Tuesday, November 25, 2014


It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, well this one eloquently describes my trip to California's Sonoma and Napa Valleys PERFECTLY!!!  Many wineries were visited, and much wine consumed....(hey, we were in the country of wine, what would you expect??)
Our group had private tastings at three wineries: (which were our FAVORITES out of the thirteen we toured)  Sherwin Family Winery, St. Helena Winery, and Mumm Napa.
We spent one entire afternoon at the beautiful Sherwin estate, touring, learning, lunching, celebrating a good friend's birthday, sampling every exceptional wine and enjoying great conversation.  Even the estate reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was sampled after Steve Sherwin's son climbed up the barrels for us with the wine thief, (a tool that looks kind of like a turkey baster)... Yumm, delicious...this is the life!!!
Vines everywhere
We passed through these gorgeous gates at St. Helena Winery.  A small lush hidden estate with exemplary wines.  It was like entering the secret garden.
At Mumm Napa we sampled sparkling wines.  Light and easy.  (My favorite: the Reserve Rose)  With our glasses filled with bubbly we toured the estate and had a private showing of the art gallery featuring photography by Ansel Adams and Graham Nash.  An experience for all the senses.
                                      And a true cork tree on the property!
Before heading back to the resort to sleep off our fun day (and our alcohol) we stopped by our favorite local Sonoma dive with the best food and local beer....The Freemont Diner.  Always worth a stop if you're in the area!
Freemont Diner

Thursday, November 13, 2014


not in another place
but this place,
not for another hour
but this hour.

Walt Whitman

"Cheri" T-shirt

                                How perfect is this....thank you J.Crew!

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Grandma's Apple Cake 
Torta di Mele della Nonna

This recipe is from La Tavola Marche, ( a truly exceptional blog, podcast and agriturisimo in Italy that I hope to visit someday soon!)  Check them out: La Tavola Marche   This cake is easy to make, delicious and comforting.  Grandma knows best!

3 Cups flour
1 Cup oil
1/2 tsp.salt
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
5-6 apples, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients except apples until combined and smooth.
Mix apples in a separate bowl with 1 tsp. cinnamon and 2 Tbsp. sugar.
Grease a 10 inch bundt pan. Alternately layer the cake batter and apples in three separate layers each, starting with the cake batter in bottom of pan and ending with an apple layer on top.
Bake at 350, for 1 hour and 15 min. until a pick comes out clean.

Monday, November 3, 2014



Fire above me.
Fire below me.

Wind rushes through
the tree top canopy.
 Ablaze with vibrant hues of
 yellow, orange, and red.

Branches throw glowing orbs,
radiant leafy shapes, 
to my burning feet

 I hear them cackle,


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


What would life be without October?
I couldn't imagine.  It's my favorite time to hike, enjoy the gorgeous fall color, to let my mind wander, in my favorite place...Lebanon Park.
(Some photos from a recent hike, wearing a "close to my heart" hat from my dear Dad.)

Lunar Eclipse

I'm sure you've seen other pictures of the recent lunar eclipse.  Mine did not turn out so well, with my everyday small camera.   I loved being out at 5:45 a.m. to experience the whole event.  I felt awe struck and small at the same time.  This picture was taken as the sun rose and the moon set, out of a partial shadow of the earth.  Our universe is magical...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


12x12 oil CW Larson

 How I love this time of year!  October officially starts mid-week and autumn is finally here.  We expect a week of cooler temps in the 60's...my kind of weather.  I enjoy changing out the flower pots to reflect fall colors...yellow mums, purple cabbages, and cornstalks.  Truly there is something so joyful in setting a pumpkin (or two) at the front door!
And it's the one time of year I can display the pumpkins I have painted on canvas, one with a few warts, and one quite gnarly!!

12x12 oil CW Larson
My sons had a favorite Halloween poem when they were children:
  Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate. 
The first one said, "Oh my it's getting late."
The second one said,"There are witches in the air."    
The third one said, "I don't care!"
The fourth one said, "Let's run and run and run."
The fifth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!"
Woo- ooo went the wind
And out went the light
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!

by Reid at age 7

Monday, September 29, 2014

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE-CHIP COOKIES (based on a recipe from David Lebovitz's "Ready For Dessert")

To say these cookies are chocolately chocolate-chip is an understatement!!  While they bake, watch them carefully because you want to remove them from the oven while they still feel molten and are barely cooked around the edges.....and eat one (or two) before they cool completely!

1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, at room temp
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Add the chopped chocolate and butter to a double boiler to melt,( or melt in a microwave.)
In small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.
Using a mixer with whisk attachment, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla on high until a well-defined ribbon forms when the beater is lifted, about 5 min.  With mixer running on low, mix in the chocolate-butter mixture until thoroughly incorporated, then stir in flour mixture followed by the chocolate chips.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and drop generous Tbsp. size dough, 1 inch apart.  Bake rotating sheets until edges feel just slightly firm, about 9 min.
Let cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then transfer to wire rack.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 

Monday, August 18, 2014


Making pasta at home can be one of the most delicious and satisfying experiences.  Homemade pasta has a lightness and tenderness that nothing out of a box can replicate.  With a few simple ingredients and easy technique, it's something we all can do.  I'll share with you my favorite way to make tagliatelle or pappardelle.  The recipe comes from Marcella Hazan.  I use a food processor and pasta machine.
Pour 1 heaping cup of unbleached all-purpose white flour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Break 2 eggs into the bowl and run the machine until the flour and eggs mass together.

Open the bowl and poke two fingers into the mass.  It will probably feel sticky.  In this case, add 1/2 Tbsp. of flour, cover the bowl, and process again.  Test the mass again, if still sticky, add another 1/2 Tbsp. of flour and run the blade again.  Follow this procedure, until the dough is no longer sticky and feels springy to the touch.

Place dough in the center of a wooden work board and mold it into a rounded shape. knead for 1 min.  When done, wrap in plastic and let rest at room temp. for 15-60 min.

With a pasta machine roller set at largest opening and several dry kitchen towels spread over a table or counter top, unwrap the dough.  Cut into 6 pieces.  Flatten one and run through the machine.  Run through 2 more times and place flat on towel.  Continue with all the pieces.
Close down the machine one notch and run the pieces through again.  Again , close the machine down one more notch and run the strips through.  Stop when the pasta is as thin as desired.  Let the strips dry for aprox. 15 min. turning over from time to time until they start to feel leathery.
With a fluted pastry wheel or a broad, straight-edged knife,  on the wooden cutting board, cut the pasta into 1/2 to 1 inch ribbons. Spread out onto a tray lined with a towel to dry.  May be used right away in your favorite dish or store in a plastic zip lock bag after drying for 24 hours.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bike Ride

There's a wonderful feeling of freedom riding a bike!  Pedaling around with the wind, choosing fast or slow,  holding handlebars or not, cruising down hills,  and all the while smiling!  Childhood returns...  

Before I left for my bike ride this morning I passed by the morning glory trellis. And the first flower has bloomed!  Such a pretty shade of blue...

Summer of Parties

It has been a glorious summer !!  Lovely summer weather.  Not plagued heavily with humidity or strong storms.  Idyllic actually!!  And it has been perfect for all the summer parties we have attended... one almost every weekend!  Birthdays, graduations, weddings, and reunions.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Front Door

At the front door I planted two Euonymus topiaries this summer.  I was afraid there wouldn't be enough sunlight,  but so far, so good!  Every season I try to experiment with different plants.
Our Doorman:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mixed Berry Pie

It's berry time, and the berries are bountiful!!  The growing season is producing gorgeous strawberries, blueberries (my favorite) and raspberries.  I even have a strawberry plant potted on my deck that is giving us delicious morsels (thanks to you sister Shelly)!  Yumm...

 What to do with abundant berries?  Make a pie!!  And I admit this is the first pie I've ever made,  (with a homemade ROLLED pie crust)...and with a little vanilla ice cream, DELICIOUS!!!  Why have I waited so long??

(a recipe from David Lebovitz, "Ready For Dessert")

Pie Dough (recipe follows)

2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
2 cups blueberries
2 cups raspberries or blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. cream
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400.
Lightly flour work surface and roll out one disk of dough into a 14 inch circle.  Drape it into a 9 inch pie plate.  Trim away the excess dough, leaving a slight overhang.
In a large bowl, gently mix the berries with the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.  Transfer berry mixture to the dough-lined plate.
Roll out the second dough disk into a 14 inch circle.  Moisten the exposed edges of the dough in the pie plate with water, then drape the second dough circle over the top.  Working all the way around the pie. tuck the upper dough edges under the lower dough edges and crimp.
In small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and cream.  Brush the top crust with the wash and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sugar.  Pierce the crust with a paring knife in 6 places
Bake until top is browned and filling juices are bubbling, 50 to 60 min.  If crust is browning too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil.
Let pie cool for 1 hour before serving.


2 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and chilled
6-8 Tbsp. ice water

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the chilled butter and mix just until butter is broken up into rough 1/4 inch pieces.
Add 6 Tbsp. ice water all at once and continue mixing just until the dough begins to hold together.  If necessary, mix in the additional 2 Tbsp.
Turn dough onto a work surface.  Divide in half and form each into a disk 1 inch thick.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Georgia O'Keeffe once said,
 "When I think of death, 
I only regret that I will not be able
 to see this beautiful country anymore."

Monday, July 14, 2014


Wild flowers brighten my daily walks in July.  An abundance of yellow, blue and white.  Even the weeds have a beauty all their own...dandelion...thistle...milkweed.  Their perfumes waft and mix, so earthy, green, and sweet.  My favorite....and for some reason brings me back to childhood... is the clover...sweet clover.....