Wednesday, December 31, 2008

...New Years Eve.

I think that New Years Eve is a holiday that changes with our ages. When I was in my teens and early 20's it was all about the cutest boy, the best outfit, which party to go to, and who were you going to strategically stand next to at midnight in hopes that he turned around
to you for that all important kiss!
In my late 20's and early 30's I found myself traveling with a friend and had set out to explore the world overseas. I am lucky enough to have gathered great memories of this all important evening. When in Australia, I finished a private catering job in just enough time to race to the Sydney Opera House steps while the clock was striking twelve. Caught up in the celebration, some cute Aussie boy (who I didn't know) whirled around, swept me in his arms and gave me a New Years kiss that I remember to this day. I have eaten twelve grapes as the clock struck midnight in Spain, (the grapes signify twelve happy months in the coming year),
and have been fortunate enough to pop open a bottle of champagne on the
sparkling Champs Elysees in Paris.

I remember one Dec. 31st when I was alone and took myself to the movies. At the stroke of 12, the theatre lights went up, the movie stopped, everyone turned and wished each other a "Happy New Year", than sat back down and the movie continued!
For some reason, the feeling of that night has always stayed with me.

Now, in my late forties, it has become an evening spent either celebrating with good friends, or at home in reflection of the coming year. Most of us stopped giving in to the pressure of making the dinner reservation at the newest and best place of the year, don't want to be out on the road with all the "crazy's" and sometimes even need that extra cup of coffee
to make it to midnight!!

What ever you find yourself doing tonight and where ever you may be doing it, celebrate with gusto, be safe, and close the last chapter of this year with an
unforgettable memory of your own.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

... a Merry Christmas

I think I have always loved Christmas Eve most of all.
The evening would begin with "Cocktails and Hor devours", non-alcoholic of course, for me and my brother. Growing up in the 60's we were the byproduct of every entertaining Kraft recipe that Mom could recreate. I loved the special spread made of Spam, complete with the pimento Christmas bow and mini rye bread to spread it on. I wouldn't even glance twice at that royal blue tin now, but when you were 6 or 7, sharing that with the grown-ups while drinking punch made of Seven-up and rainbow sherbet, frothing in a silver lined crystal punch bowl, believe me, you felt pretty special. I have that punch bowl today and it seems so much smaller than when I was 7, but it still holds precious memories.

What ever new memories or old traditions you and your family or friends are creating tonight and tomorrow, may they hold a special place in your heart.
I want to thank everyone that has stopped by since I started this endeavor a few months ago. Your kind comments and support has meant the world to me and inspired me to continue to do something creative each and every day.
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
Warmly, Pat and Lexie.

Friday, December 12, 2008 Christmas Chandelier.

There is a series of Christmas cards I found a few years back by a company in the UK called
Two Bad Mice I have had them tucked away as "too special to give away", and take them out each year with my Christmas things. Enclosed with some of the cards are touching little short stories by Alan Le Grock. I can't seem to find anything out about him, or the stories, but here is one of my favorites. Ever since I came across this I think of Missy and Mouse as I decorate my Christmas Chandelier.
Double click on the story below to be as enchanted as I was!

Monday, December 8, 2008

...images of Christmas

I sit here covered in glitter, snow, tinsel, and Christmas cheer! It's always such a decorating frenzy to get everything up and sparkling for the holiday season, but the sooner I get it all up the more time there is to enjoy it. There is something so magical about opening the door at the end of the day and walking into such a wonderland.
Thought I would invite you in for a peak!
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

...Chocolate Pecan Pie.

Don't know what came over me, but last night after I got home from work, (yes I do have a real daytime grown-up job) and in between the Christmas decorating, photo taking, and blogging, I decided to bake a pie! This one happens to be one of my all time favorites. I have to say though, I felt a bit silly eleven o'clock at night whipping out my camera and snapping photos. I truly believe that photographing food is definitely an art and I have so much respect for the photographers of all my favorite foodie magazines! Trust me though, I guarantee this tastes much better than it looks.

Bon Appetit!


For the pastry dough:

1 1/4 cups soft winter-wheat flour, such as
White Lily brand, or cake flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup cold solid vegetable shortening

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut
into small cubes

3 to 6 Tbs. ice water

For the filling:

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 Tbs.Brandy (optional)

1 Tbs. grated orange zest

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/4 cup good quality chocolate chips


To make the pastry, in a bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the shortening and cut in with a pastry blender, 2 knives or your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the butter and cut in until it forms tiny pea-size balls. Add the ice water a little at a time, stirring and tossing with the pastry blender or a fork until the mixture holds together. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into an 11-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Fold the round into quarters and place in a

9 1/2-inch nonstick or traditional tart pan with a removable bottom. Unfold, then press gently into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the overhang even with the pan rim. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F.

To make the filling, in a bowl, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, bourbon, orange zest, vanilla, salt,chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. Pour into the chilled pastry shell and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Bake until the center is slightly soft to the touch, the edges are set and the crust is golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes, then remove the pan sides and slide the tart off the pan bottom onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream. Serves 8.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

...deck the halls.

Here we go! The beginning of the decorating frenzy! I started taking the boxes up from the garage last night and what a treat it is as I open each one. Even thought it's been only a year since I gingerly packed everything up, I sometime truly forget all the Christmas treasures that I have. This is part of my Shiny Brite collection. It started with 6 ornaments from my childhood and after a few days on eBay, and I won't divulge how many Pay Pal transactions later, I now have...well...let's say enough to bring back a deluge of childhood memories. After all, no matter how old we become, Christmas really does bring out the child in us all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

...a Happy Thanksgiving.

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. Hope you are fortunate enough to be spending time with the ones you love.
I am, and for that I am very thankful.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

...a magical topiary garden.

I have been fascinated with topiary's since I was a little girl. I think what got me started was the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland. Sitting in the little boat waiting to enter that world, I was transformed by the green plants coaxed to grow into all sorts of animal shapes. Giraffes, elephants balancing on their heads, dolphins, and even a moose. I just couldn't understand why we couldn't get our plants to grow like that at home. Apparently Mom just wasn't gardening correctly!
Here is a great collection from my trip to
Longwood Gardens. Much more grown up shapes than the animals of Disney, but no less magical.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

...Chrysanthemums at Longwood Gardens.

Just outside Kennett Square sits Longwood Gardens, 1050 acres of incredible beauty. The Chrysanthemum Festival was in full bloom while I was there and all I can say is that I have a much greater appreciation of this fall favorite than ever before. It's amazing what nature can produce for artists to capture. For this I am very thankful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

...a simpler place.

I'm back, and have dusted the pastoral cobwebs off my vacation brain. What a breathtaking place! So peaceful and filled with the simple beauty of the land. A far cry from the hectic pace of city life. I hope you can fine the essence of that beauty in these photos.
Enjoy, I know I did.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

...Kennett Square

I am on my way to Kennett Square Pennsylvania for a week of "all that is the season". My friend who I am visiting says that the leaves peaked last Sunday so there should still be tons of color to
satisfy my love affair with Fall. I'm sure I will come back with tons of photos to share, and stories from the state that helped to make history last night. I am, for once, at a loss as to how to express my feelings about the magnitude of last nights results and this mornings affirmation of hope for all that is possible. A friend of mine expressed it best in her posting today, "I Give You Sunflowers." Have a great week and I will share when I get back.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Even though I live in an area where you can vote early, I have chosen to stand in line and cast my vote tomorrow morning. I want to be there on the very day with record numbers of people who feel the way I do, excited to be involved in a history making day, regardless of the outcome. Just the very fact that this is expected to be perhaps the largest turnout in voter history makes me proud to be a part of it. I feel like a kid the night before Christmas! The collective energy is absolutely overwhelming! For the first time in a long while, apathy is out and involvement is in. Please, whatever your choice, and if you haven't already, get out tomorrow and let your voice be heard. VOTE.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

...Happy Halloween.

Here's Halloween circa 1936. That's my Dad,the short one in the front with the striped "skirt", who at 9 years old doesn't look too happy with his costume. His mom is second from the left, his Dad, the last one on the right.

1969, with my brother. It's hard to believe I was the same age as Dad his Halloween photo.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

...the "UN" common cold.

Adults shouldn't get colds, or acne for that matter, but that's another story.
Colds aren't pretty. They don't wear well on grownups. Our bright red noses aren't cute, no one is there with a tissue when we sneeze, or to make us homemade chicken soup. We usually still have to go to work where no one wants to be around us. We're looked at by our co- workers and friends as one big sneezing, coughing, Petri dish. Our desks and phones are victims of hourly Lysol attacks. Even if we do stay home, the trash still needs to be taken out, dishes done, animals fed...hardly any time to curl up under a blanket and watch the cartoon channel.

I've been sick for the past week. Landed on me like a tons of bricks. In the beginning, I always believe in the holistic approach. So out come the Chinese herbs, tinctures, herbal teas, and balms that help you to breath and build up that overworked, stress laden immune system. I go at it full force, every few hours faithfully taking the magic potions that will eventually make me well. That lasts for about a day and a half at best. And than there I am, standing in the cold/flu isle at the local drug store, where I've driven to in an outfit I would normally never step out of the house in. Of course, looking my loveliest I run into 2 people I know. (Ya kind of knew that had to happen) and after what seems like an eternity of choosing between 75 different options of remedies, all containing the same ingredients, each one promising better results than the next, I pick the one that I have to stand in line and show my drivers license for. Who knew those few extra milligrams of what ever it is that helps you breath can also be made into the newest street drug. Do they really think a 48 year old woman that can hardly breath is going to go home and concoct some dance club drug?! As I get ready to leave, armed with my antihistamine arsenal, I remember the most important last resort remedy. The one sure to fix me right up. "The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever so you can rest medicine"...NYQUIL! Because by the third night those Chinese herbs have been pushed by the wayside and I want anything that's going to knock me right out. That night I crawl into bed, eyes swollen, nose bright red, hair not washed, and in a t-shirt from 1985. As I fill my NyQuil cup with the ruby elixir that will take me to dream land, a thought comes over me that only someone who lives on a major earthquake fault in California would appreciate... "Please God, don't let the big one happen tonight!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

...thoughts on creativity.

Sometimes being creative comes with very little effort, while at other times it means digging deep inside "that place" and coming up with nothing. Often times I feel that my creativity has to come out in the form of something new, something that no one has done before, a new pure idea that is born from "that place". Not true...being creative can also be an awareness of things that have come before, inspirations that spark a new interpretation, or sometimes, even in the form of imitation. I came across a great book filled with quotes from legendary women and this seemed to jump out at me when I needed it the most:

"You start by copying other people's paintings or music or whatever. You get all of those skills before you branch out. Really creative people have a fantastic ability to copy things and then combine them in new ways. And whether we're talking about genes or memes, recombination is the real heart of creativity."

The photo above is from a mural painted as a ceiling trim in Nirvana Restaurant, San Miguel de Allende. I took this during appetizers at dinner with a friend. Always bring a camera, you never know what you'll find!

Friday, October 10, 2008

...MacArthur Place

We are very lucky here in the Bay Area to be so close to so many wonderful things. One of them is the wine country, and for me, especially the town of Sonoma. It is such a glorious place filled with all things that please the senses. One of those pleasures is MacArthur Place, an Inn and Spa just outside the town square. Come take a walk with me through the grounds. Every corner you turn has whimsical pieces of garden art or just a visual vignette to quiet your mind. I couldn't hope to post all the wonderful photos I took but wanted to share with you some of my favorites.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I haven't posted for a few days and wanted to let you all know why. I have been all consumed with designing my web-site. Being the creative control freak that I am, coupled with the fact that I really can't afford to have someone do it for me, here I am...square eyed and brain fried, but with a huge smile on my face because I really AM doing it on my own. Now I can say "hyperlink" and mean it! I will let you all know when we can pop the champagne and celebrate. Oh, and by the way, my desk is never that neat...that's the designer control freak at work!

Sunday, October 5, 2008 poliwoggs.

Ever since I first saw these quirky little paper mache figures called Poliwoggs, I knew they had to be a part of my Halloween mantle. They gaze into my living room only one month out of the year and spend the rest of their lives wrapped in old tissue high up on a shelf in the Halloween box. But for the short time they have their freedom, they bring a smile to my face each time I pass them by.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

...Dad's Birthday invitation.

Yesterday my father celebrated his 81st year on this earth. I can't begin to imagine what that must feel like, and I marvel at the things he has accomplished in his life. I get my sense of humor from my Dad and even though he is in the last stages of Parkinson's, I know that humor still lives somewhere deep within him. Every once in awhile I can still see it behind his eyes.

I thought I would share this invitation I did for his 80th birthday last year. I used a photo from his honeymoon, Miami Beach 1952. I'm sure when my mother looks at him today, she still sees the man she fell in love with all those years ago. Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The weather here is gorgeous and in the low 80's. I guess you would call it our Indian Summer. The air though, truly smells like fall. Sadly, this morning, I picked almost the last of my heirloom tomatoes. There are just a few still green on the vine, smaller than the rest and slowly taking their time to ripen. I think, like the rest of us, they are hanging on hoping for a bit more summer.

3/4 pound day-old crusty peasant-style whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
4-5 large heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup sliced peeled cucumber

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded

8 0z. fresh mozzarella cut into cubes (optional)

In a serving bowl stir together the bread, the tomatoes, the cucumber, the onion, the oil, the vinegar, the basil, the mozzarella, and salt and pepper to taste until the salad is combined well.

...strawberries in September.

What a treat to find these in my garden at the end of summer. No bigger than my thumbnail, they pack a huge punch and taste like a burst of strawberry candy. Mother Nature is proof that big things really do come in small packages.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

..."some pig."

Whenever I see a spider web, I think of Charlotte's Web. I read it over and over again, well into my teen years, until the pages were worn from turning. I remember Fern saving Wilbur from a runt's fate, of her brother Avery and his love of frogs, how Fern's father let her raise Wilbur for that one important summer, the Zukerman's, and of course, Templeton the rat.
A great villain in a young child's eye but who in the end, really did save the day.
But most of all
I remember Charlotte and her unfailing friendship with Wilbur.

How in his hours of need her simple words,"some pig", "terrific", "radiant", and "humble", saved his life.

It reminds me as an adult that it is often when we stop to notice the simple things in life that great things are accomplished.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

...Sausage and Grapes.

About this time of year, when grapes are in abundance and fall is starting, I will make "Sausage and Grapes". I have inherited this recipe from my most dearest friend Bob, who sadly passed away far too early in his young life. He was a wonderful man, full of humor, insight, and was blessed with the cooking talents of his Italian grandmother. All of his friends, who have made this dish on many occasion, will always send him, wherever he is, a wink, a nod, or a toast thanking him for passing this "family recipe" on to us. What I have held secret for many a year and never divulged, was that his grandmothers recipe came straight out of the pages of Sunset Magazine, Sept. 1989. I know Bob would forgive me and most probably has a chuckle each time he sees us carefully trying to recreate this most sacred dish. I pass this on to you all now in memory of Bob, and as a opening to the Fall Season.

Sausage with Grapes

8 mild Italian sausages (1 1/2 to 1 1/2

1 cup water

1 quart (about 1 1/2 lb.) green seedless (or red seedless) grapes, rinsed

1 small cluster green seedless grapes

Prick sausages with a fork and place in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan. Add water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Drain water and fat from pan. Add the 1 quart grapes to pan; cover and simmer until grapes are soft, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat, turning sausages and stirring grapes occasionally. As liquid reduces, lower heat to medium; stir often until sausages are well browned and grapes are soft and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer sausages to platter and spoon grapes over them. Can be served with soft polenta. Garnish with cluster of grapes.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 239 cal.; 12 g protein; 15 g fat,- 16 g carbo.; 510 mg sodium; 43 mg chol.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

...the last blooms of summer.

I can smell Fall in the air and even though it is my all time, hands down, favorite time of the year, I will miss the flowers in my garden. They still have a few weeks left to show off their magic, but I can tell that some of them are hanging on just to please me. Maybe they knew I had started this blog and wanted to somehow be a part of what is "me". Here are a few of my special favorites.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

...what's in a name.

Ok, so here's how the name Lulalina was born. A little over a year ago I became the third and last "person" to my dog Lexie. My Yellow Lab of nine years,Tyler, had past from a tumor in his heart, broke my heart, and I knew I needed a new heart to love. After many trips to the shelter, nights on rescue sights, and countless stacks of adoption papers later,

my dear friend Coleen (trainer,walker, and female "Dog Whisperer") came across "Lucy" on Craig's list. Long and the short of it, one look and I knew she was mine. But what about her name? Her first person called her Sandy, which conjured up a head of red curls and "The sun will come up tomorrow..." Her second people named her Lucy, which was my sister-in-laws name. Now I love my sister-in-law dearly but couldn't see calling her name out on a trail, or telling her to "SIT and LAY DOWN" at Thanksgiving dinner. And so the search began for the perfect name, one that would suit her personality, make her stop
dead in her tracks on a trail, and look cute and sassy on her daisy dog tag! Voila! "Lexie" was born. Now for anyone who has a dog (or cat) you know that once you find the perfect name you very rarely use it. So very quickly the nick names began. Lexie Lu, Lulabella, Bellalina, Lulabellalina, Lu, Lulabel, and when Coleen needs her to turn on a dime and pay attention on the trail..ULLAS BELLAS, Latin for "get your canine butt over here and listen to me!"
When I was thinking up names for my business my first choice was Bellalina, which I quickly found out was already taken by a Greek Escort service! Not quite the image I had in mind for Christmas cards and Birthday invitations. Once again...Coleen to the rescue. Move a few letters around and... LULALINA.

In case anyone's wondering, she's four years old, part Yellow Lab, part Viszla, and 100% love!


Related Posts with Thumbnails