Saturday, October 27, 2012

It all started with a juice stand...

Lilly Pulitzer fans everywhere know the back story well: a depressed young mother (who just happens to be an heiress and Jackie Kennedy's BFF) is advised by her physician to get a hobby.  Inspired, she opens a juice stand, but in true socialite form, quickly becomes irked by the fruit stains she keeps getting on her clothes.  The solution is perhaps the chicest employee uniform of all time, the iconic Lilly shift dress.  The dresses become a hit with the Palm Beach set, Life magazine runs a photo of BFF wearing one while on vacation, and the rest is herstory.

For its resort collection, the brand is celebrating its past with a new print, In the Beginning, featuring illustrations based on photographs of the young Mrs. Pulitzer. 

I want to order just about everything in this print, but will start with this tote:

The collection is available now at the Pink Pelican.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Time at Disneyland

Sometimes you just have to take a mental health day and sneak out to Disneyland. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shopping for Antiques: Eloquence Inc.

Some people are lucky enough to inherit antiques from their families - good silver from Grandma, wing chairs from Uncle Fred's library, pearls from Aunt Ruth .  Sadly for me, my family never seemed interested in keeping "old" things around.  Maybe that's all part of that forward-looking California spirit.  For me, though, the charm of antiques is that they lived full lives in other people's households before they ever came to mine.

Fortunately, I don't need to rely on capricious relatives for great furniture.  For a town obsessed with the new and the young, Los Angeles has a surprising number of fabulous sources for antiques.  One of my favorites is Eloquence, Inc., which sells antique and reproduction pieces.  I bought these chairs, reupholstered in pale pink velvet, several years ago from the now-closed Shabby Chic in Newport Beach, but you can find similar ones through Vintage Weave near Third and Fairfax and Fringe in Redondo Beach.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Roger's Gardens

One of my favorite places to go during the holidays is Roger's Gardens in Corona Del Mar.  Throughout the year, this garden & home store stocks beautiful plants, flowers, and home accessories.  But before Halloween and Christmas, the talented staff out-do themselves year after year with amazing displays.  On Sunday afternoon, the Merry Husband, the Merry Dog, and I trekked down to the O.C. to get into the spirit.

Odd and wonderful pumpkins of all shapes and sizes were piled up throughout the garden.


 Geraniums hung from trees surrounded by fairy circles.
Inside, the store was decorated for a Dark Shadows-esque dinner party.
At the front of store, two model trains entertained the kiddos.
Can't wait to see what they put together for Christmas!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seafood Paella

Today would have been my father's 67th birthday.  In honor of him, I'm posting his favorite recipe, one that we cooked together many, many times.


Seafood - as much as you can get together.  I typically use 2 lb. shrimp, 1 lb.squid cut into rings, 1 lb. manila clams, and a lobster or a Dungeness crab.
8 cups water
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. crumbled saffron threads
1/2 cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
3 cups Valencia rice
1 can of diced tomatoes (drained)
1 tbsp minced parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dry sherry
Lemon wedges

Combine the shells from the shrimp with the water and 1 tsp. salt in stock pot.  Boil for 20 minutes, then strain, reserving the stock.  Crumble the saffron into the stock.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the olive oil in a wide paella pan (or a very large skillet).  Add the peppers and onions and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes.  Add the paprika and tomatoes and cook while stirring for 2 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and bay leaves.

Add the stock and sherry.  (From this point, do not stir the rice.)  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, steam the lobster or crab in another pot.  When rice is a little more than half-cooked, add the squid.  When the rice is almost done, but still has a thin layer of liquid on top, add the shrimp and clams.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp and clams are just done.  Separate the lobster or crab into pieces and place on top for presentation.  Place lemon wedges along the edge of the pan.

Serve with sangria.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cocktail, anyone?

It's been a really long week, and I'm so looking forward to unwinding tonight with the Merry Husband and a cocktail.  These his-and-hers glasses from Furbish would be perfect for the job.

I'm also loving these New Orleans Toile cocktail napkins from Hazelnut.

It seems that we're finally getting some rainy skies, so my drink of choice will be the Dark 'N' Stormy, Bermuda's national drink. To make, fill a tall glass with ice, add 4 - 5 oz of ginger beer, and top with Gosling's Black Seal Rum. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

LA Antiques + Design Show

If you're in Los Angeles this week, consider stopping by the17th annual Los Angeles Antique + Design Show at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport.  The opening night party, benefitting the Decorative Arts and Design Council and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, will be held tonight.  The show runs through Sunday, and features an impressive list of exhibitors including local favorites, Dragonette and Habite.

If, however, your schedule is already packed, you can check out both dealers' drool-worthy items on 1stdibs.  I'm currently obsessed with this caricature of Judy Garland by Al Hirschfield at Dragonette.

Happy hunting!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pantry Food: Orecchiette with Peas

When I heard the news recently that the restaurant Campanile would be closing its doors in November, I came close to tears.  For years, Campanile has been the embodiment of all that was good about dining in Los Angeles.  Even the building, constructed by Charlie Chaplin in the 1920s, projected an aura of Old Hollywood glamour. (For Jonathan Gold's excellent eulogy, click here.) 

It is nearly impossible to think of Campanile and the adjoining La Brea Bakery without thinking of chef-extraordinaire, Nancy Silverton.  In 2007, Ms. Silverton released her cookbook, A Twist of the Wrist.  The concept was a compilation of recipes that could be whipped up at a moment's notice using only items commonly found in the pantry.  But as a reviewer from the LA Times pointed out, Ms. Silverton's pantry is most likely a very different place from yours or mine.  Hers, it seems, more closely resembles the aisles of Bristol Farms or Gelson's.

Nevertheless, some of the recipes were quite attainable, including the one for Orecchiette with Peas.  Here is a variation:


1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 cup creme fraiche
6 slices of prosciutto (or use cooked ham or bacon - almost any pork product will do)
Salt and pepper
Basil leaves for garnish

Boil the pasta until al dente.  While the pasta is boiling, heat the oil in a large skillet and add the garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds, then add the peas, cooking for a few seconds more.  Add the creme fraiche and a bit of salt and pepper.  Bring to a light simmer, stirring constantly, until warmed through.  Reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and add it while still wet to the skillet.  Add the reserved water, toss well, and cook for a minute or two until the sauce melds with the pasta.  Transfer to bowls and garnish with torn pieces of the prosciutto and basil leaves.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Queue the Oprah Voice...


Leaving actual politics aside, let's give a shout-out to Ann Romney's hair stylist.

The Before:

The After:

That, ladies and gentlemen, is First Lady hair.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicken Etouffee

My favorite recipes start, "First, make a dark roux."  But lots of days, I just don't have the time to be bothered.  That's when what I call cheater roux comes in handy.  This recipe calls for just a bit of flour added in the middle of the cooking process.  You get that nutty aroma, but you don't have to stand around endlessly stirring a pot like Hecate over her caldron.

Chicken etouffee is not what I consider a photogenic dish, but it has, as they say, a great personality.  Whenever I make it, the Merry Husband remembers exactly why he was so smart to marry me.


8 bone-in chicken thighs
Dash of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine or dry sherry
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried sage
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups water
Hot sauce to taste

Place the chicken thighs, salt, pepper, cayenne, and 1/2 cups flour in a freezer bag.  Shake to coat the thighs. 

Heat the oil in a pan big enough to accomodate the thighs in one layer.  Add the chicken, and cook for 7 minutes on each side.  Remove the chicken.

Deglaze your pan with the wine or sherry.  Add the onion, bell pepper, thyme, sage, Cajun seasoning, and a dash of salt.  Saute for another 7 minutes.  Add 2 tbsp flour and saute for 5 minutes, making sure not to burn the flour (i.e. stir constantly).  Add garlic during the last 30 seconds.  Add the water while stirring to prevent clumping.  Return the chicken to the pan, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.  Adjust the flavors to your liking with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.  Cook for 20 minutes. You may need to stir occassionally or add a bit more water.

Serve with boiled rice and cold beer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Flea Market Finds: Opera Glasses

When I was in high school, my best friend and I were obsessed with the Scarlet Pimpernell, a Zorro-style tale set during the French Revolution.  Our favorite scene involved the Pimpernell, dressed as a vain and superficial fop, wielding a monocle while reciting his poem,

They seek him here,
They seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. 
Is he in Heaven,
Or is he in Hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernell!

I don't have the sartorial fortitude to wear a monocle around my neck anymore, but I don't have the same reservations about accessorizing my home with some dandyish details.  You can pick up vintageParisian mother-of-pearl opera glasses from eBay or flea markets for $50 - $100 (depending on condition).  If you're lucky, you can find them with handles or their original cases.      

Here are a couple of mine.  Although I don't get out to the opera much, I find them handy to peep on the squirrels in the tree by my balcony.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Making the Best of a Monday Morning

It's easier to get myself out of bed on Monday mornings if I can look forward to a beautiful cup of tea.  I mix and match my china, but this century-old Theodore Haviland teacup is my favorite. 

I hope your week goes well!
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