• Food,  Table Styling

    Gathering around autumn table

    This is the season that I have been preparing for since early summer. How is that for slow living, or a ‘slow project’, because living, well, has been anything but slow recently. I started by sowing pink and white strawflowers this year in my container garden. I managed to harvest only a handful, some of them very tiny, because they disappeared among the ever overbearing purple basil. Then, I dismantled every farmers’ market bouquet I had bought this year, and meticulously separated the strawflowers to dry. They are not making appearance at this table, as I am keeping all the orange hues ones for another occasion. I have also picked…

  • 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…

  • Portuguese countryside - Totally by Design
    Food,  Table Styling,  Travel

    Portugal – countryside food tales

    Beyond my, now well documented, love of Lisbon there is a little secret. The countryside outside of Lisbon, all within less than 2 hour drive. Looking deeper, past the veneer of maybe little too perfect home renovations, there are still captivating stories to be told, with colorful local characters, oblivious to the demands of instagrammable perfect shots. Moments that unfold into stories, and only take time and curiosity to develop. Enter the village of Ericeira, on the Atlantic cost. While my traveling companions went into the cave looking for elusive sea urchins (elusive mostly because they were not in season!), I opted for the above ground vantage point, mesmerized by…

  • 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. …

  • Food,  Table Styling

    Wintry Blood Orange Pavlova

    Technically speaking, the winter was supposed to be over right now.  Still when the snow fell, I did not hesitate to head outside to photograph the cloud-fluffy meringue in, well, white fluffy snow.  Even my flowers matched, a random bunch of white carnations, as if they anticipated the snow… Pavlova stands up to all seasons, but is sure lovely in winter when the fruit can make up for the lack of flowers in all its prettiness… The recipes are countless. I like the one from Cal Peternell.  The reality check version, as I call it.  I highly recommend caramelizing blood orange slices. I followed the technique described in this this…

  • Food,  Table Styling

    Harvest Tales

    October in Poland had been really good to me for the past few years. Sun on the face that feels warm, but never overbearing, evenings still warm enough, at least occasionally, to have a bonfire and grill goat cheese and yes, foraged mushrooms. This year was a year of walnuts. We would start every day by rushing into the garden to play a game who can fill the basket first. Never mind we needed gloves to fend off the morning frost, on some mornings…And then, there was a constant shuffle of our bounty for the last of the sun rays to dry.  The days were shorter, for sure, but there…

  • Polish countryside 2017 | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Table Styling

    Thanksgiving table inspiration from the Polish countryside

    The unassuming and humble materials for the table decor are all around us, even in the city. The sidewalk, the frozen over container vegetable garden, community garden, few supermarket chrysanthemums,  usually dismissed in favor of flashier roses.  This year, having just returned from the trip to the southern Poland, my inspiration was hiding in the photos. Dried basil branches are standing in for the dreamy grasses, but bring the same earthiness and whimsy to the table, and the fragrance is just a bonus. I like the tone-on-tone assembly of linen tablecloth and napkins made from the same batch of fabric. This is just a quick afternoon project, that really pays…

  • Christmas sugar cookies | totallybydesign.com
    Food,  Table Styling

    Christmas sugar cookies from family archives

    As much as anything “sugar” seems to be falling out of favor these days, and mostly for a good reason, I cannot let go into oblivion handful of my most cherished recipes. This particular one comes from my Grandmother Felicja. Simple sugar cookies, perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and flaky on the inside. It downed on me looking at the ingredient list how simple and accessible they where. Everything came from the farm: the eggs, butter, sour cream, even flour those days. The only thing she would have to get was vinegar and sugar, really just staples from the small village kiosk. This is the simplicity I am…