Tag: Holiday (page 2 of 3)

Cumin Lime Celery Bloody Marys

Bloody Marys are one of the few libations that are socially acceptable to drink before noon.  So, when it comes to brunch–especially Easter brunch–they are an obvious choice.  They also lend themselves beautifully to variation upon variation.  Here’s a version to try this Easter: Cumin Lime Celery Bloody Marys.  And they’re easy to make.  Here’s how…


64 oz bottle of V8 Spicy Hot Vegetable Juice

Juice of 2 limes

2-3 limes, cut into wedges

2 stalks of celery, washed & chopped

4-6 celery tops for garnish

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground

Vodka, chilled

Ice cubes



Open the bottle of V8 juice and pour a little out to make room.  Add the lime juice, chopped celery, and cumin.  Shake well and let rest in the fridge over night.  In the morning, transfer the juice to a pitcher and stir.  Select your glassware and cut the remaining celery stalks to be 2-3 inches taller than your glasses are deep.  Place the trimmed stalks in the glasses.  Place everything in the area that you’ve designated for your guests to mix their drinks.

I also highly recommend having some kind of Mexican beer available.  (I like Tecate or Dos Equis.)  Bloody beers (or micheladas) are a great lower-alcohol-alternative to Bloody Marys that are easy to drink.  I made this option available at my last brunch and–surprisingly–the beer was a more popular choice than the vodka.


If you’re hosting this Easter, don’t miss my tips for hosting a stress-free brunch.



The Best Stouts on Instagram

Before your order a Guinness this St. Patrick’s Day, consider an alternative stout. Don’t get me wrong; Guinness is a classic choice, but if you’re looking for a beer with a bit more bite, more spice, more…character, give one of these a try…

Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix Chipotle Coffee Stout.  The name says it all: spicy chipotle and rich coffee flavors elevate this dark beer without being too overwhelming.

Give Guinness a Rest & Try These Stouts Instead

via Firestone Walker on Instagram

File this one under “Damn Near Perfect”.  That’s the only way I know how to describe this smooth, oatmeal stout.

Jackie Tar & Other Stouts to Try Today

via MacLeod Ale on Instagram

Served on cask, which means it’s a little warmer and slightly less carbonated, this brown ale is smooth and easy to drink with an interesting, nuanced finish.

The Best Stouts on Instagram

via North Coast Brewing on Instagram

With a motley of dark and intense flavors, this stout will put hair on your chest, which is why–as I woman–I only enjoy it in very small quantities.

Gwen's Favorite Stouts

via Motley_Decor…are you following yet?

And last but  not least, a beer from my home state of New Mexico, Santa Fe Brewing‘s Java Stout.  This one will help you stay awake into the wee hours.

Wishing you a happy & safe St. Patrick’s Day filled with yummy stouts!  Cheers!

3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine’s Day

Desserts are practically mandatory on Valentine’s Day.  Sweets have become synonymous with this pink and red, heart-studded holiday.  This a challenge for folks like me who like to entertain, but are intimidated by baking.  Fear not!  This Valentine’s Day, I’ve conjured up 3 extremely easy desserts that don’t require careful measurements or an oven.

Easy, No Bake Dessert #1: The Chocolate Board

You’ve heard of a cheese board.  Why not apply that same concept to dessert?  Build your own fruity, nutty, and chocolaty crostini with a chocolate board.

Chocolate board & other easy no bake desserts for Valentine's Day on Motley Decor

For this one, I used tea biscuits and brioche toasts as a base.  The three ceramics contain caramel, cookie butter, and Nutella.  Sliced strawberries and pomegranate seeds provide a dose of acid, while almond and pistachio pieces contribute a nice textural contrast.  A sprinkling of sea salt brings all of the flavors to the forefront.

Introducing the Chocolate Board + 2 More Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day on Motley Decor

Still, dozens of variations come to mind.  Cookies would make excellent vessels.  Nut butters, honey, and melted chocolate are easily spread over them.  Raspberries always pair well with chocolate–as do hazelnuts.  And how about sprinkling some orange zest over it all?  What about adding jam or yogurt chips?

3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day | Chocolate Board | Motley Decor

This easy dessert requires zero cooking and allows for variety and customization.

Easy, No Bake Dessert #2: Ice Cream with Fresh Fruit

Here’s another super low maintenance option: delicious ice cream with fresh fruit.  Just scoop, chop, and sprinkle.

3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day on Motley Decor

In this example, blueberry ice cream combines with strawberries (conveniently sliced to look like hearts) and pomegranate.  But, again, you can substitute nearly any flavor of ice cream (or sorbet or gelato) and swap in nearly any fruit or berry.

Blueberry ice cream with strawberries & pomegranate | 3 Easy, No Bake Desserts for Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

Pump up your presentation by serving the ice cream in vintage teacups with demitasse spoons.  Don’t have napkin rings?  Bracelets will do the trick.

3 Easy No Bake Desserts | Valentine's Day Dessert Ideas | Motley Decor

Easy, No Bake Dessert #3: The Perfect (Poached) Pear

Wine Poached Pears with Marscapone, Caramel, Pistachio & Sea Salt | 3 Easy, No Bake Desserts on Motley Decor

For dessert #3, I poached pears in wine and served them alongside marscapone cheese, drizzled the entire plate with caramel sauce, and then finished with crushed pistachios and sea salt.  The pears are like flavor sponges, absorbing the essence of the wine and manifesting it in a soft, slightly gritty body.  The marscapone cheese delivers richness and creaminess.  Caramel ushers in the sweet (since I used a dryer poaching liquid), intensified by sea salt.  And the pistachios give you something to crunch on.

Wine Poached Pears with Marscapone, Caramel, Sea Salt & Pistachios | 3 Easy Desserts for Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

Unlike the first 2 suggestions, this dessert actually requires cooking…kind of.  Let me put it to you this way: if you can boil water, you can make this dessert.  Here’s the recipe for this particular incarnation with ideas on variations following…


2 pears, skinned, with the bottoms cut off (so they stand upright)

Poaching liquid: 1 bottle red dessert wine, 1 bottle dry sparkling white wine

2 tablespoons marscapone cheese

Caramel sauce to taste

1 handful of pistachios, crushed

Sea salt to taste


In a pot slightly taller than your pears, bring your poaching liquid to a boil.  Add the pears (they should be mostly submerged), cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  How long you poach the pears with depend on how ripe they are.  Since my pears were pretty firm, they simmered for about 45 minutes.  However, you should check them at around 30 minutes to be on the safe side.  When done, they’ll be soft enough to cut with the edge of a fork.

Remove the pears from the liquid carefully and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess liquid.  At this point, I prefer to let them cool so that their heat doesn’t instantly melt the marscapone.

On a plate, drizzle caramel, then stand the pears side by side in the center.  Add two scoops of marscapone to opposite sides of of the pears and drizzle more caramel.  Add a dusting of sea salt and a handful of crushed pistachios.


Recipe: Wine Poached Pears with Marscapone, Salted Caramel & Pistachios on Motley Decor

Wine-based poaching liquids are a popular choice, but not your only option.  Truth be told, I only used a 50-50 mix of dessert and sparkling wine, because I happened to have it on hand.  In the past, I’ve used Moscato made sweeter with simple syrup and even spiced cider.

This was also the first time I used marscapone, caramel, and nuts.  Previously, I’ve leaned on vanilla ice cream and a little cinnamon.  Next time, I’ll try ricotta, blueberries, and walnuts.

In cooking–as in Jazz–improvisation elevates the art form.  So, make it your own!


Lip Service: Kisses in Decor

In honor of Valentine’s day this Sunday, let’s take a look at lip and kiss motifs in home decor.

Just for Valentine's Day: Kisses in Decor

Minnie gives Mickey a smooch in Chiara Ferragni’s living room.  Lip printed textiles from Kelly Wearstler complete the scene.

Just for Valentine's Day: Lips & Kisses in Decor

Wallpaper adorned with painterly lips makes a bold statement in this bathroom in the 2015 San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

Just for Valentine's Day: Lips & Kisses in Home Decor on Motley Decor

A marble lips sculpture punctuates this chic vignette in Elaina Sullivan’s studio apartment.

Lips & Kiss motifs in home decor via Motley Decor

This rosy pout of a sofa in Diane Von Furstenberg’s penthouse gives a whole new meaning to the term “love seat”.

Read my lips: kisses in home decor on Motley Decor

Apartment Therapy house tour inductee, Pomona Singh styled this corner of her Toronto home with a little cushion covered in kisses.

Lips & kisses in Decor for Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

In this living room photographed by Jonas Ingersedt, a golden pucker takes center stage.

Lips prints and kiss motifs in home decor | Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

Artist Donald Robertson adapted his “Lippy” work to this “Essentials Chair” for a pop up shop event last year.

Into this look?  Shop for some lip and kiss accessories on Motley Decor.


Shopping for Kisses

Feeling romantic this Valentine’s Day?  Show your home some love with these kiss-themed accessories…

Kiss Accessories from Kelly Wearstler | Motley Decor

Kelly Wearstler–God bless her–offers a variety of kiss-inspired accessories.  Above is a sampling, but see them all here.

Lips loveseat & other kiss inspired decor for Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

Snuggle up and pucker up with your other half on this loveseat.

Kisses custom fabric & other Valentine's Day Decor on Motley Decor

From cloth napkins to upholstery, the possibilities are endless with this custom kisses fabric from Spoonflower.  Available in a variety of colorways.

Shopping for kisses in decor on Motley Decor | Valentine's Day

This pop art canvas print (found on MyHabit) is edgy, sexy, and may just complete your gallery wall.

Kisses from the home | Lip-themed decor | Valentine's Day | Motley Decor

Roxanne, you don’t have to turn on the red light.  These neon lips are pink.

Lips & kisses for your home this Valentine's Day on Motley Decor

Or own a Donald Robertson original.

Need more inspiration?  Check out these rooms with kiss-themed decor.  Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!


Milk and Cookies Aren’t Just for Santa

Traditionally, milk and cookies are left out for Santa on Christmas Eve.  However, that doesn’t mean that you and your guests can’t also indulge.  Substitute spiced rum milk punch for regular milk and serve equally spicy cookies for a holiday-appropriate dessert and cocktail combo.

Having grown up in New Mexico, I have a special bias towards the state’s official cookie of Christmas: the biscochito.  It’s akin to an anise-flavored sugar cookie.  The spice in the cookie pairs well with the spiced rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg of the punch (recipe below).  However, it’s not your only option for milk and cookies.

Norwegian pepper cookies–laced with generous doses of cardamom and (you guessed it) pepper–are another great choice.  I was introduced to these last year by Brookie’s Bites.

I’ve linked to recipes for both cookies rather than providing my own, because baking is not something I excel at.  I do, however, make a mean rum punch.  Here’s how I like to make it…


1/2 gallon milk

1 cup spiced rum

7 teaspoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Cinnamon and nutmeg

A crock pot

1 day lead time (for best results)

Add the milk, rum, sugar, vanilla, and a dusting of the spices in the crock pot and stir thoroughly.  Set to medium heat to avoid boiling the mixture and burning off all of the alcohol.  Instead, the punch should be just steaming.  Once steaming, let it continue for about 20 minutes.

At this point you have 3 choices.  First, you can serve the rum milk punch right then–hot and in mugs.  However, if you have the patience, let the brew return to room temperature, transfer it into a sealed container, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.  (Most liquid things taste better after spending the night in the fridge.)  On the following day, you can either enjoy it cold or heat it up again.  The third option is to freeze it.  When serving the next day, use a fork or something sharp to break up the snowy concoction and serve it like a slushy.

A few notes…  However you decide to serve the spiced rum milk punch–hot, cold, or slushy style–make sure you garnish with a little extra cinnamon and nutmeg.  Also, experiment with the amount of rum, sugar, and spices to tailor the recipe to your preferences.  I tend to enjoy just a little sugar and a lot of spice.  Finally, when you heat milk, a thin film forms on the top, but it is easily removed (because it can be a little unsightly).

Hope you enjoy this spicy, adult version milk and cookies!


6 Red and Green Rooms that Look Good All Year

Red and green rooms get a lot of attention during Christmas time, but what about the rest of the year?  Is the quintessential Christmas color combination appropriate year-round?  Here are six gorgeous red and green rooms that say yes!

Red and green rooms | Dorothy Draper

Chances are: you’ve seen this picture before.  Dorothy Draper and her boldly hued interiors are nothing short of iconic.  Here, a red stair runner combines with the green of the palm wallpaper.  This combination of red and green extends throughout the Greenbrier, making for a perennially beautiful scene.

6 Red and Green Rooms that Look Good All Year | Matthew Bees

Designer Matthew Bees infused his NY apartment with southern charm and vibrant color.  Kelly green walls envelope the small space, peppered with pops of red like the studded stool and candles held in the chandelier.  The resulting effect doesn’t feel too Christmas-y thanks to carefully layered neutrals.

6 Red & Green Rooms that Look Good All Year | Summer Thornton

Summer Thornton designed this bedroom with green striped walls, a mossy-chartreuse headboard, shapely crimson upholstered chairs, and lacquered nightstands.  Black and white also plays an important role in this room, lending it a year-round appeal.

6 Red and green rooms | Daniel Romualdez

In Daphne Guinness’ stunning living room, white dominates.  Small doses of color punctuate the room, most notably the scarlet lacquer side table and velvet upholstery of the side chairs.  Topiaries in the background provide a pinch of green.  Still, glamour defines this space rather than a holiday feel.

6 Red and green rooms that look good all year |  María Lladó

This lovely, red-washed library is the work of María Lladó.  A single green pillow qualified the room for this list, but it’s sky blue companion and the striking white furnishings keep the room feeling season-neutral.  This is just another example of how red and green rooms can look chic and appealing for the other 11 months out of the year.

6 Red and green rooms to love all year | Muriel Brandolini

Last, but certainly not least, Muriel Brandolini’s bohemian-inspired salon boasts a red and green palette–with shades of blue used in equal proportions.  Baby blue walls make for a surprisingly neutral backdrop.  A sapphire blue planter matches the emerald green upholstery in intensity.  Ruby cushions add an extra punch and echo the walls of the adjoining room.

So it seems that red and green rooms have no expiration date.  The two colors are, after all, opposite on the color wheel, making the duo nearly fool-proof.  If these rooms are any indication, when in doubt, add plenty of neutrals or even blue to temper a space that perhaps feels too much like the Kringle residence.

Happy holidays!

Gift Ideas for Design Lovers

Well, it’s officially December and if you squandered all those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals (like I did), you may be realizing (as I am) that it’s time to get serious about gift shopping this holiday season–and that the clock is ticking!  There are only 5 days until Hanukkah begins and 24 days left until Christmas.  And, if November was any indication, the month of December will fly by.

In an effort to help soothe any anxieties you may be having (and that I am definitely having), here are some gift ideas for design lovers…

For the most part, my gift ideas for design lovers fall into 5 categories:

1. Sources of Inspiration

Magazine subscriptions are the gift that keep on giving all year.  When I come home from a long day of work and see a glossy new House Beautiful on my counter, I break into a happy dance.  Elle Decor, Veranda, and Architectural Digest are also great ideas.  If you prefer to watch the recipient rip open the wrapping paper, consider a design book.  Eddie Ross has a new one out called “Modern Mix” and Jean-Louis Deniot’s first book is still fairly new and generating buzz.  Of course, if you prefer to share this wonderful blog you’re reading, good news: it’s totally free!

2. Bougie Barware

The bar cart has been a phenomenon in home decorating as of late, so it’d be hard to compile a list of gift ideas for design lovers without incorporating some fabulous drinking paraphernalia, such as fancy…

  • Bottle stoppers
  • Bottle openers
  • Coasters
  • Decanters
  • Cocktail shakers
  • Ice buckets
  • Wine chillers

Look for beautiful and luxurious barware that your recipient might not splurge on for him or herself.  Alternatively, seek out vintage barware from an era that he or she loves.

3. Hosting Tools

There are certain things that a host or hostess will simply never have enough of, like:

  • Coasters
  • Serving platters
  • Games
  • Cook books

And then there are those items that add a little luxury to a gathering, but that perhaps didn’t make it onto the wedding gift registry, for instance…

  • Dessert forks
  • Espresso cups
  • A cute apron
  • Wine glass markers
  • Digestif glasses

4. Gourmet Gifts

Beyond the predictable bottle of wine, there are plenty of gourmet food and drink items that make great gift ideas for design lovers and epicureans.  Look into quality:

  • Olive Oil
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Specialty salts
  • Craft beer
  • Cheeses

5. Personal Luxuries

Then there are those little luxuries that do wonders for relieving stress…a great smelling candle can be restorative, a beautiful pashmina can be draped over the shoulders or the end of a sofa, and a day at the spa certainly never hurt anyone.

Gift ideas for design lovers on MotleyDecor.com

Above from left to right: Eddie Ross’ Modern Mix, Truffle salt from Williams Sonoma, a handmade apron found on etsy, mirrored coasters from WestElm.com, Kelly Wearstler’s Acolyte ice pail, Cards Against Humanity, Espresso cups by Tom Dixon, glass decanter from Jonathan Adler.  

Hopefully reading this post has sparked some gift ideas for design lovers in your life.  Happy Shopping!




4 Easy Thanksgiving Centerpieces You Still Have Time to Make

With all of the madness that comes in the days preceding Thanksgiving, there are often little details that are overlooked.  If your tablescape falls into that category, here are 4 easy Thanksgiving centerpieces you can pull off in the 11th hour and still dazzle your guests…

Sugared fruit thanksgiving centerpieces

Sugared fruit sparkles in candlelight and makes for a festive focal point.  Photo from DiscoverYourJoieDeVivre blog.

Edible cheese centerpiece

If any holiday deserves an edible centerpiece, it’s Thanksgiving!  Steal this clever idea from Southern Living and stack cheeses in a cake formation, adorn them with flowers and herbs, and encourage your guests to nibble in between courses.

scattered candlesticks centerpiece

Modwedding cleverly grouped miscellaneous candlesticks together to light and gussy up this table.  If you have a collection of candlesticks, you might try this easy idea…

Pheasant feather Autumn centerpiece

And finally, why not use season-appropriate pheasant feathers in place of flowers?  Nathan Turner did just that in this lovely Domino feature.

Planning a Thanksgiving Menu

Even though it’s my second favorite holiday (behind Halloween), I gotta be honest: Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. I didn’t finalize my Thanksgiving menu until Saturday–just in the nick of time to hit the farmers markets on Sunday morning with my shopping list in hand. However, just because I’m a little behind this year, doesn’t mean I’m any less excited or that less care went into my menu.

There was never any doubt that a Peking duck would be at the center of our Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition that the hubs and I started a few years. Neither of us are huge turkey fans and our one attempt at cooking a turkey was uninspiring. Not that I haven’t had good turkey, but even the best turkey in the world doesn’t hold a candle to many other proteins. (Let’s be honest.) And when it comes to the winged beasts, it doesn’t get any better than a delectable, Chinese-style roast duck–at least for my money.

Taking my cue from the East, I usually try to add an Asian twist to traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. For instance, last year, I made curried sweet potatoes, added scallions and water chestnuts to my stuffing, grilled bok choy, and used a miso dressing on my kale salad. Still, I wanted to challenge myself to come up with some new plates for this year. Here’s what I got…

Peking duck
A 50-50 mix of the plum sauce that usually accompanies duck the and–of course–cranberry sauce
Wild rice pilaf with shitake mushrooms
Mashed potato medley with miso gravy
Caramelized butternut squash with Panko bread crumbs
And grilled broccoli in a spicy mustard glaze

I will also mull some red wine, using cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, and orange slices. It’s like hot sangria and the spicy profile suits the menu and the season. In addition, we’ve amassed a small arsenal of pumpkin ales and various other autumn-inspired craft beers to enjoy Thanksgiving day.

Inevitably, someone always wants to make or bring something at the last minute. So, I leave room in my menu for that. You may have noticed that there’s no salad, appetizers, or dessert. (However, my contingency plan is to whip up a last minute cheese plate & veggie platter if needed.) And if previous years are any indication, my husband will beg his our sister to make her famous chocolate souffle. This doesn’t fit with a Thanksgiving or an Asian theme, but more importantly, it’s about appreciating family–and their culinary talents!  It always warms my heart to see the exchange between the two of them.

With that all squared away, I’ve busied myself with styling little Thanksgiving vignettes around the house. Here are some pictures.

Thanksgiving menu ingredients

With my refrigerator overflowing with Thanksgiving menu ingredients, I had to store some fruits and vegetables on a platter on my counter.  I also stuck my parsley in a glass vase.

Orange tulips with clove-studded clementines

Clove-studded clementine oranges not only look festive, but also smell incredible.  I paired them with some orange tulips on my dining room table.

Cornucopia vase and floral arrangement with little white pumpkins

Cornucopias are holiday-appropriate, but this brass beauty sits in my hallway year-round.  For this year’s Thanksgiving, I stuffed it with with white hydrangea and scattered some mini white pumpkins.

What will you serve this Thanksgiving?

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