Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spring Blossoms

The rhododendrons in front of our house are beginning to display their lovely blossoms, and azalea bushes all over town are in full swing, including the lovely trio between us and the neighbors. Isn't spring a gorgeous time of year! It's nature's chance to show off a bit.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Snapshot: the Studio

A recent post on one of my favorite blogs, French Essence, inspired this post, which is a snapshot of my desk in the room we call the studio -- part office, part music/art room. On top of my desk is a low hutch with drawers and cubbies for storage and a surface for displaying things such as photos, a vintage desk lamp, containers filled with pens and pencils, and a graphic note cube and desk calendar from Snow & Graham (below). 

The artwork leaning against the wall is by an illustrator who creates unique photo collages in Photoshop; I was taken by the composition, colors and that pretty little doll face. It makes me happy every time I look at it.

On the magnetic bulletin board hanging over my desk are some favorite photos: several of my mom and me when I was a child; my best friend's 3-year-old son; an amazing field of sunflowers in France. Also a few business cards, a pretty Christmas card, and paint chips of our house colors. The walls in the studio are painted in a Sherwin-Williams color aptly named Studio Blue Green, chosen by my husband. At first I thought it would be too dark for this room, but it works. I can't argue with him when it comes to color ... it's what he does for a living, and he has a great eye for it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From Paul's Kitchen

My hubby made a wonderful supper from scratch the other evening. While I love cooking and I make some excellent meals (if I do say so), I'm a recipe follower at heart, and admittedly not very good at throwing together a meal. But Paul is truly a good cook. He can take whatever ingredients we have in the house and create something wonderful. I enjoy reading recipes and planning meals, Paul prefers the spontaneous and creative aspect of cooking. Here's his most recent original creation. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Lima Beans, Peas and Brown Rice with Caramelized Walnuts

1) Cook 1 cup wild rice with 1-1/2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro and 1 tablespoon Smart Balance (or similar whipped non-butter spread).

2) While rice is cooking, microwave one 10 oz. package of frozen lima beans and one 10 oz. package of frozen green peas according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

3) When rice is done, add 1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder, the entire package of cooked lima beans, 1/2 package of cooked peas, 1/2 cup of roughly chopped walnuts and about 2 to 3 teaspoons of light soy sauce (to taste). Stir well to blend. Serve and enjoy.

Paul caramelizes the walnuts, which gives the dish a touch of sweetness and a bit of crunch. I don't have directions for caramelizing the nuts, and his explanation was confusing and didn't include measurements, so I thought it best to note this as a postscript. If you want to caramelize the nuts, please do. They're delicious!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I have a bag of matchbooks, some of which my parents had collected over the years. They were New Yorkers, so many of the matchbooks are from that area. Some are old, some new. But the ones I have selected to show you here have at least one interesting feature, whether it's the size of the book, the copy or graphics printed on it, or the color of the matches. 

My favorite by far is The Playboy Club matchbox. Everything about it is cool. It dates back to the 1960s. My dad, who was a graphic designer in New York City in the 50s and 60s, may have gone to the club on "business" (anyone a fan of the show Mad Men?).

Lift the cover and you get a surprise illustration!

The next three are from a restaurant in San Diego that I visited. I like the graphics.

The next three are from NYC restaurants. The one on top is from Patsy's, a famous Italian family-owned restaurant that opened in 1944. The one on the bottom right is from Cafe des Artistes, another famous restaurant that sadly closed in 2009. My parents and I had a memorable meal there when I was a child. It was Thanksgiving day, and we had just been to the Macy's parade. I'm glad I was able to have another meal at Cafe des Artistes as an adult. It was as special as I had remembered.

The next one is an interesting size and shape. 

The last one is a nice reminder of a fabulous lunch I had at Gramercy Tavern in New York City with my friend Diane. I love the black-tipped matches. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Springtime Pasta

This vegetarian pasta dish is quick, easy and delicious! It has a light, fresh quality to it that's ideal for spring suppers.

Penne with Tomatoes, Pesto and Artichokes

1 6- to 7-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and 3 tablespoons of the oil reserved
1 large onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
28-ounce can good-quality diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1 pound penne pasta, freshly cooked
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1) Heat 3 tablespoons oil reserved from artichokes in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 7 minutes. 

2) Add tomatoes with their juice and the artichokes. Simmer sauce until thickened slightly, about 8 minutes. Stir in pesto and simmer 1 minute longer. Mix in pasta and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan.

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