Ooh, my favorite!

Holiday bouquet
December 13, 2012, 1:59 pm
Filed under: Art and Design, Home, Seattle

Holiday arrangement

I have yet to make as much holiday progress at home as I’d like (still stuck between two), but instead of rushing, forcing, stressing I decided to move things along by visiting Andrew’s wonderful friend Nisha at her little flower studio Fleurish on the Hill. If you’ve ever visited the Stumptown Cafe on 12th she does the big and beautiful arrangements that you see when you walk in. I always admire her work, so I was really excited to bring something home for the holidays.

All I knew is that I wanted something holiday-ish and branchy to fit into my giant Lenox vase and in just a few days I had this gorgeousness to set the holiday mood. Oh, how it smells of Christmas! There are so many great things tucked away inside but I am suddenly so fascinated by those eucalyptus pods hanging over the edge.

Holiday arrangement

The Anti Gift Guide
December 12, 2012, 7:22 am
Filed under: Beauty, Bubbly, Chocolate, Clean, Health, My favorite things


François Pinon Vouvray / François Pralus Barre Infernale / White Coconut Crème tea / Josie Maran cream blush / Aquasana coutertop water filter / BibBon luxury eye mask (here too) / Abbaye de Belloc cheese / Organic cold pressed coconut oil

I’ve really been struggling with the whole Gift Guide thing this year. I started pulling some lists together back in November (as it’s usually one of my favorite projects), but seeing how things have unfolded this season, I can’t help but feel that it’s all gotten to be so painfully contrived. I’m no stranger to extravagant window shopping fantasies and trend alerts (and posts about them) but in this age of blog sponsors and affiliations I feel that so much has become so one note and disingenuous.

At first it made me sad, but then I settled on the best way I could think of to share the most genuine list of goodies that I could…and that was by listing some of my all-time favorite things in one post. Not a gift guide, but a collection of health and happiness in small and meaningful packages. Everything here I own, I use, I love. No wishlists, no trendy gift o’ the season: just my favorites from me to you, and maybe even someone you love.

So in an attempt to not sound too much like a Grinch…

here’s hoping you have a lovely holiday full of gifts and gift-giving that makes you feel happy and healthy.

How to shuck an oyster
December 11, 2012, 9:37 am
Filed under: Entertaining, Food, Seattle

Picture 13

It’s funny that we all think of oysters as a summer staple, but truly they only start to come into their real season when the weather and the water cool down. Makes sense enough, so as hard as it is, I forgo oysters on the half shell during the warmer months and often look forward to the holidays to make up for precious lost time. Since ’tis the season to entertain you might want to consider trying your hand at shucking and serving some fresh local oysters for your guests. Or if the thought of that is too daunting, try practicing for a nice date night at home.

Some quick tips:

–  If you’re going the party route, plan for 2-4 oysters per person (raw or baked). Limit to small gatherings until you’re confident enough to power through big batches.

–  Start with Kusshi or Kumamoto varieties as they are easier to shuck, and are the perfect starter oysters for people who aren’t yet fully adventurous.

–  My neighborhood Taylor Shellfish at Melrose Market has the most wonderful staff. If you head in before the afternoon/evening rush they’re always willing to give you a quick shucking demo.

PNW oysters


If you buy your oysters the day before you plan to serve them, they will be fine to sit in the refrigerator overnight but there are a few things that you’ll need to do to make them happy during their stay:

1. Line a baking sheet with a wet (filtered water is best) kitchen towel.

2. Arrange the oysters in a single layer.

3. Place another wet towel on top of the oysters and make sure that all are covered.

4. Place in the refrigerator and check to be sure the temperature is no more than 35-degrees.

Note: Each shell should be closed, but if any are open they should close when tapped. If not, discard!

Picture 15


–  Kitchen towel

–  Oyster knife

–  Shucking gloves (optional)

1. Fold a kitchen towel into fourths lengthwise. Create a little cradle for the oyster by folding the narrow towel into thirds and then creating a handle for the left hand.

2. Place the oyster cup-side down and use your left hand and the handle of the towel to hold it in place.

Note: If you’re nervous, pick up a pair of shucking gloves.
Picture 16


1.  Insert the tip of oyster knife into the hinge at the back of the oyster. There’s an indented notch that’s easily identified above on this Kusshi.

Picture 17

2.  Using pressure (as opposed to force) gently, but firmly guide the tip of the knife to the spot where the knife can fit past the notch and gain more leverage, then twist the knife to pop the hinge.

3.  Gently run the knife along the top of the shell to separate it from the muscle, being careful not to pierce the body or lose too much of the liquor (juice) as you work.

4. With the top shell removed, the body needs to be separated from the bottom. Gently run the knife under the body of the oyster and separate it again.

5.  A true sign of a proper restaurant/chef/shucker: as you’ve separated the body from the bottom cup, flip the body with the knife. Why? Because it looks better.

6.  Check for shell pieces. Smell each oyster before plating. If anything smells off toss it! (Another note of importance: never swallow a bad oyster. Spit it out immediately and grab a piece of lemon to rid the taste in your mouth. Trust me, you’ll know when you’ve got a bad one.)

Note: As you practice popping the hinge you will break a few shells when the knife isn’t quite deep enough. It can be unnerving when you hit that first bit of resistance as it feels like there’s not a spot where the knife can fit, but with practice applying the right amount of pressure you’ll get the hang of things. I, too, am still practicing.

Tip: Use the towel to wipe the knife as it gets dirty or as bits of shell get stuck

Oysters, mignonette, fresh horseradish

Serving & Eating

–  Ask for a bag of shaved ice when you buy your oysters. I much prefer oysters served over ice as opposed to rock salt.

–  Serve naked or with lemon wedges and a basic mignonette: finely minced shallot, red wine vinegar, black pepper.

–  For a special touch: freshly grated horseradish on the side. (My fave!)

Picture 14


Douglas Fir tea
December 10, 2012, 10:20 am
Filed under: Clean, Drinks, Green, Health, Seattle

Douglas Fir tea

This isn’t just a holiday tea, in fact Douglas Fir tips are usually harvested in the spring when they’re young and tender, but there’s something so undeniably festive about enjoying this tea now. If you geek out over the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, then you’ll probably die from pure bliss when you get your hands on this stuff.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like a tree; instead it’s very light and clean with aromatics that smell like the sweet notes of a forest. Simply put, it’s one of the most lovely and comforting teas I have ever sipped. And since the tips are harvested from Pacific Northwest tress, every Seattleite should be drinking it.

Picture 4

Tea for two:

3 to 4 cups boiling water (depending on how concentrated you’d like it), two tea bags. Steep for 10 minutes.

Get it from the makers at Juniper Ridge. 20 unbleached tea bags per tin, $12.

Please, please, please…if you do one thing this season be sure to steep yourself a cup of this amazing tea.

These are a few…[PDX edition]
December 7, 2012, 11:41 am
Filed under: My favorite things, Travel

Last weekend I got to escape to Portland for a few days to celebrate my b-day, which was actually yesterday. (What? Your birthdays don’t last a week?) While Andrew worked for part of the time I got to wander and laze around. I just love Portland. Here are some of my favorite bits of prolonged birthday bliss.


photo 2Tangerine’s in bed. I love the arrival of citrus season, and I love watching movies in bed. I also got caught up on daytime Cable TV…there’s not much good to watch, is there.

photo 1Bunk’s pork belly Cubano. God, I love a good sandwich; but jeez are they hard to find. The ones from Bunk are worth the hype…for once, something actually lives up to the hype!

photo 3A pocket full of posies at The Meadow. There are a million things to share from this store, but these sweet little posies made me smile.

Minimalist Christmas
December 6, 2012, 10:21 am
Filed under: Art and Design, Home


I’ve gotten lots of love on the minimalist Christmas front, so I thought you’d enjoy a little more inspiration.  Again, quite stark for what many of us are used to, but so many lessons to take from it.

Still so in love with those star lanterns but also love the idea of the conifer branches in vases or some of the smaller ones potted throughout the house.

weronica my scandinavian home Bambula christmas-inspiration-10-by-bungalow5


one / two / three / four / five / six

(I never knew this before, but black and white seems to be the colors of the season in a Scandinavian home.)

Hot water bottle
December 5, 2012, 11:50 am
Filed under: Gift guide, Health, My favorite things

Trees hot water bottle

Why has the power of the hot water bottle become so underestimated and underutilized? Seriously, I want to know because they are nothing short of magical. I remember in high school I would hide one in my sweatshirt pouch for football games. Unflattering, yes. But at least my fingers and tummy were cozy and warm. Oh, and once I had a sore back so Andrew created this awesomely strange contraption where he managed to fasten the hot water bottle to a back brace. I walked around the house with it for quite a while. Talk about unflattering.

In a more normal fashion, I rely on them to thaw my perpetually frozen toes and to help with aches and pains from running around the restaurant. I’m still not quite used to being on my feet so much so with my trusty bottle I’m snuggly and relaxed in record time after a long night at work.  Of course they’re a drugstore staple but I thought this one here would make a great holiday giftie with the 100% lambswool cover (water bottle included). I wrap mine in a dish towel and pray it doesn’t come unwrapped, so this…this would be quite nice.

Available at Leif, $64.


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