Monthly Archives: February 2014

Friday I’m in Love: Lilacs

A little bird told me there were lilacs to be seen at Descanso Gardens.

The approach was not hopeful…


But then:


Lilac heaven!


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Since a good proportion of the house is finished, my Lovely Man has decide to throw a party. And not just a small select dinner either, but a full-on Oscars party. LM has been wandering about his office issuing invitations left and right, so it’s looking like we could be as many as thirty in the kitchen on Sunday. Yikes! So I turned to my trusty Pinterest and began to plan.

There has to be a red carpet.


And I just love this idea:


Stars everywhere (even if they are made of card).


I’m hoping our guests will dress up (although, this being California, they may not – that’s OK). This is my dress


– if I can get it finished in time!

Cocktails of course.



Popcorn, beautifully presented.


And games! Which of course means prizes…everyone should have the chance to win an Oscar…


I think I’m in for a busy week (good job I love to cook)!

(sources: Pinterest)

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Friday I’m in love: Red-tailed hawk?

On Wednesday I woke to mist so thick I could barely see across the arroyo. And it appeared that I was not the only one with vision problems…one of our local predators had the same problem. Normally these guys sit in the tops of the trees to spot their meals so I’ve only seen them from a distance. But that day – well, I just grabbed my camera, crept out onto the porch and snapped.



Difficult to tell from the seated shots (he was perched on a eucalyptus on the edge of our terrace), but when he took off I could see the tail. Am I right? I know they’re fairly common, but I was enchanted to be able to see one (relatively) close up!

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Descanso In January

I only made it to Descanso Gardens once in January, but that hour was worth it. I believe I can officially call it spring! There are shoots peeping out and blossom beginning to show, even alongside reminders of winter.


It had rained the night before so the camellias and magnolias were a little battered, but I just love their slightly artificial-looking flowers.


One of my favourite places to visit is the small kitchen garden, Nature’s Table. There is always something to spark my interest. This month I was taken by the rainbow chard whose glossy green leaves contrast beautifully with the greyish-green of the artichoke. And the coloured stems look like fireworks!


And I love the weathered forms they use to collect leaves. Look at the way the peas have been trained around this one. Pretty, AND practical…my kind of garden!


The Center [sic] Circle has recently been redone as a California meadow. Although it’s tiny, it sparked the germ of an idea for the most difficult part of our garden…of which more later…


Do you have a favourite place to take photos? Where do you go for inspiration?

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Here we go again…

Here’s a familiar sight.


Since I now have my lovely new kitchen (and yes, you will hear about it properly one of these days), our old kitchen is no longer needed. So what to do? After months of procrastination (if I’m honest, it was a great place to dump stuff and forget about it…), we have finally begun work. The old cabinets and appliances


have gone, as well as the algae-green carpet. The fireplace (condemned by our building inspector) and wildly inappropriate for the style of the house


is next!

The bay window over the old kitchen sink


which projects awkwardly into an already narrow outside passageway, is coming out. Oh, and the lights


have to go!



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Pink Monday

If you are like me you make resolutions every January which bite the dust once real life sets in. I learned this year that this is a well-known phenomenon and that those who care have identified a specific date for when this slump occurs: Blue Monday, or the third Monday of January. Well, this year I mean to try to stick to my guns and to this end I invited my trainer (and friend) and some of her other clients who have also become friends, to a morale-boosting party. And thus was born Pink Monday…
Although I love to cook I’m mindful of my resolution not to let myself get stressed and so I made it a pot-luck, with everyone contributing a favourite healthy dish.
We started in the pink theme with raspberry-ginger bellinis (click the image for recipe) with our appetisers.
I decided on roast salmon, fennel and red onions with blood oranges as a main course (which was basically chopping and peeling).
And for dessert we had mixed berries with fresh mint and tarragon and a sprinkling of chopped crystallized ginger and pine nuts
Very easy! Add a couple of bottles of decent wine and lots of interesting conversation and it was the perfect antidote to Blue Monday. So much fun, in fact that I’d love to make it a regular thing.
What do you do to boost your morale?

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Raspberry-ginger Bellini recipe

Serves 8

Puree two small punnets (cartons) of raspberries and pass through a chinois to remove the seeds. Pour into a jug, add Ginger Simple Syrup to taste, and chill until ready to serve. Stir gently and pour a little of the mix into flutes (fill the glass about one-third way). Top up with sparkling wine such as prosecco, cava or California champagne. Enjoy!



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