Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Last Fall while shopping at Juxtaposition, a stylish little shop in Newport Beach, I came across some beautiful wrapping paper. I am a sucker for lovely, thick paper (and ribbon to boot) so seeing large sheets of paper draped over wooden dowels got my attention. To actually feel the paper is a great selling point to me. Don't you hate it when you are wrapping a gift and it tears at the slightest tug?

But this time, instead of a repeating pattern each sheet had a complete scene of drawings such as the natural history of birds, mammals, the Statue of Liberty, fruits, vegetables, and lo and behold of maps. One sheet was $4. A tad too expensive for one-time use wrapping paper but what deal for a piece of art! And since Juxtaposition is a pricey little shop, I was thrilled to find something clearly in my price range.

So, I bought two sheets of wrapping paper of the familiar maps of Paris and London and patiently waited for Michael's 60 percent framing coupon. Normally I take my artwork to Framer's Workshop in Scottsdale where Chris and Rolf work their magic but since wrapping paper isn't exactly an investment I decided to take a less expensive route.

Michael's did a good job, don't you think? You pretty much can't go wrong when choosing neutral matting and a plain, black frame. So now I have two lovely pieces of art in my family room.

Friday, March 26, 2010


My darling friends, Jill and Hal Green, are highlighted in the April issue of Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine. Pick up your copy today (and I promise to have it autographed by these two stars!)

For a behind the scenes look at the photo shoot, visit Jill's website, Sweet Life Garden (

Sunday, March 21, 2010


When I travel I love to pickup artwork whether it be small watercolors by local artists camped out in tourist areas or finding some interesting print in a secondhand bookstore.

The above is what kicked off my love of architectural prints. My sister, Tammy, and I were in a tiny little village, Puddletown (I'm not making this up) in Dorset County, England. We walked in (carefully since the entrance was directly on the main road, no sidewalk, no buffer between the door and the road!) to a miniscule used bookstore and I found this print of an obelisk that sits high upon one of the Cambridge colleges. It was 10 pounds which at the time was around $14. That was 1995.

Since then I have a collected a few more. I found the trio above in London at a junk shop on Portobello Road on my 40th birthday, December 31st. These three beautiful prints were in a french architectural book dated in the late 1700's and cost 20 pounds each--around $30 at the time.

I found this old print last summer in New York for $15. Isn't it pretty? I was touring the Kips Bay Designer Show House and this was in the gift shop, ripped out of a book from the 1800's.

Digging around in a shop in Rome I came across this water-stained print and loved the lines despite the brown, crinkly paper. It was also super cheap, just can't remember anymore. But I do remember the shop owner arguing with her husband in rapid-fire Italian.

And these three were found on separate trips. The top is of a fountain on a bridge over the Tiber River in Rome. The second, I found for $5 in York, it is an intricate drawing of a gate. And the last I found in Oxford--a drawing of a ceiling. Wouldn't you love to be looking up at that ceiling?

Some of these prints are fragile and don't travel well so I now carry a mailing tube with me which protects the art.

All of these pieces are some of the reasons I love traveling. To walk in to some tiny little dusty store, dig around in boxes and come up with a little gem while chatting with the shop owner enriches my experience. And to bring it home to display visually reminds me of a great trip.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


This is a fun read told from the perspective of a smart-as-a-whip 11 year old girl living in England during the 1950's. Of course, pretty much anything written from the point of view of someone living in England attracts me. And don't you just love the book cover?

Flavia de Luce is the star of the show. She is the youngest of three girls living at Buckshaw (grand old English country home) with her melancholy Father, Mrs. Mullet (cook), and Dogger the all-around helper. Seeking revenge on her two sisters while practicing her art as a chemist (focusing on poisons) and playing detective, she is very busy.

Although exceedingly mature for an 11-year old she does occasionally show her age, especially in dealing with her older sisters. Her lists of chemical pay-backs are laugh-out-loud funny. But it's her detective work and courage that gets a big hooray from me.

The author, Alan Bradley, is in his 70's and won the Debut Dagger Award of the (British) Crimewriter’s Association. Interesting that he chose an 11-year old girl as his protagonist in what is to be the first book in a series. I'm hooked.

Thanks to A Garden Carried in the Pocket for a review that prompted me to order this book at once!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Pretty much all fruit cobblers, crisps, crumbles, buckles, crunches, are at the top of my favorite desserts (yes, more than one) list. Warm fruit and a crunchy topping, heart warming.

The cranberries make it tart and again it is that sweet and tart combination that makes my taste buds sing.

Super easy is another great thing about fruit cobblers. Preparing the fruit takes longer than putting the whole thing togehter.

1 1/2 pounds tart green apples
-- peeled, 3/4" pieces
3 cups cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter -- chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Toss apples, cranberries, 2/3 C sugar, 2T flour, cinnamon and nutmeg to blend in large bowl. Transfer to 8x8" glass baking dish. Let stand 15 mins.

Combine oats, brown sugar and remaining 2T flour in medium bowl. Add butter and stir til moist clumps form. Sprinkle over filling. Bake til topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Gorgeous grapefruit! Our first year of delicious, sweet, edible Oro Blanco grapefruit. No sugar needed. A bowl of hot oatmeal finished with an Oro Blanco is my favorite winter-spring breakfast. That sweet-tart taste sharpens the taste buds. If you can, pick them as you eat them. Ripening ceases as soon as you pull it from its branch. However, once ripe, grapefruits store well and I've had them in my refrigerator bin for as long as four weeks without any spoiling.

Have you ever eaten a Sun Gold tomato? Sweet, juicy, little golden globes the size of small marbles. If your kids usually won't eat tomatoes they will eat a Sun Gold. However, if you buy them at the market they are pricey--$5 for a small basket. So, growing them is a much better idea. I just transplanted the little jewels on Saturday, just in time for the glorious rain.

In the background of the pic above, you can see that Tammy's Sweet Peas and various bulbs are out of the ground and reaching upwards. Should be blooming and bountiful in a few more weeks.

Last fall I bought a pretty little herb called Pennyroyal. Not knowing anything about it other than it had tiny leaves with a strong, minty fragrance, I planted one small bunch. Well, forget it. It spreads its little tentacles and before you know it it is everywhere (see photo above, at the base of the cilantro). Oh, and it's toxic. So I pulled it and hopefully got it all. But, if you are looking for a pretty, fragrant, slightly toxic ground cover, this is the plant for you.