#beautymatters

Beauty is everywhere: Wildflowers in the Parking Lot at North Salmon Creek Beach last weekend.

Beauty is everywhere: Wildflowers in the Parking Lot at North Salmon Creek Beach last weekend.

Beauty Matters. It’s a favorite thought these days with Spring riotously awake.  I’ve been happily saying these words on posts and to friends lately because that’s what happens: Seeing something lovely makes you feel Happy. It just does. You can’t argue with Beauty. You’d never win. Beauty is visceral. Intrinsic. Adding wonderful Value to our Lives. I get this from my Mom and grandparents. A Philosophy I hope to give to my children. How “Living Beautifully” is NOT what you’re born with, but what you do with yourself. And I don’t mean some tiny dress size. Beauty is so much more delicious than that. Taking effort, like cooking.

I keep a lipstick or two in the pantry...!

I keep a lipstick or two in the pantry…!

Going to serve beans last night for dinner, I reached for one bowl but chose another. I realized I was picking serving ware like I do my shoes or lipstick to work with my outfit. Matching the Food to the Bowl.

Yummy cheese and fruits from nearby Petaluma look so pretty on a platter from the Pasadena Flea Market purchased at least 10 years ago with my grandmother.

Yummy cheese and fruits from nearby Petaluma look so pretty on a platter from the Pasadena Flea Market purchased at least 10 years ago with my grandmother.  San Marzano Apron by Hedley & Bennett.

Like jewelry, the colors and shape of the platter or bowl enhances the prettiness of the meal I just spent time cooking. I guess I’ve been unconsciously collecting colorful serving ware for some time. “Curating” an assortment of beautiful servers — new and vintage, budget conscious and splurge.

Gorgeous little bowls and salad plates from Cost Plus World Market will double as serving ware. $24 for all four!

Gorgeous little bowls and salad plates purchased individually from Cost Plus World Market (Corsica Collection)will double for me as serving ware. $24 for all four!

Like Art. And Wine. You love what you love. Everyone’s tastes are different. I love happy things. A guest to my home once sniffed “your home has so much COLOR.” Uh…Yeah.

The best cookie jar ever. Vintage find at an Antique Fair. I love color!

The best cookie jar ever. Vintage find at an Antique Fair. I love color!

It started with Art. Slowly buying original Art. Shopping local. Developing my tastes as I matured. I mostly collect living California artists. Some now dear friends. Like Dennis Ziemienski and Robert Townsend.  Meredith Abbott and her daughter Whitney Abbott.  Michelle Hoting or Ashley Morgan Designs. It’s not like I’m some zillionaire either. I often pay on “Lay Away” — there is no shame in that.  Collecting Art takes time to save and also time to wait until you experience that “lightning bolt” of Beauty. Joy! Curating one, maybe two, beautiful pieces each year that mean something special.  Adding color to our walls or my person with feelings of joy.

Beauty does not have to be expensive. A peak at my bedside table: a $50 Pier One table, Pottery Barn bed,linens bought on sale and two worthy splurges: "Apricots" by Meredith Abbott and a $150 lamp from the last Pacific Asa Museum Festival of the Autumn Moon

Living beautifully does not have to be expensive. A peak at my bedside table: a $110 Pier One table, Pottery Barn bed linens (bought on sale) and two worthy splurges: “Apricots” by Meredith Abbott and a $150 lamp from the last Pacific Asa Museum Festival of the Autumn Moon

All 1960s: Costume broach from Sweet and Spark and Mexican blouse. Standing in front of a Robert Townsend painting of old ladies visiting the Grand Canyon circa 1960s.

All 1960s: Costume broach from Sweet and Spark and Mexican blouse. Standing in front of friend Robert Townsend painting of old ladies visiting the Grand Canyon in 1960s.

Now as a Cook, I just love finding beautiful serving ware. Bringing the same feelings of Beauty from our Walls to our Table. Even if I may be the only one who notices some nights with two toddlers! Just like picked wild flowers, prettiness on the table makes me so HAPPY.

Twinkle lights glow over our 1930s kitchen sink + clean kitchen = Happiness.

Twinkle lights glow over our 1930s kitchen sink + clean kitchen = Happiness.

My new favorite is a 1976 Majolica Bowl from the original WILLIAM SONOMA. Makes even the most old school side dishes — Bush’s Baked Beans? — looked too elegant. And worth the splurge last month.

Beautiful vintage Lettuce Bowl from 1976 found at the William Sonoma Sonoma Store -- the very first one is here in town!

Beautiful vintage Lettuce Bowl from 1976 found at the William Sonoma Sonoma Store — the very first one is here in town!

Did you know our Sonoma store is the ONLY WILLIAM SONOMA in the Country now to sell vintage piece? Some are from founder Chuck William’s personal collection and others are cherry picked by a Buyer traveling for the chain. Isn’t that fantastic? Definitely worth the visit next time you’re in Sonoma.

This may be a First World topic. But I like to think the idea of Beauty — and that it matters — transcends culture and money.  To wild flowers and enjoying a sunset. Or the smile of a little kid. How lucky are we to live and love where Beauty can mean pretty platters? Fine Wine? Fresh vegetables? And Art.  Finding out and more importantly, trusting what you love.  And Cultivating it as much as you can.  For me, it is Food, Wine, and Art.  What is it for you?

Happy eating! And Beautiful Living.

The Perfect Waffle and The Importance of Butter

The Importance of Butter and Buttermilk: Secret 2

The Importance Buttermilk: Secret 1

For weeks, I wondered what to say at Mima’s funeral. I truly thought about just reciting her Buttermilk Waffles recipe. But flying down on Friday, the stewardess gave me a free glass of white wine. Anni played a new Dinosaur game. And inspiration struck:

“The morning after Mima died, I was surprised how much harder her death hit me. I thought I’d feel more relieved. And then Hannah (my cousin) wrote a note to we girls that she wished she had a waffle maker and all of us together. I loved that. I think it speaks to the legacy of our incredible grandmother that thousands of miles apart, four granddaughters — now women — yearned to be together. And I’m betting we all flashed back to the sun-lit kitchen at Linda Ridge (their home) on Sunday morning. Because no matter how epic, talented, beautiful and strong our Mima was… She and Dida helmed one hell of a family. I think we Palmers are so collectively dynamic — each in our own ways — because of the strong, loving examples set for us by Mima and Dida.”

“I couldn’t decide what to say today. There was too much good stuff. Dancing the Charleston in our socks. Sailing to Catalina. Driving to the Ranch in Kansas. Collecting rocks. Learning to curtsy with books on our heads — I can still do this. Museums. Water aerobics. More Museums. Playing dress-up. Collecting ART. Sitting on her Dressing Room floor watching her get glamorous for a Night Out with Dida. Seeing her smile now on my little girl’s face.”

“But it all boils down to waffles on Sunday mornings. With a bunch of us gaggled around kitchen table in our pajamas. Breathing in the sleepy scent of syrup and Folgers Crystals. And love. Always lots and lots of love.”

We four Granddaughters of Mima

Mima’s four Granddaughters.

I wore a mid-century inspired dress in Jade green for Mima and my pearls. All of us girl cousins were wearing some semblance of this combination. Sara and I wore pearls. Hannah and Kate wore Jade necklaces. Mima loved to “look good.” She believed everyone could be beautiful. “It’s not what you’re born with but what you do with it.” And that each woman had her own style to find and cultivate.

Knowing when to Splurge: the Importance of Butter. Secret 1

Knowing when to Splurge: the Importance of Butter. Secret 3

But making Mima’s Waffles is more about Butter than a nipped waistline. Knowing when to splurge. The Joy cooked into family food. And buttermilk. Lots of Buttermilk. I think those flavors are part of our collective family DNA now.

As many Palmers as possible gathered to celebrate Dida's 100th Birthday on Sunday

As many Palmers as possible gathered to celebrate Dida’s 100th Birthday on Sunday.

 

BUTTERMILK WAFFLES RECIPE: Well…I was going to give you her exact recipe that we make most Sunday mornings but reconsidered. I think some family secrets should remain kept. But I will tell you this, no matter how you make your waffles — from scratch or with a mix (we love Bisquick) — Swapping in Buttermilk for regular milk is vital. This is Secret 1. Mix in one and a half to two times the called for amount. So the waffles are thinner, less doughy. Because waffles really are just a vehicle for butter and syrup.  Secret 2: Always give the first waffle to the dog. It takes you and your machine one test-run for subsequent waffles perfection.  Secret 3: Melt 1 stick of butter to every cup to cup and a half of pure maple syrup on your stove top, being careful not to boil too much or reduce.  When you waffle is ready, PING! Go whole-hog and enjoy.

I think families who share at least a handful of beloved dishes — and pass down their recipes to kids and grandkids — strengthen their inter-generational fabric with memories of deliciousness. Waffles is this dish for us. My grandmother may have gone to Army Cooking School in World War II and been a plain cook all her life but I like to think she intuitively knew the French secret that everything tastes better with Butter.  Especially on Sunday mornings.

Off to take Anni Swimming on this last day of our Family Reunion. And maybe some Water Aerobics. For old times sake.

Three Generations missing our Fourth.

Three Generations missing our Fourth.

Happy Memories! And Eating.

Modernly Thankful

View from my kitchen window -- Merlot vines and our old hammock. Photo by Tamera

View from my kitchen window — Merlot vines and our old hammock. Photo by Tamera

My hunky husband is a bit of a naysayer on this whole social media “thing” of mine. Lately, enough to make me stop and think about why it is I enjoy sharing this lovely, beaded-brow world of food and wine with friends, acquaintances, and now a surprising number of global strangers.  I am first, honored. THANK YOU. And second, sincerely happy to see good folks all over this crazy planet eating good food and drink. Living our lives vibrantly!

The famed Allyson Wiley caught my hubby and I recently at a party in our Ruins.

The famed ALLYSON WILEY caught my hubby and I recently at a party in our Ruins.

Now, my husband is a fantastic man but he’s wrong here: this endeavor is not about Ego. Rather, writing and connecting on Instagram — the “happy Facebook” — makes my buttered pan runneth over!  My life in Sonoma as Mama, Wife, Artist, Cook and Friend is beyond full and joyous. Making my connections with fellow food nerds extra icing on the cake. Trading recipes, sharing ideas in the comments beneath a happy shot of something savory or sweet, chilled or hot… Is being apart of Our Food Culture. Be it regionally, nationally or globally. Even as some earnest amateur. Each photo or post is a contribution to our collective joy and passions.

Supremely talented ASHA from Food Fashion Party is my go-to blog for killer Curry dishes.

Supremely talented ASHA from Food Fashion Party is my go-to blog for killer Curry dishes.

Truthfully, I started on IG for the food but have branched into learning about Inspired jewlers like Michelle Hoting, beekeeping with Gretchen Bee Ranch in Texas, antique silver with Gryphon Estate Silver, vintage clothing (too many to list — who knew??), fellow Winemakers thanks to SONOMA VALLEY WINE I have yet to meet in person, recipe writers like Jessica in her Carolina Farmhouse Kitchen, and CURRY. Blessed, beautiful curries á la Asha on Food Fashion Party. To name a few.

A gorgeous mid-century silver cuff I had to have thanks to Instagram and GRYPHON ESTATE SILVER

A gorgeous mid-century silver cuff I had to have thanks to Instagram and GRYPHON ESTATE SILVER

Cooking away in our kitchens. Trading recipes. Mailing each other gifts and treats.  Shopping our markets. Raising our babies and animal friends. Giving garden tips. Styling our lives to make every normal day full of sunshine and smiles. And sharing them together.  So I told my husband to “bite me” this morning in more colorful language.

Pure perfection. I am 100% now hooked on Thien Gretchen's honey from Gretchen Bee Ranch after her thoughtful gift!

Pure perfection. I am 100% now hooked on Thien Gretchen’s honey from Gretchen Bee Ranch after her thoughtful gift!

But I wondered all day… What IS it that makes me feel like sharing pictures and recipes and thoughts?

Tamera, Adrienne, and me -- a rather grand cocktail hour here last month!

Tamera, Adrienne, and me — a rather grand cocktail hour here last month! Thanks to Tamera for the photos.

And then the beyond fabulous, crown-making Tamera Beardlsey wrote today about her coming to visit our lifestyle blogger and friend Adrienne Shubin (Rich Life on a Budget) and our happy cocktail hour we shared here at Annadel! Tamera started writing when her kids went off to college. As a way to help her find her path. I think many of us can appreciate that.

With two toddlers and a painting career, cooking and learning about food became my hobby. I love this photo Tamera took of my vintage light-pole canister. Makes my heart melt with memories of all those cooking attempts.

With two toddlers and a painting career, cooking and learning about food online was how I started blogging and enjoying social media like Instagram. I love this photo Tamera took of my vintage telephone-pole insulator. Makes my heart melt somehow.

My kids are still little but I started writing once I became a stay-at-home-Mom learning to cook and then jumping down the rabbit hole of food-history and food writing. Adrienne started her wine country lifestyle blog soon after the economic collapse of 2008 and has turned it into a gorgeous place for advice and style.  And we’ve all stuck with it for the joyful connections we make with sincere people putting their passions and hobbies “out there with honest intent.” Now Isn’t that just the truth? Thank you, Tamera for coming to meet me.  Thank you, Adrienne, for bringing we three girls together.  And thank you, Instagram, for introducing us all.

See? Now I have better verbage the next time I need to tell Dean “bite me.”

Happy Eating!