Monday, April 5, 2010

The microwave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My intense phobia of the microwave can be traced back to the person who has managed to teach me all the great stone age philosophies of life, my dearest mother. I was already a very infrequent user of this device but  a distinct dialog between my mom and my husband Matt some years back solidified my commitment to never use this item in my house again.

Matt had come home from work very late, past the hour where any healthful eating should take place.  With him he had brought some hot dogs from the grocery store (also not an item I would ever think to purchase much less eat).  My mom was visiting us at the time and in her samaritan ways wanted to assist Matt in the kitchen with the task of making him something to eat.  While preparing him a salad to go alongside his toxic hotdog she quizzed him on how he would prepare this american favorite.  He tiredly replied that he would microwave the item in question which led my mother to gasp in shock.  Matt looked at her questioningly, always interested to learn new viewpoints, when she expressed so clearly: "Oh no, I never use the microwave.  It changes the molecular consistency of food. In addition I am nervous with anything that puts radiation in my food."  I don't remember what happened to the hotdog that night but I do remember that Matt never used the microwave again from that day forward.

To this day I continue my battle to not use this device that is a staple appliance in 90% of all American households.  When I was pregnant with my son Sky, it appeared that the market for baby bottle sterilizers had changed to only microwavable models, meaning you would sterilize all baby's bottles in the microwave only.  I was unable to find one sterilizer, that did not operate a different way so I was thrilled to discover, that I had indeed saved the electric steam sterilizer from my daughter Orchid's arrival.

Is it not peculiar that pregnant women and children are told never to stand near the microwave, yet our infants' bottles are to be sterilized in the very same device?  Does it worry nobody, that even manufacturers and doctors warn against microwaving formula and milk for babies  as it is proven that the food for babies will have lost it's nutrient structure through the microwaving process?  Would it not be logical that the same loss of nutrients occurs with all food put in the microwave?  Most importantly, is nobody concerned about why the non-pregnant and non child population should be any less averse of the risks regarding the microwave?  I recommend everyone consult Dr. Google with respect to research about this.  What you will read, will hopefully make you too, a believer, that the microwave is to be avoided at all cost.

Finally, when the day comes that you decide to live without this toxic device, you have also committed to get back to cooking real food the right way which is always a good thing.  Here's to living the good life without the microwave....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life skills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Those of you who know my fabulous husband Matt, are aware that he could be considered the poster child of modern day living. He is a multi-tasker extraordinaire living life at the speed of a formula 1 race car driver.  Surprisingly, he has the miraculous quality of cutting through to the essence of things with a level of depth that would surprise anyone and continues to baffle me to this very day.  Such a moment occurred yesterday as we were sharing lunch after skiing our hearts out on the mountain yesterday.  We were discussing the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution TV show, that we had watched together the night prior, when he calmly stated:  We have stopped learning life skills!!!!!

Dumbfounded by this intense statement, I dug further and asked him to elaborate.  He said, we as a culture, no longer know how to manage our money, feed our children and ourselves, and parent our offsprings to become well functioning adults.  For the rest of the day, his statement did not leave my mind.  Why, I asked myself was this happening?  No doubt, I agree with him, but what has caused our learning in these important areas of life to stop?  In spending some time to think about this, my conclusion is this:  We as a culture are obsessed with time and efficiency.  

 We have become consumed with doing things in record speed and we have eliminated any task that might consume precious time.  We no longer cook, because it takes too much time, we bring our clothes to the cleaner, because washing them takes too much time, and because we are all working to get somewhere in life (do not ask me where) we no longer take the time to raise our children.  I myself know, that the issue of time is on the forefront of even my five year old daughter as she blurts out statements such as: "you have just wasted my time" to me.    Our preoccupation with time, has caused us to stop learning the most important skill of life:  to live in the present rather than chase the future. Shouldn't we all re-focus our attention to how we are living life today, and as a result have a much better outlook for tomorrow.  I  would like to end with a quote from Francis Gray that sums up my thoughts.  Here's to living the good life.......
Francis Gray
"Look well to this day. Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The weather man!!!!!!!!

Matt & My Dad

Having lived in Deer Valley now for almost 3 months, one of the biggest changes in my daily routine has been to have to actually follow the weather.  Living in Los Angeles for so many years, it is easy to forget the importance of such a task, as Angelenos are blessed with the most consistent nice weather possible.  The occupation of being the weatherman in Los Angeles must be the most boring and redundant job as there a no real dramatic changes to report aside from the the occasional El Ninjo that strikes every few years.

So imagine me, not only checking for temperature changes as I get my daughter dressed for school, but also checking, will it be sunny, will it snow, are we going to get powder, etc.  Here in Deer Vallley, weather is a major factor of everyday life.  I am happy to report that I have adjusted well to this new routine in my life in no small thanks to my own personal weatherman, my dad.

Those of you who know him, will agree that there are many things that he is able to forecast with cutting edge accuracy.  The weather is one such thing.  For instance, prior to getting on a plane, he will consult the radar and weather map to see if the flight will be smooth or bumpy, and I can always count on him to relay such valuable information to me and those around him.  Having had the pleasure of living near him in Deer Valley, there have been the few select days where I have gotten "The Call".

This is the call I get from him, when conditions are optimal (and I do mean a flawless 10 out of 10), which is the only time he will make the ride up the mountain and ski with us.  I know that when I see his name on my caller id in the morning, that I do not need to check the weather today, as I know perfection is about to strike. I have made the fatal mistake of questioning this skill a few times, when it was cloudy and foggy as my phone rang with the announcement of his ski intentions.  However, miraculously, by the time my dad shows up at my house, weather nirvana has set in.

Yesterday, was one of these days, where I saw his name on my phone, and just proceeded to get my ski clothes on immediately in anticipation of his select arrival.  Sure enough, as we proceeded to ski, the day was without flaw and as usual a memorable experience.  As we were skiing in the most spectacular setting of weather this season, I could not help and reflect on the fact, that I am so lucky to be spending this quality day with the best weatherman around, my dad.  Here's to living the good life with dads......

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kodak moment!!!!!!!!

We all know to recognize them, the Kodak moments that feel like the heartwarming ads we love on TV.  There are just some instances in life that you just know you will never forget and the memories of these moments, cement themselves permanently into your brain.  As time goes by, all those Kodak moments (along with the tragedies of our lives) weave together to make the movie that is called: our life.
Recently, I was fortunate to experience another Kodak moment to add to my movie of life.  It was a flawless sunny day in Deer Valley and I decided to take my sweet boy Sky and Orchid sledding in front of our house.  As we were sledding down the hill numerous times, Orchid tirelessly trying to crash into Sky and my sled, I paused my mind for that moment and reminded myself to not ever forget this moment.

 Surely, there will be more great sledding moments  to come as these kids grow up, but this was my first with the two of them together and I know, I will never forget it.  Here's to Kodak moments and living the good life....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Formal dining rooms are soooo over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Firstly, my sincerest apologies for not blogging for a while.  Complications with technology beyond my control, interfered and crashed my computer while traveling to Paris .  All pictures and data were and are wiped out.  Of course thanks to Applecare, I now have a brand new hard drive but without any of my familiar data.  My poor hard drive was fed-exed off to data recovery for some serious hard drive surgery.

Anyways, back to my travels.  I spent a fabulous five days in Paris with two of my good girlfriends, who found themselves in the city of lights at the same time for various reasons.  Needless to say we had a blast shopping, eating and of course going to the Maison Objet.  I would love to enclose pics but am not able to.  More to come in future posts about Paris.

Today's post is about the antiquated notion of the formal dining room (Mutsch, forgive me as I know you love and value a proper dining room).  Arguably this room is the most unused room in the whole house in the modern world.  Sure, if you have available square footage, by all means, knock yourselves out and add a dining room but as space is becoming more and more of a premium, I feel some chic alternatives are possible.   Over the years as a decorator I have seen some fabulous remedies to this problem.  My friend Lisa Bowles, who owns a amazingly well edited shop in East Hampton by the name of Roark (this is the link to her furniture listings on , approched this issue beautifully.  She doubled up her entry with a library and a beautiful long wooden table that can double as a dining space when needed.

Lisa Bowles' entry/library/dining space

The notion of eating in the kitchen is no longer new but still popular, however, who in the world wants to look at dirty dishes when you are entertaining.  Kitchens are a great place for family dining or for cooks that leave virtually no mess upon completion of the cooking process.  For that reason I feel rooms that are better candidates to doubling up are:  Libraries because they are very cozy and usually also unused, or beautiful entries as much space is devoted to them and again they tend not to be used.  My friend Steven Gambrel, architect and designer of New York's and Hamptons' glitterati,  sets a beautiful table in his entry when he is entertaining whether it is a sit down dinner or buffet style dining.

Steven Gambrel's entry

Without a doubt, my next house will not have a dedicated formal dining room and I am already dreaming about a library/dining room combo  with fireplace that will provide the most memorable and chic dining experiences.  Here's to living the good life.... without the formal dining room.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Outside the comfort zone!!!!!!!!!

Anyone that knows me will happily acknowledge that I don't like hiking, and even the smallest attempts are without a doubt outside of my comfort zone.  After all, I am for sure a creature of comfort and was naturally,  born in the chinese sign of the pig.  However, I don't like to be a killjoy and so I let myself be convinced today, to do some hiking to follow along the two powder hounds (Forest and my dear husband), whom I was skiing with today.

Here is a small sampling of thoughts that went through my head as I ventured outside my oh so comfortable space:  Why did I agree to this craziness, I should have eaten only half the chili verde at lunch, the polyester of all my ski layers is starting to itch, I should definetly not have had the cigarette after lunch, I must have a cigarette after I accomplish this task and finally, there are really some beautiful spots to see if you are willing to hike the distance outside of the comfort zone.

Finally we arrived at the peak of "Ontario Bowl", only for me to discover that the challenging part was not the hike, but rather the descent of this already far too cumbersome journey.  Halfway down the steep incline, Forest,  my dear friend and ski guide of today, had the brilliant idea, that this is worthy of a post on my blog and I could not agree more.  After all, what's worth doing is worth documenting.

Looking down!!!!!

Looking uphill!!!!

my powder hound husband

powder hound Forest

In all fairness to my two companions, I will admit, that the experience was a fabulous one, to the point where I forgot that my polyester was itching.  All I kept thinking was, how beautiful it was to be challenged to ride through the trees in knee deep powder.  In closing, I was tremendously proud as looked up the steep incline that I had just descended from.  It made me think of the following quote:

All growth happens outside our comfort zone into the unknown. Everything we know now used to be unknown to us. Every time we fear the unknown just remember that the unknown is just another aspect of us which we haven't met.
unknown : Gaia Explorer
Source: Jim Paredes

I even think I might do some more hiking in the future.  Who knows, Mount Everest is looking like a possibility, just kidding.

Forest and I

Looking up

Looking down

At the bottom looking all the way up!!!!!

Here's to being outside the comfort zone and here's to living the good life......

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pizza Pizza!!!!

Have you ever noticed how the most noble ingredients in cooking seem to combine best with the most pedestrian of all food.  For example: Caviar and scrambled eggs, or, caviar and potato pancakes and similarly, shaved truffles on baguette with butter (my personal favorite) and as I had it on saturday evening, truffle pizza.  I want to say, you have not lived, until you have had a truffle pizza.
On Saturday night, Matt and I were invited to our good friend Forest's home for truffle pizza and some other yummy delights such as chicken tangine, however, nothing would compare to Forest's homemade truffle pizza. I want to point out, though, that secret of this delight lies in the very essence of the ingredients.  First, Forrest made his pizza dough from scratch, second, I contributed my fresh rock size truffle for the shavings as well as really high quality truffle oil,  and finally, it takes at least 3 kinds of cheeses to create the right stringiness (fontina, parmesan, and mozzarella) that make this a die and go to heaven journey. In this case the pizza also included some beautifully sauteed mushrooms which only added to the amazing flavor of the truffle pizza.

Truffle pizza

Upon interviewing Forest as to how to make the pizza, I was astonished to learn, that is really pretty easy contrary to my previous belief.  Here's what I did after consuming such heavenly delight.  I went straight home, ordered my pizza stone, cutter, and my pizza peel from Sur La Table and downloaded Forest's recipe for pizza dough from the Frugal Gourmet (which I am including below):

Homemade pizza has some great applications, as the options for toppings are limitless and can be very unique and suit the tastes and flavors of the person making it.  It is not to be compared with any pizza that you might order from some cheap fast food chain (which everyone knows, I despise).  Also, if you have kids, it is a great way to get them involved in making their own food with toppings that mom might approve of, which in turn inspires them to eat their own little creations.

So I hope some you will incorporate a home made pizza into your repertoire of cooking and throw away your fast food pizza delivery's phone number.  Here's to great pizza,  and here's to living the good life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Belgian Luxury Wrinkle

I would make the argument that anyone who knows me, knows that I have a thing for Belgian linen anything, particularly all things bedding.  As far as I am concerned, if it is not linen it's not worth sleeping on.  My obsession does not limit itself to just my bedding, but  my kids' bedding, my upholstery fabric, my drapery fabric, my table linens, well you get the picture...

Orchid's Libeco linen bedding in white and pink

I do agree, it may be an acquired taste for many so let me point out some things about this noble material. First, it is the only material that magically keeps you cool when hot and warm when cold outside. Second, it has the largest absorbency capabilty of any fiber (try drying a glass with it and you will never use a plain cotton kitchen towel again) and additionally it has the most beautiful texture in my opinion of any material.

Now,  to the wrinkles that everyone is so concerned about:  Personally, I do not iron my linen sheets as I believe the wrinkles showcase the texture of the material.  I do hang my sheets up on a hanger to dry, which eliminates almost all wrinkles and just leaves the beautiful texture of the linen.  There is a big myth out there that linen sheets are laborious to care for and for those out there who insist on wrinkle free sheets, owning linen sheets could be an undertaking of vast proportions.  However, if you are like me and choose to live with the beauty of texture, I promise, once you sleep in linen you cannot go back.  I would like to quote Mr. Karl Lagerfeld, whom I would consider a connisseur of life's finer things, when asked in an interview, what his idea of luxury is.  He said:  "Freshly ironed linen sheets every day."  Now there is a man after my own heart, although I think un-ironed is also luxurious.

What, you might ask inspired my thoughts on linen, today?  Well, some of the great linen comes from Belgium and my preferred company of choice is Libeco.  My dear blogger friend Greet Lefevre, mentioned them in her post about exhibitors showing at the upcoming "Maison et Objet" gift show in Paris. Her blog is a fabulous account of all great Belgian design (also, I want to thank her for mentioning me in her post this morning).  In any event, you know my heart will be racing when I visit the Libeco linen stand next week at the "Maison et Object".  I leave you with a picture and link of Libeco's online catalog (

Here's to indulging with the luxury wrinkle and here's to living the good life....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ultimate Chicken soup!!!!!!

The other day, I was watching "Tyler's Ultimate" show when I came
accross this truly fabulous take on Chicken Soup.  It's chicken soup
on steroids so to speak.  I was so inspired, that I took to making it the
very next day.  My only adaptation was that I added one chopped
leak (I am addicted to leaks).  Here is my work in progress on the stove:

The fabulous aspect of this soup is the addition of chicken-apple meatballs and cheese tortellini.  Trust me, this soup is nothing short of genius and pretty easy to make.  Below, find the receipe, courtesy of Tyler Florence and Food Network:

Ultimate Chicken Soup
Picture of Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

  • Cook Time:


  • Level:


  • Yield:

    6 to 8 servings


For the soup:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 parsley stems, plus 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • Kosher salt
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish

For the meatballs:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • 6 links organic chicken-apple sausage meat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 pounds frozen cheese tortellini, store bought
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the soup:
Set a large stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, half the garlic, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaf, and thyme and gently saute until fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, add parsley stems, black peppercorns and salt, to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer while you work on meatballs and tortellini.
For the meatballs:
Caramelize the diced onion in a saute pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage, egg, onion, thyme, parsley, and cheese to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they all come together. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil until just smoking. Use a small ice cream scoop to drop meatballs onto skillet. Cook, turning, until golden brown.
Drop tortellini straight from freezer into soup. Cook until they float. Once meatballs are browned, add to pot of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Give soup a final seasoning and serve in shallow bowls with a small shower of Parmesan, olive oil, and parsley.
Bon Appetit and here's to living the good life........

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mountain Style

My dear mother would tell you that as a designer I have dabbled in every design style known to mankind.  In the early nineties it was shabby chic, then it was opulent french, then it was David Hicks style mid-century, and after that,  Hollywood regency. After this era, circa early 2000, I feel I started developing my essence and really got into danish and european mid-century, mixed with some traditional pieces.  I should thank all the high ranking shelter magazines at this moment for featuring my designs throughout my career, and indulging my creative viewpoints as they were, at each moment. I have to always laugh about my mom asking me how many changes a person possible can go through, and she might be right given the fact that she is a beige on beige true minimalist.  I am not joking if I tell you that she still owns the same sofa's from 20 years ago, and she has owned certain pieces of furniture for so long, that they are now considered collectors items by authorities such as "first dibs".

No matter what, my mom has kindly taken on the role of design editor, for as long as I can remember. When we would shop together, she would kindly help me refine my choices, the sequence of events always running the same course: I spot the item that I cannot live without, and she would at that point question me with: What is the application of such a piece? This would usually end up in a response such as:  I am not sure but I have to have it and I will find an application. Needless to say, my storage facility is ever expanding much to the dismay of my husband who is getting the bills for such storage.  However, one day I will have the most fabulous store with all my beautiful finds, that had no application over the years.

Contrary to my mom's concern about all my changes, I do feel that I have evolved as a designer through experimenting in the various phases and that all my dabbles have lead me to an understanding of what is my true aeesthatic.  Certain things were passing fads, never to be used again, and others are mainstays of my work, that I believe to be evident no matter what project I take on.  So I leave you with my take on "mountain style" which are some quick snapshots of our living room and dining room here in Deer Valley.  

I would like to dedicate this post to my mom.  God knows, it takes a lot of love and patience to witness all those changes, and she certainly has done so by always standing by me and supporting me even when she silently questioned some of my crazy choices.

My mom and I in an "editing moment"

Mutsch, here is to you and here is to living the good life.....