happy friday!

And this is why I love chalkboards. It's also why I love this particular Friday.

Eddie returns home today from a business trip, and we are headed for a little R&R, which is long overdue, as almost all vacations are.

Here's to virgin Miami Vices, packing picnic lunches, floating in a pool, discovering secret beaches and dining alfresco. Have a fabulous weekend!

PS: Blog milestone: happy first birthday to Tulips and Flight Suits. She recapped her favorite posts from the year, which will probably be your favorite posts, too. Check them out here.


michael stars does maternity.

And thank goodness for that. Our local MB shop had a Sidewalk Sale over the weekend, and I picked up a few go-to pieces that I'm loving... esp. @ sidewalk sale prices.

{Michael Stars Maternity Tees}
 Hop on over and check out the entire line. Shop by trimester. Or not. The whole site is up to 60% off.


office space shared.

Thank you for all your feedback yesterday! As mentioned, Eddie's office will become an office + nursette combo, and I want the whole room to feel like one, versus: to the right is office, to the left is baby. I want him to feel like he has his own, professional space that's not being taken over by Diapers.com. That's my goal. At least For now.

My designer friend, Emily, had a beautiful baby girl in December, and captured the transformation of their eating nook-to-nursette on her design blog, which serves as my ultimate inspiration. She's a professionally-trained design genius who shares a similar home to ours: small beach rental (in the best little beach town in the world, I might add). And, what she does, I love. With space, with consignment finds, with paint, fabric and texture. 

With Selby's nursette in mind, I clipped a few other inspiring images on Pinterest:
You know, just a little day dreaming. Are you noticing a crib crush? This is my current love of the moment.


office space.

We're in the market for a new desk setup / system for Eddie's office, which will become a combo office + nursette. The room is not huge, so we're planning for white furniture that offers some storage to (A) open it up as much as possible and (B) allow the furniture to do some double duty.
Here's a snapshot of the inspiration board I started on Pinterest, and I'll continue to add more, so hop on over and check it out. I'm clipping images and products I like, based on a few things:

+ we're renters, so we're not interested in making big furniture investments just to fit any one specific room.
+ we know we like white, and it works.
+ we like re-purposing what we have and using it in different ways, so we're hoping that will save us some $.
+ if I could, I'd pour all my $ into a sleek office chair to glam up a desk. After the holidays, I found an affordable alternative at World Market in white ($129, now on sale for $99 + 10% off coupon = $89). We're storing it in the garage until we find it a perfect home.
+ the office is a cool, icy blue/gray - Olympic's Breakwater, to be exact. The color of Eddie's office will not change, no matter the baby's sex. We heart blue.


friday food.

I was hooked by a few food ideas this week, and have some Friday recipe links to share with you:

+ Martha's Clementine Cake; a mix of citrus and real vanilla beans, via Camille Styles. Yum.

+ Another great Orangette recommendation from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book: Fresh Ginger Muffins. I've read that ginger helps soothe the tummy, and I've been addicted to it the last few months. As if I wasn't before.

+ A new, fabulous website from Big Girls Small Kitchen! There are loads of new features and pages to pour through. Don't mind if I get cozy with my laptop and their Grilled Cheddar Sandwich with Pears and Pecans.

+ Do you know what 'tis Pavlova? Ok, not from a blog, but from The BC (a stored-up DVR'd recording, which was new to me this week): Mixed Berry Pavlova. For the how-to video on the clouds of meringue, topped with whipped cream and smothered in berries, click here. Yes: clouds + whipped + smothered.

I promise to try my hand at at least one of the recipes listed above. Soon. I'm leaning towards the muffins. Or the cake.

Happy weekend!


let's talk wedding.

Over the weekend, I ran into a bride/friend, and in 5 minutes or less, we covered venue, photog., florist, rentals and invitations. I got a little excited, and it reminded me how much I love thee wedding topic.
I haven't focused on too many details from our wedding, so I thought I'd profile our flowers, since I'm craving ranunculus after a perfectly sunny Manhattan Beach weekend that felt a lot like Spring. April 18, 2009, to be exact.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Jenny of Magical Blooms did a magical job pulling a vision of white together. She bundled ranunculus, white lisianthus, freesia, sweet peas, gardenia and spray roses for delicate bouquets, that bordered on the smaller side.
All bouquets were wrapped in champagne satin ribbon that matched the BM's dress sashes; mine carried my grandmother's rosary. Boutonnieres: one simple white ranunculus + freesia stem, wrapped in matching ribbon.

Mason jar-filled arrangements scattered across long guest tables gave our reception Spring-time pops of color.
Our florist helped supplement our venue's stash of votive candles. Most florists do more than the floral arrangements, so ask what kind of magic they can work. (They did not, however, sew yards and yards of  green-and-white striped table runners. That's the magic of my mother + sale fabric from Joann's.)
And, a few last floral details:
I still owe p{w} a profile on wedding paper products (invitations detailed here), and I should do a quick wrap-up on our dessert buffet. It was yummy.

More to come!

All photos by Amy & Stuart.


project complete.

With the long weekend, we finally finished our neglected corner, for the most part. With my handyman-dad's help, the frames are up, and with some furniture re-arranging, I think we're onto something.
Is there anything more satisfying that enjoying newly-hung artwork? Finding a new space for old things isn't far behind in my book.
I'm still fine-tuning and re-arranging, and I'll eventually have more living space photos to share. In a rental, with the babe on the way, we're trying to add just a few functional and multi-purpose items (read: seating, storage) while making the most of what we love, like this pine bench that I've had since I was a little girl. Circa 1989.

You might recall I started the neglected corner project way back in September, with a little inspiration from Paper and Ink. It's hard to see detail with the glare and subtle pinhole art, but here's a closeup:
More details on the project, including before photos: here.

PS: Does that lamp look familiar? I finally got it re-painted with an oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, after some scrubbing with steel wool, compliments of Whitney. My superstar husband took the old threaded fitter from the original flea-market find and attached it to a new $7.99 shade from Target.

Our new corner feels so much cozier and not so neglected, and I love it.


on my mind.

Lately, I've enjoyed some wee-morning-hours of thought provoking conversation with myself, from finishing changing my name (hello, 1.5 yrs. later) to weeding out my window boxes. Usually around 3 a.m. Here's what's going on up top:

+ Spring. I can't wait for it. Number one reason: ranunculus.
+ Eddie's home office: images coming soon. I'm dreaming of ways to make it more functional (and pretty, but masculine). And conducive to adding, say ... a crib and some sort of dresser/shelving/changing table situation. All for a bargain price, of course.

+ Church. Going to it for the first time in 2011 would be good this weekend. So much to be thankful for.

+ Capiz shell wind chimes: alternative to a mobile?

+ Seeing Black Swan before it leaves the theaters.

+ Shoes. Need more flats, to be exact. I see a trip to DSW in my future.

+ Our garage. Our closets. Everything needs a good spring cleaning. Preferably before the DSW outing.

+ Valentine's. I don't want to repeat last year's, but I can't help but love pairing homemade cards with these Paper Source envelopes.

Here's to more day dreaming and midnight conversations. Hope you have a fabulous weekend.

PS: I'm tickled pink that frolic! was tickled pink. OMG!


new wknd recipe: apple turnovers.

I have been a selective eater for the past three months, due to the bump. One thing that always sounds good: dessert. Dessert which involves apples, to be exact.
My parents came up for dinner over the weekend, and brought a feast of lasagne, salad and crusty bread. To finish it off, I tried a puff pastry-inspired dessert that I knew my dad would love: The BC's apple turnovers, which you can also find in Back to Basics on page 196. I like this recipe for it's short prep and cooking time, and make-ahead-and-refrigerate-until-baking friendliness.
Apple Dried Cherry Turnovers from The Barefoot Contessa
Yield: 8 turnovers

1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
1-1/4 pounds tart apples (about 3 apples; I used Granny Smith)
3 tablespoons dried cherries
3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of kosher salt
1 package (17.3 oz / 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

One day before baking: defrost puff pastry in refrigerator overnight. On recommendation from Garden, Home & Party, I used Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry.

Day of baking: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Keep your pastry chilled in the frig until ready to use in a few steps.

Combine the orange zest and orange juice in a medium bowl. Peel, quarter and core the apples and then cut them into 3/4-inch dice*. Immediately toss the apples with the zest and juice to prevent them from turning brown. Add the cherries, sugar flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. (Taste. Should taste like apple pie filling. Don't miss this part.)

Flour a pastry board and lightly roll each sheet of puff pastry to a 12x12-in. square. Cut each sheet into 4 (6x6-in.) squares. (I like keeping my rolling pin chilled in the freezer until this step. I don't know if it really helps, but I think, in general, dough likes chill.)

Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square. Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges of the pastry with a fork. Transfer to your sheet pan and brush the tops with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and make 2 small slits in each turnover to allow for steam (at this point, the BC says you can refrig. until ready to bake, which I did).
Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and browned.

This is apple pie simplified, and I will be making it again. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, of course.

*For some more notes on peeling, coring, dicing and baking with apples: see this.

PS: are you loving the new-ish Cooking Channel as much as I am?


party pics.

I'm so excited to share with you photos from my mom's 60th birthday party. I'll start with the invitations, which you may recall, were fabulously designed and printed by Bianca of Little Miss Press (more invitation images + deets posted here).

The rest tells the story of the party in photos, shot by my good friend, Robert Mora, at a new Orange County wine bar that was the perfect venue for wine tasting and small bites for about 30. Jeff, Whitney, Eddie and I brought in the decor and desserts - which included some greenery, garland of family photos, french meringues and french macarons.

Here's what-came-from-where:
+ French meringues: Trader Joe's and French macarons: Patisserie Chantilly.
+ Fleur de sel caramels: Crate & Barrel. (PS: more party favor details here)
+ Black and white striped cocktail napkins: Plates and Napkins.com.
+ Chalkboard signs: handmade by Whitney
+ Inspiration for French newspaper-wrapped-maidenhair ferns: frolic!
+ Flourish stamp and ink: Paper Source.
+ Invitation design, printing and calligraphy: Little Miss Press.

coming next week: 60th details.

First of all, happy first Friday of 2011 and thank you so much for your sweet notes from Wednesday's big news. I'm so grateful for this blog, the friendships we've developed and for your cyber-support that has changed my life in the most amazing way. Thank you!

Now, down to party business: I've been pouring through Robert's amazing photos from my mom's 60th birthday, and next week, I'll have lots of goodness to share with you. For now, I leave you with this teaser. Isn't she pretty?
{image by Mora Photography}


new year = new news.

I suppose all news is new, but this is really new: I'm pregnant. I should tell you that I've been working on this post since December, and I've been writing and waiting patiently to find the best way to share this with you. Since I'm going on three sleepless hours this morning, now seems like a good time to me.

I vow to keep this blog relatively baby/mommy-free, but when it comes to the home and food, I look forward to sharing new experiences with you. I'm a whole 13 weeks, and for those like me who only speak in months: I'm at the start of month four, which is also the start of the second trimester and I'm so happy to be here.

Since October, I've been blissfully distracted. I haven't been extremely motivated or inspired. I did not sweat (in the gym). I did. not. cook. The holidays were a blur, and I felt a bit late to the party. I let our paperwhites fizzle. I didn't address my love for sugar cookies. All I wanted was to get in the real spirit and feel like myself, like I had for the last 32 years of my life, and I just couldn't get there.

But I was okay with that. Because here's the truth: once you are pregnant, you are not yourself. You're a whole, new person.

And isn't that amazing? I think it is.
It took a few months to wrap my head around that concept, and I'm still getting used to it. But now, I feel like I'm back on my own two feet, and it feels so good. I am officially ready to catch up on stacks of magazines and DVR'd BC episodes, write more and often and start cooking again. For starters: put my frozen bananas to use and bake some banana bread - because bananas are one fruit I simply cannot live without these days - and get back to blogging as a whole, new inspired person.

Thanks for being here, and sharing this new territory with me. I'm so excited!

PS: ridiculously cute onesie purchased by Eddie, not even 24 hours after we got the good news. Dad of the year. Already.


perfect start to 2011: waffles.

Happy 2011! I love a fresh start, and the good hope that comes along with it.

We started off the new year just right, with a new waffle recipe, bacon and eggs. I just couldn't stand the thought of a new year without new waffles. So, I tried Orangette's best-of-morning-of recipes (it's the second of two of her favorites, the first one being Marion Cunningham's, which you may remember, is now my favorite, too).
They were delicious, and if you don't have buttermilk on-hand, as I really never ever do, follow an at-home concoction that can be made with white vinegar, lemon juice or cream of tartar. This particular recipe makes enough big, Belgian-style waffles for two, so double as needed.

If you have the luxury of making the batter the night before, do yourself a favor: try these. They are magical.

Just like I hope this year is for everyone. Cheers!