August 17, 2018

farmhouse's healthy & yummy salad

Here’s a lovey and healthy recipe that works perfectly from summer right into fall. If you’ve never had quinoa, now is the perfect time to try it. Quinoa cooks up just as easily as rice, but has about 40 fewer calories, five times the fiber and double the protein as rice!

Chef Mead of Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens has created this recipe to be equally as delicious as it is nutritious. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Serves 8

4 cups of cooked quinoa
2 cups of roasted butternut squash cut into cubes
1 small bunch of kale, destemmed and chopped
½ cup of dry cranberries
1 cup of granny smith apples, julienned
½ cups leeks, chopped and roasted
¾ cup of roasted onions (Farmhouse uses cipollini)
½ cup of citrus vinaigrette
Salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. If salad is too dry, add more citrus dressing until the desired outcome is achieved

Chefs Note:
Marinating the clean and cut kale in citrus juices overnight will break the natural fibers of the kale apart so that it is not so stringy and coarse. The Chefs at Farmhouse use a combination of orange and lemon juices.

Makes 2 cups

¾ cup of mixed citrus juice (Farmhouse uses a combination of orange, lemon and lime juice)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ tbs of dijon mustard
½ tbs of honey
1 cup of olive oil

In a blender, combine all ingredients except for olive oil and salt and pepper. Blend and slowly add the olive oil and well emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

ciao! fabiana

photo & recipe courtesy of Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens

August 16, 2018

collecting: adventures in thrifting

the color of these cheery flowers looks pretty from summer right into fall.

Do you have a collection you love to add to? What is it about certain things that just strikes a chord with us, deep down inside? Maybe it’s a combination of several things, like something you remember from your childhood, items that look amazing with your décor or just something you saw on pinterest recently.

Lately, interesting pitchers are at the top of my list for collecting. They’re so useful for beverages, of course, but they also work quite easily for displaying a pretty bunch of fresh flowers.

This little grouping of flowers transitions easily from the super market straight to a lovely pitcher awaiting them at my home. Simply unwrap, add water and voila!

Over the last few months, I’ve been adding to some of my  other favorite collections, and I’ve also started some new collections, or “subcategories” of some of my favorite vintage things to look for.

You probably know, I love to collect vintage china, especially to use in unique tablescapes, and on my recent trips to Geneva, Illinois and Hilton Head, South Carolina, my love for thrifting has grown!    

The above photo shows a few of my latest acquisitions from the midwest, the south and locally here in Costa Mesa. I’ve always loved ironstone and have picked up pieces here and there over the years, but this week I found four amazing, and useful, pieces at one of my favorite local haunts. (see a. & h. above)

To add to that, over the past months, I’ve been picking up fruit patterned china whenever I find it… if it’s cute. They can usually be found between 25¢ and $3! A collection of mismatched dessert sized fruit plates is super chic for a large dinner party or an outdoor soiree! (see b. & f.) I now have at least three dozen of these...

 time for a party!

vintage hand-painted fruit plate 

vintage ironstone pitcher
(needs cleaning, but I have a special recipe for that)

Roses, flowers and fruit plates… always on my radar these days. Collected items with a common element usually look great together. (b. e. & f.)    

I’m always on the lookout for white or ivory English bone china plates that have pretty embossed borders. (g.) They’re always useful when layering different plates for a tablescape. These little bread plates feature pineapples, acorns and other fruit.

Chintzware with roses, always a yes! This adorable tea set was found at the Tustin Antique Market. (d.) Don’t you love how the chintz pattern covers every inch of surface area?

An up-close look at the floral plates; these look like apple blossoms to me. A little crackley craze in the porcelain gives off a vintage vibe. (e.)

And here’s a detail of the rose dinner plates I found in Hilton Head. These would look amazing with all my other rose-embellished dishes. (c.) Remember the tablescape I recently put together for Romantic Homes?

Keep your eyes open for similar plates because a lot of times they’re a real bargain!

Detail of the chintzware

Here’s my favorite find of the week, a pretty little red transferware cup and saucer by Royal Staffordshire. So perfect for a cup of Christmas tea!

I love it when the hallmarks on the underside of the china are almost as interesting as the designs on the “right” side of the cups and plates.  

In addition to these items, I’ve also been acquiring lots of pretty hand embroidered, monogramed and embellished vintage linens. Another favorite to look for, vintage books with interesting covers and titles.

What do you love to collect?

 ciao! fabiana

August 15, 2018

summer eating at Tommy Bahama's

Tommy Bahama's Island Grille, one of my favorite restaurants here in Newport Beach, invited my husband and me to try a few new menu items recently, and boy, were we in for a treat!

Their menu features amazing seafood and yummy island-inspired cuisine, and it’s always a pleasure dining there. We’ve often dined at the TB Island Grille over the years since they opened about 20 years ago, so we were really excited to try some of their new menu items.

World Famous Coconut Shrimp

We were really impressed by several of their new menu items like the Miso Glazed Ōra King Salmon, Togarashi Crusted Ahi Tuna and Halibut Ceviche, along with Tommy Bahama longtime favorites such as Braised Pork Shank, the vegetarian Harvest Burger, and their World Famous Coconut Shrimp.

In fact, here’s the recipe for this crispy and delicious shrimp appetizer, if you’d like to make this at home.


1 cups all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
2 cups Kona Brewing Co. Island Lager or similar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 lb shrimp, 16/20 size, peeled, deveined and butterflied
2 cups coconut, shredded

·         Mix 1 cup flour, egg yolks, beer, sugar, salt and pepper with a wire whisk to form batter.
·         Dredge shrimp in remaining flour, then dip into batter.
·         Prop shrimp by their tails from the bowl’s rim after dipping in batter. After you work your way around, they’ll be ready to coat with coconut.
·         Coat shrimp with coconut, pressing gently to make coconut adhere.
Fry in stockpot or deep fryer with peanut oil at 335°F for 3 minutes.

Yeild: 16-20 shrimp

Ahi Poke with Avocado and Siracha Aioli  

Seafood is definitely at the forefront of the menu at Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille, but there are a lot of other delicious options like burgers, ribs, chicken, salads and my favorite the Prime Rib French Dip! My hubby and I happen to LOVE fresh seafood, so we were loving every single bite of the dishes we ordered.  

Halibut Ceviche with Coconut Mango Broth 

Ahi Tuna Bowl with Baby Lettuce, Roasted Corn Salsa and Avocado

Adobo Braised Pork Shank with Kale and Cauliflower-Potato Mash

Here are a few more new menu items that sound amazing:

• Shrimp & Grits – Stone Ground White Grits, Aged White Cheddar, Andouille Sausage, Jalapeños, Roasted Corn Salsa, Green & Red Bell Peppers, Cajun Brown Butter

• Oven Roasted Mojo Chicken – Charred Sour Oranges, Andouille Sausage, Saffron Plantain Peas & Rice, Tangerine Achiote Vinaigrette

• Cilantro & Ginger Crusted Mahi Mahi – Crispy Furikake Rice Cake, Shrimp Broth, Sautéed Squash & Carrots, Chile Oil

Piña Colada Cake with White Chocolate Mousse

And we haven’t even talked dessert yet… I actually twisted my hubby's arm a teeny bit to have him order the Piña Colada Cake while I had the Malted Chocolate Pie. 

What can I say? I wanted to taste both!

A round-up of all their famous desserts

Next time you’re in Corona del Mar,
stop by the Tommy Bahama Island Grille for a real taste of the islands!

 ciao! fabiana

Tommy Bahama Island Grille is
 located in the Corona del Mar Plaza,
right near Fashion Island.

854 Avocado Ave, Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 760-8686

Disclaimer:  I was invited by Tommy Bahama’s Newport Beach Restaurant to try menu items free of charge and am reviewing them at no cost and must disclose that fact. All opinions are truly my own.

August 14, 2018

summer nights:alfresco dining

With summer now in full swing, a beautiful table and a pretty place setting is a great start to creating a gorgeous alfresco dining experience.

Warm summer afternoons and evenings are the perfect time to head outdoors to enjoy the ambiance of alfresco dining.

Set up a table in a shady spot, preferably under a pergola. There’s nothing quite like it in the world!

Dining under a shady tree is the ultimate way to connect with nature and to enjoy a lovely meal with family and friends. 

I want to spend quality time in the backyard while entertaining and since we're all creatures of comfort, having few throw pillows and an umbrella is always handy.

And, it’s always wise to have a few throw blankets on hand, in case guests get chilly.  

Using nature’s backdrop as your inspiration point, position the table in a spot that’s both cozy and beautiful.

Set up several tables near each other for a larger gathering, and mix and match the tableware at each table for a casual fun look.

Even if the setting is a bit fancy, keep the whole vibe  of your table relaxed and all your guests will feel right at home!

 ciao! fabiana

photo credit: 1. Veranda  2. Ciao Newport Beach  3. Veranda  
4. House Beautiful 5. Country Living 6. Family Circle 7. bh&g  
8. pinterest  9. tumblr  10. bh&g

August 13, 2018

monday morning and a fall preview

Happy Monday! 

Returning home after being away for two weeks has given me a new perspective on my home, so this morning I decided to rearrange a few things. It’s pretty typical for me anyways to be reshuffling things around the house, and today, I tackled my family room mantel.

This portrait of my husband's great grandmother is one of our most treasured possessions. Today I decided to put her up front and center above our family room mantel surrounded by some other little vintage goodies I've found recently at a few flea markets and estate sales. The beachy white lantern is from Home Goods.

I know it's still summer, but we're already starting to see fall decor magazines rearing their pretty little covers all over the supermarkets and book stores. In addition to magazines, websites are also starting to feature autumn décor.  

My alfresco Thanksgiving tablescape is currently being featured online at Romantic Homes. It was such a fun table to set and best of all, it would be easy it is to recreate this look indoors or out! You can read all about how I put this table together at

I’m also thrilled to share that a couple of my photos are appearing in the latest issue of Country Sampler Autumn Decorating.

You may remember the centerpiece from my table last year that featured a wooden crate filled with white pumpkins, soft green moss and dusty miller plants. 

You can spot these little white gems on a couple of pages in this fall issue. I’m truly honored to be included in this amazing magazine that’s filled with tons of pretty autumn décor ideas!

Also included is my recipe for instantly aging this wooden planter to a soft grey tone. No nasty chemicals used here!

Country Sampler also included my “Be Thankful” tablescape from last Thanksgiving. I nearly fell over when I saw that it was featured on a full page! 

Country Sampler Autumn Decorating will be on newsstands starting on August 21. You’ll love the fall home tours, fun pumpkin ideas and cozy ideas for back to school.  

This place setting idea is a snap to put together, and if you’re interested in recreating this Thanksgiving tablescape for your own home, the same Be Thankful charms and mini grapevine wreaths that I used are available on Amazon. Please see the links below. 

 ciao! fabiana


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