A Taste Treat: Tropical Lemon Bars

When life gives you lemons, make lemon bars!  Usually lemon desserts are not at the top of my must-indulge list.  But today, I felt the need for the sweet, tart gooeyness that only a lemon bar can provide.  I adapted a classic (and easy!) lemon bar recipe to have a tropical twist.
This plate says, "What can you do with a lemon?"
How "parfait" for my new lemon bar recipe! 


The Art of the Cookbook

Always start out with a larger pot 
than what you think you need.” 
― Julia Child

Even as a child, I remember thumbing through the pages of my parents' cookbooks, discovering new dishes and finding foreign ingredients.  Back then, cookbooks seldom looked the way they do now.  No glossy full-page photographs or food stylists or assumption that the reader was a foodie--just the words of the chef, perhaps a drawing or two and the trusted recipe.  


Cocktail du jour: Champagne Cocktail

When I sip these lovely libations, I feel as if I'm whirling around the dance floor at one of Jay Gatsby's West Egg parties.  Even if I'm wearing stretchy pants and sitting on my derriere while indulging in this bubbly treat, I somehow feel instantly more glamourous. 


"Pinkalicious" Raspberry Cupcakes

Yes, yes, I know some of you may say, why are you sharing a recipe that includes boxed cake mix?  Well, I say to you, naysayers, Giada does it!  And if it's good enough for Giada, it's just fine for me. 

Breakfast in Bed: Chocolate-Banana Oatmeal

Sometimes before I go to sleep, I put my hair in a side-braid and pretend that when I wake up, my maid will have brought me tea and eggs in little egg cups and toast all on a tray with white linens.  You know, Downton Abbey style?  But, since I live instead with a harried husband and a precocious two-year-old and alas no lady's maid, I shall look for alternative means of having a delightful breakfast.


Bonjour, again...

"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition." -Martha Washington

Well, it would appear I took a year off!  I didn't really plan to stop writing.  I wasn't in want of recipes to share nor flowers to arrange nor adventures to detail, but I simply lost some steam and became focused on family and work.  And a year passed by in a blink.


Dinner Time: Beef Stew

On a cool February Sunday, homey and satisfying beef stew is the perfect slow-simmering, make-the-house-smell-divine kind of meal to enjoy with your family.  


Dinner Time: Southwest Pulled Chicken

My current favorite sandwich also involves one of the simplest crockpot tricks ever.  Somehow a deceptively easy meal just tastes better than one that required 47 steps and 103 ingredients.  This sweet yet zesty pulled chicken is delicious on a simple bun (if you're a purist), but I take it to the another level of yummy by adding a slightly spicy Southwest slaw.  


Flowers for Friday

Just three delicate pink tulips in a petite Chinoiserie vase delights me so!  Hope your Friday is lovely, dearies! 


Flowers for Friday

If your Valentine didn't bring you the posies you wanted, treat yourself this Friday!  I splurged on fuchsia roses and purple freesia to celebrate another week.


Dinner Time: Spaghetti Carbonara

If I had a little Italian Nonna, I bet she would have made this for me on a chilly Sunday evening.  Spaghetti carbonara is Italian soul food, grandma-style.  It is pasta with a warming hug and a pinch on the cheeks.

With a few pantry staples and fresh bacon and eggs, this simple yet decadent dinner is just a boil, sizzle and whisk away.  In just a few minutes, you'll feel like you've been carried away to a cozy Roman farmhouse.


Cocktail du Jour: Ginger Margarita

I purchased this bottle of ginger liqueur, Domaine de Canton, after admiring its unique orientalist bottle.  I'm sure my husband loves my habit of buying fancy bottles of stuff I've never tasted (the Campari experiment being my worst decision) and taking up precious Bourbon real estate on the bar.  
Not knowing exactly what to make with such an unusual elixir, I searched for ginger-inspired cocktails.  That is how the ginger margarita was born.


Birthday Cake

It seems just about everyone has their own very favorite birthday cake.  Maybe it was the plain old boxed white cake mix your mom made on your special day?  Or perhaps you indulge in German chocolate from your favorite bakery?  In recent years, red velvet has become my signature birthday cake.  It's the one decadent treat I look forward to every January 20th.


Playtime in Paris

One of my favorite design bloggers, the always-talented Gabrielle Blair (aka Design Mom), recently posted a sweet video of her daughter Betty exploring Paris.  Once I saw Betty skipping along the Seine, nibbling on macarons and standing in her best Eiffel Tower pose, I began daydreaming of one day taking my daughter to the city of lights.  I can only imagine how much more wonderful my favorite city becomes when viewed through the curiosity and innocence of children. 


Pretty Monday: Golden Glam

I love an awards show.  The couture gowns, the speeches, and the who's who of Hollywood all together in one ballroom make for a fun night of martini-sipping and vicarious glamour.

Here were my favorite ensembles at last evening's Golden Globes:
Coral mermaid glamour for Jessica Alba


Cocktail du Jour: Hot Bourbon Cider

When the January nights are cold and dark, sometimes a nice toasty and tasty beverage warms the soul.  My husband is a bourbon aficionado so we have an assortment of the Kentucky-born elixir on our bar at any one time.  A variant on the Hot Toddy or Hot Buttered Rum, this decadent cocktail is best sipped by a roaring fire (or in our case, while watching a DVD of a roaring fire).  And, if you need an excuse for consuming this treat, it also is believed to help the common cold.  I shall have one this evening, preventative medicine, you see.  Bottoms up, dearies!


Returning to the Abbey

Ah, alas the time has come for the return of my beloved Downton Abbey.  This evening, the characters so many of us have come to love (and a few to detest among the lot) are brought back to PBS for the U.S. premiere of Season Three.  For me, there are few programs which offer the delightful escapism of Downton Abbey.  


Flowers for Friday

With its soft yellow and pink face, this orchid reminds me of the singing flowers in Alice in Wonderland.  When I pass by the lovely blooms in our entryway, I secretly hope I'll catch them humming along.


A Sweet Treat: Banana Pecan Cake

If you made resolutions that involve any of the following: will power, bikinis, marathons, skinny jeans, salads.  STOP READING NOW!

And for the rest of you, let's eat cake!


Bonne année et bonne santé!

When the French declare "Happy New Year," they often drop the "new" and say instead "good year."  As 2012 was not the finest year on record for my family, I am hoping not just for a "new" year but also for a "good" one.  Wherever you are, whoever is by your side, whatever you sip to ring in 2013, I wish you, as my French friends like to say, a "good year and good health."


Flowers (and vino) for Friday

Santa brought me a very lovely Trader Joe's gift card this year. Rather than stocking up on peanut butter or cereal or some other essentials, I splurged on pink gerber daisies and a bottle of Seismic Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (and it's quite "quaffable" as my dad would say). Thanks, Santa, for indulging me in my favorite Friday treats.  


Breakfast Break: Caramel Apple Oatmeal

Even here in Southern California, the land of perpetual sunshine, it's been quite chilly lately.  When I wake up and see frost on the windows, I need something warm and cozy for breakfast.  My favorite Trader Joe's quick-cook steel cut oats are wonderfully nutty and belly-filling on a cold morning, but during the holidays I like to add an extra decadent touch.  


On Gratitude

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The art of saying "thank you" is vanishing.  Carefully-written letters of gratitude have been subbed for impersonal texts and e-mails.  Sure, we are all rushed, but none of us is truly so busy as to miss an opportunity to let gift-givers know we appreciate them and their thoughtfulness.  


Seasons Greetings!

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, darlings!  
On this Christmas eve, may love surround you, delicious treats be on your table and treasures from Santa beneath your tree.  Hoping the joyous spirit of the holidays remains with you all through 2013.


Flowers for Friday

My friends, here are few festive red tulips to brighten your morning and make your day sparkle. As you spend the day preparing for holiday festivities, don't forget to do something lovely for yourself.  A bunch of flowers will certainly perk up a winter's day!
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