Thursday, October 31, 2013

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from Count Port!

Happy All Hallows' Eve Kittens!

Just wanted to drop in and wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween!  I LOVE Halloween, and while I didn't do any dressing up this year (for shame!), Port would not stand for not donning a costume on this very special night.

Isn't he handsome?

Port's got the looks and the brains.  He knows that I'll give him as many treats as it takes to get the right photo, so he took advantage of that.  Usually it's super cute, but in the cape, the shot of him licking his lips seems a tad sinister.

 And we couldn't conclude the session without adding a few props...

 Be safe out there tonight and remember - not all vampires are only looking to cuddle like this one.  Beware!!

Muahahahahah, Kittens!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Risotto for Pumpkin Carving

Good Evening Kittens!

While I did not attend any costume parties this year, I did go to a pumpkin carving on Sunday.  My friend Brianne hosted a fall-inspired pot luck where we also carved jack-o-lanterns.  Such a fun time!  I haven't carved a pumpkin in years and while you will see, I am NOT the most creative carver there is, it was still a fabulous way to spend an evening!

First, let's start with the risotto.  I had come across many recipes for pumpkin risotto on Pinterest and very quickly decided that I would make one of them as my contribution to the pot luck.  After considering the reviews and then looking at how involved some of the recipes were, I decided on one that I found on and made a few adjustments.

-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-3/4 pound pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
-2 medium white onions, roughly chopped
-1 cup dry white wine
-1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
-7 cups organic vegetable broth
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 1/2 arborio rice
-3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
-1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and white pepper to taste, if you only have black pepper, just go with it

1.  Heat the oil in a medium pan.  Add the pumpkin or butternut squash and half the onions, stirring frequently.

2.  Cook over medium-high heat until the pumpkin is just tender.  Add the wine, nutmeg, some salt and pepper until the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

3.  While the pumpkin is cooking, take the rest of the onions and chop finely using a food processor.  (I figured since I had to use it for a later step, and wanted a smoother risotto, that I would save myself the trouble of crying and chopping.)

4.  In a large saucepan heat the vegetable broth.

5.  In a large saucepan, melt 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and rice.  Cook until the rice takes on a slight color.

6.  Add one cup of the heated broth, stirring continuously until the liquid is absorbed.  Reduce the heat and add three more cups of broth, one cup at a time, and continue stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding more liquid.

7.  Place the pumpkin and onion mixture into the food processor and puree until smooth.

8.  Add the pumpkin puree to the risotto and mix well.

9.  One cup at a time, add the remaining three cups of liquid to the risotto, stirring frequently.  (As an aside, make sure you have a really big pan...I had to transfer pans half way through the process since the original recipe stated I only needed a medium saucepan.  Liars!)

10.  Stir in the parsley, the Parmesan, and the remaining butter if desired (I didn't add the additional butter, but might try it the next time I make this.).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Perhaps next time, I will also add some rosemary!

While this dish can be kinda messy to make, it cleans up pretty good!

Also, you will want to allot plenty of time to make this dish.  I planned poorly and ended up running out the door the second this dish was done to get to the little soirĂ©e.  The other Ladies made an Israeli couscous salad with squash, broccoli, toasted almonds, and red grapes.  It was DELICIOUS!!!

Also on the menu were fennel, onion, mushroom, and goat cheese pockets.  Addicting!

Once we fueled ourselves, we set our sights on the pumpkins and the task at hand.

Step 1 - Make sure the bubbly is flowing.

Step 2 - Make sure everyone is dressed appropriately.

We all got to work on our pumpkins and it was magical.

I knew I didn't have time to get too intricate with my pumpkin as I was on a time crunch, so I went with a super simple carving.  I wanted to carve a version of the classic jack-o-lantern pail that we used for trick-or-treating as kids, but I forgot the teeth.  Sad panda.

I received a photo of how the girls' pumpkins turned out.  SO great!

And no matter how old you get, essentially everyone I know has proven that you are never too old to carve a jack-o-lantern.  Here are the three that Bridget and her husband carved over the weekend.

If you haven't yet carved your jack-o-lanterns, you've got a few hours left!  Get thee a pumpkin!

Happy Carving and Pot Lucking Kittens!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bruschetta and Orin Swift - A Damn Fine Combination

Hello Kittens!

It's been a while since we've chatted and I feel terrible about that.

In the ten months since this little blog's been bringing us together, this was the longest that I'd been away.  And I've missed you.  Honest.  Last weekend I was up in the Bay Area and when I returned from a few days in wine country, it dawned on me that I hadn't shared a very fabulous evening that I spent with a friend of mine a while back.  So, while I'm putting other fabulous wine-related things together for you, let's consider this a little appetizer.

I adore my friend Jason and do not see him nearly enough, so when he called me up one Saturday afternoon to tell me that he had a bottle of wine he wanted to try (do you see why we're friends?) and asked what my plans were, I didn't think twice about instructing him to come by later that evening.  Since the wine he had was Italian, we threw around the idea of picking up some dinner from an Italian place or making a full dinner, and I'm not exactly sure where those plans fell apart, but we ultimately decided that since we had all the ingredients between us, that we'd just throw together some Bruschetta.  And let me tell you what a fabulous idea that was!!

My first experience with Orin Swift was with The Prisoner which I raved about earlier this year.  I just recently found out that this label was sold in 2010 to Huneeus Vitners, but that Dave Phinney, the genius behind Orin Swift would continue to make the wine.  I had a little freakout when I went onto the Orin Swift site in search of this wine and couldn't find it.  I thought that perhaps it was no longer being made, but after a quick Google, I'm better now.  Just passing the information along in case you also had the same concerns.

Moving on...the bottle that Jason brought over was also an Orin Swift, but was a bottle of the Locations label.  In my opinion, the only winemakers that can hold a candle to the blending abilities of Dave Phinney at Orin Swift are those over at Thumbprint Cellars in Sonoma.  And this bottle of I-1, did not disappoint.  This bottle takes the best grapes from across Italy and puts them together to create something spectacular, as they describe on their site, "The result is a vibrant wine that captures the spirit of Italy with a touch of new world bravado."  I'd say they were spot on in their assessment!

While I decanted the wine and Jason waited patiently while I snapped a few photos, we got going on the Bruschetta.  Let me just say that I LOVE Bruschetta!  And I was all too happy to be able to grab some basil from my then flourishing balcony planters!  Something tragic has since happened to my greenthumb....but that's a story for a different day.

There are tons of Bruschetta recipes out there, but I really don't think that following a recipe is necessary.  As long as you've got the right ingredients, you can doctor to your own taste.  The ingredients are as follows:
-Vine ripened tomatoes, diced
-Fresh basil, chopped
-Garlic, minced
-Parmesan, shredded
(is anyone else as entertained with the fact that each ingredient has a different definition so far?  Well, that's about as much fun as we're going to get from that)
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Balsamic Vinegar
-Salt and Pepper

Combine ingredients (the Parmesan is optional, though recommended) and allow for the flavors to marinade for a bit and serve on Crostini.

I attempted to make my Crostini, but this is not something that I've mastered yet.  If you feel you can master the broiler without burning your toast, you can try to make your own.  But if you don't want to spend a considerable amount of time scraping the burnt edges, you may just want to buy some.  Not that it's close or convenient, but the best Crostini I've ever had by far are those from Jimtown Store up in Sonoma.  Each time I go, I bring back at least one bag.  I can't say exactly WHY they are so good...perhaps they are sprinkled with a salt/pepper/crack mixture, but you're just going to have to trust me on this one.  Pricey (online, though in the store, way more affordable)?  Yes.  Worth it?  Absolutely!!

So many simple ingredients came together to make one spectacular night!

I hope you all have these types of experiences from time to time.  I consider myself fortunate that I do on a fairly regular basis.  Perhaps as I get older, I just recognize and appreciate them more.

Salud Kittens!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Brunch 09.26.2013 - Baby's First Brunch

Panini Cafe, Aliso Viejo

Hello Kittens!

October has already been incredibly busy and the next two weeks are packed to the gills as well.  Due to that fact, I've started booking Brunches for November!  I've had Brunch on the brain and realized that I did not share the Brunch that I had with Stephanie at the end of September.  For shame!

I was wondering if I could post about this at all since we took precious little Avabella out for her first Brunch with the Ladies (really, you can never start them out too young).  Stephanie has made the decision to keep images of her daughter off of all social media sites, and essentially any non-food photos of our Brunch were of either Avabella or one of us holding her.  Which makes them off-limit!

I then realized that I couldn't NOT share this spot with you and while I do have a few photos from the first time we ate at Panini Cafe, this one is going to be short and sweet, because when you have arguably the most adorable baby with you, taking photos for the blog are forgotten.

There are locations for Panini Cafe across Southern California, so no matter where you are, if you find yourself hungry, it's definitely worth your time to find the closest one to you and stopping by!  Stephanie and I have Brunched at the Aliso Viejo location twice and they definitely know their way around some eggs!!  And something to make you feel even better about Brunching here is that they serve only farm fresh organic eggs.  I've become obsessed about the chickens my eggs come from in the last few years, so this was a BIG plus for me!

The first time we visited was in 2010 and I STILL dream of how fantastic the smoked salmon scramble was...

Also their mimosas and coffee are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  That's not an exaggeration.

This time, Stephanie and I both went with eggs again - and let me tell you how difficult it was to NOT order my smoked salmon scramble this time around!  I ended up with the Tomato Basil Scramble which was delicious.

Stephanie created her own scramble and while I'm not sure what she put into it, she was quite happy with it.

The food was excellent, the mimosas were tasty, the company was fabulous, and the littlest lady was an absolute angel!  Couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a Saturday.

I've updated my Church of Brunch page, in case you were having problems deciding on a location for your next outing with your ladies.

Happy Brunching Kittens!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Fabulous Victorian Halloween Wreath

Good Evening Kittens!

Sticking with the Spooktacular theme of October and all things Halloween - and the theme of this little blog, which is all things vintage and fabulous, I am very happy to share tonight's post with you!  I sit here, glass of wine in hand, with my laptop in front of me in my 'swanky' corner of the world (not my words, but I won't argue) on a rainy October night and think to myself that it's the little things - the small details - that are important, and often overlooked.  I won't go into the particulars, but my day at work was less than stellar, less than even acceptable in my estimation.  I'm not one to think that everyone's day job can make them blissfully happy, but I would think that it shouldn't beat you down either.  And that's kind of what happened to me today.  So, I left work after 7:00 and hit Walgreen's on my way home to pick up some 3M hooks.  Since I rent, I try not to put unnecessary holes in my walls and I thought these hooks with the fun command adhesive would be the perfect way to hang a wreath that I've had since last Halloween.  I figured after the day I had, something as seemingly trivial as hanging my wreath would make me happy.  And it did!

My style is darker than most and hints at a sophisticated Halloween influence all year round, but I stress the word 'hints'.  When it comes to actually decorating in your day-to-day life and also for any holiday, I think there is a fine line between classy and cheesy.  And when it comes to Halloween, the Victorian era is what you want to draw your inspiration from.  The goal is vintage, beautiful, and spooky...think wrought iron birdcages, dusty Ouija boards, crows, skulls, Apothecary bottles filled with 'poison', and black feathers.  Banish any thoughts of fake cotton cobwebs, plastic spider rings, and plastic orange anything!  Since I've just told you NOT to hit up most stores, where should you go?  The best place to go is Etsy.  Hands down.

photo credit

My friend Stephanie's annual Halloween parties take Halloween glam to a whole nother level!

photo credit
A few years back, I saw a gorgeous wreath made of black feathers at ZGallerie and for whatever reason, did not purchase it (stupid!), so I spent a few weeks last year searching for something similar at a number of stores with absolutely NO luck.  The problem is, everyone seems to really love the cheesy element of Halloween, so I struck out everywhere.  At a certain point, I gave Etsy a try and it did not take me long to kick myself for not checking there first!  I found a fabulous shop called Victorian Petals that sells handmade wreaths and all sorts of other fabulous stuff.  It was there that I found a wreath just as fabulous as the one I'd seen years ago!  While my wreath arrived rather quickly, I hadn't ordered it until well into October and it felt like it was too late to hang by the time it was in my hot little hands.

It's taken a whole year for me to get this up, so without further fabulous Victorian Halloween wreath!

I had originally planned to hang this on the other side of my door, but thought it was too fabulous and that someone might take it.  Also, why would I deprive myself of being able to look at this at every opportunity??  Seemed silly to me, so I hung it on the inside of my front door.

The combination of sumptuous black feathers and black satin ribbon is beyond glam!

What say you, Kittens?  Do you love this piece as much as I do?  Do you have any Halloween inspired items that you are absolutely in love with?  I'm on the look out to find other equally lux items this season, and I will definitely keep you posted!

I wish you a truly Spooky evening!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Color of the Season - Vamp

Hello Kittens!

I hope your October so far has been fabulous!  As happens every month, I've spent the first week of the month working long hours, so I have yet to start enjoying the fantastic month of October.  Well, that is, until this weekend.

I know that in the past few years, there has been this nail art fetish thing happening.  And it's not something that appeals to me in the least.  While some might call it boring, I call sticking with non-bedazzled nails painted in solid traditional colors, classic.  And I have established some season-driven rules for myself when it comes to nail color.

The color that I've always associated with fall is Chanel's Vamp.  It's absolutely fabulous!  And yesterday afternoon, I went and got a mani/pedi using this color and it now officially feels like fall.  The shot below is a little deceiving because it REALLY makes this look like a brown, but look at this shade in different lighting and it looks completely different.  Oh Vamp, you're so mysterious!

Obligatory 'see how the shade looks on my nails and in the bottle' shot.  Please excuse my short chubby fingers.

Originally called Rouge Noir, this color was created in 1994 when a makeup artist mixed red and black polishes together for a Chanel runway show.  It was originally meant to be the same color as dried blood - an intense dark brownish reddish black, which doesn't sound like something that would appeal to many people, but it created such a buzz that they started selling the color and it flew off the shelves.  The premiere episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer series actually knocks this shade a little bit.  Airing in 1997, Cordelia is trying to establish how cool Buffy is and this exchange happens:
Cordelia:  "Vamp Nail Polish?"
Buffy:  "Um, over?"
Cordelia:  "So over."

In a certain respect, it IS very reminiscent of the 90's and that decade's obsession with goth and grunge, so it's not completely surprising that it was discontinued at the end of the decade.  Though after a few years, the demand was so great that in 2003, Chanel really had no choice but to bring it back  and since then, this cult color has become a classic.  And I'm SO happy about that!  Who wants to fall in love with a color only to have it discontinued?  That would ruin October just a little bit for me, and we can't have that.

Unfortunately, our Book Club Meeting picnic today had to be rescheduled, so I'm off to grab my first pumpkin spice latte of the season and run a few errands to truly celebrate fall - even though it's far warmer than it should be in October.  Welcome to L.A.!

Have a fabulous October Sunday, Kittens!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Book Club Selection

Good Evening Lovelies!  And Happy October!

While we are a little behind in our Book Club activities, I still want to announce The Vintage Project Book Club selection for October.

October is one of my favorite months.  Halloween, Oktoberfest, the change of season, Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING!  But let's get back to the fact that it is this the only month where everyone embraces the darkside and vampires are EVERYWHERE!  We all know vampire lore and know to credit the picture of vampires that most of us have to Bram Stoker, but how many of us have actually READ Dracula?

I haven't.  And if you haven't either, here's your chance.

1st Edition cover
I have the feeling that the book club meeting for this novel is going to be FANTASTIC!!!  So, if you are looking to finally join the book club, I think this will be an excellent time to do so.

Happy Reading Lovelies!