swing, baby girl, swing!

i don't really have to say much because these photos say it all.  baby girl loves to swing.  we went to her cousin's birthday party today and to our delight there was a playground.  we approached her very first swing...and the rest is history.  she contagiously giggled and smiled with every push, making her mama and dada laugh too :)

this happened right when we got home.  


clean happy!

how's spring cleaning going?  let me guess, a few weeks back you got the sudden and compelling urge to wipe down the tops of fan blades, donate old and out of style clothing, and windex every surface of your home?  maybe you even got a little wild and sorted through and threw away those old magazines you swore you would use again.  {sorry travel & leisure}  am i right?  but now, you are "over it" all and ready for summer to just be here.  if so, you are in the very same boat is me, except there is just one small problem: there is still more cleaning to be done!!!  let's hop aboard the method clean happy train and get that much needed push we need to get things done before the weather starts getting too hot and your home starts getting too...errr...out-of-control!   

this video below is a little slice of heaven.  and how bout that art instillation in the first image above?  did you know that is made out of soap bottles...soap bottles!  so, so neat.  i know i have mentioned how much i love method's cleaning products numerous times, both here and here, but here's yet another reason i love them so.  i'm not sure if it is the rad music in the background, or the hilarious expression on the little girl's face when she sees bleach, but i just like this video a lot.  with all the yummy smells and colorful bottles, this cleaning business just gets me so excited!  ok, i'll stop babbling now so you can see for yourself...

ps. happy spring cleaning to the both of us :)

pps. my favorite lime + sea salt soap is limited edition! {fiy}


an ode to julia // beef bourguignon recipe

image found on pinterest  
juila child.  oh, wherever do i begin?  i could read you the quote above and stop right there, because it rocks, but i since this is an ode of sorts, i will continue on and praise the woman that i adore so very much!  let me start by saying, what a fantastic woman!  julia is my true inspiration in the kitchen and my impetus in wanting to make our meals more delicious and enjoyable on a daily basis.  

for those of you who don't know her very well, let me break it down for you.  julia went over to paris later on her life, where she took the grandest and most complicated cuisine in the western world, and made it accessible without the fuss and frills back here in the states.  pretty neat, huh?  “if you can read,” she used to say, “you can cook”.  tis' true, julia, tis' true.  i think anyone can follow a recipe if they put their mind to it, but what i admire most about this feisty woman is her spirit in the kitchen and her absolute love for good food.  

there is a difference between regular food and good food, you know?  regular food is making macaroni and cheese, with velveta cheese might i add, for dinner.  it's tasty and does the trick on a busy wednesday night after working 10+ hours, but does not have the good food factor working in its favor.  good food goes a little further {than the velveta} and changes out a few basic items with quality items and whole lotta lovin'.  good mac'n cheese would be adding some smoked gouda {not packaged swiss}, freshly chopped thyme {not dried}, and lots of black pepper {not pre-cracked, people!}.  julia taught me that by taking the extra step, your food will always taste better and you will have much more fun along the way.  

although i am not a recipe follower, per se, i do read them quite often for ideas to help me branch out and try new things to cook in the kitchen.  therefore, i love juila's words about us all being able to cook by means of being able to pick up a book and read a recipe.  this outlook takes out the snobbiness and pompous pretense regarding chefs {or even line cooks for that matter} and makes cooking simple, good food a universal reality for all those who like to eat, which is pretty much all of us, am i right?  her motto regarding cooking is that anyone can do it! 

another thing i love about julia is her fearless and self-assured mentality that sometimes things don't always come out perfectly, and that that is a-okay!  in fact, you should confidently boast in front of your dinner guests, "well, that is exactly how i wanted {said dish} to turn out!"  end of story.  julia saw the promise and beauty in imperfection and had the ability to turn a sorry situation into a grand masterpiece.  furthermore, she worked hard at believing in the process in addition to the end result, which makes any artist, in my opinion, a brilliant one. 

i have learned that when it comes to cooking french food, and all food for that matter, that anyone can make a meal with simple, wholesome, non-pretentious ingredients, and get the ultimate wow factor.  by wow factor i mean you, yes you, have the ability to create something that makes your guest{s} utter nothing less than, "mmmmmmmm," and think nothing less than, "i want more" just by focusing on using good ingredients that are fresh and full of flavor.  why eat pizza with dried basil that has been resting on your herb shelf for 5 years when you can use fresh basil?  it seems pretty obvious to me, and much more healthy to boot!  this is the wow factor i am talking about.  

to conclude my ode, i shall leave you with one of my favorite recipes of julia's with some tweeks here and there.  i sense you cringing at the thought of me, a mere house cook, messing with the art that is juila child's famous beef bourguignon, and i suppose the cringe is warranted.  but...yes, there is a but...i'm sure she would be happy to know {i may be in denial here so bare with me} that i put my own unique spin on her recipe and have made it my own.  by the way, this is the recipe i made last weekend for a dinner party and it was ever so scrumptious!  

here is my current recipe for beef bourguignon, and there is no possible way you will be disappointed.  let me know how it turns out! 

  • ingredients:
  • -1 tablespoon olive oil
  • -8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • -2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • -1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • -2 yellow onions, sliced
  • -1 fennel bulb, sliced 
  • -2 teaspoons chopped garlic {2 cloves}
  • -1/2 cup cognac {you can omit this but it makes it really yummy}
  • -1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as cote du rhone or pinot noir
  • -1 can (2 cups) beef broth
  • -1 can tomato sauce
  • -1 teaspoon fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
  • -4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
  • -3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • -1 pound frozen whole pearl onions
  • -1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

for serving:

  • -mashed potatoes and country bread or sour dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
  • - 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional

-preheat the oven to 250 degrees f.  heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven.  add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned.  remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
-dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  in batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. set aside.
-toss the carrots, fennel, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned.  add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  add the cognac {stand back!!!!!!!} and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol.  
-put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices.  add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat.  add the tomato paste and thyme.  bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
-combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew.  add the frozen onions.  saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew.  bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. season to taste.
-to serve, make mashed potatoes ahead of time and heat them up.  then, toast the bread in the toaster or oven.  rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic.  for each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.
eat & enjoy!

ps. i highly recommend this book to all you food/paris/juila lovers out there! 


a tale of the little family at the park

once upon a time, there was a little family.  this family loved to frequent the park on warm spring days.  one sunday in march, they went on a walk to the park together.

on their way, they saw some beautiful flowers and bright blooming trees.  

the flowers were bright shades of red, magenta and white.  
they smelled nice, too. 

guess what?  there were geese at this park!  before feeding them, baby girl took a rest on the bench.  after all, it was a long walk that afternoon.  

mama helped baby girl feed the geese and pick apart the bread.  she was mesmerized by them, so she stayed very close to her mama.  

the bread fit nicely in baby girl's small little hand.

it looked yummy too, so baby girl tried to take a bite...

 ...but then got distracted by the duckies in the water.

dada stepped in to give mama a break, and together they feed the geese some more, taking turns quacking back and forth.

after feeding the geese, a nice man came along and took a few pictures of this little family, so they could remember their beautiful day at the park.

meanwhile, baby girl's puppa grew very hot and tired.  so did baby girl.  together, they found some shade under a cherry blossom tree.

dada surprised baby girl and handed her pretty yellow flowers.  

baby girl played with them and held onto them very tightly.

feeding the geese and playing with the yellow flowers made baby girl very happy.  so happy, that she grinned with excitement.

eventually, the little family went home, eager to settle down for a nap.  they had a lovely day at the park indeed!


weekends are wonderful

here is our weekend described in vivacious verbs {and a few bits of alliteration because i simply can't help myself}:  

...baby girl bathing, hot pepper cocktailing, dinner partying, leon walking, park playing, french cooking, flower smelling,  sleepy snuggling, nana + papa ichatting, goofy giggling, fedora wearing, nursery playing, slobbery teething, outdoor patio dining, needed napping, and delightful dancing...  

yep.  that pretty much covers it.

2 shots pepper vodka
2 shots tomato juice
1 splash olive juice
1 splash of tobasco sauce
freshly ground pepper
salted rim
drink up

"hi nana & papa!"

i made boeuf bourguignon for our dinner party. 

those lips...

yep.  it's fedora wearin' time. 

leon cooling down on our walk sunday. 

mama & dada's brunch...

miss stella's brunch :)

tulips on the plaza are insanely gorgeous right now.

baby girl and her flower.

what a beautiful and relaxing past few days this has been.  i hope you enjoyed our little photo diary documenting our fun & good times :)