When I first began the wedding registry process, I fell in love with about thirty different china patterns. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a pattern that was gorgeous and floral, minimal and classic, or bold and geometric. In the end I chose a beautiful, busy pattern, but it gave me an idea - why not register for just a few small bread and butter plates of all different kinds of patterns to keep on hand for cocktail parties or desserts? It’s a great way to add some POP to your parties without the full investment of formal china, especially if you don’t think you will use it often. Even though my registry days are behind me, I am always on the lookout for a fun set to use for our next gathering.
A few tricks:
Bargain home decor stores like Home Goods, Cost Plus World Market and Target are great sources since their inventory changes often - and their prices mean you can pick up a new set every season!
Browse your local flea market and consignment shops for bargains on china, and keep an eye out for vintage patterns that speak to you - since you’re only picking up a handful of these you can afford to experiment with some out-of-the-box patterns!
Don’t relegate these beauties to your cupboards - show them off even when they aren’t in use! I As you saw in this post, I love displaying a few of my bread and butter plates right on my coffee table. They are too pretty to stow, and we are always party-ready!
Here are a few of my current favorites (clockwise from the top left)…
These Royal Limoges bread and butter plates are a bit of an investment, but they’re also heirloom worthy - your great grandchildren will love using them too!
Whimsical fish plates would be so fun for a sushi-making and cocktail party.
I love these minimal plates with a cheeky message.
This geometric pattern from Anthropologie would look so gorgeous permanently stacked on a coffee table.
These sweet birds are so spring-y, they would be perfect for baby shower nibbles.
Floral china is my favorite for a super-girly afternoon of tea sandwiches and champagne.
It’s officially springtime in Los Angeles, which is a lot like summertime in other areas of the country. It was over 80 degrees in downtown LA on Monday, and when I came home starving, the last thing I wanted to do was fire up the stove and effectively turn my entire apartment into a sauna. Friends, this can only mean one thing: grilling season is upon us! I have a deep love for anything smothered in BBQ sauce, but this year I want to get out of my regular rotation of BBQ chicken and burgers. So, here are a few recipes I rounded up just in time for the weekend - from appetizers to dessert - to make sure I don’t have to turn on my oven again until September.
1. Grilled Jalapeno Poppers: Jalapeno poppers are a game day favorite at my house, but I’ve always cooked them in the oven. This grilled version is perfect for those late September football games when the weather is still warm.
2. Grilled Corn: I became obsessed with grilled corn last summer – the combination of sweet corn with the smoky, charred flavor from the grill beats out the run-of-the-mill boiled corn on the cob any day. I can’t wait to try it with a little cilantro butter a la Martha Stewart.
3. Grilled Romaine: I started playing around with grilled romaine last summer. It seems totally weird, I know, but trust me - it’s delicious. Charred and caramelized on the outside, but still crisp on the inside. I like to eat it whole, but you can also chop it up for salads.
4. Grilled Pizza: Dannye is a huge fan of grilled pizza, but I haven’t tried yet. When I do, I’ll be using these tips from the Kitchn.
5. Grilled Potato Salad: Full disclosure – this recipe does require some pre-grilling prep by partially cooking the potatoes in boiling water. But a little boiling water is a far cry from a hot oven, so I’ll still be giving it a try. If you’re short on time, you can microwave the potatoes in a covered bowl for 3 – 5 minutes before grilling.
6. Grilled Bananas: This recipe for Honey Rum Bananas looks amazing and so simple. I’m imagining a caramel-y, tropical flavor, but not too rich. It’s also a good option for a low-cal dessert.
7. Grilled Ice Cream: I saw this recipe and it immediately went on my list of recipes to try this summer. It seems like it would take some practice to get right, so if you’ve ever grilled ice cream and have some tips, leave us a note!
8. Grilled Pineapple: Like the grilled bananas above, grilled pineapple is a perfect, low-effort dessert, or as a replacement for plain fruit salad. I’d serve it with a fat scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of pecans.
9. Grilling in Foil: And finally, for those recipes that just don’t work on an open grill (like saucy main dishes and chopped veggies), these ideas for grilling in foil are the perfect solution. Bread pudding during the summer? Yes please!
My husband is something of a Bloody Mary enthusiast. In his opinion, a restaurant should live or die by their recipe, and while there are alot of sub-par Marys out there, he can never resist the opportunity to try one whenever he sees it offered on the menu. There’s something other-worldly about that sharp tang followed by the slight nose-smarting burn of horseradish when you know you’ve found a good one. It has taken us years to craft the perfect one at home, but it has become a Sunday brunch staple in our house ever since.
The Ultimate Bloody Mary
Adapted from The Mermaid Inn in New York, NY
2 oz. good quality vodka
4 oz. tomato juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons horseradish
pinch of fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 shakes of tabasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 squeeze each of lime and lemon
cornichons, capers, boiled shrimp and/or celery to garnish
Old Bay seasoning
Rim a cocktail glass with the Old Bay seasoning (like you would with salt on a margarita glass) and fill with ice. Combine all other ingredients (except the garnishes and vodka) in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour the vodka into the glass. Top with the Bloody Mary Mix and garnish with cornichons, capers, boiled shrimp and a tall piece of celery.
I’m a sucker for any type of fruit cobbler, but unfortunately, most of my family and friends just aren’t fans of “cooked fruit” (What weirdos, right? I need new friends). So when I’m in charge of dessert, I end up making a lot of brownies and cake. Delicious, but kind of disappointing when you’re craving the sweet/tart flavors of seasonal produce. The only person in my family who seems to share my tastes in dessert is my dad, so when he came over for dinner last weekend, I seized the opportunity to try out this recipe for blueberries and biscuits. Yes, the whole pan pictured here was for just the two of us - and we were so happy we didn’t have to share!
Blueberries + Biscuits (aka Blueberry Slump)
Recipe from Saveur
2 cups flour
1 ¾ cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
4 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 ¼ cups milk
1 ½ lb. blueberries
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Whisk together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and ½ tsp. salt in a large bowl; add butter, and using your fingers, rub butter into flour until pea-size crumbles form. Add milk, and stir just until a moist dough forms; cover and refrigerate dough until ready to use.
Heat oven to 400°. Bring remaining sugar and salt along with blueberries and citrus juices to a boil in a 12″ cast-iron or enamelware skillet over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.* Remove pan from heat, and using two tablespoons, portion and form chilled dough into 2–3″ oval dumplings, and drop them evenly on top of the blueberry mixture. Sprinkle dough dumplings with sugar, and transfer skillet to oven; bake until biscuits are cooked through and blueberry mixture is reduced, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.
*Note: I didn’t have the right stove-to-oven cookware required, so I just cooked the berries on the stove in a regular pan, then transferred it to an oven-safe dish before topping with the biscuits and baking.
Last week I managed convinced my husband to sneak out of work a little early, and we raced (convertible top down) over to the beach while it was still warm. While 90 degrees in Santa Monica in May was a bit unseasonable, it definitely got me excited about the months (and beaches) to come. We’re headed to Palm Springs in a few weeks, and the Mayan Riviera in August, so I am already day-dreaming about airy caftans and gold sandals to get my wardrobe summer vacay-ready! Here are a few of the pieces serving as my beach bum inspiration…
From the top left:
I’ve been rocking the same pair of Ray Ban aviators for three years now, and while I love them, now is the perfect excuse to upgrade to these killer Oliver Peoples pair.
Far from the days when I used to lie out with a bottle of my mom’s spf 5 tanning oil, these days I am all about covering up as much as I can. This hat is cute enough to throw on over a simple white sundress, and my skin will thank me!
While I love the idea of a retro-inspired one-piece swimsuit, most of them look a little too matronly for me. When I found this one on Net-A-Porter it was love at first sight - it’s low cut enough to still be a little sexy and the one-piece cut is just too fun to pass up.
No fabulous beach outfit is complete without an equally fabulous beach tote, and no one really compares to Tory Burch. I love this woven raffia version - it’s durable enough to plop right in the sand, roomy enough for a beach towel and my Kindle, and the fun pompoms just scream vacation.
I usually end up grabbing my $2.50 pair of rubber flip flops from Old Navy when I’m headed out to the beach, but these gold sandals have me thinking twice. The gold is a surprisingly versatile color and they’ll add a little luxuriousness to my usual jean shorts/white tank summer uniform.
I normally don’t go for rompers (just the name sounds toddler-esque) but this patterned one from Anthropologie is changing my mind. It would be so easy to throw on en route to a BBQ or a pool party!
Lately I have had an unhealthy obsession with the blueberry mint lemonade at this place, and after picking up a basket of blackberries at this week’s farmer’s market, I knew I had to try to re-create a version of it at home. Since I have never made lemonade from scratch before, I wasn’t expecting much out of my first batch, but I have to say, it was easier than I thought it would be and it turned out way better than expected. And, as most things are, it was greatly improved with a splash of vodka and served on the rocks.
Start with a full cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice from 5- 10 lemons, depending on their size (for the love of cocktails, please do not use the bottled stuff!).
Heat one small carton of blackberries with 1/2 cup of water and a few mint sprigs on low heat. Muddle the berries and mint gently while they simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the berries have “melted”. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the pulp so as much of the mixture is pressed through as possible.
In a large pitcher, combine the lemon and berry juice with four cups of filtered water and 1/4 to 1/2 cups of agave syrup or fine sugar, adjusting the amount of sweetener to your taste (I used 1/4 cup of agave because I like my lemonade on the tart side). Keep the lemonade in the refrigerator for up to a week, or serve on the rocks with an ounce of good vodka and a mint sprig to garnish.
Get creative and experiment with other fruit/herb combinations - like strawberry and basil or blueberry and thyme!
Last weekend, Dannye and I went with our mom to the annual Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts – an interior design and garden showcase to benefit youth music programs and music-oriented nonprofit organizations that provide music therapy, education, scholarships and concerts.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, the event goes on through May 19; buy your tickets here! Besides supporting a good cause, the Showcase House is chock-full of amazing decorating ideas – from stunning woodwork and cool color combinations to unusual materials (pewter countertops, anyone?) and little details that you can apply at home now. I especially appreciated the different paint treatments and wallpaper uses all through the house, and the cool mix of traditional styling with industrial accessories in the kitchen. Tour guides are in every room, ready to answer your questions about materials, colors, and designers. Bring a notepad and take notes of your favorite ideas, then check out the little shops set up on site.
Here are just a few photos from the event:
The gorgeous, light-filled living room
One of several relaxing patios. I’m obsessed with that table!
The beautiful pattern on an office armchair
The luxurious master bedroom
A stunning mosaic and mirrored bathroom
A sparkly bird sconce against a bird print wallpaper. So fun!
An adorable labeling system in the garden
I really cannot speak highly enough of this event - I look forward to it every year! Pick up your tickets before they sell out!
My favorite part of spring and summer is the warm nights, and being able to sit outside and enjoy the mild temperatures late into the evening. The past few weekends have been spent repainting patio furniture, washing cushions, sweeping (oh, so much sweeping), and hunting for an outdoor rug to pull the whole look together. I finally have the basics squared away, but I need a few accessories to finish the look and make my patio the perfect spot to lounge and entertain all summer long. Here’s what I have my eye on:
1. Bistro Lights: The single, bluish bulb hanging over my patio is sort of depressing, so I ordered these lights to flood the space with a softer, more festive light. Major improvement!
2. Adirondack Chair: I love the laid back vibe of a classic Adirondack chair. I could lounge in this with a cocktail and be happy for hours.
3. Ikat Plates: These cute appetizer plates are perfect for cocktail hour.
4. Throw Pillows: Stripes are classic for outdoor décor, but this punchy cobalt blue version takes it up a notch. Mix in a few natural fiber pillows to soften the look and add a little texture
5. Coasters: My table has a lattice top, so sometimes it’s a little tough to balance glasses on it. These cute coasters are exactly what I need, plus, they’re disposable!
6. Outdoor Rug: A more understated rug looked best with my lacy furniture, but if you have a simple outdoor set, this rug is perfect. The free-form chevron pattern gives it a more casual, playful vibe.
7. Galvanized Bucket: I can’t comfortably fit more than five people on my patio at once, so a small galvanized bucket is all I need to keep drinks cold for everyone.
8. Hurricanes: I love candlelight, and these lanterns are the just the thing to keep mine lit all night.
9. Colorful Tray: A bright serving tray in an accent color is perfect for serving drinks or arranging appetizers. Go for pattern or texture.
And for bonus points…
10. Acrylic Pitcher: This simple acrylic pub pitcher is perfect for serving sangria or lemonade. Since I’m short on serving space outside, I prefer the sturdiness of acrylic over glass, just in case an errant elbow knocks it over!
11. Light Blankets: This cozy blanket is exactly what you need when the sun sets; get a few monogrammed for a little extra style. They’re machine washable too!
12. Patterned Paper Straws: There are so many cute patterns out there, but I love these polka dot straws. They’re just a little more festive than your regular plastic ones.
It’s no secret I’m a sucker for pretty gift wrapping. I’m always on the lookout for new paper inspiration, and lately I have been finding myself drawn to relatively clean and simple designs. I picked up a roll of twine last week from Paper Source, and of course couldn’t resist stocking up on pretty rolls of paper. Their walls of specialty papers don’t really qualify as “wrapping paper” (and at up to $10 per sheet they aren’t for the faint of heart), but their gorgeous designs and patterns make me swoon every time I walk in. Since it’s pretty pricey I try to use it sparingly and in creative ways - I used a pretty geometric pattern to wrap a few bottles of wine for my dad, a thick piece of Japanese paper around a loaf of Orange Bread I brought my aunt on Easter, and this one is currently in a frame on my wall.
The key to really making an impact is to use the paper sparingly - a thin strip on the base of a pretty potted plant, a single square in a frame in your bathroom - and keep the rest of the details relatively simple, like a single piece of twine and a craft paper tag.
I’m a lazy cook. Don’t get me wrong - I’m a good cook - but if I have the choice between a simple meal or a slightly complicated one, 99% of the time I’ll choose simple. This pasta recipe is one of my favorites, especially on week nights, but I think it’s still colorful and tasty enough to serve to guests. With whole wheat pasta and lots of broccoli, it’s healthy too. And the best part: it’s a 1 pot meal. It just doesn’t get any easier than that.
This recipe can be adapted to serve 1 to 100 people - I usually just eyeball the amount of pasta and broccoli, then season to taste. Play around with the ratio of veggies to pasta if you’re on a health kick.
Whole Wheat Pasta + Broccoli, Feta & Lemon
1/4 lb whole wheat pasta, any shape
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
3 Tbl olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 large lemon wedges
1/4 c feta cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. 3 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets to the pot. Cook 3 minutes more, or until the broccoli is crisp-tender (or longer if you prefer your broccoli and pasta a little softer), then drain. Return the pasta and broccoli to the pot, and add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and juice from one lemon wedge, and toss. Transfer the pasta to a serving platter, sprinkle with the feta cheese, and squeeze the remaining lemon wedge over the top. Garnish with an additional lemon wedge, if you’re being fancy. Enjoy!
Note: This recipe is easily adaptable, depending on what you have in your fridge, so play around a little. Try subbing asparagus for broccoli, adding a little creamy ricotta or goat cheese instead of feta, or top with crunchy breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes. I also like to chop up a little garlic and fresh tomato, and saute it in the pot before I add the drained pasta. Anything goes!