Saturday, September 24, 2011

Figs People!

We are right in the middle of prime fig season now! You know how it is with figs, - you're either a fan or not. I have to say I'm a fan! I love them all! Green, black, brown, they are all amazing. My favorite is the brown turkey fig! They look like a little round turkey.

I started like most of you, who think they hate figs. I never tried one, except for Fig Newtons, until I had them in a couscous, at a friends house. I got recruited to slice green figs for it and was completely mystified at how to handle them and if you ate the skin, etc. I learned fast and well, the rest is history.

This recipe calls for a box of plain couscous, figs cut in quarters, (or smaller if you prefer), browned rings of a shallot, toasted pine nuts, and olive oil and salt to taste. I have to say, it is probably one of my most favorite things in the world! Just try it and you will see.

This dish started my love affair with the fig and now I try to use it whenever I can.  Here's another -a salad I threw together. Don't they just make everything look so luscious? They're great with mint too.

One time, I also made a yummy appetizer for the hubster and his friend Justin, with figs, a bit of goat cheese and a walnut on the top. Delicious! Love that with a cold glass of white wine on a late Summer afternoon. Love to know what everyone else does with figs. Enjoy it's a short season!

Our fig-appreciating friend, Justin. Had to add him!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Indian Summer

Loving the weather right now here in Nor Cal. I think we are having what I think of as an Indian Summer, so late in the year. However, you might want to click on this link. According to Wikipedia,  the name Indian Summer, has many different definitions and orgins. Don't you love learning new things? I found it quite interesting!

Here, in the Bay Area, I love this time of the year for late evening walks, harvesting the last of the summer garden and enjoying the bounty. Though, sometimes, we are still getting tomatoes in late October! Just check out these gorgeous tomatoes from my Dad's garden! Wish I could send the smell. Just love to see them on the counter.

Winery lunch!
Last week, I had the good fortune to go wine tasting twice! Once, was with school Moms, for a tasting and picnic we try to do at the start and ending of the school year. I highly recommend this tradition! Then, last weekend, our dear friends also asked us to go with them to pick up some bottles and taste at the winery they belong to. We brought our families and had a ball. This is the season people!

Check out this Peacock who stopped by to say hi at our lunch! Loved him, but some of the girls were not so enamored!

 I just love tasting a few wines in the afternoon, and a picnic after. It's always memorable and really makes you stop and realize what a gift friends and life are. Even a short trip to a winery for a few hours seems like a getaway. And as parents of school age kids, we need to grab those small bits!!

The view from my window- can you see the birds in the plant?

I don't know if you can see, but a whole flock of beautiful goldfinches have invaded this Sunflower that my son bought and planted on the front porch. I couldn't believe it until I heard this crazy chirping. At one point there was 8 at a time on it! Didn't know Sunflowers were such an attraction for the little darlings, but I'm getting more of these. They are gorgeous birds and blend right in with the plant. I love sunny afternoons with the late-afternoon light flooding the room and their sweet chirping.

Couldn't resist adding this Fallish pic of my boys on a swing in Carmel.

Speaking of small bits and children, well it's that time again! Time for the annual scout popcorn drive. my husband and I have done this now for, 7 years I think. My fourth grader hit the court people up. (Sorry ladies!), and was so proud to have sold $100 worth of that...stuff! Here he is now, on the left, a year one Weeblo with his dear buddy. Love this age.

Yesterday, I actually found a gorgeous cable knit cardigan on sale at Banana, and also was spying some pretty suede booties at J.Crew. Then I was thinking if I had time to plan one more pool party before our weather turns. Guess I've got one foot in Summer and the other in Fall. I'm thankful to enjoy it all so long here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Italian Style

Lovely Florence

 Yesterday, I ran out out to the mall to do a quick errand and dropped into a designer store to lust after the shoes and bags. While I was dreaming of what I might buy, I was complimented on my Furla bag. The  sales guy asked me about it and loved it's color. I immediately thought back to last summer when we traveled to Italy and the very chic Italian lady who helped me choose it.

My Furla

The four of us, traveled to Rome, Florence, and Venice. I may do a post on the trip in the future, but it really was beyond beautiful. We all loved it. The one thing I noticed immediately, was the amazingly stylish way Italians dressed. They have a chic that is quite different from the French, who have an off-handed style.

This gentleman is on his way to work in Rome.  Would you ever see someone dressed so nice on a bike here?

Most Italians wear clothing that looks custom-made to fit them. The clothing just looks luxurious, the fabrics and details. Their garments are simple, not fussy, but they fit their bodies perfectly. Also, they have the most amazing shoes! Everyone had gorgeous leather shoes, as I guess you would expect.

A couple in Florence. Don't you love how they kind of match?

A chic older couple. How often do you see 60 year olds dressed this nicely?

My husband thought I was a nut, but I took a few stealth pictures of Italians. Men in gorgeous suits on bikes and scooters, couples dressed to go out for the night and the like.  One thing I could not take a picture of was the clean, unmade-up faces of the Italian women. These women wear no foundation, no anything and natural hair which is not blown dry. Seeing women like this, I can see how Raphael and Botticelli were inspired by Italian women. I wanted to be one. No finger or toe polish on these girls and it looked damn good. You could see the Americans coming miles away and we all looked like we tried just so hard. These women embraced their natural selves, walked with beautiful posture and exuded an almost intangible beauty.

Which brings me back to my bag... I was hoping to buy at least one nice leather item on my trip. In Venice, I found myself in Furla which is one of the few places you can buy leather bags a little more inexpensively than they are sold in the states. The saleslady was one of those natural Italians. Very friendly, she and I chatted about both having two boys, (yes, I was shopping with men- of course they were outside!) She, being about the same mid-forties age as myself, had not a stitch of makeup, short naturally curly dark hair, unpainted nails and was so fresh looking. The same description of someone here might be akin to a granola type. That could not be farther from the truth in Italy.

My boys in Florence at an beautiful fruit stand.

She kindly gave me her opinions on bags I tried on and ventured to suggest a teal, slouchy, over-sized bucket bag. I would have never thought of such a strong color and shape, but on it was wow! I loved it and got the matching wallet too. In my mind, I needed a neutral that would be an investment. She was so on the money and ahead of fashion. Now, in this season of color, I am very in style with my teal bag and the shape is so unique too. Each time I put it on, I think of that very stylish and sweet Italian mother and take a little makeup off too.

Above Florence with my younger son.
A rainy day in Venice.