Thursday, January 31, 2013

Smitten | Billy Cotton

Since I've been cooking a lot more and sharing some of the photographs and recipes here on the blog I've realized that I'm in desperate need of simple, plain white dishes.  I've been collecting vintage china for a few years now and while these highly decorative pieces spice up a fancy fete they detract from the visual impact of simple foods like say, the soft pretzels I made last week. Plain plates, especially classic white allow the food to be the star.  So last week I set out on a mission to find the perfect refined white tableware. Enter Billy Cotton. Love at first sight.  There's something about the shape of the French Bowl that has be seriously smitten.  Oh and the handle on the pitcher, to die for!  My Birthday is coming up next week so I may have to treat myself to a few pieces.

I have a crazy tableware addiction so I'd love to hear what kind of dishes do you use?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

L′Orangerie du Château de Versailles

This morning I'm feeling inspired by the amazing orangery, built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart between 1684 and 1686, at the gardens of Versailles.  With more than 1,000 perfectly kept potted plants, this garden is without a doubt the world's most famous showcase of citrus trees indoor and out.  So being that I'm a bit of a Fracophile this got me thinking....maybe I should grow my own citrus?  Sure I may not have Louis XIV's sprawling outdoor setup but I do have an apartment with sprawling 10 foot windows and if the plants at Versailles can survive indoors between November and April I figure they can live indoors at my place, right?

I did a little searching and found these cute kumquat, lemon and lime topiaries at Viva Terra.  These citrus trees may be small but they grow full-sized fruit year-round...what a wonderful way to beat the winter blues!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Smitten | Ice Glass

Chicago is finally covered with snow and ice, which is somewhat apropos since I stayed up way too late last night searching for "ice glass" lighting.  Why ice?  Well, just look at it!  I've been obsessing over these hand-moulded glass icicles, made by Kalmar of Austria during the 1960s, ever since I spotted one hanging in Douglas Rosin Antiques.  I'm convinced I need one because there is something about magical combination of glistening, frosty glass and brass that manages to warm my heart even on the coldest of cold days like today!

Stay warm this weekend....see you Monday!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Baked | Soft Pretzels

I made a batch of these delicious soft pretzels last week and let me tell you, living alone when you make a recipe this tasty is seriously dangerous!  Luckily my sister and I live in the same building (cute, right?) so I made her come down and take a bunch for her and her fiancé...the rest were devoured by me in less than 3 day!

1 1/2 cup warm water (temp between 110-115 degrees)
1 pkg Dry Yeast (check expiration)
2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
1 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
4 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
10 cups Water
2/3 cup Baking Soda
1/2 stick Butter, melted
Cinnamon + Sugar or Sea Salt for garnish

Sprinkle yeast and brown sugar over warm water in a mixing bowl, combine and wait about 5 minutes to make sure yeast activates. You want to make sure the yeast starts to bubble and foam before proceeding. Add flour, salt, melted butter and knead with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Start on low to combine ingredients and then move up to medium speed. Knead until dough pulls away and is smooth in consistency (about 3-5 minutes). Once smooth, remove dough from the bowl, clean out the bowl and oil it with vegetable oil. Place the dough back in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Once dough has risen, turn it out onto a slightly oiled work surface and using a pizza cutter divide into 10 equal pieces. One at a time roll into a skinny rope, make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. You can also make pretzel sticks and twists. Place onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large pot. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds, then return to the baking sheet. Once you've done this for each pretzel, place them in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes or until dark golden brown in color. Remove them from oven, dip in melted butter and top with salt or dip into a cinnamon and sugar mixture. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

The recipe sounds complicated but I promise you these pretzels are worth the effort!  Enjoy!

 photography by kristin kerr luber for simply smitten

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Four Kitchens

One of my goals this year is to stop living off Lean Cuisines and start cooking.  I've always loved cooking and baking but I just never had the energy to whip up a new recipe when I got home from work.  Now that my office is a whopping 3 steps away from my kitchen I've been cooking up a storm!  I've really enjoyed posting about some of the recipes over the last few weeks but all of this cooking has left me with a serious case of kitchen envy.  So, with that said, it only feels appropriate that I share some of the spaces and kitchen essentials that I've been obsessing over lately.   

For me, it's all in the details. The first kitchen is defined by stainless steal cabinetry and an absolutely breathtaking chandelier.  The second, warm tailored cabinetry with highlights of brass accents and rich olive wood cutting boards and walnut stools by Organic Modernism. The last two play with ideas of storage and symmetry. Massive islands define the spaces while upper cabinets blend seamlessly into milky walls.  Note those beautiful sabot-adorned legs. Breathtaking! Not your everyday high gloss, over designed kitchens. Simple, restrained, delicate. 

Which one is your favorite?

(Images T Magazine // Rundell Associates // Harper's Bazaar)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kristin Kerr Interiors | Office Space

Happy Friday!  I've been meaning to write this post since November but the timing never felt right.  Why you ask?  Well, I needed to figure out some of the logistics before screaming from the rooftops but now, two months and one can of chalkboard paint later, I feel proud to share the news that I am officially self employed and the proud owner of Kristin Kerr Interiors!

Yikes, right? In November I stopped working at my full-time finance job and finally took the plunge into the world of self employment.  The timing felt right but to be honest the reality of my current situation didn't really sink in until after the holidays.  I am so thrilled to be starting this new adventure but at the same time I am completely overwhelmed.  At my old job, everyday would crawl by but now I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Where am I going with this?  This week I decided to make Kristin Kerr Interiors feel a bit more official so I cleared out my den and set up shop.  I already owned pretty much everything in the inspiration board pictured above I just needed to get organized and make the space look pretty.  My all white walls were killing me so I bought a $9 can of chalkboard paint and went to town on one of the walls.  I don't know if I will actually write on the wall with chalk (I feel like it gets too messy) but I like the contrast of the black vs white walls and the way my Ikea pendant pops against it (first picture above). I'll photography the space as soon as I clean up the piles of paper but for now I leave you with some of the spaces that inspired my design.

The office is just the beginning of the good things to come so I hope you will follow along on my journey and, of course, pass along my information to anyone you know who is in need of a designer!

images kristin kerr // habitually chic // home dsgn // carlyle designs // dvf desk via instyle

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cooked | Potato Leek Soup

There's nothing quite like a big pot of hearty soup to beat these cold January nights! I invited my friend Liz over for dinner on Monday and I think we both agreed that the creamy texture of this soup is just heavenly and crunchy homemade croutons on top are a must.  Hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did!

5 Leeks, chopped, white and light green parts only
9 Red Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 Onion, diced
1 Tbsp Butter
8 cups Chicken Stock
Salt + Pepper to taste

In a large pot melt butter then add onion, leeks, and potatoes and saute for 5 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 40 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for around 10 minutes.  Strain vegetables and reserve the chicken stock (I set up a colander over a separate stock pot).  Put strained vegetables and 2 to 3 cups of chicken stock back into the original pot.  Puree the contents with an immersion hand blender.  Stir in reserved broth till you reach desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  I cup up a baguette, tossed the pieces in olive oil, salt and pepper then toasted them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Transfer soup to a bowl and top with large croutons.  Sprinkle some black pepper and sea salt on top and serve! So good!

Photography by Kristin Kerr Luber

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chic Candlesticks

1940s brass candlesticks by Lotta Horn  // Kelly Wearstler // Zeolite taper holder // Näsvis candlestick by Ikea // Jardins en Fleur // Brass pillar by Calvin Klein

Winter requirement numero uno? Lots and lots of candles. I’ve developed a bit of a crush on modernist taper candleholders lately and this time of year with longer, chilly nights seems exactly the right moment to share some favorites. I'd love to see them in a mass cluster down the center of a table, across a mantel, on a kitchen counter or even grouped on a coffee table. The options are endless and sure to make a statement.  I have a few sets of vintage taper holder (these are my favorite) but I've got my eye on this set of three Näsvis candlesticks from Ikea...with a $5 price tag, I would buy several sets and spray paint them gold or some other striking high gloss color. Magic.

(Images Apartment 34 // Elle Decor // Rue // Design Sponge // D Pages)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

John Minshaw Designs

There is an air of mystery and drama about the designs of John Minshaw. This award-winning architect and interior designer from London is a master at creating unassuming, minimally adorned yet classic and elegant spaces. His simple designs speak volumes — he favors balance, symmetry and proportion in his interiors, which he describes as ‘contemporary and quite sharp’. Minshaw doesn't use a lot of pattern, which I love, and instead uses a lot of texture. His use of color is also restrained — Farrow & Ball’s Strong White is a favorite — and only an occasional block of another color interrupts the flow. I wish there were more images of John's work in US shelter magazines so I could find out more about his resources.  Until then, I will continue to be inspired by these few (especially that brass kitchen island).  Which space is your favorite?