|Pumpkins carved during our streets’ annual pumpkin carving get-together.|
Last night was the warmest Halloween I have ever experienced in my past 40 plus years here in Northern California. It was absolutely gorgeous and after sharing some pre-trick-or-treat chili with friends, we headed out to enjoy the neighborhood. Grabbing our glasses of red wine we had to dash to chase the kids and chat with the neighbors. I especially loved seeing all the older people who still decorate and enjoy the kids. We are grateful to have a neighborhood with lots of them. With the balmy weather, (we were just in T-shirts), and the local wine in hand, it felt very decadent and we were saying how lucky we are to live here.
|Couldn’t resist posting this pic of the neighborhood kids with their creations.|
This news flash…it’s November!! One of my very favorite months and not just because my Dad and my oldest son have birthdays. November is filled with LOTS of school holidays and I love that! Things seems to slow down a bit after hectic October. I can’t say I’m not happy to get the webs off if you know what I mean…
So welcome to my kitchen! In honor of November, a bit of cookery for you. Though you might be in sugar shock right now, (maybe I should have rescheduled this post), here’s my newest, most favorite version of chocolate chip cookies yet. I found this recipe in an old kid’s cookbook with my youngest son. In their version, you melt the butter and refrigerate. Because I didn’t really read the directions, (a bit of a bad habit according to my husband), I made it the usual way without the frig or melting and they were awesome. To me, the best cookies are crunchy a bit on the outside and gooey inside.
Here’s a few pictures and as you can see I had assistants. Not sure how much help they really were…!
|“Cleaning” up for me. 🙂|
|Walnuts are my favorite and of course California ones are superior!|
|The only chips I use now. Guittard also happens to be a California company. Love them.|
|Very important in baking- do not over beat the dough once the flour is added or you’ll end up with tough cookies.|
|Large drops…we’re talking golf ball size folks.|
|Some of the witches I flew there with. Cristina, Hang, myself & Leasa, just outside the broom parking…|
Today I was lucky enought to attend a very special event in our community called Wonderful Witchey Women with a Cause. This is a fun yearly charity lunch where women get together in witch hats, have a blast and raise money for good.
The events founder, Cheryl Bailey started this just six short years ago with 20 friends for lunch. It has now grown so large that there were over 400 women and had to be held at the Fairmont San Jose. The beneficiaries were Heritage Home, Angels on Stage and Breakthrough Silicon Valley. All wonderful and deserving organizations!
|Tracey Wookey and Kyra Adams, two of the events co-chairs.|
A fab time was had by all! When else do you get to wear a witch hat, have lunch with your friends and help others?
|Two moms from my school, Michelle and Renee were part of the “white” witches.|
My tennis team got together and sponsored a table. Here’s a few snaps of the event. I loved seeing how creative ladies got with their chapeaux!! It was all about accessories really and some ladies took license and went brooms out!
|Love the lady on the left’s spider pin and earrings!|
|Love Leasa, our team captain’s peacock feathered hat and Catrin’s silvery skeleton and ribbon. Jataka and Lei are on the ends with their jaunty smaller hats and frilly frocks.|
|Here’s Hang hanging out with the Halloween tree…(sorry couldn’t resist that one.) Her feathered fascinator with small hat was very elegant…. she looks perfect for New Years too. Guess the bubbly made me think of that. 🙂|
|Love their feathers and bowler hat.|
|Purple was cute on June. Sorry- made her hold my drink! She really wasn’t having both before lunch !|
|This lady had quite the hat and I loved the coat.|
|Chatting during the silent auction.|
|Susan had what I think was Puss-in-boots on her hat. Very original.|
|Some gals working the pink. The bowler hat on the left was chic too.|
|Another bowler hat with pretty spiders, pin and veil.|
|A group of Barbie-wannabees. They had their own table. The shoes were just like the dolls!|
|Loved all the mix of prints and finery at this table.|
|Blondes make great witches….|
|…but the brunettes ( Michelle and Kirsten), really look so natural in the black and all!|
|Some more cute witches – Barb, Jeanne and May looking chic.|
|Our team table!
Sadly, I had to leave my black cat home. She’s sick with a bladder infection…:(
|My baby Marlo. She would have been the perfect accessory. 😉|
|Our cat Marlo, making the house look Halloween ready, though she’s being naughty sitting on the table.|
This important news flash… Halloween is just around the corner! Really. Yeah, I should have done this post earlier. Are you properly decorated yet? And more importantly, have you seen the Great Pumpkin on t.v.??
Here’s some of the bits and bobs around my place that the children and I have thrown up in honor of the holiday. I actually have a lot of black accents in house, so sometimes just chucking in the orange is all I need to do. Luckily, orange is very chic right now.
|Our entry hall. I added my witch hat, a broom and some snake and nature books.|
|The front door. The boys put so much web up, no one could get through. We had to modify a little…|
As much as I love glass pumpkins, the real ones are so lovely, so I stock up on lots. I get a whole assortment, mostly from Trader Joes and wherever they’re cheap. Then I use them through Thanksgiving and do harvest themed decorating. It basically looks the same, except I rip down the webs and ghosts!
|My living room mantel.|
One little tradition we have done since the boys were small, is construction paper window decorations. I think this came from my childhood. I remember everyone having pumpkins and ghosts taped to their windows….do you? The last rainy weekend we had, my husband got the kids started on it and we all made them together. It was a cozy afternoon. I think they look adorable from the windows. It’s a way of saying children live here and I love that!
|Some of their creations.|
|My bowl of bracelets. Perfect for the pile-it-on jewelry trend for Fall!|
Don’t you love Fall clothes? I really do look forward to chunky sweaters and boots. I Loooove herringbone, tweeds, cable-knits, argyles, cashmere, camel hair and all the lush fabrics that embody this season !
When I was a small girl, I loved school shopping with my Mom. I could picture myself meeting my teacher in my new dress, fresh knee-high socks and shiny mary-janes. Growing up, there was always some item of clothing I coveted that would change my world if I could just get it. Clothes lovers you know what I mean! My Mom, bless her, always made sure I had a few special things, even when we didn’t have a ton of money. One, I remember, was a red faux fur coat in elementary school, another time it was flowered denim platforms in fourth grade and later, in junior high, brown dittos jeans and boots that laced up. That last ensemble went along with a knit cap with a flower I loved! As you can probably guess, I stood out. That wasn’t always a good thing. Yeah, I was harassed throughout my school career for my non-conforming clothing choices. I was the first girl at my high-school to wear ankle jeans in the early eighties. They were so cool, but they called me high-water girl. Anyway, I have suffered for fashion willingly since childhood!
Back-to-school shopping is now for my two boys. Getting a few special new pieces for myself is fun too. As far as the closet, I try to take a hard look at what I have actually worn in the past year and donate what hasn’t and what is looking faded or worn. I’ve noticed it’s the finer things I have added that have stood the test of time so I try to add one or two a season, if I can afford it. Sure, I also still like a few new trendy things from places like H&M, Banana and J. Crew that I throw in the mix. I am trying hard to buy less and only things I am truly crazy about. Otherwise, they just end up taking closet space. As a close friend recently said, if you haven’t worn it within a week of buying it, you probably won’t. True that!
This is the perfect time to point out the virtues of a fabulous book that really got me revved up about Fall wardrobes, closets and starting fresh. It’s called, Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe, and it got my tail into gear regarding my closet. The author, Elika Gibbs, styles and organizes closets for the rich and fabulous, (Kate Moss, ladies!) She knows her stuff. It has many helpful tips, that you should be doing, but probably aren’t. For instance, how to keep things ultra clean so you will never get moths, and how to properly store every kind of garment and why it even matters. Loved this book and if you are into clothing you will too.
|Some of the fashion books I keep on my closet shelves.|
Here’s a peek into my weeny closet. It’s tiny, but I don’t share it, unlike my old larger walk-in. I kind of like it smaller and to myself. I love to fill it with sachets, and a candle, that make it smell girly. I also have some shelves that I like to place jewelry, accessories and bags. I try to rotate them out each season, where I can see them. I like putting a small inspiration board of pictures up from the latest Vogue or whatever I love! It’s fun- you should try it. I did it for the first time in Summer and I enjoyed seeing it in there when I dressed and now I just changed it for Fall. It also gave me some ideas for getting dressed when I was feeling uninspired. This is like my only personal spot in the whole house, so I tried to glam it up a bit and really make it my own little sanctuary, though it is a closet!
I display my jewelry so I can remember to wear it. I recently bought a pretty bowl from Anthropologie that I pile all my bracelets into. I love seeing them sparkle on the shelf. I also use the tie racks that were originally built into the closet for my necklaces. It makes it so much easier to see what I have. I put these by metal and color. Check out my cute owl necklace my sweet friend Jen gave me if you can see it.
|Bracelet piling- very big this year. Short painted nails also look very chic and fresh.
|The faux fur vest seems quite big this year, ( literally!)|
|Love the jacket and clutch with tassel. Aren’t tassels fab?|
|Check out her colors and more bracelet piling!|
|Dots are big too. Check out the bright clutch and again the bracelets.|
|Bracelets again and mixing metals.|
|Floppy 70s hats are apparently back. The trench is still a good investment and animal prints are still hot.|
|She’s working the animal prints and the bracelet thing.|
|Capes look fabulous darlings. I just want to be her! I had a cape in 3rd grade.
|Citrus people! Embrace it. Drink your orange juice!|
|She’s adorable. Love the color-blocking and her shades. Pony looks cool too.|
|More floppy hats. You could steal this from your kids’ Indiana Jones costume.|
|Stripes are still chic and wearing your purse as a clutch. I know if I wore this I’d get Bee remarks from my family…|
|She’s working the stripes into her Fall.|
|Love her trench and scarf. Notice how she ties it? It’s all in the tying and it’s got to look like you did it carelessly, but of course if it looks good you didn’t! Got that trench wearers?|
|More brights and chunky jewelry. I’m digging the ring.|
|Black tights are back in a big way and color-blocking with black is too.|
We are right in the middle of prime fig season now! You know how it is with figs, – you’re either a fan or not. I have to say I’m a fan! I love them all! Green, black, brown, they are all amazing. My favorite is the brown turkey fig! They look like a little round turkey.
I started like most of you, who think they hate figs. I never tried one, except for Fig Newtons, until I had them in a couscous, at a friends house. I got recruited to slice green figs for it and was completely mystified at how to handle them and if you ate the skin, etc. I learned fast and well, the rest is history.
This recipe calls for a box of plain couscous, figs cut in quarters, (or smaller if you prefer), browned rings of a shallot, toasted pine nuts, and olive oil and salt to taste. I have to say, it is probably one of my most favorite things in the world! Just try it and you will see.
This dish started my love affair with the fig and now I try to use it whenever I can. Here’s another -a salad I threw together. Don’t they just make everything look so luscious? They’re great with mint too.
One time, I also made a yummy appetizer for the hubster and his friend Justin, with figs, a bit of goat cheese and a walnut on the top. Delicious! Love that with a cold glass of white wine on a late Summer afternoon. Love to know what everyone else does with figs. Enjoy it’s a short season!
|Our fig-appreciating friend, Justin. Had to add him!|
Loving the weather right now here in Nor Cal. I think we are having what I think of as an Indian Summer, so late in the year. However, you might want to click on this link. According to Wikipedia, the name Indian Summer, has many different definitions and orgins. Don’t you love learning new things? I found it quite interesting!
Here, in the Bay Area, I love this time of the year for late evening walks, harvesting the last of the summer garden and enjoying the bounty. Though, sometimes, we are still getting tomatoes in late October! Just check out these gorgeous tomatoes from my Dad’s garden! Wish I could send the smell. Just love to see them on the counter.
Last week, I had the good fortune to go wine tasting twice! Once, was with school Moms, for a tasting and picnic we try to do at the start and ending of the school year. I highly recommend this tradition! Then, last weekend, our dear friends also asked us to go with them to pick up some bottles and taste at the winery they belong to. We brought our families and had a ball. This is the season people!
|Check out this Peacock who stopped by to say hi at our lunch! Loved him, but some of the girls were not so enamored!
I just love tasting a few wines in the afternoon, and a picnic after. It’s always memorable and really makes you stop and realize what a gift friends and life are. Even a short trip to a winery for a few hours seems like a getaway. And as parents of school age kids, we need to grab those small bits!!
|The view from my window- can you see the birds in the plant?|
I don’t know if you can see, but a whole flock of beautiful goldfinches have invaded this Sunflower that my son bought and planted on the front porch. I couldn’t believe it until I heard this crazy chirping. At one point there was 8 at a time on it! Didn’t know Sunflowers were such an attraction for the little darlings, but I’m getting more of these. They are gorgeous birds and blend right in with the plant. I love sunny afternoons with the late-afternoon light flooding the room and their sweet chirping.
|Couldn’t resist adding this Fallish pic of my boys on a swing in Carmel.|
Speaking of small bits and children, well it’s that time again! Time for the annual scout popcorn drive. my husband and I have done this now for, 7 years I think. My fourth grader hit the court people up. (Sorry ladies!), and was so proud to have sold $100 worth of that…stuff! Here he is now, on the left, a year one Weeblo with his dear buddy. Love this age.
Yesterday, I actually found a gorgeous cable knit cardigan on sale at Banana, and also was spying some pretty suede booties at J.Crew. Then I was thinking if I had time to plan one more pool party before our weather turns. Guess I’ve got one foot in Summer and the other in Fall. I’m thankful to enjoy it all so long here.
Yesterday, I ran out out to the mall to do a quick errand and dropped into a designer store to lust after the shoes and bags. While I was dreaming of what I might buy, I was complimented on my Furla bag. The sales guy asked me about it and loved it’s color. I immediately thought back to last summer when we traveled to Italy and the very chic Italian lady who helped me choose it.
The four of us, traveled to Rome, Florence, and Venice. I may do a post on the trip in the future, but it really was beyond beautiful. We all loved it. The one thing I noticed immediately, was the amazingly stylish way Italians dressed. They have a chic that is quite different from the French, who have an off-handed style.
|This gentleman is on his way to work in Rome. Would you ever see someone dressed so nice on a bike here?|
Most Italians wear clothing that looks custom-made to fit them. The clothing just looks luxurious, the fabrics and details. Their garments are simple, not fussy, but they fit their bodies perfectly. Also, they have the most amazing shoes! Everyone had gorgeous leather shoes, as I guess you would expect.
|A couple in Florence. Don’t you love how they kind of match?|
My husband thought I was a nut, but I took a few stealth pictures of Italians. Men in gorgeous suits on bikes and scooters, couples dressed to go out for the night and the like. One thing I could not take a picture of was the clean, unmade-up faces of the Italian women. These women wear no foundation, no anything and natural hair which is not blown dry. Seeing women like this, I can see how Raphael and Botticelli were inspired by Italian women. I wanted to be one. No finger or toe polish on these girls and it looked damn good. You could see the Americans coming miles away and we all looked like we tried just so hard. These women embraced their natural selves, walked with beautiful posture and exuded an almost intangible beauty.
Which brings me back to my bag… I was hoping to buy at least one nice leather item on my trip. In Venice, I found myself in Furla which is one of the few places you can buy leather bags a little more inexpensively than they are sold in the states. The saleslady was one of those natural Italians. Very friendly, she and I chatted about both having two boys, (yes, I was shopping with men- of course they were outside!) She, being about the same mid-forties age as myself, had not a stitch of makeup, short naturally curly dark hair, unpainted nails and was so fresh looking. The same description of someone here might be akin to a granola type. That could not be farther from the truth in Italy.
|My boys in Florence at an beautiful fruit stand.|
She kindly gave me her opinions on bags I tried on and ventured to suggest a teal, slouchy, over-sized bucket bag. I would have never thought of such a strong color and shape, but on it was wow! I loved it and got the matching wallet too. In my mind, I needed a neutral that would be an investment. She was so on the money and ahead of fashion. Now, in this season of color, I am very in style with my teal bag and the shape is so unique too. Each time I put it on, I think of that very stylish and sweet Italian mother and take a little makeup off too.
|Above Florence with my younger son.|
|A rainy day in Venice.|
How I got into this, I’m not sure. I was obsessing over finding an asian-inspired one last fall. I was working on making the perfect mud room entry and adore the umbrella stand. It always looks so neat with a row of coat hooks or a coat tree.
The first one I found was from, where else, TJ Max, with a lion on it. Used it for a bit at my other house until some beast, (i.e. boy/boys) cracked it. It is still holding together. In the interim, I found an adorable metal one. Looks possibly like it was originally a flower bucket, but was just right in my mud room!
I have now found the perfect one I originally had in my head, at Pier 1. It’s the very traditional blue willow ware look. The problem is, during our hellish Winter, all our brollys broke and now I have only one small orange one left. What to do with these stands? I couldn’t put them away. They are too cute. I stuffed the lion one with some stiff grocery bags and set a darling Ivy on one. Love it! It also gives Ivy room to trail. This stand would be adorable in pairs flanking a door. Now if I could find the mate!
The metal flower bucket became a powder room trash can. You know, this was accidental. I had taken a gross waste basket out and the kids kept complaining there wasn’t one in the mud room bath.
I moved it three feet into there and, viola, the perfect trash can. I am also loving the depth of it. I don’t know if you are like me, but I simply hate a full trash can and can’t relax until it’s emptied. This way, you see nothing, it’s so deep! Love it.
The pretty blue one is now housing our families’ collection of beach sticks from various walks. Looks summery like that right in front of the fireplace!
I’m off now to search out more of these cute stands for my other baths!!