"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Yum!: Sweet Rose Creamery

On my recent field trip to the Brentwood Country Mart I stopped in at the Sweet Rose Creamery to try for myself what the Los Angeles Times calls, "A taste of heaven".

As many of you know, most of my calcium intake is directly linked to ice cream consumption -which obviously puts ice cream into the health food category. I think the folks at Sweet Rose Creamery agree.

Created on site in small batches, Sweet Rose ice cream is made from locally sourced organic milk and cream, as well as organic eggs and sugar.

All of the toppings and sauces are made fresh in the store daily -and as you can see from the photo above, whipped cream topping is mixed up fresh before your eyes....mmmmmm. If you're gonna go for it, go for it.

Owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, who also own Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen, as well as the scrumptious Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe in Los Angeles brought in friend and  fellow Tartine alum Shiho Yoshikawa from San Francisco to be the Ice Cream Chef. Brilliant plan. Shiho rocks it.

Classic flavors include:old fashioned vanilla, salted carmel, fresh mint with homemade chocolate chips, verve coffee and chocolate.

For December, Sweet Rose is featuring: eggnog, rum raisin, malted chocolate with hazlenut praline, quince, roasted beet (maybe you have to try this one to fully appreciate it?), cranberry compote with salty pistachio, orange sherbet, pomegranate frozen yogurt, yuzu-lemon sorbet, and pear-ginger granite

In addition to sophisticated scoops, the shop also offers sundaes, milkshakes, frozen novelties, ice cream pies and most recently, sliders: made with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon sauce and crispy bacon and sandwiched between fresh Milo and Olive brioche buns.

A brand new take on the ice cream sandwich!
Who's in? 

Slider photo courtesy of Sweet Rose Creamery.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shopping Celebrity Style: Brentwood Country Mart

A cross between L.A.'s  Original Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax and a pricey, upscale shopping center, the Brentwood Country Mart offers the kind of down home style one might find at Ralph Lauren's ranch in Colorado or Martha Stewart's Turkey Hill "farm"-which is to say, this is country done Hollywood style.

Sure, the whole shebang is housed within a big red barn, but we are definitely not in Kansas anymore. This is not necessarily a negative -I happen to prefer the idealized, fantasy of "country life" to the real thing. Let's just say it's more of a warning to wayward farmers who may be tempted to show up with Wranglers, roping boots and a can of chew. This here is celeb country. Hang up the reins and take the Porsche, or hybrid as the case may be...

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were spotted shopping here just last week, and one Yelp reviewer says she has never visited the Country Mart without running into an A,B or C-lister. On my visit, however, since I require business cards, signed headshots and flashing arrows to spot celebrities, I didn't even attempt to go paparazzi. 

Instead, I played to my strengths, namely food and shopping.

We got there early and by doing so were able to score a parking spot in the itty-bitty lot. YeeHaw!

Floral shop, Botany, and independent bookstore Diesel Books were two of my fave finds!

The Country Mart's al fresco food court features local legends, Reddi Chick, Barney's Burgers, Caffe Luxxe, and Frida Taqueria. It's a no-frills, picnic table and umbrella space with a fire pit and plastic trays. 

 Sugar Paper is an absolutely wonderful stationary store chock-full of clever paper goods and decor. I spent a few minutes browsing a book on Emily Posts manners for teens...before making a gaffe of my own.

 Turns out, my large tote bag wasn't a good idea in a small shop decked out with darling little table displays....let's just say they were very gracious about the whole thing and assured me I can come back any time...

Toy Crazy was another stellar shop with a plethora of playthings to keep kids of all ages browsing happily. While I was there, one little guy was absolutely desperate for a very large, garbage truck complete with cool lights and working parts. I for one, hope Santa heard him!

The Country Mart had a truly local vibe and is clearly the kind of neighborhood hang out everyone wishes they had in their own neck of the woods. Complete with a barber shop, shoe repair, ice cream store, post office, clothing boutiques, eateries and gifts galore, the small quaint center is a throwback to Main Streets of days gone by. A place to cross off several errands at once and run into friends as well.

For the rest of us, the Country Mart offers a great little field trip and presents a fun spot for lunch, shopping and people watching. Wear dark glasses, and you may want to rethink the tote bag...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shop: Fab

You've got to love a company with the slogan:
 "Smile, you're designed to".

Launched in 2011 as an online flash-sale site, Fab sells home decor, apparel, art, furnishings, gifts, bedding, and accessories that range in style from fun, fashionable and tasteful to cute, quirky and downright questionable.

Case in point: The Slanket? (A blanket with sleeves. Duh.); T-shirts by DPCTED that read: I would cuddle you so hard; and a cheeky flask from Liquid Courage that encourages: Drink like a honey badger
  What makes this site especially entertaining (and admittedly addicting) is the fact there is serious style amidst the silly -which makes browsing the site both fun and fulfilling.

Better still, you don't have to throw down in the parking lot for the last compact space, and there's no waiting in line. Happy shopping.

  Teddy bear lamp by SUCK UK, and fish-shaped pitchers by Gurgle Pots designed to gurgle while you pour.

Albert II Table in rustic oak by Elegant Home. 

Bowl art by Retro Roadside; and parisian-inspired photography from fellow blogger and inspiration, Nichole Robertson. Check out her blog, Little Brown Pen, it simply rocks.

Below, the 50's Chair Suzani in silk pink and the Vera Chair Suzani in dark gray. Silhouette tree wall decal by Lot 26 Studio. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Barefoot Pilgrimage: Me & Ina

About a week ago, just prior to Thanksgiving, I gathered at the South Coast Plaza shopping center in Orange County, California with a couple thousand of Ina Garten's closest friends to celebrate her latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Foolproof: recipes you can trust. It wasn't my first time at the recipe rodeo, so I expected the throngs of loyal fans, and managed to score a relatively reasonable spot in line -without getting there at the crack of dawn.

Thoughtfully recognizing my peeps and I would be getting hungry with all that standing around and waiting, the event organizers, upscale purveyors of kitchen and home goods, Williams-Sonoma plied us with trays of treats using recipes from the new cookbook. We tasted the Raspberry Crumble Bars and the Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta. Very clever crowd control... 
Holiday decorations were already decking the halls to get us in the gift giving mood...rather effective I might add...

After all that time waiting in line, you'd think I would have come up with something sparkling and clever to say to my new best friend to cement our exciting new relationship. Unfortunately, that was not the case and I think I mumbled something rather unintelligible...still at one point, our eyes locked and we had sort of moment...

Aside from the gorgeous photos and absolutely delish recipes (using easy-to-find, accessible ingredients), another thing I love about Barefoot Contessa cookbooks is the way they are written.

In addition to recipes, Foolproof offers practical ideas for stocking pantrys and grocery shopping as well as party planning, cooking tips and even table decor.

One idea: using non-skid rug mats beneath table clothes to avoid slippage! Aha!

"But the best news," writes Ina, "is that I've made all of these recipes dozens of times before. I've highlighted all the speed bumps and the blind spots along the way so you can make the adjustments you need to make as you go along. That way, you can get the recipes right not just the first time but every time you make them." 

That's my girl.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanks Giving!

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence." – comedienne, Erma Bombeck
This year, AAA expects 43 million Americans to board trains, planes and automobiles and take part in our national Thanksgiving pilgrimage. Count four McCarthys in as well.

Today, we're driving to my sister's house and bringing a couple of pies and a bottle of wine. Talk about getting off easy. Schwing!

I am grateful for Debbie & Joe!

...And also for funny movies, good books, sunflowers, friends who are like family, healthy kids, jokes I can remember, those free little bottles of shampoo and conditioner in hotels, sugar cookies, dogs (especially Daisy), the smell of coconut-scented sunscreen, margaritas, steel drums, toothpaste that whitens, electricity, kindness, views that take your breath away, kayaks, inspiring quotes, my 9 sisters (really!), music, indoor plumbing, good hair days, Space Mountain, warm sand, sunsets, happy endings, sunrises (I hear they're beautiful...), salted carmel, every single reader who visits my blog!, gifted teachers, those times when I'm so happy I tear up, clever/thoughtful/beautiful design, the smell of something baking, my husband (honey, these things aren't in order...you really do rate above Space Mountain and toothpaste...), my bike the "Gypsy", glitter, Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, the fact that I was born in a country where girls attend school, for the possibilities born of faith, art, work, imagination, nice restaurants and the fact I've been in a few, my parents, sailboats, new friends, friends who have known me since I used to perm my hair and liked me anyway, for grace and hope, for my new lampshade, yoga, my two boys who inspire me every day, and the fact I don't ever have to take another math class again -ever.

I could go on...I haven't even begun to list sale items, clothes that visually take off ten pounds, black dresses, feeling loved, people who have bought my artwork, and cute swimsuit coverups...
What are you grateful for today -everyday? (Tell me in the comment section below! Listapalooza!)

No wonder we fly and drive, stand in long grocery lines, drive home, realize we forgot something and drive back again. We have so much to celebrate. To remember. To commemorate. To toast.


Here's a quote that also makes a wonderful (and by that I mean brief and meaningful) toast. So, to you, my friends and far-flung family, I raise a virtual glass of really fabulous, expensive virtual wine -and invite you to do the same.
"May you live all the years of your life." – Jonathan Swift

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Runner Up: Cake Vintage Kitchen Papers

Last weekend while doing a little mall reconnaissance at West Elm I discovered a clever table runner from Cake Vintage Kitchen Papers. Sold on a bolt, similar to buying wrapping paper on a roll, the brown Kraft paper runner measures 20"w x 50 ft. long and features oversized printed silverware. It was love at first sight. Enough paper for a large table and the kids table too!

 Cake Paper, Runner, 20

The whimsical paper line is created by husband and wife team, Angie and Robbie Cook, out of Nashville, TN, and features placemats, notepads, serving paper (think cheese!), rosette coasters and more. 

I priced the table runner in the store around $35, but have noticed it is now on sale online for $27 and shipping is free. My daily tip for loyal blog readers! 

Simple. Fun. Fresh...and no ironing required!

 Cake Paper Blueprint Placemat, Kraft
Photography courtesy of West Elm. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Farmers Market L.A.: Foodapalooza American Style

The Original Farmers Market sits at the corner of 3rd & Fairfax in Los Angeles, next to CBS Studios and The Grove , a swanky star-studded shopping mall.

 It's a great place to take out of town guests looking for a taste (both literally and figuratively) of what it's like to live in L.A. : The city of angels and agents, surfers and celebs, and people from just about every walk of life you can imagine. The people watching alone is worth the trip.

Seventy-eight years ago, however, it was cows, not celebrities who populated the property, because 3rd and Fairfax was home to the "Gilmore Island" dairy farm.  Back then, farmers paid fifty cents each to park their trucks on the property and sell fresh produce. The idea was such a hit, permanent stalls were erected and Los Angeles' Original Farmers Market made its debut.

Today, some of those same stalls still exist. 

Blanche Magee, for instance, was among the first to realize that the farmers who gathered to sell the fruits of their labor might be hungry themselves  -she packed up a hamper full of sandwiches and started selling. Magee's Kitchen at the Farmers Market is still owned and operated by the Magee family today.  

Similarly, Du-Par's has been serving up family friendly fare and pie at the Market since 1938. The restaurant remains open its flagship location 24-hours a day. Du-Par's is legendary for selling the finest pot pies on earth, and at Thanksgiving makes thousands of pot pies to go.

Actor, James Dean is believed to have eaten breakfast at Farmers Market on September, 30, 1955 the day he drove north and died in the fateful crash.

 Farmers Market has been described by the Los Angeles Times as the, "Number one place in L.A. to spot stars."

Although the market hosts its share Hollywood A-B-and-C listers, the location is a celebrity in its own right as well -it has set the scene for Diagnosis Murder, Stigmata, T-Men and more.

 Farmers Market serves more than 3 million people in a year. That's a lot of doughnuts...

On an average day, employees throughout the market may use at least 20 different languages to serve their customers.

Isn't it funny how food can transcend so much. Turns out, we all like ice cream. One small scoop towards world peace.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Window Shopping: Anthropologie

Yesterday I had a chance to window shop at The Grove in Los Angeles, and as usual, Anthropologie was my first stop.

Although in our house, we still have a pumpkin on the porch and a long way to go to finish up the Halloween candy, it seems retailers have already banished the goblins and are moving right on to the holidays...

It seems a bit early for this shopper, but I have to admit, I was definitely making mental notes.
Here's what I found most delightful:

Super centerpiece! A peacock made entirely of plates and saucers! Finally something to do with those chipped dishes. Pinterest worthy?

I'm never one to  shy away from color and pattern, and thankfully, neither are the fine folks at Anthropologie! Those mugs are calling my name!

On another note, the owl trend shows no signs of slowing down! Owls are simply: everywhere!
I like them, but the overwhelming popularity of owls has me a bit puzzled. Maybe it's just me, but I'm ready to move on. Here it is only Monday, and I'm harshing on owls...What about you? Do you give a hoot or not? 

Holiday dressing: Sparkly is in!

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening (yet)?

The cozy season.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Halloween Home: Pumpkin Hollow

Last year, when I was out trick-or-treating with the kids I noticed one neighbor who had carved her pumpkins into little houses. It was love at first sight!


Since I've never been big on celebrating the scary side of this haunted holiday, I couldn't wait to try my hand at Cinderella-inspired architecture. Admittedly, guilty of cute, but predictable pumpkins for years, the pumpkin pied-a-terre was a wonderful way to change up my routine. 

The resulting, countrified condo glows from within with a soft warmth that reminds me of Mousekin's Golden House, a classic children's book I read to my kids when they were little. The story weaves the tale of a small mouse who finds a discarded Halloween pumpkin and makes it his home. When winter comes, the pumpkin protects him from the wind and cold and keeps him safe and warm inside.

Today, as I write this, Hurricane Sandy threatens millions of people and their homes on the East Coast, and my thoughts and prayers are with them all.   

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