessica explained that, with short nails, “you’ll want to focus on the base of the nail. This enhances the length that you have and the nail art will look neat no matter how short your nails are!” I’m miles away from anything resembling a nail salon these days, so I’m excited to try this DIY at home over the weekend. Turk needs to know that despite being a 2-dog family now, he’s still our main man. Click through to see the full how-to and follow more of Jessica’s creative nail tutorials on Instagram right here. xo, grace

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How to Build Your Own Neighborhood Street Library

How to Build Your Own Neighborhood Street Library

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I love fun, decorative DIY projects, but when DIY can do something good and give back to the community, it really makes my day. San Francisco-based designer Jason Lees did just that when he decided to use his talents (and some great salvaged materials) to create an outdoor street library for his nine-year-old niece, Lucy.

These little free libraries, intended to encourage literacy, discovery and community, are popular across the country and every city needs help creating these neighborhood “library stations” where all children can give, get and exchange reading materials. When Jason’s niece asked him to create a library for her street, he realized that some of the leftover materials he had around his studio would be perfect for the project (and right in line with the libraries’ mission of recycling and re-using).

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So with some clever design choices, Jason turned a patio chair, wooden drawers and boxes, Redwood fencing, plywood, Ipe wood decking, colored acrylic sheets, corrugated polycarbonate, house and spray paint into a colorful home for Lucy’s neighbors to store and share books. I love the nods here to Memphis design and the fact that this beautiful little library will encourage children throughout the area to come, pick up a book and read.

If you’re interested in using your DIY skills to do something good for your neighborhood community, Jason is sharing his how-to steps after the jump. The best part is that just about any old boxes and leftover plastic or cardboard will do. All you need is your imagination and a little bit of elbow grease to create something special that will inspire kids to read. Thanks, Jason! xo, grace

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The National Stationery Show: Moglea

Moglea at the National Stationery Show.

The National Stationery Show: Moglea

It was Meg Gleason’s attention to detail that first attracted me to her company Moglea, a letterpress stationery studio based in rural Iowa. Her booth at the National Stationery Show perfectly illustrated her aesthetic, where bold colors and handmade elements are celebrated. When Meg first started her company in 2012, she searched for techniques she hadn’t seen before and quickly became excited by the idea of watercolor dip-dyed cards. Meg’s background in collage, watercolor, and fabric dying became integral to her designs and is now the forefront of her company, adding a very handmade element to a field that is often batch-processed. I was delighted to learn that the idea to use Kool-Aid as the dye came from her mother, a fiber artist, who would use Kool-Aid to dye angora wool as well as Meg’s hair ties growing up.

In this year’s collection, dip-dyed letterpressed cards are mixed with gold foil stamping, a process Meg waited to include in her designs until she could execute the process herself in her studio. The studio, set in rural Iowa, was built by Meg’s husband and partner, Chad. On the premises, they proudly do all of the design and finishing processes themselves, such as edge painting, binding, and padding. It is this focus on producing one-of-a-kind designs and having full control over every element that sets Moglea apart, making each piece something to be kept and treasured. The following six designs are some of my favorites from the NSS, showcasing dipped colors, collage elements, and bold typography. X, Emma

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VOLK Furniture by Brian Volk-Zimmerman

VOLK Furniture, on Design*Sponge

VOLK Furniture by Brian Volk-Zimmerman

Handmade in Brooklyn, VOLK Furniture has a distinctive playfulness that showcases hard materials yielding to various attempts at aesthetic softening. Brian Volk-Zimmerman, the company’s founder and designer, has a thing for unexpected details such as a nice fabric-lined drawer, an intentional shadow reflecting the physical shape of a mirror, or a cutout from one furniture piece found performing decorative duty in another. Natural marble, cork, and bleached ash lend an elegant sensibility to the lively collection shown at ICFF, which can also be ordered up in a variety of fine materials. —Annie

Photography via VOLK Furniture

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DIY Abstract Picture Frames

DIY Abstract Picture Frames

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Every now and then, we come across a project in a home tour that inspires not only our team, but readers, to request a DIY version we can all try at home. After last week’s Hudson Valley home makeover ran, we got so many emails asking about how to create similar “deconstructed” abstract picture frames. So we invited Jessica Goehring to create a project inspired by the gold frames in her home tour and I love the final result. Jess will walk you through the how-to after the jump! xo, grace

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A San Francisco Home Built for Play

Design*Sponge Home Tour

A San Francisco Home Built for Play

What would happen if the kids’ playroom turned into the entire home? It would look a lot like the San Francisco home Julia Busenitz shares with her husband Dennis, two sons Rune and Sepp, and dog Gucci. They were already living in the neighborhood — just a little over a block away — when the family fell in love with this house. They saw the potential even though it was “tiny, dark and stinky,” as Julia says. They knew they could make it their own with a lot of work and love. Fast-forward seven years and the house is transformed into a light-filled, lived-in, kid-friendly space.

It wasn’t easy to transform the home. There have been challenges along the way, lots of projects built just to be torn down again, but that’s just part of the process, Julia says. Their biggest objective, though, was to make sure the space was not precious at all. They wanted their home to be fun and inspiring: a place where their kids would bring their friends over to play, while still being comfortable enough to host big dinners.

Details such as the net lofted above the living room to the “porthole” above the boys’ bunk beds are proof of the family’s dedication to make every detail of the house playful and experiential. Julia’s husband Dennis built much of the furniture, making everything feel special and truly one-of-a-kind. His custom woodwork pieces are complemented by fabulous Craigslist scores (the oven, and a brand new bathroom sink and toilet). Outside, they are surrounded by a riot of lush greenery, their chicken coop, and Julia’s studio. Aside from being the coolest parents in the neighborhood, Julia runs a textile design business, Luca Jackson, and Dennis is a professional skateboarder. Thanks to both Julia and Dennis for demonstrating that a space for kids and a space for adults don’t have to be two separate things. —Shannon

 

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DIY Tissue Paper Art

DIY Tissue Paper Art

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One thing my home is sorely lacking is art. I’ve been so consumed with furniture, soft furnishings and far too many hanging planters, that I’ve neglected to extend the decoration to the walls. The pieces I do have are slowly collected and sparsely dotted around my home, and although each of these pieces holds some significance to me, I do feel that a few “filler” frames could bring them all together a little more. Along with looking for prints from local artists, I want to DIY a few pieces to add to the mix, and I felt like this tissue paper art was the perfect place to start. The bright colors, combined with a minimal design, creates an eye-catching piece that can fit in any sized wall space that you need to fill. —Fran

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Umbra Shift: Functional, Familiar, and Forward-Thinking

Umbra Shift, on Design*Sponge

Umbra Shift: Functional, Familiar, and Forward-Thinking

Many an organized life has been enhanced by the use of Umbra items over the past 30 years, and the Toronto-based product design company continues to innovate with a new line of designer items that incorporate contemporary aesthetics on top of their clever functionalities. Umbra Shift first launched at ICFF last year and had a strong second showing recently, giving talented young designers the ability to create the everyday objects that they themselves would be proud to display at home. Lots of clever ideas have emerged, like the desk lamp anchored with a pencil cup to free up valuable real estate on the average working desk surface, a folding chair with a hanger head that suggests its ideal storage spot, and a shelf that can support displayed items either horizontally or vertically. Bonus points for the rad packaging, which unites the dissimilar devices under one common visual language. —Annie

Photography via Umbra Shift

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National Stationery Show: Ferme À Papier

Ferme A Papier at the National Stationary Show.

National Stationery Show: Ferme À Papier

There are many elements of my personal style that can be traced in a straight line back to my time spent in Paris. From stripes, to luxe linens, to crown molding, these design details have sunk themselves deep into my life and ethos. My francophile affinity was well matched when I met Cat Seto of Ferme À Papier at the National Stationery Show this year, a San Francisco based design studio. It was her time in Paris two years ago that gave impetus to her company, whose literal translation is Farm to Paper. Days spent watching “Parisian hipsters” and visiting biodynamic farms in the countryside carry through in all of her work today. Upon walking around her dark navy booth, I was taken with the mix of styles she uses — abstract landscapes blended with gold foil typography, gestural illustrations of sweet couples in love, and hand drawn marble patterns that she said took forever to make.

For this year’s collection, Cat drew inspiration from the golden ratio, hoping to create “harmony and balance” in her designs. Although very modern in aesthetic, this ratio can be seen in the work of countless artists from Leonardo Da Vinci to Salvador Dali. I found these golden elements to be beautiful and compelling, mixing mathematical lines with the fluid shapes of nature.

In the end, I found myself lingering at the Ferme À Papier booth for far too long, sharing stories about hot french baguettes and romantic side streets. The following 10 images capture the feeling I had after leaving Cat’s booth, a dreamy wanderlust for a time stood still in a classic French parlor, stripes and all. X, Emma

Photography by Emma Tuccillo

 

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