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


there is beauty all around us . . .

All week I've been thinking about flowers...well to be more specific, I've had Jane's Flower Party on my mind, but for whatever reason I could not come up with anything until today.  You see Jane has lilacs, hellebore, cherry blossoms, Korean spice viburnum and a gorgeous white camellia in full bloom.  
I'm not even sure what these little flowers or the bush is called, but it is growing through the fence from my neighbors yard and anything that's on my side I consider fair game.  I'm only hoping that our new (112 year old house) in Connecticut is filled with surprises in the yard.  I can hardly wait to dig in the dirt and see what we have.  Moving date is around July 1 and the packing has begun!  Remember to check out Jane's party...it's always fun to see what everyone has blooming.
 Oh and speaking of blooming...as I turned the corner on my way down to the sand I couldn't believe how the hillside was bursting with color.  I know it's just ground cover to keep the slope from ending up on the beach, but it's so beautiful this time of the year.   Hope you enjoy your weekend and have the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers.


salads + spring

Ever since I saw this post on "Spring Cleaning your diet" at The Gardener's Cottage I have been eating salads every day.  There are so many great things to make a salad interesting.  I love beets, but red beets are pretty messy.  I was so happy to find golden beets at Whole Foods this week. 
I roasted the beets in a little olive oil wrapped in foil individually for close to an our in a 425° oven, I let them cool for about ten minutes and peeled them.  I sliced them for the tart and cubed them for the salad.  For the dressing I whisked a little olive oil, champagne vinegar and Dijon mustard and tossed it with mixed baby greens, beets and avocado.  The tart is just a little puff pastry with a shallot sauteed in olive oil and a splash of wine, spread it over the pastry, layer the golden beets, add a little goat cheese, or not and bake for about 25 minutes at 375°.  I topped it with micro greens from Trader Joe's. Yum.


s p r i n g

There is a definite feeling of Spring in the air... in Southern California it's cool and breezy.  Spring makes me think I need to eat more salads and less pasta.  Last week I went to lunch with a friend at Haute Cakes in Newport Beach and had a wonderful salad.  I tried my best to recreate it from what I could remember.  They do not have their menu online.
 I used baby lettuces, butter lettuce, avocado, dates, roasted mini heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese and pine nuts.  The dressing...a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard.  I could eat this everyday.
I am still experimenting with my chalkboard.  I haven't quite figured out which rooms I'll paint black or dark gray, but I do love just about any color against the gray.  I like when dark painted rooms also have window trim that is painted in the dark color as well.   Check it out on my pinterest board titled BLACK.
 What I love about blogging is that you meet a lot of really nice people.  Tomorrow I am meeting up with Mary Ann of Classic Casual Home to talk a little shop...(I still can't figure out why emails are not sent out when I have a new post)...so maybe we'll figure that out while we catch up.  On Monday I received a beautifully wrapped package from a blogger--Lynne of  Dream on 34th Street.  I won a pair of Eiffel Tower scissors and the package that arrived had all sorts of fun things in it. 
 I'll be using a few of these lovely items when I wrap up the little twig bird I chose for Mary Ann.  Fresh flowers were out of the question as a hostess gift because she travels a lot.   This little guy will wait for her return and won't make a mess while she's away.  I found him at Camps and Cottages in Laguna Beach.  The owner,  Molly Hyde English was in the shop today.  She has two books out and her lovely shop is filled with old original paintings, slip covered furniture, Pendleton blankets and all kinds of wonderful things old and new for a cottage or bungalow.  Her latest book, Vintage Cottages just came out in  paperback.
 Happy 1st day of Spring!
linking to:  Imparting Grace


a touch of green

 I try to make every holiday memorable with a special meal, a few decorations, but I always use what I have in my pantry or stored away.  I've never used these Jonathon Adler pillow covers, but my black, white and green theme seemed perfect for the occasion.  We bought them years ago at a JA warehouse sale in SoHo that we just stumbled upon.  They were $5 for a pair...oh why didn't I buy several?
The ribbon is from my stash of about six spools I ordered years ago....I never seem to run out.  I love how it looks tied around white pressed napkins.  They look like a shirt and tie.  The boxwood is cuttings from our yard.  It lasts forever even when I forget to add water.
The only items I purchased besides the daffodils at Trader Joe's were the little green glasses from Ikea, $.149 each and the candle.  I'm serving Shepherd's Pie and soda bread with Irish Butter.  I'm not sure what makes butter Irish?
 And for dessert...creme brulee.  Absolutely nothing about creme brulee is Irish, except the flags I made, but my husband has been in NY all week and he likes it!
                                                                 Happy St. Patrick's Day!

linking to:  The tablescaper


Ina Garten is #39 on Gourmet's List of 50 Women Game-Changers in Food.   Since receiving her very first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, in 1999 and reading it cover to cover I have been a huge fan of Ina.  She is everything I embrace about cooking and entertaining.  I make so many of Ina's dishes every week that I had a difficult time choosing a recipe.
photo:  Food Network
What I like about Ina's recipes is that often I can come up with something wonderful to make without even making a trip to the market.  From Ina I've learned what to keep in my pantry and refrigerator so that I'm always prepared.  She makes everything beautiful, but not complicated.  That's what I love.  I designed my kitchen, on smaller scale after her barn kitchen.  I loved the symmetry, the black, white and natural palette and the open shelving.  The recipe I chose to highlight is one that I made last Saturday for lunch.  It was one we had never made before, but as we were flipping through Ina's cookbooks, we came across this recipe for Chive Risotto Cakes.  Delicious, easy...it did not disappoint.
With simple ingredients like arborio rice, panko bread crumbs, eggs, Greek yogurt, fontina cheese and fresh chives which I grow year round...Chive Risotto Cakes made for the perfect weekend lunch with a simple green salad.
Mary from One Prefect Bite started this project and I found out about it from Sue of The View From Great Island.  The following bloggers post recipes and stories every Friday.  Check out what they've featured for Ina Garten. 

                                                           Joanne - Eats Well With Others
                                                           Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
                                                           Susan - The Spice Garden
                                                           Heather - girlichef
                                                           Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney
                                                           Mary - One Perfect Bite
                                                           Barbara - Movable Feasts
                                                           Jeanette - Healthy Living
                                                           Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
                                                           Linda A - There and Back Again
                                                           Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits,
                                                           Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
                                                           Nancy - Picadillo
                                                           Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook
                                                           Kathy- Bake Away With Me 
                                                           AlyceMore Time at the Table
Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades