Winter Wonderland

It has always been hard being away from home during the holiday season.  My parents  live in Connecticut and unfortunately, I could not make it home this year.  It makes me miss the snow, cold, and ambiance of New England during the holidays. For Christmas day, we went over to our neighbors Quinn and Jeff and had a fabulous “Left Over” Christmas dinner sharing our dinners from the night before.  They had their family in from San Francisco, Christmas Eve and  Blake and I had our great friends, Nick and Sash, over for a formal holiday dinner the same night.  I wanted to create a magical evening reminiscent of the holidays, I grew up with ~I concluded our theme would be, “Winter Wonderland”!  I felt we needed a little snow of our own amongst the 60’ degree weather we were having in Manhattan Beach. 

Our festivities started at 5:00 PM, with Champagne and appetizers.  Nick and Sash provided the Hors d Oeuvres, champagne, gravy for the filet and eggplant stacks as our vegetable side dish.  They made oyster shooters served in little shot glasses, which, tasted as good as they looked.   From a decor standpoint, I filled the teapots on the mantle with white hydrangeas and had candles burning throughout the house and had a roaring fire in the fireplace (as much as you can with Dura flame logs).  Unfortunately, I am in need of a new camera, so, I couldn’t quite capture everything I wanted too.  Even the picture of our tree was a little iffy, it’s so pretty in person (white, silver, and anything glittery), but every time I took a picture it looked so, blah!  Anyway, enjoy a peek at our Christmas Eve, California style.


Let the festivities begin! Our holiday tree.  It fits in this tiny nook we have in the living room, it’s the perfect spot for a Christmas tree.

IMG_2080 Our fireplace, compliments of Dura flame.  I wouldn’t  know where to find real wood so we have to improvise.


IMG_2074 Our own Gingersnap.  Ready or not so ready for the festivities, she makes a cute Mrs. Claus!IMG_2088  IMG_2132I love Hydrangeas.  I filled all my tea pots with them.  So simple but elegant. 



I have included our holiday menu along with pictures of our dining table which was inspired by the snow and weather back home!



  • Champagne
  • Oyster Shooters
  • Coconut Shrimp
  • Truffle Cheese & Monchego Cheese with Assorted Crackers



  • Pancetta-Topped Goat Cheese with Raspberry Sauce & Arugula Salad





  • Banana Cream Pie & Fresh Whipping Cream


Our table was set using little trees that I flocked and put in mercury glass pots.  The silver branches were from a bouquet I bought and I pulled them out and used them separately on their own  I really didn’t want to use a table cloth, but our wood table needs to be protected or else it gets water marks.  Bummer for us, as I think the table setting looks better without the tablecloth.  It’s a Ralph Lauren white tablecloth from Home Goods.




I got a series of reindeers initially from Pottery Barn to use as place holders but then decided to sprinkle them over the table as part of the decor (see above).  Again, the silver greens were part of an arrangement I bought and I pulled it out and stuck it in vases with crystals, I bought from Pottery Barn.  The wine glasses are Mikasa.


I became addicted to these sea salt and chocolate caramels given to Blake and I, by our neighbors Kevin and Susan.  I loved them so much, I went out and bought more and combined them with these soft peppermint sticks as part of the table decor.  I love the combination of salt and sweet paired with red wine ~ YUM!IMG_2065

I got this chalkboard at Thanksgiving, while visiting Denver.  I put our holiday menu on it and flocked the branches, I found laying on the side of the house (the only ones I could find) ~ left over from the Weeds set that I sprayed with flock.  The only time I was grateful for the left over branches left on the side of our house.  Now, I’ll save a few more for next year LOL!IMG_2064

My paper whites are finally growing and my amaryllis is in full bloom.  I am kicking myself for not getting the pair of mercury glass candle sticks I saw before the holidays, in Home Goods.  I found this one hidden on a shelf and thought it would look so pretty paired with the flowers below (I still wish I had the other one or two other ones of various heights).IMG_2062           

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Since branches are hard to come by, I had to improvise, by flocking my bougainvillea plants (which were added to the chandelier) and trying to make it work.  It ended up looking great (pictures don’t quite capture it) and framing the table nicely. We had such a beautiful dinner and dined by candlelight (dimmed the chandelier) and played Tabletops (a fun question game) until we were so stuffed none of us could move.  It was a beautiful evening with close friends who appreciate yummy food, wine, and ambiance!  We wished we had more friends in town to enjoy the evening with us.  We hope you and your families had a joyous holiday. I’m still stuffed from all the food.

Enjoy and Wishing you all the Best,

Ann XO


Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Wishing you all a beautiful day with friends, family, and loved ones from a little beach town in California.




It seems like I have been having a problem with several of my posts.  A number of you indicated you wanted to leave a comment and couldn’t.  I apologize.  I am new to this “blog thing” and I think it is now working again but it seems I can’t fix it on three or four of my blog posts.  Hopefully, we’re back in business and future blog posts will allow you to leave comments.  I’m looking for a user friendly format to make it easy for all of you.  Thanks for your patience, support and understanding.

Bargain of The Day

With 10 seconds left on Ebay this morning, amsdesgin (my Ebay name) came in for the kill,  knocking out two other bidders (who were not checking on their items).  You snooze you lose!  I scored a six lot of Morris antique hand-colored nest egg prints that sell for booko bucks.  I won’t mention the designer (my only clue is he’s a “he”),  buys these from various resources, frames them beautifully and charges hundreds of dollars.  I got all six of mine for $36.00.  They typically sell in the flea markets for $20.00 to $30.00 a piece.  I love great bargains!  Even if I hit lotto tomorrow, I would still browse Ebay the flea markets for great bargains or finds!  Nothing better than winning last minute, they didn’t even put up a fight.  Guess they were still sleeping.  Their loss is my gain!


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Holiday Decorating

It’s my favorite time of the year for decorating. This is when I wish my check book was as big as my holiday decorating ideas.  I just picked out my tree the other day and will be posting pictures soon.  This is when I wish I had three or four houses so I could do a different color scheme in each house.  Living in warm weather makes it hard to get in the holiday spirit.  Living at the beach, presents a challenge and I tend to go with a more neutral holiday palette.  I am looking for ideas to freshen up our house, table top ideas for our Christmas Eve dinner with friends, and food and wine pairing to complete the evening.  Here are some photos of houses and table top designs that are a source of my holiday inspiration.  I have bought some paper whites and have put them in various containers and sprinkled them around the house.  My favorite is in my grandmothers silver casserole dish – it’s the perfect place to plant them or any old silver dishes you find at the flea market.  I’ll post them when they start to grow.   I’m excited for Christmas Eve to use these votives I bought in Colorado, they are inserted into wine bottles and have four candle holders.  They are going to look so pretty on the table.  I will be sure to take pictures so you get the full effect.  I want to incorporate some of the concept ideas below. Now if I could only have the cash in the bank to fulfill these decorating ideas.  Stay tuned.


I wanted to do this below with the paper whites in my vintage tea pots.  I love how this looks.

Go for the Gold (and Silver, Too) Holiday Sparkle

Shell Shocked

Doesn’t this petite cake below  look so festive – I love the tall candles!



PHOTO CREDITS:  Photo 1 and 2 – Veranda Magazine Online, Photo 3, 4, and 5 – Coastal Living Online. 


I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

Sometimes living in LA it’s hard to get in the holiday spirit.  There’s something about New England that sings Christmas!  Warm coats, hot cocoa, the hustle and the bustle of the city, a fire roaring, hot apple cider, ice skating, Christmas caroling, and people tend to be a little friendlier.  It’s felt a little like Christmas here today – it’s in the 50’s, raining, and cold.  Very rare in LA but it’s the closest I have felt to Christmas thus far this season.  However, growing up in Connecticut, nothing beats New England during the holidays!

This house reminds me of where I grew up in Connecticut. This is a perfect example of why I love New England during the holidays!

Imagine cuddling up in front of the fire with your flannel pj’s and hot cocoa (see above and below).

Hot Cocoa on a Cool Fall Evening


Hot buttered rum is a must at holiday parties, especially when it’s snowing and cold (see above)!

The center of town where I grew up in Chester, CT (see above) and ice skating on our local pond (see below).  Nothing better than having your warm winter coat on, mittens, scarf, ear muffs or hat on while your ice skating.  You maybe wearing some bruises at the end of the day, depending on what kind of skater you are!

Skating on one of CHester's many ponds.

I remember as a kid going around our neighborhood with my mom and the Fortier’s Christmas caroling.  


Nothing says Christmas like the Rockettes’ (see above) and the New York City Ballet (see below) performing the Nutcracker in NYC.  


Just to make sure your reading my blog, I saved the best for last!  Gotta love New England, only in Boston, would people run a road race in speedo’s during the holidays.  The Santa Speedo Run is an annual run that raises money for local charities.  You have the good, bad and the ugly but the great spirited.  Isn’t that what the holidays are all about.

PHOTO CREDITS:  Photo 1:  Country Living,  Photo 2: Twinklepostit, Photo 3 through 8:  Please email me if you know the actual photographer for proper crediting, Photo 9:  Paul Kolnik, Photo 10: Santa Speedo Run


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