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


jane, flowers, thrifting & glassybaby

 Jane at SmallButCharming hosts these wonderful Flowers in the House parties.  I always love to see what Jane has around her charming abode.  Jane is in the business of flowers, so it's always very creative and wonderful.  It's also fun to get a peek into others' homes as well.  Go check it out here.
As if I need any further convincing...I continue to use my chalkboard as a backdrop because I love the color and how colors look against it.  I'm planning to paint a few rooms in our new (old, circa 1900) house in this color and maybe one quite a bit darker.  The flowers are actually left over from Valentine's Day.  The tulips are long gone, but these little guys continue to make me happy.  I gathered my collection of books (mostly from Madeline's book shelves) and my amber bottles thrifted at my favorite flea market.  Still adore my glassybaby in the color BFF.


leftovers + an easy frittata

It seems I always make too many potatoes...and when I do I usually find a way to use them.  Part of it is that I am becoming very frugal and another part is that I really hate to throw away food.  It just feels wrong on every level.  This time I made a frittata-- it's so easy and I usually have everything on hand.  I did have to buy the fresh basil because even in Southern California, I can't grow basil in the winter.
 I started with leftover potatoes and cut them into 1/2" dice and sauteed them for a few minutes in a little olive oil.  You could use fresh potatoes and just saute them a little longer, until soft.  Season with salt & pepper.  Then mix 8 eggs, about 5 tablespoons of melted butter, 15 oz container ricotta cheese, 12 oz Gruyere cheese, 1/3 cup flour and 3/4 teaspoon baking powder.  Mix in the chopped fresh basil and pour mixture over the potatoes in the omelet pan.  Pop it into a 350º oven and bake for about an hour. 
The only thing time consuming about a frittata is that it needs to bake for close to an hour.  
Recipe adapted from:  Ina Garten's Potato Basil Frittata



The California state flower is the Golden Poppy.  It seems to be everywhere right now...along freeways, medians and another variety that comes in vibrant hues of orange, pink and yellow is appearing in gardens too.  The poppy looks so fragile, but the petals close at night and against the wind.  Only when the sun appears does it open and show its beauty.  I only have a few from seeds in my garden, but I couldn't help but bring a few inside.
 I love how the flowers in old amber bottles look against the gray chalkboard.  I'm starting to plan and envision what my Connecticut house might look like.  Of course I've seen photos inside and out, but I'm imagining our furniture arranged in rooms and of course what color to paint the walls.  With the help of Pinterest and my board titled "B L A C K" Ive been able to convince my husband that we should have a few of the rooms painted black.   We experimented with a little black paint in our California house here and here loved the results.
What do you think of black rooms?  Love it, hate it?  


Ocean Avenue + Laguna Beach

Ocean Avenue is straight up from the lifeguard tower at Main Beach in Laguna.  There are lots of galleries, restaurants and a few of my favorite shops in all of Southern California.  I drive through Laguna Beach everyday and now that we are moving back to the east coast, I am beginning to appreciate what I am probably going to miss once we are gone.  A friend and I came across this little shop and everything about it is charming.  It's called Hillary, after the owner's 11 year old daughter.
Wendy, the owner asked that I not photograph the sign because she is redesigning the logo.  I have a feeling it's going to be wonderful as she has an exquisite eye.  The large art work above is actually a photocopy of an Hermes scarf.  I would never have noticed that it wasn't the "real" thing.  
This little children's shop has mostly French labels.  The fabrics feel wonderful and everything kind of goes together.  Apparently Hillary is fearless when it comes to fashion and loves to mix and match her wardrobe.  The stores fixtures are a mix of vintage, industrial and Ikea.  
Talking to Wendy about her shop is like talking to an old friend.  My kids are too old to shop here, but it is such a lovely shop and I enjoyed my visit.  It's at 374 Ocean Avenue, Laguna Beach.


Leek, Onion and Potato Soup + Delia Smith

This week we are up to #35 of Gourmet's List of 50 Women Game Changers.  Mary from One Perfect Bite started a group of bloggers to post recipes each Friday and this week we are featuring Delia Smith.  Delia is Britain's top selling cookbook author and television host.  I have to admit that I was unaware of her which is one of the reasons I'm so glad that I joined this group.  I've learned a lot.
I chose to make this recipe because every time I went to her site for recipes (and there are many) this one somehow came up.  Today I looked under What Should you be cooking this month? and this one appeared.  Once I made a trip to the market and started chopping, it came together very quickly.  It needs to cook for 15 minutes and then an additional 20 after you add the milk and chicken broth.  
 The vegetables become very soft and it was quite easy to use my immersion blender to get it to a very smooth consistency.  Adding the creme fraiche and fresh chives...delicious.  Easy, inexpensive...I will be looking for more recipes of Delia Smith's.  Have you tried any? 


dinner + Valentine's Day

It may be Valentine's day, but it's still a school night, so we are making a dinner that everyone loves and ending the meal with creme brulee and a few little presents. 
More chalk board paint and my new tablecloth purchased from Uber Chic Home last month at the Long Beach Flea Market.
Madeline's gift is a book that I saw here.  I was so taken with this book that I ordered it right away and I just knew it was perfect for Madeline.  Hope you had a great evening.

linking up with:  Saved by Suzy 

heart day

 Zinc Cafe is a charming cafe in the heart of Laguna Beach.  I usually just have coffee, but the food is fabulous too.  They have the most wonderful selection of books and gifts.  There are three Zinc Cafe locations,  but the one on Ocean Avenue in Laguna is right on my way.  Happy Valentine's Day!


working lunch

Last week a group of us got together to assemble invitations for a fundraising event and I offered to bring the lunch.  I made Ina's Chicken Salad Veronique and Parmesan Popovers that are so easy to make. 
All of the ingredients for these popovers goes into a blender which makes it very easy to pour into mini muffin tins.  While my popovers baked I loaded the chicken salad and arugula, jar of roasted walnuts into my largest boat bag lined with clean dish towels.
and there was enough to save a little for lunch over the weekend.  Our Southern California weather has been summer like so we moved the table out of the sun and dined outside. 


Sending love & chocolate for . . .

I have a few friends that throughout the year we surprise each other with little gifts.  This time I'm sending them a box with a few things I'm loving right now.
At Christmas, my sister included a box of Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea.  It's the best tea I've had in a long time.  The only place that I can find that has this exact flavor is Whole Foods.  And they also happen to have this candy bar....almonds, sea salt and dark chocolate.  I try to make the bar last the entire week...or sometimes I just eat the entire bar on my way home from the market...there are those days.
I also included a little package of shortbread cookies with a lemon glaze.  These are my sons favorite cookies.  Here's the recipe:
 Lorna's Shortbread Cookies
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
Mix butter, sugar and vanilla until combined.  Add flour and mix together.  On plastic wrap, form dough into rectangles and square the edges.  It makes 3 to 4 rectangle logs.  Refrigerate for an hour or over night and slice while still cold about 1/4 inch thick and bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 10 minutes in a 350º oven.
For the glaze, add a scoop of confectioner's sugar and a little fresh lemon juice.  Whisk together adding a little water if necessary until it is very thin.  Spoon the glaze over the cookies on a cooling rack over parchment or wax paper to collect the glaze that runs off.

I wrapped the chocolate using white paper and twine and then made little tags on card stock.  I used a red paper reinforcement and attached it to the knotted twine with a mini clothespin from the Advent Calendar project.  Since we are moving in June...I am trying hard not to buy anything.
I used supplies that I've had for years.  I tied the boxes of tea with strips of red and white gingham fabric.  Out and about in Laguna Beach this week we came across the most beautiful children's shop. The entire shop is wonderfully decorated and they had these little necklaces that had a few charms on a piece of red window pane fabric.  I don't have children young enough for this shop, but it was worth a visit just to see how the owner displayed things, worked with the space to make it a very charming shop called Hillary.
Now that these packages are in the mail I can concentrate on those living under my roof.  Growing up my mom celebrated every holiday with a special meal, beautifully wrapped presents and always an amazing dessert.  At Valentine's Day that would most likely mean a homemade red velvet cake. I had better get going...



Another beautiful day in Southern California.  On Saturday we had lunch at the most wonderful brasserie in West LA.  Little Next Door is in the West Third Street district of Los Angeles.  We were headed to LACMA and wanted to try something new for lunch in the area. 
 Both inside and outside seating areas were very charming.  The service was excellent.  On the weekends they serve a brunch menu all day, but they also served lunch items.
Madeline chose the French Onion Soup and I had a wonderful salad with a citrus dressing, a trio of beets and a goat cheese medallion.
They are known for their pastries, colorful macarons and freshly made organic bread.  Someone seated next to us flagged down the waiter to ask him to be sure to save a croissant for him.
This charming little place seemed to be filled with regulars, but even with people waiting on the sidewalk for a table, they gave us our check and the waiter said, "This is just for your convenience, no rush."
Madeline ordered the pot de creme for dessert...we loved the presentation and it was so delicious.  If we closed our eyes...we could have been in Paris.  As much as I love to try new restaurants...we will be going back to the Little Next Door.  Next up...LACMA.  A trip that should take three minutes, but this is LA, so it's more like 20. 
As we waited in the queue to buy our tickets, a woman walked over from the information table and asked Madeline if she was under 18.  We found out that children have a free pass to LACMA until their 18th birthday and each child with a pass can bring a parent.  We signed Patrick up as well and will return to see a couple of the exhibits.  Metropolis II just opened January 14th.
I love the outside area, especially on a day like today.
It was an unusually clear day in LA.  As we were driving on the 10 freeway we could even see the Hollywood sign. 


Warm Salad of Radicchio & White Beans, #33 on Gourmet's List of 50 Women Game Changers: Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer

 Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer are #33 on Gourmet's List of 50 Women Game Changers.  Gourmet calls them food royalty.  Hirsheimer co-founded Saveur and Hamilton ran the test kitchen at Saveur.  Mary of One Perfect Bite has organized a group of bloggers to cook and post their way through the list. 
Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer are also known for their collection of Canal House Cookbooks.  I must admit I knew nothing about these two women until I learned of Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changer.  I chose to make a dish from their most recent book, Volume No 7 because as soon as I opened the book I was hooked.  I first read a review of the book on Amazon and knew I needed to get my hands on this book.  It's a beautiful  book with thick paper, gorgeous photos and it reads like a novel...just like the reviewer said.
I chose the recipe that I did because of the way they described their very special bottle of acet balsamico tradizionale.  My bottle does not nearly have the price tag, but it is quite good. 
Many of the recipes are very simple.  Like the warm salad of radiccho and white beans.  For this recipe you use 1/2 cup of good olive oil, add 1 or two thinly sliced garlic cloves, 4 chopped anchovy filets.  You heat over medium until it becomes fragrant, about a minute.  Then add the leaves of the quartered and rinsed radicchio and cook for a few minutes.  Add 2 cups of cooked white beans and a spoonful of the liquid.  Season with salt and pepper, stirring gently until the beans are warm and the radicchio is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes.  Serve with a drizzle more of good olive oil and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar to each serving.  When I first tried it I forgot to add the balsamic...once I added a few drops to my serving...it was pretty amazing.  For more recipes from these women check out these blogs: