Monday, December 30, 2013

The Perfect Holiday Gift? Tiffany's Holiday Catalog

I wasn't sure why Tiffany & Co. recently sent me their holiday 2013 catalog:

I'm not the kind of person who might be moved to buy this stunning bauble. It's so expensive the catalog doesn't bother telling you just how much it would set you back to buy it:

I'm not going to spring for even one of these little beauties, either, which are also marked "price upon request":

But then, I hit the middle photo spread of the catalog, and there was my answer:

Aha. I get it, Tiffany.

Now, THAT is priceless!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Late December Loves

Hello, friends! Here's a roundup of what my family has been up to during these last days of December. Pao Pao tried on some festive antlers at the local pet store:

The Boy continues to help us tame down skittish, feral-born Adventure Kitty:

I worked a dog adoption, where this beautiful pit bull puppy was waiting patiently for her chance at adoption. (She has a mild skin problem on her muzzle; it's being fixed with antibiotics):

(Puppy update: She was rescued by a private adoption group, which means she's on her way to a forever home soon.)

Lovely Daughter #2 spent some time in the beautiful seaside town of Morro Bay and texted me this photo:

I baked up a storm. These cookies were all destined for a Christmas-dinner celebration with family in Santa Barbara, CA:

The Boy continued to wow us with his blossoming culinary talents. For dinner one night he made us  Smitten Kitchen's Braised Short Ribs:

If you don't know of the "Smitten Kitchen" cookbook, I highly recommend it. Deb Perelman's photos are gorgeous, her recipes consistently wonderful, and her sense of humor shines through the commentary. This is how The Boy served the short ribs--on a bed of silky, puréed parsnips, with caramelized onions and the hearty, rib-based stock over it all:

 (BTW those are my Nana's dishes--about 90 years old at this point. Thank you, Nana!)

For Christmas Day, we travelled to Santa Barbara for a family dinner at a local restaurant. That is, the restaurant was closed, but one of my nephews-in-law is the manager, so he opened it for our private gathering. We made the dinner in the huge commercial kitchen. Here's The Boy and one of my wonderful nephews, making guacamole dip to start off the festivities:

 (Aren't they good-looking chefs?)

The restaurant has a great bar (loved the house-made pepper-flavored vodka!). We had a great deal of fun playing bartender (and drinking our results). This is The Boy again, with another nephew-in-law of mine:

 (Sooo many good-looking young men in this family!)

I contributed the Christmas desserts: Molasses, thumbprint, and sugar cookies, plus a dense, sherry-laced "pudding" in the English sense of the word, served with a bright lemon sauce:

Back home in Los Angeles, Christmas day ended with The Boy enjoying a sweet midnight cuddle with Adventure Kitty, who--when swaddled in a blanket--magically transforms into a calm, purring, happy bundle of fur:

Enjoy the last few days of 2013, everyone. And sweet dreams.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December Roundup

I've had a lovely December so far, and I hope you have, too! This month, The Hubby and I attended his firm's gorgeous holiday party:

We joined Lovely Daughter #1 at a benefit honoring a young friend of ours:

The skies over LA showed off their finest blues and whites after a cleansing rain:

My dear book club friends and I celebrated by exchanging "white elephant" gifts and wearing red. Over drinks, we got all sentimental realizing that, in nine years, we've grown from a bunch of acquaintances to the very dearest of friends:

 My family and I sat around watching Adventure Kitty strike stupidly cute poses:

I attended an old-school, swanky Christmas lunch with The Hubby at an old-school, swanky private club downtown. It was a gathering of retired partners from his prior firm, and it was lovely to see some old familiar faces:

I worked two pet adoptions at the park for our city's pound animals. I met this adorable chihuahua mix with a perfect silver-dollar-sized polka dot on his back:

And I fell in love with this pink-nosed cutie. Luckily, both dogs were swept up by a private adoption group. With their adorable looks, these pups may have fur-ever homes by Christmas!

My writing workshop gathered, not for a work session, but for a festive lunch!

Lovely Daughter #1, her Med School Bestie, and I celebrated the fact that they are on winter break from school with brunch at a favorite eatery:

The Boy came home from college and promptly fell in love with Adventure Kitty. Here he is trying to coax her out of her cage with a little wet cat food on his finger:

Nice to meet ya!

And Mother Nature showed off a little after a light rain:

Still to come for me: more presents to wrap, cookies to bake, and relatives to visit.

Whatever you do, be kind to yourselves. And wherever you travel, may your days be merry and bright!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Clever Holiday Decorating, L.A. Style

In L.A., we don't have snow or frost or icicles for the holidays. There are no pine tree forests or frozen ponds for ice skating. But there's still plenty of seasonal decor around. It just tends to have a distinctly L.A. twist.

Take this garden display, for instance. A neighbor wrapped twinkle lights around his agave plants, which right now have spectacular bloom spires rising up from their spiky bases:

Don't they look handsome?

Silhouetted against the evening sky, the 12-foot spires look especially dramatic:

Another neighbor draped her life-size cow statue (a year-round fixture in her front yard) in a blanket of twinkle lights, and added a big red bow around her neck. And check it out--the cow is wearing leggings--polka-dot leggings!:

Holiday decorations pop up in unexpected places. Yesterday I hiked the local canyon with Pao, and I noticed a single Christmas ornament hanging in the branches of a bare bush:

The ornament was hand-painted with "Jim 2011" on it. I have no idea what the story is, but I loved the whimsy of  finding a single ornament where it's least expected:

And stopping to snap a picture of the ornament, I also got to fully enjoy the view:

The very best kind of holiday decorating, courtesy of Mother Nature. Happy Holidays, my friends!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Birthday #4, Pao Pao!

Our youngest dog, Pao Pao, is four years old today.

We've known him since right after he was born into a private rescue. When he was just a few days old, we visited him and his siblings and mama:

At those first meetings, he showed signs of how much he loved being  held upside down, especially by The Boy:

As soon as Pao joined our family, he looked up to his older brothers to show him the ropes and tell him what's what:

 Even if he was being a bit of a brat:

Very wall-eyed as a baby, Pao slowly developed more muscle control over his eyes. As they straightened up, he grew into his good looks:

 Of our three pugs, Pao is the most agreeable to wearing silly costumes for the camera:

And he is our only pug brave enough to swim in the pool:

 We can't imagine our lives without this love bug:

Happy Birthday, Pao!

You make us laugh, every day.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This Face

Lovely Daughter #1 saw this face in a vintage truck while shopping in her neighborhood recently. This Bulldog face.

I love a smashy-face dog!


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