Check out this gorgeous table setting by Suzanne Ascher and Jill Johnson of WaterLeaf Interiors in Manhattan Beach. I particularly love the John Robshaw table cloth and the rustic place setting name tag and chandelier - both of which were crafted from tree twigs. Suzanne and Jill picked those up fron Brenna Berger Paper & Ink.
With springtime around the corner, we all start feeling a little festive. Time to dust off the outdoor pillows, clean the grill and get our melamine plates out. Here are a few planning tips for your first spring fling - ensuring it has that special spark to make it memorable not just for your guests, but for you as well!
Send out amazing, creative invitations. This will give your guests a hint of what is in store and get them excited about attending. Choose colored or square envelopes and have them professionally addressed by hand.
I’ve always been a believer in aspirin for a headache and a good vent session after a breakup. So, I really had to try to have an open mind when interviewing Veronica Ladjili, founder of Ladjili Jewelry—pieces made from gemstones with healing properties.
However, I quickly found being open minded rather easy. It wasn't because golden rays of light burst from a stone the moment I put it on - but rather because of Veronica herself. There's something about knowing that this ultra-sweet and perceptive individual who hugged me upon arrival and offered me tea, actually handmade the necklace that will fall over my heart.
Chocolate was once considered a wicked, guilty pleasure - remember "Death by Chocolate"? But today, chocolate - particularly the darkest types with sky-high cocoa percentages - is beginning to seem more like a health food (high flavanol cocao on aisle 3!). Eating a little bit of chocolate a few times a week can be not only good for the heart but your soul too. The trick is to make the most of that little bit of chocolate, while dialing down the fatty, sugary ingredients chocolate so often it keeps company with.
Forget about the Hallmark card and last minute harried gift search this year! Get down and dirty and cook for your lover! And, we've got the perfect recipe courtesy of Christophe Happillion. He's known around this neck of the woods as the Oyster Gourmet . "The idea beyond cooking or eat oysters for Valentine's Day is that they are sensual and full of mystery. Eating an oyster is a leap of faith into the unknown, like a new relationship." Christophe adds, "They are also widely accepted as an aphrodisiac which can be a good way to spark a conversation and who knows what else for the evening!"
Seedless Kishus from the Churchill Brenneis Orchard
I bought some amazing tangerines at the Ojai Farmers' Market over the weekend. I purchased Seedless Kishus from the Churchill Brenneis Orchard in the Ojai Valley. These small babies, about the size of a Clementine, are tiny flavor bombs. They're also very easy to peel, completely seedless and as one of the Orchard's owners puts it, "children prefer them to candy." I put this glass bowl filled with the tangerines out on the kitchen center island Sunday and by Monday evening there were only four left. My two sons and husband had devoured them. So how can you get your hands on some?
There's nothing like a great caesar salad when you are craving lotsa flavor or serving something spicy like my Tangy Tex Mex Chili. With Super Bowl Sunday coming up, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite recipes. This particular one is terrific for a football gathering because the salad is served in small, toasted bread cups. The cups basically take the place of the croutons and, in doing so, make the salad a finger food hors d'oeuvre. Who really wants to wash dishes after a football bash?
In keeping with the spicy dish theme, the dressing I'm sharing has a delicious kick to it. It's a concoction of my friend Kathy Couturie's. She served it while we were visiting her beautiful historic home in Ojai (the famous Libbey estate) and I ate so much of it, I hardly had room for anything else!
A rose garden overlooking the ocean in La Jolla Farms
If you want to add some rose bushes to your garden, now is the time. You can get dirt cheap bare root roses that, if planted now, will blossom like mad in spring and summer. I know it's hard to believe that these ugly, random looking stalks without a leaf in sight will transform into gorgeous plants in just a few months, but that is indeed what happens.
And, don't be intimidated the the whole bare root thing. They're super easy to plant and most have instructions right on the package. Ask someone at the nursery to help you pick out a good one - typically one that has three thick stalks pointed in different directions. Two things to think about before you check out my favorite rose varieties:
Make sure you have at least 8 hours of full sun - otherwise you will be disappointed with the lack of flowers
Remember when it comes to choosing varieties - heirloom roses are like heirloom tomatoes - you get a fraction of the yield per season - but the few you do get are mind-blowing.
Artisanal Cheese Platter with dried & fresh figs and dried hibiscus flowers
Remember a couple of weeks ago I told the Oprah story - about how I was a Top 20 Finalist for Your OWN Show - the search to discover the next Oprah for her new network? You might remember I took a gorgeous cheese platter to the first day of the audition (pictured above) as one of the shows I was pitching was a TV version of SheSez. Nothin' like struttin' your stuff - right?
The platter is as striking as it is delicious - and best of all super easy to make. That day - the day of the audition - I actually made a "how-to" video tape you can watch below. Can you tell how pumped I was? Whenever I'm nervous I do something kinda funny on camera - I repeat one word over and over. On that day - it was "gorgeous." Hilarious!
I skipped Neiman's First Call this year - and all the other good sales - for that matter. Instead, I decided I was going to cozy up with a good cup of joe and do my end of season sale shopping on-line. I specifically pinpointed the downtime-filled week between Christmas and New Year's and marked my calendar to be seated in front of the computer promptly at 9am - the kick off time for Gilt.com. I was giddy with optimism at the bevy of deals I intended to get. However, each time I hit "buy," I ended up frustrated and ultimately empty handed. Despite my early start time, every item I wanted was already sold out. It happened exactly 5 times during the week (M-F) and each time I hit "buy" no later than 9:05. What was I doing wrong I wondered?