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All of the content and images featured on The Garden of Eden are © Darcy Eden 2011-2014 unless otherwise stated.  If you post an image of mine on your blog/website, please link back to The Garden of Eden and credit me accordingly.  Thanks! 

Images that are not my own are credited as such.  If I have either failed to credit accurately or someone wishes an image to be removed from this blog, I will gladly comply.


The Happiness Project

When I am looking for a new book to read, I usually turn to the long list of fiction I have tracked on Goodreads (an amazing website for tracking what you read and want to read and reading other's reviews).  However, last summer I saw a book at Anthropologie that caught my eye and led me down an unusual path as far as my reading preferences are concerned.  The book was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen advocates for making small changes in your daily life that can have a huge impact on your overall happiness and outlook on life.  Gretchen's website is full of resources that you can utilize as well, including a Happiness Project Toolbox, and she sends a daily email with a "Moment of Happiness".  I haven't utilized any of the additional resources, but I found the book to be incredibly thought-provoking and Gretchen's approach to making positive changes in your life really resonated with me.  Her approach focuses on goal-setting, resolutions and making lists, all of which resonate with my Type A personality.

Last fall my husband and I moved from Boston to Denver, in large part due to a desire to improve our lifestyle and be happier.  I remember one of the Happiness Project e-mails made it seem as though Gretchen was reading my mind.  She interviewed Richard Florida, an economic development expert, who said he felt there were three "happiness killers": "doing work you do not love and are not passionate about, surrounding yourself with people who you do not really like (someone who just fills time), and living somewhere that does not let you be you."  At the time, I felt that both the first and last of the three "happiness killers" were directly applicable to me and really confirmed that moving to a new city and finding a new job were the right move for us. 

Even if you aren't looking to make a life change, The Happiness Project is an interesting read and might help you with problem-solving in areas of your life other than happiness.  On a similar note, a good friend recently sent me this link to an article entitled "20 questions that could change your life" that reminded me of the Happiness Project.  Check it out! 


The Bucolic Plague & The Beekman Boys

I recently read an entertaining book entitled The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir about Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, two New Yorkers who fall in love with the the Beekman Estate, an old farmhouse/estate near Sharon Springs, New York, and eventually abandon careers in New York City (Dr. Ridge was a Vice President at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and Mr. Kilmer-Purcell was an advertising executive) to turn the Beekman Mansion into a running farm... and so much more!  The farm includes not only the main farmhouse and the barn, but also a pool, a pond and a crypt!    The Beekman Boys are now the stars of a documentary called “Beekman Farm” on Planet Green and sell numerous products, the most famous of which is their goat’s milk soap.  The story about the goats as guests on the Martha Stewart Show is one of the more hilarious anecdotes in the book... let’s just say that driving goats in a large truck from upstate New York to the city is quite an adventure!

The Beekman Farm Goats











Not only did I enjoy the hilarity of two city boys trying to get their new farm up and running, but Mr. Kilmer-Purcell has a sassy writing style and their their desire to get out of the city and to enjoy nature, peaceful living and hard work that doesn’t involve Excel spreadsheets and conference calls really resonated with me.  You can use this link to read the NY Times review of the book.

I recently ordered the Back Porch Collection of soaps that includes a different scent for each season.  Wow, does the soap smell good!  Even better, it is handmade and chemical-free. 

Oh, hello!Beekman 1802 Goat Milk Soap


Gorgeous Griffin-vites

Yesterday I received an incredibly beautiful Save the Date in the mail for my friends' wedding this August.  Their Save the Dates are fantastic and are from a stationery company that is new to me called Griffin-vites.  The Save the Dates do an awesome job of incorporating the couple's cute dog and the feel of the wedding which will take place in Kennebunkport, Maine.  The company offers not only wedding invitations and related items (e.g., menus, save the dates, table numbers), but also adorable pet notes (a perfect give for a friend who really loves her pooch) and baby announcements.  All images credit to Griffin-vites.



Today Anthropologie launched a gorgeous new wedding website and company called BHLDN.  According to the BHLDN website, the name was inspired by the Dutch word for "to keep", "as well as countless tales from family and friends of extraordinary weddings they’d been part of."  Admittedly, while I am happily married, I do sometimes daydream about choosing another wedding dress and planning a new celebration (to the same man, of course).... maybe this time it would be in the middle of a city and we'd celebrate after the ceremony on the rooftop of a fabulous restaurant or museum.... or perhaps it would be a more rustic affair on an organic farm in the countryside.  Either way, I'd definitely love to try on a few of the dresses and accessories available at BHLDN, a few of which are below.

First, these dresses!  And if short wedding dresses aren't your thing for the ceremony, what about one for the reception?  I hear two wedding dresses are better than one!  Second, I love the fun accessories they have (and at such reasonable prices).  The boleros are intricate and lovely and the shoes - how fun to have a surprise burst of color that peeks out from under your dress!

Pleated Fantasy GownFondant Tea Dress

 Tiered Tulip Gown

Tiered Tulip Gown

Primrose BoleroDeco Beaded ClutchPetal Panes Bolero Agave Peep Toes


Homemade Croissants

Oh, croissants, how do I love thee?  If there is one thing you should know about me it is that I love baking.  Cookies, brownies, pies, cakes, bread... you name it, I love to bake it (and eat it).  However, I have always been intimidated by the croissant.  How is it possible to make such a beautiful, flaky, delicious treat at home?  All those layers seem impossible to recreate in my own kitchen.

Perfecting the croissant shapeIn addition to loving baking, I also love making lists, including a list of my New Year’s Resolutions.  I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from crossing things off of my to-do list (this includes tasks that I have already done but add to my list just so that I can cross them off - and yes, I know that makes no sense) and in achieving a resolution that I have made.  In 2010, one of my resolutions was to make homemade croissants!
  I enlisted my husband to help me make these one weekend (yes, it takes several days ) and the end result was surprisingly fabulous.  After much internet and cookbook research and advice from a wonderful friend, Ali, who has an incredible cooking blog called Alexandra’s Kitchen, I settled on a recipe from Tartine, the famous San Francisco bakery.  The recipe is contained in the Tartine Cookbook, but an intrepid blogger at The Way the Cook Crumbles has posted the entire recipe online as well.

The croissants during one of many "rises"



The entire recipe is quite long and available at The Way the Cookie Crumbles, so I am not going to re-post it.  However, I do have a few tips to share should you decide to make these.

First, the word "croissant" is, of course, French.  The etymology is that croissant means "crescent" and is the present  participle of croître (“to grow”).  I thought this was interesting because it leads into a discussion of two key aspects of making croissants.  First, the shape!  It is tricky to perfect the shape and we definitely had a few funky-looking croissants (I've conveniently omitted those photos).  However, the shape became easier to achieve and more uniform with practice and the oddly-shaped croissants were, of course, still delicious. 

Second, the "to grow" aspect is indicative of the HUGE size of some of our croissants.  The first few croissants we rolled were colossal, especially after they rose for the second time.  The cookbook states that the yield of the recipe will be 16-18 croissants, but after seeing how large our first few were, we sized ours down considerably.  As a result, our yield was closer to three dozen.  The best part is that if you aren't making these for a specific event where they will all be consumed, you can freeze the leftovers!  After baking all of the croissants, follow the easy instructions available here.  We had homemade croissants that we heated in the oven for a few minutes before eating for two months.  It was awesome!

Pain au chocolatThird, it is easy to turn these into pain au chocolat!  We used Valrhona chocolate pieces (I purchase mine at Whole Foods but you can also order them online or use whatever you have on hand).  You have to roll the croissants into a different shape to keep the chocolate inside (see the image at right) but they are easy to make and wow do they taste great! 

Fourth, it really does a while to make croissants, so be sure to allow enough time.  I started by making the preferment on Friday night and I finally baked off the croissants on Sunday.  There isn't an overwhelming amount of active time, but there is a lot of chilling and rising time and rolling out the croissants takes quite a bit of muscle (I enlisted my husband's help for that step in particular).  The nice thing about making these over the course of the weekend was that I was able to leave to do things in between steps -- it might be tricky to do this during the week.

My very helpful kitchen assistant





Finally, enjoy!  Never have I felt so satisfied at the end of baking and it was so fun to have croissants that I could pop in the oven when we had guests for brunch or when I wanted dessert or a treat.  They were still delicious when re-heated and at all times SO much better than store-bought and most bakery-bought croissants.

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