Friday, September 30, 2011

The Beauty Of White...Favorite Things

White Flowers

Fine Antique French Linens

At Home With White by Atlanta Bartlett

White on White by Stephanie Hoppen

Montes Doggett Ceramic Pottery

Engraved White Crane Stationary

Luxo Banho Creme Oval Soap

Costes K "white candle"

Brooks Brothers Classic White Shirt


Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Beauty Of White...Bathrooms

We’re drawn to all-white bathrooms because we associate white with purity and things that are healthy and hygienic. It looks so clean, and that's what we do in bathrooms...we get clean. When using whites in the bathroom, you want to look at honed, brushed, tumbled and shiny surfaces. You can combine these textures easily in an all-white bathroom and the variation in finishes adds interest. But if a stark, all white bathroom feels too sterile, white provides the ideal backdrop for sculptural elements and fixtures, as well as black and other colors.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Beauty Of White...Dinnerware

Nothing is more beautiful or versatile than white dinnerware. Whether you're using matching place settings or mixing dishes and serving pieces with other whites, colors or patterns, white dinnerware is an ideal choice. Traditional or contemporary, white dinnerware looks fabulous when displayed, never goes out of style, and always makes food look great!

Bon Appetit! C

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Beauty of White...Interiors

Crisp and elegant, white is a color capable of endless subtleties. There are literally hundreds of shades of white, ranging from cool and icy, to warm and earthy, to soft and creamy.

When used in decorating, no other color has the versatility of white. Light and airy, white opens up the smallest spaces and brings cohesion to large rooms filled with furnishings.

On it’s own, white is fresh and simple. Use varying shades and textures of creamy whites with reclaimed woods, plants, flowers and shells, and it becomes natural and organic. Combine with black, industrial metals, glass, and geometric art, photography, and sculpture, and the look becomes sleek and modern. White can add definition to a room or it can provide the perfect background to make other colors pop.

So whether you want to create a clean and crisp feeling, or bring sophisticated drama to your décor, why not consider interior design ideas in white?


Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Beauty Of White...Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is probably my favorite dessert ever. It's sweet, rich, and glistening creamy white. Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. It's generally from the Northern Italian region of Piemonte, although it is eaten all over Italy, where it's served with wild berries, caramel, chocolate sauce or fruit coulis.


3 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 gelatin leaves, soaked in cold water for about 4 minutes
1/2 cup honey
Ground and toasted hazelnuts, optional


Place the cream, vanilla bean, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Remove the vanilla bean and split lengthwise. Scrape the vanilla beans into the cream.

Squeeze the gelatin leaves to remove any excess water, then add them to the pan, stirring constantly about 30 seconds, or until the gelatin is melted.

Drizzle about 2 teaspoons honey into the bottom of 6 (4-ounce) molds. Ladle the cream mixture into each. Refrigerate for several hours, until thoroughly chilled.

To remove from the mold: Dip the bottom of the mold into a pot of hot water to loosen the panna cotta. Slide a knife around the edge, then carefully turn over onto a serving plate. Drizzle with the remaining honey and garnish with hazelnuts, if desired.

Panna Cotta isn't particularly easy to make, but believe me it's worth the effort!

Buon Appetito! C

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Beauty Of White...

"White is not a mere absence of color, it is a shining and affirmative thing: as fierce as red, as definite as black."
-G.K. Chesterton, English philosopher

This is the beginning of a special series of posts dedicated to the color white. Although technically considered the absence of all color, white is the most commonly used color in interior design. It's clean, fresh, elegant, classic, and modern. White is a blank canvas for anything. It can be warm or cool, simple or sophisticated, calm or edgy, organic or sleek, urban or vintage. But no matter how it's used, white is always in style!

Join me as I explore the beauty of white...


Monday, September 19, 2011

Bored Is Not An Option...

I’m always surprised when I hear people say “my life is so boring.“ Not that I’ve never been bored. There are times when boredom is inevitable - like when you’re sick and feel too bad to do anything, but wish you felt like doing something. Or when you’re standing in line at the DMV, or working on a task that must be done but it just isn’t that interesting.

Everyone gets bored occasionally. But I’m talking about people who simply have no reason to be consistently bored. They complain incessantly about how boring their life is, as if being bored is a constant and never-ending state of existence..

And my question is - why? Have they already done everything there is to do? Is there nothing left to learn? No place else to go?

If you ask them why they don‘t just do something to banish the boredom, you get a myriad of excuses. “I can’t - because I don’t have enough money” - “because I don’t have enough time” or, and I’m especially puzzled by this one - “because I don’t have anyone to do anything with.” It’s all about “can‘t.”

Well, ok - you might not have the money to jet around the world first class. And even if you had the money, you might not have the time to be gone that long. And if you did have the money and the time, you might not have anyone to go with. But really? Can’t find anything interesting to do? Can’t afford to take a walk in the park? Can’t make time for a hobby? Can’t go to a movie alone?

If you live in the US, and you’re reasonably healthy, and you get even a small paycheck each week - there’s simply no excuse for leading a boring life.

Maybe you’re not living the life you always dreamed of. So you’re not a multi-millionaire jetsetter, the CEO of a huge corporation, or even married to the CEO. But can’t you just bring it down a bit and read a book, take a yoga class, do some gardening, or go to the zoo?

There are people who live in third world countries who aren’t bored. And do you know why? Because they’re too busy trying to figure out how not to starve to death - how not to drink polluted water and get sick - how not to contract deadly diseases and die, as the result of living in squalor.

Dorothy Parker once said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity - there is no cure for curiosity.” And I totally agree…

Life is way too fascinating, and too short, to be spending your time lamenting the futility of your existence. There’s plenty to do and see and be. You just have to get up off your butt and do it, see it, and be it…

Read a book, a magazine, or a kindle - You must want to know more about something! I finally got a kindle by the way, and I’m having to eat my words regarding my book vs. kindle thing, because the kindle is fabulous! I still want my books, but the kindle definitely has it’s place, especially when traveling. No I’m not waffling, I’m expanding…

Take a class - learn something just for the sake of learning - how to paint, write a book, throw pots, create a website, grow herbs, cook ethnic cuisines, etc. Take yoga, tai chi, zumba, belly dancing, or pole dancing. Collect something. Play softball, basketball, volleyball, golf, or scrabble. Go bowling. Learn to speak French, Japanese, Spanish or Italian. Research different types of wine, cheese, or coffee. Read The Book of Tea, and learn about the Japanese tea ceremony.

Get a bike - My boyfriend and I have recumbent bikes (if you don’t know what that is - research). We find scenic bike trails, take a picnic lunch, and groove to nature - as well as get a great workout. We’ve been to the Katy Trail in Missouri, the Little Miami Bike Trail in Ohio, and bike trails in or near Chattanooga, Nashville, Atlanta, Jekyll Island, St. Simons, Savannah and Charleston. Great fun!

Go to a museum - I like art museums, but there are all kinds. Natural history, science, aviation, space, country music, rock n’ roll, cars, wax - just about anything you could possibly be interested in. Or go see something you have absolutely no interest in, but be willing to open your mind and possibly develop a new interest.

Go to a concert - Music can bring people together like nothing else. I went to a concert once and sat next to complete strangers who were being transported in their heads to the same place I was, and suddenly we were all dancing under the stars together. It was beautiful…

Watch The Travel Channel, The History Channel, HGTV and The Food Network. See Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern travel the world, exploring different cultures and sampling indigenous cuisines. Learn about Hitler and WWII, Cleopatra, Napoleon and Josephine, or Louis XIV and the royal court at Versailles. Get tips on how to spruce up your home on a dime. Get recipes for something other than meatloaf and roasted chicken. Watch “How It’s Made” and see how they make hub caps, hammocks, and football helmets.

Get lost in an epic movie like Gone With The Wind, Lawrence Of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, or The Godfather trilogy. Or watch Hitchcock films like Rear Window, Psycho, and Vertigo - or a funny old movie like The Philadelphia Story, My Man Godfrey, or The Thin Man series.

Volunteer - At a hospice, hospital, or nursing home. Help serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter. Provide foster care for dogs at your local animal shelter. Do a 5K walk for breast cancer. Give the gift of you, and learn the real meaning of life.

Don’t want to do things alone? Then walk up to someone at a dinner party, gallery reception or book club meeting, extend your hand, and say, “Hi! I’m _______,” and go from there.

Life is an adventure! With all there is to do and see and be - BORED IS NOT AN OPTION!

Carpe diem! C

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tuscan Chicken...

This recipe is one of my favorites. It's incredibly easy to make - preparation time is minimal - and you only mess up one skillet. It's hearty, filling, and reasonably healthy. Resist the urge to take the skin off the chicken. I know it's better for you, but come on - that crunchy skin is the best part!

Your dinner guests will be impressed because it looks way more complicated than it really is. Serve in the skillet - along with a salad, some crusty Italian bread, and a nice bottle of wine. Favoloso!


2 1/4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
12 ounces baby fingerling potatoes or halved small potatoes
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup green olives, such as Cerignola, pitted if desired
1 small lemon, washed well, cut into wedges
6 thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon cornstarch


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season chicken with salt. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Swirl in oil. Cook chicken, skin side down, until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken, and push to side of skillet. Add 1 cup stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add potatoes to liquid. Bring to a boil. Add garlic, olives, lemon wedges, and thyme to liquid. Return to a boil.

Transfer skillet to oven. Roast, stirring potatoes halfway through, until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Return skillet to stove. Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup stock, and stir into pan. Bring to a boil to thicken sauce. Serve immediately.

Enjoy! C

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today is the anniversary of that incredulous day ten years ago when we watched our televisions in horror, as the twin towers of The World Trade Center collapsed into a smoking pile of twisted metal and broken glass. We wept openly at the sight of it, and at the thought of all of the men, women, and children who lost their lives on that beautiful, sunny day.

Several years before 9/11, I visited The World Trade Center with a friend. We stood in line for the elevator to the observation deck, listening to the various foreign languages being spoken all around us, and trying to figure out what everyone was saying. We didn't know what they were talking about, but we did know why they were there. They came from all over the world to see an amazing wonder of the architectural masterpiece...and a fantastic, unparalleled view of New York City and The Statue of Liberty through the "Windows On The World."

We noticed an area of the lobby that was closed off to the public. They were repairing damage from a car bombing the year before that had killed five people. The thought of that made me a little nervous, but my friend said calmly, "I'm sure security is tighter than ever now...nothing like that will ever happen again."

As I helplessly watched the World Trade Center fall on 9/11/2001, a chill ran down my spine as I remembered his remark. Terrorists had violated my homeland, and somehow, I would never feel safe and secure again.

We Americans mourned our losses that day, however in the process of sharing our sorrow, something else happened. We pulled together in a way that I had never witnessed before. We were no longer rich or poor, "red and yellow, black and white," or Democrats and Republicans. We were "One Nation Under God." We were Americans. It was bittersweet, but beautiful.

But today, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it seems we've forgotten many of the lessons we learned that day. Our country is more divided than ever. Our economy is a disaster, crime is rampant, and partisan politics have brought Washington DC to a grinding halt. We're disillusioned with our government officials, disapppointed in each other, frightened over the hostility the rest of the world feels toward us, and insecure about our future.

This morning, as I watched the World Trade Center collapse over and over again, I remembered the despair I felt ten years ago today, and the pride I felt for my country in the days following, as I observed Americans coming together in the spirit of love, compassion and respect. Then I watched the news, and my heart sank. I didn't see love, compassion and respect. I saw Americans fighting, hating, cheating, and killing each other. I saw division, and disrespect. And I wondered...when will we ever learn?


Friday, September 9, 2011

Eat At Joe's...

I woke up yesterday morning starving. Not an unusual occurrence. It was my day off, so I drank my pre-requisite two cups of coffee in a leisurely fashion, then checked out the breakfast fixins‘. Hmmm…Pistachios and condiments. I’m a creative cook, but I’m not a miracle worker. And, since grocery shopping excursions on an empty stomach almost always end badly, I decided to eat out.

Dallas has plenty of possibilities for a really good breakfast. Breadwinner’s has fabulous omelets and pastries. Smoke’s ricotta pancakes with blueberries and apricots are to die for. Buzz Brew’s spicy, roasted breakfast potatoes are the best. Le Peep has absolutely perfect poached eggs. Café Brazil’s huevos rancheros and crunchy, sourdough toast served with guava jelly are excellent. And everybody has great coffee…

So many places to choose from. But yesterday I went to Joe’s Coffee Shop in Irving. Every city has a Joe’s. Memphis has The Arcade and Barksdale’s. Nashville has Sylvan Park and Athen’s Family Restaurant. Atlanta has the Majestic Diner on Ponce. NYC has probably hundreds…my favorite being the Café Edison on W. 47th St…also known as “the Polish tearoom.” Breakfast at a neighborhood coffee shop isn’t an extreme dining experience…it’s a comfortable, everyday slice-of-life.

Joe’s isn’t fancy, nouvelle cuisine…it’s just basic eggs, biscuits, bacon, sausage, pancakes, hash browns, grits, etc. It is what it is…simple food prepared well. What’s supposed to be hot is hot…what’s supposed to be cold is cold. The bacon is crispy, the biscuits hot and flaky, the scrambled eggs fluffy, the grits creamy, and the pancakes buttery and syrupy.

The clientele is made up of mostly older people (yes, even older than I), who all seem to know everyone else in the room. They hobble in on their canes and walkers, greet each other boisterously, and then head for their usual tables or booths. There’s always a family or two, with a few kids running around. Dress code? “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Otherwise, it’s a free-for-all of thick glasses, plaid shirts, big purses, and muu-muu’s.

Joe’s is “where Irving meets and eats.” Or at least, that’s what it says on the sign out front. It’s not fancy enough to be hip and trendy, nor seedy enough to be a dive. But it’s bright and cheery, with windows that look out over the parking lot to Joan’s Spot Free Car Wash. And breakfast at Joe’s won’t break the bank.

So why choose Joe’s, when there are so many places with more interesting fare, a more sophisticated clientele, and an infinitely better view?

Because I can get out of bed, brush my teeth and splash a little water on my face, put on a pair of flip-flops, and go. I don’t have to be “on”…I don’t have to be cool…I don’t have to be chic. As if…

At Joe’s, I can just be me. I don’t have to be ashamed of my baggy shorts and hairy legs, my face sans makeup, or my skanky flip-flops. No one notices…no one cares. That’s not to say that I’m not noticed...or welcomed. I’m always greeted warmly with a “hey, young lady” or “good mornin’ hon.” The waitresses are friendly and efficient, and my coffee cup is never empty. The beauty of Joe’s is that I don’t have to dress to impress or “live up” to the ambience. I can just slide into a booth, drink coffee, eat breakfast, read the paper, and then go out and face the world with a full stomach and a smile on my face. Thanks Joe’s!


Friday, September 2, 2011

The Spirit Of Generosity...via The Most Interesting Man In The World

When you pay for just yourself, you usually get what you pay for.”
- The Most Interesting Man In The World

You’ve seen the commercials on TV. A mature, attractive, well-dressed gentleman looks provocatively into the camera and shares his thoughts…pearls of wisdom… acquired during a lifetime of globe-hopping and adventure. He is…The Most Interesting Man In The World.

It’s all done very tongue-in-cheek, and there’s even a website with his quotes and quips -

Last night, I was mulling over his latest quote - “When you pay just for yourself, you usually get what you pay for.” Taken at face value, it just implies that he gets more chicks when he buys the beer. However as I ponder further, a deeper more philosophical message is revealed.

Think about it. We all end up footing the bill occasionally. How do you feel when it happens to you? Do you expect the girl (or guy) to sleep with you because you bought the beer? Are you distressed, because you just shelled out money from your 401k that you’ll probably never see again? Are you angry because you feel used or taken advantage of? Do you immediately ask the question “what’s in it for me?” and wonder when, or if, you’ll be reimbursed in some form or fashion for your contribution? Or is life more of a give and take proposition? Sometimes you buy the beer…occasionally someone buys you a beer…like karma…what goes around, comes around...

You realize, of course, I’m using the purchase of beer as an analogy for generosity. It could be beer. Or it could be something else. It could be a simple act of kindness. What it is, isn’t important. What IS important is the spirit in which it’s given. I’m not talking about blowing money foolishly, or spending cash you don‘t have in a vain attempt to buy friends, approval, or love. I’m speaking of a realistic, genuine spirit of generosity.

Generous people are happy, confident people. They rarely feel taken advantage of, or expect to be paid back…because for the truly generous person, the joy derived from the act of giving IS the payback. On the other hand, miserly people are never happy. For those unfortunate individuals, life is a spreadsheet with four columns:

1. What I’ve done for others
2 What I expect in return
3. What others have done for me
4. What is the minimum I must give back in return?

Misers live in fear that others are out to get them. They’re always on guard…taking count…keeping score. They live for the bottom line. Yes, misers are a joy-less bunch. They insist on paying only for themselves…and they almost always get what they pay for.

Back to The Most Interesting Man In The World. Tightwads aren’t that fun to be around…nor are they particularly interesting. However, TMIMITW is always surrounded by lots of beautiful women who do indeed seem to find him interesting. He looks pretty happy and confident. And he’s buying…

Could it be, that during his lifetime of globe-hopping and adventure he’s discovered the key to happiness is a joyful, generous spirit?

Life is full of teachable moments. Inspiration is everywhere…even in a beer commercial. Stay thirsty, my friends…