With the sun shining and temperatures rising, I’ve been happy to see Spring and Summer produce trickle into my local grocer. I’m still waiting for cherry season, but in the meantime have been happy to load up on peaches, avocados, and unique heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve not always been a huge tomato fan. I remember as a child disgustedly picking the tomato chunks out of my tomato sauce. And raw tomatoes? Unthinkable. No, I’m afraid that I didn’t willingly eat raw tomatoes until I was 20. I was studying abroad in Europe with a group of classmates the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. I can’t remember if it happened in Germany when the tomatoes were likely soaked in a horseradish dressing, or if it wasn’t until we were in France and I was suddenly eating all of the tomato basil things.

S, unfortunately, has yet to fully appreciate raw tomatoes. Much to my surprise, when we were out to dinner with friends a few weeks ago, he excitedly devoured a pasta dish that had raw red and yellow tomatoes, even demanding that I try one of the pieces on his plate.

S was able to pinpoint the appeal of these was their lower acidity, as confirmed by the gospel – google

So when we were grocery shopping the next day and I spotted the irregularly shaped, “ugly” tomatoes in a rainbow of green, yellow, orange & red – I happily purchased a few, unsure of what I’d do with them.

On a warm afternoon that week, after raiding my fridge – I had an idea. Tomato toast for a late lunch, or perfect afternoon snack. Tomato basil is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I was sure that I’d miss the fresh basil taste without having the fresh leaves on hand. But because of the herbaceous chèvre, my tastebuds were happy!

I began with my current favorite bread – a purple wheat walnut loaf from aforementioned grocery store, but any crusted bread will do. Into the toaster it went, until it was lightly toasted.

I then carefully spread Purple Haze Goat cheese, from Cypress Grove Chèvre. It is packed with lavender and fennel pollen, giving the cheese a fresh herbal flavor. If you aren’t familiar with goat cheese, it can be a bit difficult to spread on warm bread. To not completely butcher your toast, it is best to let the cheese acclimate closer to room temperature from the fridge before use.

And then, come the beautiful tomatoes! Slice to your heart’s content. I used two different tomatoes, but combined only used approximately 1/2 of a tomato in total.

Topped with freshly ground salt and pepper and voila! You have a perfect lunch, or afternoon snack.


Credit: Lauren of Creature & Cave
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of whole grain, hearty bread (2 per person)
  • 2 ounces Purple Haze from Cypress Grove Chèvre. It can be found in most grocery stores, but any herbed cheese like a Boursin will do.
  • 1 Large Heirloom Tomato
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Remove cheese from refrigerator ~15 minutes in advance.
  2. Toast bread to desired crispness – I like my bread hot with edges crispy, but not a whole lot of color change.
  3. Slice tomatoes
  4. Assemble: Spread cheese on toasted bread, top with tomato slices
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Serve & enjoy!

[/recipe]


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have surely heard of Target’s new home line – Opalhouse. It has been touted as a more affordable version of Anthropologie’s beautiful home offerings – and while I like the new line, as a die hard Anthrophile, it is a bit hard to agree. Sure, some items channel Anthropologie…kind of. Don’t get me wrong – this line is full of bold colors and prints, and some really beautiful pieces!

When the line first became live online, one item immediately caught my attention is this gorgeous decorative gold wall mirror. Dare I say, it caught a lot of people’s attention as I mulled it over that day and it sold out before I was able to purchase it. However – I was really lucky and scored it when it popped back in stock last week. Coincidentally, this piece does have an older, more maximalist sister at Anthropologie – the Gleaming Primrose Mirror, albeit at the Anthropologie price point.

I love the shape and it is a unique size that makes it versatile to place almost anywhere – you could have it sitting on your mantle like the above styled shot, or on a dresser or a vanity. Even just hanging on a wall against some bold wall color or wall paper, like I spotted a similar mirror (albeit, more fabulous and likely antique version) in a local shop (though Anthro has a version in the Wooded Manor Mirror in the “Bird” shape).

The mirror is my only purchase so far (and I’m not so patiently waiting for it, as its ETA keeps getting pushed back – thanks FedEx!), however I’ve got some other items on my wishlist – and others that I’ve seen in person that I want, but I just don’t have the space for atm because I’m a bit of a hoarder, or they just don’t have a place that they would fit.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been excited about this release since seeing the gorgeous carved fireplace with the bright Floral & Canary removable wallpaper in the photo above. If only I had such a spot for it! Fear not, Target did release a few other items with this print…


Notably, as the handpainted interior of a beautiful Mangowood serving bowl as well as an entire bedding collection. Fun bonus: the comforter is reversible!

One other print I’m really digging is this “blush peacock” on these Caracara Counter Stools. I do wish more items were offered with this print, as I don’t really have a use for these stools – but even if I did, the colors of my walls aren’t this fabulous teal that really make this print POP!


But 2 really amazing peacock items that I COULD have in my home (if I needed another serving bowl, or a vase are the above Peacock Bowl and Peacock Vase. I did see both in store over the weekend, and the bowl is well made with some heft to it. The vase was as well, but I was lamenting that I viewed it as a pitcher and couldn’t use it as a pitcher (not realizing it was meant to be a vase).


I’m most definitely a gold girl, and on the release date – the one other item that caught my eye was this beautiful gilt Tole Chandelier in Italian Gold – Fancy! This is one item I would absolutely buy if I had a spot for it. Who know – I may still buy it and save it for when I do have a spot for it. I like it quite a bit – and I like it even more at this price point!


Other than gold, one other color I really love in home decor is rich emerald green (give me a black room with lots of natural light, green and ivory furniture, and gold accents)! Love this Floral Earthenware Vase for said dream room. It kind of has a Matisse vibe going for it as well.


The Mallorca print is also stunning, and a great way to make a statement if color isn’t your thing. My pick is the beautifully embroidered Lumbar Throw pillow pictured above, but I’d also be glad to have the reversible Jacquard Oversized End of Bed Throw in our guest room or even our living room.

And those are my picks! Overall, Target appears to have something really special with their Opalhouse line. Initially I was a bit disappointed to see that their bright and fun printed dishes are Melamine, but I feel that kind of works for those colors and the season – they’d be great for family dinners on the patio in Spring and Summer. But that’s an opportunity for them to expand. My only caveat for this collection is to be cautious with the velvet furniture pieces like the Myna Tufted Velvet Arm Chair. The brass legs are fresh and fun, but velvet it is not! Personally, while I like the visual of velvet – I strongly dislike the feel of it (I’m a weirdo and it makes me shiver), but I don’t find that the chair or matching chaise are priced well enough to justify the substitute material…for those of you who do get excited about velvet.

Defined as: an immediate impression; especially : insight

This will be a recurring collection of current favorites and moments.

I’ve become absolutely obsessed with AnnStreetStudio on instagram – she is literally spending a year in Provence, and my heart aches for all of those blessed summers i had with my own family in France. Patience, I must tell myself! The above post caught my eye, in particular, as it is quite the dead ringer for where we were married – just transplanted to the Texas Hill Country.


Per complete chance, I stumbled upon the most perfect Happy Hour combo (masquerading as a “late lunch”) post allergy shot. Margherita Pizza, that paired beyond perfectly with the “Happy Hour Red” – Tiamo 2016 Chianti.


Mail Call from Australia! Three from indie nail polish brand Femme Fatale’s latest release “Green Gables.” Left to Right: A Kindred Spirit, Woodsy Wild and Lonesome, & Trees Talking in Their Sleep. These (minus Woodsy, unfortunately) will be available again from Femme Fatale Cosmetics in June!


Sunshine and blue skies through dreamy walls of windows. Had to be up especially early one morning this week to chauffeur S around. Treated myself to a Lavender latte and Spiced Pear & Earl Grey scone.


After tuning into TLC’s Trading Spaces reboot, I found myself sucked in to Nate and Jeremiah by Design and have since become low-key obsessed (their style is amazing, but they’re also super cute). Their renovation was beautiful, and I’m dying over that glass door and that FLOOR! May not happen in this house, but I have tracked down the cement tile to the Starbright pattern from Clé! It can be ordered in a bunch of colors, and I’m mulling over some ideas now!


Today, my nose is quite happy my friends! We’re experiencing a completely abnormal cold snap and while apparently this isn’t so abnormal since it does have it’s own colloquialism (also known as Blackberry Winter), we don’t typically experience it ’round these parts ;).

Still! I’ve dug my sweaters and winter coat out of hibernation; enjoyed some Malbec and Indian comfort food; and am taking full advantage of the unseasonal drop in temperatures to test out and enjoy 2 smokey, comforting scents.


(Image/artwork from Cire Trudon official)
First up is the Empire candle Cire Trudon. S and I were browsing a massive candle selection at a local store, when we came across Empire – while many scents in the Cire Trudon line had piqued our interest that day, both our eyes lit up when we smelled Empire.

Cire Trudon officialy describes this as:
“Pine, sage and hay vibrate this Napoleonic camp with accents of wild juniper and bush. The joyful and indulging warmth of thyme, marjoram and rosemary rings like a fife. A time of peace right after a battle between dog and wolf. An imperial tent that exhales an exemplary scent, crowned with laurel’s force.”

Unlit, this candle smells like fire – smokey, woodsy, beautiful fire on a cold winter’s night kind of fire. Lit doesn’t change much except that it diffuses in a way that the other notes become more apparent. There are definitely light citrus and floral elements that make my house smell more like Lapsang Souchong tea (admittedly, my favorite tea) than outright smokey fire. It’s just beautiful, and S and I are both fans.

Cire Trudon is known to be the oldest candlemaker in the world, with all of their candles made at their Atelier in France. They boast a 55-60 hour burn time and contain no artificial substances, fillers, or paraffin. Cire Trudon candles are made from 100% vegetable wax (specifically, palm oil, rice, soy and coconut) for the purest candle and the cleanest burn.

The Empire candle retails for $95 and can be purchased directly from Cire Trudon here or from Beauty Habit (sign up for e-mails and receive 15% off your first order).


(Photo from Boyds of Texas official)
I picked up Cuero, an Eau de Parfum, by Boyds of Texas from a local pop-up shop at S’s favorite local store. I chose it and High Desert, because, well – I’m always on the lookout for some variation of smokey and leathery fragrances, obviously! What is great about fragrance, and particularly perfumes, is how parfumeurs layer different notes to craft distinctive aromatic experiences – journeys, even. You can go with something direct like Velvet Desert Oud by Dolce and Gabbana or Replica Across Sands by Maison Margiela for linear Ouds so bone dry that they leave you parched and seeing mirages. Or you can pick up more complex leathers – Tom Ford made 2 of my favorites, Tuscan Leather, which is warm with amber wood and nuanced with thyme and jasmine; and the extremely limited and now discontinued Ombre Leather ’16, which leaned more feminine with the floral notes of Tuscan Leather on steroids.

Or – you could go for a full on journey with Boyd’s of Texas’ Cuero that evokes images of cactus filled deserts, well made and well worn saddles, but settles into something that is still all of those things – yet sweeter, richer, and bewitching.

Boyd’s of Texas describes Cuero as:
“A fleeting burst of citrus and soft florals quickly becomes rooted in the dryer, dusty woods of various cedars. This deepens on the skin and is joined by the slightest hint of warm jasmine, before it develops and softens into darker woods and smoky leather.”

I was honestly surprised I loved this scent so much – I expected it to be more linear, I anticipated it to be more masculine – something that would wear better on S. It wears completely fine on S, but on my skin it has settled into something slightly boozy and even chocolatey. To my nose, it references a favorite gourmand of mine – Chocolate by L’Antichambre, but with smoke and leather.

If you’d like to try Cuero – Boyd’s of Texas offers samples for $10 which can be purchased here. A full sized EdP (50ml) can be purchased here for $125. The scent is also available in a Face & Body Oil as well as a Charcoal Bar Soap.

Happy Monday!

Today I wanted to share my favorite Green Smoothie – which I refer to as “Try The Grey Stuff, It’s Delicious” (not to be confused with this grey stuff, which admittedly is equally delicious – just a different kind of delicious). So why the name? In a previous life, I worked a couple of blocks away from a really fancy whole foods, where I would stop in every morning for a smoothie (that is long gone from their menu) and a latte.

One day, while I was waiting on my order, I noticed a decidedly grey smoothie be placed on the counter waiting to be picked up. My mind immediately said, “try the grey stuff it’s delicious,” because it is silly – so I inquired about it. I was told that it was a riff on my usual order, with the addition of blueberries. They offered to make it for me so I could try because they thought it was a better tasting version. Indeed they were right! The addition of the blueberries make the smoothie infinitely more palatable, and my morning ritual went from repetitive and comfortable to being something I honestly looked forward to.

So when Whole Foods decided to overhaul their menu and standardize it across all of their stores, I (along with some other regulars) wanted blood :x. Ok, *I* was sad. But I heard that another regular was out for blood. As such, this particular store continues to make the smoothie, but at a pretty significant premium. As I no longer work in the area, I was *very* kindly given the recipe by a staff member so that I could make it at home. So behold – the recipe for my favorite green smoothie!

This recipe is extremely easy and quick to follow – the keys are all in the prep work (which can easily be done in advance of a work week on a weekend), and the order ingredients are placed into the blender.

As soon as we come home from grocery shopping, I’ll immediately start by washing my spinach in a mix of water and red wine vinegar, and do the same for the blueberries. While both are soaking in the vinegar water concoction, I’ll take my bunch of bananas, and slice them one banana at a time. I’ll bag them individually in a ziplock baggy, and toss the baggies into the freezer. I’ll then rinse and dry the blueberries and spinach, and place them in separate tupperware containers, and pop those into the fridge.

Freezing the bananas and refrigerating the fresh blueberries is absolutely key to the consistency and taste of the smoothie. Whole Foods uses a commercial flash freezer for their fruit, which guarantees a fresh texture, but we have to improvise at home. ***Note that subbing in frozen blueberries purchased from the freezer section will result in a grainier smoothie and the taste will be different.

Prepping these 3 ingredients will make your Monday (and Tuesday, and Wednesday…) morning much easier! Come Monday morning, I will begin measuring out the Almond Milk, and pour that into my Vitamix container. I highly, HIGHLY recommend purchasing one of these! Ours is nearly 4 years old and has been worth every penny (and their 7 year warranty is amazing). I’ll then add the frozen banana – be absolutely sure to pour the almond milk in first, having the liquid as the first ingredient ensures a longer living blender!

After the banana, in goes the blueberries and spinach (order on these doesn’t matter), followed by the protein and spiraling powders. I then add the avocado, and top it with the agave. I tend to like this order, as I find that the avocado and agave provide extra moisture to break down the powders.

 

I’ll use my smoothie preset – which is about 45 seconds on high, if you don’t have a Vitamix. You may have to play with this a little bit on different blenders!

And – voila! This recipe produces a large 24 ounce serving. If you are active, and based on your caloric and nutritional needs – this may be the perfect serving size for you. For my needs (as you can see above), I usually consume 12-16 ounces of it, and save the rest for a snack the following day.

Please note that the color is really determined by the balance of the spinach (packed cup vs. not) and blueberries (when you fluctuate between 4 and 6 ounces). My preference for taste is when the liquid comes out grey with a slight purple glow (you’ll know it when you see it). If the liquid comes out purple, it will likely be on the sweeter side, and if it comes out more green, it may be less sweet.

'Try The Grey Stuff, It's Delicious' Green Smoothie

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A creamy, well balanced Green Smoothie packed with protein, antioxidants, and tons of vitamins and minerals.


Credit: Adapted from Whole Foods recipe

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces of Almond Milk (I like Califia Unsweetened Almond Milk)
  • 1 medium to large organic banana (size pending freshness and availability), frozen and cut into slices
  • 6 ounces of fresh organic blueberries, refrigerated
  • 1 cup of organic raw spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • ~7/8 of a scoop of protein powder (I like Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder. I use Vanilla Chai flavor, but that’s up to you)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Spirulina powder (I use Now Organic brand.)
  • 1/4 organic large, Hass avocado (so half of what is pictured above)
  • 1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar

Directions

  1. In a blender (I use a Vitamix Professional Series 750), combine all ingredients in the following order: Almond Milk, Banana, Blueberries, Spinach, Protein Powder, Spirulina, Avocado, and Agave Nectar
  2. Close the top!
  3. Turn Blender on – I use a smoothie preset, and run for exactly 1 cycle – about 45 seconds on high
  4. Serve & enjoy!