Reading Inspiration by 12.2010

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR. If you don’t believe it, then listening to Andy Williams on repeat, like I did this weekend, will convince you it’s true.

Consider what you like most about December. I love that those who have limited vacation days can take a break; that efforts to be charitable are renewed; and foods that are usually color neutral, like cupcakes, suddenly break out in green and red hues. And while I can be cynical at times, somehow December reminds me of this: Even if Santa never delivered the boxed collection of Sweet Valley Twins books when I asked for it back in the day, the books will show up one by one in my little sister’s bookshelf in later years. And, by the time that happens, you’ll think – who really needs 2oo young adult novels once you’ve read them all anyway?

With that said, there’s no time like the present to share gift ideas for all ages. This is my reading wish list. They’re recommendations I’d make any time, but I package it up nicely here for the holidays…

1. CREATIVE, INC. I’ve always wanted older sister(s) and am always seeking work guidance, so, in many ways, Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho‘s “Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business” fulfills my desire for both. Sharing sound business advice to anecdotes from freelancers who’ve been there, the book resonates not only with creative pros, but any artist who’s ever entertained the idea of striking out on her own. GET THIS FOR Your jewelry making girl friend Libby, interior decorator and stylist friend Jami. BUY IT online.

2. FOOD LANDSCAPES In this beautiful hardcover, British food photographer Carl Warner creates miniature scenes out of things you eat. Each chapter focuses on a different landscape with the story behind its construction. In Carl’s world, parsley becomes trees, clouds are cheese, curtains are made from dried lasagna, and an ocean is created from sea bass, mackerel, and herring. Watch the video by food. curated. featuring the photographer in action. GET THIS FOR Your ten-year-old niece, anyone with a coffee table and/or imagination. BUY IT online.

3. OH JOY! BLOG As I mentioned above, I have always wanted an older sister. But since it’s a bit too late, I’ve taken it upon myself to adopt role models on the web instead. While there are many bloggers whom I admire, Joy cheered me on early in my blogging days, so there’s no denying I’m thankful for her support and think she has great taste. Joy’s website showcases the most delightful things in life: Sweet treatsinterior designfashionaccessories, and the palpable love between Joy and her stylish husband, Bob. READ FOR Inspiration, a pick-me-up, to peek at new design trends, and to gape at some of the prettiest photos on the internet. VISIT

4. EDWARD BEHR’s THE ART OF EATING MAGAZINE I have to tell you, I’ve never picked up a single issue of The Art of Eating. Word has it, however, that no food writing is better than that which appears in those pages. Maybe it’s for a more sophisticated audience; I can’t say. All I know is that it eludes me and I think I would be more intelligent if I read it. Perhaps it’s like The Economist or New Yorker for food and wine lovers. I hope to find out eventually. GET THIS FOR Your professor, yourself. BUY IT online.

5. HOUSE OF BRINSON Susan and William Brinson are high school sweethearts and the wife-and-husband blogging team behind House of Brinson. Though their website is just a few months old, I have a feeling it will become a destination for readers who crave a gourmet’s take on eye candy. Thanks to William’s sumptuous photography, each post stands on its own and deserves a place in print someday, which is not to say the recipes aren’t tried and true. They are, and I had a second helping of their delicious butternut squash lasagna on Thanksgiving to prove it. READ FOR Escape, gorgeous food photography, recipes. VISIT

6. THE ART OF NON-CONFORMITY I have been following Chris Guillebeau’s world travels and musings on his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, since 2008. So when I learned he would be in New York to promote his new book, I asked if he’d like to guest star on Stupidly Simple Snacks. He did. We made Unconventional Snack Bars and every attempt after the first has been a complete success. GET THIS FOR Your world-traveling best friend, a new college graduate, yourself. BUY IT online.

amy • december 6, 2010

Stupidly Simple Gift Guide + Real Simple magazine giveaway
(video) Holiday Reverse S’mores & 2010 in Retrospect

December 6, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Holiday. 2 comments.


Central Park in seasonReal Simple December 2010 coverStar light in NYCFestive standpipe photo for RSA few weeks ago, my friend Amy at Real Simple magazine asked if I’d be interested in guest blogging for them about the holidays. I still consider myself a blogging novice in many ways, so the invitation was especially flattering. I said yes, naturally.

Between Wednesday, December 1st and Monday, December 6th, Real Simple will be ringing in the holidays with their first-ever pop-up shop at Rockefeller Center. I’ll get to capture it all on camera and in my own words on their Simply Stated blog along with Jenna Park of Whimsy and Spice, Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo of ABCD Design, and Nichole Robertson of Little Brown Pen – all authors of gorgeous design and food-related websites.

On those days, I’ll also be hosting my very first holiday gift bag giveaway here on Amy Blogs Chow, which will include all things Real Simple like Essie nail polish, stationery from ABCD Designs, the prettiest sugars for your tea from Chambre De Sucre, and many more goodies compliments of the magazine. I will make up an easy contest to weed out the weak pick ten winners and will let you know what this easy contest is by Thursday when my participation in the Real Simple pop-up shop / guest blogging showdown officially begins.

To prepare you for all the awesome holiday-related musings I’ll be sharing, read my intro post about how my family used to celebrate Christmas when I was little:

“The idea of putting up a Christmas tree didn’t occur to my parents until my little sister demanded it some time in her teens. However, though we were pine needle-free for so many years, my mother got us all in the spirit by decking every surface with lights, garland, and wreaths. The windows were given special attention with multicolored blinking strands arranged in random squiggles and shapes, which, when one was inside, made telling night from day a guessing game. We were that house on the street.”

With that, my friends, I head to bed. Tomorrow, I will somehow write three blog posts and edit my next Stupidly Simple Snacks video with the wonderful Mari Tuttle of Mari’s New York. For Christmas, I think I’ll ask for an Amy Blogs Chow intern whom I can compensate with brownies. amy • november 28, 2010

For more info and to see a schedule of events, visit Real Simple Pop-Up Shop online.

(Photos by me : autumn leaves in Central Park / holiday light over Fifth Avenue / festive standpipe outside Bergdorf Goodman / Photo not by me : cover of December 2010 issue of Real Simple magazine)

November 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . event, Holiday, specials for abc readers. 3 comments.

DEEP FRIED in Texan Hill Country

JASON AND I FLEW TO SAN ANTONIO on Tuesday to be with his family for the holidays. It’s Friday – Christmas Day – and I’ve survived all things fried and cheesy so far, including Texan queso at their Christmas Eve gathering and a deep-fried turkey today. The twelve-pound bird was lowered into a bubbling pot of peanut oil under the Texan sun and allowed to sit for 35 minutes. It emerged with crackly paper-thin skin and meat that dripped with juice. If I had the space and propane gas in New York City to deep-fry my own, I wouldn’t prepare turkey any other way. Not that I make turkey, but if I did I’d drop it in a vat of fat too. (Pictures below of bird before and after its oily bath.)

If you asked me in 2008 where I’d be spending my next Christmas, I would never guess it would be here. But I suppose that’s just the way life goes. Here’s to more adventures and memorable meals in the new year. Merry Christmas! amy december 25, 2009

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December 25, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , . Texas, Travel. 2 comments.