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I took a few months off from blogging.  During that time I’ve tried a number of new yummy recipes.  So … I’m ready to share with you the best ones.  I also have a very fun vacation coming up in two weeks:  Paris, the Amalfi coast and Berlin.  (I know … interesting combo.)  But, I’m sure to have some fun travel tips and pics to share after the trip.

While it isn’t quite tomato season, I do always enjoy a good tomato bruschetta.  I ran across this recipe last fall, but just tried it this past week.   The lemony, feta spread makes such a nice addition to a traditional tomato bruschetta.

I made this for a party last night – and all that tried it thought it was quite good.  My husband and I had some with our lunch today.  Yum!

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Once again, I was able to get all of the ingredients at Trader Joes.  I bought some cherry tomatoes to add to the baby heirloom tomatoes — quite a good combo.  And, I loved the variety of color with yellow, orange, red, purple and green.

Tomato Bruschetta with Whipped Feta

Ingredients:

6 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled

2 oz. Cream Cheese, at room temperature

2/3 cup Good Olive Oil, divided

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

Salt and Pepper (freshly ground, preferred)

2 Tbsp. Pine Nuts

2 Tbsp.  minced Shallots (about 2 shallots)

2 tsp. minced Garlic (2 cloves)

2 Tbs. Red Wine Vinegar

2 lbs. ripe, small heirloom Tomatoes, sliced in halves

3 Tbsp. fresh Basil leaves, sliced (Plus extra for serving)

20 to 25 diagonal baguette slices (1/2 inch thick), toasted *

Directions:

1.  Place feta and cream cheese in a food processor.  Pulse until cheeses are mixed.  Add 1/3 cup of Olive Oil, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. of Salt and 1/4 tsp. of Pepper and process until smooth.  Refrigerate spread until ready to serve.

2.  Place pine nuts in a dry saute pan over low heat.  Cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often until lightly browned.  Set aside.

3.  For the tomato topping (up to an hour before serving), combine shallots, garlic and vinegar in a medium bowl.  Set aside for 5 minutes to allow shallots to absorb vinegar.  Whisk in remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1 tsp. Salt and 1/2 tsp. Pepper.  Add tomatoes and stir gently.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Stir in basil and tasted for seasoning.

4.  To assemble bruschetta, spread each baguette slice with a generous amount of whipped feta.  With a slotted spoon, place tomatoes on top.  Put bruschetta on plates and scatter with the toasted pine nuts and reserved basil.

NOTES:

*  I misread the recipe and did NOT toast the baguette slices.  I thought it was a bit odd not to toast the bread, but it was still very good.  And, it was easy to eat, as sometimes toasted crostini can be a bit difficult to bite through.

RH: Baby & Child

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SM store entrance

Santa Monica store entrance

During school break, my girlfriends and I took our teenage daughters to Santa Monica for a day of shopping.  The best “find” was the beautiful Restoration Hardware Baby & Child store on the 3rd Street Promenade.

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None of us had ever been in a RH Baby & Child store.  What a treat!  Our girls even thought the store was amazing … oohing & ahhing in every room.

Little Girls' Room with Double Bunks

Little Girls’ Room with Double Bunks

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So many great ideas if you are furnishing or decorating a baby or child’s room.  The framed dresses were made of colored maps.  Very Anthropology like …

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In one of the nurseries, children’s songs and nursery rhymes from old books had been framed in gilded frames.

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It’s not a great picture, but the series of charcoal drawn fashion pictures would be great in a teenage girls’ bedroom.

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And what girl, from young to old, wouldn’t love a chandelier in her bedroom?

If you’re in Santa Monica, it’s definitely worth a trip to the Restoration Hardware Baby & Child store.  It’s absolutely beautiful!

Christmas Greens

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Don’t you love using fresh greenery when decorating your home for Christmas?  I sure do!  Cedar and Douglas Fir pine, holly and boxwood are my favorites …

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My “go to” place for fresh greenery has been Trader Joe’s.  But, you must get them early in the season, as they go fast!  Especially the cedar swags and wreathes.

This year, our TJs even had fresh boxwood wreathes.  I bought several to hang from mirrors.

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I often buy the $4.95 boughs and break them apart.  I tuck the individual pieces of greenery in the artificial garland on my mantels.  It makes it look more natural … and I love the smell!

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And of course, I save small pieces to use in my floral arrangements.

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And I combine fresh greenery with fruit (apples, pears & persimmons) to decorate our outdoor patio.

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Christmas Displays

Anthro Display

It’s been a busy few weeks with trips to Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Here are a few snapshots of Christmas “on display” at various retail stores.  (Above:  Anthro)

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Santa with an interesting clock display at Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach.

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We visited the Christmas shop at Roger’s over Thanksgiving weekend.

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Beautiful displays from Rolling Greens, a nursery and home store in Los Angeles.

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I’d love to recreate a hanging snowflake vignette in our outdoor patio area.

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The Christmas tree in the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel.

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The entrance to the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, across from the Fairmont.

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A great display of wreathes in the Union Square Banana Republic.

Fall Pumpkins

The last of the Halloween decorations are put away and all that remains are a few pumpkins and fall wreathes around the house.

Over the weekend, I picked up a couple of Pottery Barn mercury pumpkins.  I have been waiting for them to go on sale.  A nice addition to my white ceramic pumpkins (Tuesday Morning).

I can’t wait to pack away the pumpkins and get out the Christmas decorations!   Just a few more weeks…

Happy Halloween!

Happy Haunting …

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Halloween is such a fun holiday.  I love creating Halloween vignettes around the house with decorations I’ve collected over the years.

Here’s a peak at some of our Halloween haunts …

In our entry, we have an old pine bench.  I change out the pillows each season.  I found these sequined black & silver pillows at HomeGoods.  Love them!

Across from the bench, I have an entry table with a large mirror.  I like to hang seasonal wreaths from the top of the mirror.  A black fuzzy bat hangs out during October.

We have an old black bar in our living room.  It makes a great place to display apothecary jars filled with seasonal items.

Last year I bought several silver beaded spider webs (from Roger’s Gardens).  They are great to drape over mirrors, pictures or chandeliers ….

I found strands of orange & black bulbs at Target — they make great fillers for large apothecary jars.  And I couldn’t pass up the “Keep Calm” sign, another HomeGoods find.

I still have some apothecary jars filled with sea shells left over from the summer.  I added a few spiders to make them fit the Halloween theme.

Spiders add a creepy surprise!

I added a few Halloween touches to some bookshelves …

And every Halloween, I change out my hall cabinets — displaying my Halloween plates.

Happy Haunting!