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


Thanksgving in Napa

Just an eight hour drive North of Dana Point and the most beautiful colors of autumn that you could ever hope for awaited us in Napa, California.  It rained through the night and there was fog in the hills, but the sun came out and it was the most beautiful Thanksgiving day.

The colors were amazing . . . everywhere you looked, something was blooming.
We've had some memorable Thanksgivings over the years...a lot of them spent with family and friends and cooking big feasts, but others just as memorable where we've traveled and made it seem like Thanksgiving...even on the train from London to Paris, or this one, where it wasn't until Thanksgiving morning when my husband had made several calls to make reservations for our Thanksgiving meal.  This time of year always reminds me of what I'm most thankful for. . . my family.  I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. . . wherever you are.


soup as a healthy afternoon snack

My daughter could eat this everyday after school for a snack...I'm working on Patrick.
A red and yellow pepper, seeds removed and cut into medium dice, carrots, zucchini and summer squash, cut the same size as the peppers, white and light green part of two leeks and one yellow onion, diced.
One shallot and 2 to 3 cloves garlic, small dice.  2 to 3 cans of cannellini beans and garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed.
Saute the onions, leeks, shallots and garlic until soft and then add the rest of the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper and add the chili powder and red pepper flakes, (if using).  After about 7 minutes add 4 cups of vegetable stock and the lentils and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes.  Then add  the beans and cook for a few more minutes until everything is tender. 
When we started making this soup the sun was shining...the clouds rolled in..it .started to rain and now it's looking like the perfect night for soup.  It makes a lot so there will be plenty left for after school snacks.


window shopping in NYC

 I promise this is my last NY post for a while, but it is one of the best places to window shop in the whole world...would you agree?
Links of London
1 and 3 -  a b c  carpet & home, 2.  Mulberry,  4.  Anthropologie
 I'm happy just walking the streets in New York...there's no city where I feel more at home.

week #24 Gourmet's List of 50 Women Game Changers

Paula Deen is #24 on the Gourmet's list of 50 Women Game Changers and I have to admit I did not know a lot about her...everyone knows her face and would probably recognize her voice, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I was on a flight from JFK to LAX and Food Network had a marathon of Chefography episodes.  I admire Paula Deen especially after learning a little about her background.  She is truly a beautiful and gracious woman.  My kids have been asking me to make creme brulee ...and I figured Paula would certainly have a recipe for this...it was easy and delicious.  Thank you to Mary from One Perfect Bite for organizing a group of us as we make our way through the list each Friday.
Paula's recipe calls for 9 oz. ramekins, mine are just about 4 oz. so I was actually able to
make almost nine desserts that seemed just the right amount.
Ingredients:  A vanilla bean, 4 egg yolks, 8 oz. heavy cream and sugar.
We experimented with both white and light brown sugar and it was easier to get a perfect crust on the top using white sugar.  Our kitchen torch might not be the most powerful.

The following bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Paula Deen today.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets, Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Kathleen - Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen, Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts, Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green,Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda, Linda A - There and Back Again
Martha - Lines from Linderhof, Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen


Central Park in November

Last Saturday was the perfect day to be in New York's Central Park.  The winds were calm, the temperature was in the 50s and the park was filled with people enjoying the day.  What I love about New York is that anything can happen and once in a while you can see something that will warm your heart.
This is sweet...a small child enjoying music and onlookers enjoying both.
As we walked past the fountain we noticed the man taking photos so we of course did the courteous thing and started to walk around him...then my daughter noticed what we were witnessing.  A marriage proposal-- right there in the middle of the courtyard by the Bethesda Fountain.  Friends were holding signs that read..."will you marry me?" and he was even on bent knee with a box holding a ring.  So sweet.  We could not believe our timing.  You don't get to see something like this everyday.


casual dining room + thanksgiving table inspiration

Casual Thanksgiving...
Our house is very casual and that includes the dining room.  I think it's more the mood created by candlelight, music and the meal itself that lends to a little bit of formality.
The painting is from Barclay Butera in Newport Beach, but I cannot stop thinking about this painting I saw on Etsy.  I think it would be perfect on the white brick and for this time of year.  It's called Whisper. 
My husband made our dining room table when we were first married.  We've used it in every apartment or house we've ever lived.  A few years later my sister and I found the chairs at Pottery Barn for $30 each...I keep thinking we'll replace them, surprisingly they are very comfortable.
Looking into the kitchen from the dining room.  Originally the opening was only as wide as a normal door.  We opened it up, added an arch and brick.  It makes the kitchen appear much larger, but the actual footprint stayed the same.
We will be away for Thanksgiving this year, but when we return on Saturday we'll pretend it's Thanksgiving all over again.  I was inspired by the photo below taken at the Union Square Greenmarket last Saturday.  It was not practical to bring these little bundles back so I went with a similar feel, but used things out of my own yard.  The color palette I was going for was gray, silver, white, natural and a little bit of denim.
My inspiration...natural from the wheat and grasses, the gray on the ground, blue (notice the person standing wearing blue jeans in the top right).
                                                                          Participating in:
                                                             Rooms by Rooms - Dining Rooms
                                                                    Tablescape Thursday
                                                                   Made By You Monday


autumn in new york

One of my favorite things to do in the fall in New York is to stroll through Union Square Greenmarket.  The colors, textures, smells of the season are all around you.  We shared a pint of the freshest and sweetest apple cider I've ever tasted. 
                           The market was filled with ideas to set a beautiful table for the holiday. 
I loved all the colors of the season, but this is what I was most drawn to...bundles of wheat, grasses...all different textures.  I even loved how they looked wrapped in brown paper against the gray honeycomb pattern on the ground.  Maybe next year bundles of these down the middle of a long table with a natural linen gray cloth and simple hurricanes with ivory candles?  How will you be setting your Thanksgiving table?


Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers

Mary from One Perfect Bite has organized a group to cook and blog our way through the list of Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers.  This is week #23 - Nancy Silverton who among other projects started La Brea Bakery in 1989 and perhaps known most recently for her involvement in the restaurant group known as Mozza.   Each week you choose a dish of the featured Game Changer and so I chose Balsamic Glazed Onions.  I'm not sure why this dish...but anything with balsamic glaze gets my attention and with the holidays coming up...this is a great side dish that can be made ahead and served at room temperature...another plus, in my opinion for holiday meals. 

The ingredients are simple...Balsamic, olive oil, sea salt, very large red onion, fennel fronds and stalks, bay leaves and dried fennel.  The complete recipe can be found here.
I'm new to the group, so perhaps this has already been discussed and debated, but I can't help but wonder why Giada De Laurentis and Sara Moulton did not make the list? 


t h r i f t i n g

Before I started reading blogs (I don't even know what I did all day) I thought thrifting was my huge discount at William Sonoma.  But recently I have discovered the real meaning of "thrifting."  Yes, I do know that thrifting is not a word.  I've learned from the best out there in blog land.  First, there's Janet at The Gardener's Cottage.  She has been posting beautiful outfits that she has put together for under $10.  She looks amazing!  Then there are those talented girls in San Diego and the stuff they find...ah-mazing!  Amber (The Girl is Craftee), Bianca, (Bink & Boo),  Grace, (Grace Happens), and Melissa, (Seagrass Interiors) and (Bixby & Ball.)

Bakelite...I have several belts made by Boston based designer Hadley Pollet.  Her original designs incorporated Bakelite pieces as belt buckles.  Are you familiar with Hadley Pollet? 
So many beads . . .

So many gorgeous Christmas decorations that reminded me of things my grandmother had.  Many of the vendors have things arranged beautifully and yet you can walk away with a vintage ornament for a few dollars.
There was so much silver that my friend Elizabeth has the idea that we should put together a set for my daughter.  There were boxes of silver, unpolished for $1.  For $3 you could buy a single piece of silver plate flatware.  My daughter is 17, so she was not nearly as excited as we were...the thrill really is in the hunt.  And in 10 or 15 years, even Madeline may agree.  In the mean time Elizabeth and I will spend the first Sunday of the month at The Groves Antique Market at the Orange County Great Park.  Unfortunately it rained last Sunday so everyone packed up early...being from the East Coast...rain, sleet, snow never deters me...I only found a couple of things, but will be back next month and hopefully the sun will be shining.
I found this champagne bucket at the Assistance League Thrift Shop in Laguna beach and the amber bottles at the flea market.  I love the color, especially with the orange....something I picked up on the way back from my son's school.   Found any treasures lately?