December 17, 2017

weekend wrap up

It’s Sunday morning and while I’m here dreaming of a white Christmas, we’ve got cold and blustery Santa Ana winds blowing again today, with not a snowflake in sight. 

Everyone in our community and in all of California is praying and hoping for better weather conditions for those affected by the California wildfires, which are burning terribly in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.    

Right now, my favorite Christmas movie, Christmas in Connecticut, is playing on TCM right now, and I have it on in the background. The farmhouse pictured above reminds me of the idyllic home described in the movie. 

And here’s a lovely shot of two homes from my husband’s hometown of Geneva, Illinois, taken just this weekend. The one in the foreground belonged to the Bogash family and the one behind it is my husband’s childhood home. 

All this talk of nostalgia, really makes me appreciate all our pretty vintage ornaments that were handed down from our parents and grandparents. Do you have ornaments that remind you of your family?

The holidays are also a fun time to honor family recipes. I think it’s fun to go through old cookbooks and make holiday treats like our grandmothers did. I have a tattered little notebook from Woolworth’s filled with recipes that belonged to my husband’s great grandmother.

The handwriting is a killer, but I finally figured out the little quirks in her cursive, like not crossing her T's but kind of accenting them instead?!?

It’s interesting to see how that generation ate. No fresh herbs are included in any of the recipe I found in the book, lol. This weekend I tried her recipe for pralines, which I’ll share soon. After a little trial and error, I think I figured out how to make them the right way, since the directions were not detailed at all!

Yesterday was a busy day for me in the kitchen. In addition to making the pralines, I also made Spiced Pecans for gift giving, this week’s recipe of Chutney from Kate Middleton (so yummy!), and Pignoli Cookies that I remember from my childhood. If you’re Italian, chances are you’ve enjoyed these too!

Every time I want to make Pignoli (Pine Nut) Cookies I never have almond paste, which is essential for these cookies.  Well, we found almond paste at Ralph’s, and the cookies came together easily in the food processor. They come out soft and chewy kind of like a macaroon. 

BTW, we served the chutney over cream cheese, with manchego cheese and crackers at a gathering this weekend, and it was a hit! I'll share my recipe for Pigoli later in the week, in addition to a few other yummy cookie recipes.

I’m loving my collection of little scrabble tiles. They’re perfect for spelling out names or holiday greetings!

How about a holiday greeting from Dorinda and Ramona from the Real Housewives of New York City? Here they are sharing their Manhattan apartment Christmas trees.

I’m soooo excited that as we speak, they’re at Dorinda’s house in the Berkshires for their annual Christmas gathering. 

Here’s Ramona with the fabulous Berkshires tree in Dorinda’s beautiful blue living room. Could it be a 1920's themed party that they're having for Dorinda's birthday? 

It looks that way! Oh, how I love a good theme party!

I’m also excited for the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to start on Tuesday night. Even though Kyle has recently moved, we probably won’t be seeing her fabulous new home this season. Here’s a little peek at the beauty form Kyle’s Instagram...

I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday,
and are ready to head into this final week before

ciao! fabiana

photos: 1. Country Living  3. Southern Living
Housewives photos: instagram

December 15, 2017

a small gift fit for the queen

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, and 
her grandmother Valerie Glassborow Middleton

The Middleton sisters have an “oh so very English” family recipe for their granny’s chutney that they love to share with the public and with the Queen! At Kate's first Christmas with the royal family, she gifted a jar of this special chutney to the Queen. I was slightly worried about it, but I noticed the next day that it was on the table,” she stated. 

Sister Pippa has featured the heirloom recipe in her party book entitled CelebrationsIt sounds quite yummy and can be best served with cheese and crackers. When I first read the recipe, I literally thought that it called for bone marrow, but soon found out that marrow is actually the British term for zucchini!

I've translated the recipe from grams and liters to American measurements, so here's an easier version of the recipe for us. I plan on making it this weekend, just for fun! 

Ingredients (Makes 8 jars)

4 lbs. marrows/zucchini, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small chunks
4 medium onions, peeled and chopped into small chunks
3 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
½ lb sultanas or raisins
½ lb pitted dates, roughly chopped
4 Tbsp malt vinegar
4 cups soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices, secured in a piece of muslin

Put the chopped zucchini/marrow, onions and apples into a large preserving pan, add the rest of the ingredients and the bag of spices and stir together, then place over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer gently from 1½-2 hours or until well blended and thick.

Take the pan off the heat, cool and remove the muslin, squeezing the liquid form from the bag. Spoon it into sterilized jars with vinegar-proof lids, filling them to within 1cm of the top. Ensure the rims are clean, screw on the sterilized lids and store in a cool place for up to 12 months. Once open, store in the fridge and use within 1 month.

What do you give the woman who has everything? Well, Kate made the right decision giving the Queen this special treat. "I thought back to what I would give my own grandparents," said Kate. "And I thought, 'I'll make her something,' which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny's recipe of chutney." Sounds like a fabulous idea, Kate!

ciao! fabiana

Available on Amazon

December 14, 2017

shelf that idea

I’m fanning out on Reese Witherspoon's new Hello Sunshine office décor in Santa Monica. The wall of bookshelves with café-like seating is everything! 

And I love how the books and accessories are arranged by color. It absolutely plays into my slight OCD issues with organization.

And I’m sharing a few more of my favorite bookshelf and seating combos... always a cozy situation!

By the way here’s the description of Reese’s latest business venture:  “Hello Sunshine: Honest. Funny. Positive. Founded by Reese Witherspoon, Hello Sunshine is a media company creating & curating content celebrating female storytelling.

ciao! fabiana

photo credit:
1 2 Domino
3 Hudson Interior Designs
7 Pinterest

December 13, 2017


Today was another big cookie baking day!

I just wanted to stop by real quick and 
share my two latest recipes with you all...

and I must apologize in advance if this has been 
too much of a cookie-filled month.

What are your favorite Christmas cookies to make?

I always make the traditional vanilla spritz cookies, but today I ventured out and tried a batch made with fresh orange zest instead of vanilla. The taste was delicate slightly citrusy, and really yummy!   

Orange Zest Spritz Cookies
Makes about 96 cookies

3 Sticks Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the salt and orange zest. Gradually add the flour, one cup at a time. Beat until well incorporated. Fill the cookie press and form cookies onto an ungreased and cool cookie sheet. Bake the spritz for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on the edges.

Then comes the fun part, decorating with sprinkles, colored sugars or icing!  

And then I found a recipe for gingerbread spritz… My version features freshly grated nutmeg and ginger. 

I always have both of those ingredients ready to go in a little bowl next to my stove, and I use them both quite often in savory dishes as well as sweet ones like Irish oatmeal.

I also love a little nutmeg grated in the my empanada filling and fresh ginger usually gets grated into most of my rice and soup dishes. 

Here are the gingerbread little darlings after they were dusted with a little powdered sugar.

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies
Makes about 48 cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, molasses and vanilla until well blended. Set aside. In another bowl, stir together flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Stir into creamed mixture until well mixed.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for ½ hour. Place ¼ of dough in a cookie press and press out cookies onto ungreased shiny silver baking sheet and make sure it’s cool for each pressing. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until set, but not brown. Cool for 2 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool. If desired, decorate with powdered sugar.

Check them all out in the first photo

(The fleur de lys is one of my faves!)

Hope to see you tomorrow!

ciao! fabiana

December 12, 2017

zinqué cafe and lido marina village

There are so many fun new places to check out at Lido Marina Village here in Newport Beach, so this morning my friend Nancy and I stopped headed over to Zinqué for her special birthday breakfast. 

Zinqué has the most amazing spot right on the little boardwalk and facing the water with views of the boats and sweeping hills of Newport, behind Pacific Coast Highway.

The view from our table this morning… you can’t get any better than this for a five minute drive on this slightly chilly December morning!

And inside, they had this cozy fire burning.

After breakfast, we headed over to one of my all-time favorite shops, Serena and Lily, which Nancy had never been to before. That store is so light and airy and the coastal-inspired décor is out of this world! I literally want one of everything!

The Lido Drug Store has been around since the 1960’s and offers a small town shopping experience with beautiful gifts and holiday décor.

They have several pretty Christmas trees set up in the three levels of their store. Look at this fun beachy tablescape they have set up.

Lido Marina Village is small but a lot of fun to visit, especially while having a little coffee or lunch on the waterfront.

ciao! fabiana

December 11, 2017

a rose gold christmas tablescape

Do you ever get inspired by a little something that just catches your eye? When this rose gold glitter table runner got my attention, I knew I wanted to base my whole  Christmas tablescape around this fun piece. 

I don’t know what it is about me pretty shiny objects… I’m a pretty focused person normally, but when a little sparkle catches my eye, I drop everything and just go all in!  Especially at Christmastime.

These sweet vintage-inspired Santa ornaments were the perfect little whimsical touch that my table needed and I love that they come in three different pastel metallic shades, silver, rose gold and a soft verdigris.

The juxtaposition of the sparkling glitter works perfectly with the natural wood tones of the charger plates and the flatware. The wood texture naturally grounds the table and makes it less formal and more fun! 

This copper lantern set adds a little bit of old-fashioned charm to the table. I found that copper and rose gold work perfectly together and a little silver compliments the other metallic tones. Then to tie everything together, I chose  one single variety of evergreen to keep things simplified.

These little Santas have the cutest expressions! 

Just the right amount of color and vintage style was added to the table with these Snowy Trees napkins from World Market. I love how they look with the simple wood handled flatware, also from World Market.  

Oriental Trading has these beautiful snowy large sisal trees this year, so I ordered them right away, without hesitation! You can’t have too many bottle brush trees, and these are a really nice size. The color goes amazingly well with all my holiday decor!

I also found this pretty little set of pierced rose gold votive candle holders at Oriental Trading. These sparkle on the table and look gorgeous with the rose gold table runner.

I’m really happy with how this whole look came together.

Simple, fun and little glamorous!

Now I just have to concentrate of finishing my shopping and planning my Christmas menu. What do you traditionally have for Christmas dinner? This year I’m thinking of either making paella or a nice shepherd’s pie for Christmas eve.

We usually have our big meal on Christmas eve, and then we plan on ordering Chinese food on Christmas day. We did that last year and it worked out great! It was a Christmas gift to me not to have to cook another dinner, just like in the movie “A Christmas Story”.

I can’t believe Christmas is next week!

How’s your holiday prep going? 

ciao! fabiana

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