• Food,  Garden,  Table Styling

    Garden Story 2019

    The end of gardening season is almost here. Sure, there is still baby spinach and red mustard that may or may not bring harvest before the frost, and a lone Tuscan kale plant, that I am half heartedly guarding against the critters…The days are short, shadows are long, and there is only enough warmth and direct sunshine to sustain less than an hour of sitting in a garden with a good read. Before the backyard disappears into a soggy and eventually a frosty, entangled mess, here is a reflection of what did well, and what was only a tease in our city backyard this year. I now strongly believe that…

  • Food,  Garden,  Table Styling

    Raspberry cordial and rhubarb cake

    It is late June as I write this, but it happened to be the same moist, lush green and heavy on a drizzle day as month ago when I set off to photograph the Raspberry Cordial and Rhubarb Cake afternoon treat.  You would think that only children get restless when it rains for 48 hours non-stop…Think twice.  On day two of the rain deluge in the southeastern Poland, a town tucked away at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, in the region called Beskid Niski, I opened wide my parents’ garage  door, set up my trusty prop table stored there just for the occasion, and set up an afternoon tea. …

  • Summer Dessert | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Garden

    Simple summer dessert

    For the longest time I could not make this desert ‘properly’, not because of its complicated recipe, or ingredient list, but simply because I did not have the right vessel for it.  Custard glass cups from the supermarket just would not do it.  My lucky break came earlier this summer at a small yard sale north of the city.  I instantly scooped up a set of four. They remind me of much larger ones we had always used for desserts in my family. They still sit on the upper shelves in my parents’ pantry in my hometown in Poland.  They don’t make appearance all that often now, everyone seems to…

  • Strawberry basil lemonade | totallybydesign.com
    Garden

    Homemade strawberry and basil lemonade

    Lets’ continue our summer backyard entertaining series, shall we? By the time the 2nd pick-your-own strawberries adventure happened this June, we were already through strawberry dessert, strawberry pierogies, and generally eating strawberries and (and cream!) for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It was time for some experiments to get through the rest. Looking at a huge basil plant in the back yard with its glossy, bright green leaves, an idea hatched. I remembered that I have seen a recipe for a strawberry and basil lemonade with bourbon, another ingredient from clean-your-pantry-shelf list. The loosely adapted recipe follows. Start with ripe strawberries, and I promise, it will work, everything else is just…

  • Strawberry dessert | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Garden

    Homemade strawberry dessert

    Once a year, when the strawberry season is in full swing, we head to Cape Ann in Massachusetts, to  our favorite pick-your-own farm. I confess, I only eat strawberries when in season, and when I pick them myself. The entire experience can sustain me for a year. I get the fix of all things strawberry by making the seasonal treats that childhood memories are made of: strawberry pierogies, strawberry sirup for winter tea, and this Polish dessert. Recipe below. The recipe: 3 eggs 3 tablespoon flour 500ml milk 300g powdered sugar 250g unsalted butter very ripe strawberries 2 packages ladyfinger cookies Boil milk and completely cool. Beat eggs with flour…

  • Tulips styling | totallybydesign.com
    Garden

    Backyard decorating

    Spring has arrived suddenly this year. On a weekend. Clothed in heavy, almost humid air. The cat darted outside to inspect backyard planters for even smallest leaves of grass, anything chewable, really, would do.  No such luck yet, but we both started pottering around, turning wooden crates upside down, sweeping winter-worth of compacted leaves, pulling vines off of the fence, already battered by recent damaging winds. The vines became 5 minute wreaths, adorned with some faux succulents I was given recently. The fruit crate landed on a rusty chair for an impromptu tulip vignette styling. This is when I am the happiest, in the backyard, rearranging, repurposing, crafting decor out…

  • Fragrant sachet | totallybydesign.com
    Garden

    Handmade gift – fragrant sachet with basil

    The season is upon us. I have been reading and admiring some wonderful gift guides on the blogs (and making note of any ceramics for myself), but really yearning for a different type of gift giving experience. Something small, something handmade, something with a story…I tend to walk around the city these days looking for color palette or a mood that will spark the inspiration and connect the dots on an idea. Just loving this copper, silver and white spotted at the NYC Flower District last week. The fragrant sachet is hardly a novel idea, but this particular one has a story. This summer, I was growing for the first…

  • Tomato Harvest | totallybydesign.com
    Garden

    Tomato harvest in the backyard

    The hot and sunny summer this year brought an abundance of tomatoes. Out tiny city yard was just big enough to fit few bushes of Sungolds, some Roma, and a plant or two each of red cherry and big burgundy slicing tomato, which name escapes me now. It is dutifully noted at the bottom of the planter, but it is a jungle out there… It is a a container jungle, but far from being contained. The Sungolds are reaching the top of first story window, tied with – what else – ties made from Liberty fabric scraps. Slicing tomatoes are taller then the fence, all thanks to strictly organic fertilizer,…

  • Midsummer gathering | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Garden

    Summer solstice gathering

    Every year when jasmine (Philadelphus or mock-orange) and peonies start to bloom, I can time days and hours to my favorite time of the year. The longest days, the still-crisp nights, and the heady, perfumed air. It is Midsummer time, which has nothing to do with middle of the summer, after all it is about to begin, but an old North and Central European celebrations of flowers, fire, and dance. June 24th, St. John’s Day, and the night leading to it, is the time to toss the handmade flower crowns in the streams and rivers, and to celebrate. This year, I was fortunate to have spent few days at my…

  • Wild Woodland Garden | totallybydesign.com
    Garden

    Secret Woodland Garden

    Every year, around the third week of May, we carefully time a trip to this wild, overgrown garden on the outskirts of the city. A carpet of the lilies of the valley is what brings us there, but this year I wanted to document the secret, forgotten garden feel of the place. The Alice in Wonderland, or as I prefer to call it – H.C Andersen garden. Somehow, lilies of the valley are forever tied to his fairy tales in my mind. So is jasmine, but that is story for June…