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


eat your vegetables

Individual creme brulee dishes by Apilco from William Sonoma. 

Individual Vegetable Gratins

Makes 4 individual gratins

When shopping for this dish, you want to try and choose vegetables that are the same size.  This is delicious the same day or the next day, slightly warmed.

Olive oil
4 or 5 shallots, depending on size and cut into small dice.
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
4 roma tomatoes, any small tomatoes are fine, roma or plum work well due to their size and shape.
Salt and pepper
6 or 7 fresh springs of thyme.  Remove the leaves from all but four sprigs and chop fine.  Reserve 4 sprigs for top of gratins.
Parmesan Cheese
 Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Drizzle olive oil in each of the  5- inch individual gratins and place on a baking sheet.  In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the shallots and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are soft.  Add the garlic and stir with the shallots for a minute, then remove from heat and spread the shallot and onion mixture on the bottom of each dish dividing evenly. 

Slice the potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini and tomatoes about ¼ inch in thickness.  Arrange in a circular pattern alternating the vegetables in each dish creating one layer.  Drizzle with olive oil over each dish and sprinkle each with the fresh thyme, salt and pepper.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove foil and place 5or 6 shards of Parmesan cheese shaved with a vegetable peeler.  Add one sprig of fresh thyme and put back in oven and bake just until cheese melts.


Small But Charming . . . flowers in the house

Jane at Small But Charming is having another "Flowers in the House" party...go over and check it out.   Jane has some pretty fall blooms from her garden in her kitchen. 

White roses are ubiquitous around here.  I'm not even sure what they are called, but they are everywhere....Not very seasonal, but I like the way they look in my glassybaby votive called Ocean in our powder room.  Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a glassybaby.


with gratitude

September marks one year of starting my blog.  I have learned so much and still have so much to learn, but I must say this last year has been wonderful.  I have "met" so many amazing people.  Through writing and reading blogs I have really figured out a lot about what I like.  Style when it comes to fashion, food and home decor have always been important to me, but through blogs I think I have defined my true style.  One thing that maybe surprised me is that I have defined my style to fit one word and that is simplicity.  To mark my one year anniversary I would like to do my first give away.  Through blogs I have fallen in love with the company Glassybaby Forever.  I love the story behind them and adore having them in my home.  So I'm giving away a Glassybaby called appropriately "Gratitude" to one of my readers.
Thank you for reading l o v e l y t h i n g s  and for your comments and encouragement.  A winner will be selected through random.org on October 16th.  Remember to check back on Monday to see if you've won.  To enter you must be a follower.  Leave a comment here and tell me which Glassybaby is your favorite.  To receive an extra entry, please mention this giveaway on your blog.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


laundry rooms and small houses

On the cover of the most recent IKEA catalog,  the caption says, "A home does not need to be big, just smart."  That is so true.  I know some people love big houses, but for me, I like small, smart ones.   One space that is so important is the laundry room.  When we were building our house I had many conversations with our architect about this.  I said I did not need a large space, although that would be heaven.  There are some fabulous laundry rooms out there...Mary Anne from Classic.Casual.Home did a post on them here.

Here's my short list on what I must have:

1.  a window
2.  a bar to hang things on hangers when they are drying
3.  room for a drying rack for things that cannot be placed on hangers
4.  a clothes sorter
5.  a full size washer and dryer

Things I would like to have:

1.  upstairs laundry room in a two story house
2.  a sink

There's not a lot of space in this tiny room, but it functions beautifully.  It has a bar to the left for hanging clothes for drying, room for a sorter since I stacked the washer/dryer and a drying rack.  There's even space for a very small sink.   The architect had the W/D side by side with a door that opened in to the right.  Hello....did he not hear a word I said?  I even sent him the photo of my previous laundry room. (bottom of post)
The solution to a door that opened into the room....double doors that open out and sit flush against the space on either side when they are left open.  By having doors that open out it did not lose any space inside the tiny room.  There's no space to fold clean laundry, but since the laundry rooms is upstairs, there's plenty of beds to fold and sort laundry.  And since it's upstairs, we kept the small stack-able washer/dryer in the garage for sandy beach towels.
This was our laundry room in our previous home in Connecticut.  It was by no means perfect, but I knew what worked and what I needed to make it functional.  It had a pocket door so that was not an issue.  I have all the important items on my list:  Window, bar to hang, folding rack, clothes sorter, full size washer and dryer.  Since I did not need to stack it in this space, I can fold on top of the machines.  I do laundry almost everyday.  We are a family of four and so that means we have about 6 to 8 items each per day.  Workout clothes, regular clothes, Pajamas, plus underwear, towels and linens.  And that's times 4....I think we are a pretty average family, but does everyone have this much laundry?  Do you have a day of the week for this one chore for you or someone else to accomplish?  I do it everyday because that way it never feels overwhelming.  Having my laundry room upstairs makes it that much easier to put clothing away, so it never feels daunting.  What are your laundry tricks?


hello there fall . . .

It is officially fall today and I'm thrilled.   I love that the days are getting shorter, that  means I can light candles a little earlier everyday.  I love to cook in the fall and there are so many great things to cook and stew once the weather turns cooler.  Or maybe it's my love of the color orange.
 1.  My favorite Burberry scarf in orange plaid.  2.  Trade Joe's tomato soup and mini cheese panini sandwiches.  3.  Arizona desert flowers.  4.  My laundry room with orange and yellow kid art.  5.  California sunset.  6.  My sons monogrammed white shirt.  7.  Butter nail polish in Minger.  8.  My husbands favorite tie, Brooks Brothers.  9.  Veuve Clicquot champagne.  (Thank you Sydney)!


dinner on the patio

As the days get shorter it just makes us want to eat dinner outside every night.  The temperatures in Southern California may not change all that much, but as soon as it starts getting dark early it seems we no longer want to have dinner on the patio...we're ready to light a fire and have dinner inside...just not tonight.


comfort food & spaghetti pie

Spaghetti Pie is total comfort food.   Although... I sometimes wonder how comforting it is to know that I've probably consumed an entire days worth of calories in just one meal, but sometimes that's okay.  It's easy to make and just as easy to make two.  One for a friend or one for the freezer.

Spaghetti Pie 
ingredients for one pie.  preheat oven to 350º and butter a glass pie dish.

1/2 package of spaghetti, cooked according to package.
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Mix the above ingredients together while still warm and pour into prepared pie dish, spread evenly.

1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp oregano (I used Penzy's Tuscan herbs)...thanks Eileen.
1 cup sour cream or ricotta cheese
Saute the onion in olive oil and season with salt and pepper and spices.  Saute until onion becomes soft.   Then in a bowl mix together the sour cream or ricotta cheese and the onion mixture.  Spoon onto the spaghetti and egg mixture.

Meanwhile, cook 1 pound Italian sausage.  Crumble and cook until browned.  Add 1 cup water and one 6 oz. can tomato paste and cook for about 20 minutes.  Add to the pie dish as the third layer and cook in a 350º oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and add grated mozzarella cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or just until cheese melts.  Let set at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting.  Serve a small slice with a green salad and a glass of Chianti.  enjoy!


j u s t p e a c h y

a perfectly peach rose at rogers gardens.  I wished I had taken a moment to find out its real name.
Heart shaped terracotta planters.
Madeline wearing a sweater that feels as soft as cashmere, Forever 21 - $13.80.  Jewelry:  Helen Ficolora and JCrew.
A beautiful California sunset as seen from my back yard.  It's amazing when you get a color in your head and pretty soon it's all around you...where ever you go, it just keeps popping up.


It's fall at Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach, CA

Roger's Gardens is decked out in autumn colors and even here in Southern California where the weather can be pretty warm and it may still feel like summer,  at Rogers it definitely looks like fall.
They have plenty to choose from if orange is not your color.
Inside there are some pretty interesting Halloween decorations.
               Do your weekend plans include a a trip to a nursery or a pumpkin patch in your area?


madeline's favorite muffins

Yesterday I made Madeline happy with the Missoni from Target so I thought I would continue the good cheer and make her favorite pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  

Just to be sure I did not disappoint, I used the same recipe I used when we lived in Connecticut.  It's from the New Canaan Elementary Schools cookbook.  I love the smell of the house when something is baking in the oven.

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

1 stick unsalted butter
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 c mini chocolate chips

preheat oven to 400 degrees
grease mini muffin tins

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add eggs and beat well.  Mix in pumpkin.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and gradually add to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, depending on size of muffin tins.



Missoni + Target = madness

I had been planning for weeks to ditch my workout class and head straight to Target for the Missoni collection.  I knew it might be a little crazy, but had no idea that by 8 in the morning everything would be gone!  This is what the racks looked like.
I wasn't really shopping for myself, but had promised my daughter I would check it out for her.  I was thinking some cute pajamas, cute little dress or a sweater....all gone.  Racks were empty and women (the ones that weren't already home having their second cup of coffee) were roaming around with full carts of Missoni stuff.  Really?  It's not like they are giving it away.  When I left I watched as two gals stuffed a couple of Missoni bikes into a small SUV.  Do they really need bikes or will they end up on ebay...I'm just wondering.
I didn't walk away empty handed.  I found a pair of rain boots in Madeline's size and a couple of pairs of gloves and a scarf in kids.  It reminded me of the movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic."  "Do I need these?"  She rationalizes the need for gloves because she has hands...okay then. 


Macy*s said it well...

The words in the middle of the page that are too small to read say this:
                           Today, in your own way, remember and reflect.  September, 11, 2001.

              The American flag that you see is on the opposite side.   It is an ad for Duane Reade.


9/11 * remember * reflect

Like everyone in America I remember exactly what I was doing on the day of 9/11 ten years ago.  I had just sent my first grader off to school on the bus that picked her up at the end of our driveway in New Canaan, Connecticut, a town about 40 miles outside of New York City.  My 2 year old son and I went to meet a friend to go walking.  It was a little before 9 am and as Maureen and I pushed our jogging strollers and talked, a man driving by stopped to ask us if we heard what just happened.  By the time we made it back to the house and turned on the news the second tower had been hit.  It was impossible to reach anyone by phone...you heard a busy signal as soon as you picked up the receiver of your land line.  Trains stopped coming into our town and eventually we went to the Stamford station to wait for my husband.  I was lucky...I knew my husband was in his midtown office and was safe, but many people were not so lucky.  As we waited standing on the platform, we watched as people poured out of trains.  No one made eye contact, two young men were covered in ash and my first grader had no idea what to make of this....did any of us?  In the days and weeks that followed the attacks it was amazing to see everyone coming together. ...as neighbors, New Yorkers, as people who cared about America.  Everyone displayed an American flag and not just like the 4th of July.  People displayed huge flags on the side of their homes, roof tops, the side of barns...they were everywhere.  Businesses all over NYC and the tri-state area displayed the I heart NY poster designed by Milton Glaser, only he modified it and put a smudge on the heart where the towers once stood and added the words "more than ever." It was in New York Newspapers for weeks and shops and restaurants put the full page sign in their windows. 
We will start our day by attending mass and then spend the day together as a family as we watch the specials on television.

I found this book at a thrift store in Laguna Beach on Thursday.  How could I pass it up?  Both my my kids read it the day I brought it home.  My nephew Ryan took this photo of Engine Co 5 in NYC during his first year at Fordham.  He will be at Ground Zero on 9/11.
We took this photo a year after 9/11.  Empty chairs lined up in Bryant Park facing Ground Zero to represent the lives lost.
New York City Fire Museum one year after the 9/11 attacks.  Madeline, Patrick and our friend Chase were able to meet one of the rescue dogs and his owner.


first day of school . . .

I love this time of year. . . mostly because fall is on its way, but also because I love school supplies.  Remember in the movie "You've Got Mail" when Tom Hanks says to Meg Ryan's character, "If I knew your name and address I would send you a bouquet of sharpened pencils."  I love that!  Every year my daughter and I shop for school clothes, shoes, supplies...we try to engage Patrick in this activity, but clearly it's not for everyone.  It also makes me a little sad because it's all going too fast.  The years I mean... enjoy every day!


old mixed with new + RJ Imports in San Juan Capistrano

RJ Imports has just stocked up and they have so much great stuff I just had to share.  I have my eye on a few things and if this is your style and you live with a hundred miles you may want to check it out.  It's just off the 5 freeway in San Juan Capistrano.
I'm thinking one of these industrial metal cabinets would look great in an all white bathroom or in a guest room for extra linens and towels.
These tables are almost 12 feet long.  In the right house...
I love these huge turquoise display cabinets and can imagine using them in a small store.

Donna at RJ Imports helped me choose this piece.  I purchased it before our house was finished and they kept it for months until we were ready.  I absolutely love it....it is essentially my desk or office.  All of my supplies fit inside and when I'm home working (at the kitchen table) I leave the doors open and it looks great.  The size accommodates everything and I have it organized in a way that basically everything is right where I need it.   office, school, mailing, gift wrap supplies...

This piece is also great for storage.  I have all my table linens and silver in here.

I had been looking for a a square table to fit inside the sectional sofa.  It's difficult to find something that's not modern in a square.  Since the sofa is modern, I really wanted to find something that would soften that modern feel.  This was perfect.