cocktail party inspiration

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I do most of my entertaining in a tiny studio (more on that soon), where my couch and thrifted dining chairs get a lot of use. My parties usually flood from the kitchen out into my living room, so having enough proper seating is important. Someday I’ll have a bigger space to fill with all of the pretty chairs, but for now, it’s flea market and pinterest dreams for this girl.

When the stylish team over at Chairish asked me to create an inspiration board around one of their accent chairs, my choice was obvious. Mid-century, teak, and pink, this Danish lounge chair is something I could definitely see in my space. I think it would fit in perfectly with my pink cocktail cart and gold walls in my powder room. This chair makes me want to throw on a pair of Swedish hasbeen clogs and drink a flowery cocktail from one of these gold highball glasses.

Do you have a piece that makes you want to party? Some pretty plates that inspire your dishes? Tell me about it in the comments!

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summer salad + cornbread croutons

If cornbread were to show up at a regular-bread family reunion, what kind of family member would they be? Sweet great-aunt? Odd ball cousin?

These are the things I think about.

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I’ve had cornbread on my mind since last weekend, when a cool new friend threw a Southern food party. I brought booze and cornbread, which (surprise!) the host had already thought of and prepared. After dying (in a really good way) over her Southern shrimp and rice, I shlepped home some cornbread in my purse and began brainstorming ways to use it up.

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The late August heat in LA has made every night a salad and cocktail kind of night. Don’t get me wrong–I love all of those things–but you can only go so long without mixing up your salad game. Cornbread croutons and blueberry vinaigrette, paired with this citrusy cucumber cocktail, were a game changer. Sweet bread and sweet berries, meet sweet summer.

summer salad + cornbread croutons
makes one large salad

for the croutons:

Slice one large piece (about 5 square inches) of cornbread into cubes. Preheat your oven to 400 and toss cornbread with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toast for about 15 minutes until golden brown, tossing every five minutes or so.

for the salad:

This is just a combination of my summer favorites, but feel free to change it up! Here’s what I used:

one pint baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
5-6 basil leaves, torn
a handful of goat cheese
a handful of blueberries
a handful of toasted walnuts
five big handfuls mixed greens
blueberry vinaigrette (1 handful blueberries, 1 part olive oil, 2 parts balsamic vinegar in a blender)

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weekend link party!

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photo taken at night + market while dining with this cool designer

speaking of ethnic food in LA, this Indian restaurant is killin it

an interesting read on the importance of solitude

had lunch here today with Haley, rad LA blogger behind Brewing Happiness

digging this shop for cool prints

7 things you need to stop doing to be productive

thinking of ordering some warby parkers! anyone have any favorites?

an adorable four year old reviews French Laundry

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LA’s signature cocktail

I’m a sucker for food with a hometown reputation. I want sourdough in San Francisco, seafood in Seattle, and a slice of pizza in Chicago. I make a point to have a Redamak’s cheeseburger when I’m in Michigan and a slice of pie when I’m in Indiana. I find food traditions as fascinating as they are delicious, which got me wondering: do hometown cocktails exist?

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The folks at the California Artisanal Distillers Guild asked themselves that very question about Los Angeles. But instead of searching for their answer, they did something better: they created it. They enlisted the help of true Angelinos and held a contest to find LA’s signature cocktail. Contestant Josh Lurie shook up some of Southern California’s freshest ingredients to pour the winning drink, which he’s named “The Griffith.” Local lemons and cucumbers are mixed with GreenBar Craft Distillery’s TRU organic garden vodka and GRAND POPPY organic bitter liqueur to create a true taste of the city. (Sidenote: the liqueur is created with real California poppies, which means I kind of want it in all of my cocktails for the rest of my life. Second side note: the actual recipe calls for a cucumber swirl, but a girl’s got to be honest with herself about strengths. Cucumber swirling is not one of mine.)

The GreenBar team was kind enough to give me a couple bottles to mix up the Griffith for myself, and I’ve got to say, it tastes like Los Angeles to me. It’s sweet and fresh with a little bit of a bite, and it’s just a beachy as it is city. Try out the recipe below and let me know what you think! For more info about how this cocktail came to be, check out this page on GreenBar’s site.

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the griffith
makes one cocktail

1 oz TRU organic garden vodka
1 oz GRAND POPPY organic bitter liqueur
1 oz freshly squeezed local lemon
1 oz simple syrup
2-3 slices fresh local cucumber
ice

Muddle the cucumbers and then add the rest of your ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass with a slice of cucumber.

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dinner at muir ranch

Something I learned this weekend: it’s hard to be grumpy with flowers on your head. In fact, impossible.

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I attended a dinner this past Saturday at Muir Ranch, an urban farm in Pasadena. It’s one of those magical places in Los Angeles that helps balance out all of the traffic and concrete. Everything is alive and blooming.

I met my new friend Mud, an urban farmer with a lot of spunk and even more Twitter followers. Not only did he pick and place the flowers on my head, but he also grows the starter plants for every school garden in Los Angeles. He’s the sort of guy who makes you wonder what more we can do to better the world around us. He’s a social enterprise superhero.

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We ate family-style at the longest table I’ve ever seen. We had roasted carrots and parsnips, swiss chard and leek gratin, cauliflower and broccoli with a sauce verte, meatballs in tomato sauce, and acorn squash covered in cinnamon butter caramel for dessert. Harvested, prepared, and eaten in the garden, it was beyond fresh. I left full, inspired, and with a giant squash in my purse.

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If you’re in the LA area and would like to attend Muir Ranch’s next sociable supper, follow along on their Facebook page. Look out for a party on September 27th…grab a ticket and let’s dinner party together (with flowers on our heads)! Ticket proceeds benefit the Pasadena Educational Foundation.

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