Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Holiday Inspiration

I just lit another fire and have been up since the crack of dawn. I have been sipping on coffee and perusing some amazing boards on Pinterest. It’s cold outside (for Southern California) and I don’t want to move, however, I must get on with my day. A meeting with a client, work emails and Christmas shopping is calling me. Before going I thought I would share some of my favorite Holiday pics from Pinterest.








Tomorrow – garage sales in Pacific Palisades and a tour of a friends garden! Happy weekend!

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This year was filled with many opportunities to sit at a long table and enjoy good friends. Looking back on 2011 the long table experience that was most memorable was at a very dear friend’s wedding in Topanga Canyon (photo below). Three extremely long tables filled a Tuscan-styled room as we celebrated a very special occasion.


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There’s something about a fireplace that evokes relaxation, warmth and a sense of place. The rhythmic bouncing of the flames seems to encourage contemplation when alone and conversation when with friends. Cheers to hoping your holiday season provides many warm memories in peaceful solitude or with loved ones.

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

– Washington Irving

sources: Elle Decor & Country Living

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The Guest Room

A good reading lamp, soft sheets and a cozy blanket provide a sense of comfort for those traveling far from home. Adding a box of chocolates and good reading material is also a nice touch depending how long you wish your guests to actually stay. For those of you living in smaller quarters, with a little imagination almost any part of your home could become a guest room. Once, I turned the dining room of our tiny Venice bungalow into a guest room for a friend staying for a week.

Whether your home is large or small the 8 items suggested below could apply to any size abode. It’s all about one’s attitude — being flexible and working with what you have.

A task lamp to give the perfect light for late night reading. This one is from Restoration Hardware but Target and Lamps Plus have similar ones as well.

A small bedside tray to house your guests jewelry, coins and spent candy wrappers. This “Dot Tray” is from Jayson Home & Garden.

A bedside carafe for water — from Crate & Barrel

A nice smelling candle for the dresser. The Fedora Patch Candle is from Jayson Home & Garden.

A throw for chilly days/nights

Slip on slippers to fit any foot size

Fresh flowers or anything green from your garden (or supermarket).

Another great thing to have when guest arrive is the aroma of something special on the stove or in the oven. So, I have also included my favorite comfort dish recipe, Braised Chicken with Shallots. It’s great because you can make it the day before and just reheat when you are ready.


8- Bone-in skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)

coarse salt and ground pepper

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound small shallots (about 12), peeled and halved

5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 pint cherry tomatoes halved

Fresh tarragon leaves for garnish (optional)


1. Season chicken with salt and pepper; coat with flour, shaking off excess.

2. In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid heat oil over medium-high. Cook chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

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

4. Return chicken, bone side down, to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; loosely tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Add tomatoes to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook on high until sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and return chicken to pot; cook until heated through. Serve, garnished with tarragon, if desired.

Serves 4

The recipe (and photo) for Braised Chicken with Shallots are from Martha Stewart.com

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‘Tis The Season

Tonight, we are finishing up decorating for the holidays. The menu — hot cocoa, hot buttered rum and warm apple pie. Therefore, in needing some inspiration for this evening I took some time and visited some of my favorite websites. This year I am taking an easy approach to the holidays and using lots of wreaths, trimmings from the Christmas tree and lots of candles. Here are some more ideas I came across.

I love this star lantern from Terrain

Simple cream pillars from Restoration Hardware

Another great and easy thing to do for the holidays is to grow Amaryllis. They come in different colors/color combinations and if placed in the right light can produce amazing flowers. To purchase these from Terrain, click here.

Here, I tucked a couple Amaryllis into some greens

A simple wreath is always elegant

A couple of weeks ago, I found a wreath made from old Christmas music sheets at an Antique store. The photo above shows similar wreaths from Living with Lindsay. I wouldn’t think it would be too difficult to make? Click here to find out how to make one from Living with Lindsay.

I also found another photo of one from the blog, Nesting Place. She has some great ideas for decorating for the holiday season, click here to check them out.

Happy Holidays!

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For those of you, like myself, who are just getting started on Halloween decorations, I have collected a couple of ideas to inspire the child in all of us.

These are quite amazing and beautiful. If you have the tenacity for one of these they would be lovely to have around. From MarthaStewart.com.

Love these spiders. A fun craft project from Country LivingClick here for the details.

A slithery serpent wreath from Martha Stewart.com

This one is my favorite, and if I run out of time or patience to do the owls, I can at least spray paint some twigs black and call it a day. This is also from Martha Stewart. com.

Only 14 days away!

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Viva Mexico!

Today, is Mexico’s Independence Day!

In honor of Independence Day and because I adore the country of Mexico, I put together my “favorites list” highlighting just a couple of things I love about this country.

First, a brief history of where my adoration came from. I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, an area in the southern part of Texas along the border of Mexico. Therefore, my proximity to Mexico and it’s people, culture and food was quite close. My grandmother, Felicia Benavides Trigo, is of Spanish/Mexican decent and would speak to us in Spanish all the time. She made THE best homemade flour tortillas and consequently ruined me for life. I have found very few flour tortillas that can stand up to hers. In the late ’70’s, my father bought a place in CanCun, Mexico and would take my sister and I there every summer. These three ingredients brewed a strong love affair with Mexico, its people, culture and, of course, the food. Later, my sister and I went on to study in Cuernavaca, rented an apartment in Oaxaca and traveled throughout Mexico every chance we got.

I haven’t been to Mexico in several years but I had so much fun writing this blog. It reminded me about all the fabulous places and things I long to see again.

Favorite Mexican Artist:

Joaquin Clausell

Joaquin Clausell

Joaquin Clausell (1866-1935) is one of my favorite Mexican painters. Born in Campeche he was considered the one who introduced Impressionism to Mexico. 

Joaquin Clausell

Favorite Hotel:

 Las Mananitas, Cuernavaca

The gardens

Where you can sit and have a cocktail and enjoy the setting sun

Las Mananitas is a quaint 29-room colonial style hotel. Because of the hotel’s small size, incredible service and attention to detail, you feel as if you’re visiting a friend rather than staying in a formal hotel. I love the rooms with fireplaces, as well as the ones facing the gardens where exotic birds roam freely. A beautiful, beautiful place.

Favorite Album:

Bachata Rosa by Juan Luis Guerra

There are so many great artist from Mexico, but I think the Spanish CD (yes, I just said CD) that had the most impact on me is, Bachata Rosa by Juan Luis Guerra. The first summer I lived in Cuernavaca, we would always listen to it as we drove through the mountains on our to Acapulco for a long weekend. I realize that he is actually from the Dominican Republic, but nonetheless it’s a fantastic CD!

Favorite Dish:

Chiles Rellenos

It’s impossible to think of a one all-time-favorite dish, but today it would be the chile relleno.  Stuffed with cheese or ground pork and topped with a light red sauce it’s incredible!

Favorite Restaurant:

Axitla, Tepoztlan


One of my favorite restaurants in Mexico is one located in the mountainous and mystical town called Tepoztlan. It’s the restaurant, Axitla, and it’s located at the foot of the trail leading up to the pyramid Tepozteco. The restaurant is situated in a garden and has a very treehouse-like feel to it.  When we lived in Cuernavaca in the early 90’s, we would take a bus there every Saturday for a late lunch. The food is amazing and we would linger over our lunches for hours.

I do long for days when I can take my children there and travel freely without hesitation. To introduce them to all I fell in love with, hoping they will one day feel the same way I did about such an amazing country and its people.

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I am hoping the cut-off time to share a Halloween photo is Thanksgiving?


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