Saturday, December 24, 2011

Whispers of Mint.

What would be better then snuggling up with a mug of fresh hot mint chocolate the morning of Christmas Eve?!  Sounds good, right?  Check out Not Without Salt's lip smacking method for whipping up the perfect cup!

Have a cozy weekend! 

Not Without Salt's Fresh Mint Hot Chocolate

I am on a mint kick these days. If it’s acceptable to add mint to it, I will. Even hot chocolate isn’t safe. What I love about this version is the mint is from fresh mint. It tastes clean and unlike the candy mint – which I also love – fresh mint gives a clean earthy punch that really suits the chocolate well.

If you have more will power than I, bottle up some of this mix and give it as a gift. It will be well received – I assure you.

1 cup cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 sprigs fresh mint
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate

Bring the cream and milk to a simmer. Add the mint, turn off the heat then let sit for 30 minutes. With the back of a wooden spoon carefully bruise the mint in the cream mixture to release some of the essential oils.

Add the chocolate to a medium bowl.

Stir the salt into the cream then bring back up to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove the mint.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute. Whisk the cream and the chocolate together. If some chocolate remains unmelted, simply place the bowl over a bain marie or gently microwave at 15-30 second intervals. Stirring after each heating.

Add the ganache (chocolate and cream mixture) to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

When ready for a cup of hot chocolate add a couple of spoonfuls of ganache to a cup of heated milk.

The amount is really based on taste. I like mine nice and rich so I add roughly 2 tablespoons to 6 oz of milk.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter is Here.

Looking for a warm, fuzzy hug of winter cheer?  Check out W-I-N-T-E-R's tumblr. Smiles guaranteed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Awkward family photos are the best.

Baby, it's...


YYZ > SFO > SMF > PSP > SMF... I've been up in the air quite a bit this week! (And so are these guys!)

A fun aerodynamic snowflake from photographer Simon Gardiner.

 A dazzling Swedish star lantern.

And, last but not least (prepare yourself!) - the source of endless entertainment this winter season - Make-a-Flake! Yep, you guessed it, you can virtually cut paper snowflakes now. Do it. Right now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Brunch.


Baring it all at doors of my future, my emotions calmly ebb and fiercely surge at the edges of my soul, lighting my senses on fire.  A black and white decision will change my fate.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Green Christmas.

Get ready.

Colossal reports:  "For a third consecutive year the city of Kaunas, Lithuania approached artist Jolanta Å midtienÄ— to assist with their annual holiday decorating. Recognizing the city’s somewhat dire financial state the artist challenged herself to build something that wouldn’t rely on any administrative funds set aside for the event. The result: an enormous 13-meter tall Christmas tree made from nearly 40,000 recycled green bottles and zip ties. At night the tree is lit from the inside resulting in a glowing, translucent, emerald green spruce that’s making headlines across the country."

Yes, please. Municipalities of the world, pay attention.

I love up-cycled art!  Remember the massimal from the Beaux Arts Ball?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Crystal Palace.

Wanderlusting after an enchanting view of the northern sky (or a visit to Santa) from a crystal palace in the Finnish snow?  Go no further than the Igloo Hotel in Kakslauttanen!

The thermal glass constructing this spectacular igloo prevents the glass from frosting, so your view of the northern lights and millions of stars in the crystal sky is never obstructed, even when the temperature outside drops to under -30°C (my California brain cannot comprehend this type of cold).

I mean, come on, that's something else. Sign me up! Found via Pop Up City.

(Pssst. I have an entire series of wanderlust posts to share in the new year! Get your passports ready!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twelve Nights of Christmas.

And thus begins the twelve nights of Christmas on Witty Designs!!  Ok, I suppose it is technically the twelve nights leading up to the holiday, instead of after... but it was a little more catchy than a Witty advent calendar. (Hmm. Actually, that isn't half bad either!) I digress  -  I have some fun holiday designs to share!

Despite a pressing need to work on my applications last week, I spent a few days in bed incapacitated by the flu. Upside: I (was able to zone out and) caught up on my favorite programs, and even a few new ones, including Emily Henderson putting a modern mod twist on the holiday season on HGTV (geek alert, I know).

If you check out that link you will quickly find one of my two favorite elements of her design, without a doubt (hint: both are global!)  I instantly fell in love, and thus commenced DIY daydreaming. Luckily, since there are not enough hours in the day this month for such crafts, I happened to come across Angela Hardison's blog over the weekend where she has recreated the Joy to the World print (and a Peace on Earth print!) to share with all of us! You can print these bad boys up and enjoy at home, or the office, just in time for the holiday season. I am a huge fan. Thanks Angela! 

Monday, December 12, 2011


Off to Toronto this week for work! I am very excited to explore a new city, but oh so apprehensive of the freezing cold I'm about to walk into...

Check out these fabulous map cutouts by Karen O'Leary of StudioKMO on Etsy, aren't they marvelous??

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Beauty of One Second.

A wonderful collection of one second video clips from the first round of the Beauty of a Second short film competition run by Leo Burnett Milan

Monday, December 5, 2011

Homeward Found: Coffee

Happy Monday lovelies!

Today, I am excited to bring you a beautiful guest post by my good friend Kara of Homeward Found!

Each of her posts is named after a culinary word that she feels represents her state of mind (or whatever is simmering / brining / baking / roasting in her delightful kitchen!). Kara writes, "Food is a touchstone and a medium for me. As I’ve moved deeper into my culinary career, I’ve let my written words fall by the wayside, where they were once my sincerest form of expression. As much as I may not want my creative voice to rely too singularly on food, it is my first language: it comes naturally to me, it is a way in which I challenge and sooth myself daily. Finding the first ripe thorned berry, steeping rose geranium in cream, it’s these moments, discovered or architectural, where I find confidence in the unknown. And I feel that there is a food for every moment, just as an aura has a color (so I hear) or every mood a song. So may the one source lead to the other: food as a form of literature, of meaning."

I find great joy in reading each of Kara's entries and I hope you do too!
SO. Grab a cuppa something warm, nestle into your desk and let's get this Monday started!


I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. When in South Africa I accidentally weaned myself off of caffeine altogether, mistaking the classic rooibos tea for something more breakfast-y in its intentions. Returning to work at my San Francisco restaurant, spoiled by an old Italian espresso maker, I treated myself more and more to frothy macchiatos made on the fly. For me it’s like chocolate: only worth it if it’s dark, aggressive, a treat.

These mornings I’ve had either more time at home or more of a social craving for the stuff. Being back in a kitchen work environment, coffee is a communal mainstay, a promise we make to ourselves to ease through the day, however fast our feet fly. It is the first thing shared, paired with inquiries of what was for last night’s supper, how our weekends were. On my mornings off, I sit down and write. I’ve committed to three blogs now, this one and two others, and I wake to traipse out to the stove and set the pot to simmer, scald the grounds with water, gather my senses and stretch my legs while I wait to plunge the french press. Then a little jersey milk and a favorite mug and back to my desk. It’s routine: comforting, familiar, an awakening collaborator to mornings both lazy and charged.

I love mornings. It has become more and more important to me to savor them, allowing extra time each day before heading to work, legs limber and breath alert before I leave home. Time spent with the pup, a barefoot circle tread around the yard, the bed made and the house ready to be returned to when the day’s work is done. Especially now, living on my own, my mornings are entirely my own, and I adore the rawness of feeling my senses set in, my muscles strengthen with gentle use, the depth of my sigh. I love guessing at the day by the shade of the sky. Washing a quick dish while peering out the window, gauging the breeze. Tucking a toe outdoors to decide how many layers to wear. These little meditations, the companionship of early hours, the mystery of a day.

About Kara:

Kara studied creative writing and art history at Sarah Lawrence College before moving to San Francisco, where she attended Tante Marie Cooking School and began her foray into a culinary career. For the past six years she has worked as a pastamaker, line cook, baker, pastry chef, cheesemonger, and wine buyer in both San Francisco and Portland, Maine. She moved to Austin, TX. in November 2011, where she will work for the ever-inspiring Dai Due. Kara has held tight to her love of writing, however, and in addition to creating Homeward Bound is a regular food+drink editorial contributor for Culture Magazine and The Austinist.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Witty Eats: Ricotta Gnocchi

This lazy Sunday afternoon was the perfect time to try out this recipe for light, pollowy ricotta gnocchi, the perfect accompaniment to Lucca's pesto.