Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous day filled with lots of love and laughter from sunny Manhattan Beach, CA.


For All the Holiday Obsessed

There is a hilarious article in the New York Times Home Section regarding the holidays and those obsessed with cooking, cleaning and decorating.  They feature various individuals discussing their obsessions.  I think I found a little bit of myself in Bob Richter’s decorating the tree and bulb placement.  I have secretly obsessed over where certain ornaments will go and do have specific ones that only I can put on the tree.  I know, I know…crazy right?  What caught my attention was Mary McDonald on the front page.  She was displaying her candy table.  Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out as a blogger who to enlarge my pictures without cutting them off…so be sure to click over to the link above or pick up a copy of today’s NY Times. Oh how she decorated this table.  Look at the licorice with the marshmallows in the middle coming out of the silver urn, the candy canes, and all the colorful candle in various displays…it makes you feel like you are with Santa’s little elves in the North Pole or Candy Land.  Can you imagine kids eating this candy?  Can you say…OMG…sugar high for days!  Or adults, as she says with sugar and red wine….? She even jokes about when people start to eat how it messes up the display.  Trust me, been there done that. 

I think anyone that loves design, entertaining, or cooking will  secretly find a little bit of themselves in one of these people.  I had to say I was cracking up.  Are you OCD during the holidays?  You have to read the article…the lady that covers her stove and counter with tin foil made me laugh.  Why?   Because two years in a row, I was baking pies and I covered my kitchen counters (tiled) with saran wrap prior to making my pie crust.  Why? Because I hated cleaning the flour out of the grout after and it took forever. This way…I simply peeled the saran off the counter and presto magic, I had clean counters.  I know, I’m a freak.  What can I say? But it worked.  Do you have any secret obsessions during the holidays?  I’d love to hear them. 


Photo Credit:  Kevin Scanlon For NY Times

Hope your compulsive, OCD, crazy selves are enjoying the holidays and you relax just a little bit.  For those of your that aren’t, I applaud you!


A Sprinkle of Holiday Decor

I’m not going to bore you with the details but I’m behind on blogging due to computer issues.  UGH!  Back in the saddle again and now trying to play catch up.  FEW!  Here we go with a little post on how we decorated our house.

We purchased and decorated our tree the first week of December.  I like to enjoy it the entire month. I relish in the ambiance it creates.  I enjoy  lighting the fire and candles, having a nice glass of wine or champagne, and gazing at our sparkly tree.   Our color scheme is simple; white, silver and anything that sparkles.   I kept our holiday decorating to a minimum by just accessorizing a few key areas.  I hung stockings on the fireplace, added some holiday decor to the dining table, and planted paper whites and amaryllis (I love the smell and enjoy the blooms).

I started in the dining area.  The runner on the table stays on all year round along with the ceramic urn.  I just added some touches of mercury glass and tea lights to dress up the table.  The branches were purchased from Michaels (got 50% off for $3.99 a stem), I wanted more, but this is all they had.  They look like real tree branches with fake snow and pine cones.  I had about six women in line ask me where I found them only to tell them I grabbed all that were left.  Since we live in LA finding tree branches is next to impossible.  I added these two trees from Home Goods which are made from pine cones with a silver color.  The little reindeer are from Pottery Barn and were purchased last year (see my post Winter Wonderland).  I fell in love with these little vases from Pottery Barn, made from mercury glass.  When I first saw them, I thought they were candle holders but they are actually bud vases (plus, they were only $8.00).  I had to have them.  Also, I bought eight or nine of the mercury glass tea lights from Target.  They were $.99 each.  Can you believe it?  I bought eight of them. They are great to use all year round.  Well take a peek inside our little beach house for a sprinkle of our holiday decor.

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I had this bell wreath from my old apartment, it’s been sitting in a box for years. I pulled it out and added it to our China cabinet and it had two matching bells that were ornaments (too heavy for the tree) so I hung them on the drawer knobs (purchased at Pottery Barn).


On the chest that sits across from our dining table, I added a few touches of greenery and silver to compliment the table.  Each year, I use my grandmothers vintage casserole dish and fill it with paper whites.  I like the vintage look of the dish.  You can really use any vintage piece of silver or container for paper whites.  I reused the nuts left over from Thanksgiving.  They sit in a vintage silver candy dish given to me my mom’s best friend (she was cleaning her closets and throwing a bunch of silver away, I was like a little kid in school…pick me! pick me!), and a silver mercury glass candle holder I got from my favorite store,  Home Goods.  The mercury glass candlestick adds a hint of sparkle to tie in with the table. The photo below that one, is another tray I got from my mom’s friend.  Remember the one cleaning out her closets.  I used it at Thanksgiving for the champagne.  I added pine cones, a beaker with some left over greens from Thanksgiving and added a candle.



Here’s an overall look at the chest.


It’s so hard to capture our tree.  Whenever, I have taken it with a camera it just never comes out.  I found a setting called “night” and I tried that.  Waa Laa! Finally, something that shows how it looks when it’s  lit up at night. I use on average five to seven boxes of lights.  I used to be a wrap it around the tree girl, until I met my old roommate, Jen.  She taught me how to weave the lights in and out so it sparkles from within.  I liked it so much, I have kept it up over the years…however, I curse her every year for showing me how great it can look, because now I’m obsessed with it. It takes so much time to put it up and take it down.  Thanks Jen :)  The only thing I wished I purchased was starfish garland.


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Here is a close up of some ornaments that I have collected over the years.  Rosie do you recognize the one in the center?  It always goes at the top of the tree.  I look for things that will sparkle when the lights hit them.  Most of my ornaments come from Home Goods and Marshalls.  They have tons of ornaments that look vintage at the fraction of the cost of major retailers.   Most of them come from Poland where the higher quality glass ornaments are produced. 


I love my clip on birds. The Santa below is from Home Goods and the starfish is from my mom.  Every year she sends me one ornament.  I love my big fat puffy lady below too….Compliments again of Home Goods.P1030024       P1030031  P1030039  P1030041

Oh Yes! To satisfy the man in the house we have a football, a rocket and somewhere on our tree a Minnesota Vikings helmet.  He makes sure they are front and center to screw up my color scheme.  It’s also his way of reminding me there is a guy living in the house. LOL!

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      Our stockings.P1030048

        We have a tiny bathroom guest downstairs that I decorated.  To keep it simple, I just added some eucalyptus to the vase, some holiday guest towels, and greens in a tiny bud vase to add a splash of color. 


That’s it folks! I didn’t have a lot of time to edit so sorry if I’m rambling, but then again, what else is new?  Ha! Ha! I’m on a rice and beans budget this year, so everything was repurposed or purchased on sale or at a discounted store.  How about you?  Did you repurpose or go hog wild? What color scheme did you use this year?  Hope your enjoying all the festivities….look forward to your comments!


Feeling Black and White

Why is it that in LA no one has Christmas parties? Whatever happened to party hopping on a Friday and Saturday night? Getting dressed up in your black cocktail dress, drinking sexy cocktails, and celebrating the holiday season. I remember living in Boston and having so many parties to go to...maybe there is a thing or two the East Coasters can teach West Coasters. I'm all dressed up and no where to go!


Be Nice and Pass it On

Photo via Grey Umbrella  art done by  by http://www.anthonyburrill.com/

I ran across this old  post by Grey Umbrella  as I was catching up on ones I still needed to read.  I  had to share it.   I don’t delete them until I have read the entire post. She posted this photo on her blog with the subject “Be Nice”.  I have been in the holiday spirit and thought hmmm…shouldn’t we all be nice? I have a number of pet peeves, which anyone that knows me can attest too, and one of them is when people are not nice.  I believe in being nice in all aspects of your life from the people who serve you, to your friends and in your occupation.  Being nice also means being authentic.  It means saying thank you when someone did a good job, it means helping someone in need, it means saying, “How are you?” and really meaning it.

Professionally being nice can be a bit more challenging, that’s why I love this poster.  Everyone should have one in their office.  It’s just a friendly reminder that when we’re nice to each other, our customers, and our vendors (in my case), we catch more bees with honey.  No one likes working with “Debbie Downer”.  We all have worked with one, at one time or another. The  New York Times just published this fabulous article about the workplace and how the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  It’s a must read for all business people, no matter what your profession.

When you are truly nice, you feel better on the inside.  When you smile and say hello and mean it, people feel it. One thing I notice in the city where I live, is if you walk down the sidewalk and your the only two people on the sidewalk…very few people say hello, good morning, good afternoon, etc.  In Boston and where I grew up, it was commonplace.  So I experimented one day and every person I passed on the street (where we were the only ones) I said, “Good Morning!”  Some people smiled, some looked at me like I was crazy, some said, “Good Morning” back and some just kept walking with their grumpy face. For the most part, people were receptive and you could see their energy shift.  It made me smile!

It is the holiday season and being nice is infectious. It’s one of the most wonderful gifts you can give yourself and others.  You’d be surprised what you get in return.


Why I Live in California

There is something to be said about simplicity.  One of the things that I never grow tired of living in L.A. is California sunsets.  They are at their peak (color wise) in the fall and winter.   They’re unlike anything I have seen before, with the exception of a few places, I have traveled in the world.  After 15 years of living in the South Bay, nothing makes me smile more, gasp more, and stand in “awe of”, than a California sunset. I used to date a guy who would call me on his way home from work and say, “Look at the sunset, isn’t it beautiful?” It was such simple words but it always made me smile.  It was a friendly reminder to relish in the moment and enjoy the beautiful gift mother nature has bestowed upon us.   Among all the stress, work, and holiday craziness we all feel this time of year, it would be my gift to you to pass on those same words.  Whether it’s a sunset in L.A. or a sunrise on the East Coast ~ my hope for you is that you take a moment and pause…I promise it will bring you joy and peace. 

Tonight the sky looked like sheer fabric flowing in the sky. Left me speechless. 


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This lamp post always gets in the way of my photos.  URRR!

  It’s right at the bottom of our street and it never fails to screw up my sunset photos.  But the sky looks amazing. P1020939

Here are some others from the last few weeks and our time living on 8th Street.

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A friend of ours took these of the Manhattan Beach Pier a few weeks ago.  Simply Stunning.

{Jameson Stafford}

{Jameson Stafford}

{Jameson Stafford}

Tonight's sunset of the Manhattan Beach Pier.  Every year they light the pier with Christmas lights and decorate it the end like a Christmas tree. The second Sunday of every December they do a huge fireworks display over the pier (just like Fourth of July back East).  I’m thinking of doing a little open house with champagne and hoerdearves. 


Pause, Be Still, and Enjoy the Moment!


Getting in the Holiday Spirit

Getting in the Holiday Spirit
Getting in the Holiday Spirit by peggyandfritz featuring multi colored earrings

I need to pick up my tree this weekend. I can help but be inspired by this beautiful blue. I do my entire tree in silver and white but love this blue as the perfect accent. What are your colors?


What a Fabulous Holiday

Well, we ate, drank, and were very merry.  How about you?  We had two of my girlfriends over for  Thanksgiving and a few of our other friends popped in throughout the night.  Blake was our token man.  I think he was feeling the estrogen in the room.  Give four women a few glasses of wine and we all become chatty Cathy.  One of the things I love about women is we can start and stop and go back to previous conversations.  I think Blake tuned out after the first round.  LOL!  I should note that when you get to the dinner pictures, we were all so hungry that I started to take pictures for the blog and then was like forget it.  I didn’t have time to stage it, place it nicely on the table, etc. I just snapped a few but they are totally cheesy.   Oh, well!  What can I say?  We had a blast. Hope you enjoyed your time with family and friends.  Did anyone get their tree this weekend?  I will get ours this week.  Can’t wait for the smell of pine in the house, lighting a fire in the fireplace (In LA it’s called Duraflame) for a little snap, crackle, pop. 

Here’s a peak at our Thanksgiving.  I ended up adding wicker chairs to the end of the table since we were having a few extra friends over.  I also added our Riedel Chardonnay and Cabernet glasses to the table for each course.  The table looks a little different.


P1020863    I loved this picture taken below in the mirror opposite the table.


The table as the sun was setting with with the wicker chairs added.

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My girlfriend Lisa dropped by, while I was prepping for our guests.  She brought homemade Bloody Mary’s.  I thought what a fun gift to do.  She had it all wrapped up including the fixings, all I had to do was pour into glasses.  I just happened to buy two large mason jars and thought what a fabulous hostess gift this would make, especially for a brunch.  You could prepare fresh Bloody Mary’s (like she did) and put in a quart sized mason jar and tie it with raffia.  In a small size jar you could put celery, onions, green tomatoes, or whatever is your favorite sides (you could put a tiny jar of horseradish and Tabasco).  Wouldn’t that make a great hostess gift?



Artisan Cheeses

Fig and Olive Oil Raincrisp Crackers

Cured Meats

Gourmet Olives, Artichokes, Peppers

Veuve Clicquot Champagne 2007 P1020872  It was a little chilly on Thanksgiving but, we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine sipping champagne and eating our appetizers.  Nick Below.P1020886


Butter Lettuce with Grape Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

Gary Farrell Chardonnay 2007 P1020896



Organic Turkey

Green Beans with Shallots,  Slivered Almonds and sprinkled with Dried Cranberries

Baby Carrots with Dried Sherry & Italian Parsley

Mashed Potatoes with Chives


Chateau Montelena Cabernet 1995

Nickel & Nickel Cabernet 1997

We had the most beautiful turkey and of course the boyfriend starts cutting it before I could stage it for photos.  Life of a blogger learning in progress.  Doesn’t he know I have to photo everything?  He’s learning.  But unfortunately the sliced turkey was not photogenic.  HA! HA!  My friend Maureen made the mashed potatoes.  Can you believe I don’t know how to make mashed potatoes?  I normally do roasted potatoes but living in a small house, we don’t have a double oven.  Note to self, when you have a “grown up house”, make sure you install a double oven!


Ok you can see my photo skills are going down hill! P1020904

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Homemade Apple Crisp


Here’s some photo’s throughout the evening. Here’s Nick doing her wine tasting.


Kirsten, Maureen and Nick.


Me and Kirsten who’s adorable and we love her.  My neighbors girlfriend.


Maureen and Nick.


Our token man, Blake.  What a trooper.


Maureen had to run home for something and changed because it was cold out.  When she came back, we joked that she looked like a construction worker with the black and yellow (or a bumble bee) hence, the reason for hand signals.


Getting Silly.  Kirsten and Maureen


Hail, Hail, Hail the gangs all here! OOPS!  Except our token male who is taking our picture. 

L to R:  Me, Kirsten, Maureen, & Nick.


We had a beautiful day!  I hope you all did as well.

Now time to prep for Christmas!  Ready, Set, DECORATE.


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