Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eyeballs anyone?

Ghosts, goblins and princesses unite...
Candy day has officially arrived!

Here's to a fun filled sweet day...


Or maybe a spooky one...

Bouncing Eyeball Anyone?

Rats...


Bats...


Skeletons...


And tombstones...


Here's hoping your day is a little bit sweet, a little bit spooky
 and a whole lot of fun!

Happy Halloween from our house to yours!

Now does anyone have any idea what to feed a 
Vampire and an inflatable Ostrich for lunch?



Thursday, October 28, 2010

An English Occasion

Eat me!
Famous words from Alice in Wonderland.
Who could resist eating a cupcake with one of these adorable picks in it?
I know I couldn't!

Alice in Wonderland Party Picks
I came across Vintage Twee on etsy a little while ago and
 was instantly taken in by all of Joanne's wonderful treasures.

Just take a look at some of her handmade vintage inspired goodies.

Teapot Favour Boxes

Vintage Style Favour Boxes


What wonderful party accessories these would make!

The teapots are especially fitting since Joanne is English
 and hails from Manchester in the UK.
When I asked Joanne what made her start her etsy shop she said that she "has always loved to create, ever since being a child." She even had a "making box" that her Mum would pull out a few times each week.  I laughed when she said "that all it took to keep her quiet was a few pieces of cardboard, some pipe cleaners and crepe paper!"
Too cute!

I asked her what her favorite item in her shop was and she told me,
 "she loves her Pillow Talk Favour Boxes which are made from an old love letter."

Pillow Talk Favour Boxes

How perfect would these be for a bridal shower or for wedding favors.
They are sized just right for jewelry or a few sweet treats.
When asked what aspect of creating she enjoys best, I was excited to learn to that she "loves going on treasure hunts to source her materials."  
Joanne tries "to use asmany vintage materials" as she can find.  
Her "favourite materials are vintage lace,pearls and old sheet music."  
Take a look at these wonderful "upcycled" treasures she has created.

Vintage Sheet Music Christmas Bauble
Vintage Sheet Music Rose Cones
Or maybe you're planning a "fancy dress" party, 
a.k.a. a costume party...well then how 
perfectly "spooktacular" these would be!

Halloween Themed Vintage Bottle
Halloween Themed Graveyard Party Picks

Joanne's shop is classic and elegant and reflects her love
 for all things old and worn, with a traditional English appeal. 
She provides her customers with friendly and reasonable
 priced service without compromising on quality.
Her attention to detail is evident in all her products and in her personality...you won't find more personable customer service anywhere.

Vintage Letterpress Cupcake Sticks

I love the fact that she includes her British heritage in her products.
Handmade from the heart by a lovely English girl!


So the next time you have a party to plan look no further than

You can also find Joanne on the web here
or


Thanks for taking the time to read about Vintage Twee!


Monday, October 25, 2010

For the Love of Cheese


We are not Italian...though at times I feel like maybe there is some long lost 
Italian relative hiding out in my family tree.

I love to cook their food.
I love to eat their food.
Did I mention I love to eat their food?

I had the opportunity earlier this year to visit Italy and fell in love with
 their cities, their culture and their language.

I bought Rosetta Stone before our trip and completed the whole first level.
It was fun, I learned a lot and it made the trip a whole lot more fun.

This has been an Italian year for us, and led my high school freshman
 to choose Italian as one of his electives.  
To be honest, I'm not sure who loves it more, me or him.  
We "speak" Italian whenever we can with a whole lot of 
English words interjected to complete our sentences, do homework together and just have a lot of fun with it.

So when he came home Friday from school humming a tune 
from Italian class, I had to know where it was from.  
It seems that a project is up and coming in Italian class where they will make a "commercial" and this was the example that was shown to them.




Too funny!
I've had the parmigiano song stuck in my head all weekend.
Needless to say, I have a feeling my son is soon going to have me
dressed up as a vegetable singing some Italian song for his commercial.
Well, what are Mom's for right?
Keep an eye out for us on YouTube!

In the meantime though...all together now...
par-par-par-par-par-migiano
re-re-re-re-re-reggiano
par-par-par....you get the idea.

Happy Humming!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Goodbye Wine and Cheese...just for today

I love wine and cheese and even on occasion beer and chips, 
but there's something simple and appealing about a cocktail.  
It's refined retro. 

It brings to mind old movies where the women wore a dress and the men a jacket and tie to a party.  It was a time meant for gathering and talking, bringing people together.
There'd be a record on the player, tunes of Frank, 
Sammy or Nat filling the air. 
Simple cocktail food; like finger sandwiches, salted nuts, maybe even 
cocktail wieners with those frilly toothpicks!
And of course a fantastic cocktail or two.


So the other afternoon when I had nothing better to do...well ok, 
actually maybe I did have laundry, 
but c'mon clean clothes are kind of overrated right? 

I put a little Frank on the record player and planned out my next party...and here's what I came up with.
  
Ladies, wouldn't you just feel like the quintessential 1950's housewife, 
if you donned a gorgeous party dress like this?  
The pearls are a must!


1950's Green Cotton Party Frock
I can picture all my finger sandwiches, crusts removed and cut into 
perfect little triangles and plated up on these gorgeous buffet plates, 
complete with a little bowl of cornichons and olives.


Franciscan Ware Buffet Plates

You've got to have punch and what better container 
to serve in it than this?
Totally fab!

Witty Vintage
Retro Atomic Orange Carafe
Now that the punch is ready...what perfect retro glasses to pour it into.
I love these!


My Unique Antiques

Vintage Green Juice Glasses

What kind of cocktail party would it be without a dish of spiced nuts!


Walnut Candy Dish


Once you start mixing up those drinks your guests are going to need somewhere to set them down.  What better option than these?  
Coasters made out of vintage records! 
I own a set of these and they are awesome!!


Christophers Coasters

Rat Pack Record Drink Coasters



A great party wouldn't be complete without a cocktail
shaker for a martini or two.
This retro shaker that comes complete with recipes is perfect.


Vintage Cocktail Shaker with Recipes

Or if you're going for even more elegance, how about some 
champagne served up in these gorgeous coupes.


Abundancy
Rock Crystal Champagne Coupe

Now that my party is all planned out, I hope you can make it.
I'm off to find my frilly toothpicks and put the cocktail wieners on....

See you at 7!



Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Day was Green and Grey and Orange

In a rare California October sky, we had grey today.  And somehow, when the sky is grey, the greens seem to pop against the pale backdrop.  Trees and grass seem more vibrant, more alive.  I love days like this.  If I lived in Portland and saw them all the time, I'd probably feel differently, but since we don't have them too often here, they are a welcome diversion.

It made me want to bake and since the blackened bananas sitting in my fruit bowl were taunting me, I figured what better payback than turning them into banana bread.   



It was a simple and delicious breakfast with a cup of coffee.  The recipe can be found here.
The only addition I made was to add about a teaspoon 
each of vanilla and cinnamon.

While the grey and green were lovely to look upon, a splash of orange 
was not unwelcome, so we figured it was the perfect day to 
make our annual trek to the pumpkin patch.


It's funny how traditions develop and for about 15 years now we have visited the same pumpkin patch.  At first we pushed the kids in strollers before they could walk and chose their pumpkins for them.  
As they grew, they'd walk through the rows of pumpkins trying to 
climb on them and pick up the largest one they could find 
and fall over in the process.  
Then it was the petting zoo that was the big hit, or the 
train ride through the hay field.  
Now we've come to the stage where "Scarecrow Alley" and the 
corn maze are where it's at.  






I love the fact that somehow they become "young" again.  It's ok to not be the "cool" teenager for an afternoon and run through the fields and climb up on the giant pumpkin play structure.  They still meander through the rows of pumpkins picking out just the right one for carving, and walk away with butter on their faces from the fresh corn and carmel from the candy apples.





And tell me why corn on the cob eaten outside while sitting on a hay bale tastes so much better?


So another year has passed at the pumpkin patch, and I will as with every other year, come home and look back at the photos from years past and see how much they've grown and feel just a little wistful,
a little torn at where the time has gone.

As the day draws to a close.....
I'm thankful for this day of grey and green...
but mostly for the orange splash that made my heart smile.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Coffee Song

I'm a huge Frank Sinatra fan.  There's something about his music that always puts me in a good mood.  My grandparents used to listen to him and I remember being at their house as a kid with Frank tunes floating from the record player.  It makes me smile thinking back.
One of my favorite...get in an "instant good mood" songs is his 
spirited version of 
It somehow just doesn't get any more cheerful than that song.  
It makes you want to get up and dance, move around, tap your toes.

Another mood enhancer is coffee. I'm talking about a really good cup.  The one that you smell brewing and it summons you to get your mug and immediately pour yourself a cup.  The kind that when you go back for your second cup...it's actually still as good as your first.
It's not often you get a fantastic cup like that but I did this past weekend and I've just got share it with you.

If you were here, I'd pour you a cup so you could taste for yourself, but since that's not possible, I'll have to tell you about it.  
I found Larry's Beans coffee and woo hoo...talk about 
wanting to dance around!  
I first found their shop on etsy and was intrigued by them so I started to do a little more research.

They refer to themselves as "coffee artists on a mission" and a mission they've been on to find the best coffee in the world and roast it with both precision and artistry.


They are a founding member of Cooperative Coffees.  A group of independent coffee roasters that buys organic green coffee beans directly from Fair Trade co-ops.  What I liked is that they saw this as more than an equitable way to buy coffee from farmers who put their hearts into growing it.  It was a way to connect people from all corners of the world.  What a great way to look at it!



They've got their act together both on a global scale and also locally which I love.  Practice what you preach!  
Check out what they call their "Rock Star"


Delivery vehicles that run on waste vegetable oil!

Fair Trade - Shade Grown - Organic

But I know by now you're wondering...how does it taste?
It's uncommonly good!  

Larry's was generous enough to send me a sample of their 
Mightier Mocha Java blend to try.


The aroma even before we opened the bio-bag was heavenly! 
(Shhhhh...as a side note...their biodegradable bag is completely quiet!)

Once we ground the beans...a wonderful chocolate and 
earthy smell filled the kitchen.

Larry's describes this blend as "a traditional blend that offers a medium-heavy body with loads of earthy spice. Distinct sweet berry acidity and chocolate liquor finish". 

I describe it as "addictive...kind of like eating chocolate covered espresso beans...when before you realize it, you've consumed the whole bag...it's that kinda good"!

It is a beautiful dark burnished color, you get aromas of 
chocolate and the earth with a bright finish.
I drank 3 cups...say no more.


So next time I need a little mood enhancer and Frank isn't around...
I'm reaching for a delicious Cup of Joe...

Well actually...make mine a Cup of Larry!

Check them out here on the web to read more and purchase your own
or in their etsy store

Thanks again to Larry's Beans for letting me sample their outstanding coffee and giving me this opportunity to blog about them!

My mug is held high (and filled with your coffee)...keep up the good work!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Have microwave....will travel

Hmmmm...how to go about explaining the title of this post 
without sounding weird?  
About twice a year, Chad and I take a few days sans munchkins and head up the coast.  

The Central Cost of California is a fantastic place.  It's beautiful to look at, the weather is almost always perfect and there's good food and wine everywhere you look.  It's our little piece of paradise.  The gentle crashing of waves, the smell of salt in the air, a little sand between your toes...I feel my blood pressure lower the closer we get.  As most of us are, we are creatures of habit, and so we frequent the same haunts.  The same hotel, the same little shops and restaurants...about the only thing we switch up is the wineries we visit.

So that brings me to our hotel The Spyglass Inn.  It is unpretentious, quiet, clean and above all right on the beach.  You fall asleep to the sounds of the waves breaking against the shore...it honestly doesn't get much better than that.
Spyglass Inn - Shell Beach, CA

View from our balcony

The one thing it does lack however is a microwave.
I know it's not exactly a huge deal but I like to warm up my cup of coffee or heat up our breakfast muffins in the morning.  So that leads me to this... 

Chad bringing Emerson the microwave into our room

and yes I know I'm never going to hear the end of it for posting this photo, but I'm the editor in chief of this blog so...oh well, and I know he'll laugh at it later. 

So microwave in hand...all was perfect. 
(and yes maybe I'm just a little weird)

Location, location, location....that's another reason this hotel has it all, 
not a block away is DePalo & Sons.

DePalo & Sons
They are a gourmet deli & wine store with the absolute best customer service you'll find anywhere.  They have a wonderful selection of Italian goodies to drool over and a great selection of wines.
Mascarpone & gorgonzola torte with roasted garlic

We settled on a lovely white to celebrate....nothing other than it was Wednesday!


Rombauer Carneros Chardonnay
You can check out Rombauer Wines here to read more about them and where they
are available in your local area.  
A great "splurge" bottle!  

Morro Bay

About a half hour drive from Shell Beach is Morro Bay...it's breathtakingly beautiful and one of my all time favorite spots on the Central Coast.


What's better than a stroll on the beach looking for sand dollars?
How about the best garlic fries on the planet!!



Delicious!!

San Luis Obispo

San Luis is a college town with a great vibe, and tons of good restaurants.  One of our favorites is
the Buffalo Pub & Grill. It just has a great atmosphere, good standard "pub" grub and Guinness on tap!


or in this instance a great Black & Tan...



Wine Tasting

We visited a few tasting rooms on this trip, but Chamisal was our favorite.  Their wines were first-class and the atmosphere was pleasant and down to earth and they had a great patio to sit and enjoy the California sunshine.





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