About Olive Juice

This is a journal of sorts of our ideas (as the design goddesses that we are) that don't necessarily get executed and instead just live in our heads. Punctuated of course with things we just plain love, covet, or if you will..."Olive Juice".

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Friend is Famous!

Kristin and I met years ago while working at a design firm in Chicago and became fast friends, bouncing design ideas off of one another and using our lunch breaks for Michigan Ave power shopping instead of sandwich eating.

These days, Kristin is a white hot force on the Chicago design scene with her e-design business, Bien Living. Back in October, she was featured in Daily Candy Chicago and now she’s chatting about her business in this month’s issue of CS Interiors (article below).

She’s a wicked talented designer and I definitely recommend you enlist her services if your home needs a little pick-me-up. Her fresh design solutions will arrive directly to your email’s inbox complete with a design board and shopping list. To find out more about Bien Living’s design services, swing by Kristin’s website/blog here.

{Bien Living in CS Interiors}

{CS Interiors Cover}

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kitchen Sink Brownies

Happy 2011 everyone! Ready to blow your New Years resolution to eat healthy already? I mean, it’s been three whole days, right?!?

I came across this brownie recipe in a holiday magazine and had been dying to make it all season. I finally gave in to temptation over the weekend and made up a batch for the girls at work. I made a few (needed) modifications and they came out great. These little babies are riiiiich, so feel free to cut them smaller than you would a normal brownie. I’m calling them Kitchen Sink Brownies because well, they literally have a little bit of everything but the kitchen sink.

Kitchen Sink Brownies

1 c quick-cooking rolled oats
½ c all-purpose flour
½ c brown sugar
¼ t baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ c sugar
2/3 c flour
¼ c milk
¼ c butter
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 t vanilla
¼ t baking powder
½ c chopped walnuts
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 T butter
1 ½ c powdered sugar
½ t vanilla
2 T hot water
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For bottom layer, in a small bowl stir together oats, ½ c flour, brown sugar and baking soda, Add ½ c melted butter. Press evenly into bottom if an ungreased 11 x 7 baking pan. Bake for 10 mins.

While the first layer bakes, begin combining ingredients for the middle layer in a medium bowl. Stir together egg, sugar, flour, milk , 1/4c melted butter, melted chocolate, vanilla and baking powder. Fold in walnuts and let cool. Spread evenly over bottom layer. Bake approx 25 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on wire rack to cool.

For the top layer, in a medium saucepan combine the 1 oz chopped chocolate, and the last 2 T of butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Stir in powdered sugar and add remaining vanilla. Add enough hot water to make mixture a spreading consistency. Spread chocolate mixture over middle layer. Sprinkle with the 2 oz of bittersweet chocolate(I’m also thinking that peanut butter or butterscotch chips could be fun variations). Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes 16-24 brownies.

{snapshots of brownies}

Monday, December 20, 2010

Non-Traditional Christmas Wreaths

Happy holidays, everyone! I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas with loved ones...and that Santa treated you well!

I had such a great response to the Non-traditional Christmas Tree(s) post that I did a search for non-traditional Christmas wreaths and found some really creative ideas. But then got too crazy with the holiday rush and never got around to posting it. My deepest apologies. Check out some fun “wreath” ideas below for next year! Maybe you can even stock up on supplies at this years after Christmas sales. ;)

PS: One of my MANY New Year’s resolutions is to be better about updating this blog. I love writing it but I always fall short on time. So please feel free to keep me on task in 2011!

{images from around the web}

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Non-traditional Christmas Tree(s)

I have a non-traditional Christmas tree this year. I mean, I have a REAL tree too of course to fulfill the child in me’s favorite holiday activity of lying by the tree and watching Christmas movies for hours on end. Bonus if there are Christmas cookies involved. But for the fun tree, the one that you see first thing when you walk in my front door, I wanted to do something a little different. I arranged a bunch of branches in a tall clear vase filled with Christmas lights. I left the lights sort of messily wrapped around the end of the branches to add interest. I was forced to use smaller ornaments so that the branches didn’t break, and went with a mix of greens, turquoises and blues which really pop against the dark branches. It sits on my mirrored chest that reflects the light glow into the living room.

I did a quick search for other non-traditional (and wildly creative) trees. Check out some fun ideas below...

{books, stacked}

{pencil shaving}

{books, leaning}


{wall art}

{wine bottles}

{pull apart shelves}

***all "tree" images from the web***

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Celebrity Holiday Homes

I’m feeling very uninspired by design these days. Which is terrible as its Christmas, my absolute FAVORITE time of year and everywhere I look should fuel creativity in me. So I’ll lean on the creativity of other designers tonight.

I caught part of HGTV’s Celebrity Holiday Homes special the other night. Though the celebs were sort of ho-hum, (why won’t the decorate Jennifer Aniston’s house or something?!?!) the designers had some sort of cute ideas. The special runs periodically throughout December so check your listings.

{Brooke Burke and David Charvet's White and Silver Christmas}

{Sherri Shepherd's Gold and Champagne Holiday Motif}

{Trisha Yearwood's Simple Southern Christmas}

*All images from the HGTV website*

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Apron Chic

I love daylight savings. With my extra hour this morning I am lounging in bed with a steaming cup of coffee and watching an old episode of Charlie’s Angels. Kelly Garrett just sauntered out in an adorable 70’s chic apron and in made me think about all of the retro-inspired aprons that I have been seeing at Anthropologie lately. I did a quick Etsy and internet search and cute, feminine aprons are EVERYWHERE. How much more fun would holiday baking be in one of the lovely styles below? I might have to bust out the sewing machine and get to work on one of my own for the Christmas cookie season.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Buffalo Mac n Cheese

I have accidently created greatness. Since it’s FINALLY feeling like fall around here, the crisp, chilly weather has me craving comfort foods. Now a girl’s got to be careful with comfort foods as they tend not to be a friend of the waistline. Creams, cheeses and butter seem to be constant players in the soups, stews and casseroles that I’m yearning for. I’m always looking for a lower fat alternative that still tastes NEARLY as good as the real thing.

I found a lighter mac n cheese recipe online and while doctoring it up with some alternate ingredients, my own creativity literally got away from me. I decided that it needed a little heat so instead of simple hot sauce; I opted for some red pepper flakes and a few dashes of buffalo sauce. Well that buffalo sauce comes out faaaast, so before I knew it, I had a quite different dish on my hands. I went with it. I added in some sweet tomatoes to cut the heat. If I had had some crumbled blue cheese, I would have added that as well for a little rich kick at the end. My Buffalo Mac was great on its own, but could be even better served with some chicken for added protein…maybe marinated in the buffalo sauce and sliced on top? This comfort food will certainly be in the dinner rotation at my house this fall/winter!

Buffalo Mac n Cheese

12 oz uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
¼ cup flour
¾ tsp table salt
¼ tsp onion powder
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 cup low-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup low fat blue cheese crumbles (optional)
1 tbsp buffalo sauce (I prefer Frank’s), or more to taste
cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta in lightly salted boiling water according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk together milk, flour, salt and onion powder and red pepper flakes until blended. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat whisking frequently; reduce heat to low and simmer stirring often until thickened (about 2 minutes). Remove pan from heat and whisk in cheese and buffalo sauce. Add sauce and tomatoes to pasta; toss to mix and coat.