Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2 year anniversary, mid week musings and a giveaway!

Forewarning...this is one of those looong posts worked on over several days that kept getting added onto. Grab another cup of whatever you are drinking! Hey its New Year's day...a day to relax.

Wow! I can't believe it, I almost forgot about the fact that today marks my 2 year anniversary!!!! Seriously?? How did that happen and so fast! I have had such fun riding in the fast lane, time literally just slipped away from me! Have to thank each and every reader, you make what I do possible and oh so worth it, you have warranted all my musings and encouraged me with your interest so THANK YOU!!!! Of course this milestone calls for a celebration.......a giveaway, and not one but two. So all details on bottom of my random musings post. The best is yet to come.......
First off, officially wishing each and every one of you a very happy, joyous and healthy 2013! Crazy that 2012 is now a thing of the past and it's onto a new year! Wasn't quite the holiday we envisioned (Christmas day was wonderful but the rest went downhill fast). My poor husband was diagnosed with pneumonia and has been quiet sick. Thankfully as the antibiotics are kicking in, he is feeling a little better but with our frigid weather and his weak state.....he had to stay home. So nurse Tina "extended her contract"  on a day to day basis and is back on the 24/7 shift. Yes, I was very disappointed but of course his health comes first....

The upside is that the surplus of time allowed me to truly rest, catch up on things around the house, mail and unanswered emails, even unpacked a few boxes! And lets not even talk about the unrelenting movie marathon I have been on, for starters saw It's Complicated (again) Last Holiday again) The English Patient (again), The Horse Whisperer (again),  The Great Gatsby (again), As good as it gets (again), Sense and Sensibility (again)...seeing a theme here? Yes some movies never get old! Did see The Proposition, which was good too (and I was fainting over the house)! I really liked it though, house aside. Oh and the autobiography on Queen Noor (fascinating)!

I have some fun things in store for the new year, which I will talk about soon. In the meantime....here whats new in my world......
You know I love to cook! I tried this pasta and it is SO good! You know I love to share when I discover a great new recipe, not only is this easy but its so fresh and fulfilling without feeling too heavy. A light lemony pasta. The next is an easy appetizer with blackberries, this again is easy but so pretty, festive  and very delicious! So I have included the recipes since often you want to know. Both get my stamp of approval!

⅔ cup olive oil
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound spaghetti
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)


Lemon Spaghetti
In a large bowl, whisk the oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and ¾ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper to blend. Set the lemon sauce aside. (The sauce can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the spaghetti to the lemon sauce, and toss with the basil and lemon zest. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve.

And how pretty are these! I would have made these for a New Years eve soiree if I was having one.......(saw this on my buddy, Desirees blog) which led me to the wonderful Yummy Mummy's blog!

Blackberry Goat Cheese Crackers

makes about 15

1/2 cup silver or gold sanding sugar (I used a combination of sanding sugar and shimmer dust)
2 cups fresh blackberries, divided
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons agave syrup
5 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
1 package favorite crackers (I used gluten free rice crackers from Trader Joe's)
1 small bunch fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Make the Main Course Italian!

Place sanding sugar in a small bowl. Add 15 blackberries (or however many crackers you are making) to the bowl, using a spoon to turn to coat. If sugar is not sticking, toss a few drops of water onto the blackberries and try again.

In a small saucepan, simmer the remaining blackberries, lemon juice, and agave over medium heat until berries have broken down. Use a wooden spoon to break up berries and help them along. Once the berries have turned into a jam-like mixture, after cooking about 10 minutes, remove from heat. Press mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl if you do not want the seeds.

Spread a teaspoon of goat cheese onto each cracker. Top with a small dollop of blackberry sauce. Top with a single sparkling blackberry and garnish with mint.

*time saver: berries can be sugared 2 hours in advance. Do not assemble the whole thing until 20 minutes of less before serving if using rice crackers, as they tend to absorb moisture and become soft.

And finally for anyone who has been to heavenly Napa Valley and had the good fortune to eat at Bistro Jeanty, no doubt you experienced the most sensational quiche you have ever eaten. By far the best quiche I have ever been willing to gain five pounds for! So I was beyond excited when I found the recipe adapted from theirs for Gourmet Magazine. I have not made it yet as I just found it but you better believe I will be attempting this very soon. In the meantime, here it is...let me know if you make it and tell me what you think! I hope its the same....because that quiche was ridiculously amazing!

Ham, Leek, and Three-Cheese Quiche
Gourmet  | April 2006
Adapted from Bistro Jeanty, Yountville, CA

yield: Makes 8 main-course servings
active time: 35 min
total time: 2 1/2 hr
Marsha and John Antonelli of Whittier, California, write: "We recently had lunch at Bistro Jeanty, in Yountville, California, where the ham, leek,... more ›

    •    1 round of refrigerated pie dough for a 9-inch pie (from a 15-oz package; not a preshaped frozen pie shell)
    •    3/4 lb leeks (about 3 medium; white and pale green parts only)
    •    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    •    1/4 lb thinly sliced smoked ham
    •    3 oz Gruyère, coarsely grated (1 cup)
    •    3 oz Italian Fontina, coarsely grated (1 cup)
    •    3 oz whole-milk mozzarella, coarsely grated (1 cup)
    •    3 large eggs
    •    1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    •    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    •    1 3/4 cups crème fraîche (from two 8-oz containers)

    •    Special equipment: a 9-inch pie plate (4-cup capacity)
print a shopping list for this recipe

Prebake pie dough in pie plate according to package instructions, then remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350°F.
Meanwhile, halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then wash well in a bowl of cold water, agitating leeks. Lift out and drain leeks in a colander and pat dry. Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat and cook leeks, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Line warm pie shell with sliced ham, overlapping layers as necessary to cover bottom and side of pie shell completely. Toss cheeses together and sprinkle evenly into pie shell (do not pack cheese), then spread leeks evenly on top of cheese. Whisk together eggs, nutmeg, and pepper until combined well, then whisk in crème fraîche until smooth.
Carefully pour half of custard on top of pie filling, gently moving cheese with a spoon to help custard disperse evenly. Slowly add remaining custard in same manner. Cover pie loosely with foil, gently folding edges over crust (keep foil from touching top of cheese mixture) and transfer to a baking sheet.
Bake until center of filling is puffed and set (center will be slightly wobbly but not liquid), about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool on a rack at least 20 to 30 minutes before serving (filling will continue to set as it cools). Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Last but not least..anyone had the good fortune of tasting anything from the famed Parisian baker Eric Kayser? His works of art are as beautiful as they are delish (trust me on this)! Even his little "signs" are edible. Oy vey.
 Humm.....wonder whats inside?

 Oh! That I think I can manage:)


Now that I have your appetite in full gear (sorry)! lets move on to another subject....my bedroom! Admittedly this has been a room I have thought about doing for a long time but finally am getting ready to get it done I have always had a vision in my mind of a soft tonal room, in ivory with touches of a pale blue. Very subtle, serene inviting, elegant ...a room that will envelope me and be my personal tranquil cocoon. I had started with a beautiful wallpaper as inspiration and a starting point and when I finally was ready to take the plunge, it was discontinued as a stock item and only available for custom order and it was prohibitively expensive so that was nixed. I am deciding between two carpets and am wavering. I will do an entire post on bedrooms later this week and will show you and ask for your opinions on the carpet.  This sitting room at the uber beautiful George V in Paris is another inspiration..love the feeling of this room and its one of the finest hotels we have ever been to.......

Many of you have written and asked me about my two powder room wallpapers. I did reply months ago but for those of you who have asked more recently, I finally found the information again so here it is an sorry for the delay! The first one is my formal powder room and the second one is my family powder room off the kitchen.....love love love both!
 Jester Caprice in pewter by Schumacher

Sanderson Palampore 

Have to get back to food and beverage one more time, sorry! I have discovered a new rose that I LOVE! Soooo light and perfect, its the perfect ladies rose to lunch with (works for dinner too) and you know that it has a blue and white label  earned extra brownie points for me! You must try it...sooo good! And come to think of it, this would go mighty well with the quiche:)

I think a lot of you are like me, kind of old fashioned in some ways? I do long to hang on to traditions from the past...and definitely prefer a  lot of things "the old fashioned way". A few years ago I hot stamped every one of my holiday cards with a beautiful wax seal embossed with my last name initial. I decided to order some more and had to share with you the info on them on the most wonderful company, their website even includes tutorials. A custom stamper can be had for 35.00 with your three initial monogram! What a great gift...and talk about adding a serious dose of elegance to any kind of correspondence...love love love it! Visit Nostalgic Impressions here!

Even though the holidays are making a quick exit, I still want to give these luminaries a shot. Are these not insanely beautiful!! My friend, Phyllis from Henhurst Interiors made these and these are featured in her own Christmas post. Talk about impressive and beautiful......absolutely love this idea!! Click here to see more.....

Here are my new sconces that got put up in the family room. LOVE them, they are black tole. It is hard to see their scale but they are quite large so very impactful. About 24" tall....they add so much to the room.

 A couple of newer vignettes from the holidays (that aren't  going anywhere so fast) Yep Christmas lasts here just a little longer than most, it's all about keeping the spirit and magic alive, baby. actually its all about being too lazy to lug all the big boxes and storage containers to and from the attic.

 I really love the way red pops against the blue and white......its a keeper!

 Giant pinecones are so great for decorating for the holidays, I got a big batch of them and had such fun!

 Took this a week or two ago, though it was so pretty, though the grainy quality doesn't do it justice. Back door, new lattice planters, they are HUGE. My husband flipped when I  had them delivered, they are about 3 feet by 3 feet but with topiaries and pretty flowers will look wonderful come spring.

 I  I love having pretty pastries inside my beautiful domed cloche so was so happy when  I found these beautiful holiday ceramic cupcakes, no worries about crumbs or them getting stale...they look so festive around the holidays!

My sconces again, a better picture.

Paperwhites...my favorite holiday flower. The beautiful soft white petals, the intoxicating smell, the impact they have with their long stalks. I was late in growing them but they have really come along nicely. I love them and walking into the room smells soooo good! I loved the lighting I caught with my camera (totally by accident)!

The next few batches were planted later but will give me something pretty to look at during the doldrums  of January!

Moving onto my online shop. Doing a bit of replenishing....and plan to add some wonderful new items soon. One of my most favorite new items is this GORGEOUS with a capital G bed carona/crown! This could so easily inspire an entire room for me, and may actually do just that (my wheels are turning)! And of course as always, if you have any questions, just email me here. Lots more to come...including a wonderful truly beautiful new tole hand painted line!

 And then this absolutely gorgeous tureen, look at the beautiful metal filigree work. This looks like a precious antique but is brand new and truly spectacular...talk about adding a jewel to the table!
And this large beautifully colored ginger jar exactly reproduced from an important antique jar.....love it!
And back by popular demand, getting in a limited number of beautiful brackets/wall sconces again! These are so pretty and really unique! These will be up in the next day or two, if you have questions email me.

And the low down on the giveaway to celebrate my 2 year blogging anniversary....still can't believe it. Does this mean I am no longer a newbie but gasp....a veteran! I never would have thought I could have so much to say, may it keep on rolling......for a long time! So here's the scoop, I am giving away two lovely items. All I need you to do is visit my online shop, come back here and tell me which item is calling your name. Want a second chance? Comment on Facebook page, click here.  That's it! I will announce two lucky winners on Thursday morning.

One lucky winner will win one of these gorgeous full length French aprons! A new addition to the shop in a few wonderful authentic French patterns (these are made in France).

And a second lucky winner will win a box of monogrammed soaps custom made to their specifications!

Many thanks for stopping in. I am sooooo lucky to have the most incredible readers (and ones with such divine taste to boot). Your friendship means the world and I am not "just saying that" but truly mean it. A two year anniversary is a big deal and doesn't come along every day, and I consider it a celebration not only for me but for us...WE have gone through a lot of adventures together! But the best part you ask? That the best is yet to come. So stay tuned buckle your seat belt and prepare to go on one heck of an enchanted ride! Cheers to 2013!

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