Our Favorite Fourth of July Refresher

Shannon and I love the Fourth of July and will be spending it together, with our families and close friends in Sonoma.  Whenever we do these fun group getaways, the food menu and the cocktail choices are always a huge part of our pre-planning discussion.  Our friends (and Shannon) are AMAZING cooks, so I won't get into the delicious menus that are planned for breakfast, lunch and dinner while we're away..(or maybe I will, but that will be another post)...but I will offer my favorite cocktail for this Holiday: The Watermelon Margarita.

Watermelon Margaritas are the perfect complement to a warm day by the pool, or a backyard BBQ and because they are not "traditional" margaritas, you will surely impress your friends.  There are plenty of recipes out there that require you to "reduce" the juice and carve the fruit...blah, blah, blah....but all of that is too much work for a drink that is so delicious your friends' glasses will go empty at a rapid pace.  So if you don't want sore arms from muddling, follow this simple recipe:

The Ingredients:

For a salted rim, dip the glass in a shallow plate with lime juice and then dip the glass in another shallow plate with salt.

Add ample ice ( I like mine extra cold), and fill the glass about 1/3 with blanco tequila ( I love Clase Azul).

Add the Watermelon Juice (I love the Watermelon Cucumber Cooler from Trader Joe's...low sugar and the cucumber is refreshing), and top with a splash of club soda and a squeeze of lime.

The result is refreshing, delicious and a patriotic take on the classic margarita.


Eating & Drinking in the OC

We spent last weekend in Orange County visiting family and while we were there we tried some new spots, and revisited some of our favorite old spots.  I thought I'd spend some time sharing a few noteworthy places to eat,  drink and shop while visiting the glamorous coastal towns of Newport Beach and Laguna.

On Friday night, we celebrated my sister-in-law's Birthday and we were definitely in the mood for some tasty libations and lively atmosphere.  We started at the Saloon, and it's name most accurately describes it's vibe.  It has been around for decades, has no frills (unless you can call the signs and the spurs on the wall frills), and serves a dangerously delicious drink called a Pino.  You always know the drinks are dangerous when they taste nothing like alcohol and everyone in the bar is ordering one.

We followed up our pre-dinner pit-stop with a communal dining experience at Watermarc.  It is casual with delicious food and great service.  We shared copious amounts of food, with my favorite dishes being their homemade chips and the yellowtail starter.  


Once our bellies were full, we were off to Selanne (a gorgeous new steakhouse) for one more civilized cocktail before the hair went down and the jackets came off at Sandpiper (now known as Dirty Bird).  They were playing live music, and serving stiff cocktails and it was just as fun as I had always remembered when I use to go there in college and in my twenties (it's been around for 70 years).  We danced until the music stopped, piled in an uber  to get home and cried when our children awoke us in the morning after sleeping ONLY 5 hours(:


For shopping one of our favorite places to go is Juxtaposition Home.  It is a spacious and open store filled with beautiful bedding, furnishings and art.  Their collection is excellently curated and their styling is always fresh.  Gorgeous pillows next to vintage textiles paired with earthy objects...if you don't live in Orange County it's the kind of store to make you wish you did. 

Lastly, we hit up Off Saks (in the South Coast Plaza Annex across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue) and it was a total score.  They had rows and rows and rows of designer sunglasses.  Fine jewelry was an ADDITIONAL 50% off the already reduced pricing, and they had denim for days.  I tried to restrain myself, but ended up getting a darling Rachel Zoe tweed dress that was originally $395 for $175, and my sister-in-law got an awesome Helmut Lang blazer, a Vince leather vest and a festive Alice & Olivia party dress.  Like all the "discount" stores, it is probably hit or miss but I highly recommend popping in.  For us, it was a major hit!

Have a great week!

Styling Your Kitchen

Honestly, this blog post is less about "styling" your kitchen as it is about "de-cluttering" your kitchen.  We are all guilty of it...the blender on the counter, along with the coffee maker and the knives...oh, and what about the paper towel roll, and the toaster oven.  Where are we supposed to put those?

Away, is the simple answer.  But we'll give you a few suggestions that might make this task easier.

The Blender:  How often do you use the blender?  Even if it everyday (which it is in our family), the blender is only used in the morning, so it does not need to sit on the counter and take up precious space all the while serving as clutter.  Clean the blender after use, dismantle the few parts and put it away (a deep drawer or pantry will work).  It will take less than 2 minutes and removing the clunky object from view will make a big difference.  

The same goes for the toaster.  Most people only use it in the morning.  It has one plug and can easily be moved underneath where it is typically plugged into a deep pull-out drawer, or a lower cabinet where pots are concealed.  We use our pots and pans as much as our toaster (usually once a day), so why does the toaster get to hang out on top of the counter, while the pots are banished below?  Doesn't seem fair, and doesn't look good either(:

The Knives:  How about a drawer?  I know it seems really convenient to have your knives in a butcher block on your counter but if you have limited space (as we do...these pics are all from our Sonoma Project and unfortunately not from my kitchen), every square inch that is cleared, is space more visually appealing.  My mother-in-law is the first person I had seen who used the drawer approach for knives, and it is fantastic.  She uses a shallow top level drawer and puts only her sharp knives in this drawer (no other utensils, no whisks, no spoons, etc).  Knives, just knives.  It is safe because all of the handles are on the same side and it is as convenient as a butcher block without the visual clutter.

As for styling the kitchen, don't do much.  Less...as in everything less...is so much more.  For your fruit, choose a beautiful bowl...an art piece if you will.  Spend the money to buy a beautiful piece as it will sit on your counter for all to see.  We absolutely love Hudson Grace for a chic vessel and they have stores in San Francisco, Marin Country Mart and Montecito.  Whether wood and rustic or white and ceramic, choose something neutral without a whole lot of color because filling the bowl with fruit, particularly citrus, will provide the desired punch of color.  As for other styling tips, if you are going to host items on your counter, have them be like-minded...meaning: gather all of your wooden utensils and place them in a jar, instead of placing a hodge podge of stainless, ceramic and wood.  The result is a clean, modern and artistic.  

The take-away is that less is always more...unless you are styling your counter with spoons and cutting boards from Hudson Grace.  And in that case, more is more (:

Try these small and easy tricks to see how much brighter, larger and cleaner your most used space will feel.  And the best part....it's free.

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Styling in Sonoma

Shannon and I spent that last few days in beautiful Sonoma preparing for a photo shoot of a recent project. It was an extremely busy and productive 48 hours filled with flower cutting, furniture moving, pillow stuffing and picture hanging.  We were in our sweats and sweating..so when we were finished we decided to get properly dressed and head out for a celebratory lunch!

I am wearing Citizens of Humanity high-waisted flare jeans, a cropped boxy gingham top from Zara (oh, how I wish I could rock it without layering a top underneath...pilates here I come), and Jimmy Choo platform wedges.(similar in link)

We chose to go to The Girl & The Fig for lunch, one of our favorite spots. We ordered "the works" for a starter which consisted of an amazing cheese and charcuterie selection, homemade fig jam, a baguette and in-house spiced nuts.

I selected the soup du jour (potato and onion purée..sounds boring...was anything but) and followed it with a salmon and avocado crostini main course.  Shannon opted for the omelette of the day..... And Adrianna chose (of course) the girl and the fig salad.  We washed it all down with their proprietary label of dry rose of course. There wasn't an ounce of room for dessert, so we headed to a winery instead :)