Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas at the Ritz

Above photograph courtesy of The Ritz London

A few years ago we delighted in celebrating Christmas at The Ritz. It was everything and anything it was supposed to be. We were greeted by the bellhops that somehow already knew us by name and continued to remind us of such for our entire stay. Service with a smile. Talk about feeling at home.

Inside, the tree surely was a sight to see, and became better and better as we ascended to our room, lights flowing down the middle of the staircase providing a transparent curtain of intrigue.

Above photograph courtesy of The Ritz London

Spending the holidays in London is a treasure in itself, but staying at The Ritz put the cherry on top. Each night I would marvel as we strolled our way back across town to the hotel. One night I even had the cab drop us off a few blocks away so we could merry in the wonder of the site of it all.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Buckeyes, a nut and a cookie

It may be 'tis the season, or it may be pure nostalgia, but I love making Christmas cookies.

I distinctly remember one specific year growing up when my mother and I spent the day baking Christmas cookies. It was extra special because my mom allowed me to play hooky from school that day so we could bake the Christmas cookies together. I was the third child so it was a rare opportunity to be able to have time with my mom all to myself. It's a day and a memory I will always treasure.

But back to the cookies, especially a favorite to us Michiganders and Midwesterners alike - the Buckeye! Not the nut, but the cookie. Super simple, super easy, and super delicious.

Yields about 2 dozen, depending upon size.


1 cup of peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened

1 12-oz package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Breed & Company

Tis the season of gift giving and from homeware to hardware, Breed and Company has options to meet every shopper's needs.

Let's start with some great handbag and travelware brands like Jon Hart and Spartina.

And don't even get me started on the kitchen... there's the Kitchen Aid mixer and all things Cuisinart, Le Creuset for your dutch oven needs, my recently acquired best friend, Nespresso, and my even more recent best friend Breville for their fabulous tea maker.

Breed is also popular for wedding registries because of their great China collections with brands such as Lenox, Herend, and Waterford. And don't forget your Lismore crystal.

And a personal favorite of mine - collections of classic Blue and White or Woodland Spode.

But don't worry boys, there's stuff for you too...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Garden & Gun Hard Copies

What's better than Garden & Gun magazine? Compilations by Garden & Guns editors, but of course. And conveniently enough, these seem to be released just in time for the holidays...

Last year for Christmas I received The Southerner's Handbook:

This year for Christmas I asked Santa to put Good Dog in my stocking.

I mean, come on, how good do these look on the bookshelf...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Rosemary Trees

When items are multi-functional, I'm a big fan. So of course, come this time of year when I am decorating for the holidays, I like to go straight for the Rosemary trees. 

They are perfect for the season, but then become quite useful in the kitchen shortly thereafter (or even in between!).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wedding Registry: DOs & DON'Ts

Congratulations, you're engaged! It's such a fun and exciting time, but it can also be a bit overwhelming with so much to do in so little time.

Indulge in all of the cake tastings, have the caterer create mini samples for selection, and don't forget to register for your favorite things. After all, it only happens once in a lifetime.

When registering, it's always nice to have help with where to start. Check out Williams-Sonoma's registry guidelines for tips on creating the perfect registry.

Below are my own lived-and-learned registry DOs and DON'Ts:

DO - Have plenty of options

Some people like to buy that one original gift "so they always think of me when they use it" whereas others want to buy whats practical, like your everyday glassware. Different items and different price ranges will be pleasers.

DON'T - Be too practical

Quit saying to yourself, "Oh, I don't want someone to have to buy that for me." It's their decision to buy it for you, so have fun! Now's the time. It's a rare occasion that you get to shop with other people's money.

DO - Keep it in the family

I'm a big fan of passing things from generation to generation, whether it be traditions, everyday practices, or material things. So if grandma has a set of China, or Aunt Judy has a set of silver, and long lost 2nd cousin half removed so-and-so has a set of crystal to pass along to you, take it! And then build off of it.

DON'T - Over register

Granted, all of this being said, don't have so many outrageous options that you end up receiving impractical items that you will never even take out of the box (our juicer falls into this category).

DO - Copy cat

It's totally acceptable to look at registries of other friends and family and take note of their ideas. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

DON'T - Forget your own style

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hot Drink Season

Cold comes quickly in my beloved Washington, and just shy of a month ago Martin's came out with their Fall Cocktail menu, featuring the Autumn Delight. According to the menu, it's a warming blend of apple cider, galliano, and cinnamon vodka. Sounds delicious, Washingtonians rejoice.

Well, my new hometown of Austin is just now catching up to the 30/40 degree temperatures of the season and I am reaching for anything in arm's way to keep warm, inside and out. And what's better than warming up with a hot cup of tea? Well, if it's after 4 o'clock...

Hot Buttered Rum. Hot Cider and Rum. Hot Water, spices, and Rum. They're all a win, win. Serve it right up in a lovely latte mug. Now how's that for Grandma's cough medicine?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lunch at Walton's

Walton's Fancy and Staple, the sister restaurant to Bess, serves up breakfast, lunch, and a plethora of sweet treats. Today we stopped in for lunch.

Salads and sandwiches are always freshly made to order.

Some of my favorites being the Pastrami with whole grain mustard on rye...

... the roast Beef Bleu with just the right amount of complimentary ingredients finished with a perfect horseradish aioli...

.. and of course, the Reuben, served here as a healthier version than most.

Last but not least, my favorite of them all, where breakfast meets lunch, the Ham and Egg Sandwich, served open faced with that perfectly cooked fried egg.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


It's a time for ghosts and goblins, costumes and candy, pumpkins and... pumpkin seeds!

Cut off the top of a pumpkin.

Scoop out the seeds.

Rinse with water and discard all of the orange gunk.

Place on a baking tray with Parchment Paper and plenty of salt.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake until slightly browned.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

After my husband and I were engaged, my future in-laws suggested that we take a trip down to the small village of San Miguel, Mexico, a vacation retreat for his family for many years.

Nestled in the middle of the country, San Miguel is not one of the typical beach destinations that draws many tourists, but rather a truly Spanish looking pueblo.  We rented an adorable Hacienda located on the hillside with a magnificent view of the city.  There are wonderful local women for hire that will pick your meals, do your grocery shopping, and boy oh boy can these ladies cook!  Yummy.  Plus, their Margaritas are the true Mexican recipe.  They go down easy as pie.

The ciudad itself has much to take in and enjoy.  There is an old-school architecture to be found throughout the city and many of the buildings are highlighted with magnificent colors.  The center of town is in el jardin, or the garden.  Here local merchants set up shop selling paintings, jewelry, clothing, antiques, and flowers. 
And of course, there is the joy of the real Mexican cuisine.  Thanks to my future father-in-law, I learned what a Chile Relleno was, and begged to go back for another one the following night.  To this day, I still drool at the mouth thinking about the food I was able to savour down there.  From Carne Asada to Huevos Rancheros and a true Cesar Salad, which recipe was handed down to me by my mother-in-law at a wedding shower.  I keep it locked up safely.

Hot off the press this morning - San Miguel has been ranked 5th in Conde Nast Traveler's Top 25 Cities in the World for the 2014 Readers Choice Awards. Obviously, I couldn't agree more.

And American visitors, not to worry, thanks to the many Texans that have decided to retire to this retreat, you can still find your Starbucks.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pedernales Winery

The Pedernales Winery (pronounced Perd-a-nales) is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Rose Hill in the beautiful Texas hill country. Literally, they are less than 500 feet apart with a boardwalk connecting to two sites. So, the wine tasting makes for a perfect B&B detour, no DD required.

Whether it be morning (no judgement), noon, or night, great views are promised to be had, and a few extra sips (or bottles) will make it all the merrier.