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


Super Simple Tomato Sauce

I make a tomato or marinara sauce all the time, but I've never really had a go to recipe that I absolutely loved.  Last weekend I googled "simple tomato sauce" and up popped something from Smitten Kitchen.  Maybe I'm the only one that doesn't already know about this fabulous recipe, but if you haven't tried it, I urge you to try it right away!  It's that good.
When I read Deb's post from Smitten Kitchen about this sauce it led me to all the others who are total foodies and how much they love it too.  It seems almost too good to be true because it's so easy.  These are the ingredients:  One can of San Marzano tomatoes,  5 ounces of butter and one onion, peeled and cut in half.  That's it.  You put this all into a heavy pot, I used a 2 3/4 quart Le Creuset.  Let it come to a boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes.  I let it cool slightly and then blended it in two batches in a blender.  My kids really like it smooth.
This is what it looks like after the onion is removed, blended and then put back into the pot until we were ready to eat.
and about 9 minutes later, we were ready for dinner.
We did not have a lot leftover, but just enough for my daughter for a snack after after golf.  She reheated in the microwave and dipped fresh bread like it was soup.  YUM!


easy summer dinner

There are times when I use frozen puff pastry all the time and then for whatever reason....months go by and I forget all about it.  Our neighbors gave us some zucchini and summer squash and being the slacker that I have been lately....I really really wanted to make dinner from stuff we had around the house or in the freezer.  As luck would have it, we had frozen puff pastry in the freezer. 
I scored the edge of the puff pastry and used a fork to prepare the puff pastry inside the edge of the pastry.  I drizzled a little olive oil and then spread a small amount of tomato puree inside the edge.  I then added about 1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese.
My sweet husband used the mandoline (the one kitchen tool that scares me to death) to cut very thin slices of zucchini and summer squash and I arranged them side by side because the diameter of the summer squash and zucchini were different sizes.  I added a little more olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh thyme.  We baked it just until the edges browned.  maybe 25 minutes or so.
It was delicious and so easy!  Gotta love Pepperidge Farm puff pastry.


as summer begins to fade...the colors turn to yellow, gold and rust

I pass by this shop on Pacific Coast Highway everyday and love to see what they have out front.  You can tell the summer is coming to a close when the flowers are going from vibrant hues of red and hot pinks to shades of yellow and gold.

The colors around my house are getting more muted too...not as much red.
Nothing makes me happier than the mailbox full of new magazines...just in time for the weekend.
Everything is getting softer inside and out...as we get ready for cooler weather.  I love the fall and I can't help but miss the crisp feel in the air once summer begins to slip away.  There's something about the seasons and seeing one go to the next that just feels right.  There are seasons in Southern California, but not like the East Coast.
I must be ready for fall before it's time...I was at Roger's Gardens and there were no mums to be found.  I was able to change my pots from red geraniums to a bit of yellow for only a few dollars...these plants won't last long, but just til I can find a yellow mum plant.


corn and lobster soup + a summer sky

 It was the perfect night to have dinner on the patio and just as we were about to serve...the sky turned to shades of pink.  The temperature was just right to enjoy a dinner of corn chowder and crusty warm bread.

You can see the glow from the pink sky reflecting on the white bowls.
Lobster and corn soup with fingerling potatoes and fresh chives.
1.  We removed the corn from 5 ears of corn and sauteed the corn with one onion, chopped and two garlic cloves, minced in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 35 minutes or until corn is tender.  2.  In a large pot of water, bring to a boil the reserved corn ears cut in half and the lobster tail shells.  Simmer for 30 minutes and strain through a fine sieve removing everything but the liquid.  You will use about 6 cups of this as fish (lobster) stock.  3.  Once the corn and onion mixture is ready, in small batches puree the corn mixture and stock in a blender.  Remember to remove the cap on the lid of the blender and cover with a heavy dish towel.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of the corn mixture to add texture to the soup.  Return to the pot with the reserved corn and add the cooked lobster tail meat cut into bite size pieces.  4.  Cook small potatoes just until fork tender, drain and cool.  When cool enough to handle, cut into half or quarters depending on size and add to the soup.  5.  Cook over medium heat until warm.  Stir in chives and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Note:  We used frozen lobster tails.  We added the shells to the water with the corn husks to make the stock.  This cut down significantly on the prep time and the soup still had wonderful flavor.

Fresh corn, fingerling potatoes, onion and garlic from the farmer's market and chives from the garden.


What's your favorite summer time appetizer?

This was a big hit on the bluff this summer.  Easy on the go...a baguette or crackers, fig jam and Manchego cheese.
I was reading Sue's post today from The View from Great Island and she had a great idea for an appetizer.  One that you can make ahead, store in the refrigerator or freezer and pull it out as you need it.  Check out her homemade crackers.http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QuPl6YDCHp8/TkmGZ8FACuI/AAAAAAAACcU/g6A3CmVwI1I/s1600/233.JPG


gift wrap with a little help from Walmart

Last school year I bought this book of punch out letters from Walmart for my son's science fair project.  The entire book was only $5 and I have been using the letters to make gift tags. I always use kraft paper and pretty ribbons at any time of year to wrap my gifts.  I think these little tags make it even more special.
The supplies. . . Colorbok book, ribbon, scissors, hole punch, paint pen, glue stick, tape and assorted ribbons and trim.

I have several large spools of ribbon and then just use paper and string, ric-rac, and assorted ribbons to pull it all together.
L is for Lynn, Lorna and Lucy.  So what surprises have you found at Walmart lately?


happy anniversary darling

Today my husband and I celebrate our 24th anniversary.  Next year I will have spent half my life married to this wonderful man.  We were married when I was 25 and next year I will be 50!  We met and married in only three months and 24 years later we are as happy together as when we first met. We feel very lucky.  My daughter and I were walking through the village on our last trip to NY this summer and I saw this writing on a wall...we kept walking and a couple of blocks later I said, "stop, we have to go back."  I had to photograph this...it just says so much with so few words. 


a view from my kitchen sink

Leslie from Hostess of the Humble Bungalow has asked us to post a view from our kitchen sink/window.  My first thought was that I don't have a kitchen window...so therefore nothing to contribute.  But actually she asked for a view from the kitchen sink.  Well everyone has one of those. 
I spend a lot of time at my kitchen sink...Most of us do and although I don't have a window to look out, I do like to surround myself with things I enjoy.  The bottle was a gift from my friend Suzanne.    I was so surprised when I opened it.  I think she said she found it at a place that has all sorts of stuff out on the lawn and inside the shop in Scott's Corner/Pound Ridge, NY.  It reminds me of all the times I looked out my window at my kitchen sink in New Canaan.  A far different view there than here in California.
It was not easy to find a photo that showed my view of my kitchen sink in CT, but when we first moved my youngest was just two.   Every morning there were deer,  wild turkeys, cardinals...trying to get a two year old to zero in on what I was seeing...not easy.  This led my kids to discover the joy of running outside in any kind of weather to "scare" the wildlife. 


home grown tomatoes

Tomatoes, a perfectly ripe avocado, fresh mozzarella, baby basil leaves from the garden...mixed with a little olive oil, balsamic and s & p and served over brown rice.
So good...I  almost forgot about my wine.


LACMA and Ray's

Today was a day we decided we needed to get out of South Orange County.   We had the most amazing lunch at Ray's at the LACMA.  It's only about 65 miles, but with LA traffic the trip took almost 2.5 hours, so we were very hungry when we arrived at Ray's.  When you are extremely hungry, it's not a bad thing when they bring out bread and butter to start.  We devoured that and then ordered two appetizers.  A corn soup that was so creamy, almost velvety and topped with crispy potatoes.  Next up was a squash blossom dish that was stuffed with delicious goat cheese that was lightly breaded and it just oozed out and over a bed of sweet corn salad that was slightly chilled.  We hardly needed our main course which we split. It was a truffled rice with arugula and a porcini sauce.  LACMA is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon and we could not have been happier with our restaurant selection.  Service was impeccable too!  (note:  all photos taken with my iphone).


Kelsey's homemade poptarts

My daughter's friend Kelsey knows how much Madeline loves poptarts and yesterday dropped off on our doorstep a sweet surprise.  Homemade poptarts!  They are as good as they look she got the recipe here.  These are not the kind of poptarts I would naturally think of...a dry pastry (if you could even call it a pastry) filled with strawberry and some sort of fake icing on top.  These are more like a delicious pie with a buttery, even flaky crust filled with strawberry jam, lightly iced and a dash of pink and green sprinkles that melt in your mouth.  I've never tasted anything more delicious!


bathrooms . . . keeping it simple

All of our bathrooms are very simple.  White walls, white subway tile, white painted brick and white cabinets.  I've always loved it this way and never tire of keeping it simple.
I knew I wanted a large sink, maybe two, but when I saw this I fell in love with it.  It's a little shallow, but we've adjusted.  The storage cabinets on each side are way more storage than I could ever dream of having.  The top door actually has outlets for hairdryers, etc.  I am used to having a shelf behind the door from Bed, Bath and & beyond to hold everything that doesn't fit into a standard size medicine cabinet above the sink.  So this was a huge improvement.

Our contractor talked us into medicine cabinets on each side of the sink...they are low and therefore not easy to access.  I think I could of put that money to better use.
The open shelving and cabinet below are great for storing towels and sheets in the cabinet.  My idea was to make storage shelves inside the toilet room behind the door.  We did this on the other half of where the open shelving is, but I think it would have been fine to use the entire space for hidden storage.

We used all one panel doors throughout the house with black Emtek hardware.  I have used Emtek for the last 10 years and love the look and feel.  It's very reasonably priced and we have never had a single issue with it.  Also, it's available within a few days of ordering.  I used very traditional Emtek hardware in our Connecticut house, but was very happy with their new modern, more contemporary line which we used on the cabinets. (shown below).

Emtek Hardware in chrome.  Emtek has a lot of fun little pieces that are perfect for cabinets.

This is the storage behind the door in the toilet room.  We store light bulbs, upstairs cleaning products, paper products.  It's a great use of space and no one has to ever see it.