Happy Thursday! Inspired by a display I saw this past summer, I put together two simple fall arrangements. Most everything I used I found behind my house, but most floral supply stores will carry everything you’ll need. 

My goodies range from Crepe Myrtle seed pods, to dried grasses, to Esperanza seed pods

My basket of goodies…

I played with each container until I was satisfied with how it looked


Happy Fall!

During this time of year when it’s a bit cold out and I’m not truly able to garden, I feel like I need to do something that feels like I’m in the garden and getting my hands dirty. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to put together a succulent arrangement for dinner tonight. And, if I think it’s going to get truly cold, I can always bring it indoors until it gets a bit warmer.

So, I went to my local garden store and selected these succulents. I love the color and sometimes I think it’s nice just to use one variety.

I just planted them all in and then added gravel on top as a decorative element.



My final cozy meal for the winter is Garbure. It originates from the south west part of France and it’s one of my standby favorites. Don’t let the plain, simple look fool you. This is one that once you’ve made it, you will always crave it.  It’s a very hearty thick soup that gives immense soul soothing flavor.  


1 cup dried white beans such as Great Northern, navy or cannelloni (7oz), picked over and rinsed

1 whole clove

1 medium onion, peeled and left whole

2 1/2 lb smoked ham hocks (or you can use shanks or pork belly)

3 qt water

6 fresh parsley sprigs

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1 fresh thyme sprig

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold (3 to 4 medium)

1 lb cabbage, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups)

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

12 (1/2 inch-thick) slices froma baguette

serves 4 to 6


First I soaked the beans in cold water and covered overnight for 8 hours. Then I drained the beans and placed in the fridge until I was ready to start cooking.

Bring ham hocks and 3 quarts of water to a boil in a wide 6 to 7 quart heavy pot, skimming off any froth, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 hour.  

*It’s optional but I do recommend adding a chicken or duck carcass to the simmering process.  It adds a wonderful flavor dimension. 

Add beans, onion (with clove stuck in it), parsley, bay leaf, thyme and garlic.  Continue simmering uncovered and stirring occasionally, until beans are almost tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

When beans are almost done, peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add potatoes and cabbage to beans then more simmering (uncovered) until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Remove ham hocks. When ham hocks are cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones, then cut meat into bite-size pieces. Stir into soup with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf and onion.

When it comes to the bread, I highly recommend spending the extra effort and grilling.  One of the keys to this recipe is good bread done right.  Generous amount of olive oil, heat up your grill or fire and get a nice crust.  Finish with a little more olive oil and sea salt.  You will thank me later.

To come home to this after a long day of work or school, when you’re cold and ready for warmth is truly one of the best things next to sliced bread. I hope you give it a try.

Confit isn’t readily available for everyone, but if you are lucky to have a good source I’m including a similar recipe where you can add in as the “icing on the cake”.  Click here

Happy Monday!


recipe from Gourmet Magazine


Happy Friday! Today I’m sharing before and after photos of an office makeover for a wonderful client. I’ve been very fortunate to work with this client for over seven years now and I’ve always enjoyed working with her.  Basically, whenever she says, “Can you?”, I always say “yes I can!” This time, she asked if I would be willing to tackle her new office in a high rise building in Long Beach. The building was very nice but the offices were your basic berber carpet and white walls. Because my client is a psychologist, I really wanted to create a warm and serene environment for her, as well as her clients. 

Being a huge art lover, my client came across this beautiful painting (above). So when we met to talk about some of her wishes she showed me this painting and I immediately thought it would be the perfect piece for this space.


We chose (‘Iron Creek’ by Dunn Edwards), and I loved it, but I felt like it needed a little something else. So I decided to add grids (below) and painted them to give the room more dimension and interest.





The only things here is the area rug and my clients custom chair and ottoman.



For some added color for the bookshelf, I put together a faux succulent arrangement. 

Have a great weekend!


If you’re like me and wondering what you should hang on your front door right now, the answer is — a winter wreath! This time of year is always a little bit of a downer as we come off of such a fun holiday season and the decorations start to come down. With a couple more winter months to go, I typically like to leave some lights up, candles lit and a winter wreath on my front door. This has been my way of adding some warmth and comfort to a couple more winters months. To make a winter wreath, you can use things from your garden, as well as store bought flowers and branches. See below.

I started with a wreath template that you can find at your local craft store or floral supply shop.

For my winter wreath, I love to use purples, reds, different shades of green and some gray. Above, I used magnolia leaves, eucalyptus, dried hydrangeas and dusty miller. Since texture is important, I collected seed pods from my crape myrtle trees and tied them in as well. Other plants that would work well are olive branches, loropetalum (chinese fringe flower) and proteas.  They are all such show stoppers.  Side note, these also dry beautifully.

My tools

I bought moss at my local craft store and then soaked it in water so that it’s easier to use. Then I squeezed out all the excess water and let is dry a tad.

I wrapped the entire wreath in moss and then tied it with twine to secure it to the wreath frame.
I started at the bottom and then just worked my way up to the top of the wreath. I started with one foliage and then added another one and just continued to layer them, filling in the holes and covering the moss completely.
I found that I really loved the color of the dusty miller (gray plant), the movement of the eucalyptus and if I’m being honest, the texture of the crape myrtle seed pods warms my heart. 

Finally, I added copper battery operated LED lights which I think finish it off perfectly.

Then . . . enjoy your work. 

To see more of how I put this wreath together, check out my video on Instagram.


I had such fun shopping for flowers and cheese today and decided not to play favorites and selected a cheese from each animal — goat, sheep and cow. My daughter, Ella, helped put together this fun board for tonight’s festivities.

The first one is a Herve Mons 1924 Bleu which is both sheep and cow. Then I got a cow’s milk cheese from Whey Creamery, and a goat cheese, Midnight Moon, from Cypress Grove.

Placed everything on a board with parchment paper

Ella added macadamia nuts and dried figs

We added a Manchego, along with Spanish olives and two different types of fun crackers. 



My next cozy winter dish is Beef Bourguignon from Burgundy, France. This dish has been around since the middle ages and originally was considered a peasant dish (typically my favorite type of dish) because it’s hearty, could feed many and you could use the cheaper cuts of meet.


3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 slices dry cured center cut bacon, cut into small pieces

*3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch chunks (I like to cut them into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes)

coarse salt + freshly ground black pepper

2 large carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks

1 large white onion, sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups red wine (I use almost a bottle. You can use chianti, Pinot Noir or a good red table wine)

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cloves smashed garlic

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 crumbled bay leaf

12 small pearl onions, peeled and halved

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered


Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a dutch oven (or heavy based pot with lid) and simmer bacon until lightly brown. When done, remove and set aside.

Pat dry beef with a paper towel and sear the beef on all sides and set aside with bacon.

Note: This time I seared whole pieces of brisket on the grill to speed up this process and then I cut the brisket into 1 1/2 inch cubes, and it worked out beautifully. Either way will work.

In the same dutch oven that you cooked the bacon (and the beef, if you didn’t use the grill) add your sliced carrots and onions and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain excess fat.

Add the bacon and beef back to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Toss. Sprinkle with flour and toss once more. Add your pearl onions.

Add your beef stock and wine to cover the meat. Add the tomato paste, garlic and thyme. Bring to a light simmer. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.

Note: a lot of recipes have you place it in an oven for part of the cooking but I prefer to just cook it on the stove for a very long time. Traditionally, this dish cooked for 2 days. 

In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add your butter to a sauté pan and then your mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir to make sure all the mushrooms get coated with the butter.

Once stew is done add your sautéed mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes to combine. 

Garnish with parsley and serve with mashed potatoes or bread. I like to grill my bread, but any fresh tasty bread would work beautifully.

Every French chef has their variation on this classic French dish. Mine is a version of Julia Child’s but Ina Garten and Anthony Bourdain also have great versions. This dish is delicious when done, but even better the next day.




I love this time of year, especially when it comes to cooking something warm and cozy. Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing my top three cozy winter recipes. Today, it’s one of my favorite go-to meals for this time of year, Braised Chicken.

This is a perfect dish to make ahead of time because it reheats beautifully. Plus, it makes your home smell incredibly good.



(recipe is from Everyday Food)

8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (I use ones with skin on as well)

course salt and ground pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound small shallots (peeled and halved)

5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

1/2 cup dry white wine (I use a full cup)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I just leave mine whole)

Fresh tarragon leaves for garnish


Add your oil to the pot and place on medium high

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Cook on both sides until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

You may have to cook the chicken in batches so not to crowd. When all the chicken is done, set aside.

Add the shallots and garlic; cook stirring occasionally until slightly softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine until evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in dijon mustard and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil.

Add the chicken back in, bone side down. Turn heat down to a simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken and add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook on high until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Return chicken to pot and reheat if necessary. Garnish with tarragon, if desired, and serve.

I love to serve it with really good bread, it helps soak up all the delicious juices, however, my husband loves it served with warm mashed potatoes.

Happy Tuesday!




Happy Wednesday! I’m sharing some before and after images of a master bedroom of a wonderful client. I’ve been working with this client for over five years, and in that time we’ve tackled the exterior, the interior, and all the bedrooms in the home.

This client is an avid art collector, and found a painting from a local artist in Laguna Beach. It was this painting that would dictate the tone for the rest of the master bedroom space. I fell in love with the colors the artist used, and the feeling of serenity was perfect for over the bed.

Since the palette of the painting was neutral and earthy, I used creamy whites and beiges. I added brass elements to keep it modern, and because my client really loves deep colors, we decided to do beautiful burgundy, velvet drapery.

I wanted to bring organic elements into the room, so we used natural toned, roman shades to filter the light nicely. We also chose sustainable organic linens for the bed, used a soft rug, and added a wooden planter and greenery throughout. I included some smaller images below to show the accessories we used.

The main goal was to create a retreat to contrast how busy life can be. And I’m happy to say, I think we achieved it! It’s always a pleasure to work with people who are so open to creativity.




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