I have this reputation as “the salad queen” that I haven’t been living up to lately.  My obsession with kale (which I only like sautéed) may just be the reason.  While visiting family and friends back East, I was reminded of my once salad greatness.  When the first few people we visited asked if we were going to have one of “Debra’s salads”, I realized I needed to begin preparing them again.

Here’s one that combines all my favorite summertime ingredients:  figs, tomatoes, peaches and fresh mozzarella.  Drizzled with honey and chives the salad takes on the fresh, sweet flavor of the season.  Ingredients and instructions below.


Figs, peaches, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, honey, chives, olive oil,  rice vinegar and sea salt.


This salad holds its pretty appearance best if prepared in individual bowls.

Cut the figs, peaches and tomatoes into generous slices.  Lightly salt the tomatoes prior to adding them to the rest of the fruit in the bowls.  Using your hands tear chunks of mozzarella into each bowl.  Drizzle all the ingredients with honey and lightly dress with olive oil and rice vinegar.  Top it off with chopped chives.


Do YOU have a favorite salad?  If so, do share.

Many, many thanks to LB for her Cambridge hives honey!



Over the weekend I flew to LA to work on my Social Media skills with Justina Blakeney and Dabito of the The Creative Residency.   This Social Media Practicum was held at Room Forty,  where 13 other creatives and I shared professional goals, critiqued each other’s web presence,  advanced our camera skills and learned of ways to hone our brands and maximize our social media platforms.

I left feeling totally inspired!  With both short and long term goals in place, be ready for some changes around here (all good).    Take a look at a few images from the day:

Being a part of The Creative Residency was an invigorating experience and one that I highly recommend.  Be sure to check out all of their offered seminars here.

Many thanks to Justina and Dabito for lending themselves full heartedly to us, the folks at Room Forty for feeding us so well and to Kelly Cuadra of Brown Paper Designs for providing the beautiful botanical arrangements.




Arriving at the Maine cottage we’ve stayed in for the past three summers felt like seeing an old friend again.  There is a comforting ease in visiting a place you’re familiar with and I like that.  What I noticed this time, more than during previous stays, is how we always manage to make it our own.  Sheer necessities, like a favorite pillow, a brand of coffee, sea salt flakes and even a sharp knife now travel with us.  Certain things are moved around to our liking and others stay put to remind us of just why we love this space as much as we do. As the beds get slept on and the morning and evening rituals are established, the rented cottage suddenly feels like a second home.

Even the familiarity of the landscape surrounding the cottage lends itself to exploration, whether one goes at it alone or with others.  Many thanks to JG for yet another unforgettable Maine adventure.

Today we leave Boston and head back home to the Bay Area.  We’ve had an amazing month visiting friends and family.  I’m very grateful for the opportunity to stay connected and remain part of so many people’s lives regardless of the distance between us.


The Gropius House

July 22, 2014

Sometimes it takes becoming a visitor to a familiar place to do and see things you never had the chance to do before.  The Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, was a place I always wanted to tour while living in New England.  Often times, on my trips to Walden Pond or the deCordova Museum with my children (toddlers at that time) I would slow down to check it out.  On one occasion, I actually stopped only to find it closed, which by the way, didn’t stop me from walking its grounds.  Now, years later, I enjoyed an afternoon tour of the home of Walter Gropius:  architect, art educator and founder of the Bauhaus School of Design.

Having founded the Bauhaus School of Design and appointed to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 1937, Walter Groupius and his wife Ise were friends to many celebrated artists and craftsmen.  Most of them were frequent guests at their Lincoln, Ma. home.  Besides the amazing architectural features of this house, hearing about the people who visited it was one of my favorite segments of the tour.  I saw the room where Frank Lloyd Wright spent the night, gifts given to the Gropiuses by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and museum quality art and textiles created by other notable artists adorning the walls of the historic residence.

Unable to take photos on the inside I managed to snap a few from the outside.  Take a look:

Another favorite part of the tour was the roof deck off the Gropiuses’ daughter’s bedroom, which is stunning both by its color and its design (which casts the most perfect shadows on the privacy wall).

Ise Gropius on the roof deck 1948



For the past 2+ weeks, we’ve been visiting family and friends on the East coast, some of whom we haven’t seen for an entire year.  Regardless of how much time goes by, reconnecting with them is always easy, a true testament to good and lasting friendships.  Today we’re off to Maine for a few days, where we’ll spend time with two dear friends:  JG and Henry (our bestie canine friend).  I can’t wait to share images of the things we’ve been up to, like touring the Gropious House, swimming in Walden Pond and working (yes, working!) on a CHD project.

I hope everyone is enjoying a “Happy Summer”.  Do share your escapades with me!

Follow along here to view daily snapshots of our summer adventures in the making.




Often times the use of black and white in interiors conveys a starkly modern look, but when it’s mixed with tribal patterns, unique textiles and grainy woods, the classic combination takes on a warmer, more inviting feel.   Take a look at some of my favorite examples of black and white’s worldly appeal:

If you’re also Loving The Look, follow my Black And White Pinterest board for more inspiring images like these.

Images:  1./2./3./4./5./6./7.


Out And About: Terrain

July 14, 2014

During our stay with friends in Connecticut this past weekend, our hostess insisted we visited Westport’s Terrain.  I must admit, there was no resistance on our part to go along.  After enjoying an amazing brunch at the cafe, we walked around and took in the entire store.  Filled with interesting botanicals for indoors and out, cool home accessories and garden decor, Terrain accomplished merging all my favorite things into one amazing retail destination.  Take a look:

Thank you EA and VA for yet another great visit.  We hope to reciprocate soon and take you to Flora Grubb, the West Coast version of Terrain.

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Almost every time I drop by to see my mother-in-law, Natalia,  I feel drawn into her garden.  It’s full of personality just like the rest of her home.   Granted,  she rents, but that doesn’t stop her from transforming the small outdoor space into her own private haven.  Since she has been a passionate gardener for most of her life, finding a rental with an outdoor area was of the utmost importance.  When she first moved into the cottage (almost 2 years ago), its small yard was lifeless, barren and depressing.   Now it’s slowly becoming verdant (drought permitting) and alive.  Utilizing lots of ceramic pots, a wide array of plants and a few interesting accents she has managed to extend the indoors out.  I asked Natalia to give us a few pointers on creating an inviting outdoor space as a renter.  She shares them below.

1.   Use pots to display the more interesting, pricier plants.  If or when you decided to move, you can take them with you wherever life takes you.

2.   Mix plant materials that are compatible with each other visually and physiologically, i.e. requiring the same amount of shade or sunlight and degrees of humidity or dryness.

3.   Whenever possible use plants indigenous to your geographical zone for ecological reasons or exotic plants that would thrive in your climate.

4.   Don’t be afraid to use flea market finds such as mirrors or chandeliers to add whimsy and character to your outdoor space.

5.   Repurpose accessories from previous homes.  The guardian angel plaque has accompanied me through my last 5 moves[!!]

6.   Do plant things in the ground, especially if they will enhance the appearance of your rental.  I am in love with the Pampas grass I planted in the front of the cottage.  It wasn’t expensive and it added movement and softness to the rigidity of the containers around it.

7.   Create seating or lounging areas that will encourage you to spend time outdoors, whether it’s reading, meditating or just sipping good wine.

8.   Attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to your little corner of the world by choosing flowers and shrubs that welcome life and color to it.

9.   If your outdoor space is limited, utilize walls and fences as backdrops for vertical gardens.  Dramatic and showy, they provide great focal points.

10.  Be patient (mind you, not MY best quality).  The drought, or the floods, or the bug infestations will pass, and your garden, albeit rented, will eventually live up to your initial visions for it.


The Happy Flag Project

July 8, 2014

Before leaving for our month long trip to the East Coat (more on that later), I had the opportunity to spend some time with friends I met through an artisan guild.  This group of craft artists, interior designers, architects, painters and entrepreneurs gather every month or so to share their passions, professions and creative expressions.  For this recent gathering textile designer Jennifer Sampou invited us to her studio to create Prayer Flags for The Happy Flag Project.  Using fabric samples and scraps, buttons, stickers and feathers we each decorated one flag to be sent to the Dalai Lama and another flag to keep.  With themes of peace, joy, contentment, compassion, empowerment and healing we all put our creative hands to stitch flags together.  Take a look at some images from the evening and the flag I made for Zoe.

Many thanks to Jennifer Sampou for opening up her studio for us and inspiring me to break out my sewing machine.

Be sure to check out Jennifer Sampou’s amazing fabric designs and collections here and give some thought to gathering a group to participate in The Happy Flag Project.  It is great fun!


The Creative Residency

July 2, 2014

I have fantastic news!  I was just accepted to be a fellow at The Creative Residency, a seminar series founded by  Justina Blakeney and Dabito.  They are both  leaders in the blogging, photography and styling stratosphere.  Simply put, they’re kick ass creatives!   At the end of the month I’ll be attending their Social Media Practicum in LA.  It took courage to apply but I’m so glad I did and now I’m in it!

I feel like great things are happening ahead and I’m fully engaged to embrace them.

Be sure to check out all of the seminars at The Creative Residency here and follow their Instagram feed for inspiring images and words!