Sassy Red Bookcase Makeover

As much as I am in love with my shades of turquoise and chartreuse, my love for burgundy will never fade.  Although it does when I try to put it on my hair.

Recently I re-organized the entryway and ended up with a plain little bookcase with nowhere to go, so I decided to glam ‘er up and give her a place to live next to my desk.

First I gave it a coat of primer, then two coats of Krylon’s Burgundy – geek moment: I was so giddy when I realized I used up the last of both that can of primer and the burgundy shade –  am I the only one who loves finishing up cans of spray paint, because it means I can get more? – and finally, a coat of Rustoleum lacquer.


After waiting impatiently for it to fully dry, I started filling it up with items that I wanted near me, that had no place on my desk, and that made me happy.

Et voila!

I am super happy with the result, it adds a lovely pop of color against the white walls of the office, and it has many items that make me smile.


I just received this beautiful mug for mother’s day, from my dear friend D, and believe me, it’s already getting some use. Seeing it there when I first go to my desk reminds me to just take a moment for myself before the craziness of the day begins. The green oval box hides some Splenda packets, and the Paris-papered oatmeal canister holds whatever current magazines I have.


The adorable mini chest of drawers was a gift from my dear friend A long, long ago, and the picture frames were gifts from my mom. The photo on the left is of us holding our month-old oldest, and the one on the right is our youngest’s hospital picture. I don’t think it looks anything like him but yes, I know it’s him because they took the pics in my hospital room ;D


The bottom shelf has a tray I decoupaged with more Paris-themed paper, one of my favorite votive holders (from the dollar bins at Michaels!), a little tray I made inspired by an item at Paper Source, my current inspiration books, and the most sought-after treasure in our household: PENS!!! I swear, I can’t keep them on my desk anymore because they get taken at an alarming rate 😀 so now they are sort of, maybe, semi-hidden. Who am I kidding, by the time this post is published there won’t be any pens left!

So that’s it, my latest re-vamp – I took this bookcase from drab to fab and didn’t spend a cent. But now, I must spend a penny, if you know what that means.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wedding guests

Our dear friends J&M were married on April 7th and we were thrilled to witness their two lives becoming one. I call J my husband’s “boyfriend” and M and I kid about their “man dates”, and M has become a dear friend, I must admit I teared up during the ceremony.

The venue was the gorgeous Mission Ranch in Carmel — owned by Clint Eastwood — and the weather could not have been more perfect. Sunny but not oppressively hot, with a nice breeze to keep everyone comfortable.


Some wedding guests were uninvited, but very charming:

The rehearsal dinner was held at a local Italian restaurant — the food was amazing and my tiramisu was divine!

The wedding and reception were wonderful – I don’t like to “scoop” the bride and groom’s photos so I will wait for them to share their professional photos and/or the ones I took and shared with them, and then I’ll share them with y’all. My husband was a groomsman so I hung out with the men throughout the wedding day, even documenting the moment when the sandwich shop where they were going to get lunch at was closed, and we had to head to Safeway instead. It was a sight, 4 guys in tuxes and me taking pics like a paparazzo ;D

Hope this Monday is a beautiful start to your week!

A Peruvian St. Patrick’s Day

I know, weird, right? But let me tell you how it happened.

Recently, I saw on Facebook that my brother was a fan of a Peruvian food truck called Sanguchon. The main locations are up in San Francisco, but, much to my delight, I saw that they were also in various places around the bay area. My husband, his parents and our oldest had business to attend to on Saturday – they would be gone the whole morning and part of the afternoon, so I decided to take my youngest to try a bit of Peruvian food. Our good friends J&M were free for lunch and live super close to where the food trucks would be, so we met up there.


The menu looked pretty good, many Peruvian dishes made into sandwiches or wraps, and lovely side dishes, dessert and drinks were also available.



The first offering on the picture above is Pan con Chicharron – a sandwich that includes the ingredients for the traditional weekend breakfast in Peru. The bread was crunchy but not hard, made specially for Sanguchon, and the meat inside was flavorful and moist. At home we would serve this on a plate instead of as a sandwich, the meat alongside the fried yams, with some red onion and spicy yellow pepper sauce. I was happy that the flavors worked all together in the sandwich, and my friends seemed to enjoy theirs as well.


My friend M holding up her Pan con Chicharron. Yum!

The next picture is of Lomo Saltado, which, again, we serve as a meal, but next time I would love to try it as a sandwich. It’s stir-fried pork or beef with fries, tomatoes and onions. My husband learned to make this for me 😀

Next are Yuca Fries, which, I will be totally honest, are not my thing. I find Yuca to be too dry and am happier with sweet potatoes or yams as a side dish.

Inca Kola is the national soda of Peru – back there we love to drink it with anything, but for some reason it really seems to work with Chinese/Peruvian food. Every Chifa (Chinese restaurant in Peru) says that their food goes great with some Inca Kola, and it’s true. It’s very sweet and crisp and I love it. They now sell it at my local Target (???) and I do my best to avoid it because there is no Diet Inca Kola.

The last item in the picture is Chicha Morada. Peru has many varieties of corn, including a purple corn that we use to make this sweet drink and a sweet pudding called Mazamorra. My dear friend K loves Mazamorra and calls it “purple stuff” ;D I’ve discovered that Whole Foods carries Purple Corn flour from Peru so I’m going to try and make some Mazamorra.

Our favorite part of lunch, however, were the Alfajores:

I love alfajores. Alfajores are so bad for me, because I can’t eat just one. My little man was chowing down on these and kept asking for more. Shortbread cookies with dulce de leche (or manjarblanco, as we call it in Peru) in between, dusted with powdered sugar. So good. These were excellent. The cookies were very tender and the filling just right.


A good friend of my family has a killer Alfajor recipe, and now I need to get it from her because I didn’t realize how much I had missed them! Who knew a dessert of Arabic origins, brought from Spain to South America, would become such an integral part of our cuisine?

And what on earth does Sanguchon mean? Well, in Spanish, the word “sandwich” became “sanguche” (SAN-goo-che) and a Sanguchon means a big sandwich. I ate only half of mine and saved the rest for later. It was a nice surprise to find Peruvian food and be able to share it with our friends. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, check out Sanguchon’s schedule to see if there a food truck near you!

Oh, and if you’re going to try the alfajores, please don’t wear black pants like I did – the powdered sugar went everywhere! ;D

Our New Year’s Day Brunch

The sixth (out of six) event we hosted this holiday season was a brunch to celebrate the first day of the new year.

We made it a potluck, with us providing pancakes and waffles, coffee and tea, and people bringing whatever else they felt like enjoying. We had a great turnout and many delicious goodies.

The living room mantel had been de-holiday-ed and has a pared down appearance:

Our brunch set up included this fun printable from eighteen25:

Hutches ready with drinks and platters for yummy goodies:

Glitter is always appropriate:

The food people brought was amazing:

The sausage on the top left plate was delicious. Oh, there’s none left. Yeah, it was epic, and it was gone the moment I would bring more out. Our friend J made it himself and I tell you, I usually HATE breakfast sausage, but this was fabulous.

My mother-in-law brought fresh fruit, which was the healthiest thing we had all day:

Auntie L brought this amazing gorilla bread:

Picture us diving in like raging beasts and pulling back with our pieces, leaving only a few nuts and crumbs on the plate.
She also brought yummy muffins and pumpkin bread. Oh man, inviting Auntie L is a dangerous thing, she is a fantastic baker.

We provided pancakes and waffles, and our friends S&C lent us their Mickey Mouse waffle maker:

Our friend K and her family brought bacon and ingredients for a yummy hash. Then she told me to leave my kitchen:

See that huge knife she has?

Yeah, I left.

But then she brought this out so I figured I’d been made to leave my kitchen for a good reason:

Our friends J&M brought eggs, freshly made whipped cream, and a yummy berry compote. Our other friend S was seen scooping up a huge spoonful of whipped cream and dumping it in her coffee. We all just smiled and nodded. S brought us homemade mulled wine, which we can’t wait to try, and many people brought sparkly wine and OJ for mimosas.

There’s no further pics because I was eating like a pig for the rest of the brunch. That, and making sure K didn’t have a knife in her hand anymore.

My dear friend M and her kids (her son is friends with my oldest) came over, which made for a nice end to our brunch. Then my husband started playing Lonely Island videos on the TV while the kids were playing outside. One little girl made it back inside and her dad promptly took her back outside so her tender ears would not be corrupted by our choice of entertainment.

My boys were still getting Christmas gifts, I swear, we are all severely spoiled. The final brooch on the perfect day we had was my friend M coming back to drop off some homemade posole for my dinner. I tell ya, we have awesome friends.

Delicate ornamentation

My friend K recently gave me these gorgeous little ornaments – aren’t they sweet?


They are laser cut wood and very delicate and pretty. I debated whether to spray paint them but decided to leave them in their beautiful natural state and just added a little rhinestone for bling.


I hung them above the entry from the living room to the kitchen, since the red background would make them pop.


I spent A LOT of time in the kitchen watching dishes so I can just look up and see these beauties.


Some of them twirl back and forth and look so lovely.

Thank you Kat — I love you and my ornaments!!!

Thankful for feasts and festivities

This holiday season we are hosting SIX events at our home. I know, we’re crazy. But I love it. I love going to other people’s houses, too, but then I’m always thinking about the boys. If they’re home I think about what they’re doing or if they’re driving Gran nuts or if they’re eating or or or. If they’re with us, I think about them knocking things over and playing nice with others, etc. At home, they’re in their turf and I can relax more.

The first event was the get-together we had for my 40th. My husband and his parents did 99% of the work so I just enjoyed everyone’s company and the great food. My mom made two flans, those things are so rich and delicious, and were definitely enjoyed. Here’s a funny bit about flan.

The second event will be Thanksgiving. We sort of stole it from my mother-in-law since she got her new dogs. I would walk in her house and within 15 minutes I’d be sucking on my inhaler. I’m not allergic to all dogs but the longer-haired ones do give me trouble.

The third event will be a baby shower. I am so psyched. I am planning lots of sweet things, or rather, “Swede” things, since it will be a Swedish baby 😀 (flag pic from Facebook).

The fourth will be a family dinner. We might have some guests from out-of-state and we had such fun last time they were here that we would love to host something for them. It’s still a maybe so we’ll see. (pic from The Martha)

The fifth will be Christmas breakfast and lunch. Again, stolen from my mother-in-law. The boys open the avalanche of gifts – we really do have generous families and friends – and then they go play with the boxes (ha!) while we eat breakfast with my in-laws. We do a quick dishwasher load and get things ready for lunch, which is when most people show up.(pic from The Martha)

The sixth will be a New Year’s Day brunch. We are not planning on going out this year so we invite friends and family to get over their hangover or to start the New Year with us.(yep, again – pic from The Martha)

So this is our plan so far, lots of friends, lots of family, lots of good food and wine, lots of wonderful memories being made — that’s what holidays are all about for me. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful, and if you do not celebrate, I hope you have a great rest-of-the-week!

Birthday weekend, part 4

After lunch and a nap, we got ready for dinner at Allegria.

Last year, our friends C&D had come to Napa with us and they’d gifted me a bottle of Caymus zinfandel.  I decided to bring the Caymus to my birthday dinner at Allegria and share it with my hubby and our friends J&M.

The wine went perfectly with our entrees and it was a delightful dinner.

Little did I know that our friends C&D would gift me another bottle of Caymus for this birthday – score!  Now I have wine for next year’s birthday dinner ;D

On Sunday, we had breakfast at the hotel and then headed home because we had invited people to celebrate with me – the party started at noon and we got home about 90 minutes before that.  My mother-in-law had watched the boys for us, my father-in-law got the house ready for guests, and both of them along with my husband did all the food.  I am so grateful to them!

I saw something this board on Pinterest and decided to make my own:

The afternoon was wonderful, it was so nice to see so many people from so many facets of my life.  When thinking about what to say if people asked what I wanted for my birthday, I took my inspiration from the book that started my veggie garden adventure – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.  For her 50th birthday, Barbara asks everyone to bring her a plant.  I couldn’t do the same since her birthday was in May, perfect for planting, but mine is in November, and I was guessing many plants would not survive the winter.  So instead, to those who asked, I simply asked for seeds.  Any type of veggie or flower would do.  And oh my goodness, I now have a serious stack of seeds for my 2012 garden!  Plus other, very generous gifts that will all come in handy.

I didn’t want to blow out FORTY candles so my husband, helpfully, decided to get four “decade” candles.

My boys had tons of fun as well since they had lots of friends to play with.

It was such a wonderful end to my birthday weekend, so many wonderful friends and relatives.  Despite all the whining and moaning I’ve done about turning forty, I know am a very lucky girl.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Birthday weekend, part 3

After leaving Castello di Amorosa, we drove to Joseph Phelps for the tasting our friends C&D had set up for us.

Joseph Phelps has not only great wines, but also glorious views from their tasting terrace:

The tasting we had included their Insignia wines:

My favorite was the 2006 Insignia, followed by the 2005 Cab.  I am a Bordeaux girl at heart but love Cabs as well, so this tasting was right up my alley.

Me with our friend M.  Yes, I am a hobbit.  Ironic since she is from New Zealand 😀

For lunch, M had made reservations at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, a super charming restaurant from the owner of Brassica and Mustards.  I loved that the window boxes surrounding the restaurant were full of vegetables!

I had the Backstreet Burger, my husband and J had the Adult Grilled Cheese, and M had the Duck burger.  Everything was delicious and we headed back to the hotel for a nap.  More about my birthday weekend tomorrow!

Birthday weekend, part 2

My husband had planned a surprise for Saturday morning, my actual birthday.  He and our friends convinced me to get up early and “beat the rush” — I am a morning person and I thought, hey, if you want to get up at 6am too, whatever.  Well, the three of them were in on the secret, which was a balloon ride!

Unfortunately, Calistoga was very foggy that morning so it was canceled.  Boo.  Hiss.  At which point my husband told me of the plans and I was disappointed but not as much as the three of them, who were so excited over the balloon ride.  Oh well.  It was a super sweet plan and someday we’ll go up and see the sights from way up high.

Instead, we ended up going to a winery I’d been wanting to visit for a while.  If you ever get a chance, you should visit Castello di Amorosa.

image above from destination 360.com

Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui, built this castle in the style of a medieval Italian castle, and only produces Italian style wines.  You can read the story here.  It is quite historically accurate – following modern codes and regulations, of course – and it was nice to see details like the one my husband pointed out; a warming fire used to heat the rocks that made up the walls and then that heat would radiate into the rooms, making them cozier.

This place is breathtaking, and to someone who a) likes wine, and b) is a history addict, visiting Castello de Amorosa was a great experience.

My husband at the entrance of the castle.

The banquet room

My husband chose to have the wine & chocolate tasting.  Honestly, this day just kept getting better and better!  Our guide, Alene, was awesome, full of information, engaging, etc.  After the tasting, we headed over to Joseph Phelps because our friends C&D had set up a tasting for us there.

I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow 😀

Thursday Favorite ThingsWeekend Bloggy Reading

Neighbors and classmates!

A few months ago I posted about my friend L. who lives around the corner from our house. We met when my oldest and her daughter were infants, and now, they are in the same class at school!

Here are the kiddos during a playdate, which honestly was more for us moms to drink coffee and chill than for them to do any real playing 😀

Now we see each other every weekday and had a playdate the week before school started:

0816vickyaidan1

Look at those sweet faces! They wouldn’t sit still so I got all blurry pics. Then they got silly and started to make faces ;D

What a trip to see these two grow up. I’m very happy that they’re classmates now and both her mom and I volunteer at the school so we get to hang out then, too.

We were bummed last year because none of my boy’s friends that live close to us were in his school. Now he has a friend he’s known forever.