Saturday, May 28, 2011

Indian food...& lassi recipe

Ok, I'm hungry.  More specifically, I'm hungry for some really great Indian food.  Since the best Indian restaurant in my area is 45 minutes away, and it's too late to drive there now, I'll just have to torture myself by looking at photos of Indian food (masochism, I guess).  What I wouldn't give for some chana masala, naan bread with mango chutney, and a mango lassi....sigh...what are you craving tonight?

Here's a recipe for mango lassi, courtesy of Simply Recipes:

Mango Lassi Recipe


  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped mango (peeled and stone removed)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • A dash of ground cardamom (optional)


Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses, and serve. Can sprinkle with a little cardamom.
The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Custom Home Design - Craftsman Lake Home

I am working on a new home for a client through our  Custom Home Design  process at Simply Elegant Home Designs.  I thought I would give you a sneak peak of our initial concept sketches.  This is a 3 bedroom home to be constructed on a wooded lot overlooking a marvelous Minnesota lake.

Our design work always begins with plan sketches and 3d massing studies.  A 3d model beats exterior elevation sketches every time when trying to communicate a design.
Garage with bonus is left - entry link in the middle - main volume of house on the right.  A pretty straight forward concept designed to work with the topography of the land.
Above and below is an initial color study.  The client is looking for a home with an arts and crafts feel appropriate for  its wooded setting.  I'll typically do several color studies - so I'll pass those along as completed.

The custom home design process I have created provides a nice compromise between purchasing a pre-designed house plan and hiring a full scope of Architect's services.  This particular client had looked at thousands of plans online and could not find a design that worked.  On the other hand he did not have the budget to spend $30,000 or more on Architectural services.  Enter our custom home design process which fit the bill perfectly.

If interested in learning more about our Custom Home Design Services please feel free to contact Ron Brenner at 877-380-9470.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Make Mine Matcha

So, the fabulous boyfriend and I went to Teavana this weekend and got introduced to their matcha.  Gotta say, I'm hooked.

Matcha is a high grade green tea which has been dried and crushed into a fine powder.  The Japanese use it exclusively in their tea ceremonies.  You prepare it by putting a small amount in a bowl, adding hot water, and "whisking" it (Teavana carries a nice bamboo whisk) until frothy.  It has a nutty, almost sweet flavor, with very little of the bitterness you usually find in brewed green tea.  Just one cup has the equivalent of TEN cups of brewed green tea's antioxidants.  But the real hook is that it's just plain good. Here's the link:  matcha tea

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Best House Plans - No Groupon Required!

Here at Simply Elegant Home Designs we are convinced that we offer the absolute best house plans in the business. To prove this point we are going to start featuring a “Home Plan of the Week”. The idea is to illustrate what makes our plans so special. Better yet, we will also offer a special discount for the featured plan for that week. And you don't even have to join Groupon!

Apple Valley Four Square
The Apple Valley Four Square is our first House Plan of the Week.

What makes this house so special? Let one of our recent clients explain through their testimonial.  I have excerpted portions below.

Yes, absolutely: feel free to share my delight in finding The Apple Valley Foursquare. It is a darling house.  We love the prairie schoolhouse vibe and the simple elegance of the exterior. As well, we appreciate the 2-sided light in each room. We are treating the entire staircase as a room - esp the landing at the top of the staircase with the large window that will overlook the center of the property: a meadow with Grandfather Oaks, the rushing winter creek winding through the far grove of fir trees. The Master Bedroom and screened porch will overlook the orchards, herb and vegetable gardens and if looking to the right, up the hill, we'll be able to see the small pinot noir vineyard.

I've had a chance to look over the .pdf doc - so fun to see how the house will be built - and the possibilities of an exercise room in perhaps a modified 1/2 basement option.  Love that!  (along with the machine room, storage and root cellar.) Also, it's funny - most of my furniture, mirrors, and key elements are from Pottery Barn, Room and Board, Restoration Hardware (neutral energy) and decor from Wisteria, home collection from Anthropologie ( and P Barn - design, textures and characteristics that will lend itself to the design of the house.

Ron, also the interior photographs of both the Deephaven Modern, and the Excelsior Farmhouse Cottage won our hearts over, too! The photographs are wonderful suggestions of lighting, color and carpentry for our own design.

The Den will be the Library - with to-the-ceiling bookcases, comfy chairs - a place to study and write.

Thanks so much,

We'll be in touch - L&K

PS - I've read
A Pattern Language and other books by Alexander Christopher (The Luminous Ground) and most of Sarah Susanka's books about "the not-so-big-house" including her Home By Design.  Also, Roots of Home by Russell Versaci and Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own. Add to that list William J. Hirsch's Designing Your Perfect House (Lessons From An Architect), and House by T. Kidder. Stacks of books! I've searched through Mascord, Garrell Associates, a whole bunch of architect's websites, purchased Designer Dream Home magazines at the market, created a vision board and pasted exterior and interior images into a journal, for years. It's not like I haven't done my homework!  Finally, we found Simply Elegant Home Designs and The Apple Valley Foursquare. Eureka!  We break ground this Spring. We're going . . Home.”
Now that is what I call a testimonial!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

To all of the fabulous Moms out there (and Moms-to-be!), I hope your day is blessed with peace and happiness!  Today was a perfect Mother's son Nate helped me spring clean, and my daughter, Erica, booked her tickets home for a July visit (she lives in Denver).  I'm so grateful to have such beautiful children, inside and out! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pretty in Pink - bedroom makeover

The winds of change are blowing in at my cottage.  A self-professed "earth-tone girl", my home is primarily in shades of beige, burgundy, sage green, black, etc.  While I'll never completely abandon that palette, I've been craving a girly bedroom know, not a five-year-old's room, but a vintage inspired, soft look with some sophistication.  I've decided on a palette of pink (Benjamin Moore's "Boudoir"), taupe, white, and a little black.  Still haven't decided whether to do the walls in pink with taupe accents, or the walls in taupe with pink accents.  What do you think?  I will be posting "before and after" photographs as I go, but for now, here are some inspiration bedrooms that I found during my internet wanderings...stay tuned!
just love this look..the black wrought iron bed really pops!

another favorite look!

yummy bed linens