Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

sunset, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

As the sun sets today it also sets on the year. 2009 brought a lot of current events, personal events and great stories to share. It was, like all years, a very good one. Raise your glass of wine or champagne to toast away 2009 and welcome 2010. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Paperwhite update:

paperwhites, week 6, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

6 weeks after planting 20 bulbs in water over rocks the blooms are opening in full. Not all 20 have started to open so I think in whole the arrangement will last quite some time. It will welcome in the New Year with a bouquet of white and a heady evening fragrance

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Making tracks in the fresh morning snow!

Kate makin tracks, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

It snowed again last night and this morning. It was a perfect opportunity to make tracks in the new fallen snow.... something I enjoyed doing as a skier. Kate is trying it out too. She circles the yard crunching on the snow and leaving her mark for the morning.

Kate or Whitney

Kate, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I zoomed in on one of my other shots and realized that this picture of Kate looks just like her Mommy when she was 2 or 3.

Snowy trip to the Denver Zoo

lion, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Oh what a great day for the zoo!. We pulled up to park and wondered if the zoo was open. There were about 8 cars in the lot which was so different from the last visit when we had to park blocks and blocks away. It seemed as though the animals loved the lack of human stalkers. They were more animated than usual. The lions were enjoying their walk in the snow too just like Kate. The peacocks were in splendid form and posed for many pictures. And the ducks and geese found sanctuary in the pond for the winter.


peacock, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Emperor goose

Emperor goose, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to all.......

Christmas tree, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

The Christmas tree was surrounded with presents and adorned with Peace..the excitement was in the air and everyone had lots of joy. The train circles the tree....lucky to make it around without running in to obstacles along the way.

and I got a new camera for Christmas.....I must read the manual but these are my first shots.

...a new iPod for Ella

Whitney:Ella, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Kate tries on her new raincoat and jammies at the same time

Kate: changing table, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Ella is talking to her New York cousins

Ella on phone, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Taking a little time to give thanks to the people who gave her presents

And to all a good night!

The last gift was opened.....people it's only 8am!
Ryan:Kate, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas to all of my blog friends and family!

2009 Christmas card, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I want to wish all of you who follow my blog a very Merry Christmas! Some of you I know well....some I only know through comments.....which I love....It is such an unusual way of communicating but for a rather private person I have enjoyed sharing with you the artistic things I do. And it forces me to make them visible which is really hard to do.
I hope you all have a delicious Christmas dinner, receive absolutely fabulous gifts and enjoy the company of those you love.

It must be close to Christmas day

paperwhites, week 5, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Five weeks after placing the bulbs in water the first blossoms appear. There are 20 bulbs and I hope by next week most of them will be in full bloom. Bulbs are just amazing, aren't they? I will bring them indoors and enjoy them to their fullest.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas paperwhites

Paperwhites, 2009, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Today I cleaned the kitchen and put the baking equipment away for the season. It was a quiet & reflective day. I took the time to sketch my paperwhites. One I bought a couple of weeks ago and has been in bloom since. The other was a gift and is just showing the first signs of a bloom. I love the fragrance. It is more heady in the evening....right now. Paperwhites remind me of the simple things of the season. Tomorrow is the solstice. Winter is upon us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

4th day of Christmas baking!

nuts, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

The third thing my Santa left in my Christmas stocking was nuts. They really are beautiful in their own shells but with the help of a nutcracker and inspiration from the Barefoot Contessa simple nuts can become.......

French chocolate bark

French chocolate bark, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Roasted nuts and dried apricots and cranberries on fine dark chocolate.

Friday, December 18, 2009

3rd day of Christmas cookies

peppermint candies, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

For the past 30 (maybe more) years my friend Sue and I and whatever other family members are available get together to bake cookies. This tradition started when my kids were little and I was teaching them the basics in the kitchen. Sue was their babysitter......there only babysitter and since we were so lucky to have her in our home frequently she took part in baking too. Through the years the kids come and go but Sue and I always share one day before Christmas in the kitchen. This year we decided to try some new cookies. We needed a challenge. Here is the result for the 2009 cookie day:

Remember a few postings ago I mentioned that my childhood stockings were filled with candy nuts and oranges? Those are pretty simple items but take these basic goodies and you can turn them from simple ......

to this.....introducing a new cookie this year:

Peppermint meltaways, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Peppermint meltaways. A variation of a Mexican wedding cookie that has been flavored with peppermint oil and topped with a drizzle of icing and peppermint candies. Doug called them breath cookies.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Second day of Christmas cookies

DSC03216, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Last night I did my own sugar cookies. Inspired by one of my watercolor sketches I hand cut my poinsettia shapes and then "painted" them with royal icing and sprinkled them with fun sugars it took me quite a while to make just 10 good ones. Sophie got up on the counter at 5 am and did a taste test. Bad Sophie!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First day of Christmas cookies

Miley, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Tuesday my adorable little girls next door came over to make cookies. We made sugar cookies and then decorated them This year 2/12 year old Miley joined us. She really did a good job. The rolling pins were too big for her so we improvised. Then came the fun part of decorating them. All the girls did a great job. Future cookie chefs!


Melia, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Malia and Leila have done a beautiful job on their snowmen. Girls I hope Santa brings you front teeth for Christmas!


Leila, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do you see what I see?

paperwhites, week 4, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

After 4 weeks and I see 1 bud beginning

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's beginning to look like Christmas!

Christmas packages, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I have finished my holiday shopping, crafting, cards and wrapping! Can you guess which one is for you? I have so much fun planning creating shopping and packaging up all of these Christmas chores. And I am thrilled with the results. Tomorrow I will make the stop to the post office (busiest day of the year, I have heard) Watch your mailbox, your package/ card is probably on its way!
Next project: cookie baking! that's Thursday

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Harvey!

Happy Birthday, Harvey, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Today is my friend, Harvey Holste's birthday. I met Harvey when he had a dental practice in Newport Beach and I had some time available to be a substitute dental hygienist. When you substitute you can pretty much decide after an hour or two if you will ever return....if not you ride out the day and collect your check at the end. My first impression with Dr. Holste was different: "Wow!" I thought, he is really a good dentist! My first impression was absolutely right and he is also a good person. Harvey came with Marjorie who would call me when they needed me to return to the office and then we all became friends. I would be invited to their lovely home in Corona del Mar for dinner....usually grilling, as I remember and then I discovered that he and Marjorie were also fabulous hosts, cooks and friends. They live in DownEast Maine now. Besides celebrating a birthday today he is also preparing to close his dental practice and retire. He has served his patients in both of his communities so well and he has always been good to his staff. The dental world will miss his skills, his generosity and his tenacity.
Harvey, I hope your birthday is filled with good spirit, good food and good wine.
Happy Birthday, Harvey!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Paperwhite update:

Paperwhites, week 3, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Week three after planting the bulbs the shoots are getting taller but no buds yet. More pine cones from our morning walks.

topiary with birds

topiary with birds, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Update on the topiary. These felt and beaded birds were last year's creation but they were not packed and sent to Denver so they were great finds. I also added so tinsel garland. Does this look better, Marjorie?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pineapple mirror

pineapple mirror, 2, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

One of my favorite things: 2009 has been a year of purging.....finding new homes for some of the collection of stuff that I simply don't need or want any more. I have sold some items on eBay & Craigslist and I have taken extras to the Goodwill and books to the library bookstore. I have given some of my plants and roses to friends that I know will enjoy them.

But some things have to stay. I bought this little mirror about 12 years ago from a home decor boutique in Newport Beach for about $100. I hung it in my dental operatory for my patients to re-apply their lipstick after I had cleaned their teeth. When I left that office I took it home and enjoyed it even more. But the silver plate on it was thin to begin with and the ocean air and time had turned the finish pretty dark. I have taken some of my silver plated items to be re-plated and the mirror seemed like a perfect candidate for "re-blinging". The cost for re plating was more than I originally paid for the mirror but I rationalized it by Christmas gifting to myself (something we all do I'm sure). And I had just sold an old item on Craigslist.
This is the result. The silver just shines....each of the pineapples (40 in all) was beautifully refinished. The frame is just as reflective as the mirror itself. It makes me smile.

mirror, detail

mirror, detail, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

detail of the pineapples

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oranges & lemons

oranges & lemons, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

When I was a young girl my Christmas stocking was filled with candy, nuts and oranges.....sometimes apples. These were always readily available at holiday time and affordable as well as edible. My children laugh at me when I try to continue this tradition of stocking stuffers. Today it is usually cozy socks that fill the stocking. But as I look around for available Christmas decorations the fruit is perfect. These oranges are Cara Cara oranges....they are very pink inside and a little sweeter than most oranges and they are the first harvest from my little container tree. Gifts from the garden. The Meyer lemons are from my little tree that has been giving me fruit for many years. The tree stands about 3 feet tall.
So I think of my mother and old traditions using oranges and lemons from my garden to create a yummy salad:

Orange fennel salad

orange fennel salad, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

and Voila! Orange fennel salad:
1 fennel bulb, sliced very thin..use the top for garnish
4 oranges, peeled and also sliced thin, (I used Cara Cara oranges)
spinich or arugula
blue cheese
walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 2 lemons ( I used my Meyer lemons)
Mix the sliced oranges and fennel bulb in a bowl and toss with dressing
Lay a bed of the greens on each plate and then add the orange mixture
Sprinkle blue cheese and toasted walnuts on top
Garnish with the feathery tips from the top of the fennel

Post script: tablesetting: 10 lords a leeping (W-S Christmas linens), hand folded Christmas tree made from a retail catalogue.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas tree topiary

topiary, Christmas tree, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Just when I thought there would be no indoor Christmas tree this year I was inspired by Martha Stewart on her daytime TV show. One of her gardening experts demonstrated how to make a topiary out of ivy. Being the garden enthusiast that I am, whenever I trim ivy I put the trimmings in a new container of soil and pretty much ignore it other than giving it water. So I had some ivy already, a Christmas tree topiary form and about 10 minutes. Voila! I DO have a tree this year. I love this low key, use what you have decorating.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Paperwhites, 2 weeks & pine cones

paperwhites, 2 weeks, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

At 2 weeks we have some changes: The roots have found their way out of the bulb and into the water, the stem shoots have started their journey UP and are turning a bit green. It has been warm during the day and cold at night. If they are too slow outside I will bring them in forcing them to bloom earlier but I am going to be patient for a while. Each morning on our walk, Sophie and I make little discoveries. Pine trees are one of the 3 trees that Aliso Viejo has used in the landscaping so this time of year our walk treasures are the cones. We are collecting quite a few. They make pretty additions to my minimalist Christmas decor.

Paperwhites, 1 week

paperwhites, 1 week, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Last Tuesday was the first week after adding bulbs and water to my bowl. You can see that there is not much change from the first day. I was so busy last week I barely had time to take this photo much less post it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nap after Thanksgiving feast

cheetah, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I hope you all had a fabulous turkey day with family and friends. I went to Denver to visit Ella and Kate and their parents. When I arrived my bedroom had been decorated with butterflies the girls (and Ryan) had made for me......there were also beautiful rainbows and a jellyfish to make me smile each morning when my eyes opened. Thursday of course was spent in the kitchen....a quick break in the park and then a yummy dinner. Friday we decided to go to the Denver Zoo. It was a bright sunny day and the animals enjoyed basking in the sun as well as the Coloradans and the lone Californian.
Saturday we went up to the mountains to have some fun. We started off tubing and then went to Winter Park. It was a great day trip. I spent quite a bit of time in my 20s and 30s in these beautiful Rocky Mountains. It was great to visit them again.
Hold on tight for a busy December...I hope we all take a little time to bask in the sun.

Family at the zoo

Family at the zoo, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

The day after Thanksgiving we all went to the Denver Zoo. It was a really warm and sunny November day. The animals and the people all enjoyed the "summer" day

Ella tubing

Ella tubing, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

We went tubing nearby Winter Park on Saturday

Kate throwing snowballs

Kate throwing snowballs, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

and Kate has a snowball fight with Nana

Monday, November 23, 2009

Early Thanksgiving in Seattle

Last Thursday I flew up to see my son, Brad, and his family in Seattle. We like having an alternative Thanksgiving so that's what we did. Friday Amber, Reina and I went to the Pacific Science Center and visited the Tropical Butterfly exhibit. Reina dressed appropriately in her pink butterfly shirt. If you look closely at the milkweed in the background there are two orange, one black. Some of the butterflies actually landed on our was very cool. When we left the exhibit we were asked to turn around in front of the mirrors to see if there were any butterflies trying to escape on our clothes. Reina also liked the dinosaurs. Some of them roared at us but we just roared back. It was a really rainy four days but it is always nice to see my northwest family. Next visit to Seattle will be to welcome the newest grandaughter....due January

owl butterfly

owl butterfly, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

paperwhites, planting

paperwhites, planting, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Six months ago I packed up all of my Christmas decorations and put them on the truck to Denver. The are residing in the basement of Whitney's home along with too much of my other stuff. We all thought I would definitely be there by this time. Wrong! It looks like I will still be living in sunny California through the end of the year so I am without Christmas embellishments! Merde! Solution: I have gathered a shallow red pot from the garage and filled it with paperwhite bulbs in anticipation for a show of white and fragrance in December. I will chronicle their progress:
First day of planting 20 paperwhite (narcissus) bulbs in a pot. I placed a layer of rocks on the bottom of the container and rested the bulbs on top. Then filled water to the level of the base of the bulbs to stimulate the roots to "wake up" It's showtime in 6 weeks (That's December 29...Oh I might be too late...let's see)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Before the fall

before the fall, rose, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

After the fall

paul bocuse rose petals, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

A few days ago one of my climbing roses was full of blooms. Even though I love to see them on the bush I had to cut them and bring them inside so that I could not only see their beauty but smell their frangrance as well. Yesterday the blooms lost their petals. I scooped them into the kitchen sink and this is the spill the petals made. Paul Bocuse rose petals..... a fitting place to fall

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mushrooms in sherry shallot broth

mushroom soup, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Another soup! A pretty fast preparation time, too. I found this recipe in Sunset Magazine October issue. The shallots mild flavor complement the mild and earth tones of the mushrooms. I used all portabellas...some little ones and 1 big one. But use any kind of mushrooms you have or can find.
1 lb mushrooms cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped shallots
4 cups chicken broth

Saute the shallots in butter until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1 tsp fresh thyme. Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Add 1 cup sherry and bring to boil, stirring. Add chicken broth, cover and return to boil, then simmer 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a garnish of thyme and flat leaf parsley.
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The spa at La Quinta

The spa at La Quinta, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Early this morning I took my rescue pack (art on the go) out to squat in front of this building known as The Spa. Soon into my sketching a resort employee driving a cart offered to bring me a chair to sit in. About an hour later the Spa manager offered to let me come in to the Sanctuary to do my art there. It is interesting when you take the risk to "be an artist" in public what kind of people come by to watch. Anyway I spent a couple of hours on this and then we had to come home so I finished it this afternoon at home. It is a bit larger than scanner needs to expand a bit to get it all. It is 15" x 11"...a little big for me. It was a good art weekend.

La Quinta

La Quinta resort and spa, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I decided to tag along with Ryan this weekend to La Quinta. He flew out to attend a high school friend's wedding in the desert and I was welcomed along. He had social events all day on Saturday....I had nothing to do.....but sketch and paint. It was the best studio imaginable. This resort was built in 1926 with a Spanish colonial design and was full of charm. All of the buildings were white stucco....lots of curved details. The roofs were all tile. I studied them carefully and the technique of an authentic tile roof is amazing. All of the window frames and shutters were a beautiful cobalt blue. These elements were repeated in all of the structures whether build in 85 years ago or 10 years ago. The Santa Rosa mountains back this resort as most of La Quinta. This sketch took more than my normal 20 minutes but I had the whole afternoon. Lots of work on the roof.

It was a fast but very relaxing trip. I am grateful for Ryan letting me tag a long. Happy Birthday Ryan!

wood chair back

wood chair back, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I sat on a bench in the Plaza while sketching. This was the seat next to me. It also was of Spanish style and had a cobalt blue cushion.

tile roof detail

tile roof detail, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

All of the roofs were terra cotta tiles. They were beautiful and extremely functional providing insulation from the desert heat.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Butternut squash soup with crispy prosciutto

butternut squash soup, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

OK as promised soup and salads for a while...
I love butternut squash soup. It is so complex to the palate for a simple pureed soup. This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma' s Thanksgiving menu for this year and it is divine. They have a new jarred butternut squash puree. It is $12 and probably worth every penny but it is not difficult to do at home. I roasted a whole butternut squash in a 400 deg oven for about an hour. First cut a few slits in the side with a sharp knife so it won't explode in your oven. That would truly be a mess and not only would you have to clean your oven but you would also have to buy a new squash. Let cool and scoop out the insides after removing the seeds. Then proceed with the recipe. This soup has the unique flavor of butternut squash, the savory flavors of the traditional soup herbs and vegetables and the added twist of pear which gives the soup a little sweetness but adds a unique flavor of its own. Try it for your Thanksgiving or before.

Oh..The soupspoon on the right is a very old piece of hotel silver that I have enjoyed collecting over the last 15 years. I just took several pieces to be re-silvered. Silver plate does wear thin after a while and this is the first time I have tried replating any. I just picked up about a dozen pieces today and they are beautiful. Recycle, it what you want but I am really pleased.