"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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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.

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