Happy Summer Solstice!

gingerbread cottage

Summer’s HERE!!

Even though I live in Southern California I still get so excited about its official arrival, don’t you?!

Would that it last as long as it did when we were children. An eternity, it seemed.

Growing up in Vancouver, where it stayed light until almost 10pm at night, we’d ride our bikes to the park to play softball, fluorescent ‘clackers’ spinning on tire spokes, streamers flying from our handle bars until the street lights signaled it was time to go home. Occasionally a friend would show up at our front door on a horse instead of a bike and we’d end up at ‘The Barn’ where I’d marvel (be jealous) at the girls who weren’t afraid of horses the way I was. I wanted my parents to have Avocado Green appliances more than I wanted a horse of my own. I think that was telling sign of what was coming down the pipeline, don’t you?!

 As we got older, we’d walk barefoot to the beach (OK, we often hitchhiked, swear to God, but never at night and never alone. What were we thinking?? It was a different world back then) our leather fringed purses (twice as big as our cut-offs) bulging with “Sun-In”, baby oil, cigarettes, Yardley “Pot-o-Gloss”, hairbrushes, Sweet Tarts and salted sunflower seeds. No sunscreen. No sunglasses. No phones or cameras.

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Like I said, a different world.

It was sweet.

Now that I’m a grown-up (most of the time) I no longer sit in the sun. I really miss it, as well as the tan, but I know it’s not worth it. I certainly don’t wear cut-offs the size of a hang-nail and pay a hell of a lot more  to colour my hair. Friends no longer show up at the door on horseback and I own my own car, so that takes care of the hitch-hiking issue.

But let’s not get all melancholy, there’s still plenty of fun to be had when summer arrives!

fdef4c7fb7a7b254ce428b28072f7ab9image via Pinterest

We’re so blessed here in Santa Barbara, with beautiful beaches and stunning mountains just a mile or so in from the water’s edge.

In less than 1/2 hour we can be over those mountains and into the wine regions of Los Olivos and Santa Ynez.

pink roses on my porch

Roses from my garden sit on the front porch.

My garden brings me pleasure I never would have predicted in my younger years. I wear a big hat, have my favourite wooden handled clippers… I’m half-way to wearing Liberty print gardening gloves truth be told.

My brother even bought me this so I could enjoy my evening glass of wine while I’m gardening (is this a brother gift, or what?!)

gardening glass with lid

In fact, I did a thorough walk around my property the other day and decided to buy myself another little gift to celebrate the first day of Summer;

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For the bigger jobs. and it’s cordless. So exciting! I really wanted the fluorescent green one (like my old clackers) but this one had the best rating.

Yes, times have changed.

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So what are your plans this summer?

ImageAre you looking forward to a long lazy one filled with languorous hours of reading?

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Will you stick close to home, do lots of grilling, making home made ice-creams, sorbets and popsicles with your kids?

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Mango Lassi Popsicle recipe

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Perhaps you’ll be boating like Kate? (you simply must have plenty of black & white in your summer wardrobe-but that’s another post!)

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Take a family holiday to Europe or go water-skiing on a chilly lake?

Lake Muskoka, Ontario

Beautiful Lake Muskoka, Ontario

Shasta trailerTake a road trip  (I saw this beauty in Los Olivos)

38325ab6556782aef43a2e84c94f3341Re-do a guest room in cool tones

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Update your draperies, white wash your kitchen (I’m thinking of it) or have some summer slip-covers made?

Slim Paley's car slipcoversPhoto of my car by David Tsay for House Beautiful

ha ha!  I still have the car, but I’m afraid the chintz slip covers, like my old cut-offs are way past their prime :-)

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 12.49.43 AMphoto Drew Jarrett via Elle Italia

Will you go biking, sailing, play tennis, swim your heart out, or run your first marathon

Or maybe just set a goal to read ten GREAT books?

that sounds wonderful to me!

tumblr_md1kj7Gn4s1rpx9bqo1_500And will you be looking for the “Super Moon” tonight?

(ps. I started this post on Friday night-Summer’s almost over for God’s sake)

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Me, at a friend’s home, taking a photo of a weird ring around the sun in Montecito

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See that’s the wonderful, fabulous, exciting thing about Summer

Your options are as numerous as the stars.

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*Wooden Popsicles by Johnny Hermann

HAPPY SUMMER!!!!

May it be long, fun and memorable in the best possible way.

xoxo

~

*

“Johnny Hermann is the alter-ego of craftsman & designer Mauro Savoldi from Milan. He re-creates the vibrant, colorful magic of summer ices, recalling one of the sweetest and most nostalgic treasures of our past.”

FYI; The original “popsicle” was invented by an 11 year old boy in San Francisco in 1905.

~

Slim Paley Daily #7

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I made it!

Slim Paley Daily #7…where I’ve saved the best for last;

Just a very small sampling of the beauty to behold at “Rose Story Farm” in Carpinteria, California right now!

L1150254This gorgeous, long lasting and, may I add, impressively virile climber is called

“Berries n’ Cream”

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A gentle scent of apple adds to its charm.

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Owners Dani & Dr. Bill Hahn have a passion for the art of growing roses that translates to virtually every corner of the farmL1150265Just put your face in that

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L1150263They even raise plastic cattle.

L1150267Roses simply do NOT get any better than these.

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loving my Instagram pics, even if I do say so myself  :-)

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“Rose Story Farm” ships both bare root bushes and cut roses country wide.

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These are your grandmother’s roses!

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Fall Shui

Slim Paley Fall Mood BoardA post or two back I mentioned I would be returning to the subject of  autumn leaves (don’t worry if you don’t remember, we work as a team here :))

The turning of the leaves, those rusty khakis & golds, spicy pumpkin & fiery blood-red hues are one of the few things I miss about living in colder climes. Here in Santa Barbara we have just a couple of varieties of vines and trees that put on any sort of spectacle-both of which I have planted in my garden. Meanwhile…2 days away from December, I’m still waiting…

Fortunately, we were in Chicago for a week earlier this month and thanks to the  “Chef Who Knows No Bounds” Grant Achatz, we experienced a turning of leaves so inventive even Mother Nature would raise her lichened brow.

Our first stop was a highly anticipated return to “next” to celebrate my husband’s birthday. If you aren’t already familiar with next (opened in 2011), with its fabulous concept of changing “themes” every few months, you simply must put it on your list of things to experience in Chicago. The current theme is “Autumn in Kyoto” with the tradition of “Kaiseki” as its guiding inspiration.

“Autumn in Kyoto: the moon viewing, the changing hue of the maple leaves, the last crickets of summer, wind blowing through the river grass…”

I won’t spoil it by revealing the menu, which is truly half the fun-and yes, this restaurant is about having FUN in and with every sense,  but I’ll share two hastily taken, slightly fuzzy pics (was getting a touch of stink-eye from the Hubs & Older Son)

Next restaurant, ChicagoA glimpse into the level of creativity involved in this dining adventure; Live crickets (for song, not consumption) in a vintage cage perched on leaves in the centre of our table.

The collecting of crickets during the transition of Summer to Autumn is a centuries old Japanese tradition.

Apparently the male crickets do most of the “singing”

Are we surprised??

Next restaurant, Chicago. Slim PaleyA delicate and exquisitely presented dessert called “First Snowfall”

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Previous themes at “next” ;

We also heartily imbibed at Chef Achatz’s ultra cool bar “The Aviary” one night and spent our last evening in Chicago dining at his original restaurant, the amazing “Alinea”.

Yes, it’s true

We are complete Achatz-olytes. If Chef Achatz tells us he’s building a space ship that’s going to a better place, we’re on board. We probably get to eat the ship upon arrival.

Next, Chicago, Slim PaleyWoodcock, lingonberry, shallot, oak leaves at Alinea.

The leaves are set alight as they’re brought to the table so the room is infused with the visceral scent of a campfire.

“Alinea”, currently one of the Top Ten restaurants in the world and “The Aviary” are much too special to squeeze in here, so I’ll save them for another post.

a Fall Table

Earlier in the season, Grant Achatz and Chef Daniel Humm of “Eleven Madison Park” in NY, partook in some unprecedented culinary hijinks by trading restaurants for one week. How cool is that?! Reservations for “Alinea at Eleven Madison Park”  and vice versa, were made via the internet just as they are normally for NEXT and Alinea.

As you’d imagine, a furious Foodie throw-down commenced with tables totally booked in minutes. Luckily our Older Son, whose hummingbird-fast digits have been flitting across a keyboard since he was 4,  managed to secure The Dinner Date of a Lifetime for he and his girlfriend the first night. (That’s my boy :) ) Their iphone photo shows “a bed of leaves on the table which you brushed off onto the ground after a few courses” so by the end of the night the floor of the restaurant was covered in leaves.

I actually covered the entire entry hall and dining room floor of our home with leaves for a Halloween party when the boys were  young and what a gorgeous mess it was! (until the light of day…ouch)

Speaking of gorgeous messes, get a load of this tree and how the leaves have turned such a divine rusty red.

Now guess who the tree belongs to.

Oprah.

She lives here in my town.

Er, I mean I live in her town.

Well, let’s just say we’re neighbours.

Now,

this is MY tree.

It’s the exact same type of tree. On the same side of the street.  

What’s up with that??!

 Do you think Oprah’s tree knows it’s Oprah’s tree and is just being an overachiever? Are Oprah’s people hand-tinting her leaves in the night?

Or is my tree perhaps a female and therefore not a “singer”?

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For information on dining at “Alinea” or “NEXT” visit their Facebook or Twitter pages or click here

And to read my post about our first visit to “NEXT” please click : next:PARIS- 1906

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First image a vignette from my Inspiration board.

Header photo of Kendra Spears via Vogue

A Rainy Saturday Before Thanksgiving

mantlepiece vignette

Fall table setting

Happy Weekend to you!

 It’s been pouring rain here the last couple of days and feeling utterly Autumnal. As I look out my window through the rain I can barely see the tops of the trees shrouded in deep fog. Santa Barbara is doing a great impression of the Pacific Northwest right now I must say.  Although Fall is not my favourite time (sorry but I’m a Summer Gal and get a tad sad cranky when we turn the clocks back) Autumn might be my favourite season in terms of appreciating the coziness of my home. Built well over a hundred years ago, it harkens back to a time when fireplaces were included in many more rooms than we would ever dream of indulging in now. Especially for Southern California.

So I’ve been enjoying the outdoorsy, I might even say ‘East Coast’ scent of burning wood inside and out. The giant oak we lost last year in the huge rain storm is giving us one more gift.

Mirrored wall

I’m all about Fall leaves at the moment, but more on that in an upcoming post.

I’ve already completed a dry run on my Thanksgiving table because I got excited about using deep garnet coloured depression glass plates instead of my usual green and amber theme. Roses didn’t seem appropriate, and though there were bountiful fruits and veggies at the Farmer’s Market this week, flowers are getting scarce. I chose long lasting gerbers in warm colours with a burgundy base and, yes, again with the leaves.

Thanksgiving table

Fresh walnuts from the market, leaves & the last of our apples for the season

Autumn floral displays

As much as I adore doing all the decorating and the table by myself, I’m not that revved up about cooking the entire turkey throw down on Thursday, only to have a repeat performance a scant few weeks hence-so… I asked for suggestions and inspiration over on my FB page and I’m happy to share a few of them here;

-Turkey for Thanksgiving and Prime rib for Christmas (though I’d flip this around as I have a larger group for Christmas than Thanksgiving)

-Chinese food on Christmas Day

-a pot luck dinner with an Indian Feast Theme for either holiday (love this idea)

-Turkey chilli on Thanksgiving which is so easy to make ahead and only improves with age (within reason of course)

-Go vegetarian. In fact, to quote; Go vegetarian every day.   Hmmmmm.

-Apparently Gelson’s does a delicious  full bells & whistles take-out Thanksgiving dinner. Who knew?

-Cornish game hens, red currant glaze, wild rice & mushrooms

-The secret is in the planning

-The secret is in the sharing- Make a timeline; each prep task is written out on a separate card marked with a start time & posted in order on the fridge. Everyone can grab a card and jump in to help. Frankly I can imagine this working much better in some households than others. Just saying.

-The secret is in the drinking. Serve enough fun libations and no one cares about the food.

and finally, this ingenious suggestion

-Go to someone else’s house!

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Fall dinner table

Do you have any suggestions or inspiration you’d like to share??

After all, it is Thanksgiving :)

~

Scorch & Soda

We turn the clocks back tonight (boo hoo!)

You know what that means my friends.

That’s right

It’s Officially Heartier Cocktail Season.

Not since a caramel fell into a bowl of salt have we seen a flavor sensation dominate like the “smoky” cocktail.  I’ve been experimenting here & there while slowly compiling this post over the summer but it wasn’t until I had my very first GIN martini the other night (I know, right? wonders never cease) accompanied by big fat smoked olives that I became a full fledged “Smoker”

OK, I know this photo would have been so much nicer if the glass wasn’t 1/2 empty and I hadn’t taken a big bite of the olive, but I just wasn’t anticipating how damn good it was going to be! (Hendricks gin btw) and you’re probably saying; can this possibly be the same Slim who loves roasted marshmallow martinis? I agree-it’s sheer madness.

Even I didn’t know I was this ambi-drinkerous.

So, at least for the month of November, I’m all about the “the fumes”

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to think of a way to capture smoke within an ice cube. I tried typing “Smoke in ice cubes ” into Google and got nothing but photos of the rapper “Ice Cube” smoking cigars, plus some rather inventive ways of smoking meth.

Do you think I’m going to get meth spam now??  I’m worried :(

Try putting a few of  these in your pipe;

A couple of tasty smokers at Rick Bayles’ “The Frontera Grill” Chicago

Los Angeles: The molecular-minded Bar Centro at the Bazaar by José Andrés.The Drink: Smoke on the Water ($18)What’s in It: Blackberries, atomized Islay Scotch, liquid nitrogen, and a flaming orange peel.

Miami: The new Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. The Drink: Smoked Pear ($8).
What’s in It: Woodford Reserve bourbon, pear liqueur, lemon juice, maple bitters, and smoked-pear purée. 1600 Lenox Ave.; 305/538-5220.

Boston: Clio, home to the city’s most extensive cocktail list. The Drink: The Hunter ($13).
What’s in It : Sage-infused white rum, Willet single-barrel rye, and apple cider, plus a cloud of burned oak and cinnamon. Smoked ice (smoked over liqueur-soaked wood chips) are used in the “Frank-)” cocktail, also at Clio

(info via Nicki Goldstein/Travel & Leisure magazine)

In Yountville, CA, Bottega serves up a smoky trifecta with smoked tequila, smoked jalapeños, rimmed with smoked salt.

“The Smoker’s Delight” at PX in Alexandria, Virginia uses strained water that has been steeped in 3 kinds of tobacco. ( Oh, sorry, but that sounds gross! )

Smoke Signals

Here I’ve found a recipe to “smoke” your own ice at home-but be careful kids!

Line heavy large pot with heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle wood chips over bottom of pot; cover. Turn exhaust fan on high. Heat pot over high heat until smoke begins to form inside pot. Fill 9 x 4 1/2 x 3-inch metal loaf pan with ice. Place in pot; cover tightly. Smoke ice until just melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Cover loaf pan tightly with plastic wrap; freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Using ice pick, cut ice block crosswise into 4 large smoked ice chunks. Wrap tightly in plastic and keep frozen.

Bring 1 cup water and sugar to boil in medium saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pecans; reduce heat to medium and simmer until syrup tastes like pecans, about 12 minutes. Strain; discard pecans. Cover and chill pecan syrup until cold, about 2 hours.

Place 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons pecan syrup in cocktail shaker. Fill with plain ice cubes; cover and shake until cold. Divide mixture between 2 old-fashioned glasses. Repeat with remaining 5 tablespoons whiskey, 3 tablespoons Sherry, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons pecan syrup, and ice. Place 1 smoked ice chunk in each glass and serve.

(via Epicureous)

Mezcal and tobacco-infused syrup flavours the “Oaxacan Fizz” at FATHER’S OFFICE in LA (LOVE that name!)

“Smoke on The Water” at Bar Centro in The Bazaar, LA, literally smokes with a blast of liquid nitrogen and Islay Scotch.

Wouldn’t this make a good Christmas present?

Smoked salt via TheSpiceLab.com

For those smoked olives, you may

1) Marinate your olives for several hours in smoked olive oil

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2) make your own smoked oil by gently heating and infusing olive oil with hickory smoke powder and fresh or dried herbs of your choice, then marinate olives.

3) Thoroughly soak a cedar plank (important), wrap olives in a tinfoil package, making several slits in the top and sides,  place on wet plank, cover and grill (smoking times will vary depending on temperature) You can find several recipes for smoking olives online.

4) or just buy them already smoked.

Lastly, if you’re not already totally smoked out,

An interesting article on smoked cocktails HERE

Thank you for smoking and don’t forget those clocks tonight!!

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(First photo Artist Liza Ryan (2012) any uncredited photos via Tumblr or Google)