Al Fresco Entertaining

I was recently invited to a spring fete at the home of private chef and owner of Le Picnic, Ariane Aumont. It was a beautiful afternoon, the jasmine tea cocktails were flowing and the food was top notch to say the least. I’m still dreaming about the most delicious banana leaf wrapped coconut rice and pork belly
mushroom parcels (with crispy shallots!).

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The table was dressed in candles, artichokes, dogwood blooms and cabbage.

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A nest detail.

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For dessert, we chanted ‘Hatsuyuki’ while Ariane used her Japanese shaved iced machine for the first time.

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You can see the menu and more photos from this spring celebration here.

Photo Diary: Tokyo + Phuket

One major personal project I’ve had on my to do list (for forever!) has been to print my travel photos and organize them into journals so that I can actually look at them when the mood calls, or share them with friends and family every now and then. Instead, I’m only reminded of trips when searching for a photo in my iphone and sadly, I’m only sharing photos through instagram or facebook. What has this world come to? I’m glad I finally got around to posting a few photos because I’m immediately reminded of how amazing this trip was.

I recently traveled to Tokyo and Phuket and I pretty much died and went to heaven. For so long, Tokyo has been at the top of my travel list. I’m always mistaken for being Japanese, which is actually totally fine by me, and I love all things Japanese. The food, the culture, the design, the efficiency, all the cute little Japanese-y things that you don’t need…Tokyo is my spirit city.

This trip got off to a bit of a rough start, meaning my husband and I missed our flight. It was one of those early morning flights, but you had to get there the night before, it was a holiday weekend combined with my birthday, basically I messed up. I blamed it on my aging brain. I remember the week before was a crazy work filled week and I was running around like a mad woman so I only got around to typing up the travel itinerary the day that we were supposed to be departing, except that when I started to type in the departure date, I realized we had already missed our flight. I remained calm, told my husband to remain calm, and called the airline. Luckily, we were able to get out the next day without too much hassle. There was some rearranging I had to do with lodging in Tokyo, but thank goodness everything worked out.

One of the highlights of this trip was visiting the Hotel Okura before they started demolition in preparation for the 2020 Olympics. There’s no other way to describe this hotel except that it is completely classy and classic. The detail in the design is amazing and I pretty much wanted to be Richard Gere in Pretty Woman and move in.

There was a lot of walking, sightseeing and shopping done, a little too much of the latter, but I wanted to consume as much as possible. It is such an inspiring city. Every day ended in exhaustion, but I have to say, Tokyo was one of those places I was so sad to leave before I even left, I cannot wait to return.

Next stop was Phuket, Thailand to stay at an amazing villa owned by some very generous friends. This part of the trip was the complete opposite of Tokyo in that all I did was relax. To say that I lived like a queen for a few days is a total understatement. What made this stay even more amazing, was that I was completely present in every moment.

We were spoiled by the amazing house chef and staff. Dinner was had outside every night and I got to try some fantastic Thai dishes.

Every morning, I leapt out of bed to swim a few laps in my personal pool just outside the room. Then, I would go upstairs for some breakfast and jump into the main pool, maybe do some sunbathing or reading, watch a movie in the home theatre…does it sound like I’m bragging? It’s because I am ;p

As this trip was coming to an end, I connected back with technology to check in with work so that I wasn’t in complete shock when I returned home.

I miss watching the amazing sunsets with a glass of wine, but still so grateful for this experience.

Feeling Fall

Most of the boxes have been cleared out of the house and I finally have the mental (and actual) space to get into the Fall mood.

1. This everlasting arrangement will keep pretty on your table for as long as you want.

2. I took a few liberties with this recipe, but these chai spiced sugar cookies are yum-um.

3. Been looking for a new hat and I think this one is it!

4. Totally stealing this art idea for my guest room which has a bit of a camp-y theme going on.

Wanderlust: Café Pinson

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A case of the Mondays is pretty much equivalent to a case of wanderlust and I would absolutely love to be in this little Parisian cafe right about now. Café Pinson mixes print seating with bold color, but it all remains brilliantly understated because of the use of natural materials and natural light.

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The teal built-ins and door ensure that I will never tire of this deep, rich color.

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The wood counters are in perfect contrast with the rustic tile.

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This cushion-filled dining area is perfect for leisurely lunches at a relaxed pace.

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If you need me, I’ll be daydreaming of being right here…

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Images via Café Pinson

Frosted Cupcakery Revamp

If you live in Southern California, you for sure have to have heard of Frosted Cupcakery because they are pretty much the best cupcakes ever. If you haven’t checked them out, I suggest you hurry up and do so (and you can thank me later). Their Long Beach location has been in business for quite some time and because of all the traffic, their seating area was starting to show a lot of wear and tear (literally).

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Stacia, the owner, asked me to revamp their seating area and so we decided that we would do a banquette with a slight wing on the ends to give it some dimension, finished with a single row of button tufting. We used a contract grade vinyl for durability in a nectarine orange shade. Stacia did raise the question of ‘is it too much orange?’, but I felt that it would brighten up the space, complement the mural and the light blue walls. We also replaced the existing chairs with a few classic white Tolix chairs. I love how the revamp turned out.

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Photos by Laure Joliet

In The Kitchen: Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola Recipe

Ingredients:

8 c. rolled oats

2 c. wheat germ

1 c. sunflower seeds

1 c. chopped raw cashews

2 c. sliced raw almonds

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. maple syrup

3/4 c. honey

1 c. sunflower seed oil

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 c. raisins

1 c. dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, cashews, and almonds in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 30 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool, then stir in the raisins and cranberries before storing in an airtight container.

*This recipe makes a big batch, I like to package some up and give to neighbors. Feel free to cut the recipe in half.

Homemade Granola Recipe

Restaurant Manger

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Although I’ve made a pretty good effort of eating my way through SF, there is still a never-ending list of restaurants I’ve yet to visit in the Bay Area. Even still, I can’t help but think of far and away places I’d love to travel to. Travel has been (and always will be) my biggest inspiration for design and life in general, and when there are restaurants in the world like Manger you can see why. This modern, sleek and beautifully designed establishment is in Paris’ 11th arrondissement. The minimalist dining room of Manger’s modern take on the French bistro is enhanced by greenery, a muted color palette and an open floor plan with exposed kitchen. The food looks just as beautiful…as if I needed another reason to get myself back to Paris…

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Images via here

Jackson Hole, WY

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When flying into Jackson Hole, you’re immediately greeted by the Grand Tetons as soon as you step off the plane. Breathing in the fresh, cold mountain air, I knew it was going to be a good trip and the perfect place to ring in the new year.

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I started the first day with a delish breakfast at Pearl Street Bagels.

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Then tramsped around town and did a little shopping, which included a stop at the Pendleton store.

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Not too long after that bagel, I was hungry again (what’s new?) so I made a stop at Persephone Bakery for something warm and filling. This bakery is cozy and so cute, serving Intelligentsia coffee and the best baked goods. I came back almost every day while in Jackson.

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More exploring around the town square and of course I had to pop into a few home shops, including Twenty Two Home.

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One of the days, I took a winter sleigh ride at the National Elk Refuge. I could almost touch these beautiful creatures.

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There was lots of touristing, relaxing and reading that went on, and the best way to end the trip was at Solitude Spa. I literally spent an entire day there which ended with a soak in the rooftop hot tub.

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Jackson Hole was the perfect setting to wind down, reflect on 2013 and reset for this upcoming year.

In the Kitchen: Homemade Granola Bars

I’ve been overindulging since Turkey Day and a lot of my jeans aren’t too happy about it, but I thought I would slip in a healthy baking recipe amidst all the cookies and cakes I’ve been making. These granola bars are easy and pretty good-for-you, a nice gift alternative for all your health nut friends.

Ingredients:

2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal
1 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. wheat germ
3 tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 c. honey
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. chopped pitted prunes
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
1/2 c. dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal and almonds together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring halfway through, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the prunes, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Press the mixture evenly into the pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares.

In the Kitchen: Creamy Cauliflower Soup

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It doesn’t feel quite right posting about soup when it’s 85 degress (?!?) in LA, but I’m imagining myself in colder climates right now. This soup is light, creamy and healthy…a perfect dinner for a chilly night in.

Ingredients:
Soup
1 head cauliflower
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 qt. low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crisps
1 c. shredded parmesan
Chopped parlsey, for garnish

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the leaves and core from the cauliflower, coarsely chop, and reserve. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened (but not browned), about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender and return it to the pot (you may also use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup if you have one). Add the parmesan and stir until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Parmesan crisps: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mound parmesan onto baking sheets and flatten with back of spoon into circles 1 1/2-2 inches round. Bake about 8-10 minutes until golden brown and crisps. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Garnish each soup bowl with 1-2 crisps and some parsley.

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Enjoy!

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