l o v e l y t h i n g s


Lavender bouquets + new uses for old things

I have so much lavender growing in my yard I don't know why it never occurred to me to bring it inside.  They smell beautiful.  I made several little arrangements using jars I've been saving.  Years ago my sister said always save your dijon mustard jars to use to bring salad dressing on the go.  Brilliant....now I'm saving every jar and using them for a multitude of things.  The best way I have found to get the labels off is the Spray Gel Goo Gone.

In the bedroom...

and in Madeline's bathroom.  When looking for something to keep make up cotton rounds and q-tips, I came across her silver baby cups.  One is engraved in script and the other block letters...love them.

Recently I sprayed all the lids black...looks better in my pantry.  I took dinner to a friend and put the home made dressing in a little jar.  All she had to do was give it good shake and toss with the salad. 


California Tuna by way of 260 Madison, NYC

I was reminded of this way to make tuna and it's so good.  My husband used to work at 260 Madison in New York.  Seems every building in NYC has its own deli....I don't think anyone ever knows the name of their deli, but they sure do know what to order.  This was a favorite especially in the summer and it's appropriately named California Tuna.  

                                                         2 packets of albacore white tuna
                                                         1 medium carrot, grated fine
                                                         1 hard boiled egg, chopped
                                                         1 tsp relish
                                                          1 tsp chopped fresh chives
                                                         1 tbsp mayo
                                            Mix together and spread on your favorite bread. 

We started our holiday weekend a little early and walked down to the bluff to watch the waves as we ate our CA Tuna sandwiches.  Have a wonderful weekend!


Spring Risotto + leftovers for lunch

Baked Spinach and Pea Risotto from Real Simple Magazine.

On Sunday we made this super easy risotto from Real Simple Magazine.  What's different about it is that you don't have to continue to add broth to the risotto on the stove top like a traditional risotto recipe...it's bakes in the oven.  Most of the ingredients goes into the oven, then you add the peas, spinach and fresh Parmesan.

I read about this No-Knead bread on Janet's blog and had to try it.  So easy, just as she said...but you need a lot of time. 

This is my favorite salad dressing.  I mix olive oil, dijon mustard and balsamic and whisk together until it's the right consistency.  When I worked at Williams Sonoma I learned about this balsamic...it makes all the difference.  It's so good!

I made the risotto into little cakes and put them on the griddle with a little olive oil.

The risotto cakes with a little crust may be even better than having it for dinner right out of the oven.  Yum!


House exterior - before and after

This is our house today...see below to see the before photos.  We live in a beach community where the homes were built in the late 1960's early 70's.  It was hard to make sense of the house as it was...but there are times when I think we could have gone a little less drastic with change.  The good thing about the development being built in the late 1960's is that open space was considered and therefore we have walking paths and greenbelts through the entire neighborhood which consists of just under 1,000 homes.  There's a community center, a pool, tennis courts, park and the best part...beach parking and beach access with a bluff top park looking over the most beautiful stretch of beach. 

The window in the center was where the third car garage once was.  The garage still has the space of a three car, but this area of the garage is now used a a hang out spot for Patrick and his friends.  The house came with flat screen televisions in every room.  It was hideous on the outside, but was used  a second home for a family from LA...who apparently watched a lot of television.  Perfect...we now have a large flat screen in the garage, a ping pong table and stacks of beach towels.

The front entrance of the house was actually pushed out so the entry way inside is larger, but the walkway still has plenty of space.  When we first started the plans we were going to use stone...then we changed to brick.  I wanted to use exposed brick painted white inside the house and it only made sense to use it outside as well.   It's timeless and we love the herringbone pattern.

The outside lighting is from Bevolo.  Being this close to the ocean, only real copper will stand the test of time.
I would have loved to move that heater for this shot....but it does come in handy on most nights in California...even in the middle of summer I keep a stack of Pashmina shawls when we dine outside.

We kept the back doors, all three sets.  They were relatively new...What I didn't like about them were the sidelights.  It was easy enough to cover those and we saved quite a bit of $$.  It also allowed us to add a built in bench in the kitchen eating nook.
Before...this was October 2010.

Could not wait to change these doors!

The only thing I regret about any changes back here...losing all the rose bushes. 

The blank area above to the right was pushed out and now is a walk in closet on one side and an office on the right. The family room is larger on the first floor and it provides flow into the living room. 


lemon shortbread and white hydrangeas

A package arrived today...as soon as I saw it on the step...I knew it was from Lorna.  The first few I had with a cup of tea and in Lorna fashion, the next were with with a glass of wine.  She always brings cookies when she visits and the first thing we do when we arrive at the house is carry in the bags, pour the wine and open the cookies.  Thank you Lorna, from the bottom of my heart!


happy birthday twin sister

I am so lucky to have a twin sister.  Today is our birthday and over the years we have tried to celebrate together, but sometimes life gets in the way...The middle of May is a busy time of year.  There's graduations to attend, we've been to the Preakness many times which falls on the third Saturday In May and there's always baseball games and lacrosse jamborees at this time of year.  But no matter where we are and even if it's not together, I always feel happy to share my birthday. 


add-a-pearl + madewell and brandy melville

We recently came across my add-a-pearl necklace that I had as a baby.  I hadn't even thought about giving it to Madeline.  As soon as she opened the box, she put it on and said she gets compliments every day.  It really does look so sweet on her.  She's wearing it with a denim shirt from Madewell.  We both LOVE this store!  We started shopping at the first one in SoHo and then Greenwich, CT.  When we moved west we used to have to drive to LA, but now there's one at South Coast Plaza.  She paired it with a stripe tee from Brandy Melville.  We came across this store in Santa Monica last summer and now there's one in Fashion Island, Newport Beach.  The price point seems to be around $28 for tops and surprisingly everything holds up well.  Have you shopped at Madewell or Brandy Melville?
I found out after a google search that add-a-pearl is a Chicago based company since 1854. 


thank you notes . . .

I have long been a fan of the written note.  This little book, The Art of the Hand Written Note is a favorite of mine and I read through it every few years.  Margaret Shepherd is brilliant in saying how, why and when we should write notes.  I think I speak for many that when I receive a handwritten note in the mail, I'm absolutely thrilled.  It does not take a lot to sit down and write a note, stamp and address the envelope, but many people are sending emails, tweets, or whatever.  Don't get me wrong, I love email as a form of communication, just not all the time.  I am so happy when I open my mailbox and see the familiar handwriting of a good friend or sometimes intrigued when I see my name and address written carefully on an envelope with an interesting stamp.  We receive so much mail that goes directly into the trash that receiving a personal note is a welcome surprise.
How I wish my handwriting looked like my friend Sydney's!

It's usually after the holidays that I stock up on holiday note cards for the coming year.  Stores have the best sales on holiday items, and I can never have too many.  I found these letter press cards at Pottery Barn in July...I never even saw them during the holidays. 

I keep boxes like these with all of my supplies in my desk/armiore.  Everything from school supplies, art supplies, ribbons, markers...

Some of my favorite shops are those that sell notes and papers.  When I'm in NY I can never pass up a Kate's Paperie.  On the west coast I love the selection at Paper Source.  I also love Milestones In New Canaan, CT.

This adorable handmade thank you note was what sparked the idea for this post.  As I was walking through my daughter's room, I noticed this sweet little card.  She had just gone to a tea to celebrate the 16th birthday of her good friend on Sunday.  This note arrived on Tuesday!  I love this girl!

On the inside of the note, she had the words New York cut out.  She knows how much NY means to Madeline and how much she misses it.  Isn't that so sweet to personalize her thank you note in this way?

My dear friend Nancy takes the thank you note to a whole new level.  You can imagine my joy when after a visit to our home in CT with her family she sent this little book of pictures from our adventures, a lobster dinner at our home, the kids hanging out together. .. I always have it on a book shelf and love to look at it.  It really was the sweetest and most thoughtful gift I've ever received.

After covering the book with a map of Manhattan, she somehow creates a fold-out that neatly goes back into the book after looking at it. 

So, what are your thoughts on the written thank you note?


a perfect mother's day...

My day started out with home made cards and pancakes.  My husband made lobster rolls for lunch...amazing with a beer and a few games of bocce ball.  The kids decorated the house with white hydrangeas and candle light and mushroom ravioli with brown butter sauce for dinner.  For all you moms...hope you enjoyed your day!


c a k e

In honor of Mother's Day I am making a cake my mom makes.   I promised her I was going to make a cake from scratch...she would have it no other way...she lives in Denver so there is always talk of which cake recipe works better in high altitude.  I've never had to worry about that.

All set to make a cake from scratch...and then I saw this cake mix at Trader Joe's.  I love the packaging...PINK!

The carmel frosting is what makes any chocolate cake so good. It's made with 1/2 c melted butter, add 1 cup light brown sugar and stir until it comes to a boil.  Add 1/2 c light cream and bring to a boil for 1 minute.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the butter and sugar mixture, 1 tsp vanilla and about 2 - 2 1/2 c powdered sugar, until it is the right consistency.

Happy Mother's Day! 


are you a list maker?

I have always made lists.  Just the other day my daughter and I were talking about this habit.  We both confessed that sometimes we add something to the list that we have already accomplished and immediately cross it off.  What's that all about?  I'm almost afraid to know the deeper meaning behind it.  The list above was done my daughter at age 5.  It was our first summer in New Canaan, Connecticut.

                                                                      go to the beach
                                                                      eat dinner
                                                                      catch fireflies
                                                                      take a bath
                                                                      get our jammies on
                                                                      watch a movie
                                                                      go to bed

I usually start out making a list using lined notebook paper.  I list things I need to do, errands to run...all the usual stuff and then I fold it into quarters so my lists are organized by stops I'll be making.  I know I could do this on my iphone, but there's something about physically making the connection to writing it down with a sharpened #2 pencil and then the act of crossing it off.  No---I do not cross off my grocery list items.

 For years I used Rhodia notebooks that I purchased at Kate's Paperie.  Then we moved here and I noticed Target even carried them for a while, but now I just use something I like--that I can find in my bag and try not to be too high maintenance about my notebooks.

So do you make lists?  and if yes, have you made the switch from paper and pencil to your electronic devices?