About

Welcome to my Blog

  • What do you get when you take a southern gal out of Texas and move her to California? A whole new beginning.
  • What happens when you mix a southern gal with the big city? You get Lemonade to Lace…
  • What is Lemonade? Well….It’s southern. It’s simple. It’s refreshing. It’s happiness. It’s a throwback in time to the basics in life. It’s a great big smile.
  • What is Lace? It is feminine. It is sophisticated. It is elegant. It is design. It is a bunch of woven threads leading to all things beautiful.
  • I hope you enjoy reading my blog filled with ideas, inspirations and tidbits of information relevant to style and your lifestyle.

           xx Barbara

           

 

Amazing Holiday Hostess Gifts

There’s nothing better than being with family and friends during the holidays. Attending parties, going to home gatherings and celebrating ...
Read More

My Go-To Thanksgiving Dishes

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is around the corner. For those of you who know me well, I’m a ...
Read More

Farm to Table Fresh: When to Buy Organic

I’m constantly amazed at how many conversations here in LA center around food. People who live here take great pleasure ...
Read More

To a Tee

Back in the day, when I would go card shopping for birthdays and anniversaries at the neighborhood Hallmark Store, Walgreens ...
Read More

10 Lip Glosses Under $20

During these final days of summer, we can all agree on one thing when it comes to make-up. Lip gloss ...
Read More

Mophie Power

Have you ever woken up from a great night’s sleep to see that your cell phone is almost out of ...
Read More
Beauty, Pretty Things, Random Things, Yummy Things

Amazing Holiday Hostess Gifts

There’s nothing better than being with family and friends during the holidays. Attending parties, going to home gatherings and celebrating is what this time of year is all about. It’s also about giving. Showing up with a gift is a nice way to show appreciation to your hostess for being included in their Thanksgiving dinner or holiday party.  Below you’ll find some thoughtful and creative ideas.

Chalkboard Cheese Markers – $12.95
https://www.crateandbarrel.com/Chalkboard Cheese Markers

Beauty Chef Cookbook – $35
https://www.anthropologie.com/Beauty Chef Cookbook

Bath Bombs – $19.99
https://www.amazon.com/BathBombs

Caramel S’mores – $16
https://bondbars.com/Caramel S’mores

Hand Soap – $20
https://shop.beekman1802.com/Hand Soap

Geo Printed Dishcloths – $24
https://www.google.com/Geo Printed Dishcloths

Estate Collection candles and fragrance oil – $35 – $43
https://shop.lisaparigi.com/Estate Collection candles and fragrance oil

Monogrammed Mugs – $10 each
https://www.anthropologie.com/Monogrammed Mugs

Kitchen Towels (for the hostess with a sense of humor) – $5 each
https://www.etsy.com/Kitchen Towels

Honeycomb Vase – $32
https://www.anthropologie.com/Honeycomb Vase

Bottle Stopper – $16
https://www.anthropologie.com/Bottle Stopper

Fragrance Diffuser – $45
https://shop.nordstrom.com/Fragrance Diffuser

 

I hope this list provides you with ideas and inspiration for the perfect hostess gift. I’m ready to get this holiday season started. As my kids would say, let’s do this!

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

My Go-To Thanksgiving Dishes

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is around the corner. For those of you who know me well, I’m a tried and true holiday girl and I love the cooking that goes along with it. Give me a holiday, a birthday or any special occasion and I’m ready to celebrate. Out of all the holidays throughout the year, Thanksgiving happens to be my very favorite food holiday. Southern favorites are always a highlight at our meal whether we’re spending Thanksgiving in Houston or here in LA. I’ve gathered a few of my favorite recipes below to share with you.

MASHED SWEET POTATOES WITH BROWN SUGAR AND PECANS

Serves 12 to 14
Ingredients:
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
5 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt

Method:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, pecans and butter in small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Let stand in colander 15 minutes. Purée sweet potatoes in processor.Beat eggs, syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and salt in large bowl. Mix in puréed sweet potatoes. Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over mixture.Bake until sweet potato mixture is set and topping bubbles, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes and serve.

Recipe from: Epicurious.com
Photo courtesy of: theodysseyonline.com


SOUTHERN CORNBREAD DRESSING
A traditional southern cornbread dressing flavored with onion, celery, and sage. Super moist and flavorful.

Serves 8
Ingredients:
Cornbread
1 cup self-rising cornmeal, I use Martha White
1/2 cup self-rising flour, I use White Lily
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil

Dressing
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
3 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 pieces toast, crumbled
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 to 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons butter

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients for cornbread. Pour into a lightly greased 9-inch cast iron pan or a 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Before using, crumble into small pieces.
Heat butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add celery and onion and cook until soft.
Add sage, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to onion mixture.
In a large bowl combine crumbled cornbread and toast.
Whisk together milk and eggs and add to bowl. Stir in 2 cups of chicken broth.
Stir in onion mixture. Mixture should be very moist. Add more broth if necessary.
Transfer to a greased baking dish. Cut butter into small slivers and scatter on top of dressing.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it turns light brown on top.

Note: The cornbread should be made a day or two in advance.

Recipe from: Christin Mahrlig
Photo courtesy of: thekitchn.com

PUMPKIN BREAD
Makes 1 loaf. Enjoy this popular southern recipe!

Ingredients:
 3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
 3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup chopped walnuts and/or chocolate chips

Method:
Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.
Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, ¼ cup of water and the spices together in a separate bowl. Then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts or chocolate chips.
Pour into a well-buttered 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake 60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let it cool on a baking rack.
Can easily double the recipe.

** And by the way, I got the Pumpkin Bread recipe above from my college roommate and dear friend Judy Finer Freedman. It’s one of her family’s favorites and now one of our favorites. Thanks so much for sharing Judy!!

Photo courtesy of: Sugarmamacooks.com

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

Farm to Table Fresh: When to Buy Organic

I’m constantly amazed at how many conversations here in LA center around food. People who live here take great pleasure in choosing, buying, preparing and cooking healthy food, and I’ve noticed that more and more people have very different eating habits than I was used to before moving to California.

Every fall, I find myself spending more time in the kitchen trying new recipes and cooking old favorites for family and friends. The holidays inspire me, and I find it easier to cook and bake for a group rather than just for two – what a happy feeling.

That said, the holidays find me making many traditional recipes that are not exactly low in calories. However, the recipes are so delicious that the holidays wouldn’t be the same without them. I try to choose organic and pure ingredients to prepare these recipes for my family’s favorite meals of the year.

We all have so many options when it comes to the food world, and it can be confusing knowing what to avoid and what to buy. In one of my cooking classes here in LA, I vividly remember my cooking teacher telling us that the single worst item you can eat is butter, so if you eat it or cook with it, she always recommends using organic butter. This is one tip I always take into consideration even when it comes to baking.

I buy organic when I can. This includes fruits and vegetables as well as milk and meat products. When time allows, I enjoy going to our Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. There’s really such a difference in the freshness and flavor of farm to table seasonal fruits and vegetables. Our favorite strawberries at our neighborhood farmer’s market are from Harry’s Berries. They are so sweet that they literally taste like strawberry jam.

Buying all-organic produce all the time is not always realistic, as it can be expensive and hard to find. However, if you’re trying to eat right and can only choose a few organic foods, “The Dirty Dozen Plus” lists the most important fruits and veggies to buy organic in order to avoid pesticide exposure.

The 2017 Dirty Dozen Plus

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce


The 
following list of “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables have the lowest amount of pesticides and can be bought conventionally.


The 2017 Clean 15

  • Sweet corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

 

You might want to take a photo of these 2 lists and keep them on your phone for easy access as you grocery shop.  If you enjoy shopping from home and don’t mind someone else picking your apples, check out the website milkandeggs.com. There are so many organic foods to choose from and your groceries will be delivered right to your front door.

On this final note, I thought I’d share a funny story with you. Last year I was at a deli here in LA ordering some chopped liver for the Jewish holidays. The lady standing at the counter right next to me heard me placing my order and said, “do you know how unhealthy that is for you?” I turned around and said to her, “Yes, I of course I do. But I love it and I enjoy eating it during the holidays and every now and then, it’s okay.” And one more time here in LA, it was an aha moment of sorts…..a definite “Dorothy, you’re not in Oz anymore” or “Barbara you’re not in Texas anymore” kind of moment.

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things

To a Tee

Back in the day, when I would go card shopping for birthdays and anniversaries at the neighborhood Hallmark Store, Walgreens or CVS, you’d find me in the greeting card aisles chuckling at all the funny cards. There were so many good ones to choose from. That was then and this is now. To be perfectly honest, it has become much harder to find really great cards than it is to find really great statement tees. Some of these tops are so hilarious they make you laugh at loud.  








The statement tee was a big fashion trend in 2016. Once again that trend is continuing through fall 2017. This past weekend I was browsing around the Malibu Country Mart. I saw quite a few adorable tees with very clever sayings. If you’ve ever watched the Chelsea Handler show on Netflix, I’m sure you’ve noticed that she loves a good statement tee and can rock it in a way that any streetstyle addict would be jealous of. She regularly pairs these tops with sleek pencil skirts and pumps, pulling off this look like a well-seasoned fashionista.


While following coverage of Hurricane Harvey this week, I’ve seen many Houstonians wearing statement t-shirts with the slogan, “HoustonStrong.” You can call this an ode to their beloved city as well as the state of Texas. Many shirt designs with this sentiment are selling online for a limited time with 100% of proceeds going to disaster relief efforts. Below are the links to some that have touched my heart.


https://www.highfashionhome.com/houstonstrong-tshirt.html

https://www.chipperthings.com/houston-strong-tee
https://www.theshopforward.com/texas-forever

What kind of statement tees do you have hanging in your closet? Take a selfie and share.

Smooch!

Xx Barbara

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things

10 Lip Glosses Under $20

During these final days of summer, we can all agree on one thing when it comes to make-up. Lip gloss is that one beauty item that can light up any smile, any face, and any mood on any day no matter how hot it is outside. A swipe of gloss adds that little bit of sparkle and shine to brighten your look day or night. And since a girl can’t have just one, here’s a list of some great glosses to keep in your handbag or beauty bag all under $20.


Clinique Long Lost Glosswear – $16.50
http://www.neimanmarcus.com/CLINIQUE LONG LOSS Glosswear


Lancome Juicy Tubes Lip Gloss – $19.00
https://www.macys.com/LANCOME JUICY TUBES Lip Gloss

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss – $16
http://www.sephora.com/ANASTASIA Beverly Hills Lip Gloss


                   
MAC Lipglass – $17.00
https://www.macys.com/MAC Lipglass

Sephora Ultra Shine Lip Gel – $12.00
http://www.sephora.com/SEPHORA ULTRA SHINE Lip Gel


Aveeda Nourish-mint Rehydrating Lip Gloss – $19
http://www.aveda.com/AVEEDA NOURISH-MINT REHYDRATING Lip Gloss

                                                      
Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lip Gloss – $10
http://www.bareminerals.com/BARE MINERALS MARVELOUS MOXIE Lip Gloss

                                 
Jouer Skinny Dip Long-Wear Lip Gloss -$16
http://shop.nordstrom.com/JOUER SKINNY DIP LONG-WEAR Lip Gloss

                          
Sara Happ The Lip Slip One Luxe Sheer Lip Gloss – $18
http://shop.nordstrom.com/SARA HAPP THE LIP SLIP ONE LUXE SHEER Lip Gloss

                    
Two Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Peach Oil Lip Gloss – $19
http://www.sephora.com/TWO FACED SWEET PEACH CREAMY PEACH OIL Lip Gloss

I can’t wait to hear which brand you like best!!

Smooch!

xx Barbara

Random Things

Mophie Power


Have you ever woken up from a great night’s sleep to see that your cell phone is almost out of power because you forgot to charge it the night before? This can be so frustrating especially when you have to leave for an early morning appointment and there’s no time to fully charge your phone. This sort of thing used to frazzle me when I knew I had a full day ahead of me. That was until I discovered my dear friend Mophie.

http://www.amazon.com/MophiePowerStation

Mophie is a sleek, portable extra battery that you can use to charge your devices on the go. A friend turned me onto this device while we were traveling last summer and I’m so grateful that she did. I ended up buying one as soon as we got home from our trip and I no longer panic when I notice that my phone didn’t charge overnight or when my battery is low by noon on a marathon day. It’s really been a lifesaver having it around.

I keep my Mophie fully charged in the glove compartment of my car so that I can grab it while I’m out and about when my phone gets low. When traveling, it’s light enough to keep in my handbag or tote so that I never have to worry. It also really comes in handy on long flights when it’s time to recharge my iPad while I’m working or watching something.  

 

There are several different kinds of Mophies out there. I bought the Mophie XL Powerstation http://www.amazon.com/MophieXL/PowerStation with multiple USB ports and enough battery for 7 additional charges on my smartphone. It has become my hero on more than one occasion and truly is the “end all”.

Mophie makes a range of different sized powerstations: some thin enough to fit in your pocket, but all are capable of charging anything with a USB charger. Mophie also makes a charging case  http://www.amazon.com/ChargingCase for both iPhones and Androids. It snaps onto your phone and gives it that extra oomph when you need it.

 

 

If you’re one of those who uses your cell phone to multi-task throughout the day or you like downloading movies or TV shows for traveling long distances, then you should definitely get a Mophie. It will become one of your favorite “can’t live without” tech accessories. You’ll see!

 

Random Things

Obsessed With Rocks

 

You may think I’m off my rocker for writing a blog post on rocks, but I’ll go ahead and admit it: I love rocks! I have no idea why – but my obsession with them goes way back to when I was a kid…

Back in the day, I used to have a rock collection and thought any kind of quartz or crystal looking  rock that I found on the ground was simply beautiful. Years went by and I really didn’t think about my love for rocks until my trip to Israel 20 years ago. As I was running up Masada, I kept noticing white rocks in the shape of hearts on the ground and started picking them up one by one as I saw them. They were smooth and all white or a very light gray, and in this special, faraway place it was a signal to me that Mother Nature was spreading her love. Pure inspiration…

You might ask, “ok – sounds great, but what did you do with all those rocks?” Well, when we got to Tel Aviv, I bought an antique clay oil lamp shaped like a dish and a small stand to put it on. I brought all of the rocks home and they have moved with us from Houston to California where they now adorn our living room table.

Collecting rocks is now a tradition for me, whether at home in the Santa Monica mountains, or somewhere new and unknown in the world. A couple of years ago on a trip to Asia, I actually found some interesting rocks while visiting the Great Wall of China. None of them were shaped like hearts – but they were each beautiful in their own right. They made it through customs and are sitting in a beautiful decorative piece on a bookshelf in our bedroom. I also have heart-shaped rocks from hiking in Aspen as well as rocks that resemble hearts from the red mountains of Utah all displayed in different places in our home. Believe it or not, I once received a UPS package with a heart rock inside it as a gift from a dear friend who found it on one of her hiking adventures.

I know it might sound weird, but these rocks all have a special place in my heart and make me smile whenever I see them. Anyone who has ever wondered why I wear a fanny pack while walking on the beach or hiking in the mountains, well…..now you know! Ah! The simple things in life!

What do you collect? Share photos of your collections with me!

 

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

Fourth of July Favorites

The Fourth of July is all about stars, stripes and red, white and blue everything. It’s also about celebrating, with or without the fireworks. So whether you’re hosting a picnic party or a pool party at home, carrying out the patriotic theme with festive food, drinks and decor makes the holiday that much more of a special celebration.

I walked to the Farmers Market today, and it was obvious while walking around Santa Monica, that many retail stores have prepped and are ready for the July 4th holiday, especially Pottery Barn. They have a great selection of Napkins and Melamine Dinner Plates and what I love about these is they can be used over and over again for all of your outdoor entertaining.

They have other festive options as well. Their Liberty Outdoor Party Banner can be arranged as a table runner or as a wall hanging. The Drink Dispenser is a great investment for anyone who entertains a lot and can be used for absolutely any occasion. You can also use red, white and blue in bold graphic patterns to create a chic and modern Independence Day vibe. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complimenting your tabletop with colorful foods can be a decorating opportunity too.  I’ve chosen four ‘frozen’ recipes that will keep your guests cool as well as add a few extra red, white and blue touches to carry out the party’s patriotic theme.

Photo from HGTV 

STRAWBERRY YOGURT POPSICLES

Ingredients:

2 C. Sliced Strawberries (10 ounces)
3 Tbsp. Agave Nectar, Honey or other sweetener
1-½ C. Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Method:

Place strawberries and 2 Tbsp. agave nectar in a food processor. Puree until smooth with some small chunks of fruit.
Mix yogurt and remaining agave nectar in a bowl until smooth.
Spoon 2 – 3 tsp. of strawberry puree into the bottom of each Popsicle MoldSpoon about 1-½ Tbsp. yogurt on top of fruit. Repeat with another layer each of strawberry puree and yogurt. Place popsicle sticks into popsicles. Cover and freeze until solid, about 3 – 4 hours.

Recipe + photo from Tastes of Lizzy T. 

RED WHITE AND BLUEBERRY PIE

Serves 8
Ingredients:

For the Crust:

2 C. Natural Granola
½ C. Walnuts
4 Tbsp. Melted Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Agave Syrup

For the Filling:

1 Quart Vanilla Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt, softened to spreadable consistency

For The Berry Topping:

6 Oz. Fresh Raspberries (about 1-¼ C)
6 Oz. Fresh Blueberries (about 1-¼ C)
2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
2 Tbsp. Water
1 Lemon
1 tsp. Cornstarch

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse crust ingredients until combined and granola is ground to crumbs.
Lightly coat a 9-inch pie dish with butter and press crust into bottom of dish and up the sides.
Bake 10 minutes and cool completely.
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, stir together raspberries, 1 Tbsp. agave syrup, 1 Tbsp. water, the juice of ½ the lemon and ½ tsp. cornstarch.
In another small saucepan over medium heat, stir together blueberries, 1 Tbsp. agave syrup, 1 Tbsp. water,  juice of the other ½ of the lemon, and the ½ tsp. of cornstarch.
Simmer both saucepans of berries until the berries have broken down and sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally with a whisk, about 10 minutes.
Cool and pour each sauce separately through a fine mesh sieve into small separate bowls.
Let sauces cool completely.
Pour sauces into resealable sandwich bags. Snip a tiny amount off one of the corners of the bags.
Alternating bags, pipe circles about 2 inches apart over the pie starting in the center and working outward.
Drag a toothpick from the center of the pie outward to the crust so that the berry sauces are pulled upward.
Drag a toothpick back in the other direction (from crust to center) about 2 inches away from the first line. Continue around the pie.
Freeze uncovered at least 3 hours. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Serve with additional berries and any remaining sauces.

Enjoy!

Recipe + photo from Yummy Mummy Kitchen 

FOURTH OF JULY ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

Ingredients:

Ice Cream Sandwiches (full or mini size)
Red White & Blue sprinkles
Popsicle Sticks (optional)

Method:

Unwrap each ice cream sandwich one at a time. Can cut in half if you want to serve smaller bites.
Place the festive sprinkles onto a plate.
Place the ice cream sandwich onto the plate with the ice cream side down so the sprinkles stick to the ice cream. Coat all four sides. Insert popsicle sticks.
Place the ice cream sandwich back into the freezer to freeze again. Continue to do this with each ice cream sandwich.

Enjoy!

Photo from Endlessly Inspired

BERRY ICE CUBES

Ingredients:

¼ C. blueberries
½ C. strawberries, thinly sliced

Method:

Add water to Ice Cube Trays with 1 – 2 berries in each well.
Place into freezer until fully frozen, at least 4 hours.

Enjoy!

Recipe + photo from Damn Delicious

 

 

 

 

Fashion, Random Things, Yummy Things

FATHER’S DAY GIFTS

Yes Sir! June is here and summer has begun which means Father’s Day is right around the corner. We are ready to celebrate all dads…..our own dads, our husbands, our granddads, and all dads-to-be. Below is a list of Father’s Day gift suggestions, in no particular order because there’s something for every kind of guy on this list!

SOCK OF THE MONTH CLUB – $12/month or 12 months – $132
https://www.sockclub.com/SOCK OF THE MONTH CLUB
Each month a newly designed pair of quality socks will surprise each sock club member, make them smile and remind them they are loved. Designed in Austin and made in America.

ICE COFFEE HYPERCHILLER – $29.99
https://hyperchiller.com/ICE COFFEE HYPERCHILLER
HyperChiller will chill a hot cup of coffee in about a minute without watering it down. It’s compatible with all brewing methods and can also put a chill to wine, whiskey or any other liquid ‘vice’ that your Dad may have.

AMAZON FIRE TV – $89.99
https://www.amazon.com/AMAZON FIRE TV
It’s a tiny box that connects your high definition TV to a world of online entertainment. Amazon Fire TV lets you enjoy your favorite TV episodes and movies on Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO GO and Hulu plus enjoy games, music and more.

LULULEMON GIFT BOX – shorts, shirt and boxers – $128
https://shop.lululemon.com/LULULEMON GIFT BOX
A bundle of 3 Lululemon favorites to make dressing for sweating a no-brainer.

AMAZON ECHO – $179.99
https://www.amazon.com/AMAZON ECHO
Plays all your music from Spotify, Pandora and more using just your voice. Answers questions, reads the news, reports traffic and weather and even controls the lights. The options are endless.

LEATHER TECH ENVELOPE – $149
https://www.markandgraham.com/LEATHER TECH ENVELOPE
Luxe leather for the business traveler or wi-fi cafe’ kind of dad: stash cables and cords, cards and cash, travel docs and passport, an external battery plus small electronic devices including an iPad Air, iPad Mini or iPhone. Fold it, snap it and you’re ready to roll.

CRAFT BEER CLUB – $42 / month
https://craftbeerclub.com/CRAFT BEER CLUB
This club entitles its members to an opportunity to sample 12 craft beers delivered each month, all produced by small-production, independent brewers using traditional ingredients and brewing methods.

BEARD TRIMMER – $17.99
https://www.amazon.com/BEARD TRIMMER
This all-in-one beard and hair trimmer with 18 length settings is simple and enjoyable to use. Skin-friendly blades ensure a gentle trim and the rechargeable battery provides 60 minutes of cordless use on a full charge.

FLIP BELT – $22.99
https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/FLIP BELT
This gift was on my Mother’s Day gift list and is also a perfect choice for the fit dad in your life. The FlipBelt is a tubular pocket that fits around the waist or hip to hold keys, credit cards, phone or whatever else he needs. Everything gets locked into place when you flip the belt inside out and it comes in a variety of colors.

GOLF SWING TRAINER – $52.49
https://www.amazon.com/GOFT SWING TRAINER
Whether your dad is a competitive golfer or plays leisurely with friends, this golf trainer will help develop his core golf muscles, build muscle memory and strengthen his swing helping him to reach his goals while out on the golf course.

KIEHLS MEN’S TRAVEL SET – $43
http://shop.nordstrom.com/KIEHLS MENS TRAVEL SET
This gift set is a mix of classic Kiehl’s products and perfect for the dad on-the-go.

OLLO CLIP iPHONE LENS – $99.99
https://www.olloclip.com/OLLO CLIP IPHONE LENS
This easy-to-use phone attachment has 3 interchangeable lenses: Super-Wide, Fisheye, and Macro 15X zoom. These lenses will revolutionize your dad’s photography skills for any “photo-op” moment.

Random Things, Yummy Things

CHEESE BOARDS – BORING NO MORE!

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with creating cheeseboards. They’re my “go-to” appetizer for dinner parties and friends’ gatherings. Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner….While cheeseboards may not be the healthiest option for a starter, if done right, they can be the perfect addition to any summer soirée.

When I say that I love making cheese trays, I’m not talking about simply throwing a block of cheese on a plate and fanning out some crackers. I like to think of it as flower arranging, but with food! I love getting creative with the cheese and cracker choices, mixing in other items and elevating my cheese platters with an art-like presentation.

When I’m putting together a cheese board, I start with two local spots down the street from me on Montana Avenue: Andrew’s Cheese Shop and Marmalade Cafe. The professionals in both these shops have shared their best tips for creating the ultimate cheese tray:

🍴Choose a mixture of soft and hard cheeses so that there are a variety of textures and shapes.

🍴Choose a total of three to five cheeses made from different milk: goat, sheep, and cow milk.

🍴The general rule is two to four ounces of cheese per guest.

🍴Include both savory and sweet accompaniments on your cheese tray including nuts, cured meats, dried fruits and spreads as well as crackers.

🍴Cheese is best served at room temperature so take the cheese out of the fridge an hour before your guests arrive.

🍴Cut most of the hard cheese on a separate board when still cold prior to arranging it on the cheese tray. No more sticking a knife in the cheese and putting it out.  It’s much tidier this way and the guests will have an easier time with it and enjoy it more.

🍴Go for a clean cut wedge or strip of the hard cheeses that can be eaten in one or two bites – just not too thin where it’s translucent looking.

🍴Blue  or stilton cheese as well as other creamy cheeses like goat or brie, should be kept in a triangle.

🍴Label your cheese. It lets guests know what they’re eating.

Experiment, be creative, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and have fun! No two cheese trays need to look alike, that’s the part I love most.  Remember this: no cheese cubes or Triscuits allowed… or at least not on my cheese trays.

FYI: In case you’re interested in learning more about cheese, Andrew’s Cheese Shop at 728 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica offers cheese classes every other month. They also have a Grilled Cheese & Beer Night coming up on May 26th. For more info: call 310-393-3308.