Friday, October 30, 2009

Spooky Lunch

Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) or Halloween
is a very popular day in Santa Barbara...

There are many events all around town for little ones and adults....

our singing Count Dracula welcomed 20 Park Highland neighbor Ladies
to my Spooky Lunch

"Come on in dearie", said our ghostly witch

We served up some skull & bones soup....

some Raven Salad

paired with Twisted Tree

Bug Under Glass for starters

scary favors for my guests...

finished up with some special sweets, served on heirloom silver of course

the Ravens and our other "pets" cleaned up the left-overs

thanks so much for stopping by our Spooky neighborhood lunch....

Recipe (from Trader Joe's) for Soup I served. Delicious, easy & filling soup to serve a crowd, corn bread and a sliced melon, grape & apple salad, served with wine & iced tea

cookies & coffee for dessert

Peruvian Chicken & Rice Soup (serves 8)

(could also be called Tortilla Soup, just add some corn chips and shredded cheese)

1 box Chicken Broth (32 fl oz)
1 box Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup (32 fl oz)
1/2 jar Corn & Chile Salsa (bit spicey)
1 large bag (frozen) Chimichurri Rice
Cooked sliced or chunk Chicken
Juice of 2 limes

throw it all in a big pan, heat properly and serve!
(everyone wants this recipe!)

come by again next year...I'll start seasoning and aging the bones now....

Hope you have a spooky Halloween where ever you are!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Delightful Surprises

Rushing so I would be on time to conduct the Multiple Listing Meeting this morning....
I was stopped in my tracks by an incredible sight....

Three stunning flowers on our cactus! and one bud ready to flower...

These gorgeous orchid like flowers last only a day or two....

a wonderful way to begin my fall morning!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October is perfect for High Tea!

In the Heart of Santa Barbara....

becons a fabulous five star Bed & Breakfast Inn
named The Simpson House Inn

come and join five long time friends for a birthday celebration

The Simpson House is surrounded by manicured gardens and patios
The main residence offers lovely guest rooms and garden cottages
another garden with a beautiful fountain

Santa Barbara used to have many grand Victorian style homes until the 1925 earthquake
The Simpson House is one of the few surviving Grand Ladies

Here are some younger ladies celebrating a birthday!
We have been friends for 35 years!

a charming porch entry to the dining room

a classic sideboard offering home made goodies to guests
many cozy corners for snuggling up with a book

Our dining room is ready for birthday Tea

A delightful and delicious afternoon enjoying each other and home made scones, sandwiches, cookies and all the tradition trimmings of High Tea!

How do you celebrate a milestone birthday in beautiful Santa Barbara?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

After the Rain

It always smells so wonderful after the rain...

This is the third year of draught and we're so happy to have an early rainfall, especially a big one like this last one....

Our annual average rain fall is about 22 inches and this rain delivered 6.6 inches on San Marcos Pass, which is located several miles above our neighborhood.

The greater Santa Barbara area has many micro climates. Our neighborhood is one of the driest and also subject to winds. I've been told that the greater Santa Barbara area has one of the longest growing seasons in the world. A combination of our unique southern exposure to the Pacific Ocean, the protective Santa Rosa Island chain right off our coast, and the Santa Inez Mountain Range results in a long sliver of protected land along the Ocean creating a sub-tropical climate which grows just about everything!

Come for a walk in our garden...
Up the steps...

to our front door decorated for Halloween festvities...

We'll sit a while in the outdoor dining room and enjoy a glass of lemonade cookies and then we'll explore the rest of the garden....

The outdoor fireplace doubles as a retaining wall and is a gathering spot on chilly nights.

That's a very large and old Eucalyptus Tree behind the fireplace. Eucalyptus Trees love our climate although they are not native to the US. They originate from Australia.

Crows, Hoot Owls and Turkey Vultures love to nest in these trees. Our son and his pals made many a tree fort in this old tree. There are numerous groves of these huge trees in our neighborhood. Behind the tree lays a 10 acre parcel of open pasture still used for horses.

The lawn area you see was originally planned for a pool which
didn't happen. We love our strip of lawn surrounded by rock gardens

Doug, my talented Architect husband not only designed and built our home; he also built this covered patio housing the outdoor kitchen and dining room surrounded by lovely sitting and plant areas. We all got involved in the garden plan which evolves over time. We are a family of gardeners...

My collection of vintage birdcages are filled with plants and ceramic birds. Real birds are invited into our gardens to enjoy the many feeders. We grow flowers to attract bees and Monarch butterflies; including milk weed which attracts the butterfly caterpillar. It's amazing to watch the caterpillars strip a milkweed plant in a matter of days.

This little statue in the crouch of two Queen Palm trees is a favorite. The red flowers are one of the many Epidendrum plants (poor man's orchids) which I have in several colors. They truly live up to their common name, as they grow almost anywhere outside in our climate.

Spring usually brings us a pair of Canadian Honkers who like to sit in this fountain and have dinner at the feeders. It's a comedy in feathers to watch them come in for a landing on the lawn.

A late bloom of white Iceberg roses dances in front of a fabulous showing of purple Mexican sage which really shows off this time of year. The orange bush is a newer plant in the garden and seems to be adapting well. It's name escapes me at the moment, but we like it a lot.

This wonderful courtyard garden is right off our master bedroom. Designed, created and planted by our son Jon, as a birthday gift for his Dad. Jon is studying architecture at University and hopes to join his Dad as an Architect. His creative gene is quite obvious!

These flower beds are located over the wall from the court yard against the back of the house and are my personal flower gardens. The rack holds baskets for cutting flowers, produce and fruit from the garden. The large bird cage was a terrific vintage find in one of our local thrift shops.

The Jacaranda tree is native to California and Mexico. Jacaranda's have fabulous showings of flower bunches which are a periwinkel blue. A nearby street is lined with these trees. It is magical when the trees are flowering.

A path leads down the back stairs to the driveway; to the left is a mini fruit orchard, along with black-berries and artichokes. Sadly pumpkins and melons don't seem to like our garden.

At one end of the lawn a turn to the right leads to raised beds with vegetables, herbs, cutting flowers, berry bushes and a sad attempt at grapes. In the very back you can see a small portion of the potting area. The flower wagon is a gift from my sister Regina, also an avid gardener.

The other end of the lawn leads back to the patio and fireplace area which is next to our bird garden. Coveys of quail have taken up residence along with a variety of song birds and humming birds. The hanging sock is often covered with finches and squirrels can be seen swinging from feeder to feeder.

Living in a semi rural area does have its hazards...coyotes and bob cats force us to keep cats and small dogs indoors. When the red tailed hawk is looking for dinner in our becomes instantly very quiet.

rock gardens and succulents

Plants find homes everywhere

This garden is off our son's bedroom. During his summer break he replanted the area with succulents. The big leafed trees are Giant Birds of Paradise

This red roofed bird condo was a gift from my friend Joye as was the solar powered butterfly just below it

Fall colors are beginning to show right under the last bloom of roses

First blooming Cymbidiums next to a reflowering Phalenopsis orchid
sheltered under the patio cover

After the rain a tropical storm
brought a week of very warm and humid weather which made our gardens very happy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 2009 CALM Antique & Vintage Show

Judy Watkins, the Director & Producer of the
Remnants of the Past Show in Nipomo brought many gorgeous items to the Show.

This fabulous swag at the top of her display is dried 'hops'
Judy makes creative gifts & embellishments with antique papers and rare finds
visit her wibsite:

As part of her decor Judy brought along some of the wonderfully engraved pumpkins from Carol Smithback of

Kymberly Fraser of 3 Fine Grains
"One of a kind designs created from fine antique European grainsacks dating back nearly a century or more.
I met Kymberly at the Remnants of the Past Barn Show in Nipomo a few weeks ago. Her designs are amazing and very trendy in current home design. Pottery Barn is carrying modern versions of these antique textiles

The CALM Antique Show features wonderfully diverse Dealers with antiques, collectibles, fine art, jewelry and designers featuring American, European, English, Asian and Middle East collections. These Dealers travel from all over the State, The US and several from Europe

Fabulous French textiles

Lynn Russell's display was elegant and serene featuring framed antique drawings of estate landscape plans from Europe including Germany, France and England. A most unique design concept. Her show collection included stunning American coin sterling serve ware, dating back to Paul Revere.

The elegance of her design reminded me of Belgian Pearls, a Design Blog ( from Belgium by a Greet LeFevre, a Belgium Interior Decorator who along with her brother, runs a 4th generation family owned business of cabinet makers. Greet's blog features amazing Belgian and Swedish style design. Truly worth a look.

Stunning display of antique rugs and carpets from around the world

Exquisite jewelry designed with stunning antique clasps and findings by Jeana Hurst of

Jeana shares her gorgeously designed space with Rick Bastain and John Aragone of FFB Antiques.

Rick, John and Jeana have this same space (#2) each time they have come to the CALM Show. Charming, friendly and informative, they are located right next to a Dealer who carries the most fabulous transferware dishes along with an amazing collection of antique and vintage 'want to have' dishware and silver I have ever seen. As these two spaces are right by the front door, it is easy to spend all your time and money visiting these two spaces.

Be sure to save the date for the next show! January 29, 30 & 31, 2010
same place. A truly not to be missed event!