Monday Mood: Martinis on the Mountain

What could be better than sipping martinis in a fabulous home with a view? On a Monday no less!

As part of Modernism Week and a love limit for martinis,  I’m finally going to Martinis on the Mountain.  I’ve heard about it, but every time I’m here it’s always sold out.

Tonight I’m prepared to step back in time at the historic O’Donnell House nestled high above Palm Springs with magnificent views of the valley below.  Looking forward to live entertainment featuring the sounds of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, fab hors d’oeuvres and who knows what else.

O’Donnell House (party 2017)

The evening is also a fundraiser to benefit the Meals On Wheels Program and other programs and services of the Mizell Senior Center.

A bit of architectural history:

The house was built in 1925 for oil tycool Thomas O’Donnell and his wife.  The home originally known as Ojo del Desierto (Eye of the Desert) was designed by architect and artist William Charles Tanner. The 4,200 square foot Mediterranean Revival-Monterey style home features four bedrooms and six fireplaces. In 2000, The O’Donnell House was acquired by its present owners who began its restoration to its former glory. The City of Palm Springs recognized it as a Historic Site in 1986 and in 2000, and in 2011 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Dontini

Specialty of the House (my house)

Everyone agrees that my husband Don made the best martinis.  He specialized in the dirty kind.  Into a chilled martini glass he strained high quality vodka, a splash of vermouth (optional), a bit of olive juice (brine) from the largest olives available which gave it a bit of a cloudy appearance and lastly, three olives on a toothpick.  And my limit was always one two.

ETC:

It’s a Mod Mod World.  I went to the Modernism Preview Party at the Convention Centre the other night.  With a glass of wine in hand, amidst a collection of mid-century modern furnishings, art, jewelery and such,  there was the crowd. I was too enthralled to even take photos.  You’ll just have to use your imagination….but I’m not sure you can even imagine the getups many were wearing.  And I’m referring to mostly the men.

I’m curious…what kind of martinis do you favor?

 

 

Style: Spanning the Decades

I am somewhat obsessed with vintage designer fashion.

As someone once said it can be easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new.  Of course that’s true but what I appreciate is the workmanship, attention to detail and luxurious fabrics the designers of that era used, which is almost impossible to find in the fast fashion market of today.  And many talented designers have ended up making their designs more accessible (or selling out) to appeal to the masses.  Although the prices are reasonable, the quality is not the same.

Photo by Richard Avedon.  Pierre Cardin’s coat of rose brocade.

This happened to famous high fashion designer Pierre Cardin.  The Italian-born French designer was best known for his geometric avant-garde designs. In the 1960s his use of stark tunics, goggles and helmets launched the Space Age look. Cardin expanded into the automobile market in the early ’70s and designed haute couture muscle car interiors. He now owns a chain of Maxim hotels and restaurants.  He’s 96 years old.

Irridescent silk evening gowns by Pierre Cardin, 1959

Mia Farrow in a Pierre Cardin beaded and sequined mini, May 1967.

Fashion returns to Modernism Week with the new Modernism Fashion Show – “Spanning the Decades.” Attendees will step back in time as they “Span the Decades” through fashion. They will be transported through the eyes of Coco Chanel, Emilio Pucci, Christian Dior, and Pierre Cardin as Mitchells Palm Springs collaborates with M Vintage to display “Haute Couture” at its best. Guests will be escorted to the Grand Warsaw Ballroom at Temple Isaiah to enjoy a glass of bubbly and nibblies and view the amazing fashion retrospective. February 18, 2 PM; $45

EMILIO PUCCI

Emilio Pucci was an Airforce 1 pilot under World War 2, who surprisingly started out making skiwear for a college team. Then he was approached by Harpers Bazaar in the late 40’s, to design for a European skiwear story. When raging reviews from the U.S. and tons of offers to manufacture still didn’t sway him – he set up his own house. Key pieces were swimwear, silk scarves, silk dresses and shirts – with amazing colorful prints. He later created the Braniff Airlines uniform (the bubble helmet).  Vintage Pucci in prisine condition is very sought after and expensive.

Pierre Cardin

See what I mean?  We don’t dress like this anymore. Not that I ever did only in my mind and while it’s somewhat of a relief it’s also kind of sad we don’t have the capacity to try so hard.  Because fashion is meant to be  fun.  But you can see that these designers were fabulously multi-faceted.  They tell their stories through their designs.

 

Happy Heart Day

Today is a very special day for two reasons:

Hey, It’s my Birthday! (taken four days ago)

An Officer and a Gentleman – that’s my boy!  (four months ago)

1) My sheltie boy Jia Jia turns FIFTEEN YEARS YOUNG today.  We’re going to have a very fun day starting with a long walk, followed by a picnic in his favorite park, treats, tossing the ball, presents, more treats and special dinner.  Maybe a run through the sprinklers.  He loves that.

Four years ago

   2) It’s Valentines Day.

I’m going to spend it with my true loves – fabulous furry friends and food.  How about you?

Wishing you a LOVEly day.

Recipe: greek oregano chicken + orzo with tomatoes in garlic oil

If you’re looking for an easy, no fuss delicious dinner made in one pot – this is it!

image: halfbakedharvest.com

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that keep things simple but are healthy, hearty and smell heavenly.  Of course a touch of the exotic or unexpected is always a plus and it must look appetizing on the plate and pleasing on the palate. In this one the *orzo takes on a risotto-like texture since it gets cooked in with the chicken and peppers.  Sometimes oregano can be overpowering, but when paired with this chicken, some balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika, it’s perfect. This dish was originally a summer dish because of the heirloom tomatoes but you can still find them at select grocers and winter farmers markets.  The first part of the recipe (Tomatoes) is an extra step which is optional, although I highly recommend making it.

Ingredients:

TOMATOES

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
  • salt and pepper to taste

CHICKEN + ORZO

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bit size pieces
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano chopped
  • 2 bell peppers sliced
  • 1 cup mixed kalamata or green olives
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta (use gluten free if needed)
  • 4-6 ounces feta cheese crumbled

Instructions:

TOMATOES

  1. Add the olive oil, garlic and chili pepper flakes to a small sauce pan. Bring the oil to a low boil and then quickly reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool and then store in a glass jar for up to a month in the fridge.
  2. Add the tomatoes to a bowl or plate and drizzle with the chili oil mix. Sprinkle with salt + pepper. Serve alongside the chicken.

CHICKEN

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium size dutch oven or large skillet set on medium-high heat.
  2. Once hot, add the chicken, garlic, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken to coat and then cook until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oregano and cook another minute. Remove the chicken from the pan and to a plate.
  3. To the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, the bell peppers and a pinch of salt + pepper. Sear the peppers until just beginning to caramelize on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add the orzo and another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir the pasta with the peppers on then pour in 2 1/2 cups water. Cook until almost all the water is absorbed and the orzo is creamy. Taste the orzo to make sure it is soft in the middle, if needed, add another 1/2 cup of water and continue cooking the orzo until soft. It is important to stir the orzo often, as it wants to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Once the orzo is cooked, slide the chicken and olives into the orzo and remove from the heat. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve the dish topped with crumbled feta cheese and a side of tomatoes in chili oil.

*Orzo is a Greek barley-like pasta, the shape of large grains of rice

Original Recipe: halfbakedharvest.com

Let me know if this is something you would make and if you make it, let me know how much you like it.

 

Film/Culture: Le Ride

A bad attitude is like a flat tire.  If you don’t change it, you’ll never go anywhere.

Cycling is an enjoyable sport.  Recently I’ve gotten on my bike to do a grocery run,  pick up pizza from a nearby restaurant and meet friends for coffee.  Sometimes it’s fun to be part of a local event even if you’re not a big enthusiast.  But I might become one.

The *Tour de Palm Springs may not be The Tour de France but there are some similarities.  For instance, thousands of cyclists riding along gorgeous scenery while challenging themselves for many miles to help fundraise for a variety of charities.

February 10th: I just did the 100 10 mile tour which although hardly challenging, was worthwhile and rewarding in the sense that I tried it out for the very first time.  It wasn’t a race, it was a ride – there’s a difference. Bands and cheerleaders entertained us by playing the American anthem & then as we began filing out, the theme from Rocky.  With so much energy it made us feel like athletes.  Actually, there were some authentics. 

What was really great was attending a carb loaded dinner with outdoor seating the night before, then watching an award winning documentary at the **Palm Springs Cultural Centre (used to be the Camelot Theatre).

In partnership with the American Documentary Film Festival, Tour de Palm Springs presented Le Ride The story of the first English speaking team to ride the Tour de France.  Multi Award winning producer Phil Keoghan (creator The Amazing Race) showed us what it was like to do the ride in 1928 when he re-created a history that many are not aware of.  He challenged himself to the toughest road race in the world by retracing the 1928 Tour de France riding an original vintage bicycle with no gears, breathtaking scenery all along the way.  Keoghan was in attendance for the screening and for a Q&A at the end. He was also riding on the Tour de Palm Springs. But I have a feeling he did the whole 100.

The **Palm Springs Cultural Center, a non-profit organization, was established to encourage the development of the cultural arts in the Coachella Valley with a specific focus in the areas of film, fine art, live performance, dance, music, and community festivals. The Center is dedicated to advancing education, to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts, and to sponsoring scholarship awards for deserving individuals.

*Tour de Palm Springs is a sponsored event designed to raise money for nonprofit organizations in the Coachella Valley and helps support more than 100 local charities.  It’s also great exercise.

  Have you ever done one of these?

Style: SLIPing

The Slip Dress – a Style Staple

I’ve come to the realization that a simple slip dress is anything but basic. It should be a wardrobe staple in every womans closet.  Preferably in black.

  If you’re ever in doubt of what to wear for an evening out it’s an easy, effortless piece to dress up or down.  Wear it long or just below the knee.  It pairs with so many things.  You can wear it with heels or flats, with a tuxedo jacket, throw or regular jean jacket.  Get the picture?And yes; Liz wore it better than anyone.

This might even be a real slip – so beautiful!

 

Grill Talk: lime-marinated Mahi Mahi

Surprise, surprise…who knew?  It’s actually quite easy to barbeque.

Everyone except me it seems. But honestly confession….I recently barbequed for the very first time. For someone who has always enjoyed cooking in all its various forms, I’ve never had the desire to barbeque until now, even though I find many things taste better when on the grill – even vegetables. For no reason I can think of,  I’ve always left it up to others, specifically my husband to do the honors.  But now that I’m on my own and in the company of more than one barbeque I thought it was time to give it a go.  Because I’m doing some things I’ve never done before how daring of me. So once I fired it up; mystery solved! This is my third time grilling in the past two weeks, and each time dinner was surprisingly delicious.  And simple.  And quick.

My first attempt was Wild Alaskan Salmon coated with mayo, grainy mustard & spices.  Then it was a boneless rib-eye steak and now:

Lime-Marinated Mahi Mahi

Hawaii Mahimahi is an excellent source of healthy, extra lean protein. It is also low in saturated fat and low in sodium. It is rich in niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. It (like most fish) should not be over cooked and flakes easily when done properly.  It’s also very meaty, almost steak-like in texture.  So if you want to re-create a tropical flavor this recipe will do so.  Enjoy.

Directions

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.
  2. Whisk the extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, lime juice, and grated lime zest together in a bowl to make the marinade.
  3. Place the mahi mahi fillets in the marinade and turn to coat; allow to marinate at least 15 minutes.
  4. Cook on the preheated grill until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  5. Garnish with twists of lime zest to serve (optional).

What is your favorite thing to grill?

 

  

 

Beauty: DIY Rose Water Toner/Spritz 

There are some beauty products that are worth splurging on, and then there are those you can make yourself – which are as good or better than anything you can buy. 

Take rose water for example.  It’s super easy to make and has a host of healing benefits.  But the smell alone like a walk through a rose garden, is heavenly enough to perk you up.  Applied to your face after cleansing with a cotton ball and/or spritzed lightly before applying cream will freshen you up and prepare your skin to absorb the moisture.

As a skin soother, rosewater is an all-in-one solution. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce excessive skin redness, whether from broken capillaries or general skin blotchiness. It also has hydrating properties that help to soothe dry, irritated skin, and is used as a cooling treatment for sunburns.

Rosewater has mild astringent qualities, making it a good choice to remove excess skin oil and tone pores. You can even use it as a cleanser itself to remove excess dirt and oil, thus keeping pores unclogged.

Many beauty companies have Rose Water as part of their beauty product line such as “fresh”

To make rose water you need just two cups of distilled water (you can also use Spring), and clean rose petals.  I used beautiful red rainforest petals.  I added a teaspoon of vodka, which acts as a preservative but you don’t have to.  It can be alcohol-free but it may not last as long.  And of course vodka on it’s very own or with a few olives is a necessary beauty pick-me-up (for another post).  Kidding! sort-of

Simmer all the ingredients on low  for about 30 minutes. Let it cool before straining into bottles.  I keep a larger glass bottle in the fridge and refill a smaller one.  That’s it.  I compared mine to one from another leading brand and am happy to say that mine compared just as well…maybe more so (but of course I’m biased).

Have you tried making your own?