The Gingerbread House Party

Gingerbread House Food Shop

The Food Spread

I guess it’s official.

I have an annual Christmas Holiday Event.

Year 2 of the Gingerbread House Party and I am already plotting for next year.

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The Calm Before The Storm

IMG_3111 The Candy Line UpIMG_3109

Candy Land

Georgia

Georgia & M ‘n M’s

This year it was a bit different, we held the event in our school auditorium.

It was scheduled to rain and the stress of checking the weather report got the best of me and I just made the call.

Of course the day was sunny and rain free.

It turned out that  I loved having the event at the school and not in my home.

Last year I discovered candy in various nooks and cranny’s for months.

.  Clean up was easier, the house was intact and the kids had a whole play yard to work off the sugar high.

Win-Win

Making a House

Marie & Nick

Not just for kids

Drynan

Gus working hard!

Gingerbread House 1

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Eamon's House

A “blizzard” of icing hit this house.

Plymouth Gang Before Sugar

The Plymouth Gang Before Sugar

After Sugar

 And After 

The End Result?

200 pounds of candy

40 Gingerbread Houses

7 boxes of wipes

A million smiles.

A annual tradition indeed.

Merry Christmas!

xoxo Carrie

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Snowman Ornament

I love to decorate for Christmas.

Pulling out the boxes each year and rediscovering the decor is so fun.

I have been  accumulating my little goodies since I have owned a home and collecting Christopher Radko ornaments for 20 years.

As a result, I have an awesome (if I do say so myself) ornament collection and I get get joy out of unwrapping each little box.

 We all remember our favorite Christmas decorations from childhood.

I always loved the Nativity Scene my parents had.

Staring at all the animals, checking out the Wiseman and deciding which of their outfits I liked best, the wax choir boy and girl candles, the dough ornaments my Mom made.

I love having a tradition and things that Caroline will associate with the holiday when she grown.

IMG_3039“Eddie” our resident Elf on A Shelf hangs out on the mantle.
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Basquiat and Tree

Caroline has a knack for picking out the best tree.

I have officially handed off the “Tree Picking Crown” to her.

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The Angel Choir

These little angels used to be in my Grandmother’s home and I loved them so.

My sister found them when cleaning out my Grandfather’s place when he passed away and saved them for me.

I plan on passing them down to Caroline.

Christmas Table 2012

Dining Table

Flowers By KrislynA nice surprise from our neighbor Krislyn.

An amazing artist, florist, stylist, designer.

Boxwood Wreath In Dining Room

I have hung Boxwood Wreaths on all the Dining Room windows with a Peacock Blue Ribbon.

So cute!

pablo x-mas

Pablo Hanging out front “helping”.

Off to hang some lights.

Happy Holiday Decorating!

xoxo Carrie

10 Holiday Gift Ideas under $75


I always need suggestions for Christmas Gifts, especially those under $75.

Small tokens of appreciation, stocking stuffers, Secret Santa gifts, girlfriend and holiday hostess gifts.

 I thought I might share some of my favorite Holiday Gift finds with all of you.

$49.99

Buy here 12/1: www.neimanmarcus.com

I love these Derek Lam Slippers from the brilliant collaboration between two of my favorite retailors, Neiman Marcus and Target.  All the items are available in stores and on line Saturday, December 1st.  I could actually do all my shopping in one swoop by visiting the site, but if I had to narrow it down to one item, it would be these magnificent leopard slippers.

$18

Buy it here: www.jaysonhome.com

 I love this heart bowl.  Perfect for a key drop or place to throw you jewelry when you take it off each night, or a bowl for nuts. This sweetheart of a gift is available at Jayson Home, a favorite Chicago based store of mine.  I remember when Jayson Home opened and was primarily a garden and flower store,  now it’s grown into huge retail, on line and catalog success.

$30

Buy them here: www.gardeshop.com

It is always great to have some chic and beautiful hand towels in your powder room.  A great gift because it’s a little luxury you might not allow yourself.  I love these Fouta Turkish Towels from Garde.   Garde is a great store filled with uniquely curated home goods, textiles, jewelry and other treasures that you won’t find any place else.  If you are an Angeleno’s pop by the store on Beverly Blvd. at Vista, it’s a beautiful shop.

$50

Buy it here: www.shop.gardeshop.com

Another item I love from Garde is this gorgeous brass bottle opener.  This one is the “Eclipse” and it was designed by Osi Masanori for Futagami.

It will look beautiful on any bar and it’s another one of those useful, “so glad to have it” things you will use all the time.

$29.95

Buy it here: www.cb2.com

I adore these pig book ends from CB2.  Great for any room and any age.

The price is right too.

$68

Buy it here: www.anthropologie.com

The “Love” pillow from Anthropolgie will look great on any sofa, chair or bed.  It’s 20×20 and made of wool crewel work over a paint by number “love” cut out on front and flower scene on back.  The pillow was created by artist Trey Speegle who has done many other items for Anthropologie, including dishes which I received a few years back from my ultra chic mother in law.

$22

Buy it here: www.heathceramics.com

Stuck for an idea?  You will never fail with a Heath Ceramic Bud Vase.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t adore this little gem of a vase.

$49.50

Buy it here: www.jcrew.com

Color Block madness continues with this number from JCrew.

I love the hot pink and camel colors.  You can pop this into your large everyday bag or use it on it’s own as a clutch.

Super Cute.

$75

Buy it here: www.harbingerla.com

This Sister Parrish tissue holder is nothing to sneeze at and if you live in LA pop into Harbinger, the awesome showroom and home to Lucas Interiors where they carry them.  Honestly, I detest a kleenex box sitting out, so if you need to have a tissue nearby at least the box will be styling!

I’d love to hear your gift ideas!

Happy Shopping!

xoxo Carrie

Top Photo: www.sisterssuitcaseblog.com

It’s Easy to Own a Little Part of Italy

Wouldn’t we all like to own a little piece of Italy?

I sure would.

 I dream one day of owning a place where I can spend long lazy summers and holidays with family and friends.

It really is my favorite country.

The food, the people, the traditions.

EEG & Me on the Boat to Ponza

I used to make annual trips to Italy to visit my dear friend Elizabeth, a writer and professor in Rome.

We met our freshman year of life in Chicago, co-workers, roommates, confidants.

She had the most charming Roman flat and friends.  Lunches on her patio, espresso at her 200 year old farm table, dinner at midnight.

The perfect tour guide to the Eternal City.

“Chiarella” Laurie’s House in Italy

Lunch is Served

The other bonus of traveling to Italy was hopping on the train to visit my pal Laurie’s Farm House “Chiarella“. Laurie also happened to be an old Chicago friend of both Elizabeth and mine so she was always on the travel itinerary. Laurie is a smart woman who bought a place  in Umbria (which she rents fyi) when it was still un-tapped by tourists and before the Euro made things costly . It’s a charming old farm-house on 7 acres, with stream, a vineyard and loads of charm.  Many long chats over wine and star-gazing under thick wool blankets on her beautiful property.

Amazing times with amazing friends.

My annual visits have sadly gone by the way side.

 Motherhood has put a stop to my former Prada shopping sprees, eating at midnight, drinking wine at noon,  “single girl” trips to Italy.

I’m not closing that chapter forever, just until my little gal is a little older.

My dreams of owning a little piece of land in Italy have just gotten a little closer.

I have just been let in on a secret.

My friend Jessica (and a member of our Cooking Club) introduced me to Tre Olive.

 Tre Olive is an olive oil company and they have a deal where you can adopt your own olive tree in Italy and reep the rewards year round when you receive the delicious olive oil from the harvest of your own tree.

This is what you get:

Adopt an Olive Tree and you receive:

Cost: $110 for a 1 year adoption + shipping and handling

  • Adoption certificate, certificate/photo holder, welcome letter, brochure.
  • A photo of YOUR tree, with all its graceful beauty and naturally imperfect glory.
  • Your tree is tagged with your name for the adoption year.
  • The Olive Oil from your tree – 3 liters (6 x 500ml tins) delivered in the Spring. Olives from your tree will be pressed, along with olives from neighboring trees (it’s a family affair). Because some trees produce more oil and some produce less, we share the wealth.

The method in which the Tre Olive family makes this delicious olive oil has been passed down through the generations and the care, quality, and love shows in their product.

I quickly used up my can of olive oil and am anxiously awaiting the next. You can also purchase single containers of oil olive in different varieties such as their Early Harvest or Signature Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oils.

 They also have hand made extra virgin olive oil soaps.

This is a perfect gift for Foodie Friends and those folks who stump you after year about what to get them. I think it would be a great wedding gift to adopt a tree in the name of the new couple.  Also, you can hand out the oil out as hostess gifts.

Whatever the case….it’s yummy, organic, and all yours.

And the best part?  To know that I have some roots in Italy,

until I can plant roots of my own!

xoxo Carrie

The Fabulous Fig

Photo: www.botanicalfeast.com

It’s that time of year.

Fig Season!

Stuffed with blue Cheese, wrapped in prosciutto, roasted and served on top of arugula with a crunchy bread.

Or

Photo: www.designsponge.com

Plopped onto a tart, bread or made into jam.

How about the Fig Newton?

Figs are fabulous.

My friend Kate Paul (of Foodink and Basil Limeade Fame) even has a Fig Fest (which I will report on later) to celebrate the magical fruit.

Here are some photos from years past.

The love affair with the fig doesn’t have to stop in the kitchen.

You can live with a tree year round.

No fruit, but the glorious big leaves are just as good.

This Marion Fig is one of my favorites for the home.

I think that everyone should have a tree and plants of some sort in their home.

Photo: Elle Decor

If you have a black thumb you can always use Peter Dunham’s fabulous fig fabric

Photos: Peter Dunham Interior Design

Here’s another way to get a little Fig into your life.

The Fig Diptyque smells divine!

All your undies in the dirty clothes hamper?

Just grab a fig leaf.

xoxo Carrie

A Polka Dot Present

I love my Birthday Present from my sis in law Jen & Hubby Lu.

You can see why.

As most of you know I am a sucker for packaging and present presentation.

Much to my pleasure was the book inside.

 A book of work by Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama.

Kusama is the artist behind the dots.

 She has seen dots since her childhood and sees them as an inspiration for her art and also a way to understand her mental illness.

Plagued by  mental illness she voluntarily checked herself into a Japanese mental institution in 1977 where she still resides and works .

She is finally getting her due, with a retrospective that opened this month at The Whitney Museum of American Art and runs through September.

  Truly a unique and astounding talent.

So what’s the deal withLouis Vuitton ?

Well, Vuitton is one of the sponsors of the show.

In addition,Kusama and Vuitton Creative Director, Marc Jacobs collaborated on the Summer 2012 collection.

It’s awesome.

Thanks for the present Jen!

xoxo Carrie

Summer Entertaining

I love summer entertaining.

 Eating outdoors, long evenings, no school, and the laid back attitude that accompanies summer entertaining totally suits me.

Summer cooking is my favorite and I always look forward to the bounty of produce that shows up this time of year.

www.icedevents.com

Photo: www.acottageindustry.typepad.com

Cocktails and cool drinks infused with fresh herbs or seasonal fruits. I love the cute patterned cupcake liner turned upside down with a hole punched in it for the straw….figures it is a Martha Stewart idea.

Rose and Whites.

I have some go to recipes that have been in my summertime rotation for years.

Photo: www.marthastewart.com

This first recipe always make people question my sanity.

The dish is called Indiana Blueberry Pork.  Blueberries, onions, tomato and pork. Huh?

I swear it’s delicious and I have only heard raves about the dish.

I got it from an old issue of Midwest Living and I love that the recipe was taken from the Marshall, Indiana Blueberry Festival.

I loved Amanda Hesser’s, “Cooking for Mr. Latte”.  I was dating and falling in love with Adam around the time the book came out so I related to many of the stories.  One recipe from the book that I go back to over and over is her Green Bean Succotash Recipe.

For summer desserts I am a Strawberry Shortcake gal.  I love it when it is made with a scone like biscuit and globs of fresh whipped cream and berries.

Photo: www.savorynotebook.blogspot.com

I like to send people off with a little gift when I entertain.  An idea I’ve used on a number of occasions is to give each guest a little flower-pot with their name on a place card stuck into the pot with a flower card holder (you can get at your local floral supply company or florist) or plant marker.  An all-purpose item…place card/table decor/and parting gift. And it’s green too.

And if you are a guest at a dinner party, here’s a great hostess gift.  I am stealing this for sure!

Outdoor lantern, cocktail fixings, adorable straw & napkins.

What are your summer entertaining ideas?  Please share!

xoxo Carrie

Top Photo: Peter Dunham/Hollywood At Home

Decorating A Cabin

Photo: www.decorology.blogspot.com

When I married Adam he promised to love me in sickness and in health, etc… the one promise I will not let him forget is that we will one day own a cabin, on a lake, preferably in my favorite state of Wisconsin where I am now.

Photo: My view out the window.

I’m in the North Woods of Wisconsin, in an unincorporated town off of County Road Y. It’s 9:45 and the sun hasn’t set.

The sky is a golden orange.  I’m sipping wine and dreaming of decorating my own cabin one day.

Photo: calfinder.com

Photo: Elle Decor

Photo: www.deptoftheinteriordc.blogspot.com

Photo: slytastic.wordpress.com

Photo: Elle Decor

Photo: House Beautiful

Photo: www.kitchenisms.com

 

www.kitchenisms.com

Photo: Elle Decor

Photo: www.harvestfurniture.blogspot.com

Photo: Sunset On White Fish Lake

So I’ll keep dreaming of my cabin, in the meantime I will enjoy the heaven I am in right now.

xoxo Carrie

Cooking Club

Tonight’s Table

Way back when I was single, had roommates, and worked as a talent agent I decided to start a cooking club with my friend Cornelia. I remember we were sitting in a now defunct restaurant in Hollywood drinking wine, out much later than we should have been on a work night.  Besides having the prerequisite single girls conversation; fashion, boys and work, we found we both had a yearning to become better cooks and entertainers.  We already entertained quite a bit but we wanted to learn more, to master things we were afraid of (for me it was bread dough) and to also create an opportunity to carve out some quality time with good girl friends who were of like mind and wanted to learn some things in the kitchen. And so the Cooking Club was born.

I hosted the first cooking club in my tiny apartment kitchen that I shared with my dear friend Interior Designer Mary Luby and Yoga Booty Ballet Creator Gillian Martloth. I prepared cornish game hens and a wild rice dish.  It was all about quick, simple, sure to wow recipes. We drank too much and though the food was delicious, the evening was more like me conducting a cooking lesson on the Foodnetwork. We have learned a lot in the 10 years the Cooking Club has been in existence and now our get togethers are collborative and themed based.

Sally’s Spread for Spanish Cooking Club

(she had the items sent from Spain)

Alix working on her Biscotti for Italian Night

Stacy and Vanessa cooking up Garlic Flavored Oil for Broccolini

Toppings and Fresh Pizza Dough for our Pizza Night

Lettuce Wraps

Jessica and Clarke Sporting Bindi’s for Indian Night

Indian Night Table @ Alix’s House

Celebrating Lulu’s Book “Lulu Powers, Food to Flowers” with a Table Scape Using Some of her Tips

Our group now consists of some professionals in the food biz which has put the cooking on a much higher level.  We “tease” when someone hasn’t put much time into a dish or if they make the same thing numerous times, but we are all quite serious about our cooking.  Most of us have had a big flop (except the fabulous Caterer Lulu Powers) and great successess.  We have bumped it up even more now by taking special care in our tablescapes.

Lulu’s Summer Table

Clarke’s Favorite Things Dinner

Malibu Beach Food @ Sally’s

The members have changed through the years, but we now have a core group that has been going strong for years. There are some ladies I only see when we get together, others that I see more often, but I adore each and every member and learn so much (not just in cooking but in life). There have been weddings, babies, divorces, job losses, and career changes.  We have lost parents and pets. Members have moved away.  We have even been in national magazines and on television. But the desire to learn, cook, to be wonderful hosts and entertainers is still what drives us all.

Some of the other Cooking Club members have blogs you should check out!

Sally Horchow “Very Good Looking”

Lulu Powers    “Living La Lulu”

Heather Fogarty  “The Foodinista”

I am hosting tonight, so off to go do a little prep.

Happy Cooking Everyone!

xoxo Carrie

Pretty Pitchers

I am a collector.

Fornasetti, McCoy Pottery, Shoes, Cloisonne

and Pitchers.

I can’t seem to get enough.

 I love them and have them stored and also displayed throughout my house.

I love pitchers over flowing with flowers.

I love this table scape.

Photo: www.ornari.com

I think this is my favorite pitcher of all time.

I bought it at a great antique store in Bloomington, Illinois and hand carried it back to Los Angeles.  It has found a forever home with me.

I also love Mexican Handcrafted Pitchers.

Beautiful craftsmanship and beyond gorgeous.

I am coveting this pitcher by Salvador Teran

I need to start saving!

Photo: Vintage & Modern

Photo: johnsmitchell.photoshelter.com

I have wanted these pitchers ever since spying one at my friend Alexis’s house.

The lapis parrots are to die for.

Yet another Mexican Pitcher I am eyeing.

Photo:  www.decorativeobjects.oneofakindantiques.com

My collecting began over 20 years ago when I bought the all familiar Italian Rooster Pitcher.

The famous Italian Ceramic Italian Rooster Pitcher symbolizes “Good Fortune” and/or “Good Luck” and is believed to protect one from dangers.   It is an Italian tradition to give a ceramic Italian rooster pitcher to a friend or relative, ideally as a housewarming or wedding gift.

Photo: Anthropologie

Anthropologie always has a selection of great pitchers.

 I always wait for their sales and have managed to score some at great prices.

Photo: Crate & Barrel

The Crate & Barrel Ona Pitcher is staple in a lot of homes.  It’s modern lines makes it the perfect dinner party water pitcher.

I have four at home.  When I am hosting a large dinner I can put one on every table.  And the $26 price point makes it not only good-looking but affordable.

Whether the pitcher is useful, pretty,necessary, extravagant, or practical, I will always have room for another.

What do you collect? Do tell.

xoxo Carrie