Breaking With Tradition

Christmas tree Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires

 I think it would be safe to say I’m not that big on change, especially at this time of year.  Our family always follows the same tradition for Christmas. Big, bushy tree, same decades-old ornaments, freshly sliced & dried oranges hanging amidst flickering candle light bulbs and that Angel with Attitude who unfailingly gives me grief with her wonky ways atop the tree (I swear she’s a midnight drinker) We’re blessed to live in a home that lends itself to traditional east coast Christmas decor, despite living in Southern California so it’s something I’ve really come to enjoy. Occasionally my husband or sons request brightly coloured lights (and believe me, in my weaker moments the temptation to string lights that don’t need to be attached individually, burn out every few days or point straight up is tempting) but I just…could…never…do it.

Until this year.

metal and glass Christmas tree

This year was a Big One for my husband and so guess what-

I let him choose what he wanted for Christmas.

I know. What a wife. Speaking of angels :-)

So, here we are in South America!

Patagonia, to be precise.

(The silver, glass & marble tree is in the Park Hyatt Hotel in Buenos Aires but more on B.A. in another post)

Now a family excursion to Patagonia must be organized and booked a long time in advance. A year in fact. Believe it or not, in this ever broadening era of globalization, even the last edge of the world before Antarctica is a real hot spot.

Did I ever expect I’d be having shoulder surgery 2 months prior to our departure? Hell no, but canceling was definitely not an option ( I’d canceled once before…not such an angel, truth be told :-(  I was scared to break with tradition!)

And the fact that I literally couldn’t do any Christmas decorating or entertaining ended up working perfectly (and guilt-free) into our original travel plans. The tipsy angel stayed in the attic, the stair bannisters remained nude as can be and we’ve had a pretty wild adventure here with nary a dried orange slice in sight.


The hotel blackboard posting all the daily activities. Patagonia obviously attracts a very outdoorsy type of clientele.

No jokes, please.

Of course my physical abilities were somewhat more limited than usual, but I could certainly hike…

Enjoy the views, lift a knife & fork and a glass or two.

Vegetarians should now skip the next couple of photos.

lamb roast

Christmas Day Lunch was, again, something completely different for us; lamb roasted at a local working ranch in Chile.


FYI-the wines in Argentina and Chile are DELICIOUS (that’s not my husband beside me, just in case you were wondering)

Patagonia ,

The scenery is utterly breathtaking.

I have so many more things to share with you, but I’m calling it a night here, it’s late (it stays light until almost 11pm!) and the day begins bright and early tomorrow.

glacier, Patagonia

Enjoy these last few days of 2013!!



PS. can anyone tell me if they are seeing unwanted ads, or any ads for that matter at the bottom of my posts? Thanks!

Pre-Summer Rerun


Do not adjust your dial. There is nothing wrong with your screen.

This is indeed a rerun of a June 2011 post. Honestly, pinky swear, I never do this.

OK, maybe I’ve done it just one other time. Hey-It’s no crime. Haven’t we all re-read a good book on occasion?

Or worse, not even realized we’ve read a book until we’re too many pages in to admit it?!

But, here’s the thing; I’m traveling at the moment.

I promise to be back with a new post very shortly.

In the meantime, this should help to prime your Summer juices…


Don’t forget to start your summer inspiration board (this is my beach house one, also from June 2011)

Original post link:



and just to assuage my guilt a wee bit, I’m including my newest Summer cocktail;

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.31.32 PM

It couldn’t possibly be easier, more decadent or delightfully confuse childhood memories with naughty grown up pleasures more!

“The Creamsicle”

1 part Advocaat

2-3 parts 7-up or Sprite

small ice cubes

Fill small(ish) glass tumbler with ice, pour chilled Advocaat over cubes, add 7up & stir lightly.

The drink will froth up beautifully…

along with memories of sticky, sand covered popsicle sticks stuck to beach towels, miniscule bikinis, tan-line comparing and sun burned boys.Who amongst us cannot relate?? :)


Cheers and have a great weekend!!

PS. Instagram photo taken in my “new” old conservatory. Vintage lamp from the Marches aux Puces, Paris. Which, may I add, cost way more to rewire Stateside than the lamp itself.

That calls for a 2nd cocktail in my “Summer Reading” book, don’t you think?

PPS. Header image from my post on the The Maldives in the “Travel” section.


Catching Up


Slim Paley photo


A quick catching-up post

a bit all over the place- like me at the moment.

I had a lovely birthday despite beginning the morning with my bathroom makeup chair rolling out from underneath me and landing on my arse.

Well, that’s not even quite true-

would that I had had that much padding

it was actually my tailbone that took the  direct hit.

Believe me, the irony of my “Vanity” chair being the culprit of such a mortifying pratfall is not lost on me :(

Luckily, I don’t think anything was really damaged, except my pride…

though I’m still nursing a very tender lower back

and feeling somewhat sheepish that my birthday resolution to go running again was dashed.

Even yoga was out.

Which was not a good thing considering

There were more than a few caloric falls from grace this week…


starting, but not ending, with champagne before 12pm ( it was 5pm somewhere)

two chocolate cakes

(yes, one was the Costco Cake I believe we’ve discussed with due reverence before)



and fresh truffles for breakfast.


Many, many thanks for all your sweet wishes & funny comments on my birthday post.

As I said, each & every one, a lovely present.



In other ‘catching up’ news…

After a brief hiatus from coconut oil “pulling” due to travel constraints, I’m back in the routine and feeling pretty good about that.

The bad news is I’ve managed to find probably the only naughty coconut product out there …



Expresso made with coconut water.


Who thinks these things up and why are they out to get me??


Meanwhile, long time reader and faithful commenter  “Marsha C”

was so inspired by my colourist’s assistant’s two-toned, bedazzled, bedecked & bejewelled  manicure from the

“City of Brights” post




that she went out and got one herself.

No moss growing on Marsha!! :)..


Meanwhile, I haven’t had a manicure since  Lincoln was assassinated .


Lastly, in literary news…

My Monty Don book arrived yesterday



Love him.


A good friend tells me she found “Gone Girl” impossible to put down, so I’ve downloaded it onto my iPad



and another trusted pal tells me I must watch “Homeland” and catch up before the new season starts later this month.

Are you a fan??


Lastly, the postman also delivered my issue of Canadian “House & Home” which looks full of juicy fresh Fall inspiration


Slim Paley photo

but  as the hot, summery weather in Santa Barbara continues to hold steady

Except the day of my birthday when it rained!

(Though I’m not complaining, we needed it)

I’m still finding it awfully hard to hit my Fall stride-


Not to mention cracking the bedside behemoth that is

the September issue of Vogue.



Slim Paley Instagram



go there…



Hope YOU had a great weekend!




Coconut Fever


king coconuts, Sri Lanka

King coconuts for sale, Train station, Sri Lanka



coconut treeMuller von Ruffach, 1861



I‘m coocoo for coconuts right now.

Just can’t seem to get enough of this wonderful fruit!

 I started drinking coconut water a few years back, then cooking with it a year or so ago,

as well as using it on my skin and hair.

More recently, I’ve been practicing the Ayurvedic treatment

of “Oil Pulling”



A list of only some of the supposed benefits of Oil Pulling

-Whiter teeth and healthier gums

-decreased allergy symptoms

-Improved sleep and better energy

-clearer skin

-clearing of sinuses

-diminishing of headaches


Pulling should be practiced every morning, when you first get up and on an empty stomach. Use 1 tablespoon of oil. Sesame oil is most commonly used in traditional ayurvedic pulling  but you may also use vegetable or coconut oil.

 I heat it in a tiny cup in the microwave for 20 seconds to melt and bring to a warm temperature that I find most pleasant.

 Swish the oil around your mouth for a minimum of 5 minutes, max. 30! ( I’m doing about 7)

make sure you push the oil through your teeth, under the tongue, etc. but

 do not swallow any of the oil (it is filling with bacteria :( )

Spit out after time is up and brush your teeth. Simple dimple.

The coconut oil leaves such a pleasant taste in your mouth (as well as moisturising your lips) that I honestly don’t even want to brush right away. I’d rather have my morning cuppa tea first, but that’s just me.

Truthfully, I haven’t noticed any changes in my skin or energy levels yet, but it’s only been just over two weeks and I’m giving it at least a  month. I actually sort of look forward to my little morning ritual and what could it hurt?


Slim Paley photo



fresh king coconut water

Sharing fresh King coconut water creatures with friends in Sri Lanka


cultured almond milkSlim Paley photo..

Coconut flavoured Cultured Almond milk is not bad at all.

With some chopped tropical fruit and a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes, I could easily have this for breakfast twice a week.



palm trees, Sri Lanka


SO Delicious coconut milkSlim Paley photo

Also happy to find this coconut chia & flax seed oil to add to smoothies and why not try coconut milk instead of dairy for awhile?

I like it just as much as almond milk with my granola-

not sure which is healthier, but variety is the spice of life!

(yes, that’s what constitutes ‘variety’ for me now. cue violin)



fresh King coconut water



ONE coconut waterSlim Paley photo

I have a standing order with Amazon for O.N.E. coconut water to be delivered every month

but have you tried fresh “Baby coconut” water? It’s sooo good-much sweeter than “O.N.E.”



.coconut tree drawing



Kara coconut cream

Coconut cream for desserts, creamy curries, and of course… cocktails :)

Another great idea I read about but haven’t tried yet is making ‘whipped coconut cream’ instead of traditional dairy whipped cream.

Simply put a can of coconut milk in the fridge for a couple of hours, skim the thickened part from the top of the can, and whip.

see full instructions here;

Whip that Coconut!


bar, Amanwella hotel, Sri Lanka

The Amanwella hotel bar, Sri Lanka


king coconuts



We’ve been looking for Haagen Dazs Coconut and Pineapple ice-cream, but so far no luck :(



Are you of the coconut body??

It seems to be one of those flavours that people either love or hate.


coconut cake

But seriously, WHO can resist a divine Coconut Cream cake?!

oh wait…

we were talking about being healthy and Ayurvedic medicine, why did you lead me astray like that?!