Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Inspiration!


Boy the year went fast didn't it? Is that what you start saying the older you get? Tonight we are going to be with a few old and dear friends for a low key, but fun get-together.  I haven't hosted NYE in a while, but I saved some of these favorites for inspiration....

I love a silver or any big bowl with champagne bottles and ice. 
This is chic with the black and branches!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Christmas Everyone!

I've been going as fast as I can this week. Got almost everything done except for a few little bits.

Here's a little of the simpler variation I did on decorating this year.

I loved this herringbone ribbon so added that to the front room where we have white brown and some black. My bells from last year are mixed with my usual hodge podge and cuttings from outdoors.

 Loved the trees in these wooden pots from Trader Joes this year. I bought one for this room.

Two more in my powder room.

I stole this idea from my friend Leasa and added some festive bits to the soap dish.

These vases now have the Starry String Lights from Restoration Hardware wound to the branches.

I also used the timed Restoration lights on the living room mantel. 
(These are on sale right now and work great in summer around umbrellas!)

I wanted to keep it light and bright in that room which is darker.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Traditions & Simplifying Gift Giving

I'm still here! Sorry for the lapse in blogging. Life happened and I was trying to keep up with things like school cello concerts, making Boy Scout wreaths, helping my grandma, getting the house decorated, shopping not to mention some fun holiday gatherings I've been lucky to be a part of. 

My cards got messed up this year in the printing, took forever to get fixed and just now got to me. When I will get those out is anyone guess... This week I also fit in a new kind of spin class -The Dailey Cycle that is opening soon in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. I'll write more about that fun experience in the next week or so.

 Speaking of Willow Glen, I love it this time of year, with it's trees and festive neighborhoods!

We took a night last week to do a special family dinner out in Willow Glen and see the lights. Willow Glen is one of the most charming areas to me as the streets still resemble the era they were built in, and they take pride in preserving the home size and neighborhoods as they originally were. It's a delight to drive through during the holidays since many streets choose a theme for their Christmas lights. This year we saw candy canes, arches, icicles, and snowflakes as street themes! It has become a tradition to have dinner there and then drive through with the Christmas tunes playing.

Love the big trees and how about those snowflakes? Sorry hard to photograph well!

You can see people go all out...

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Summit League Holiday Home Tour 2014

The Friday before Thanksgiving I had the pleasure to tour the lovely homes on the Summit League Home for the Holidays 2014 house tour. Since the homes were Christmas themed and holiday decor, I thought I'd share with you after Thanksgiving. 

It was my first time doing this tour and it did not disappoint! Three homes were featured, and the beneficiaries were the Child Advocates of Silicon Valley Transitioning Teen  program, which helps kids who are aging out of the foster care system become independent and successful. It is a great cause and so many wonderful people worked to make this tour something special.

I'm showing just a few of the best displays and rooms. 

This lovely and natural hallway vignette was done by Scarlett Fiona Reed of Saffron & Genevieve as was the entry below. I immediately was in love with the greens, the books and old chests which were gorgeous.

Saffron & Genevieve is a shop in Santa Cruz and you can read more about the owner, her home design business, and her shop on her fun blog

This pretty home may look familiar to readers, as it belongs to my friend Leasa, who I featured on here last Christmas with her Christmas in Paris lunch and an Easter lunch as well. Leasa is a local mom and friend who entertains beautifully and generously offered her home to be opened for the tour. It was interesting to see what the designers did in each room, as I already loved her home decor.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Table Ideas and Menu Plans

 I'm excited about the holidays and I think I'm coming close to my final table vision this year.

I start out by going through my recipe binder, my cookbooks and magazines. After shopping around a bit,  I decided on tablecloths from Homegoods. I am having 13 for dinner so I'll need 2 tables and matching tablecloths are nice.

Tahari had these lovely linen tablecloths with a slight silver thread in one, gold in the other.  My plan is to go with lots of glass, crystal and mercury glass votives, clippings from my olive tree and pears for color. I have a mix of white plates and plan to use the old silver flatware and white cloth napkins.

Pears look so good with everything and you can transition them right into Christmas decor too. I find olive branches or clippings from trees or scattered leaves can add a natural more rustic look I like as well.

I think it will be fun to greet guests with a glass of champagne on this tray. I found the flutes at a tag sale in town. They are so delicate and I love the etched stars in them. Lovely to sip from!

Lucky for me, my mom and dad will cook and bring the turkey, gravy and stuffing. My husband and I just have to do all the sides. Pies are brought from my aunt and uncle and my grandmother will bring her cranberry jello.

This year I'll be doing just one appetizer of a good brie with rainforest crackers and scatter around  tiny bowls of Trader Joe's marcona rosemary almonds.

My side dishes this year are :

frisée and fennel salad with apples, walnuts, dried cranberries and citrus dressing
roasted brussels sprouts with parmesan topping
yukon gold sour cream mashed potatoes
sweet potato casserole (so cliche, but gotta have it!)
cranberry sauce with orange segments and pecans

 It's enough to make us all overeat and still have plenty of leftovers.

It's nice to send others home with some of the food, especially my grandmother. For this reason I save any nice take-out containers for a few months before just for this. I also like utilizing mason jars with small amounts of gravy, soup or veggies. Places like our local Ace Hardware sells a box of 12 for around $7. They make super storage and drinking glasses for older kids too. I also like not storing food in plastic whenever possible!

Sitting by the fire brainstorming my Thanksgiving plans with some of my favorite sources.

Many of my friends are taking the smart route of ordering the turkey or the entire feast from places like Whole Foods or other local spots. Purple Onion, a local cafe and a favorite of mine, has a fantastic Thanksgiving catering menu. If I wasn't cooking with all these helpers, I would surely do that. The turkey prep thing is not my favorite. I dislike handling it and sadly once even left the packet of giblets in!! That of course was one of my first Thanksgivings...Many years ago. :D I have help now. I'm fortunate to have a husband who gets right in the kitchen and starts dicing, chopping or whatever.  He just waits and says okay what next? LOVE that.

I also trek to my local Williams-Sonoma to pick up each years' free Thanksgiving guide. I have saved them and they always have inspired ideas and practical advice.  Get one if you need some fresh recipes and help with turkey cooking times and more. You can also access all this year's great recipe's here.  This Pomegranate Gin Fizz from their list looks pretty and I might have to try it!

If you need more help also check out Ina Garten's 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving. 

I love this holiday. It's about being together and being thankful and sharing. That's all that matters really right?

Anyone have any great traditions or recipes please share below. One of our traditions is to play a lot of board games and take a lot of family walks and fit in some movies. The downtime is my favorite part.

I am also thankful for you readers, your kind notes and just being here. 

I wish you all the happiest Thanksgiving!



Monday, November 17, 2014

Favorites for Pretty Winter Skin & Hair

It's that time of year again where my skin and hair start to get dry, flaky and generally scary!! I start to think I'm aging rapidly. I know a lot has to do with the extremely dry air we have at this time of year and also the cooler temps. We've been having fires and I'm finding myself eating more soups, and rich and salty foods. All contribute to dry and dull skin. I've been trying to remind myself to hydrate and eat more greens.

 In the meantime, I've restocked my arsenal of winter beauty products I use to cope and prevent myself from appearing like an apple core doll by December!! Some of them you may already use and some may be new. I have sensitive skin that has bouts of rosacea and also acne. Argh!  I've spent years finding what doesn't make me break out while searching for natural ingredients whenever I can.

Here's my personal cold weather favorites. Some natural and plant based and a few are not. You can find a link online for each in the names, if you can't find in your stores.

 Cerave Hydrating Cleanser is all I ever use now. My dermo first got me onto this and it leaves a layer of protection after washing with it that prevents irritation and redness flare-ups. It's easily found at most drugstores now. I know so many friends who also are hooked on this! Two ingredients - ceramides prevent irritation and redness and hyaluronic acid which attracts moisture make this special thought it looks quite generic in packaging and price. Hyaluronic acid is wonderful at plumping up the skin and making it soft. Dr Oz's blog also wrote about it's benefits.

Vitamen C Ester Serum by Perricone MD I have to have a serum in winter and fall and this is wonderful for brightening and giving a glow. I like to layer this one under my sunscreen, but I have also used the Jan Marini one and in a pinch the $36 all natural Jason version, has been good too. I just always like to be using a C Ester product to keep free radicals at bay and help with dark spots. I do find religious use does make a difference.

 Weleda Calendula Baby Face Cream. I found this by accident when shopping for their Skin Food. As with all Weleda products, it's all plant based and so pure it's almost edible. It's a little cheaper than the their other face creams and I actually like it better. I pat this on at night to wake up with baby soft skin and also use it over my retin-a  that I deploy a few nights a week. I have it by my bed and in my purse too. Love!

 Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46. This lovely sunscreen was recommended by my dermo for sensitive skins like mine that break out. Wonderful texture and light feel. It actually leaves my skin looking better and is a perfect base for foundation. Since my IPL Treatment at SkinSpirit I've been fanatic about protecting my face from new sun damage and this has really helped.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Weekend Thoughts and a Few Thanksgiving Ideas

Fall has finally hit here and it's been a beautiful week weather wise. It's gotten cold enough at night that all the maples and pistachio trees have turned brilliant hues of magenta, gold and red. The sidewalks filled with leaves. Walking through crunchy leaves feels magical to me, so rare and short a time they are here.

We also have had some very perfect temperatures. Days and nights are very cold, into the 40s and late afternoons the sun burns into the 70s. It seems a shame to not go out and soak up a few late afternoon rays on the nearest chair!

This is the time I start wrapping my head around the whole idea that the holidays are about to hit us like a ton of bricks. I'm like the squirrel trying to gather what I can while I have a moment. 

I began brainstorming about Thanksgiving decor and what I might do. I like to see what is out there.

I stopped by Cost Plus to look for a mirror and found a lot to love in the housewares area. They actually have many pretty choices and have gotten the memo that natural woods, and lighter tones are in and not so much fiesta colors (cue memo to Pier1.)

This scalloped carving board is supposed to be for your turkey, but the pretty shape and lovely wood made me think how fantastic this could be as a cheese platter. It's gorgeous for appetizers and even to just display side up in one's kitchen!

I also thought the assortment of paper (yes I know) mats were kind of nice. I liked this round design. Honestly, I get bored with my placemats and sometimes they all don't fit so well together with a big group. Tablecloths are okay, but I like to see the wood on my table. It's a simpler and more natural look. These could be cute with names penned on the edges too.

The color would be lovely with an oxblood cloth napkin no? I'm still looking and haven't found oxblood anywhere. I did find beautiful Forest Jacquard ones at Williams-Sonoma which are expensive, but a mix of deep purple, brown edged with a pinky gold fern design. It would be fun to mix these with many looks, especially at Thanksgiving.

These pretty Muir dinner plates were from Portugal and I love the feel, weight and color. I believe they are on sale right now too.

Then I found the Sawyer wood handled flatware. LOVE! At $2.99 a piece or less than $10 for a set of 4, they are fun and have a fresh look for a natural themed Thanksgiving table don't they? I'd love to use them all year and for outdoors too.

So I'm mulling over these items and checking out other stores and Pinterest. I've pinned a lot on my I Love Fall board and also my Entertaining one. I'm in my info gathering phase. I'm absolutely going for something natural with leaves, sticks, twigs, real fruit which will all figure in.

Still trying to purge the Halloween candy from this home. The mix of candy intake + time change = rough week!

Everyone's been a little grumpy.

Cats have been kneading their blankets a lot. I feel their angst!

We are off take our oldest son kayaking for his birthday.

Hope you all have a beautiful fall weekend!


Monday, November 3, 2014

Obsessing on Tribal Pearl Earrings...

I had to share my latest obsession - the Dior Tribal Pearl earring. I may be lagging compared to the rest of the world, but here in California, I have yet to see anyone wearing them. 

 Emma Watson wore them on the red carpet. I also noticed a new trend to wear just one statement earring. What I did not know is this is all related to the Dior Tribal Pearls.

Aren't they lovely and a bit deviant in a subtle way??? 

Created by Dior's chic Camille Miceli to give an edgier look to Dior's pearls, they mimic tribal piercings. The small stud is on the front of the lobe and the back is a larger ball that screws in and lays behind the lobe. 

Apparently those in the know, wear just one with something smaller on the other ear. Friends often split a pair. In France, they are worn both ways. Read more about a chic woman sporting them in Normandy in this post from the Contessa at Vintage Hen House. 

They also come in colors. Very fun!

This light violet is beautiful on Jennifer Laurence, who is the face of Dior right now.

The pink and green would be perfect for Hawaii or the tropics.

So if you are intrigued as I was, here's what you need to know. The Dior versions (which are faux), start at around $400 and can currently just be bought through Dior boutiques. I believe the Contessa, aka Elizabeth, has procured a real pair for herself. She even phoned Paris! Since that is a stretch for many of us, and there is nary a Dior Boutique nearby,  I took the the internet.

The best alternative version I found came from Bauble Bar. For the sake of this blog, and you my dear readers, I ordered a cream version to see if they were all the Dior versions were. Bauble Bar has a great return policy and free shipping on a lot of items, so it was easy.

Here's how it arrived. I love the cute YAY on everything. That's exactly how I felt when I put them on. They were lovely quality looking faux pearls and well constructed. Bauble has many variations of this in pearls and other colors similar to Dior's.  To me, the only difference is the Dior's may have a slightly larger ball on back and are gold plated studs, but it would be hard to tell. For $28 and no fee for regular shipping, these are a fun item to add a little edge to your fall look!

I love the black pearls as well and may get a pair for the holidays. How elegant for a night event with black! Bauble Bar also has a version.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wonderful Witchy Style 2014

 This week was the annual Wonderful Witchy Women With a Cause Charity Luncheon and Fundraiser at the San Jose Fairmont. It was the 9th year of this fun lunch and I just had to snap some of the hats and outfits on view. It's very much a fashion show and each year the witches (um, attendees), go over the top with some gorgeous and original creations. I especially love that it attracts women from all over the Bay Area and of all ages! It's a diverse group.

The founder and creator of Wonderful Witchy Women and the Bella Vista League is Cheryl Bailey. She started with friends using a small Halloween lunch as a way to raise funds for those in need in her own community. Over the years it has grown with almost 500 attendees this year! It's all due to Cheryl's dedication along with a super group of women who work tirelessly for months to make it happen. 

Last minute prep for the pretty tables at the Fairmont.

Lots of snapping pics at arrival!

Many cute variations on the witch theme...Leopard and Chanel!

So lovely!

Beautiful dresses, coats and shoes too.

It's all in the details!

Black lace is big this year and was a perfect accompaniment to a witch hat!

Fascinators were almost as popular as the hats and less cumbersome.