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Be Present.

24 Nov


I love Thanksgiving. I might even argue it is my favorite holiday. I love Christmas too but there is something less complicated about Thanksgiving time. With no need for presents, it becomes a holiday based around time being spent together.

It truly combines all my favorite things to do. Celebrate with family and friends, eat a delicious home cooked meal, drink fantastic wine, visit with old friends I haven’t seen since last year at this time, play games, stay up late, not worry about work, the list goes on and on.Lately time seems to be flying by. I find myself grasping and holding onto moments in an attempt to control and slow it down. It has proven to be fruitless and I realize the older you get the faster it goes.

My only recompense is to enjoy each and every day. Be present and thankful even when that seems impossible.

Thanksgiving is a perfect reminder of this. Let’s all take advantage of it.

Below are some beautiful Thanksgiving home accents and table decorations. I hope they will inspire you to enjoy decorating before the guests arrive and then relish the time you spend with whomever is coming over to celebrate.

I am thankful for many things this year and am going to make a list and refocus on what I do have instead of concentrating on what is missing. I suggest you do the same.

Luella says…Make a “Thankful” List and Check it Twice.

 I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is exactly as you wish it to be. It might not be as perfect as the accents above are but that is half the charm.

As Dave Matthews sings, “Eat, Drink and be Merry.” (feel free to insert a lot after any of those) 

Pinot Perfect.

1 Nov

To me, Red Wine is like chocolate. Rich, decadent and addicting. I can’t say I always felt that way. I definitely was and still am a true “white wine girl” but when a certain red is good, it is really good.

Of my two favorite red wine varietals, (Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir), I  choose to feature  some suggestions on finding the perfect Pinot.

According to Sunset magazine, there are 6 ways to tell if a Pinot is truly a Pinot.

1. Light in color – Pinot Noir grapes have less pigment than most other reds, it is normal if it appears a bit translucent.

2. Complex flavors

Smells of: Cloves, Cinnamon, Violets, Mint, Mushrooms

Tastes of: Licorice, Espresso, Chocolate, Pepper & Berries

3. Light weight – Rule of thumb is delicacy over impact and silkiness over tannin.

4. Low Alcohol content – below 14% (lower percentages capture the character best)

5. Cool growing region – Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Northern California’s Anderson Valley, Carneros Region, Sonoma, Santa Maria Valley, Marlborough and South Island New Zealand.

6. Flexible food pairing: (dishes you normally drink white wine with) Scallops, Black Cod, Salmon, Spicy Tuna, Roast Chicken and Camembert & Gruyère cheeses.

Luella says…Red please.

To start, our lovely neighbor Laynie gave us a bottle of Pinot Noir as a wedding gift this past July. She had been at the Saarloos & Sons winery and said it was amazing and that we HAD to go when we had the chance. Here is a little bit of what awaits us…

(click on the bottles and images for Wine & Vineyard Information)

SAARLOOS & SONS “Extended Family” Pinot Noir


Los Olivos, CA

(We have not induldged in this bottle yet as we are saving it for a rainy day celebration but I will let you know when we do.)


Now on to the rest of my choices.


South Island, New Zealand

90 points.

ETUDE Pinot Noir

Carneros Region, (Napa, CA)

92 points.


Wairarapa Region, New Zealand

96 points

FOGDOG Pinot Noir

Sonoma Region CA

92 points

ANNE AMIE Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley, Oregon

92 points

A to Z Pinot Noir

Northwest Region, Oregon

86 points


Marlborough Region, New Zealand

92 points


Carneros Region (Napa, CA)

90 points


Willamette Valley, Oregon

90 points.


Our good friend Mason has an excellent wine blog at

He is a wine aficionado and has excellent choices at affordable prices in all varietals, so check him out!!

Indulge in a glass of wine, no matter what, you deserve it.

Put This On.

22 Oct


I love the word apothecary. It evokes a sense of history, a time when potions and elixirs were made and sold in local Mom and Pop type stores. So many beauty companies we know and love today started with a chemist in the back of one of those. They no longer exist really and now we have so many beauty and skin care choices it is hard to know where to start.

Let’s start with the basics.

I believe hydration is the single most important factor in anti-aging.

Be aware of parabens and plastics that are in many of the products we like to use. Going green in what you are putting on your largest organ (skin) is so important.

Get in the know here: GREEN BEAUTY GUIDE

It doesn’t have to be super fancy or expensive to work. You just need to remain diligent in your application and be wary of too much sun, cigarettes and not drinking enough plain water.

Below are products that have been tried and tested on both my husband and myself long before I  knew I would be discussing it in a blog. They are the best of MANY go rounds. They are easy to find and almost completely Beauty on a Budget.


Luella says…Finally Something to Get Addicted to



For the LADIES

AMORE PACIFIC Moisture Bound Lotion – Lightweight, Brightening, long-lasting.

KORRES Pomegranate Balancing Lotion – From Greece amazingly light and refreshing with a soft skin after finish.

SKINceuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30 – Great base to wear underneath the above mentioned moisturizers. Ultimate sun protection.


SABON NYC A & E Vitamin Mask – Amazing super moisturizing formula. When you take it off, your skin feels like butter.

OLE HENRIKSEN Aloe Vera Cleanser – Great non-dehydrating cleanser. Eco-Friendly, with aloe healing  properties.

MANUKA HONEY Organic Natural Mask – A natural anti-aging remedy. Straight Manuka honey applied directly to your face. Tightening and moisturizing.OLE HENRIKSEN New Beginning Scrub – Gentle scrub with brightening and oxygenating effects.


SABON NYC White Tea Night CreamUnbelievable White Tea scented, soft and rejuvenating nighttime formula.

KORRES Quercetin and Oak Age Reversing Night Cream – A bit thicker and filled with restorative properties.



KIEHL’S Soothing Face Creme for Men – Great every day face lotion.

SABON NYC After Shave Cream – Wonderfully scented, replenishing and rejuvenating.

ANTHONY UV Protection SPF 15 – Important Oil Free SPF base layer.

KIEHL’S Facial Fuel Cleanser – Invigorating day cleanser. Amazing skin pick me up.

ART OF SHAVING Unscented Mini Kit – Perfect for the “old school” shaving enthusiast.

OLE HENRIKSEN Walnut Exfoliating Scrub for Men – Refreshing, cleansing and brightening exfoliator.


BLISS SPA Baggage HandlerWheat based, quick action eye lift and de-puffer.

SKYN Icelandic Relief Eye Cream –Tightening, thick restorative eye cream.


MAMA MIO Boob TubeAmazing chest & neck daily lotion with lift and tightening properties. Truly works!!

MOISTUREL Body CreamBest, cheap overall body cream around.

MAMA MIO Shrink to Fit Cellulite Cream – Cellulite and firming cream. Amazing.


MOROCCAN OIL for Shine and Body – Yummy smelling and silky smooth finish for any hair type. LOVE it.

NECTAR OF THE GODS Detangler – BEST detangler around, period. Little goes a long way.

AVEDA Grooming Clay for Men -Non-Greasy sculpting clay that keeps its shape.


Moisturizer is your friend. Taking care of your skin is the best remedy for feeling good.

You’re only as old as you think you are.

Variations on Beautiful.

19 Oct

What is beautiful? Is it happiness, contentment, vanity, companionship, friendship, love or the sum of all the parts? Everyone defines it differently. Throughout our lives our concept of what is beautiful will change. I look forward to that.

Today is my parent’s wedding anniversary. In 26 years there have been highs and lows but today I would say, they love each other more than ever.

In their honor, I moved up a post I was working on for a later date. What is beautiful?

Real Simple did an article a year or so back on authors describing what makes them feel beautiful. I was so moved by the above submission from acclaimed author Anne Roiphe,  that I tore it out and put it on our vision board next to Marilyn et al.

It is simply profound. Please read for yourself.

“It was mid-December of 2005. I don’t know why he said it. I don’t know if a shadow had fallen across him, something appalling he saw out of the corner of his eye. I don’t know if it was just coincidence or intuition that prompted him, but about a week before my seemingly healthy 82-year-old husband suddenly died, he emerged from the kitchen ready to go to his office, his face clean-shaven, his eyes shining, smiling shyly, holding the copy of the Anthony Trollope book he was rereading, and said to me, “You have made me very happy. You know that you have made me a happy man.” There I stood in my work outfit, blue jeans and a T-shirt. There I stood with my white hair and my wrinkles and the face I was born with, although now much creased by time, and I felt beautiful.
“What?” I said. I wanted him to repeat the words. “You heard me,” he said and put on his coat and drew his earmuffs out of his pocket. “Say it again,” I said. He said it again. “You’ve made me happy.” We had been married 39 years. We had held hands waiting in hospital corridors while a desperately ill child struggled to breathe and thankfully recovered. We had made financial mistakes together. We had spent hours out in fishing boats. We had raised the children and then second-guessed our choices. We had stood shoulder to shoulder at graduations and weddings and we were well-worn, but still I had made him happy, and I was proud and flushed with the warmth of his words.
I know I looked beautiful that morning. Perhaps not to the young man holding his toddler in his arms who rode the elevator with me; perhaps not to the friend I met for lunch, a true believer in Botox; perhaps not to passersby on the street; but I knew it for a certainty. I was beautiful.
I don’t believe that inner beauty is sufficient in this cruel world. That’s the pap one tells a child. I don’t believe that positive thinking improves your skin tone or that loving or being loved changes the shape of your nose or restores the thickness and color of hair, but I do know that there is a way of being beautiful, even as age takes its toll, that has something to do with the spirit filling with joy, something to do with the union with another human being, with the sense of having done well at something enormously important, like making happy a man who has made you happy often enough.
Ten days after that morning conversation, my husband and I returned from a concert and dinner with friends and walked down our windy block toward our apartment house when suddenly he stumbled and fell and died within minutes. As I waited for the ambulance, I remembered his words, a beauty potion I would take with me into the rest of my life.”

Those words are hard to follow but I figured why not reflect on and share what makes me feel beautiful, in the hopes it will inspire you to do the same.

Below is my list, the next time I am feeling melancholy I will revisit it and take notes.  


Luella says…Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.








(All Images above via MEMORY BOOK  &  Krystal Muellenberg)



  DANCING – (always)







(All images above via AN ABUNDANCE OF)





(All images above via Krystal Muellenberg)



(Image above via The City Sage) 


(Image above via Doublecrossed)


(Images above via Remodelista  &  Country Living)


I realized in making this list, beautiful to me means contentment and happiness. I look and feel best when I am at peace with my actions, state and surroundings.

Find your own variation of beautiful and hold onto it always.

On Our Way to the Bay.

15 Oct


My husband and I are San Francisco bound. We are going to see our dear friends and collectively go see a band called The Weepies. As I have said in previous posts, it’s a win-win. (I misspelled that at first and put wine so maybe my inner self is trying to tell me something.) Either way, I am in.

We have seen The Weepies a couple of times and they are amazing. If you don’t know about them, you should.

(ie. Click Below)



I had already planned to do travel posts of places I have been, seen and loved. Not to quote the Black Eyed Peas, but San Francisco, Let’s Get it Started.


If you have not been, put it on your “life list.” The city is a perfect medley of sophistication, architecture, artistry, culture, intellect and nature. Sort of like the perfect song. In my opinion, it truly is the New York City of the West Coast.


Luella says…Visit, Explore, leave Enriched.

(With A LOT of help from SF Girl by Bay)


Artists Inn

Edward II B&B

Hotel Boheme

Jackson Court B&B

Stanyan Park Hotel

The Clift



900 Grayson

Alembic Bar

Ariake Sushi


Chez Spencer



Ferry Building Marketplace



Gracias Madre

La Cocina

La Mediterranee

Liberty Cafe




Radio Africa Kitchen


Rose Pistola

Slow Food



Tadich Grill

Tartine Bakery

The Candy Store

The Slanted Door

Universal Cafe


Weird Fish

Yum Yum Sushi & Fish Market

Zuni Cafe

Zushi Puzzle







bae home

Beach House Style

Bell Jar

Cat Seto


City Lights Bookstore

Cliff’s Variety

Collage Gallery

Curiosity Shoppe

Eden & Eden

Ferry Building Market Place


Flight 001

Flora Grubb

Fourth Street – Berkeley

General Store

Heath Ceramics




Little Otsu

Lotus Bleu

Maison Réve

Mascara Vintage

Mebel Furniture

Mignonne Decor



Not For Tourists

Only In San Francisco

Park Life

Past Perfect

Paxton Gate


Period George


Podesta Baldocchi


Rare Device

Rockridge Home

San Francisco Antique Mall

Splendid Little Shoppe

Summer House

The Hive

The Perish Trust

Trove Home

Urban Ore Salvage Yard


Zinc Details



Wilkes Bashford


Catherine Jane

Divine Girls



Alcatraz Island

Golden Gate Bridge

Barbary Coast Trail

Union Square

Fisherman’s Wharf

Architecture Tour

Haight Ashbury


Go and send me a postcard.

Hearty and Homemade.

11 Oct


When I was in grade school, every year around this time we would take a field trip to a local apple orchard. We would see how the fermentation process worked, taste all the various flavors of cider and be allowed to tour the grounds and see the rows and rows of apple trees. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We would finish the day in the pumpkin patch picking out small gourds and pumpkins to take home to our parents. It was such a simple time.

Every year when Autumn weather starts to set in, I think of those childhood field trips to the orchard. It dawned on me, what a perfect inspiration to build a menu of good eats from! How decadent would eating outside in the splendor of an orchard or vineyard be, with your closest friends, homemade food, candles lighting the table, full-bodied wines and stars illuminating the sky? I intend to find out.



My next “life list” endeavor is to plan a wonderful outdoor dinner party at either an orchard or a vineyard. I can’t imagine an evening better spent.

In preparation, I decided to post some wonderful family favorite recipes that are hearty, healthy and good for the soul. If you are searching for what to cook tonight, look no further.


Luella says… Cook and be Merry


Submitted by Luella


 (please note I sometimes double this recipe to make enough to have leftovers. It is great re-heated)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1.5 lbs. Cooked Chicken (please see preparation below)

2 Cloves Garlic – minced

14.5 oz. Chicken Broth

1 can (18.75 oz.) Tomatillos (drained and chopped)

1 (16 oz) can Diced Tomatoes

1 (7 oz.) can Diced Green Chiles

1/2 Teapsoon dried Oregano

1/2 Teaspoon ground Coriander seed

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 (15 oz) can White Northern Beans

salt and black pepper to taste

1 lime sliced

Fresh Cilantro for garnish

**Cooked Chicken – 1/2 cup  white wine, 1 Tablespoon of Dill Weed, 1 Chicken Bouillon cube, 1 cup of Water, Fresh squeezed Lemon (half), Minced Garlic, Lemon Pepper to taste**


Cook chicken in the wok/large pan first. Combine all the ingredients listed **above  in your wok. Cut the chicken into cubes. Put it on Level 8 for a Wok or Medium-High heat if it is in a pan. Cook/simmer half covered for 10-15 minutes stirring often. Save one cup of the juice to add into the mixture later.

1. Heat Oil and minced garlic until soft.

2. Stir in Chicken broth, tomatillos, tomatoes, chilies and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add chicken and beans and 1 cup of cooked chicken juice to the mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Serve with fresh lime and cilantro on the side.



Submitted by my sister, Leslie


4 (8 oz) Tilapia filets
Kosher Salt and ground Black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Whole Grain  Mustard
2 tablespoons Minced Shallots
2 teaspoons Drained Capers
1. preheat oven to 425
2. sprinkle filets generously with salt and pepper
3. place in oven proof glass pan
4. combine rest of ingredients and mix well
5. pour over fish to completely cover
6. Cook 15 to 25 min depending on thickness of the fish filets.


Southern Style Spare Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Submitted by my Mother-in-Law, Maria


1 Package of Southern Style Ribs (please note this is an actual type. They are heartier and have more meat on the bones.)

1/2 Cup of Chris and Pitts BBQ Sauce

 1 Reynolds Brown N Bag

 For Dry Rub:

1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Cumin

1 Teaspoon Lawry’s Garlic Salt

1 Teaspoon Black Pepper


Cut off fat on bottom of ribs

Pat them dry

Combine ingredients of the Dry Rub and drag and douse the ribs in this so they are covered

Place the ribs into a Reynolds Brown N Bag and poke holes in the top of the bag

Cook at 350 Degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Cut open bag and use 1/2 Cup of Chris and Pitts BBQ Sauce to cover the ribs completely

Put back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes to solidify the rub and bbq sauce taste

Serve with Garlic Mashed potatoes:

Place 8-10 Yukon Gold Potatoes and 3 Medium Cloves of Garlic  in a pot of boiling water

Boil till tender (10 minutes or so)

Drain the water and add 1/2 Cup Low Fat Milk and 2 Tablespoons of Smart Balance

Whip them and Enjoy!


Cheddar Chicken Chowder

Submitted by my Mother, Debra


1 pound skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts cut into cubes

2 Bacon slices

1 cup diced Red Bell pepper

2 Garlic cloves – minced

4 1/2 cups Chicken Broth

1 3/4 Cup Diced & Peeled Red Potatoes

2 1/4 Cups Fresh Cut Broccoli

1/2 Cup all Purpose Flour

2 cups 2% Milk

3 oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Salt and Pepper to Taste


1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium high heat until crispy. Crumble and put it on the side

2. Add Chicken, Garlic & Bell Pepper to the bacon grease pan and saute for 5 minutes

3. Add Potatoes & Broth to the pan and bring it to a boil

4. Cover and reduce heat and simmer until potatoes get soft (about 20 minutes)

5. Add brocolli and stir well

6. Place Flour in a bowl and gradually add Milk whisking till it is smooth, add it to the soup and simmer, stirring frequently over Medium heat for 15 minutes. (until it thickens)

7. Stir in Cheese, Salt and Pepper and top it off with the Crumbled Bacon 





1/4 cup Olive oil

2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried hot Red-Pepper flakes

1 (15-ounce) can crushed Tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/4 cup coarsely chopped Fresh Basil

1/2 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup)

4 small Italian Eggplants (1/2 pound each)

16 thin slices whole-milk Mozzarella (from a 1-lb block; not fresh)


1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook garlic and red-pepper flakes, stirring, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and salt and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil and parmesan.

2. Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over moderate heat or Cooks’ note: Eggplant (brushed with 1/4 cup oil) can be roasted on a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of a 450°F oven, turning over once, 20 minutes. Top with sauce and cheese, then stack and bake 5 minutes more.

3. Trim 1/4 inch off 2 opposite long sides of each eggplant. Cut each eggplant lengthwise (in same direction as trimmed sides so each slice has skin just around edge) into 4 slices. Brush slices with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

4. Grill eggplant, covered, turning over once, until tender, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a work surface.

5. Spread top of each slice with about 1 tablespoon tomato sauce and top with a slice of mozzarella, then restack each eggplant. Transfer stacks to a shallow baking pan and grill, covered, just until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.



Submitted by my Mother, Debra


1 1/2 lbs. Ground Beef

1 Cup Fresh Grated Bread Crumbs

3 Eggs – Beaten

1/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley

1/2 lb. Ground Pork

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 Teaspoon Marjoram

1/2 Teaspoon Paprika

1/3 Cup Sour Cream


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pack into a loaf pan and cook it for 1 hour – or until brown on top. Remove from Oven and slightly cool. Serve with Mushroom Sauce.


5 Tablespoons Butter (divided)

8 oz. Fresh Wild Mushrooms – Sliced

4 Tablespoons Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Salt & Pepper to taste

2 Cups of Beef Broth

1 Tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet


1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of Butter in a small saute pan.

2. Add Mushrooms and simmer over Medium Heat until soft.

3. Remove Mushrooms and set aside

4. Add remaining 4 Tablespoons of Butter to the pan and let it melt

5. Add Flour, Salt & Pepper to the pan and Stir until mixture is smooth

6. Blend in Beef stock and stir until sauce is thick

7. Add Kitchen Bouquet and Reserved Mushrooms and bring to a boil

8. Remove from Heat and serve over Beef Loaf.


Message About a Bottle.

1 Oct


I love wine. I could put a thousand quotes from various playwrights, novelists and inventors detailing its significance throughout history but I won’t. I don’t need to. It is a universal love for so many of us. In my opinion, it breeds good conversation and makes food taste richer. When the taste is right, I dare say there is nothing much better.            


It truly is a delight for me to come home from a long day and indulge in a perfect glass of wine. My personal white wine maturation story is similar to most I would assume. (Red wine will be a different post, I promise) I started with Riesling, dabbled with German Gewürztraminer, Spätlese and Auslese, danced over to Chardonnay (broke up with it though soon after), landed at Pinot Grigio comfortably for a long while and then stumbled upon Sauvignon Blanc where I blissfully live now.               



 I have become somewhat of a “Sauvignon Snob.” I prefer to only drink it from New Zealand and (insert my husband rolling his eyes here), the Marlborough Region to be exact. According to Wikipedia, “the strong contrast between hot sunny days and cool nights help vintners extend the ripening period of their vines like nowhere else, resulting in unique expressions of their grapes. The area is widely considered by many critics to produce the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc. One wine critic said that “no other region in the world can match Marlborough, the northeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, which seems to be the best place in the world to grow Sauvignon blanc grapes.” 




To an untrained palette, it has the most delicious bouquet of florals and fruits with a perfect finish. If you can’t travel to New Zealand in the near future, why not drink a little bit of it instead? I have put the time in, (ok JD and I have put the time in) to research these and feel confident with our “MUST ” choices below. 

(Click on the FULL bottle photo to open  the winery’s website; not the bottle unfortunately.)      

Luella’s 11 Wines to Love, Taste and Serve             


90 points . $13.99



89 points . $18.99



91 points . $26.99



90 points . $10.99



89 points . $11.99



90 points . $17.99



91 points . $19.99




90 points . $14.29



90 points . $17.99



91 points . $14.99



92 points . $26.99


“Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?” Yes William, lets because Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand is just that. Summer in a bottle; enjoyed all year round. Wine can soothe your soul. Indulge and let it.             

 Happy Friday.            


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