'Tis the season... the azalea season!

Tardy in more ways than one...  

I can't believe I am posting these a year late, but since one of my favorite Houston to-do's is right around the corner, I was inspired to dig through the archives. This year marks the 82nd Annual Azalea Trail. Packaged as an enjoyable and manageable walk through the city, this event hits some of my all-time favorite museum gardens, such as the Rienzi and Bayou Bend. 

These lovely flowers came courtesy of Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Where, by the way, you can enjoy one of their sip and strolls, if you so happen to miss the Azalea Trail (which I would highly suggest against! :). 

If I have peeked your interest with these pictures, below are some logistical details, beautifully created by none other than our friends at Papellerie:

Happy Sunday!

Dinner, planned

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the idea of cooking a (nice) dinner menu? I may very well be alone here (I am not known for my cooking skills. That said, I excel at folding laundry and styling the house :). But if there is a slight chance that you are in those same shoes, I wanted to share with you our experience of planning, cooking and eating one of the most delicious dinners we have ever had.

Right here, at home.

Now, none of these recipes are originally mine... All I can attest to is that each one turned out more delicious than we ever imagined!

The total prep and cooking time for this dinner was about 90 minutes (not a terrible time investment). I actually started off with the dessert since I was able to whip it up and put it in the fridge and be done with it. That way, it was also nicely chilled by the time of serving. 

Next, I started on the soup... while that was cooking, I was working on the one-pot wonder. During the 15-minute wait times of the entree, I quickly threw together the mushrooms. 

And voila! There's the order of events. Oh, and savoring every bite was rather wonderful too.

Cheers!


Cream of Cauliflower Soup

  • 1/4 cup butter, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil1onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek (white part only), thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 lbs cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • 2 oz Gruyère, coarsely grated
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 

Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, leek and garlic and stir occasionally until tender (7-10 minutes). Add cauliflower, stir to coat in butter, add stock and simmer until very tender (40-45 minutes). Add milk, bring to the simmer, then purée in a blender until very smooth. Stir in Gruyère, crème fraîche and mustard, season to taste and keep warm. Original recipe here


One-Pot Chicken, Quinoa, Mushrooms and Spinach

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • ¾ tsp crushed, dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low-fat chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups sliced spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Place the chicken thighs in a medium bowl. Add the rosemary, smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and toss to coat the chicken. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and mushrooms, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir the quinoa and broth into the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Nestle the chicken into the quinoa, and cook (covered) until the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes (total of 30 minutes). Transfer the chicken to a plate. Stir the spinach into the quinoa. Serve with the chicken. Season to taste. Original recipe here. 




Garlic Thyme Roasted Mushrooms

  • 12 oz white mushrooms, stems trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt, or to taste
  • 3 dashes ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat up a skillet and add the butter, olive oil. Add the garlic, thyme, garlic powder, salt, pepper and lime juice. Saute to combine well before adding the mushrooms. Stir the mushrooms to coat well with the ingredients. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the mushrooms.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the mushrooms for 12 minutes. Serve immediately. Original recipe here


Strawberries Romanoff

  • 12 cup sour cream 
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cognac or 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 12 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries

Mix sour cream, brown sugar and cognac in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip cream until starts to thicken and add sugar - whip until thick. Fold cream into sour cream mixture and blend well. Serve with fresh strawberries. Original recipe here.


Posted on January 16, 2017 and filed under Test Kitchen.

Travel and design, reunited!

Hello, strangers! Long time, no see!

Before we know it, it's already December, it almost feels like it's fall in Houston (ahem, rainy and below 75F :) and we have arrived at a great spot to share an update of all of our recent trips and the few updates we made to our home!

If you have been following Instagram, you may have noticed it has been a busy few months. In this short timeframe, we managed to travel to Gulf Shores (hello, pretty beaches), Miami (hello, posh beaches), Portland (green, green, green!), Seattle (rain...) and Vancouver (even more rain...)! And, in doing so, we have been experimenting with different ways of commemorating the places we visit... Because it seems we are rather nostalgic and sentimental when it comes to travel memories and pretty pictures just don't cut it :).

So, while browsing one of the many museum gift shops we visited (yup, we love these... sometimes better than the museums themselves!), we came across the above incredible novelty... A kind-of-a-globe! But so much better!

So... we started a thing:

This concoction of organic paper, fun watercolor markers (to shade the countries we have visited) and white calligraphy (to showcase the cities in each country we visited) seems to be just the perfect fit for chronicling our adventures! 

Some of our favorite spots for each city are shown below... And, with all good intentions, I do hope to be able to take you on a quick tour of each... In due time!

Portland


Seattle


Vancouver


And just because I really can't help but wanting to share... Other favorite outtakes from the trip! But, more on that later! :)

And... to finish off, there is one more, rather more indulgent and logistically challenging way of keeping up with our travels... Starbucks mugs!! Yes, we haul these from all over! In fact, I can recall carrying at least two of these beauties in my backpack on our way back from Vancouver! 

And, I have a suspicion we may be adding one more of these before year-end!! Let's hope we don't freeze in the process...

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Posted on December 4, 2016 and filed under Design + DIY, Travel Diaries.

Fall colors, the white way

There seems to be a running joke in this household.

"Sure, honey, you can choose any color you like.

As long as it's white." 

 

Yes, yes, white is quite abundant around here. But how can you blame us? First, there are an infinite versions of this color (and I am convinced that this household represents at least 94% of those). Second, it looks clean, bright and it forces you to get creative with texture so it's not a COMPLETE snooze.  

All that said, welcome to our version of fall decoration: a healthy amount of white and pale yellow gourds neatly (rather randomly) stacked in a glass container. It still feels like fall and it still fits this home. And, check out all those funky shapes and sizes! So much fun to put together and photograph! 

I think it's completely unnecessary for me tell you how easy this is to put this together (buy gourds varying in size, color and shape and insert into said glass container)... So instead, let's just thank Trader Joe's for their awesome and affordable decoration supplies and wish you one very happy Sunday!

Posted on October 30, 2016 and filed under Design + DIY.

How I built my first terrarium!

This terrarium is a desperate attempt at adding some greenery to the house without running the risk of killing the plants! Because, as it turns out, a closed terrarium is supposed to be a self-sustaining ecosystem. Let's hope it lives... I will make sure to update you if it doesn't :). 

So this is how this project started... With a bunch of pretty clear containers, some plants, and a terrarium kit:

And, as it turns out, making a terrarium is rather easy:

STEP 1: River Rocks


STEP 2: Active Charcoal


STEP 3: Potting Soil


STEP 4: Soak your sheet moss and apply.

STEP 3: Plant your goodies.



And, lastly, cap it off and enjoy! 

Easy, breezy, and rather pretty!

Happy Sunday crafting, everyone!

Posted on September 18, 2016 and filed under Design + DIY.

On Instagram...

Welcome, welcome!! We have just enough time for a quick re-cap of the week... (John Oliver, we miss you. When do you get back on air??). Let's start with the important announcements. This week, this blogger starts her new job... also known as, Katya's new and improved career, 2.0! In seven words, I landed my dream job rather unexpectedly. In a few more words, as all things wonderful, this opportunity come around in a rather unplanned and uncalled-for manner! But more words on that interesting story shall come some other time.  

Meanwhile... Also this week, as a last hooray before meaning real business, we took another incredible trip to DC! This city doesn't cease to amaze. I have a feeling that having the best tour guide in the world helps though... Either way, it is beautiful out there! Which brings us to the main story of the week...

A new Instagram approach! Or simply put, allowing two distinct and rarely overlapping passions to grow and become their own thing! So without further adieu... Make sure to check out:

THE TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 @boutiquekaya


THE DESIGN ADVENTURES

@kayainteriordesigns


Traveling and design. Each now belonging to its rightful world, topic of interest and audience! Such a little definition change yet so exciting to announce! And it has already been a bit addicting... the ideas keep on coming and I can hardly contain them all! 

So what prompted the change? Well, it was becoming rather obvious that the original Kaya Instagram account was turning into a travel diary. No complaints here... None. At all! But that also made the few interior design shots I dared to share really seem out of place. And, after the (very) kind and generous encouragement of friends and family, a new avenue to share design ideas was born! 

So... I hope you check it out!! Content will be featured (as it is with this blog :), as often as humanly possible! Well, as often as possible for this human :).

And now that we have covered all things important, we are moving onto some other fascinating to-do's for an average Wednesday... Such as selecting medical and retirement plans :). Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Posted on August 31, 2016 and filed under Design + DIY, Travel Diaries.

Oh, hey, living room... And you thought you were done!

Another update to the living room! Because a home is never done. Well, at least this home is never really done - too many ideas, all competing for the little space available! 

So, the latest and greatest around here is this practical addition... Also known as, storage. Better yet, hidden storage! That also acts as a display for meaningful things that had no home before. Win/win!

I had been eying the IKEA's Besta series for a while. On Pinterest. In IKEA. Some more on Pinterest... But I never pulled the trigger for some reason. That is, until I voiced my idea, which was not only liked but rather enthusiastically embraced... Yes! All the encouragement I needed! Off to IKEA we went.

Here is what we came home with:

(x2) Besta Frames  (x4) Lappviken Doors  (x4) Besta Soft Closing Hinges  (x4) Nannarp Legs (x2) Blankett Pulls (not on the IKEA site but available in the store)

Some 2 hours later... and we had ourselves new, behind-doors storage for all sorts of unsightly things and convenient display for all things beautiful. What a great start for the week! 

Posted on August 24, 2016 and filed under Design + DIY.