the goods: how-to pinterest

By now, someone you know has told you about their newest online obsession, something called Pinterest. In fact, there is a good chance that Kristi or I were the ones to tell you. So you’ve heard a lot about this new website but you can’t figure out what exactly it is. We’re here to help.

After forcing inviting friends to join and then subsequently explaining why the site is so wonderful (again and again) to them, I decided to do a quick post on it.

So what exactly is Pinterest?

In technical terms, Pinterest is a digital, image driven bookmarking site. Which means what exactly?! Get ready to clear some shelves, it’s time to recycle all those old issues of Martha Stewart you’ve been saving. Pinterest is a website where you can now save and catalog links to inspirational images, quotes, recipes, craft projects, gadgets, clothing and much much more. This is a site that will allow you to stop keeping a binder filled with torn out magazine pages and pages of ideas printed from the internet. Because you can now keep a digital binder/catalog/file of anything you find interesting.

One of the best perks of Pinterest is that it also moonlights as a social network. So you can find people who inspire you and follow what they post so that you can get ideas from them. These can be people you know or people who’s taste you like. It’s like going to a dinner party, eating an amazing dessert and you happen to be sitting next to the person who made it, who conveniently printed out a recipe card for you and hands it to you right there. Like I said, Pinterest is dreamy…

How do I get started?

Pinterest is currently an invite only service. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Email us at and we will invite you to the party.

Ok, so I have an account, now what?

1). Download the Pin It Bookmarklet (aka the pinmarklet)

First things first, download the pinmarklet. Here is a very informational video on how to do this:

So as you can see, the pinmarklet allows you to pin anything to your account without having to go to the site. So if you are on say, and spot a sweater you like, you can click on the “Pin It” bookmark select the image of the sweater that you like and pin it to your boards. All without leaving

2). Set Up Your Boards

Then, you want to start by creating a boards. You’ll want to organize these according to similar topics so that they are easy to search. Pinterest does not currently limit the number of boards that you can have so the sky’s the limit. In my opinion, I’ve found that because I like to go back and find things that I’ve pinned that it works best for me to have 8-9 categories that I file things under. Things like house, craft projects, recipe ideas, clothing I want, etc. But this is entirely up to you, I’ve seen people who have entire board devoted to the color navy blue or around a specific concept (like halloween). Also, you’ll want to categorize your boards within Pinterest. At the top of each board, there should be a drop down menu prompting you to do this. Doing so, will allow your pins to show up in those different category boards. I’ll explain more about those later.

3). Start Pinning

Once you have boards, it’s time to start adding things to them. When I first joined Pinterest, this meant going through email to find the links that I had emailed myself. You’ll find that in no-time you’ll be pinning things all day long.

4). Start following others

Like I mentioned earlier, Pinterest is also a social network. So it allows you to connect and follow what other people are putting on their boards. Probably the best part of this is that you don’t have to follow all of a users boards, you can pick and choose the boards you like best. It’s up to you.

You can follow us here!

To get you started, here are a few of my favorites (along with favorite boards):

Rex & Regina — favorite board — party party party
Style Me Pretty — favorite board — beautiful brides

Elements of Style — favorite board — for the home
sfgirlbybay* — favorite boards — living rooms, sleep here & dining style
westelm — favorite board — chevron
Hammocks & High Tea — favorite board — home studio
Lonny Mag — favorite board — Lonny Kitchens
Christine Martinez — favorite board — interiors I dream of…
Erin Loechner — favorite board — black and white
Simple Song — favorite board (love them all) — fonts
Oh Joy! — favorite boards — for the home & graphic design
Bonnie Tsang — favorite board — b’s style

The Beauty Department — favorite board — hair color

Nina Garcia — favorite board — interiors & dapper men
Michael Kors — favorite board — spaces
Refinery 29 — favorite board — street style
lemlem — favorite board — love lemlem

Food & Drinks
That’s so Michelle — favorite board — michelleoshots
Susan Leahy — favorite board — Comfort Food
Real Simple — favorite board — weeknight meals
Whole Foods Market — favorite board — sweet tooth

Once you are following others, you can repin things that they’ve posted. To repin something simply hold your mouse over the upper left hand corner of the image. Two boxes will appear, click on the one that says repin to add it to one your boards. Follow the prompts (change the captions if you’d like) and voila, you’ve saved that project for later.

So how do I get the recipe or instructions for something I’ve pinned?

Pinterest uses the images to store the links. To go to the source of the image for the recipe, instructions, etc. you simply need to click on the image so that you are on the pin’s page, then click on the image again. You should be redirected to the source. Couple of things about this, hopefully someone pins something with instructions/source details but a lot of time images come from google search and/or tumblr so it can be hard to find out more. Here’s where you can tap the social network aspect of Pinterest. Comment on something and ask if anyone knows where it is from. You may just find the answer.

What else do I need to know?

* it’s addictive to watch a pin of yours get repinned. Everyone loves to be a trendsetter, Pinterest is no exception to this rule.

* Use search, it’s a great resource both for searching your own catalog and for finding projects, ideas and inspiration

* Bored and looking for some visual stimulation. Explore by category. If you look at the top of the page, underneath the Pinterest logo, there are the following: Everything, Pinners you Follow, Categories, Popular & Gifts. These are all categories to help you see what people are pinning in specific categories. (this is why it’s important to categorize your own boards)

* Last but not least, if you have a Facebook account and you log into Pinterest using it, Pinterest activity will be published there. I prefer to keep those things separate but it is up to you. Consider yourself warned.

That’s it! Go forth and pin! Let us know if there is anyone we should be following!



the goods: January 2012

I don’t know about you guys, but I cannot believe that it is January 27.  Where did January go?  I don’t know if it’s the mild weather or the fact that I’ve been keeping busy but 2012 is flying by —  especially the past two weeks.  Thank god for iPhone cameras to capture some of the moments.  Here are some of my latest discoveries (Mason Pearson and Pop Corners are my latest obsessions) and works in progress (quilting, purses and DIY art).  Can’t wait to share the final projects with you in the coming weeks.

Happy Friday and enjoy the last weekend in January!



whisk: gold rush brownies

Gold Rush Brownies hold a special place in heart — these are somewhere between a cookie and a brownie with a rich caramel and chocolate flavor.  One of my best friends mother’s would make these regularly and I can still remember waiting for her to cut the crusts just so I could have a taste!  These brownies are rich and pack a flavorful punch.  Wait, I haven’t even told you the best part.  This is all from only three ingredients, 5 minutes of prep time and 35 minutes in the oven.

Here are the deets:

1 pack of Graham Crackers

1/2 – 1 full bag of milk chocolate chips

1 15 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Pam and line the bottom of a 8×8 pan.  Set aside.

Then, remove the graham crackers from the wrapping and place in a zipper bag.  Using a rolling pin, can, your hand, etc. crush the crackers.

Place in a bowl, add the entire can of sweetened condensed milk and the desired amount of chocolate chips.  I like these to be on the more chocolate side of the spectrum so I usually put in the whole bag but you should put in at least half of a bag.

Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden on top.

Once finished, remove immediately from pan and set on a rack to cool.  Cut crusts and serve, preferably with a cold glass of milk.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!



listen: Mix of the Month

I’m constantly looking for new music and last year I stumbled upon DJ Lucy Wrubel’s Mix of the Month Club. What is it exactly?  Think of it like wine of the month club, except for music. Every month you receive 80-minute mix of great music. Seriously, her mixes are awesome and range from reggae to alt country to bluesy tunes. So if you’re a music nerd like I am, sign up for Season Two here. Cheers!

live: location, location, location

Like Kristi, I’ve been on the hunt for reasonably priced artwork for my house and I’ve been swooning over the modern map collections by Jenna Sue Maps.  I’ve always loved the idea of subtly paying homage to the places where you have lived.  If framed properly (I would crop out the city names), these illustrations could pass for modern art not street maps of different towns.  Plus I love the variety of cities available, including some smaller towns, like my current home of Boulder, Colorado.

I’m planning to order the Boulder, Manhattan and Brooklyn maps in grey, white and black.  I am also going to contact her to see if she will create a custom map of Martha’s Vineyard for me.



all photos from jenna sue maps on etsy

stitch: Singer Featherweight

As Katie mentioned yesterday, my Bernina has all of a sudden stopped working. Thankfully, I have a wonderful backup:

The Singer Featherweight is an awesome, amazing, easy to use sewing machine. If you ever run across one at a garage sale snatch it up as soon as you can. So while my Bernina is in the shop, I’ll be sewing away with this lovely beauty. Happy Friday!

whisk: biscoff rice krispie treats

Guys, I want to start off and say sorry that we’ve been MIA.  I’ve been battling a major case of mercury in retrograde where nothing that I attempt turns out right.  We both have really, at the same time that I attempted and failed at three different projects, Kristi’s sewing machine hit a snag (ok maybe more than a snag).  Mistakes happen and if I’ve learned anything in the last few years is that they happen more often then you’d like.  As someone who gets frustrated when I can’t master something, I have to had to train myself to see that failing is the good part because it’s where you learn. Failing does not always equal failure.  And hopefully, just hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes twice.   So anyway, sorry that we went silent — we promise not to leave you like that again!

So let’s take a look at one such failure of mine.  You remember my new obsession, Biscoff Spread, right… well I took her our for a spin to see just how much she could do.  I decided to start with something that should’ve been easy, Rice Krispie Treats.   RKTs are one of my favorite desserts, they are so simple and buttery and delicious.  Now imagine them with a hint of ginger spice cookie mixed in… sounds heavenly, right?  Things did not go quite as expected…

Things tarted off well, I melted the butter, then added the marshmallows and stirred until they were melted.  Then at this point, I stirred in the Biscoff Spread until it melted and then poured over the cereal.

I knew going in that the key to this experiment would come down to whether or not the Biscoff Spread melted well (like a peanut butter).  It started off fine and melted into the marshmallows without a problem.  But as I started stirring it in with the cereal, it thickened so quickly that it became hard to mix, after like two seconds of stirring.

At this point, I also tested the mix and realized that I hadn’t used enough spread because instead of tasting like ginger spice cookies, it tasted like, well normal Rice Krispie Treats.  Only sweeter.  So I spread an additional layer of Biscoff on top of the pan hoping that would help and then in case all else failed, I added a layer of dark chocolate.

The Result:

Now, here’s where I have to fess up to my worst mistake of all — I forgot to line the pan which more or less made these suckers impossible to get out.   So in the end, it was Biscoff Rice Krispie Treats 1, Katie 0.  These were chewy, sticky, crunchy and extremely sweet bars.  The treats were tasty but everyone who tried them asked what they were – they didn’t taste like Rice Krispie Treats or anything but sugar.

That being said, I had no problem finding people to eat these and like Julia Child famously said, you should never apologize for anything in the kitchen.  So no apologizes here, but I will keep trying.  For the next round, I’m thinking that I will replace the butter in the original recipe with Biscoff and see if that helps.  I also am thinking of crushing up some Biscoff Cookies and adding those to the mix.

What’s your worst kitchen disaster?

swoon: Illustrator Sandra Dieckmann

I’ve rearranged a few things in my living room and now have a very anemic looking corner. So I’ve been perusing the interwebs for affordable artwork and stumbled across Sandra Dieckmann. Her illustrations are absolutely beautiful (especially her patterns) and are for sale here. Beautiful work and affordable? Done and done! My corner may not be so anemic in the near future…

whisk: chocolate cake two ways

(If you’ve hit the end of your willpower on those pesky new year’s resolutions to eat less sweets, I suggest you stop reading right here, because this cake just screams, resolutions be damned!)

When I first started getting into baking, I was very intimidated by making a cake from scratch and often times would shy away from them — plus funfetti cakes are so tasty.  Then one cold winter weekend in New York, I decided to go for it and came across this nine-ingredient recipe for chocolate cake.  It is a great gateway cake baking recipe because it is simple and extremely rewarding.   It was apparently developed by Wesson Oil back in the day and I’ve run across variations of it in several cookbooks as the author’s mom’s special cake.   No matter the origins, this is one helluva cake.  It’s moist, fluffy, dense and flavorful.  As an added bonus, it’s also vegan.

So I’m going to show you how to make this cake two ways: the easy and the more advanced.  For those of you intimidated by baking, give it a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Honestly, anyone can make this, no matter your skill level and kitchen (mine at the time was smaller than the coat closet in my current house).

Once you’ve perfected the cake, you may want to use it to make something even more impressive so I’ll show you how to layer it and frost it with a crumb coat so that your icing is clean and beautiful!

Regardless, the ingredients don’t change.  Here they are:
+ 1.5  c. all-purpose flour
+ 1 c. sugar
+ 1/4  c. unsweetened cocoa powder
+ 1 tsp. baking soda
+ 1/2  tsp. coarse salt
+ 6 T  vegetable oil
+ 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
+ 1 T white vinegar
+ 1 c. cold water

High Altitude Adjustments (5000 ft above sea level)
If you live at high altitude like I do now, you will find the cake’s need a little finessing.  These are the adjustments for this cake:
+ Decrease sugar to 3/4c. + 2tsp.
+ Decrease the baking soda to 3/4 tsp.

To make the cakes:
+ Center the rack in your oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
+ Sift flour into a 8in square pan. If you don’t have a flour sifter, place the flour in the pan and stir with a whisk for a minute.  Add the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Using a fork stir together until the dry ingredients are mixed together.
+ Using a tablespoon, make three different “wells” in the dry ingredients.  One large, one medium and one small.
+ Add the liquid ingredients to the wells as follows: Large = Oil; Medium = Vinegar; Small = Vanilla
+ Then pour one cup of cold water over the entire pan.
+ Using your fork, stir the batter so that it is mixed.  You should be stirring for about 2 minutes at most.  Make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients in the corners and make sure you get everything off the bottom.  Keep in mind you want it to be mixed but by no means do you need to go for broke here, use your judgement.
+ Put the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until when a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of the cake can be clean when removed.  Another hint is to gently push the top of the cake with your fingers.  If it springs back its ready.
+ Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
+ To serve, either sprinkle powdered sugar on top or frosting using the cream cheese frosting found below.

That’s it folks!

Once you have mastered making that cake, you can take it to the next level by making it into a layer cake.

To make a layer cake:

+ You’ll need two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.  To prepare them, butter them and add a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.  Butter the parchment and coat the pan with about a tsp. of cocoa powder (you can also use flour if you’d like) This step makes it easy to remove the cakes from the pans.  Don’t skip it.
+ To make the cakes, we are going to double the recipe.  So put in twice the above listed amounts for each ingredient.  Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl and stir on the lowest setting for 30 second until combined.  Then add the oil, water, vinegar and vanilla and mix until just combined.  Then take two 8 or 9 in round pans.  Divide evenly between pans and bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick is clean when entered and removed from the center of the cake.  Remove from oven let cool in pan for 30 minutes and then run knife along edge and remove from pans.  Place cakes on cooling rack and set aside until completely cool.

To make the frosting:
+ In a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine cream cheese and butter and beat for about 2-3 minutes until fluffy and combined.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla, mix on low until the sugar is combine and then beat for another minute or two.

To assemble the cake:
To start, you need to make sure your layers are level.   Then, you want to cut each of the cakes in half so that you have four even and level layers.  So if the tops of the cake layers have crowned (rounded), use a long serrated knife to level even them.  Then place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper.  Add about a cup of frosting and using an offset spatula, spread from the center towards the edges.  Try your best to make the frosting layer level.  Then place the second cake layer on the cake, add frosting and spread it.  Repeat this until all of your layers are stacked.

Next comes the crumb layer.  I had no idea that this life changing technique even existed.  The purpose of the crumb layer is to essentially seal in all the crumbs so that when you frost the cake you have clean icing.  I followed the instructions found here.  To make the crumb coat, you want to take a decent heaping tablespoon of frosting, start spreading it from the center toward the sides creating a thin layer (pushing all of the extra frosting to the edge) then take the extra frosting and bring it down the side and spread around the cake.  Now here comes the fun part.  You are going to more or less scrape all of the excess frosting away from the cake.  On the top of the cake you can use the edge of your offset spatula at a 45 degree angle to do this and on the side use a bench scraper.  Now, couple of important things to note 1). while I say scrape, I mean skim.  You just want to gently get as close as you can to the cake.  You also want to do it in as fluid a motion as you can, so for the sides of the cake it really helps to have a lazy susan/turntable.  2). don’t scrape the leftovers into your unused frosting, place them in another bowl and discard or put on a graham cracker and eat but don’t reuse when frosting the cake.

To finish the cake, scoop the remaining frosting on top of the cake and using your clean, dry offset spatula and spread from the center toward the edges.  Once the top layer is smooth, spread the remaining frosting around the edges.  Add sprinkles and serve!

There you have it!  Chocolate cake two ways.  Let me know if you make this, I’d love to hear any of your tips for frosting a cake (heavens knows I need help still!).