Foodie Gift List

Do you have a cook, baker or entertainer on your Christmas gift list? Does the idea of finding a thoughtful, appealing gift for them strike fear in your heart? I get it. I love to cook and bake and over the years I’ve received my fair share of gifts in that vein. Some of been home runs. (Thanks again, Cole, for the mandoline!) Others have been duds. (Does anyone really need a separate appliance that vertically roasts chickens?) Sometimes it can feel impossible to find something your foodie a) will like and use and b) doesn’t already have. Here are some ideas for gifts that are new, different and down-right beautiful.

The Dutchess from Great Jones Goods

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven is an heirloom in the making. This one from new-kid-on-the-block brand Great Jones Goods is as stylish as it is practical and at $145 is less than half of what you’d pay for one from “Le French brand”.
Ceramic Spice Grinder from Amazon

Good cooks know that freshly ground spices are head and shoulders above the pre-ground stuff. a mortar and pestle can get the job done but this adorable striped ceramic spice grinder does it in style! Bonus points if your foodie is a blogger or Instagrammer: this cutie is the perfect prop!

Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman from Amazon

Today grabbing your organic groceries is as easy as dropping into Whole Foods but that wasn’t always the case. This interesting book tells the story of how brown rice, yogurt and sprouts went from counter-culture symbols to pantry staples.
Mauviel Copper Teakettle for Williams Sonoma

If you have a tea drinker or pour-over coffee enthusiast on your list this beautiful copper kettle is sure to earn you everlasting gratitude. It’s always a bonus when something is as beautiful as it is practical.
Oval Wood Cheese & Charcuterie Board from WalMart (yes, WalMart!)

Everywhere you look cheese and charcuterie boards are the hottest thing in entertaining. This beautiful board is sure to be the talk of their next party and for this price you can even throw in some fancy cheese!
Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste from King Arthur Flour

Bakers know Nielsen-Massey vanilla is the very best. This rich, thick vanilla bean paste not only delivers the very best vanilla flavor but also the delightful specks of vanilla bean seeds that make your baked goods stand out.
Fiori di Sicilia from King Arthur Flour

Bundle the vanilla bean paste with this lesser known flavoring from King Arthur Flour. A delicious combination of vanilla and citrus, fiori di Sicilia delivers a heavenly glavor and fragrance that will have them trying to guess the secret ingredient.

The Folio Book of Food and Drink

Folio Society books are works of art and this beautiful volume of writings on food and drink from everyone from Austen to Slater is just the thing to curl up in front of the fire with a cup of cocoa and enjoy.
Thirstystone Marble Lazy Susan from Target

This marble lazy Susan does double duty. A pretty platter for party time appetizers and the perfect to place to park everyday essentials near the stove the rest of the time.
Rifle Paper x Hedley & Bennett Rosa Apron

Believe me, your favorite chef really doesn’t want another “Kiss the Cook” apron. This wonderful apron is sturdy enough for everyday use yet pretty enough to toss on over a party dress for last minute prep.
Aerin Ginger Jar Champagne Bucket from Williams-Sonoma Home

It’s not a party without champagne and this generously sized ice bucket/cooler is up to the job but it will look just as fabulous gracing a sideboard on a random Tuesday.
Kitchen Basics or Imaginary Friends Salt Sample Packs from Beautiful Briny Sea

Beautiful Briny Sea makes some of the most exciting seasoned salt blends around from quality ingredients. Let your favorite cook taste their way through one or both of these sample packs to discover their own favorite. I’m partial to Mushroom and French Picnic.

Mason Cash Animal Mixing Bowls from King Arthur Flour

No chef ever has enough mixing bowls and these beauties from Mason Cash are pretty enough to double as serving bowls. The soft colors, scalloped edges and embossed woodland creature designs make this set stand out from the pack.
Half Sheet Pan and Cooling Rack Set

Cook or baker, novice or pro; everyone needs a few half sheet pans in their repertoire. This handy set comes with a rack sized to fit inside so it can serve as a roasting rack as well as a cooling rack. 

Until next time



Beauty In, Beauty Out

I haven’t posted since February! I have no excuse. It’s time to get back to it. I read a genius article recently about how our brains are being rewired due to online versus analog reading. It was thought-provoking and made me glad that I came of age, an avid reader, in the days of physical books. But the thing that jumped out at me was one particular thought: Beauty in, beauty out. Here, in the author’s own words:

“In Silicon Valley, they have a saying that explains why an algorithm starts producing unwanted results: Garbage in, garbage out. The idea is that an algorithm can only work with the information you feed it. Aren’t writers – all creators – algorithmic in that way? Our job is to process what we consume. Beauty in, beauty out. Garbage in, garbage out.”

It’s really the simplest of ideas; to do better, you have to consume quality. To write well you must read good material. To cook well you must eat good food. To make authentic art you must view good art. The idea is not to copy a writer or artist or maker you admire or to slavishly follow recipes or lists or someone else’s path to success. What you’re doing is increasing your knowledge base so you can easily recognize quality; in other’s works, of course; but most importantly, in your own. 

I took this idea as a jumping off point. I think that this idea doesn’t just apply to any given art or craft you’re hoping to master but quality of life as well. If you focus on what’s wrong or unfinished or imperfect in your life then that’s all you’ll see: the flaws, the glitches, the messes. Conversely, if you focus on the bounty and abundance of your life then that’s what will fill your heart. Sure, you’ll still see the things that  need work but instead of seeing them as a reflection of yourself as an unworthy being you’ll see them as a chance to improve your already bright life.

Positive thinking is not a panacea for the ills of the world and it’s certainly not meant to blind you to the problems of modern life that you can do something to help remedy. Instead, it’s meant to help you continue to strive to improve your lot and the greater world around you. This can be especially important to those of us who struggle with mental health and especially important at this time of year when the struggle can be the toughest. Look for the good. Look for the happy. Look for the beauty in your life.

Here’s a link to the original article:

I Have Forgotten How to Read by Michael Harris

Until next time



Binge Watching

Taking a brief break from Fashion Week today. Those posts are labor intensive! Let’s talk about entertainment instead. My husband and I are binge watching Netflix’s House of Cards.

Have you watched it? What did you think? For us, it’s been very engrossing and we’ve stayed up past our bedtimes to squeeze in “just one more episode”.  But we’ll be all caught up when the new season is released in May.

We did the same thing with USA Network’s Mr. Robot

And TNT’s Good Behavior

It was amazing to see Michelle Dockery in a part soooooo very different than Downton Abbey!

And lest you think we’re a couple of gritty, nihilistic, misanthropes, we also did the same thing with Netflix’s The Crown

Masterpiece’s Victoria

And our much beloved Foyle’s War

So now, you tell me, have you seen any of these series? Which is your favorite? What else do you think we should be adding to our binge-worthy list? 

Until next time



Fashion Week: Lands’ End

Fashion Week rolls on with the Friends & Family Sale at Lands’ End going on through 11:59 CST tomorrow: 30% off your entire order! If you roll your eyes when I say Lands’End and think adventure outfitters, you are missing out!! Yes, there are still squall jackets and yes there are still things your grandmother would like but there’s so much more. I remember years ago when I used to buy khakis and rugby shirts for my husband from J. Crew. They’ve certainly undergone a transformation and, while not quite as dramatic an about face, so has Lands’ End. While still my go to for jeans and knit tops, a lot of the more fashiony pieces remind me of a J. Crew/Ralph Lauren mashup. Let’s take a look at some of my current favorites.

Harbor Trench Coat in Meadowland Green
Regular $99.00, Sale $69.30

A trench coat is a classic but that doesn’t mean you have to play it safe. I love the brilliant green and oversized buttons on this beauty! And something about the super-wide lapels and high back collar give this trench a very Audrey-esque quality. Also available in Crimson Dawn or if you’re keeping it classic, Black & Warm Khaki.

Cotton Duffle Jacket
Regular $139.00, Sale $97.30

What says preptastic more than a duffle jacket? This cotton one is just the thing to see you through some of the cooler days & nights of spring. Pop it on over a de rigueur striped tee with some red skinny jeans and cute flats and you’re set for the day: from brunch to shopping to drinks.

Waterfall Cape Sweater
Regular $89.00, Sale $62.30

This one definitely has a whiff of Ralph Lauren to me. A little less rustic perhaps but all-American has through and through. A long-sleeved tee, dark jeans, espadrilles and a tote and you are ready for any adventure the weekend throws your way. 

Short Sleeve Chambray Tunic Dress
Regular $89.00, $62.30

This is the perfect blank-slate of a dress! Chambray is one of my favorite fabrics and there are so many ways to go with this one. I love that neckerchiefs are coming back! Take a cue from the model and tie a bright silk square around your neck or add a belt or slip a long sleeved striped tee underneath. This dress can unleash your inner stylist!

 Fringe Trim Skirt

Currently on Sale for $44.99, After Discount $31.49

Okay, now tell me that this above the knee, plaid, fringed skirt doesn’t look like it wandered over from J. Crew? It hits all the right style points but look at that price!!

Dark Indigo Wash Pencil Skirt
Regular $69.00, Sale $48.30

Despite what the description on the website says, this is not a jean skirt. This is a classically styled, subtly sexy pencil skirt that just happens to be made out of a dark washed denim. A fun twist on a wardrobe basic.

Ponté Pencil Skirt in Hot Pink
Regular $59.00, Sale $44.30

And speaking of pencil skirts, how about this hot peony pink number in oh so comfortable ponté knit? Pair it with a classic button down shirt and neutral heels and let the color speak for itself! Also available in classic black.

Woven A-line Skirt in Radiant Navy
Regular $89.00, Sale $62.30

Pencils not your style? How about this ladylike A-line? Fully lined with a geometric eyelet overlay, this one can definitely go from work to casual and back again with just a change of top or accessories. Also available in eggshell white.

Mixed Stripe Elbow Sleeve Top in Ivory/Deep Sea Thin Stripe
Regular $35.00, Sale $24.50

I’ve already confessed my abiding love for striped knit tops, but, oh, these stripes! Horizontal in the front, vertical in the back, diagonal on the sleeves and fabulous all around! Also available in Ivory/Crimson Dawn Thin Stripe.

Supima Print Cardigan Sweater in Ivory Spots
Regular $79.00, $55.30

Lands’ End Supima Cardigans are one of my staples with new colors and prints every season. This modern mixed spot is definitely on my short list to add to my cardigan collection. And since you know my love of twin sets, there’s a matching short sleeved jewel neck pullover to complete the look.

Chino Tie Waist Pants in Smokey Olive
Regular $79.00, Sale $55.30

Boyfriend fit? Check! Tie Waist? Check! Olive, the not so boring neutral? Check! Your closet needs these chinos!

Mid Rise Kick Crop Jeans
Regular $69.00, Sale $48.30

Oh how I love my Lands’ End denim! Quality, consistent sizing, waist not too high, not too low and priced so reasonably that if I want to try one of this seasons trendy silhouettes, the kick crop, I can do so without hesitation! These will be in my closet soon!

Fringe Slide Sandals in Denim
Regular $65.00, Sale $45.50

There’s a definite denim shoe trend this season, J. Crew and Talbot’s both have adorable versions as well, but how cute are these fringey denim slides? This just might be THE shoe of summer!

Slip On Sneakers in Pineapple Stripe
Regular $59.00, Sale $41.30

Do you know what a synonym for fun is? Slip on striped pineapple sneakers, that’s what!

Leather Tassel Belt in Crimson Dawn
Regular $45.00, Sale $31.50

This is another item that looks like it snuck over from J. Crew or maybe even Kate Spade! I mean, honestly, who could resist a bright leather belt with darling little tassels dangling down? Also available in Dandelion and Navy.

So, do you agree that it might be time to rethink Lands’ End? What’s your favorite thing from this list? 

Until next time fashionably yours, 



Fashion Week: Nordstrom Rack

Next up on Fashion Week here at The Quirky Quaintrelle is the Clear the Rack Sale going on through tomorrow at Nordstrom Rack, both online and in stores. The sale is 25% off of clearance items but also includes free shipping over $100 and in most cases 90-day returns by mail or to a Nordstrom Rack store.

This one was a little tricky to pull items from for the reason that since Nordstrom Rack is already an outlet store and the sale is on clearance items; sizes, colors & quantities are limited. My best suggestion for you is to jump online and do a little digging yourself or head straight to your local Nordstrom Rack store. There are some AMAZING deals here! 

Here are a few things that caught my eye.

CeCe by Cynthia Steffe Evia Metallic Jacquard Fit & Flare Dress
Regular $198.00, Sale $59.98

Felicity and Coco Navy & White Stripe Fit & Flare Dress
Regular $118.00, Sale $22.13

Vince Camuto Sequin Off the Shoulder Sheath Dress
Regular $188.00, Sale $56.23

Nanette Lepore Nomad Cardigan
Regular $348.00, Sale $56.18

Rebecca Taylor Fringe Trim Cardigan
Regular $395.00, Sale $106.43

Fleurette Notched Collar Double Breasted Coat
Regular $675.00, Sale $177.19

L. K. Bennett Heidi Glitter Pump
Regular $345.00, Sale $112.50

BCB Generation Aleyana Wedge Pump in Pumice
Regular $98.00, Sale $33.74

Charles By Charles David Libra Wedge Sandal
Regular $99.00, Sale $25.99

Sole Society Sequoia Block Heel Sandal
Regular $99.95, $29.98

Via Spiga Arnelia Leather Espadrille Flat
Regular $155, Sale $40.69

Natori Mikado Nightgown

Regular $120.00, Sale $29.98

Natori Mikado Robe
Regular $180.00, Sale $52.48

Gorjana 18K Gold Plated Joplin Stud Earrings
Regular $45.00, Sale $10.13

Melrose and Market 10mm Malachite Ring Stud Earrings
Regular $12.97, Sale $7.29

Nadri 18K Gold Clad Pave Flat Crystal Hoop Earrings
Regular $148.00, Sale $33.30

Ted Baker London Reann Rosette Pave Crystal Ring
Regular $75.00, Sale $19.69

Emilio Pucci Women’s Plastic Sunglasses
Regular $270.00, Sale $50.63

RAEN Women’s Rotas Round Sunglasses
Regular $135, Sale $25.31

Persaman New York Women’s Faith Sunglasses
Regular $99.97, Sale $48.75

Marc by Marc Jacobs Gingham Sliding Mirror iPhone 6 Case
Regular $78.00, Sale $11.70

Nanette Lepore Lasercut iPhone 6 Case
Regular $40.00, Sale $8.42

Happy bargain hunting!

Until next time



Fashion Week: J. Crew

Sorry for the long absence but one of our senior dogs had a little accident and I’ve been on 24-hour nursing duty with him. We’re still not sure what the outcome will be so any good thoughts you’d like to send along would be appreciated. 

I know I promised a continuation of the Intuitive Eating series, and I swear it will come. But I need a little light and bright in my life right and I’m feeling fashiony. With the holiday weekend, transitional season sales and the incoming Spring fashions, quite a few of my favorite stores & brands have amazing clothes and accessories to snatch up for the warmer weather to come. 

Let’s start with one of everyone’s favorites: J. Crew. Now through Monday at midnight EST, almost everything on the J. Crew website is on sale at 30% off with the code WEEKEND. Here are the lovelies that caught my eye.

Ruffle Tippi Sweater in mermaid floral  (Regular $85, On Sale for $59.50)
I mean seriously, how adorable is that mermaid print? Add a ruffle around the neckline of the cult classic Tippi and you have one stunner of a sweater.

Embellished cotton Jackie cardigan sweater in faded peri (Regular $98, On Sale for $68.60)
The famous Jackie cardigan in summer weight cotton embellished with firework bursts of sequins! Swoon! This periwinkle/coral combo screams spring to me, but this lovely sweater is also available in a vibrant yellow with gold sequins and a chic tan on tan option. And since there’s no such thing as too many twin sets, there’s a contrasting striped shell for each color.

Jackie tie neck cardigan in stripes (Regular $89.50, On Sale for $62.65)
I have to admit that this beauty already lives in my closet and I ❤ it! The stripes! The tie neck! So cute, so versatile and it never fails to garner compliments. Also available in a saddle/navy/ivory combo.

Boat neck T-shirt in vintage stripe (Regular $39.50, On Sale for $27.65)
I have several weaknesses when it comes to clothes and stripes are at the top of the list! This boat neck beauty in a vibrant navy/azalea multi stripe not only makes my heart sing, it would be a nice addition to the navy striped brigade in my closet. Seriously, it’s an obsession!

Gathered popover shirt in vintage plaid (Regular $78, On Sale for $54.60)
I recently remarked to my husband that aside from the basics of black, white, camel/tan & denim; I would be perfectly happy if everything in my closet were pink, green or blue. I think this shirt heard me. The perfect green & blue in my beloved popover styling. I prefer popovers to button-ups because they look so neat tucked in or left out. Most button-ups require a little extra work (tied tails or a half tuck) to keep from looking sloppy if worn untucked. Popovers always look great.

Chambray Regent blazer with ruffle trim (Regular $168, On Sale for $117.60)
Cropped chambray ruffled pant (Regular $89.50, On Sale for $62.65)

Chambray & ruffles. I’m sold! The original blue collar fabric has been feminized with sweet little ruffles and the juxtaposition is delightful! Pop a neon pink, green or turquoise shell underneath for an added layer of wow with heels for the office or flats for brunch and you’re the picture of perfection! 👌🏻

Scalloped chambray skirt (Regular $88, On Sale for $61.60)

Too short for me but too cute not to include. Faux wrap chambray skirt with a piped scalloped panel and a single sassy button. I can see this one on repeat all summer long! Pair it with tees and tennies or a gingham shirt and cute flats.

Charlie slides in glossy navy leather (Regular $188, On Sale for $131.60)

I’ll admit I’ve been a little late to the mule/slide trend. I’m old enough that the word mule conjures up childhood memories of Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company. These luscious navy slides are just the thing to get me over the hump! Perfectly preppy tasseled loafer up front, fresh air slide in the back and not a whiff of caftan anywhere! Also available in pampered pink color block and snakeskin print.

Seavees for J. Crew legend sneaker in gingham (Regular $88, On Sale for $61.60)
Remember my stripe obsession confession a few items back? Well, my gingham love is right up there too. I’ll put it down to my Southern heritage. These gingham Seavees are amazing!! Shorts, crops, ankle pants, casual skirts? Check, check, check & check! Errands, brunch, lunch, shopping? Check, check, check & check! Honestly, I’m not sure it’s possible to survive spring and summer without these in your arsenal! Also available in red & white skinny stripe and navy multi stripe.

Metallic ankle strap sandals (Regular $168, On Sale for $117.60)
What’s rarer than a unicorn sighting or a perfectly ripe avocado? Party shoes that make you want to dance all night but don’t leave your feet hating you in the morning. These might be the perfect shoes. Gold metallic leather says party. The traditional t-strap design says classic. The just under 2-inch block heel says comfort. And they’re all wrapped up in a dainty bow for added sweetness!

Denim ankle-wrap flats (Regular $138, On Sale for $96.60)

This hybrid ballet flat/ankle wrap/sling back is one of the cutest shoes I’ve seen this season. These little shoes are ready for anything! Day or night. Work or play. Casual or dressed up. Absolutely adorbs! Also available in sequined gingham.

Gemma suede flats with pom-poms in festive green (Regularly $118, On Sale for $82.60)

The PERFECT shade of green and pom-poms. Cunning turquoise trim and pom-poms. Sweet little bows and pom-poms. Oh, and did I mention pom-poms? These are my very favorite thing on this list! Because, pom-poms!! Also available in tropical sun.

Pop Stripe tote (Regular $158, On Sale for $110.60)

In my book there are several things a lady can never have too many of: black shoes, white shirts, twin sets & totes. Be careful though; this scrumptious tote in azalea/navy combo with TASSELS is bound to make all of your other totes feel left out. When has utilitarian ever been so snazzy?

Honeymoon tassel earrings (Regular $65, On Sale for $45.50)
Tortoise look flowers with rhinestone centers, enameled caps and white beaded tassels. These earrings are so on trend that if you look up the word trend they might be pictured there! The tortoise and white looks so fresh to me, but these beautiful baubles are also available in a tortoise/navy combo.

Dipped enameled hoop earrings in sweet jasmine (Regular $19.50, On Sale for $13.65)

Classic gold hoops partially enameled in pink & green. Ladies, I think we’ve achieved prep perfection! Also available in warm jade & black combos.

Don’t forget, the sale ends Monday at midnight EST and you know how J Crew sales are; things are going quickly! I hope to be back tomorrow with another batch of fashion.

Until next time!



Treasure Hunting: Have a Heart

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us and the internet is filled with pink, red and all things heart-shaped! Here are a few of my favorites:

Catarina Heart Dinnerwear from Horchow (currently 25%off!)

These lovely earthenware dinner and salad plates are hand-made in Italy. The pierced heart borders are just so sweet! I bet you could find dozens of times through the year to add a little romance to your table with these darling plates.

Valentine Heart 6′ Paper Garland from Crate & Barrel

This cheery garland, while obviously perfect for Valentine’s Day, could help mark special occasions throughout the year! Engagements, anniversaries & birthdays would all be just a little more special festooned with this charming garland.

Heart Coir Mat from Ballard Designs

This punchy graphic doormat will let all visitors know that love lives here!

Metro Mother of Pearl Heart Watch by Kate Spade at Nordstrom 

Instead of wearing your heart on your sleeve, why not on your wrist? This beautiful understated wristwatch will remind you that there’s always time for love!

3-Piece Gratitude Bowls Set from Horchow

Each of these three handmade wooden bowls is carved with a different reminder to recognize and be grateful for all the love in your life.

Red, White & Pink Heart Confetti from Paperscapes1212 on Etsy

Do you really need a reason for confetti? I didn’t think so.

Be Mine Heart & Arrow Hoops from Kate Spade

Cupid has some seriously precise aim to place these darling earrings in just the right spot! Sparkly red hearts dangling from gold arrow hoops are just the thing to announce to the world that you’re in love!

Love is Love Mug Set from Williams-Sonoma

Covered all over in gold and rainbow-colored hearts and the repeating message inside: Love is Love is Love is Love… these darling mugs are sweet and subtle reminder that we all deserve the right to love who we choose. 50% of the purchase price is donated to The Human Rights Campaign and that will do everyone’s heart good.

Until next time!



Intuitive Eating

img_0082What kind of cook are you? Do you follow recipes down to the minutest detail? Do you rely strictly on convenience foods? Do you use your kitchen for coffee making only? Or are you able to conceive a dish in your mind and present it on a plate?


Much of the difference in types of cooks comes down to three things: desire, confidence & experience. If you have no desire to cook, then no amount of instruction or coaxing will change that. But if you want to cook & want to be able to freestyle in the kitchen, then experience is the key. Experience builds confidence, enhances skills and gives you a mental “flavor library” to draw on to create your own dishes.  Also, a few templates don’t hurt. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.


When I was a novice cook I had the good fortune of stumbling onto an issue of Bon Appetite magazine shrink-wrapped with a separate little guide about basic cooking techniques. The technique guide was helpful, but it was the recipes & pictures in that first issue of Bon Appetite that really inspired me to embrace cooking. They all seemed so interesting & exotic! Now realize, I was barely 20 years old, lived in a small city in the Deep South in the pre-internet days and had just met the man I wanted to spend my life cooking for. Those recipes were the Holy Grail! First I had to weed out all of the ones that had ingredients I didn’t know or couldn’t find. The ones that were left I followed slavishly. Some hits, some misses. But most importantly, they gave me the confidence to try, allow myself to fail occasionally and eventually to trust my own instincts in the kitchen.


Fast forward 30+ years. I have worked as a baker in a popular local coffee shop, taught cooking lessons and catered dinner parties. Now, I’m back to cooking for just the two of us again. My husband, while a MUCH more adventurous eater than he was 30 years ago, is still a die-hard carnivore. Don’t get me wrong; I love fish & seafood of every kind, crave a really good rib-eye with some regularity and find a perfectly roasted chicken to be a thing of beauty. But given my druthers, my favorite way to eat follows this template: whole grain or grain substitute, greens or other veggies, nuts & cheese.


Instead of being limiting, a template like this is empowering. There are nearly limitless possibilities! Sometimes it’s a fresh greens based salad with a scoop of cooked grains added for heft finished with nuts for crunch and cheese for that luxurious creaminess. Sometimes it’s a grain bowl with cooked veggies, again sprinkled with nuts and cheese. Sometimes it’s a warm lentil salad with wilted greens and nuts and cheese. Sometimes I use two or three of the components and add in a protein: pastured eggs, leftover chicken or steak, quickly cooked shrimp or wild salmon or the only cold cuts and bacon I’ll use; Applegate Farms. The common bond that all of these meals share is that they’re healthy, filling & delicious.


The thing to remember is being able to whip these yummies up starts at the market: good food in your cart means good food in your fridge which means good food in your body! Next week I’ll be back to talk about what to stock your fridge, freezer and pantry with to be able to whip up delicious meals like these. Remember: eat good, feel good!

Until next time!



The Round Robin Book Club

Remember my New Year’s resolution to read more and connect with other readers from this post? I’m taking concrete steps toward that goal by reinstating and idea I had several years ago: The Round Robin Book Club.

In its original incarnation, it was my girls, my sister and myself. We are all readers, but separated by distance. We were each going to take a quarter, choose four books, order and distribute the books, each read our assigned book then include a review with it before mailing it off to the next person in a designated order so that by the end of the quarter we would have all read all four and could get together and have a group phone call to discuss them all. I threw out some sample items to address in the reviews but the one that stuck was “Which character would you most like to punch in the face?” Our first books were “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (If you’ve read it, we all wanted to punch Boris!), The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (amazing little book!), The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (which I don’t think any of us ever recovered from). It started off so well!

Then came the first of our darling grands. We never made it past that first quarter.

Now my girls have four beautiful children between the two of them, with number five set for arrival in June. They are deep in the throes of young motherhood and any reading they get to do that doesn’t involve Gossie, Goodnight Moon or parenting advice is completely for their own pleasure and at their own schedule.

So I’ve regrouped with a new cast of characters! My sister Nichole (who lives in the Dallas area) and me of course, my friends Erin & Jen (who live in the Boston are and are participating as a unit) and my friend Cynthia who is local to me. 

Since I started this, I took the first quarter (actually 2 months since we got a little bit of a late start). I had a framework with the books I chose the first time and stuck with it for the rebirth: one work of literary fiction, one work of fantasy, magical realism or magic, one lighter fluffier book and a wildcard. So without further ado, hear are the books that the Round Robin Book Club will be reading for the first quarter of 2017:

A Work of Literary Fiction:

Commonwealth by Ann Patchet

 The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them. When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another. Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

A Work of Fantasy, Magical Realism or Magic:

Neverwhere: Author’s Preferred Text by Neil Gaiman

The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s ultimate edition of his wildly successful first novel featuring his “preferred text”—and including the special “Neverwhere” tale “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back.” Published in 1997, Neil Gaiman’s darkly hypnotic first novel, Neverwhere, heralded the arrival of this major talent and became a touchstone of urban fantasy. Over the years, a number of versions were produced both in the U.S. and the U.K. Now, this author’s preferred edition of his classic novel reconciles these versions and reinstates a number of scenes cut from the original published books. Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he is plunged through the cracks of reality into a world of shadows and darkness—the Neverwhere. If he is ever to return to the London Above, Richard must join the battle to save this strange underworld kingdom from the malevolence that means to destroy it.

A Lighter, Fluffier Piece:

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

(This one went to Cynthia and involved a lovely brunch at The Beckery.)

Don’t miss this curiously charming debut! In this hauntingly beautiful story of love, loneliness and self-discovery, an endearing widower embarks on a life-changing adventure. Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden. But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met—a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places. Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

And a Wildcard:

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by The Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams

An instant New York Times Bestseller. Two Spiritual Giants. Five Days. One Timeless Question. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet. In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy. This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecendented week together, from the first embrace to the final good-bye. We get to listen as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives. The Archbishop has never claimed sainthood, and the Dalai Lama considers himself a simple monk. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.

(All book detail information from Amazon.)

So, have you read any of these? What did you think? No spoilers, please! Do you belong to a book club? What’s next on your reading list? Let’s chat books!

Until next time!



Treasure Hunting: Terrific Tassels

Hello friends! Today I’m introducing a new weekly feature called Treasure Hunting in which I share with you some of the goodies that have caught my eye recently. This week’s theme: tassels! I adore tassels! So let’s get start, shall we?

This lovely lamp from Ballard Designs would look equally charming in a beachy-chic or light & bright transitional setting. Even the cute little finial gets in on the overall design.


I love all the pretty beaded tassel earrings popular these days, but most of them are so long! I’m not a shoulder duster kind of girl so I was thrilled when Bauble Bar introduced a mini, and to my mind, more wearable version of their piñata tassel drops. They come in gem and regular versions and an array of colors. But this turquoise pair is making me think ahead to summer.


Denim hems all over the place these days! High, low, multi-level, it seems like anything goes. These très cute tassel hem jeans from Topshop for Nordstrom are a fun way to try out the trend. Sub in a bright shoe and sashay down the street in style.


Are you thinking about zhuzhing up your bed after the worst of winter is over? Maybe something bright and playful? This tasseled duvet cover & shams from PB Teen might be just what you’re looking for. The tassel trim comes in six different color options but I think the navy against the crisp white takes this set from girlish to grown up. And as a bonus, the set can be monogrammed when you order! Tassels & a monogram? Score!


If you’re looking for a touch of richness for your decor, this pillow cover from Pottery Barn has you set. The look of an ancient Persian rug crafted out of sumptuous velvet with jaunty little tassels at the corners. Surely there’s just the spot in your home that could use a little glamming  up with this gem.


And lest you think all tassels are inherently feminine, take a look at this suede throw pillow in rich cinnamon from West Elm. This one would be quite at home in any man’s desk chair, reading chair, recliner 😖 or man cave.


Now this one gets me on two levels, a tassel & animal print! I’m sure many of you are familiar with the beautiful clutches from the brand Clare V. Well, you can get a similar look for a fraction of the price from Etsy seller ljcdesignss. Use it as a clutch. Use it as a tablet case. Use it to pack your jewelry for traveling. The array of colors, patterns & sizes is mind-boggling! And for that added bit of personalization, you can pick from a multitude of tassel colors! This beauty, but with a green tassel, will be heading my way soon as a case for my iPad.


And last, but certainly not least, I am in love, love, love with these charming denim D’orsay smoking slippers from Talbots! I would wear these from right now until the heat of summer demands that we free the toes and then break them back out in the fall. So much cute in one pair of shoes!!


So there you have it, friends. Some of my favorite tasseled treasures. Which ones would you choose?

Until next time!