Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Super Natural Northern California Cooking

It's getting the season where I am ready to spend more time on outdoor entertaining and cooking for friends.  I have been more than inspired by a darling cookbook I picked up at Anthropologie and wanted to share it with you. It's called Super Natural Every Day  by Heidi Swanson. I adore this book for many reasons, first being the recipes are simple, but delicious. What Heidi uses are the freshest and healthiest ingredients to make the most luscious food. This is what it's all about now isn't it? We need to eat as much as we can from the earth and make it fast and easy too.

So far I have made this white bean spread, which is so simple and a great appetizer or lunch with crudités or crackers. This would be a perfect with some crisp white wine in summer.

Also made this cauliflower soup. I added whole grain bread from LaBrea bakery, my favorite and drizzled with California olive oil.

I love this cookbook because Heidi is not an extremist. She uses lots of whole grains and natural ingredients, but occasionally uses white flour and sugar at times in baking when needed. She tries to encourage the use of local foods that haven't traveled far. By, "natural," she means food that is straight from the plant or animal with minimal or no processing used. This cookbook had me at breakfast, through lunch, salads, tea, treats and even popcorn. Next up I want to try her Buttermilk Cake, and her Honey and Rose Water Tapioca. There really is something for everyone and you can feel a little better knowing you are eating something great for your body too. You just may fall in love with this way of eating.

Heidi via Elle.com

Best of all, Heidi is a Northern California girl! You will enjoy her blog at 101 Cookbooks, where she shares her recipes and all things food related.

Have a great week!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day and Normandy

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. I can't say enough about how much this holiday means to me. After visiting Normandy a few years ago, I feel even more the debt we owe to those who gave so much. Sometime soon I'll do another post on that entire trip. 

It was in 2008 and my boys were a bit younger, but they understand now even more what Omaha Beach was and all of it. When we visited, the new visitor center at the The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial had just opened and it does a great job of telling you the stories behind so many who rest there. I am truly grateful to have had that experience and I'll never ever take for granted all we have here in the United States. 

Omaha Beach above and below my sons walking down to the bunkers.

The upper part of the cemetery looking over Omaha Beach.

We walked along the crosses finding men from California and so many American small towns. A bit down the road is Pont du Hoc, and below, my boys there where the Rangers scaled the cliffs.

There is much to see and learn at all these sites. I think everyone should visit Normandy if they can.

Thank you to all who have served. 


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grandma and Other Highlights

Today is my grandmother's 95th birthday! Can you believe how lucky we are? She was born in 1917! She has pretty much lived through everything that has happened in the past hundred years. She is an amazing person and grandma and has given me so many wonderful traditions and memories. She is still going strong, busy with her church and friends and was still driving until a few weeks ago when she decided to stop. Check out her her creamy skin. She has always avoided sun and worn makeup every day of her life, which worked like a sunscreen before there was such a thing. Not bad for a 95 year old right? Sun worshippers take note!

Grandma in the 1930's.

My grandmother Jody grew up during the depression, daughter of migrant fruit packers. As a child, her family moved between Oregon, Washington and California. She has fond memories of Lake Chelan, Washington, where she went to high school. She met my grandfather, son of Iowa farmers, who was in California to make his own fortune, when she was engaged to another man. She said she just knew as soon as she saw him, that was it. He was the guy. She adored my grandfather and they had three children, including my father, who they raised in Southern California and later in San Jose.

Love this picture of my grandparents, probably in the 40's. Look at this stripe dress and wedge shoes! How current they look now! Grandma has always been into fashion. My grandfather was a sharp dresser too.

Grandma right, with her sister Nora and mother right before she got married in the late 1930's

All her life my grandmother has been busy with all her interests like sewing, which she is amazing at, cooking and gardening. In her time, she was a leader of cub and boy scout dens (back when moms ran it), girl scout troops, church secretary, and later head of just about everything at her beloved Calvary United Methodist Church, in San Jose's Rose Gardens, which has been around for a bit longer than her.

A family road trip in the 1950s., my dad on the left is the eldest. Love her sandals.

Grandma always has a positive outlook. She is a glass half-full kind of person, who always sees the bright side.  Also, after living through the depression, she is appreciative of everything and of course, never throws out anything that can be used for something else. She was green before green was cool. She also has been eating healthy her entire life and fed us things like bran muffins and oatmeal, and nuts when whole foods weren't in and t.v. dinners were. She also has been a inveterate vitamin popper since they first came out and takes more than a few handfuls a day and eats a TON of produce, which even I couldn't even get down.

 Many of the sayings she taught me stick in my head so much. When I was small, she used to tell me these little things when we cooked together or ran errands, something I loved doing with her. She would say, "Pretty is as pretty does," and also, "You'll catch flies with honey." That one I heard a lot as a kid, which I hated at the time of course!

A few years ago pin her 93rd. with my sons.

More than anything Grandma likes family get-togethers and entertaining. She had at one time a serious arsenal of tablecloths, napkins, plates and everything for anything. It's not unusual for her recipes to serve 60-100. Seriously! She only recently stopped cooking and planning all the church buffets and pot-lucks which she shopped, prepared and cooked for. I don't know how she keeps going, but she always says, "Honey when you stop, you're dead in the water. I get up, put on my face, get dressed and I am so happy that I went later."  I think this may be the secret to her longevity. I am sure one of them is her love of life and her desire to still do so much and of course her attitude!  I love you gram so much!


On other very exciting news, I actually have my own FEED bag finally! I owe it all to sweet Pamela over at The Style and Travel Journals, Who so kindly went to the trouble to procure one for me up in chic Canada. I am beyond thrilled with it and it's even cuter than online. It will be my summer bag for sure and I am proud to carry this bag and spend money that goes toward the cause of FEED projects, with provides school lunches to children around the globe, and The Tory Burch Foundation, which helps women procure micro loans and mentorship to women entrepreneurs. Check them out and also Pamela's blog, which is a fun escape to all things I love, travel and fashion!

And ...I am also seriously grateful to the dear Mrs Exeter. She has one of my favorite blogs about life in the English Countryside, holidays in France, fashion and wit at her Dressing Mrs Exeter. She bestowed on me the Liebster blog award, which I am most honored by.  I am so fortunate to have made so many kind friends blogging and I am truly thankful everyones notes and comments!  I think I am supposed to nominate a few too. Here are my picks for some of my favorite blogs that I visit daily and admire. It was so hard to choose I have so many.

The Liebster awards go to:

How to Love this World, a newer blog, that another Kim, (yes!), writes about style, food and fun links to everything new and cool. Love stopping by here.

Design in My View, with the lovely Linda from Coastal Southern Cal. This blog is her fun take on design, decor, art, gardening and cocktails too! J'adore!

The Style and Travel Journals, I love this blog and I can't believe I've only just found her. The quality of Pamela's blog gives Habitually Chic a run for it's money. 

La Dolfina A great blog all about treasure hunting along the California coast. Her eye for style and design is showcased in her online store too.

Trouver le Soleil, Leslie's blog from the Pacific Northwest, where she shares her thoughts on home, health, beauty, cooking and healthy living! I always love her positive vibe.

Check them out! Love these girls.



Monday, May 21, 2012

Meeting Tim Gunn and Summer Dressing Dos & Don'ts

Kate Spade dress.

This weekend I was lucky to go to a fashion show up at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and see Tim Gunn of Project Runway. I totally owe this to my husband who was sweet enough to tell me about it  and take me too. It was a fun time and if you aren't from the Bay Area, you should definitely check out this pretty shopping area if you get to Palo Alto or Stanford University. It's just a wonderful place to stroll with the most gorgeous plants and flowers. Stanford also has my favorite place to have lunch, La Baguette a French bakery. They have the best baguette sandwiches with butter just like in France and also pastries to die for...Okay sorry enough about my addiction to all things bread, and on to Tim!

Tim's suit was impeccable.  The grey-blue was handsome on the silver fox!

Can I just say I love this guy? I really do. He has so much integrity. If you see him on the show you know why. He really tries to guide and help these young designers. He does hold fast to his commitment to good taste, appropriateness and being a good person. Even with what he call his, "Old stodgy," standards, the fashion world has embraced him. We need more people like Tim who tells it like it is, designers be damned.  He is the Mr Blackwell for our times, but a heck of a lot more likable.

I thought this Kate Spade outfit was rather funny given all Tim's directions. :)

Saturday he was giving commentary on a fashion show that featured Kate Spade, Juicy Couture and Lucky brand clothes. After, he held a question and answer session. I really enjoyed the fashion show. The Kate Spade outfits were adorable and totally embracing that color-blocking trend. This brand is all about fun with kitschy items like purses made of astro-turf, tennis ball shaped purses and a wicker handbag in the shape of an armadillo! Fun. There are also some gorgeous wearable pieces and dresses that will be classics and are worth the investment. They also had Juicy, a luxury resort brand and Lucky Brand which is very California and boho.

Some Kate Spade color-blocking and a cute dress.

There were men's clothes from Lucky brand.

The astro-turf purse above with more Kate Spade dresses.

Dresses above from Lucky and Kate Spade. Lucky Brand outfit below. 

Tim said straight from the start he wasn't a fan of all the looks from some of these lines. He's honest and called out the dresses and shorts from Juicy and Lucky that shouldn't even be considered by women closer to my age. One cute set featured full-length rompers from Juicy. Anyone with an age of double-digits shouldn't even think about wearing these, Tim admonished. I kind of agree. He also said many of these looks need to be reserved to for the pool and no way should be worn in town by any women.  He also didn't dig the capri pants that are so ubiquitous on American women in warmer months. He thinks they cut off a women's leg where they end and make most women stumpy looking. Long pants or skirts are more flattering he says.

Tim's co-host Leah Salak was wearing a Kate Spade dress and necklace.

When it came time for Q&A, no one raised their hands at first. I jumped right up of course. I wasn't going to pass up a chance to chat with this guy! My question, was if women over 40 should wear shorts at all? What about longer shorts? Tim says he likes longer shorts and they can be quite chic. Soon, people were getting braver and asked more questions. He really spent a lot of time with each person and their question and chatting. He made each person feel special and I guess that is part of his charm. I also learned a lot more about dressing for warmer months and I thought I'd share with you readers too.

The wraps that go over these Kate Spade suits have pom-pom trim. Love that!

Tim Gunn's Tips for Summer Dressing

Rompers- if your age is over single digits, probably not.

Short shorts can be vulgar on women of all ages. The short ones should be reserved for the pool or beach only.

Long shorts can be chic.

Balance skin exposure on your outfits. If you are wearing shorts or a shorter skirt, wear a top that is more covered like a T with long sleeves, a blouse or a jacket. Also, with a sleeveless or more skin-baring shirt, you need a more covered bottom half, like long pants. Exposing too much skin can change a cute look to vulgar quick.

Short dresses are for the young and the pool area. Even young girls should be discouraged from wearing these too short dresses as they can be quite tasteless. Do not try to dress up a long maxi-dress with jewels. He says these and other sundresses are for the pool and are really in the cover-up category, not for a formal occasion at all. (Note to self, maxi-dresses you are now cover-ups! )

Half-tops?!?  Well, I guess these are coming back in style in New York. Tim says it's one of those trends that looks horrible and then people start adopting it. Forget it, no matter how great your body looks. It's about good taste. (I wasn't even thinking of trying this one! Didn't want to scare anyone ;P)

Capri pants are attractive on tall women, but longer pants are always more flattering. Longer capris look better than shorter boxier ones.

Bustier women need to stay away from higher cut necklines in dresses (see the dress in the first photo he used as an example to stay away from),  and tops. These just make you look too top heavy and you are better off wearing a v-neck or something that breaks up that area and therefore, minimizes it. Note he is not talking about a deep plunging neckline here if you were wondering..

Men need to own a few nice ties and every man should have a suit that fits him and he is proud to wear. Fit is huge for suits and you should have help selecting one that can be customized to your body. Too many men wear clothing that is one to two times bigger than they need. This is a real problem and men walk around in horrible baggy clothes. Fit cannot be underestimated for men. He also says men should find a way to express some flair like a pocket square or tie. Men seem to take pride in the fact that they don't own a tie. A sad statement about how our society has become slackers.

Tank tops (never call them wife-beaters, a horrible term, says Tim), are French in origin. In France, the term tank referred to pool, and tank tops were pool attire. They should remain such for men and women, men especially so. These are okay for beach and resort too.

Bottom line on all Tim's advice, is really cover-up a bit more and you'll look a bit better. Don't be compelled to strip it all off as soon as the weather turns warm. Use Europeans as your guide when going out of the home in warm weather. Wear clothes like skirts or dresses, long shorts or button-ups in linen or lightweight fabrics. Don't dress for the pool when you are out and about.

On a side note, another person asked his take on bloggers and their influence on fashion. He said it has really changed the face of fashion and who is shaping it. Bloggers and ordinary people are having such huge influence on blogs, Facebook and even Pinterest and are setting trends now. That said, he thinks it's ridiculous that 13 year olds with fashion blogs are sitting next to Anna Wintour at fashion week and I totally agree.

Loved the Kate Spade swim wear and cover-ups. See the armadillo bag?

It is exciting that regular women are sharing their ideas with us all, and frankly, I'd rather read and see how they look good versus another celebrity in In Style. If I hear again about how J Lo wears her makeup, well, you know what I mean. I like to see how people like myself get it together without a make-up team and stylist. It's much more interesting to me.


You may not agree with all Tim's tips, but looking around me this warm weekend, a few need to take heed, people. I am amazed how quickly everyone bares it all as soon as it gets a bit hot. One of my other pet-peeves is heels with short shorts. My mom always told me that looked a bit tacky. What do you think? I'm not a fan. I always think shorts look chic with flats.

"Make it work!"

Kim :)

Kate Spade trench.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Good Stuff!

Hi sweet friends. A quick Friday post for you. I am sure you are all crazy busy as I am this week. It seems like May is completely insane! School days are almost over and the remaining weeks are filled with half days and parents nights and so many year-end special events! I am totally bonkers right now, but wanted to get a small post out before the weekend.

Just wanted to share some super cute bling I scored at Francesca's. This is a chain that has been around a while and we just got one last year in our town. When I was looking for accessories for my outfit last weekend, I popped by and found so many cute items in the jewelry area.

I got this set of bamboo bangles for $19.00 and I thought they were perfect for summer. They also come in silver tones. Are they not just right for a night out and a sleeveless shift? I also am crazy for anything bamboo looking.

Also grabbed these two pairs of earrings. They had a buy one, get another half off. Total cost for both $16.00! I know. I loved the aqua stones on these drops for evenings and the gold discs will go with so much and aren't too large for daytime.

I have to say I was contemplating some very similar, but not as nice earrings for a LOT more, from another store who shall remain nameless. At these prices, run do not walk friends!! It takes just a few cute things like this to make your summer things from last year feel fresh. The quality of these pieces is quite nice. I'm not a snob when it comes to jewelry. I have some real and expensive pieces that I adore, but I like mixing it all up with costume. I think it's fun and you can add some trendy pieces to your classics.

And now that Mom's Day has passed, and with Father's Day just around the corner, I had to share a really cool gift idea. My husband ordered me a custom made chocolate bar for Mother's Day on line. It's really the cutest site and it's called Chocomize. You can create any kind of bar you wish and it even has your name on the description. 

My, "kimi, " bar was dark chocolate with macadamia nuts, lavender and hearts. Of course my own bar would have be nutty. :P

It's a unique and fun gift idea for a graduate, Father's Day or maybe a special teacher.

I had to add this last photo. My younger son Griffin and our cute neighbor Abby dressed up for Hawaiian day. Love how they matched! Tomorrow it's school picnic and jog-a-thon, then cub scouts year end picnic BBQ for dinner, and next week on to gold rush days, then 8th grade graduation stuff starts. Tonight was open house at school. Sigh..

Off to have some chardonnay my dears.
Hope you all have a lovely weekend!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day, A Wedding and Fun

"Fun is definitely not over-rated."

I love this quote from Meryl Streep in one of my all time favorite movies, It's Complicated.  As I grow older I realize how true this really is. Hope you had a good weekend and if you are a mom, a great Mother's Day. This post is a smattering of pictures, some lousy, some funny from the wedding I was posting about. It is a tribute to fun and life. 

Sweet Jill in her gorgeous gown. The ceremony was  outdoors in a lovely courtyard.

This weekend was probably one of the best times I ever had with my family. My cousin Jill (above with her dad my favorite Uncle Denny), married yesterday and we all traveled to the beautiful wedding near Sacramento. Last night I got to dance the night away with my husband, dad, uncle, brother, aunt, niece, nephews, sister-in-law, cousins and the whole family. 

My nephews and son with my mom.

Jackson with," G," as he calls her. She calls him, " J."
I love that they danced with their grandparents.

Best of all, and an unexpected treat was dancing with my mother and my two boys. My mom lives a pretty quiet life, but last night she outlasted us all and had a blast with my sons. Jackson and Griffin have never experienced a wedding or a reception and surprised us by busting some serious moves with their grandparents and cousins.

Go Mom!!

 Nothing could make me happier than dancing, laughing and seeing my Mom and boys together all night. Dancing with my husband Max was so fun too, and it really made for the best Mother's Day ever.  You know we so seldom get to enjoy each other and have FUN!  We get so busy with life we forget how much we really do like each other. I just kept thinking we need to find more ways to enjoy life together with the whole family. I really dig these people!

Max and I.  I'm so lucky my husband likes to dance .
Sorry these are all iPhone pics and not so good. Does my hair look green here?

My dad and I during the father-daughter dance. So nice to have the chance to dance with him.

Here's the dress I ended up wearing a Ralph Lauren paisley thingy. I loved it. With my round disc earrings I felt a bit Bollywood!  Love my guys in their suits too.

My darling niece Veronica who is 16.

Veronica, my boys and my handsome nephews Sander and Sean trying out the chicken balls. They hated that and called them "spheres!" Young kids are quite entertaining at a reception!
Not sure if Griffin and his cousin Sander were fans of the chicken, "spheres."
The food was delicious!

My brother Peter and my sister-in-law Line. (Pronounced Lina, she is from Norway. :)
 Cousins are so special and I was so happy to see mine as well as have my kids have fun with theirs.

With my sister-in-law Line and my cousin April,  Jill's sis and the maid of honor.
April and the bridesmaids looked beautiful in this blue.


We all stayed in the same hotel and got to spend Mother's Day breakfast together.
The kids here with their great-grandmother Jody.  She also lasted the whole reception!
At Mother's Day breakfast with my dear Aunt Wendy.

With my grandma. I feel so lucky to have her at 95!

This post is for you Mom!
 Thank you for giving me the gift of laugher, fun and teaching us to enjoy life. I will never forget how much fun we had together last night. 

 Love you Mom so much!