art & commerce

Here’s an interesting pairing — Classic American shoe company Vans has partnered with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to create a series of shoes (plus clothing and accessories) based on the artist’s paintings. A portion of the proceeds go to support the museum.

Sunflowers on my feet? That could put a smile of my face . . . Available starting August 3, 2018 online at the museum store and www.vans.com Shipping worldwide.

maca mania

MACA PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 small or 1/4 large avocado
1 heaping spoonful natural peanut butter
1 heaping teaspoon maca powder
1T ground chia seeds
maple syrup to taste
ice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy this smokey, nutty combination of flavors.

the perfect hostess gift

Who wouldn’t love to be handed this beautiful opaline glass jar when you arrive at their home? Doesn’t even matter that it is filled with tiny little sour cherries in syrup from the province of Emilia-Romagna in Italy that make a perfect ice cream topping, or cocktail add-on. It’s just one of the most beautiful packages I have ever seen that only gets better as the red syrup drips down and stains the sides with each serving. A truly classic kitchen find!

And at $22.50 for a hefty 1KG jar, it really is the perfect hostess gift, thank you gift or just because sometimes a beautiful package is hard to resist.

Amarena Fabbro Sour Cherries found at The Larder in Beverly Hills, Ca. Also available at Amazon because what isn’t?

to jam or not to jam

Nothing beats a classic Aussie Lamington — the soft sponge cake that slightly absorbs it’s chocolate icing around all sides, covered in sweetened coconut flakes. And yes, I fall on the side of JAM tucked in the center! If you’re not convinced, omit that portion of the recipe.

LAMINGTONS WITH JAM

Sponge Cake

10 T. butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups flour                                                                                                                  2 teaspoons baking powder                                                                                             3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk                                                                                                              Raspberry Jam, seedless

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease & flour a 9 x 13 cake pan.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and gradually beat in the sugar with the vanilla, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Gradually beat in eggs one at a time.

Sift the flour and salt and fold into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. Add a little more milk if necessary so that the mixture drops easily from a spoon.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30–35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut the cake into two even layers and spread with a thin layer of raspberry jam — enough to hold the layers together but not to ooze out when cut. Press the layers together and cut into 2 inch cubes.

Icing

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4–6 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract                                                                                        5 oz. sweetened flaked coconut

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add the boiling water, butter and vanilla, then stir until smooth and shiny.

Spread  a small amount the flaked coconut on a large plate. Dip the sandwiched cake pieces in the chocolate icing then immediately roll in the coconut, using two forks to turn and coat.  Replenish the coconut as needed. Leave on a wire rack to set.

Recipe adapted from Margaret Fulton’s Baking Classics

more cool stamps

Suddenly, I wish I wrote more correspondence that required stamps. Because suddenly, the United States Postal Service is producing all kinds of cool stamps.

Here are a few more to add to your collection produced in past years but still available for purchase online:

The Solar Eclipse — a heat sensitive ink that reveals the moon with the touch of your finger. So f-in cool!! Now I wish I’d had an eclipse party. Good news is these are Forever stamps. Buy some now and use them for the next North American solar eclipse in 2024.

How about these round (!) ball stamps. So cute for a kids party invite or just for your favorite sports fan. I so wish you could buy single balls ’cause I’m kinda partial to tennis myself. But the novelty of any of these balls adorning your mail would be charming regardless the sport.

janice

An oldie but a goodie from 2014 still available online. Nothing beats the flower power of Janice Joplin.

succulent

If succulents are more your thing, here’s another round stamp good for international postage or larger envelopes at $1.15 value.

And whether your taste in entertainment leans towards Star Trek or Disney, there are always some great options available in any given year.

These and other cool stamps are available online here.

And what are my favorite stamps I’ve ever purchased?

These Charles and Ray Eames stamps. Issued in 2008 before forever stamps were introduced. But that’s OK. They’re too cool to mail. I framed them instead.

scratch and post

Available today at your local post office — scratch and sniff stamps with the smell of summer frozen treats!

There’s just one scent for all designs, sadly. But regardless, they’re fun, fruity and oh so summery. Post one to a friend today. Perfect for those letters home from camp!

$10 for a book of ten Forever stamps, until sold out.

ice cream challenge

Today’s Contender:  McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
Location:  Santa Barbara, CA
Flavor:  Vanilla Bean

This not so boring Vanilla Bean ice cream may just be the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had. I have in fact, tried a few of McConnell’s flavors and think the texture of their ice cream to be exactly what I love  — rich and creamy, smooth beyond compare made with premium, all natural ingredients. Which makes their vanilla bean to die for. Just as the carton says, a perfect accompaniment to pie!  But it’s damn good alone as well.

McConnell’s ice cream is a Santa Barbara, California tradition going back over 70 years. But of late, they have joined the Los Angeles ice cream boom with scoop shops downtown, in Los Feliz and Studio City. You can also find them in nearly every grocery store here in town for those that don’t live on the east side — at the premium price of $9.99/pt.

There may be more trendy ice cream shops everywhere here in LA these days but I’d pick McConnel’s over any of them to be honest.

sale of the century

I know summer is on the way (although you wouldn’t know it here in LA). But despite the fact you won’t wear these clothes for months to come — take advantage of the winter clothing sale at what is undoubtedly the best new fashion brand to come along in ages: ROUCHA.

I am head over heals in love with these clothes.The styling is right up my alley — slightly masculine but with feminine flair. Ultimately mix and matchable in black, navy, brown, grey and the occasional pop of color –  just what we all wear anyway. These are pieces made to be worn every day and work with sneakers or heels, whichever you fancy. I’m of the former variety myself.

The quality is gorgeous. The fit slightly oversized. The look sophisticated casual. And right now nearly everything is on sale up to 50% off.  If they weren’t sold out of a lot of styles in my size, I’d seriously own one of everything right now. I have an entire closet of winter coats from my East Coast days that never get worn here in California. But i am seriously tempted to buy another, knowing that a European trip is in my future late fall. At these prices, how can a girl resist?

This brand came to me in my Instagram feed. And boy am I happy about that. It a brand with serious pedigree and serious chops. Clothes that will last a lifetime and never go out of style. Even at full price … worth every penny!

Sale ends June 3, 2018