Looking Back on an Amazing Year!

It’s the last day of the year and it’s time for big changes.  Tomorrow I fly to Paris and to my new life there.  It has been a wild, crazy, busy year and I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the amazing experiences I had this year.  I started the year with a trip to New York and Atlanta for work and to see my brother.

Dan and Me in NY

My Brother and Me in New York

Susan in Atlanta

My Colleague, Susan, in a Crazy Halloween Showroom at the Atlanta Gift Show

There were some wild nights out in San Francisco followed by some necessary rest and cuddles with my favorite furry friends:

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Profile of a Dairy-Free Cook and Mama Extraordinaire, Suzanne Kirklin

Suzanne is my oldest friend.  I’ve known her for over twenty-five years.  In addition to being an extraordinary mama, friend and person, she is a really good cook.  She recently discovered that she is allergic to dairy and had to make some dramatic changes in her diet and the way that she cooks.  Read on for her story and for a delicious recipe for Dairy-Free, Whole-Grain Banana Nut Muffins.

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Suzanne

Name:  Suzanne Kirklin

Occupation:  Mama, Diving Coach

Location:  Chicago, IL

 

 

How did you discover that you were allergic to dairy?

I’ve never really liked milk and I thought that I might be lactose intolerant.  I also never thought you could be allergic to milk.  Then, when my daughter was born, I thought that she might be allergic to milk so I began researching milk allergies.  I realized that I had the symptoms (more about this below).  I experimented by cutting dairy out of my diet for a week to see how I would feel and all the symptoms disappeared.  I then tried adding in different kinds of dairy, one at a time, to see what would happen.  I ate a grilled cheese and had a sinus headache, watery eyes and runny nose immediately.

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Friday Finds: Party Shine

For those of you who are going out for New Year’s, how about adding some shine?  Sparkle just screams ‘party’ and here are a few pieces that do that tastefully.  Personally, I have a date with some old friends and we will enjoy a nice home-cooked meal, a bit of bubbly, and a warm and cozy couch.  No party gear, no wild night and no sparkle… or maybe a little bit of sparkle just for me.  Exactly how I would like to spend the last night of the year.  What are your New Year’s plans? How do you like to celebrate?

Friday Finds: Party Shine
Calypso St. Barth maxi dress / CO-OP Barneys New York sleeveless dress / Madewell party dress / Christian Louboutin high heels / J.Crew high heels / Fallon Jewelry swarovski crystal jewelry / Large Fractal Beaded Pouch

A Month of Dining Out

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Fried Chicken, Wayfare Tavern, San Francisco

I haven’t had a kitchen since November.  I miss cooking my own meals and eating simple food.  However, I’ve been lucky enough to have share some amazing meals at restaurants in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.  So today’s post is food porn: pics of some of the best meals I had this month.  I hope you enjoy and I can’t wait to be cooking and sharing recipes again once I am settled in Paris!

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Cauliflower Soup with Pancetta and a Lobster Beignet, Wayfare Tavern, San Francisco

This soup was so interesting!  Instead of being creamy and sweet, it was mustardy and tart.  The pancetta paired perfectly with it.  I think I will have to make a version.

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Oysters with my Aunt, Hog Island Oyster Bar, San Francisco

What can I say?  I love oysters.

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Made in America: Brahms Mount

Blanket Storage

Brahms Mount makes gorgeous textiles that are hand-woven in Maine.  Founded over twenty-five years ago, Brahms Mount continues a tradition of quality weaving that dates back to the nineteenth century.  The quality and beauty can still be found today in their bedding and towels.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces.  You can find them at http://www.brahmsmount.com.

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White Christmas and Bergdorf’s Windows

I’m sitting in my mom’s house just outside of Chicago.  It is snowing hard and it is so beautiful.  I can’t remember the last time I experienced a white Christmas.  We have nowhere to go and no one to see and it’s just so nice to sit by the window with a book and watch it snow.  Christmas in New York or Chicago is a bit magical.  Something about the cool crisp air, the lights everywhere, and of course snow.  I was in New York last week and I took a trip up to 5th Avenue to stop by Rockefeller center and to of course see the windows at Bergdorf Goodman’s.  In case you have never seen them, the windows are magical, stunning affairs.  A few photos are below to give you a better idea but really you should see them in person.  I hope you and your family have lovely Christmas, whatever that means to you.

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Profile of a Wine Connoisseur, Beth Niles

My friend Beth has over 500 bottles of wine.  Yes, you read that right – 500.  She works wine competitions and is paid in wine.  Not a bad trade if you ask me.  Wine is something I really enjoy tasting and I am fascinated by how pairing food with a bottle can make or break a meal depending on how well you picked the wine.  As a cook and a wine-enthusiast, I thought it would be fun to ask Beth some questions about wine.  I hope you find what she has to say as educational as I did.

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Beth Niles

Name: Beth Niles

Occupation: Sales Director

Location: San Rafael, CA

When and how did you first become interested in wine?

After graduating from theatre school in the early ’80’s, I moved back to the States from the UK and straight out to California. I became aware of wine and eventually married someone who made wine in our garage in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco where we lived. We would go pick second crop (small and late ripening clusters left on the vine after harvest) at a very prestigious winery in Stags Leap in the Napa Valley. We would assemble our friends along with their kids and dogs and caravan up and pick a quarter ton and high tail it back to the city where we would crush in our driveway. We had a lot of fun making some pretty terrible wine. But we didn’t care. We were garagistes! Then in my mid 20s I was invited to my first Bordeaux tasting. It was a stuffy affair in a restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf with a lot of middle-aged men. I had never done anything like that before and I had no experience tasting or describing wine. I distinctly remember noticing that one wine smelled like low tide on a clam flat and said as much. Of course what I was noticing was sulphur, which, if you just give the wine some time to open up will often blow off. My next descriptor was ” hot dog”. That sealed my fate as a rank amateur but it taught me to commit to at least one word that describes your own impressions of the wine.

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