Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

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.

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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. 


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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.



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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!




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Realizing we’re all living some crazy busy lives these days, I love sharing ideas on ways to simplify our lives while making them as enjoyable and beautiful as possible. Therefore, today I’m sharing a very simple way to put together a holiday wreath. Did I mention is was simple?

I found this wreath for about $15.00 dollars at my local craft store.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been obsessed with this gold/rust color that you see on the berries above. It was actually these gold berries which inspired me to put this wreath together.
I decided to go with three different variety of embellishments for my wreath but you could get crazy and do tons more — whatever makes you happy.
I started with the berries because they will dictate where everything else will go.
I started by adding them in the middle of the wreath on both sides. Working my way down and layering them as I go, my goal was to meet at the bottom while still leaving a little room for the pinecones.
Next, I added these little pinecones, with the goal of creating a small cluster at the bottom of the wreath.
Then, I added these two embellishments for more greenery.
Just add them above the berries on either side of the wreath.
And her she is! From start to finish it took me about 20 minutes. You could always add a beautiful ribbon at the bottom if you’d like.
Note: You may need some floral wire to attach everything securely.


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Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I’m excited about this time of year because it means more outdoor dining. Yay! I’ve been gathering images of inspirational interiors and beautiful gardens to share with you. I’ve been working on some renovation projects in California and in Texas and I’m looking forward to sharing those as well. Hope to see you back soon. Cheers!

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from my home to yours…

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and prosperous New Year!


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I absolutely love the holidays, and today I’m sharing how to put together a very easy and elegant holiday table. First, I throw out all the rules. If you don’t want to get bogged down with the formalities keep reading. This is the perfect foundation table for any occasion. You can make it more or less formal. It’s totally up to you. Below are my basics.


Very basic for some, table setting 101 includes placemat, plate, napkin, done.

placemat // plate // napkin

 For a more formal look, you can add a beautiful tablecloth, formal charger and napkin ring.


Candles are the best way to bring elegance to the table. For this table setting, I kept it extremely simple. I purchased a wreath at World Market, and added three pillars in various sizes in the center. The addition of a charger underneath helps protect the table from dripping wax.

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From this table setting you can add more or less. More candles, more vases with flowers or greenery. For Christmas, I like to add a fresh sprig of holly or juniper to each napkin. If I don’t have time to go out and purchase, I just take clippings from my Christmas tree.

If you are more of a “rules follower,” here’s a diagram from Wayfair just for you.

Most important, have fun & enjoy! Happy Holidays!

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Who doesn’t love a good cheese board for the holidays? Below are simple steps to a super easy cheese board that’s perfect for any day of the year.

The finished product

 I found most of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s

What you need for this simple cheese board

  • Any shape wooden cutting board
  • 3 white cheeses, like Brie, Camembert & Manchego
  • Blackberries or figs
  • A honeycomb (World Market has some beautiful ones, as well as Whole Foods)
  • Nuts (My favorite — Trader Joe’s Marcona almonds)
  • Crackers (I like to use a simple cracker like Carr’s water crackers)

*Anything will work in place of my recommendations, these are just easy to find items.

First things first, pour yourself a glass of wine

A simple way to assemble — honeycomb in the middle, cheeses around the honeycomb and berries and/or figs to fill in the gaps.

I served this board with a Rosé but you can serve it with a Chardonnay or whatever you fancy.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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