Green Day

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Ninfa

Slim Paley photo of Ninfa Gardens, Italy

The greenest, clearest stream I’ve ever seen.

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HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY TO EVERYONE!

Being the half-Irish lass that I am, and having been born in Dublin, I simply can’t let the day go by without a nod…

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Herewith, a gathering of some green;

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A bouquet of Helibores atop the old post office cabinet in my kitchen

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So this is kind of funny- the other day I went shopping for bathroom tile…

 

and somehow came home with this

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OMG- don’t you  love when that happens??!

and don’t the pailettes remind you of those little hexagon bathroom floor tiles just a little?

So like, I was kind of successful :)

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From my kitchen collection of Majolica

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Artichokes from a previous summer

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This is a super inexpensive and easy way to decorate for a garden party (Cost Plus usually has a good selection or you can find vast amounts of paper lanterns on the internet) I pulled these vines out of the garden, but just imagine, for example, bright orange lanterns with fuschia flowers… Or pink ones with chartreuse leaves…the possibilities are endless. Individual flowers can be tucked into clear thread wrapped around the lantern and secured with invisible tape.  SO pretty lit up!

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The early morning dew

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I am LOVING my Euphorbia and it’s growing like gangbusters, but I must say I wouldn’t plant it so close to the front porch again- P.U. not a good smell

(don’t look at that little spot of snail doody. Rude snail).

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More babies from the orchid show on Saturday

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A little posy from the fall garden (roses from Costco)

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How adorable are these little St. Patrick’s sugar cookies? They’re made with edible wafer paper. They look time consuming, but they’re actually incredibly easy.

Not that I’ve made them, but that’s what Marina over on YummyMummy says!

To find the source for the edible paper on Marina’s post just click on her link above.

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All of the flowers in this arrangement came from my garden. Bells of Ireland are so easy to grow

 

 

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via Vogue

Green Irish Tweed by Creed

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Hiking in Montecito

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The sun streaming through the Spanish Moss in my oak tree

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photo via deargluten.com

Have you tried these yet? Honestly, you might think I work for Trader Joe’s because I hawk so many of their items, but these are addictive!  You’ll either love them or won’t like them at all- which is what I thought at first…until a minute or two went by and I ended up eating the entire bag.  At only 60 calories and .99  ya gotta love that!

 

 

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Shamrocky ferns growing in my kitchen window

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I raise a pint of Guinness to everyone!  (I was in New Orleans this time last year- wow- that’s a party!)

I love the Irish & their sense of humour :)

Sending a special shout out to all my Irish kin- Quite a few and far flung they are!

xoxo

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Romance & Roses


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Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but looking outward together in the same direction” Antoine De Saint-Expery

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It’s Smoochie Smoochie Time again…no, Silly, not The Grammys-I’m talking about kissing on the LIPS!

Valentine’s Day Tomorrow!!


What Lips My Lips Have Kissed

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Sigh.


Let’s stroll down a romantic path together, shall we?


What’s your favourite romantic restaurant ? What foods spell ‘Sensuous’ to you?


Your most treasured romantic novel?


Mine is;

“To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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What about a film, flower or song?


Where’s the most romantic place you’ve ever been, or dream of going?!

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Herewith, a few images and some of my picks;

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Oak Alley, Louisiana- that’s Romance for me.





One of my favourite songs about LOVE (And played at our wedding :) )

Let’s Stay Together  


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Romantic Roses in my garden

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Sofia” is a nice, light, inexpensive Rose’ in a very pretty bottle

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“LOVE” by Kilian.

A seductive blend of neroli, orange blossom, jasmine, rose & vanilla

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My friends Dani & Bill Hahn’s magical rose farm in Carpinteria, CA; ROSE STORY FARM

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Rose Story Farm

(spot the kitty- distant kin of our cat :))

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Fun reference book by Diane Ackerman- I love her books

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Beautiful little arrangements for a Father & Daughter event created by TOAST, Santa Barbara

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i love you cards- check out their cute site here

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“The Lover”  A steamy, sensuous feast of a film

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And for sensuous food…pretty much anything that involves white truffles gets a big pungent thumbs up from moi.  Quite honestly- just bury me with a good bottle of fresh white truffle salt (but make sure it’s pure, no “Essence of” stuff- Could there be anything worse than heading off into The Afterlife with an aftertaste? You have to think of these things…)


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Ultra long stemmed red roses from Toast, Santa Barbara

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One of The most Romantic Gardens I’ve ever been to, NINFA, outside of Rome

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Robert Longo Rose Print

Unison Heart ornaments on sale now here

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A single votive illuminates a friend’s fahboolus rose photo printed coffee table

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Dior Couture 2011

How do I count the ways I love  thee, John Galliano??

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Slim Paley “Shake It” photo

photo via Lola’s

A Rose is a Rose (by any other name) Martini

In a shaker filled with ice ..
2 parts Capt Morgan Spiced Rum
2 splashes Rose Le Sirop de Monin
1 part of fresh pear juice
Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled champagne glass. Fill the glass to the top with rose petals .. which are completely edible and quite simply .. gorgeous. enjoy

(Recipe courtesy of Lola’s)

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‘Le Sirop Monin’ mixed with champagne, yesterday afternoon…  For the sake of THE BLOG, People

PS. So I cheated and used a camellia petal because I didn’t have pear juice or roses in bloom right now-  not poisonous, right?

It’s been almost 24 hours now…

So far, I’m feeling OK.

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This Cherry Bomb cupcake from Whodidly Cupcakes, Montecito, CA. made me feel even better :)

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Wishing you a LOVEly Valentine’s Day and if you’re up for a Grammy Good Luck !!


xoxox

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A Birthday Dinner, Part Real, Part Imagined…

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Hydrangea and lavender from the garden in Majolica and a little porcelain “hydrangea” vase  (front right) I found at a flea market.

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Last week, while flipping through one of the many food worshipping magazines I subscribe to, I came across a tantalizing photograph of a fabulous leg of pork, covered in the most gloriously crispy crackling I’ve seen this side of the Old Country.  I immediately decided it was the perfect birthday dinner choice for my newly “American/British/Canadian” father and my aunt, who is visiting us from Australia.  Unfortunately, though I did have time to snap these few photos of the flowers and apple sauce before we sat down for dinner, the pork took a good 45 minutes longer than expected, negating any further photo op’s.  Although the end result was delicious and looked almost as good as the photograph from “Flickr” below, I realized my auntie’s advice was right- one should start with an extremely hot oven first- as high as it will go, to really draw out the moisture.  And you need to salt the *%#@$% out of the crackling. Basically, you can’t over do it because you simply wipe off the excess salt once the pork is cooked and your crackling has reached optimum cracklization.  In my humble opinion, there aren’t too many Sunday dinners more appealing than a really crisp on the outside, moist on the inside leg or shoulder of pork with lashings of crispy crackling.  I adore my flowers and all the delicate gifts the garden proffers, but I’m no shrinking violet (oh wow- did I really just work ‘violet’ into a purple, chartreuse and white post?!) when it comes to being a card-carrying meat lover.  I’ve yet to meet a marrow bone that didn’t have my name on it :)  I know that’s terribly unladylike of me, but there you go.  I’ve added some girlish apres-pork photos to soften the blow.  I ask- Who else gives you Chanel’s latest hot nail polish colour for fall along with tips for perfect crackling??  Enjoy!

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Roast pork with crackling

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Vintage ocean liner stemware,  English Silver apple sauce boat and  votives from Pottery Barn.

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From Simply Recipes

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From My apple tree!

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photo from “Playing with Fire & Water”

I’d like to say I served this asparagus and goat cheese custard to accompany the pork,  but I didn’t.  Does ‘wanting to’ count for anything?

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I almost served this homemade blueberry sorbet too.  But I thought that would be a bit…much

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Picasso Supertunia‘  (via Suzanne Pinckston)

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These are from my friend’s vegetable garden in England.  She planted them with electric orange poppies- so fabulous!

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MAC 2010  “VERY VIOLET” eye shadow


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When I grow up I’m writing down every credit. In the meantime…anybody? I totally need this skirt for fall.

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Daria Werbowy

Come to think of it, I almost looked like this at dinner too.  But then I thought…that would really be a bit much

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Bodum carafe.  Do you ever get stuff from Bodum? It’s great- and they have a sale on now.

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Greece

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Fortnum & Mason Biscuits

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Eugene Reconneaus

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GROHE Showerhead (comes in multiple colours)

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Iris in Ojai

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Something you don’t see in Ojai

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Something I wish I’d see, on my arm

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Clematis (?) growing in the ruins of Ninfa Gardens, Italy

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A favourite vintage bag

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Chanel Fall 2010 “Paradoxal

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A place to sit and reflect on a lovely meal :)

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From my garden

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And OK,  Gaj- You’ve got me going now- I predict shades of lavender, violet, plum, and dare I say, PURPLE are going to be very hot/cool for this Fall, both in fashion and interiors…

What does everyone else think?!

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“Ninfa” Stealer of Hearts

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Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley photo

A garden in Italy has stolen my heart.

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Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley Photo


I’m embarrassed to admit that just 45 miles southeast of Rome lies one of the most charming gardens in the world, and yet I’d never even heard of “Ninfa“.  Set amidst the ruins of an eighth century Medieval town and traversed by the sparkling, crystal clear Ninfa river, it stands as a testament to the divine combination of English eccentricity and Italian romance.

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Ninfa gardens, outside Rome

For most of it’s history  the property has belonged to the Roman Caetani family.  The original garden was laid out in the 1920′s but it’s present incarnation was created by the English born Duchess of Sermoneta, her daughter-in-law the Princess Caetani, and the princess’ daughter Donna Leilia who amassed over 10,000 plants from all over the world to thrive in this magical place.

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The name “Ninfa” derives from a little temple built near the stream and dedicated to Nymph goddesses in Roman times.

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Ninfa gardens, Italy

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Gorgeous Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley photo

I’m at a loss for words to convey how crystal clear and enticing the river was…


In fact I’m quite sure I saw Water Babies peeking out from under the bridge.

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The Waterbabies

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Mushrooms and rose petals for the Faeries of Ninfa

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white lilies in Italy

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Ruins, Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley Photo

We had the garden to ourselves with only a fox and a cuckoo to scold us for loitering too long…

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climbing roses

Ciao Bella Ninfa!

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Ninfa is only open to the public on a very limited basis. If you are planning a trip to Italy do call ahead and move heaven and earth to visit this little slice of paradise.

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All photos by Slim Paley

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A million thank you’s to the incredibly talented writer, prolific journalist and gardener extraordinaire Monty Don who shared his knowledge and admiration of Ninfa with us.  I’ve been avidly reading his newest book “The Ivington Diaries” each night before I go to bed and cannot recommend it highly enough.  Based upon 18 years of his garden journals and brimming with beautiful photos all taken by Monty, anyone even remotely enamored of gardens will be utterly charmed by this book. If you’re like me, you’ll be searching Amazon for all his others.

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Available in the U.K. now and in the U.S. in July.

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OTime to sign off- We’re off to The Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow!!