“Date Night In” Nourishes You & Your Relationship!

Date night cooking (2)

I learned about a fun blog from a woman name Faith that I did a ‘talent trade’ with (she helped with my garden design in exchange for my organizing & interior design help).  At the time I started following ‘Not Without Salt’ the blog author, Ashley Rodriquez, hadn’t had her cookbook published but when the release was announced, I ordered a copy of “Date Night In” right away.  This was in spite of the fact that I had never actually made any of the recipes on her blog BTW.  Her lovely photography and blogging style were enough to compel me to buy it and I’m so very glad I did!!

This Valentines Day I gave the book along with a promise to make a menu of my husband’s choosing once a month for a year.  The first meal I made was for Valentines dinner and it was absolutely delicious!  I chose the “A Taste of Home” menu because of the Salmon Cakes main course as I knew Steven would love it since salmon’s a fav of his.  The Salmon Cake were probably the best I’ve had and given that they are pretty popular in Seattle, that says quite a lot!  Flavorful but not overwhelmed and so moist.  Makes me hungry just thinking about them…

So it didn’t surprise me when Steven went digging in our mudroom (through my mountain of cookbooks) to find “Date Night In” early last week.  He spent quite a bit of time pouring through it and left it open to the “It Gets Him” menu.  In spite of the fact that I’m a bit overwhelmed with work at the moment, I set the date night for Friday and got busy planning.  I managed to get the shopping done on Tuesday night with the grand intentions of doing the numerous advance cooking items completed over the next couple of days.  Needless to say, my week got away from me so I instead spent most of the day puttering in my kitchen while juggling time between cooking and my toddler.  I will say that it was time consuming – maybe it’s my slow pace? – but the end product was soooo worth it!  The whole menu (cocktail, salad, main & dessert) was some of the best food I’ve had and definitely the best that I’ve prepared myself.  The flavor of the Citrus Braised Pork is to die for and so simple.  And the ritual of the date itself is so much fun.  Ours started with the cocktail when he arrives home from work followed by a quick goodnight tuck in for Reina and then having a long, relaxed meal.  Perfect in every way.  I had fun setting the table with a cloth we bought from the Beauville factory in France while honeymooning for the extra touch of memories.  If you ever meet my husband ask him to tell you the story of almost missing the train in Colmar because we had so many bags (filled with the spoils of French shopping) for him to load during it’s quick stop 😉  He wasn’t thankful at the time but now he relishes each occasion we use our mementoes.  I do not begin to have photographs as lovely as Ashely has in the book, but I wanted to share our nice meal so I hope you enjoy them and put this special cookbook on your ‘to buy’ list!  It’s currently on backorder BTW, but Amazon will keep one reserved for you if you click the link above.  Or better yet, subscribe to Ashley’s blog as she sells them there too and will surely announce when the new stock arrives.

saladtable (2)Date Night book dessert

Cool Baroque Sconce!



molly m (2)


I’ve been lusting after the light fixtures at a Seattle ice cream shop, Molly Moon’s, since the Queen Anne location opened a few years ago.  The are lucite Baroque surrounds with a mercury glass light bulb in them.  Just the perfect touch of modern mixed with a chic antique vibe.

My daughter & I stopped in today for a treat (their ice cream is to die for if any of you every visit Seattle) and I snapped this pic.  The details are hard to see so I set out to find them on the internet so you see them close up.  I stumbled on a blog done by some OC designers that sells them.  Check out Little Crown Interiors for more details or to buy one.  If only I could figure out where to add one to our house…


Quick office preview: my memory vignette

office2 Yesterday I shared that I’ve been working to finally (after living here a year) getting my office in order.  Because our house is from the 1920’s, closet space is far from vast so I opted to have a combo dressing room and office in the lower level of my house.  It’s a bit of a pain to trek downstairs to get ready, but I decided it worth it in order to have my own complete space that I can retreat to.

I’m the type of woman that prefers to save up (or break the monthly budget) and get one fabulous item periodically rather than shop often and have a huge wardrobe.  I also keep things like designer shoes for many years so that my return on investment ends up very low per wear. I started this habit of less is more (or is it a ‘more’ is more impact scenario?!?) as a teen.  I will admit that there were months living in San Francisco when I ate cheap diets of noodles and eggs for a month in order to get a perfect dress or pair of shoes.

Funny but I still own things from my teen years and early 20’s so I guess it was worth the marginal food in some cases! I had a good laugh the other day when I realized with a friend that I have owned some shoes for as long as she’s been alive (23 years)!!

This vignette is on top of my armoire and includes the YSL shoes I wore for my wedding, the Manolo Blahnik box from my very first couture pair of couture shoes (yes, I still have them) and an Hermes scarf box from my first trip to Paris.  So there are lots of memories for me in this display and it makes me smile.  On the note of memories, if you love fashion, if you’ve never been to the Hermes store in Paris you should put this stop on your bucket list!  My vivid memory of the French sales women whipping the scarves open & closed for to view their patterns was both amazing and a of bit hilarious theatrics.  I have no idea how they learn to do this in single motion but it’s quite a show!!  And doing it while looking so typically Parisian bored and beautiful just adds to the scene.

Two of the boxes are from another must visit spot in Paris – Laduree.  The 2 little boxes in neon herringbone are from when Steven & I eloped to Paris 3 years ago.  Laduree is one of the bakeries that spurred the macaron craze in the US.  They’ve been around since 1862 so macarons are far from new for them, and in my opinion, theirs are perfect…crisp and perfectly balanced, bright flavors.  The “best” macaron title BTW is a big debate point with Parisians so I may get grief for that statement!

Try to create a spot in your house or apartment that offers a quick glance at some mementoes from your life.  They need not be designer or expensive items – just meaningful to you.  Best to group like things together as collections offer much better impact when together instead of scattered.  My daughter has a similar vignette of shells, rocks and sea glass that she’s collected on vacations.  There are endless variations for vignettes of course – they seem to be everywhere these days on Instagram – but those that are best include special memories.  Happy collecting!

DIY $4 Centerpieces

Centerpieces were dollar store carnations sitting on black glitter stars

Last Academy Awards Party post.  Although the Awards show happened last night, I thought these centerpieces are good for a variety of occasions so I decided to post anyways.  I’ve been throwing parties for many years now and until recently, I hadn’t discovered the fab source of Dollar Stores.  Now it is a first stop when doing party décor planning and then I fill in other items from stores and Amazon.

These centerpieces are nothing I’d planned but when I saw the carnations at Dollar Tree, I thought they’d be an easy, cheap and make ahead option.  I’m not a huge faux flower fan but carnations are one type that look pretty darn good.  Each $1 vase was filled with marbles (already had these from Halloween displays) and then I bound 3 stems together with strong string and clipped the stems with a wire cutter.  SO EASY! Next I used the foil hanging stars from Amazon (shown a few posts ago) as a tracing guide on black glitter paper.  I usually opt for seated food service but somehow that felt too stuffy for this party so instead we used tall bar tables and decided to skip bar stools.  The girls just grazed on finger foods so no need to take up more space or spend money on them.

Each table had a $5 rented red tablecloths, layered with a 50 cent matte gold plastic square tablecloth (from Dollar Tree & cut in half so each cloth made 2 toppers), then a $1 black star with a $ 4 centerpiece on top.  And voila!  $10.50 total for an awesome looking table.

Amazing original drawing of your wedding dress available

Debi Griffen page

3 years after my husband & I eloped to Paris, I finally go my act together and ordered the drawing of the wedding gown I wore for the ceremony we had in Seattle a few months later.

I LOVED the drawing that Debi Griffin of Illustrative Moments did right after we eloped!  And I was super excited when the drawing and a photo of us outside Notre Dame Cathedral were featured in Florida Bride magazine.

These custom drawings are so beautiful in person that the photo here doesn’t begin to do justice.  The artistry is lovely and the detail she goes to make the drawings really reflect the bride are extraordinary – especially given they only cost $195-225. They are an amazing gift to give a special bride too.

Motivation to order the ceremony drawing came from the re-do of my home office (which also doubles as my closet).  I’ll feature some shots of it once it is further along.

I will post the new drawing as soon a I receive it.  Debi said she is really busy these days so it won’t arrive until some time in April.


DIY Academy Award Glasses/Favors

Star how to

















I found the gold rimmed glasses at Dollar Tree.  They did double duty and kept drinks sorted for the party and served as a favor at party’s end.
1. draw a modern-style star in the right scale for your glasses on white paper and cut it out
2. slide the paper inside the glasses
3. using an enamel gold sharpie trace the star on to the glass
4. decide on the lettering style for the guest’s names
5. if you aren’t secure in your calligraphy abilities, write them out for practice
6. using an enamel black sharpie write the names on the glass

Academy Awards Party DIY Decor

close up (3)The tinsel clusters hanging from the light strings were made from two Gold Metallic Foil Curtains  from Amazon.  I’d love to tell you this was a quick and easy task but instead I’ll fess up to the fact that it took 2 of us around 2.5 hours.  I do have to say that the photo doesn’t give the full impact of how great it looked.  It really had a big impact and set a special tone to the party.  The curtains are 3′ x 8′ but the top few inches aren’t usable so we measured the actual fringe length and divided by 4 to calculate each cut level.  Although time consuming, the steps are simple:

  1. lay out curtain flat either on a clean hard surface floor or your dining table (the foil is a bit magnetic so it picks up dirt & pet hair easily so lay a drop cloth if needed)
  2. use masking tape to adhere the top & bottom of the curtain so it doesn’t slide around and then place guide marks on the side of the curtain at each cutting level
  3. with very sharp scissors cut levels of fringe off beginning from the bottom and carefully gather up each row of tinsel then set aside neatly ( I stacked them on a large tray)
  4. continue to cut off each length of tinsel until  you reach the last level at which point trim the header off of it
  5. depending on how meticulous you’d like to be, you can either grab a handful of tinsel strands as you like or do what I did and count each group to contain 12 strands
  6. reserve 8-12 groups of tinsel for use covering the plug ends of your lights
  7. decide on a design to string the light strands up that suits your space – we did a cross design but I’ve seen these hung in a zig zag design too
  8. secure the light string well – for the corners we used heavy fishing line to tie to tacks that were pinned to the top of my molding and for the center section that went through my chandelier we used thin zip ties
  9. drape one fringe group over the light cord centered between two bulbs.  Use thin width scotch tape to adhere the fringe to the cord or pre-gather clumps of fringe and attach with fishing line
  10. make tassels from the reserved groups of tinsel and attach them in each corner to cover the plugs