up-cycle it.

I am so happy to know the top-sanded captains chair from environment is coming to Canada.
Environmentally sensitive, one of a kind, and so graphic!

This limited edition up-cycled classic university chair would definitely be a welcomed addition to the end of my dining table….
Available at Stony Lake Furniture Co. in Lakefield, Ontario.

Yes please!
(images via environment)


i'm sorry.

So, it is with many and great apologies that I write this new blog post.
You see, I have been so amazingly busy this past month with a big move from Scandinavia to Canada.
In October I packed up all of my belongings, life, and warm memories and flew them across the ocean. I have been so sad to have left my friends, colleagues and home, that it has been a bit tough to get excited about blogging...

That being said,
I have hopped into new work, and a huge main floor renovation.
Missing Oslo so dearly and re-designing a living space, this week I have placed an order for a new sofa blanket from Norwegian design studio Funkle.
They have just come out with a great new line of wool throws and cotton cushions that are beautiful, soft and graphic.

Thanks for understanding, and following of course!
Back in the swing of things,


october recipe - pumpkin soup.

I love the fall… chilly air, scarves, and carving pumpkins.

Today I was at the Princess Café in Waterloo and had the most amazing Pumpkin Peach soup - it was so yummy!

Here is a recipe for one of my old favourites - perfect for a lazy Sunday or for a few fall lunches.

To make things really easy you can use pure pumpkin in a can for this recipe…

And don't be afraid to ramp it up by substituting the red for a green curry paste if you really like it spicy.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

you will need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

240 g (1 cup) chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated ginger

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 L (4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth

425 g pumpkin puree (or 1 can pure pumpkin)

3.5 dl (1 1/2 cups) viking milk or cream

2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.

Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

Stir in ginger root and cook for 30 more seconds.

Stir in curry and flour until smooth. Cook until mixture begins to bubble.

Gradually whisk in broth and cook until thickened. Stir in pumpkin and evaporated milk.

Season with soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper.

Bring to just a boil, and remove from heat.

Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds and sour cream.

*makes 8 servings

Styling and Food: Tara Ballantyne

Photography: Birgit Fauske


a workshop to note.

Today is one of those special September days I love so much. The sun is shining, and the air is crisp - and I will get together with one of my dearest friends to bake treats for thanksgiving. This month I have been working on simple and easy ways to make gifts for the holidays.
Here is one of the recipes that we would like to make - from this months issue of Maison Mat &Vin.

. . .

I have worked on these images with the fantastic Trine Thorsen. She is a blogger, photographer, antique hunter and now - a teacher! This October 15th and 16th she will be holding a digital photography workshop for beginners in Tofte, Norway. Check out her blog so mee for details!

photography: Trine Thorsen
food and styling: Tara Ballantyne



This is the fantastic work of photographer Henrik Bonnevier and stylist Lotta Agaton for Swedish graphic artist Therese Sennerholt.
I love the composition, need the notebooks, and appreciate how the small shadow in the shot makes the image feel alive, not flat.
Fantastic work and inspiration for the day!
(images via henrikbonnevier)


september recipe.

For the frozen strawberries left in your freezer…

Classic Strawberry Cupcakes

you will need:

for cupcakes:

80 ml whole fresh strawberry puree - made from about 160 ml fresh strawberries

60 ml whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

110 g unsalted butter, room temperature

210 g sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

2 large egg whites

250 g flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, room temperature

2 large egg whites

for the frosting:

110 g unsalted butter, room temperature

450 g powdered sugar

40 ml strawberry puree

1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Place strawberries in a food processor, and process until pureed.

This should yield over 80 ml of puree. Save any extra for frosting.

In a small bowl combine milk, vanilla, and 80 ml strawberry puree.

Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes.

Add egg and egg whites one at a time, beating until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Stirring well, add a third of the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture alternately with strawberry mixture. Make 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of strawberry, finishing with the dry.

Scoop batter into cupcake cups filling 2/3 of the way to top.

Bake cupcakes at 180℃ degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Transfer to rack and let cool completely.


With an electric mixer, whip butter until creamy (about three minutes).

Add strawberry puree and whip to combine. Add 3/4 of the sugar and mix on low speed.

Add remaining sugar and mix until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.

Add additional sugar if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Frost cooled cupcakes.

*makes 14 cupcakes.

*Cooks Tip: Use a spring loaded ice cream scoop to scoop balls of batter into muffin tins.

This ensures the same size cupcake every time!

Food and Styling: Tara Ballantyne

Photography: Trine Thorsen



For all my ultra chic and stylish mommy friends -
here's one for you!
I am in love with the new advertising for H&M and UNICEF Children's collection 'All For Children'. The campaign - fully equipped with a big psychedelic bus and 70's vibe -
makes me think of summer camp, sticky melting popsicles, and how much I miss my sawed-off desert boots
(nostalgic yet?)
This ultra cool collection of clothing (available in 160 stores worldwide) donates 25% of all purchases to UNICEF in a joint effort to educate and promote children's rights.
Does it get much better than that?
I don't think so.

(images via H&M)


old movies and a nature walk.

There is nothing quite like a weekend filled with fresh air, good friends, and old movies.
I was so inspired by the colours of the water, sky and trees this weekend when we all packed up to spend some time at the lake.

It was dark and sunny one minute - with brilliant blues, greens and yellows: and rainy and misty the next, which gave way to beautiful soft greys, dark blues and mossy greens.

I absolutely love to be by the water - and did a bit of recipe testing while I was at it with some of my oldest friends.
Colour and social therapy at it's finest!

(image via thingsorganizedneatly)


light bulb.

Today I caught myself day- dreaming of a lovely trip to Croatia that I had last summer, with amazing markets full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and olive oils.
Serious antipasti cravings.

…and then it struck me...
summer is a time when we are completely spoiled with fantastic fruits and vegetables locally. Nothing beats a crisp carrot right from the ground, fresh snappy vegetables, and peaches so juicy they drip down your hands when you bite them.

* Now I certainly recommend if you ever have the chance to visit the amazing country of Croatia to pay close attention to the fantastic Mediterranean food and its preparation (like that's a difficult proposition…),
but today I am humbled by the amazing produce and tastes of my own backyard.
Ahhhh…. summer.


august recipe.

Grilled Whole Mackerel

You will need:

4 whole mackerel, gutted

6 large rosemary sprigs

1 head of garlic

30 ml vegetable oil

4 lemons cut into rounds

kitchen string

With a sharp knife, make short slits at 5 cm intervals down the middle of the fish on both sides. Season the fish cavity with salt and pepper. Place lemon rounds and 3 sprigs of rosemary inside the fish cavity. Brush entire fish with vegetable oil, and season with salt and pepper. Top fish with remaining lemon slices and rosemary, and tie fish closed with kitchen string, securing lemon slices to the fish.

Oil grill and check heat. Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you are able to hold your hand 12 cm above it for 3 to 4 seconds. Grill fish for 15 minutes and then carefully turn fish over and grill 15 minutes more, or until cooked through. Place fish on a serving platter and cut away string.

*Cooks tip:

If you can’t grill outdoors, roast fish on an oiled baking sheet in a 220 degree oven. Roast until just cooked through, uncovered, 30 to 35 minutes without turning.

Photography: Sturla Bakken

Food and Styling: Tara Ballantyne

favourite things together…wood and leather!

Peep toe clogs by Swedish Hasbeens.
I need these in every colour.
So completely comfortable even though a wood sole seems on the contrary.
My new favourite with jeans, dresses and shorts.
70's style…please hang in there!

Spanish Chair by Børge Morgensen.

my favourite living space seat at the moment -
a danish twist on a spanish classic design.
Clean and perfect, with heavy buckles that makes me melt...

leather satchel by Marni.

...Yes please!

(images via unpolished life)


limited editions.

Check out these select limited edition items from IKEA!
I am missing scandinavia today, and wish that I were there to check out these amazing items designed with a different concept than what is normal for IKEA...
all materials sourced from India and Vietnam and will be produced in a limited supply….
(images via IKEA)


perfect packages.

This year I got a very lovely gift from a dear friend who had been on a trip to Spain.
There, they have a wonderful shop - The Chocolate Factory - that sells fantastic chocolate in marvellous packaging.
I had to get really fierce to break open the lovely box in fear of having to toss it in the recycling bin.

Awesome packaging designed by Ruiz+Company out of Barcelona.
(if packaging is your thing and you have the time, check out their website as they have lots of amazing and designs).

….some other things I want to buy just because of the package:

Moonshine, Kings Country Distillery out of NYC

more from Ruiz+Company

(images vía ruiz+company, kings country distillery)


ceramics to love.

Exciting and beautiful new work form ceramic and installation artist Annabelle Adie.
Her work is so graphic and makes me so inspired - and I love the use of orange-red with her white shapes.
I would like to use every piece!
(images via annabelle adie)


london calling..

I spent this weekend in lovely London filled with inspiration, good food and drinks, and a lot of time catching up with none other than --- my Mother!
It was entirely too short of a visit … with barely enough time to take everything in. A true whirlwind tour!
I can't wait to go back, and will absolutely spend more time visiting on Redchurch street at Aesop, Labour and Wait, Holstem and dining on lovely organic treats at Albion.
(image via wallpapers)


kitchen tips.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of enjoying a fantastic dinner with friends, and have come to realize that nothing is quite finer in life than good friends, lovely food and a big glass of wine.
Here are a few of my best kitchen tips for a well stocked and well loved kitchen workspace ….♥
Happy dining!

stock: your cupboards with the essentials, fine and whole grain flours, sea salt and black pepper, brown and raw sugars, your favourite spices - and if you are a baker, ingredients for a good cake and muffin base like baking powder and soda, vanilla bean, whole cinnamon and nutmeg. Try substituting things like coconut oil for cooking, and bulgar as a replacement for rice.

supply: your kitchen with heavy pots and pans, best quality utensils, a great thick wooden spoon, a scale to weigh ingredients, and a thick olive wood chopping board. Invest in a neutral colour set of dinner and salad plates; and a good knife set that includes at least one sharp fish, meat and fruit knife. Bakers should be sure to have a silpat baking mat, they are fantastic!

shop: the best quality and freshest food that you can afford. Olive oils, cheese, balsamic vinegars and chocolate are examples of money well spent. Organic and locally grown fruits, vegetables, fish and meats are fantastic if you can find them. Even better, find a small piece of land and grow your own tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, potatoes and herbs - nothing tastes sweeter than food picked fresh from your own garden.

set: your dining table and make dinner something special on a week night. Make it simple and easy - use a fresh tablecloth in rough white linen, or a colourful graphic patterned material as a base. Top with a pitcher of ice water, an easy stack of plates and utensils, a candle, and a bottle filled lazily with a few tall flowers. Great music is a must! Open a window in the warm weather, or move the whole thing outside…

(image via emmas designblogg)


advertising in real time.

Have a close look at this advertisement for Adobe Photoshop, and you will discover an incredible amount of details sure to make you smile. Cardboard, acrylic paints, and a file cabinet in the top left hand corner have been used to re-create a wonderful replica of the computer program.
Credits go to Bates 141 Jakarta, development by Hendra Lesmono, and Software-asli.com for the commission.
I love it!
(image via swissmiss)


to the mountains we go...

Packing my bags for an out of town work trip…..
Sure to be filled with inspiration and beautiful images!


office supplies.

Today I bought my favourite new pencils… each one equipped with a famous moustache.
Accounting just became much, much, more fun.

(Pencils from Atypyc)


spring is here.

Spring is here, and so is the new issue of Elle Decoration.
Here is a sneak peak of the photos that I have worked on with talented photographer Trine Thorsen for this months publication- a mix of rough textures, warm smoky greys and a hint of light purple. Oh, and lots and lots of flowers.
You can even find our smiling faces in the front of the magazine, with a little bit more about us!

Photography: Trine Thorsen
Styling: Tara Ballantyne


my favourite fairytale.

The fantastic fashion photographer Tim Walker is in Oslo!
…and he will be lecturing at the Nordic School of Photography this week, with a one-night open lecture to the public this evening.
I have my fingers crossed that I can get a seat…
(images via virtueorvanity)


Elle Decoration, H&M, and chocolate cupcakes.

This week I have been working with H&M Home and Elle Decoration to style the "HM loves Elle'" event that runs this week, until May 18 at the new H&M location on Bogstadveien in Oslo.

For the opening event, Editor Line Dammen spoke about trends, the collection, and how to mix and match - while guests mingled and viewed Elle's top 10 from the H&M line. It was a great night with lots of shopping, inspiration, wine and fantastic 'american style cupcakes'!
I will be sure to post some images of the set up as soon as I can.

For now, here is a recipe for my favorite cupcakes that I think I will make this weekend (I couldn't get enough)….and a link to the Elle blog with some images.
Happy baking!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache and Meringue Buttercream Frosting
for cupcakes:

60 g semisweet chocolate, chopped

30 g milk chocolate, chopped

110 g unsalted butter, room temperature

100 g granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

110 g flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

110 g sour cream

for the ganache filling:

50 g heavy cream

75 g bittersweet chocolate

for the frosting:

100 g egg whites (about 3 medium)

200 g sugar

150 g unsalted butter, room temperature

8 tablespoons cocoa powder


Bring heavy cream to a boil and pour over chocolate. Mix slowly starting from the center until all is incorporated and thick. Let cool completely about one hour. Once cooled, whip until thick.


In a bowl over a saucepan of hot water, melt semisweet and milk chocolates, being careful not to burn. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined. Beat in vanilla and chocolate.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Stirring well, add a third of the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream. Make 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of sour cream, finishing with the dry.

Scoop batter into cupcake cups filling 2/3 of the way to top.

Bake cupcakes at 180℃ degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Transfer to rack and let cool completely.

Cut the tops from the cupcakes and scoop in one heaping teaspoon of ganache filling.

Replace tops and press down gently.


With an electric mixer, whisk together egg whites and sugar lightly. Place over a water bath until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Whip until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

Continue whipping until the mixture feels cool. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time, whipping until each tablespoon is incorporated and desired consistency is reached.
Add in cocoa powder and stir until combined.

*makes 12 cupcakes.

Styling and Food: Tara Ballantyne
Photography: Trine Thorsen
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