Thursday, September 29, 2011

Images of Italy: Venice

I realized that I still have so much to share from our trip to Italy that I just need to start posting pictures and let the images attest to the splendor of this boot-iful country (sorry, couldn't help myself...!). Even though Venice was a stop half-way through our journey, I will start here since I love the photos from this city.

The water levels fluctuate dramatically in Venice... they can set-up plank walkways instantly.
Piazza dining is a way of life.
View from the campanile.
The Venice market is legendary for its fresh seafood.
Amazing, intelligent, beautiful creatures.
Love a piazza filled with color.
LOVE this boat!
Gondolieri on a break.
Amazing villas along Il Grande Canale.
My love.
Outside the entrance for Harry's Bar, about to partake in the famous Peach Bellini!
Brian and a cool Roma band.
We ate an amazing dinner at this little unassuming restaurant off a quiet, side street.
Venice at night from the Rialto Bridge.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Go Ask Alice

Alice Waters flipping through her new book, reminiscing old times... dang boom-stand in my way!
A few weekends ago I listened to Alice Waters give a little talk at the Ferry Building on her new book 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering. As the owner and founder of the famed Chez Panisse, Alice has been on the forefront of the eating-local-and-sustainable movement and currently serves as the "Vice President of Slow Food International, a nonprofit organization that promotes and celebrates local artisanal food traditions and has 100,000 members in over 130 countries". She has expanded her passion for healthy eating into education, pioneering the Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School, an "education program that instills the knowledge and values we need to build a humane and sustainable future".

This latest Chez Panisse cookbook highlights the last 40 years of the restaurant, Alice, and all the people who have contributed to this successful endeavor over the years. Alongside Alice at the booksigning was Patricia Curtan, the gifted artist responsible for all of the restaurant's beautiful menus.

Patricia holding the book as Alice talking and laughing about this picture: as a Montessori teacher and all the kids running away from her!
To find out more about Alice, the new book, and the restaurant visit here. I have yet to enjoy a meal at Chez Panisse... it is on my to-do list... maybe for my 30th...!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Grave Injustice

"Breaking News: U.S. Supreme Court rejects last-ditch appeal from Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis."

I wept as I listened to the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court refusing the stay of execution for Troy Anthony Davis. "To Much Doubt" moved nearly one million people to petition the Georgia Board of Petitions; protests took place not only all over our country, but throughout the world. Prominent people from every political ideology (supporters and opposes of the death penalty, democrats, republicans) came out in support for a stay on tonight's execution recognizing not only the absence of physical evidence, but 7 of the 9 eyewitnesses that have recanted their stories; a complete eyewitness testimony conviction. All the efforts we not enough on Troy's case, but he recognized that the problems with the death penalty were bigger than his case and hoped that this movement in support for him would lead to ultimately ending this cruel, barbaric practice of the state killing it's own citizens. Two-thirds of all nations in the world do not practice capital punishment. Ninety percent of all executions take place by just five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United States. This is the company we keep. 

Such a tragedy. Very heartbreaking. I pray that Troy's struggle for justice will move people to question who we are as a country, where we want to go from here, and how we want our future nation to look for our children and subsequent generations.

"We should be a beckon of light for human rights in the world... we have to move forward in the spirit of Troy Davis." -Ben Jealous

See more coverage on Democracy Now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rustic Table Runner

This weekend was my friend Claire's birthday party. I have been mulling over this little project for awhile and Claire just happens to have an UH-mazing dining room table... I couldn't resist. I made this Rustic Table Runner to adorn said lovely table.

I had not intended on burlap, but when I came across this at the fabric store, I was sold. I treated the rough jute by soaking it (a number of times) in warm water with laundry detergent to soften the fibers and remove the strong smell. The monogram letters were cut from foam craft sheets: print out the letters on regular paper and use an exacto knife to trace around the letters, cutting directly through to the foam. Then it is just a matter of fraying (or trimming) the edges and stamping the image. 

the beautiful birthday girl... it was a "Dress Like A Tourist" themed party
the much-adored table... full of yummy food!
Lastly, after all that work, make sure your presentation is just as lovely... I opted to use a green ribbon to wrap up my gift. VoilĂ !

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hello Weekend, Goodbye USPS!?

Dear Friend,

It seems too unreal to be true, but alas, the U.S. Postal Service is running out of money and on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. The initial actions may be to reduce delivery services, cutting both Saturday and overnight delivery, but, such actions may not be enough to save this beloved (and necessary!?) service.

I admit to not writing as many letters as I could/should. Growing up, I was the worst pen pal (sorry Sissy!) and was horrible about dropping letters in the mail. Yes, the simple act of mailing. However, I have kept nearly every letter that was written to me and treasure them dearly, especially from people who are no longer around to share their beautiful thoughts through a hand-written note, card, or letter. Over the years, I have become a much better student in the Art of Letter Writing, but am nowhere near the prestigious (Wo)Man of Letters title that I covet. I thought, foolishly, that I would have a lifetime to perfect this art. I may have been mistaken. SO... in a last-ditch effort to save (really?!) the beautiful service of hand-written letter delivery and to connect with friends and family, I am going to spend the weekend writing letters. Ok, I will commit to sending at least one, hopefully more. I will commit to sending at least one letter every week for as long as I am able. Will you join me?
Oh, and don't be surprised if you find a letter in that magical little box of yours with this hilarious stamp. Stephen Colbert, literally (for you, Jill), cracks me up. You can purchase these ridiculous, over-the-top stamps here. You can watch his insanely funny show here or here (they have a better media player).

I hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with cards, letters, pens, inkwells, and stamps.

Yours Truly,


p.s. This electronic letter to you does not count as a true letter... only snail-mail commitments here!

p.p.s. Here is a cute blog devoted to letters.

letter image via {here} and stamp image found {here}

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Love!

A BIG, special, happy birthday to my love, Brian. Today is the big 3-0! He is my #1, the love of my life, my heart. Happy Happy Happy birthday, sweetheart :) I am so thankful to spend my life with you. xoxo

image in Rome, Italy

Monday, September 12, 2011


Reflecting Pool at the World Trade Center Memorial

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Yesterday we remembered not only the innocent people who were killed in that awful attack, but the innocent who have, since then, been killed in response. I listened to a moving story from two women this morning: the first lost a brother in the attack on U.S. soil, and the second lost 19 family members in the U.S. retaliation in Afghanistan. It is important to remember that the same horror we experienced on our shores has also become a reality for tens of thousands of innocent people across the world. I hope you listen to this interview. It's incredible to hear people who have suffered the most take the highest interest in reducing violence and revenge.
image via {here}

Friday, September 9, 2011

Serendipitous Sweet Potato Muffins

We have had brisk weather here in SF for a week now. Sometimes the sun breaks through, but sometimes the clouds are too fluffy to be moved aside. Either way, it feels as if fall is fast approaching and I must admit - I am a bit excited...! I love summer, I love fall, I love winter, I love spring; every season has something wonderful to offer and it is exciting when a new one arrives. Or maybe I just needed an excuse to make these muffins.

I used to be a fan of the boxed Krusteaz Pumpkin Muffin mix. Around this time of year, Starbucks would also begin selling their Pumpkin Cream Cheese muffin. While both were super tasty, neither were terribly nutritious and left me feeling "meh" afterwards. I was so excited to discover this recipe for a healthier, from-scratch Pumpkin Muffin from Gourmade at Home. I made a stop at Trader Joe's on my way home yesterday to gather a few needed ingredients. Call it serendipity, but they have yet to stock their shelves with pumpkin puree, so I grabbed a bag of fresh sweet potatoes and set off on my own adventure. I roasted the potatoes last night (350° for 90 minutes or until soft) and left them to cool on the counter. We enjoyed these healthy, not-too-sweet fall treats with our french press coffee this morning.

Serendipitous Sweet Potato Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh, mashed sweet potato (not pureed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbls. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tbls. confectioners sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare muffin tins with a light coating of oil.
2. Mix cream cheese and confectioners sugar; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
4. In a large bowl, mix together sweet potato mash, sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
5. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients; mix until barely combined. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk.
6. Divide the mixture into the muffin tin. Top with a small dollop of cream cheese mixture.
7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

makes 12 regular muffins

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Photo Crush

image via {a place for twiggs}
I am currently crushing on this lovely shot and wanted to share... you're welcome.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Around the House

I worked from home today... a great day for the city, a bummer day to be inside. Oh well, at least my sweetheart was here with me. We had leftover Turkey Bolognese for lunch... and a little vino rosso!

This is a collection of glass that I gathered off the beach on the Island of Capri, Italy. It was everywhere and made the beach seem as if it were covered in beautiful jewels.

I have been "planting" herbs in cups of water as I bring them home from the store. My basil has lasted weeks! It sprouted roots and even began to flower, which makes for cute little finishing touches to dishes. To be honest, I didn't even think this green onion sprouting would work, but it has! We'll see how big they grow :)

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It takes a community to raise a blogger.

What I adore most about the blogging community is the camaraderie, support, and friendship that abounds throughout. It is a place where one can express themselves freely and find an overwhelming response of support and encouragement. While I love to read blogs from people all over the world, most whom I have never met, I particularly favor those who I call friends; it's like rooting for the home team. Here are my lovely peeps who I follow and adore:

Simply Blythe - a beautiful blog full of the lovely pictures and the simple joys in life
Melissa Jean Photography - amazing photography and fun, everyday musings
Open R(h)oads - "The semi-transparent adventures of city-girl-meets-country-boy"... well said!
Kona Jill (Jill T's blog) - a prolific writer who has been around the globe.. no, really!
Boiled Tomatoes - a clever and witty blog from a sassy(fras)-kinda-gal
Out of the Loop - "This is the record of a woman who, with some luck and moxy, is going to remove herself from the loop"

Who are some of your favorite buddy-bloggers that you follow?

Monday, September 5, 2011

At the Market: Tomatoes

I was so excited to see beautifully ripened Early Girls overflowing at the market on Saturday. I grabbed a bunch, but I should have loaded up all I could carry (like Gus-Gus in Cinderella, balancing an overwhelming stack of cheese between his little mouse hands and his front teeth). I decided to highlight this lovely fruit (oh, and they were so sweet, I was convinced of their category!) with a simple tart.

salt and pepper crust
put a layer of cheese on the bottom, top with zucchini mixture
layer sliced tomatoes
the crust was beautifully crisp

Tomato Tart

1 1/2 cup zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 tbls olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tbls whole milk
1 tbls cream cheese
1/4 tsp oregano
1 cup parmesan
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 tbls basil chiffinod + more whole leaves for topping
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the zucchini and garlic in olive oil until just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the milk, cream cheese and oregano. Layer the bottom of the tart crust with 1/3 of the parmesan cheese. Top with the zucchini mixture. Layer the basil chiffinod and tomatoes. Top with the remaining cheese. Cook at 375° for 20 minutes and until the cheese has melted. Let cool for 5 minutes. Top with the remaining basil leaves and serve.

*these are rough estimations of quantity... feel free to improvise! This would also be amazing with goat cheese between the zucchini and tomato layers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend!

This is how I typically spend my Friday mornings: with the weekly newspaper section of Food & Wine (which comes out on Wednesdays, but this is the first day I have a chance to relax and read). I grab my scissors and tape, enjoy the local (well, somewhat... Sonoma County) articles, peruse the upcoming events, and clip any irresistible recipe for my collection. While my sweetheart and cat enjoy a little more sleep, it is my quite morning time to savor a cup of coffee and ease into the weekend ahead... in this case, a very LONG weekend.

I am going to spend this Labor Day weekend enjoying the beautiful sunshine we have slated for SF (spent an hour reading an old issue of Gourmet on the roof and have already begun a bit of a suntan!), making a trip to the Farmers Market, and reading the books that my sweetheart ordered for me (The Oxford Companion to Italian Food and The Oxford Companion to Food). Bry completed a website for his professor who has published a book on Oxford University Press. They could not afford to pay him too much for the awesome website he built, so they gave him credit towards books from the Press. Really, that is what we would have spent the money on anyway, so it worked out just fine... and I LOVE my new books!

I hope you all have a safe, fun, and FOOD-tastic weekend!