Friday, November 17, 2017

Thanksgiving Ideas & Fun Links

Happy Friday! I woke up at 5:30 this morning with thoughts of Thanksgiving dinner swirling in my head. I got my coffee and sat down with my trusty old recipe binder to brainstorm this year's menu and table. I'm always surprised by what I have in there. Over the years I have collected variations on Thanksgiving recipes, some I have tried- and others well, I hope to try some year!

Among the torn out pages are inspirational table settings, cooking tips from newspaper clippings, years of William's Sonoma handouts, holiday menus from restaurants and scribbled index cards cards from my grandma's ancient recipe box. All of these are covered in plastic page protectors and and are a real help when I begin this planning stage of Thanksgiving. 

 Pages of the notebook -this with Max's timeline for a Thanksgiving day a few years ago.

Most precious to me is my mom's own handwritten instruction on how to cook a turkey that she gave me when I first got married. I read it again this morning and I am so glad to have kept it. Makes me feel a bit like she is still here with me. 

With my mom at my home Thanksgiving 1999.

Besides my binder, I refer to my pile of cookbooks and I also have been furiously saving ideas from Instagram and other blogs. I am always looking for something new that grabs my fancy. This year I am going to give mashed potatoes in the slow cooker a go from the Half Baked Harvest blog. What a brilliant idea- one less thing on the stove and keeps them warm- always a challenge with mashed potatoes. I love Tieghan's photo and recipes. Her Instagram has some of these recipes, including a little speed video clip  of these Crockpot Three Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Smitten Kitchen is another great food blog and her Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions made in a iron skillet looks delicious and may take the place of my roasted brussels sprouts this year.  

I also like Smitten's Apple Herb Stuffing with the addition of tart apples and fresh torn bread -a mix of sourdough and country bread. 

Deb Perelman who writes Smitten Kitchen, was on NPR the other day and what a great gal. It was one of those shows where people called in and told their favorite Thanksgiving dishes and tips. It reminded me of something my grandmother listened to when we were kids on her little a.m. radio in the kitchen. One caller recommended strapping blue ice packs to your turkey's breast while it comes to room temp before cooking. By keeping the white meat extra cold it will cook slower and apparently dry out less. I think I'll try that as well this year. 

I always like a festive cocktail and this Cranberry Thyme Spritz, also from Half Baked Harvest, looks so pretty and has two of my favorites in it, elderflower and grapefruit.  Another new thing this year is I am going to order brioche rolls from the world famous Manresa Bakery in my town. Seems a shame not to when they are a five minute drive away. They also have a chocolate pistachio babka that I might have to indulge and get.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Lake House Style

Now that fall has begun I have had my thoughts on home ideas for my renovation and finding inspiration. I was lucky to catch up with my cool friend Bonnie over lunch who spent the summer at her lake house she renovated in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Since 1929, five generations of her family have owned homes on this lake and they all love spending time there together. I loved hearing all the relaxing days spent on the lake and things like paddle boarding, sunset cruises, family cribbage competitions and Friday night fish fries that are unique to Wisconsin lake living. Bonnie is a artist and a local mom who has a great eye for design and I flipped when I saw how pretty her lake home is!

Bonnie's mom and brother own homes on this lake and when the opportunity came to buy one of her own she grabbed it. Bonnie and her husband Dean worked with a local design and build contractor spending one full year redesigning and renovating every inch of the house. The house design focuses on the west facing beauty of the natural views and the peace and serenity drawn from the water.  Being an artist as well as super creative, it has been a design lab of sorts for Bonnie.

What is so inspiring is that Bonnie used finds from thrifting along with a few newly bought things to pull it all together.  She has a way of finding treasures and putting her own tweaks on them. I was so charmed by what she has done I asked if I could share some photos along with stories of what she's done on the blog and she kindly agreed. How fun would it be to have such a spot to get away to and put your own spin on? I've included some of Bonnie's own words here telling how she did it. Enjoy!

This wrought iron sign was made by Bonnie's father-in-law for them!

Just look at that gorgeous sunset! I like the open feel of this home.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Trench Story- Obsessing on Burberry

Thank you for the notes on the last blog post about guns. I just am getting so worked up lately about the state of the world, I find it hard to blog about the usual things. Thanks for being here for my rants and also my lighter weight subjects, like today's trench post.

With the fires now raging in Wine Country, we have more to worry about. My dear friend Adrienne of The Rich Life in Wine Country and her husband Bill who is a fire captain are in the center of it in Sonoma. My heart goes out to their family and others who have lost their family members, their homes, their businesses, and their whole world. There are many still missing and unaccounted for as this fire happened so fast and it is still burning today. The cell towers were devastated which is making recovery of those missing even harder. Right now you can help by donating to the United Way of Wine Country and other links to the local Red Cross and a Go Fund me for local victims here on this Mercury News article.  I just cannot even fathom all that will be needed up there to recover from this horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to everyone up there and especially people like Bill who are working around the clock with no break trying to help so many. Thank you for your help and thoughts for this gem of Northern California.

Now to my post that is anything, but important yet I will still share as it has been on the back burner and I have more coming...

 I have been meaning to write about this obsession I have with Burberry, specifically the trenches. It began about 8 years ago when I bought this house, which came with some extra furniture, which I sold on Craig's List. I made about $600 and decided I was going to spring for something I never would not normally, like a luxury item.

At the time Nordstrom was having its big Anniversary sale and they had a single breasted Burberry Trench on sale for around that price. I brought it home and fell in love with the quality of it. Over the years I used it with its lining, but mostly without as it was perfect for any California winter day. Some years I wore it a lot, and others less. About two years ago I began wearing it more again and got so many compliments as it was one of those pieces that really got cooler as it aged. I was thrilled I had invested in it all those years ago and it still looked like new and chic.

Some ways I wore it..

  Um perhaps this scarf was too large for me??? My coat looked pretty good though in San Francisco on a cool day.

 Springtime in NYC. This trench had a zip as well and smokey metallic buttons and buckles. It was awesome for travel for anyplace, any time of year.

Well guess what? I lost it. I know. I hate me too. I honestly have no idea how or where I lost it. The last time I had it I remember it was hanging over my entry hooks and I thought I should hang it in the closet with its hanger to keep it nice and that was spring of 2016. I went to pack it for a trip and it was nowhere. I checked the lost and found at a million spots and it was not to be found. Last winter when it rained like nobodies business I really was missing it so much.  I still get seriously bummed out when I think about it.

Last spring I gave up looking and shopped and tried many trenches, but when you have had something of that quality it's nearly impossible to be happy with a cheap version of it. I even made a few trips to Burberry yet I could not find a version I liked as much as my beloved single breasted camel trench. The prices were also in the thousands now for anything similar, which was also an obstacle.

One from Burberry that I love right now and is kinda different and single breasted is this Camden Car Coat version. It is green with the yellow heritage check and very cool, but is a very full priced $1,695 US dollars too. I'd have to calculate that cost over the years.

There is also another unique green resin buttoned single breasted version.

By happenstance I found the site TheRealReal which has authenticated pre-owned luxury goods. The Burberry coats and trenches they carry are impressive! The prices are good if you understand the quality of these items. They are absolutely worth it and will last decades. One thing you should do is go try on a Burberry at a store near you so you can see what size you wear. They tend to be small in the shoulders and while I am a 6 in most coats, I would wear an 8 in a Burberry. 

So what makes a Burberry so special? Besides its quality, the buttons and buckles are all beautiful and do not break or fall off. The Burberry London trenches usually have leather covered buckles at the wrists and on the belt. The Burberry Brit like I had, is a more affordable and yet as well made version with usually buckles of metal or buttons on the wrist. The linings and fabrics wear look great and wear well. Whenever you put one of these coats on, you feel amazing. It is worth buying less inexpensive things and buying something of quality like a Burberry that will last and bring you joy and compliments for years.

Below is just a snippet of what The Real Real has carries currently. I believe these are all returnable (read the description of each item) within a certain time, which is nice. Some are also additional 30% off these prices. You can also find the basic trench, but they have many of the special editions that Burberry has created over the years, like the iridescent, bejeweled and lace versions and many varying sizes. At these prices one could collect a few! I like how this site says what the wear is on each piece and also the dimensions so you can see if something would fit you or not. 
 I am still deciding, but these are some of the cool pieces from what they have currently... 

This iridescent version of the classic camel trench is fun and is $395 size M or US 6.

metallic version size M- $300.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Be the Change- Guns Are Ruining This Country

Yesterday was a horrible day that will live in our memories as Americans. I just could not go another hour without sharing my thoughts on this. It has so affected me I refuse to believe we can't do more to change the laws here.

Beautiful humans- mothers, brothers, fathers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends lost their lives in another senseless act of gun violence. We cannot pray or say our hearts are with the victims anymore. The words are sounding hollow, especially as they were echoed by multiple congressional Republicans yesterday whose own campaigns have been padded with NRA funds. Something must be done before our country as we know it is gone forever.

The fact is America has put the right to own whatever weapons we chose, above the safety of us all. After Newtown and the slaughter of small children in their classrooms with their teachers, we still did not pass gun legislation. Unbelievable. Our apathy knows no bounds. The NRA continues its reign over the Republican congress who seem to have black hearts. How they live with themselves I do not know, and this group includes Paul Ryan and Mike Pence. Trump spoke at an NRA gathering in April and promised to 'Come through for them,' and that he would 'Expand gun rights.'

Tell me what about gun rights needs to be expanded?

Just one of the great charts by Vox show we have too many gun rights.

Polls show a majority of Americans are for safe and effective gun control. So why aren't our politicians following through on this? No one needs automatic weapons and machine guns. We need to follow the example of Australia, who changed the gun culture in their country after a mass shooting by buying back guns and making gun laws much more stringent. It has been amazingly effective and they have now one of the lowest gun violence rates in the world. This great article with gun facts and studies on Vox tells the statistics and facts we should all see about how gun ownership affects our safety in so many ways.

What makes us defend weapons that kill so many? No idea. Apparently some believe it is for personal safety. The NRA keep peddling myths like guns will be confiscated and you'll need to defend yourself. Don't forget your Second Amendment Rights. ( Written at the founding of our country when we needed a militia.) You have the right to bear arms. Against what? The zombie apocalypse? The crime rate in the United States is the lowest it's ever been. Statistics and study after study show that those who live in homes with guns are personally more at risk for homicides- to be killed with their own guns or to have a family member commit suicide.

Allowing any kind of gun purchase with no regulations on the internet and without background checks leads to anyone buying them. Other nations have tough tests one needs to pass to register and use a gun and rules about storage of firearms you must obey. Not here. Each state can have its own laws, which makes it easy to buy in one and bring to another. Storage? Go ahead and leave it under your bed if you want. Frightening.

 It is also easier to get a gun than a driver's license thanks to the NRA's insidious influence on our laws. Thus we have a country where we openly carry guns in some places and some even believe in vigilante justice, taking the law into their own hands to protect themselves. I ask you has any of these shootings been stopped by gun toting individuals? No.

 I do not wish for my children to live in such a world, do you? We can do better. Let's look to other nations who have less guns and their correlating death rates- lower suicides, homicides, and mass murders. This video is excellent in pointing out the fact that remains indisputable - less guns equal less gun deaths. It's simple math and cannot be refuted.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Trina Turk's Fall Collection & Our Event Saturday !

I am so fortunate to be doing a shopping day with Trina Turk this weekend. My friend April of Ms B in the Bay Area and I spent a few hours up at the Burlingame store yesterday and got to preview the fall looks and I have to honestly say it is her prettiest fall collection ever.

I'm especially in love with the beautiful deep florals and pretty shapes of the dresses and tops.

This pink shirtdress might be my very favorite with its easy feel, pockets and zipper front. It has luxe cuffs with the nicest gold button detail too. I could wear casual or dressed up with heels like these Sunset Blvd pumps- also part of her fall collection.

Trina's handbags are super cool this season...

 This mauve color is very hot and I like the tassel it comes with.

This tote and clutches are all great fall pieces! I'm contemplating this leopard Raquel Clutch which is a perfect size for daytime as well as nights.

Loving the boots and how cute is this box bag?

These luxe boots also grabbed my eye as they are different by Pour La Victoire and the box bag is also a way cute for a special event with a fall dress.

More pretty boots and standout bags! Kind of in love with this bucket bag and these Frye boots (marked down) in this color!!

This Merge clutch is also modern and fun.

April and I had fun trying on some of our favorite looks. It's nice to see how things fit and some items look so different on. We wanted to be prepared to help anyone who comes to see us Saturday.

This lace Dreamland dress was one of the very best, so flattering with the bell sleeve and lace neckline. Wouldn't it be the perfect dress for Thanksgiving or a special fall dinner with these deep colors?

An elegant dress with gold details and the most sublime green.

How cool is the Jones patented tweed coat? Even cuter on. And yes it is water-repellant, so you can just wipe it dry. Lightweight too and doesn't wrinkle so it may be the perfect travel piece in fall.

 I have to say right here that items like this coat are what makes her collections so neat. One of a kind pieces that become even cooler as you keep them over the years are what I love about shopping at Trina and looking back on all her different collections, I wish I had bought a few more of them as they get better with time!

  Always love the Trina jewelry.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Diana in Pictures -20 Years After Losing Her

Today being the 20th anniversary of Pricess Diana of Wales's death, I wanted to share some of the photos that really express her and the kind of person she was. August 31st is bittersweet for me as it's also my wedding day. Diana died on our first anniversary and I still remember exactly when and where I heard about her accident. We were at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco and people were whispering and talking to each other between tables which you don't often see. Max knew how much I loved Diana and when I asked what was going on he lied and said nothing though he heard. When we left the restaurant it was all over the news about the accident. I just didn't believe it. Neither did Max. It seemed too unbelievably cruel after all she had recently been through. I was crushed even about her divorce. Life seemed so dark and awful to me. 

In July 1981, my mom and I had camped out with sleeping bags in front of the television to wake up at four a.m. and watch her wedding. I was a 14 year old and captivated by it all. It seemed fairly tales did come true even in the modern world.

The outpouring of grief the world over after her death made me realize I was not alone in adoring this woman who radiated love and was so relatable, real and lovable. I was comforted by the knowledge a huge part of the world was grieving with me.

 Over time, I had forgotten a lot about those days and also what she went through. I saved a few of recent the Diana specials and just watched the National Geographic one. I knew it would be soul sucking so I saved it for later one evening and sat through the whole show at once. It is the one with the audio tapes she made to tell her story, which would later be put into Andrew Morton's book. To hear it all again in her own voice really refuted any questions about what happened to her, or at least what her take of it was. 

I was bawling by time I got to the end. It really was wrong that she was totally thrown into this situation as a 19 year old with no help or support. I have an almost 19 year old and it shocks me. She was so young and they took advantage of that. 

Below are some of what I think are the more revealing pictures of the most photographed woman ever. The early photos are some of my favorite, especially those with her William and Harry.

With her pet guinea pig 1970.

  A rarely seen photo with her hair back.

 With her maternal grandmother Ruth Fermoy.

 With her younger brother Charles.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Coolest Kitchens

I know I haven't been blogging as much as I used to and one reason is some time I've been trying to devote to a home remodel we have been planning.  The kitchen part is especially stressing and I tend to overthink everything.

I could make it easy and choose all the traditional things -white cabinets, counters...pedant lights, farm house sink, subway backsplash, etc. I love all of those elements! However, after traveling to Europe and also pouring over of kitchen ideas, I have begun to say why not think out of the box? I don't want trendy, but I want something uniquely mine and kinda cool and something that won't look dated.

One thing I have been avoiding is Pinterest and a few other sites.  The same images or look alike images are shared so many zillions of times and things start to look all the same. The homogenization of Pinterest and somewhat of Instagram, has been a pet peeve of mine. They all look the same...Or variations of the same. It gets really monotonous and I think will look very dated in a short time. Houzz has more variations and ideas, but most adhere to a traditional look or a modern one.

The only solution is to forge your own style and look, so where to get ideas? The MLS is one good spot as real estate listings have such a diversity.  I also find European kitchens more inspiring as they seem to appreciate quirkiness, take more chances and don't care for the model home look as we Americans fawn over.

In that spirit I am sharing some of the more unique kitchens I've been loving and I say you only live once...Take chances and dare to be different.

This is one of my favorite kitchens - Sara Ruffin Costello's home in Saint Louis. Photo is from her website which feature her Garden District home is one of my very favorites.

I love the painted brick backsplash, the mix of modern and traditional and the bright feeling.

Another awesome and unique kitchen I love is this Swedish one...

The home of former model and now designer Malin Persson is a great combination of furniture pieces and modern counters, lighting and tiled walls. How gorgeous is her china cabinet? 

The whole post originally appeared here on Habitually Chic.

I also love the idea of painting a kitchen a color like this one by English designer Ben Pentreath. Ben and his blog are ground zero for that quirky English vibe. If only California wasn't so hot, I could have an AGA stove. I just love their old world look.

If you like this, Ben's blog has more of the parsonage he shares with his husband Charlie in Dorset. I love the way he mixes it all and makes it beautiful.

Some other antidotes to the usual... Yes I love white shaker cabinets and white counters, but it's good to see other options right?