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Bellagio Buffet : Every Dessert!

Posted on Feb 2, 2014

BELLAGIO bUFFET  desserts

 

Have you ever been to a buffet and wanted to try everything?  You know, a little sample of every item so you know which ones are best. Especially at the dessert bar… It’s the ultimate kid-in-a-candy-store fantasy.  Maybe you feel too guilty to pile your plate that high with only desserts.  Maybe it’s just too embarrassing.  Fear no more: the trail has been officially blazed! Should you decide to, you have company and can say you’re not the only one! On our recent trip to Las Vegas I proudly went through the desserts at the Bellagio Buffet and made the Mister help me sample them all!  I finally did it!  A fantasy come true…. ( sorry about the photo quality…I was using my phone so I’d be less conspicuous).

Hey..no judging! It was in the name of research.  How’s a girl supposed to write about the desserts if she doesn’t try them all?!  And when I say try them I literally took tiny bites of each, like I was sampling wine.  Maybe that’s not a good example :0).  I took tiny bites of each like they might be awful.  Yes, that’s more accurate.  Just enough to assess the flavor and texture without overdosing on sugar at the end.

 

BELLAGIO bUFFET  desserts piel

 

Yes.  It was soooo much fun!  To sample all those beautifully plated desserts was exciting!  The anticipation and feeling like I was breaking all the rules as I gather up up each delightful looking treasure without a care to calories or ecxess was freeing! Luckily, at the Bellagio Buffet, the desserts are served as very small , beautifully presented portions so it was easy to grab a bit of each. Enough teasing…on to the good stuff!

Here’s what we sampled:

  • Carrot cake- excellnt frosting, heavy, dry cake without much flavor
  • Coffee tiramisu- very soggy, cream lacked flavor
  • Chocolate eclair- pastry was stale, creme filling was bland and a bit rubbery
  • Creme brulee- nice crunch on top , decent flavor to the cream
  • Napoleon- icing was good, but a bit bland, pastry was hard as a rock.  Boo. Very disappointing
  • Seasonal financier- Ok  kind of bland
  • Raspberry macaroon- Decent flavor and texture.  Jelly filling was flavorful.
  • Apple macaroon- No.  Just no.
  • Pecan Pie-Hard srust, not much developed flavor to filling.
  • Fruit tart- Hard crust a bit bland. Cream a bit bland but fresh as were the berries
  • Strawberry tart- Same crust and cream filling as fruit tart, with strawberries.  Expected more starwberry flavor
  • Bread pudding- Bland, no real developed flavors.
  • Bananas foster- Overwhelming.  Maybe I’m no a good judge of this, but too much booze flavor for me.
  • Chocolate peppermint cheesecake- on the dryer side but good flavor if you’re not really expecting peppermint.  Great fudgy texture.
  • Vanilla Nutella Mousse in a cone- very slight nutella flavor, seemed processed ( like from a mix or can) rather than fresh.  Cone very bland.
  • Chocolate raspberry mousse in a cone -better than the vanilla, good flavor, better texture and seemed fresher.

 

BELLAGIO bUFFET desserts creme brulee

 

Yep, we tried every one and didn’t go in to diabetic shock!  The key, like I said, try them like you think they’re going to be awful.  Teeeny tiny bites.  I was glad I took teeny tine bites because, honestly, if you’re going to spend calories on dessert, it better be worth it.  I will say, only one was awful, but most were not really worth the calories. In particular , the jelly-filled apple macaroon was pretty bad. The most of the rest were just average.  The problem with mass produced desserts is the pastry is often too hard, the crust over dry, the fillings rather plain and thin, all a bit skimped on, even at the Bellagio Buffet.  They do seem to put more emphasis on the sea food, which is probably what draws the huge crowds, but I did expect fresher desserts.  The one stand out was the creme brulee.  That was really good!

 

BELLAGIO bUFFET LINE

 

It was decadent fun to go through the dessert buffet and pick up every single one in the name of research. (Ahem). In the end, what I discovered, at least at the Bellagio Buffet, is that I really wasn’t missing much.  They all look so great because they’re colorful and beautifully presented, but the only one I would really eat all of was the creme brulee.

If you’re heading to Las Vegas and plan to take a spin at the Bellagio Buffet, enjoy your meal and don’t worry about saving a lot of room for dessert, except maybe just enough for some pretty good creme brulee.  Unless, of course, you want to live your own childhood fantasy, pile your plate high, and decide for yourself how the dessert buffet at Bellagio is.  At least you won’t have to be the first!

 

 

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Macaws at The Flamingo

Posted on Jan 27, 2014

Blue and gold Macaw

 

Besides eating macaroons and looking at flowers while I was in Las Vegas recently, I also explored the Flamingo Hotel, where we were staying.  I had no idea they have so may birds in the grounds to see up close and personal.  There were, of course, flamingos, but there were also swans and pelicans (who, by the way, can do some pretty weird stuff with their necks and their beaks…UGH!) .  My favorite, however, were the parrots, or more accurately, the Macaws.  The Macaws at the Flamingo hotel are well trained and unbelievably gorgeous.

 

Macaws

 

I’m not necessarily a bird person, but for some reason I’ve had a lot of parrots in my life without ever owning one.  When we were first married and lived in a little 500 square foot bungalow, and I was sitting on the couch with the front and back doors open on a warm summer day.  All at once two wild green parrots flew right in front of me, through the house.  They flew in the back door and straight out the front,  their bodies going up and down with each flap.  If I’d reached out I could have touched them!

Our neighbor at our last house had a big blue macaw named Fran who would chase the kids in the morning and try to bite their toes.

 

Macaw scratching

 

Where we live now a family of wild parrots raid my tangelo tree.  Every evening they fly over the house screeching a call to one another as they head to their roost.  So it’s funny.  I’ve been around parrots and Macaws a long time, but these four at the Flamingo were breath taking.

 

Lola the Macaw

 

So much so, I could not stop taking pictures of them.  One in particular, a male named Paco, was intriguing.  He was mostly green with a scarlet crest above his face and he was a ham!  Even with his back to me, he’d twist his head to look me straight in the eye.  I found him both charming and a little intimidating:0).

 

green parrot paco

 

The other three are girls, and Lola stole my heart. Her coloring is mesmerizing.  I couldn’t take my eyes ( or camera) off those orange, yellow, and turquoise feathers!  I could swim in those colors.  Their so happy and comforting.  Hmmm…where can I work these colors into my house…

 

Macaw Lola the Orange

 

Fernanda is a blue and gold macaw.  To call her blue is almost a crime.  She is azure, turquoise, and electric blue all at the same time.  Her feathers appear to almost be glowing!

 

Macaws on stick

 

Grace, the fourth bird, is every shade of green with a surprise splash of turquoise underneath ( that’s her, lower left).  Simply beautiful.  All of the birds had incredible colors in their feathers that are so vibrant and so stunning together. I could just see one of those Pinterest color palate photos with these beautiful colored feathers. And isn’t it incredible how each feather is a combination of colors?  It is so special to be able to see them up close!

 

Macaw feathers

 

One of the neat things about the parrots at The Flamingo Hotel is that you can wear them.  Remember the movie “Evan Almighty”?  When Steve Carrel says, “These…are birds.”  Totally reminded me of that moment when I saw this woman posing with the parrots.  They’ll even take your picture with the birds.  Pretty neat!

 

4 macaws and woman

 

So if you find yourself at The Flamingo in Las Vegas, take a break from the tables and venture out to the garden for a close encounter with some gorgeos girls and one ham of a guy…the aviary kind.  You’ll see better and brighter colors than anywhere else in on the strip!

For more about the Flamingo. click here: www.Flamingolasvegas.com.

Disclaimer: I get millions and millions in endorsements from the Flamingo.  Just kidding.  A girl can dream…

 

 

 

 

 

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Bellagio Conservatory

Posted on Jan 23, 2014

Bellagio Chinese New Year money tree and overall

 

Spending time in Las Vegas means a mandatory visit to the ever-changing garden at the Bellagio Conservatory at Bellagio Hotel.  Yes, I go to Vegas to see flowers. trust me, no one who knows me is surprised. Plus, clearly I am not a patient person given Christmas is just over, its the middle of January, and I’m ready for spring!  Is it spring yet?  Is it time for flowers now? It happens every year, so even in Las Vegas, it’s time to go see flowers!

I know I can always count on a stunning flower show at the Bellagio Conservatory.  It is an enormous enclosed courtyard with a glass domes ceiling, essentially a huge conservatory, with a beautiful display which is changed  monthly that always includes loads and loads of flowers.  Heaven…in the middle of sin city.

 

The Bellagio Conservatory: Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Year Of The Horse 2014

With the Chinese New Year in January, it is currently all decked out to welcome the year of the horse (kind of like Chinese zodiac signs). I’m not saying I have confirmed it is the year of the horse, but the three-story revolving display of life-sized horses is a pretty strong clue.  Makes me wonder, what do they do for the year of the rat?
Bellagio Chinese New Year horses 2

The Money Tree

Seriously, the displays are magnificent.  A huge golden money tree (who knew money does grow on trees?!), a symbol for wealth and prosperity in the new year, welcomes guests at the main entrance. Take a look at the people in the background to get an idea of scale.
Bellagio Chinese New Year money tree

The Pagoda and Koi Fish

There are several displays and each is lined with masses of colorful bromeliads as well as large mums of every type. The atrium is so large it also houses a life-sized traditional pagoda complete with it’s own pond and several varieties of koi fish. It all makes you want to just linger…

 

Chinese New Year mums Collage

pagoda at Bellagio

The Symbols

Giant incense sticks burn with wafts of smoke to welcome the new year and good fortune is a assured in a beautiful gold frame filled with deep red carnations and the Chinese symbol for prosperity.
PicMonkey Collage 2

The Flowers

My favorite part is the several life size statues of children decked in live flowers for clothing. The use of flowers is gorgeous! Think Rose Parade meets botanical garden.
It looked like the life-sized children dressed in flowers got the most attention with their playful poses and colorful costumes. In order to keep all those cut flowers fresh, the figures are plumbed with irrigation from the inside. At one point I was taking photos intently when I heard giggling next to me. Because of the way the irrigation worked it appeared the figures were sweating profusely and wetting themselves. Evidently potty humor is universal.
Bellagio Chinese New Year Kid floral display
Bellagio Chinese New Year Kids
Bellagio Chinese New Year floral close up 2
Bellagio Chinese New Year floral close up
Even in Las Vegas, where every diversion is available, flowers are what beckons.  So, spring can’t  come soon enough.  Is it spring yet?

 

 

 

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Macaroon Love

Posted on Jan 20, 2014

Bouchon bakery at the Venetian Las Vegas

 

Macaroon Love.

That’s what I call it. I have fallen in and fallen hard. Crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle and filled with a creamy goodness that has to be tasted to be understood. Mmmmmmmmmacaroons…..

I had never tasted a classic French macaroon until a recent trip to Las Vegas. (I’ve had coconut macaroons and my friend Kathy’s are THE BEST .  I will strong arm her for her coconut macaroon recipe and share it soon.  Promise.)
My first French macaroon was a raspberry number at the Bellagio Buffet, “The best buffet in the world” according to my daughter when she was 1o. Bright pink and alluring, it was quite good. Surprisingly chewy and not overly sweet.  I was intrigued. I ventured into the apple. Um, no. Not so hot.  Both had a jelly filling, which I have come to learn is not the proper filling for a French macaroon.
A couple of days later I was wandering the Venetian and stumbled upon a hidden gem tucked in a corner next to the bridge that carries pedestrians across the street. Bouchon Bakery.  Pretty little pastel circles all neatly lined up caught my eye…

 

Bouchon macaroons in case

 

Fetching, they called my name, particularly the caramel. I thought literal and expected a blob of caramel for the filling. No, no, no, no, no. The macaroon was crispier and chewier than its it’s poor cousin from the Bellagio and it had the most delicious creamy caramel filling.  Heaven on my tongue!! I wish I could adequately describe how melt-in-your-mouth, fresh, creamy delectable it was. That filling. (Sigh). Exquisitely, surprisingly delicious.

Don’t get me wrong, they have other mouth watering pastries.  However, these gems were all I could see!\

 

Bouchon Bakery Caramel macaroon

 

O.K. I’ll be honest. It was so good that I went back and ordered one of each flavor. Yep. Hey, it’s research for my blog!

 

Bouchon macaroons in a box

 

Mind you these are not inexpensive macaroons, but they may possibly be as good as any you’ll get in France, and certainly among the best here in the States, with stores in New York, Las Vegas, and Beverly Hills, how can they not be great?!

 

Bouchon macaroons 2

 

Here are the macaroons I got from Bouchon Bakery:

Caramel-soooooo goooood. ‘Nuf said.

Vanilla bean– you can see the bits of vanilla bean in the cookie and in the cream filling. If your a vanilla purist, you won’t be disappointed.
Coffee bean– again, you can see the bits of bean in both cookie and filling. The filling is creamy and hints at coffee rather than screams it.
Chocolate– not overpowering in flavor, rich without being heavy. The cram filling is fudge-y.
Raspberry– light flavor in the cookie, the creamy filling is where the raspberry comes through.
Pistachio-the number 1 seller, it’s sweet and nutty with a true pistachio flavor. Not much of a fan of pistachio flavored desserts, this is surprisingly delicious.
Bonus: Peppermint– I got the last of the seasonal special flavors. Bright red with a white filling, it isn’t your traditional monochromatic macaroon, but just tasting it makes the holidays come flooding back!

 

 

Bouchon macaroons 1

 

What sticks me most about Bouchon Bakery’s macaroons is that the cookie consistency is wonderful; that perfect combination of crispy and chewy. Then there’s the fillings. Not one was a gelatinous blob. Each was soft, like fresh sweet cream and perfectly flavored.

Would I recommend Bouchon’s macaroons?  Um, yeah!

Did I sit out side the cafe for an hour taking a bite of each one and making notes while taking pictures. Guilty.

 

Bouchon macaroons with a bite missing

 

For more about Bouchon Bakery visit their website at bouchonbakery.com.  I didn’t see anything about delivery, so you have to go to them.  Check out their website for info on locations.  And if you’re ever in their area, visit!  Let me knwo what you think of the macaroons.  And if you’re not willing to sample them all, go for the caramel:0).  You can’t loose!

Disclaimer:  If only I had an affiliation with Bouchon Bakery, my wildest dreams would come true!

 

 

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A Year In The Life Part 3: The Engagement Party

Posted on Jan 16, 2014

A year in The life of the Mother Of the Bride engagement table1

 

Engagement Party Eve was upon me!  Paper lanterns were hung with great care high up in the trees.  My check list was looking pretty good.  Food, check; drinks, check; music, check; table settings, check.  Flowers……. My sister offered, and did indeed, pick up several buckets of beautiful flowers and greenery, going on my mere instruction of “whatever looks good,”  delivered them to me, and said “Hope you can figure out what to do with them.  They sure are pretty.”  Once again I called upon my very talented and inspiring garden friend, and not only did she save the lives of all the newly acquired greenery and flowers by suggesting that perhaps sitting outside in 100 degree hotness would not serve them well, she knew exactly what to do with them!   I’m not sure what I would have done without her!  We brought them all in to a cool little corner in my home and spritzed them back to life!  Within minutes she formulated a flower plan.  She truly has an incredible “vision” when it comes to all things flowers.  I finally let her go home as the evening drew to a close.

 

tolinda

 

I had one last thing on my check list.  What to wear?  Next moment my daughter swoops in and off we go to the mall at 7 p.m. for some serious power dress shopping.  I do much better last-minute shopping.  That way I have no room for indecision :)  Works like a charm every time.  Although, I did cut it a bit close this time, and I plan to be a little more efficient with the mother-of-the-bride dress!

 

A Year In The life of The Mother Of the bride EngAGEMENT Party TaBLE

 

The big day arrived, and with the help of my friend, said friend’s ever-patient hubby, and my family, we scurried into action placing tables, table settings, flowers and more flowers!  I have to say, it looked magnificent!   Most importantly, the evening was a wonderful success.  A great time was had by all.  My daughter and fiancé were sent off to “engaged life” on a beautiful evening with all their friends and family and a good time was had by all.  I honestly don’t think a full service party-planning company could have done  better job than my “team”!

 

A Year In The life of The Mother Of the bride EngAGEMENT Party TaBLE NIGHT

 

Now with confidence in my back pocket I am ready to embark on the wedding planning adventure.    There will be no hotel ballroom or country club venue to do it all for us.  We’ve proven our worth!!  It will be a do-it-yourself from A to Z at a family home.  That’s confidence.   But most importantly, I have already booked a hotel room for my good friend to make sure she is VERY close by……………….

 

 

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Botanical Gardens

Posted on Jan 13, 2014

Botanical Gardens floating begoniasIt’s warm here for January.  The expected high is 72° F.  I just sent my poor kid back to school in New Jersey where it is 2° with a -17° wind chill.  It got me thinking…about botanical gardens.

Don’t ask why my mind works the way it does.  The Girly (aka my daughter) and I often laugh about how we get from one random thought to another.  Still, there’s something about cold weather, even if I’m not in it, that makes me want to garden, to think about things growing and blooming, to let my mind run wild with thoughts of beautiful gardens and what-might-be.  That got me thinking about botanical gardens {I’m trying to help you follow my train of thought here}. Can you imagine being able to live in a place so intensely gardened and maintained?  I feel like I did at my last house!  Haha!  It really is the stuff of royalty and the exceptionally wealthy, but with so many Botanical Gardens at least we can all go for a visit and enjoy.

Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

I’ve been to a few.  Probably the first was Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom.  It was lovely.  I went with fellow students from the Landscape Architecture department at Cal Poly Pomona.  We were there, frolicking around the gardens on the Fourth of July. The irony was not lost on us as we made a human pyramid in celebration. Yep, right on that grass outside the Palm Pavilion.

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens Palm house

 

Versailles

The next was probably Versailles.  Definitely not a botanical garden, but clearly the stuff of royalty.  We visited on that same trip.  I never even went inside the palace: there was too much to see on the extensive grounds.  I loved the Orangerie, the fountains, the French Pavillion (every room has windows on three sides- my dream house!), and of course Marie Antoinette’s hamlet- where she reproduced a quaint village to get away from the tedium and insincerity of palace life- granted it was much nicer than any real village in France or anywhere. Kind of reminds me of Disneyland it’s so perfect.  (see…it’s hard to stay on my thought-train!) I went back 11 years ago.  It was January and cold and I went inside this time.  I still like the outside better.  Regardless, it’s one of my favorites and I have emulated elements in different landscapes over the years (I had a “petite” orangerie at one house).

 

The Huntington

The first official botanical garden I ever went to was Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, CA.  It’s right near where the Rose Parade is every New Year’s day in Pasadena. I went as part of a Landscape Architecture field trip.  The place was stunning!  That time I did go inside and saw “Pinky” and “Blue Boy”, those famous paintings that everyone had in the 50’s. They are part of the permanent collection.  But what I really remember are the gardens.  Roses, water lilies, the Japanese Garden, the Chinese garden, all stunning in their own way for how they make you feel (settled, a part of something, comforted, relaxed, joyful), and all laid out in a pleasing way to stroll through and take one’s time.  Versailles light in Southern California.

 

Atlanta Botanical Garden

My daughter used to swim competitively and one spring we found ourselves at a several-day swim meet with extra time in Atlanta, GA.  To help keep her relaxed, she suggested we go to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, also known as Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  It was still early in the year so there weren’t a lot of flowers ( or leaves, for that matter, but it we could tell the bones were beautiful).  We spent hours in the massive conservatory where they have the largest collection of orchids in North America-maybe the world.  Thankfully we both had digital cameras at the time because, between the two of us I think we took something like 2000 pictures!  It was so beautiful, though and we wanted to capture every unique variety, like precious gems that we could carry home. That was a really good day…

 

The Butchart Gardens & Filoli

I’ve also been to the extraordinary Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, BC, Canada as well as Filoli in Woodside, Northern California, both former family homes turned into exquisite gardens.  I’ll never forget the size of the tulips we saw at Filoli, 6 inch cups, maybe? They looked fake.  My friend tried to convince one of the grounds keeper to give her the fading bulbs, to no avail. “They’re just going to throw them out!” she argued.  I also loved the double flowering wisteria on the front of the building.  Scrumptious!  What’s not to love about Buschart Gardens?!  It is the Disneyland of flowers!

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden & Winterthur

There are two botanical gardens I would still love to see, Winterthur and Brooklyn Botanic Garden, aka, Brooklyn Botanical Garden.  Winterthur because I’ve heard so much about it and have received their catalog for years and Brooklyn Botanical Garden because I remember seeing an article about it being decked out for the holidays.  In all my travels I had never seen anything so stunningly beautiful as those photos.  I can’t remember the magazine, it was years ago, but I think they mistakenly called it the New York City Botanical Gardens.  I went to New York on a girls’ trip and kept asking about the New York City Botanical Gardens and the closest I got was directions to Central Park.  Um, no. On a recent trip back to visit my daughter we ran out of time before we could get there, but we made it to a botanical garden in Queens, I think.  Actually, what I remember is we were race-reading the last “Hunger Games” book, trying to see who could read it first.  We even missed the first train out because we decided last minute to dash to a book store a couple of blocks from Grand Central Station to pick up the just-released book.  The train was pulling away as we ran onto the platform.  So we sat and race-read for an hour until the next train came.  When we got to the gardens we enjoyed the grounds and then sat on the grass reading our books.  It was lovely.  See how easily I digress?

Still, I will get to both one day.  After looking at all these pictures I want to go now!  There will be new memories to make while I am there. I think I will wait for the weather to get warmer, though.  -17° doesn’t sound like botanical garden weather anywhere!

 

 

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Savory Spice Shop: Spices, Seasonings, and More

Posted on Jan 9, 2014

Savory spice shops window

 

Savory Spice Shop  is one of my favorite finds over the holidays.  Well, I didn’t “find” it, my daughter told me about it and we headed to the store in Corona Del Mar, CA.  She wanted to go shopping for Christmas gifts for “The-Most-Difficult-Person-To-Shop-For-In-The-World,” her dad-  and she did not leave empty handed.  Neither of us did!

What do I like about Savory Spice Shop?  Hmmm…

How about the fact that they have loads and loads of spices from all over the world? Yep!

 

Savory spice shops wall

 

How about the unique balsamics?  Yep!

 

Savory spice shops mango balsamic

 

How about the books, and other accessories?  Yep!

 

Savory spice shops books

 

How about the fact that they have tasters for every spice in the store? Oh, yeah!

 

Savory spice shops tasters

 

That’s right, you can taste any spice in the store (they have water and cups) and whatever you have left on your hand you can just drop on the floor!  My daughter and I had so much fun to trying and comparing notes on the savory and sweet spices while tossing the remainders on the ground.  And the flavors, wow! Not only is there a huge variety of spices, there are multiple options within a type of spice.

 

Savory spice shops cinnamon

 

Since I like baking more than cooking I spent most of my time in front of the cinnamons.  (Yes, plural!)  Savory Spice Shop carries at least 6 different types of cinnamon from around the world.  My favorite is the Chinese Cassia ground cinnamon.  It’s flavor is deep and satisfying, significantly more flavorful and aromatic than typical grocery store cinnamon.  I wanted it just because it tasted and smelled so good, but when I made my first batch of cookies with it, WOW!  The cinnamon was so much more complex and interesting without overwhelming the cookies and made them taste incredibly delicious.  I had never tried a really good cinnamon before and had no idea what a difference good, fresh spices make! Not only did that Chinese Cassia cinnamon go in my cookies, I used it in my Swedish meatballs, apple pie, and even sprinkled some on my coffee.  Yum, yum, yum! 

Pricey, you’re thinking.  Nope.  My bottle of fresh cinnamon was the same price I’d pay for regular cinnamon in the grocery store. When I bought my cinnamon, the cashier put the purchase date on the bottle so I could keep track of its freshness.  When I run out (which will be well before it can go bad!) I can take the bottle back to Savory Sweet Shop for a refill and get $1 off my next refill. So I get great cinnamon for even less than the grocery store price.  Um, yes, please! Oh, they have cinnamon sticks too.

 

Savory spice shops cinnamon sticks

 

I was also swayed by the flavored sugars.  Vanilla bean sugar?  Like the seagulls in Finding Nemo- Mine! Mine! Mine!  Yeah, that one went in my coffee, too:0)

 

Savory spice shops sugar

 

The BBQ section was where my daughter headed while I assessed the cinnamon.  There are several rubs, marinades and seasonings for all kids of beef, poultry and fish.  She leaned toward the tropical flavored ones for her dad. Since we eat chicken regularly, she wanted to get him a poultry seasoning.  The Gold Coast Tropical poultry seasoning was a huge hit. With orange peel, black pepper, coriander, ginger, annatto, and allspice, how could we go wrong? Nom nom!

 

Savory spice shops BBQ rubs

 

She also found this gem, a Himalayan Salt Brick, for cooking.  My friend Mary has been talking about these for months, but I didn’t get the appeal.  When my daughter saw it, she knew immediately that she wanted to get it for her dad, rattling off all kinds of ways he could use it. “Salmon would be great cooked on this. Oh! And chicken!  Especially Daddy’s Old Bay chicken!…”  And it went on.  It’s nice when a father and daughter have things in common (especially if I get to enjoy the fruits of their labors…)

 

Savory spice shops salt brick

 

They also offer different pastas as well as many other delicious things.

 

Savory spice shops pasta

 

Did I mention Savory Spicy Shops carries a lot of delicious things?!  Butterscotch sauce?  Oh, my! Needless to say, my daughter found great gifts for her dad and I found great gifts for me ( What? I share…)

They have locations in 12 states, but don’t worry if you don’t live near a Savory Spice Shop: they ship.  You’re welcome :0)

For more on Savory Spice Shop check out their web site at http://www.savoryspiceshop.com.  Warning, with the ideas and recipes they offer on line, be prepared to drool…

Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with Savory Spice Shops.  If I did I would sleep on a bed of Chinese Cassia cinnamon!

 

 

 

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Reclamation- East Coast Meets West

Posted on Jan 6, 2014

Reclamation wall

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to visit some shops I’d been meaning to get to, but hadn’t yet.  One of my favorites is Reclamation in San Clemente, Ca.  As the name implies, Reclamation carries mostly things that have been reclaimed and re-purposed in some creative new way, with a few gently used items mixed in as well.

Reclamation is the brain child of Louise Mayer-Grodski and David Grodski , two transplants from the East Coast.  After checking out a lot of the Orange County area on a mission to find a location for their new business, the last day proved successful when they found downtown San Clemente.  A beach town with a casual feel and a great old-school downtown business district, San Clemente’s lovely community feeling reminded them of home in Sag Harbor, NY, on eastern Long Island.  Louise has a background as a retail designer and consignment background. David makes most of the light fixtures.  Louise and David expect San Clemente to grow even more with a lot of young people moving into the area.

Reclamation is a store that, “Crosses over from women to men and age gaps.  Our things are original, unique, repurposed, eco-friendly and vintage that also give back,” as Louise describes it.  I’d add beautiful and interesting as well.

One of my favorite things in the store is a beautiful, huge pendant light with rippled glass that looks like its seen a lot of living.  It is positively striking, as are so many of the one-of-a-kind light fixtures, a mainstay of the store.

 

Reclamation lamp

 

Reclamation also has more traditional reclaimed items like this beautiful wrought iron fencing.

 

Reclamation wwrough iron grate

 

Cork flooring samples, unique lighting, purses, and jewelry are all available at Reclamation.

 

Reclamation wrought iron lights

 

Reclaimed bottles are all over the store.  I especially loved these reclaimed liquor bottles turned into soap dispensers.  How great are these for a man cave?!

 

Reclamation booze botte soap dispenser

 

Talking about a man-cave, these bottles cut in half vertically and sanded smooth make interesting accessories.  This is the best looking ash tray I’ve ever seen.  I don’t even know anyone who smokes cigars, but was tempted :0).  Check out the masculine and modern gear table underneath.

 

Reclamation cigar

 

This same bottle is also a clever nic-nac container.

 

Reclamation jewelry jar with tag

 

I love the color of this blue bottle and it is perfect for wrangling these bangles.  At Reclamation Louise and David take it a step further.  They like to sell things that allow for people in need to be helped.  This jewelry, for example, is the project of a woman who puts women to work in Africa.  25 women now have jobs transforming donated old jewelry into new works of art.

 

Reclamation jewelry jar

 

Aren’t these the most adorable purses? They are made from reclaimed fire hoses.  A portion of the profits from each bag sold go to the Alisa Ann Rusch Foundation named for an 8-year-old burn victim from northern Louisiana.

 

Reclamation purse

 

They also carry sunglasses made from argon oil, 25% of which goes back to the women who extract it.  This And That Equals This, a brand Reclamation carries, collects donated designer textiles and makes them into pillows, the proceeds of which, support women of domestic violence. So reclamation not only carries art-quality items, but also carries those items that help their customers give back to the local community and around the world.

So, if you’re ever in downtown San Clemente, stop by Reclamation. You’ll find something for nearly anyone (including yourself) and feel good about how your money is being put to work.

Welcome to San Clemente Louise and David.  We hope you stay for a long, long time!

 

Reclamation door sign

To find out more visit shopreclamation.com .

Disclaimer: Reclamation is a great addition to the downtown area of San Clemente and I actually shop there. I have no affiliation with the store, but if I did, I’d take that gorgeous pendant light as payment:0).

 

 

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Posted on Jan 1, 2014

 

Hanging Pine cone succulent planter

 

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Posted on Dec 30, 2013

Time to plant tulips

Time to Plant Tulips

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Back in the fall I posted about forcing tulips by putting them in cold storage in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks.  I was so happy to look in my refrigerator and see it’s the date and that its time to plant my tulips. Yep, after an 8 week hibernation in the refrigerator it’s time to pull out those tulip bulbs and plant them.  Mine are going into pots and will be over-planted with sweet alyssum.  That way Continue Reading

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