Tuesday, December 30, 2008

gifted giving

well, i missed the entire month of december, but i have a great excuse! i was MAKING GIFTS, in fact that is all i did for 25 days straight. it was an interesting holiday season. . . people were thinking much more about the money they were spending and seemed to be making gift giving a bit more simple and genuine, really thinking about what the person might like and not just buying everything in sight. i have to say, i had a MAJOR internal struggle going on this december. obviously, i need people to buy gifts and lots of them in order for our business to survive and thrive, but i also am an advocate of simplicity and living with less. in fact my family participated in the advent conspiracy this year. we made one another gifts (photos soon to come!) and donated the money we did not spend to charity. we chose to donate to the unity shoppe of santa barbara this year. . . great organization, in fact i saw miss oprah, herself, walk past our shop (oh how i was willing her in the doors!) on her way to the unity shoppe to match their annual donations, so our donation was doubled-thanks oprah! anyways, i think that gift giving, when done in a cheerful, genuine and thoughtful manner is wonderful. i do not think we should feel pressure to spend more than we are able to please another, but when it is within our means, gift away. and for goodness sakes, wrap it cute. i don't care if you are wrapping up a rock. it's all about the packaging (re-usable of course). so, on to one of my favorite gifts that i received this christmas. . . the trader joes cookbook!! since i do about 90% of my grocery shopping there, my mother in law chose the PERFECT gift for me! madeira and i cooked up our first recipe out of the book tonite, italian wedding soup. (did you know that it is called wedding soup not because it is served at weddings, but because of the delightful "marriage" of flavors in the soup??) it was really yummy and so cozy to cook with her tonite. we served it with the olive foccacia bread from trader joes. lovely.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy thanksgiving!

i wanted to take a quick break from the kitchen to say happy thanksgiving!! the turkey is stuffed and the pie is made, the parade is on and i have enjoyed my first bellini. yum yum. i hope that this holiday is one filled with much love and gratitude for the multitude of blessings we can all find in our own lives. even in these times that can be scary and uncertain, i hope that each one of us can find the simple joys of life around us. our family will be especially thinking of all of those this holiday who have lost much in the recent fires. we hope you will find peace and restoration in time.

starting tomorrow, our shop, santa barbara gift baskets, is participating in a "buy local" campaign over the next four days. we are offering a 30% discount in the store and online with the code "localshops" as a thank you to all of our loyal clients who support our local business and the local farmers, artisans and vendors who create the wonderful products we love to sell. visit www.shopjaneshop.com/shops for more details about all of the small local shops participating nationwide.

blessings and love to you all. . .

Monday, November 24, 2008

advent treat

This advent calendar is just such a great idea from dsharp (photo credited to her, as well). .I am going to stay up all nite one nite to make this, I can already tell. Design Sponge has great photos of her amazing workspace and detailed instructions on how to make the calendar here. . .with fun little ideas for treats to slip inside. . . ie "make a candy encrusted graham cracker house". if that does not get you into the holiday spirit, i just don't know what will.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

drowning in apples

ok, so you all know i had the apple party. . .loved every part of it except the pressure for us to eat like 10 apples a day with the leftover decor. so i searched for a recipe for applesauce and found some, this is what i tried. i think it was delightful and oh so yummy:

peel, core and cut into 1 inch chunks- 4 lbs of apples (about 12 apples-i left the skin on one apple on accident, but i kind of liked the way it turned out)
put them in a big pot on the stove

add 1 and a half cups of water

add 1 cup of organic raw sugar (kind of naughty, but seriously, yummy, if you just can't do it, put a bit of honey in instead)

squeeze 2 lemons' juices into the pot

add a tiny tiny pinch of salt

add a grande pinch of cinnamon (an herbalist i know said that my daughter should be eating cinnamon everyday, so here is the way how)

put the stove on medium high, stir and mush every once in a while.

when most of the mix looks "applesaucy", but there are still a few chunks, turn off stove.

enjoy! so yummy. put it in mason jars and share. simple and sweet gift. attach the recipe so the gift can continue.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

shes the apple of my eye photos

shes the apple of my eye

madeira turns 4 on tuesday. so we had a party for her and a few of her girlfriends this saturday. she asked for a hello kitty theme, but being the kind of mom i am, i very subtly talked her into an apple party. it's fall afterall and how do i get crafty with plastic hello kitty stuff??? she had a great time and i did too. . .just wanted to share the photos with you. the girls made caramel apples and apple stamped goodie bags, we had yummy macaroni and cheese, hummus and veggies sticks, caramel popcorn, pita chips and apple chips, a great apple lemonade concoction (pear juice, lemonade and apple juice) that i discovered on party perfect's blog featuring a very inspiring green apple party and finally apple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (see links for recipes!) martha inspired the happy birthday sign and floating apple votives. . .thanks to madeira for letting me live out my fall apple party fantasy. . . daddy and i love you so much and can not believe you have been in our life for only four years. you bring us more joy than we ever thought possible and inspire us to be better with your free spirit and unconditional love for all people. we are blessed to be your parents. . . oh and just so you all know, i did buy hello kitty gear for the dinner we had at my parents house-i'm not a complete meanie.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

as i have said before i love pumpkin. but seriously, this treat puts the whoopie in the pie. . .so yummy, fluffy and it just tastes like fall (and when the weather is still HOT outside, i will take any bit of fall i can get). it was so easy to make and everyone loved them! if you can't make it down to the shop to pick up a box for yourself, rachael ray has a recipe on her site for you to try. . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

tis (almost) the season

since i love hang tags, red baker's twine, muslin and fun labels, when i came upon this wonderful etsy shop via kids and cocktails (how great is that name?), i was instantly enamored. add a roll of kraft paper and your holiday wrap is done. i think it is going to be my chosen gift wrap uniform for this year. i think that the wrap is almost more fun than the gift. you could wrap up an old stinky sock in this combo and i would be happy. (note to brothers: don't even think about it) check out simple song designs etsy shop for more fun ideas

Sunday, October 19, 2008

lucky me

i woke up this morning to the sound of my daughter saying, "mommy, it is 745." for those of you without 3 year olds, that is truly an amazing hour to be still cozy in bed. i took a quick shower and headed to the grocery store to buy some goodies for today's picnic with the ladies that work in my shop. . .the sky was a beautiful blue and it was sunny, but still cool enough to wear my "cozy" pants and uggs. the grocery mart was empty and freshly stocked and straightened, LOVE. i picked out all of my items and spent under $100, that does not happen often, so i decided to treat myself and the ladies to some gorgeous $8 napkins, frivolous and silly, but very pretty! when i arrived home, my husband had done the dishes and was applying labels to my holiday open house postcards for the shop. (it was about now that i wondered what i had done to deserve this loveliness that was being bestowed upon me) i then proceeded to prepare the picnic in the kitchen while missy higgins, coldplay and sarah mclachlan serenaded me. i made a caprese salad, pecan crusted chicken skewers, a platter of pears, pistachios, two cheeses and mission figs stuffed with humboldt fog cheese, croccantini with los olivos tapenade, baguette with olio e limone olive oil and balsamic and a crazy chocolate brownie cakelike treat that's story deserves a blog of its own. basically everything that could go wrong in baking did, BUT, to keep with the theme of the day, it turned out absolutely delightful. boy, this is such a long blog, but the day was just so great. i proceeded to my shop to pick up the ladies who were able to join me and we ventured into the valley. gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. we visited buttonwood farm for a picnic (where we get yummy jams, chutneys and wines that we sell in the shop), clairmont farms, where we get wonderful lavendar products, and some great shops in los olivos. . .in los olivos we did an olive oil tasting and i met a delightful woman who makes all sorts of lovely organic oils, spreads and mustards. we finished off the day at a little coffee shop where we sat outside and enjoyed the chocolate treat. i came home to a happy husband and daughter and am now just thinking about the day and how lucky i feel to have a great family, beautiful place to live, and wonderful people to spend my days at work with. . .lucky me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

i heart pumpkins

a whole new approach to pumpkin carving. . .these photos from country living are really inspiring a trip to the pumpkin patch. how beautiful are they? very delightful hostess gift or carve a bunch of small pumpkins for the perfect party favor. fall is just my favorite. it is so cozy and makes me just want to snuggle under a blanket with my family and drink hot apple cider. . . the weather has even started to agree a bit with these yummy little plans. it is only going to be 70 today! i even have my cardy uggs on! and madeira is in her pnk "cozies". it does not get any better.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

give pink

when i was at the gift show a couple of months ago, i saw a man wearing a pink shirt that said "save the ta ta's." i was of course intrigued and went over to find out more. well, turns out he is the creator of "boob lube", a lotion that women can use for the monthly check. i thought it was a very creative way to remind women of the responsibility we all have. october is national breast cancer awareness month. and i am so glad it is. not only is it great that an entire month is devoted to raising awareness and support for the cause, but it reminds all of us women that it is something we should be on top of. . .we have a really fun tub of girly goodness that we created about a year ago. every time someone gifts one to someone else, a donation is made to a breast cancer resource center. so, remember to check yourselves (with or without "boob lube") and give gifts that keep giving. . . .

Friday, September 26, 2008

fall upon us

fall is my favorite. pumpkin anything is my favorite. and these are my favorites of the favorites. i found these wonderful velvet pumpkins posted on the blissful living blog. they are handmade by lynne bonnell in arizona and they are absolutely gorgeous. i REALLY wanted them for my shop because i thought that they would fit in with all of the other pumpkins so nicely. so i posted on the blog and THE wonderfully gracious lynne bonnell wrote me back and was so kind to hand select a great assortment for me. . .i have already had to part with a few because it seems our customers agree that they are quite charming. i have had to hold myself back from taking them all home at the end of each day. LOVE FALL.

Monday, September 15, 2008

sweet sweetness

i am not a huge fan of sweets, but this gorgeous display makes me really want to be. BUT if you are and ever want one of these at a party here on the west coast, call me, it would fill me with sweet joy to create one of these for someone. . .idea and photo courtesy of amy atlas events

Friday, September 12, 2008

kids say the darndest (cutest) things

i love this idea from the great blog inchmark. it is precious. and just imagine putting a bow on it and handing it to your child's future spouse on their wedding day. . .that is if you could bear to part with it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

bucket of baby love

Santa Barbara Gift Baskets has collaborated with our favorite online toystore, The Traveling Toystore, to create this absolutely adorable bucket of all handmade and made in the USA baby toys and necessities. Our vintage bucket comes filled to the brim with a wooden bell rattle, wooden maple teether, La La's hand sewn onesie and t-shirt, Laudy Daudy feeding cloth, vintage fabric blanket, 100% cotton Amy Butler fabric ball. Because all of us mommies at The Traveling Toystore and Santa Barbara Gift Baskets feel so blessed to have our collective group of 4 (more to come) babies, we have decided to donate 50% off all profits from these buckets to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. So, when you give this gift to a new little one, you are also giving to so many more children blessed by St. Jude's!

Saturday, September 6, 2008


i was so excited to get to do the favors and such for a baby shower that was being held in san francisco, but hosted by someone from santa barbara. . . since most of my friends are on babies 2 and 3, i am not getting to throw many baby showers, so i feel so lucky that my work allows me to do the fun parts for other people. for this shower, i made nest placecards using gorgeous nests i found at williams sonoma (on sale!), beautiful jordanian pearlized almonds from patchi chocolates and vellum paper strips. we also made the bebe sign (thank you martha stewart) out of floral wire (my husband shaped the letters, i love him for being able to do stuff like that) and then wrapped silk flowers around to make quite a charming little mobile! the favors were madeleines from our new french patiserrie in town, renaud's (people swear that his croissants are as good as if you were sitting at a sidewalk cafe in paris). we wrapped the madeleines in parchment paper, tied them with chocolate brown bakery twine, attached a small piece of lavendar and a small merci tag, a perfect little something. . .

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

uncle nanu

you know i am always looking for nice segways that allow me to show photos of my sweet family. i totally missed a good opp with the camping post below, darn! but here is a picture of my brother, connor and madeira. . . she sure loves him!


my brother just moved to texas with his job. he is the first in the family to move out of the state in a really long time and the very first in my or my husband's immediate family to leave california. i am excited for him, though. he is ten years younger than i am and has been the baby for 22 years, it is his time to get to become his own person. he is going to do great. anyways, i was trying to think of a fun housewarming and we will miss you gift for him and his girlfriend, tracy. i absolutely love these bowls from anthropologie. they come in four colors and would definitely brighten my morning. anyways, i saw an idea on martha a while back that i just loved! and when i saw these bowls and this great granola recipe it all came together for me. . . a couple of those gorgeous bowls, a package of homemade granola (a mason jar with the recipe tied on would be cute) and two spoons would be such a great gift to let someone know that you are thinking of them. it works for so many occasions and you could add tea, coffee, a great book or just as it is. i do think i am going to have to buy two sets of the bowls, though, because it would be way to0 hard to part with them and connor may end up just getting the jar of granola and a couple of spoons. hey that would work, too and when your 22 maybe just pouring the milk in to the jar is more realiztic anyways, just teasing connor!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

gift of getting away

we just returned from our first camping trip as a family. . . we survived 5 days "roughing it". sam , madeira and i and my brother's family actually did sleep in a tent, but my parents had a cabin at el capitan canyon (ie. camping for yuppies photo of cabin above). so we had a warm shower every day, a little kitchen to cook in (although we did do breakfast and lunch on the coleman stove over at our campground), as well as a heated pool, concierge service, gourmet foods shop and firewood/smores delivery to your fire pit. i was very worried about how this trip was going to go since the word "outdoorsy" is NEVER used to describe any member of my family. but it was wonderful. it was so great to see madeira, who spends most of her time in princess dresses dancing ballet, throwing dirt on herself. she and her cousins spent five glorious days getting dirtier and dirtier. although we were only about 20 minutes from home, it felt a world away from the daily routine. i loved rising with the sun and spending time in a little 10x10 dome with those nearest and dearest. we are going to make this part of our annual summer activities from here on out. i have already found next summer's campground. mary janes farm bed and breakfast. it looks absolutely serene and the working vintage sink outside of the campsite is really what took me over the edge! so, if you are not exactly a camping type of person, like me, but want to share an unforgettable few days with your family becoming one with nature, i highly recommend you check out either of these campgrounds or look for the yuppie camping site nearest you. . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

gifted radio

i am always on the hunt for great "man gifts". i feel like women and children definitely come out on top in the whole gifting world. . .but i have found something that i know my man would love! this gorgeous vintage style radio would be so perfect on his office desk. . . besides looking cool and being mp3-ready, it is made with sustainably grown wood by carpenters in indonesia.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

regalo olive oils

Modern Art MuseumOk, I know this is weird, but I really wanted to try out this website where you can upload any photo and they will put it in a museum photo. . . .But, I also think that this new olive oil i just purchased for the store deserves to be in a museum. For one reason, they are absolutely gorgeous bottles and a high quality pure olive oil and for the second reason, the company donates all of their profits to charity. They are a family run organization who seems to have gotten it all right in their purpose and mission. Regalo means gift and this olive oil truly makes a great one in more ways than one.
Modern Art Museum by dumpr.net

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

better than a barrel of monkeys

it is no secret that i can not live without my wine. . .so maybe that is why i found this lazy susan absolutely irresistible. it is made from aged oak barrels, used in wine production for a number of years and then instead of being tossed out- is made into a wonderful and creative gift! 21.5 "wide and 3"tall. i can see a dinner party now with a couple of bottles of syrah and pinot being spun around like nobody's business! comment below or contact me directly if you would like to order one of these great "gifts" (the quotes signify the loose use of this term, because i will be gifting myself with this one. . .) cheers!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

tonite i made tacos while madeira and sam swam in the pool outside the window. talk about a gift. . .to hear your husband and little girl having fun outside and then to have all of us sit around a table for dinner, such a treat when we have such busy lives all the time. we need to do it more. so i was thinking it would be fun to go to farmers market and buy fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro, lime, lettuce etc and then add some tortillas and pre-grilled chicken and drop it off for a friend with a new baby or new house. . .so easy to chop up everything and have a really yummy fresh meal. i used avocado oil to heat the tortillas, usually, i just warm them the oven, but i was given this great oil at the la mart and i was feeling like being very authentic since it was fiesta this weekend in santa barbara. . .apparently avocado is the healthiest oil and has one of the highest smoke points, so it is safe to cook foods in, unlike other oils. i mixed a little light sour cream, fresh salsa and lime juice for the sauce and heated up some organic black beans, super yummy family dinner!
i am going to admit that in the photo above you will see one ingredient that just does not fit in, i goofed at the market and did not realize until i tasted it. . . if you figure it out and comment about it, i will send you a little gift! (look really close and guess fast or my mom will win!)

i am ok with admitting that i like this bear. usually i cringe when my daughter brings home another stuffed animal, in fact my rule is if one comes in another must go out. when we got to the point of her crib still being up in the room for the sole purpose of holding stuffed animals, i knew it had gone too far. so, we happily donated a good percentage of them. . .BUT i think this bear is a must have. i love it because it is so super soft and cuddly and it is shaped like a teddy bear, but is flat like a blankie, so it makes cuddling with this guy safe and comfortable. and all of its parts are baby safe, too. the hollywood folk have seemed to take a liking to him, as well, so he is available in lots of fancy stores. i love to give this cutie as a gift for first birthdays.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

it takes a village

This coffee is so wonderful. One of the best coffees I have ever tasted, as well as being another one of those gift items that you feel really good about giving. Doi Chaang coffee is an exclusive, world-class, single-estate Arabica. It is 100% natural, forest canopy grown, hand picked, fresh water processed, sun-dried, hand sorted and freshly roasted to ensure the highest possible quality for each cup of Doi Chaang coffee. Even better, Doi Chaang Coffee is beyond fair trade-it is a partnership. The growers in the Doi Chaang Village of Northern Thailand operate and own 100% of their own Thai coffee company and processing facilities, as well as 50% of the company which roasts and distributes the coffee internationally. I can not wait to incoporate this coffee into our gourmet gifts!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

what is a princess?

like every good three year old, my daugher loves pink and princesses. in fact, today, we were cleaning up our balcony and there was an old gardening shovel that used to have a red handle. it now has a faded pink handle. since we only have three potted plants and about four shovels to tend them with, i thought we could do without one and the faded old one had been elected. OH MY GOODNESS, mortal sin, it was the pink one, what was i thinking?? i made up for it by presenting her with this new book tonite, notice it is pink and it is about a princess. . .two points for mom. the sneaky part, though, the princess in this story is modest and has impeccable manners and those are the things that the prince falls in love with. LOVE IT. the artwork in this book is absolutely amazing, too. the characters are actually paper figures, the scenery was made out of cereal boxes and then painted and there is photography mixed in, as well-the writing , so lively, is by the charlie and lola author, the only cartoon i actually enjoy. i think you should get this for all of the special princesses in your life, young or old. i bought it at a wonderful little store called entertaining elephants in studio city. so, if you are in the neighborhood, stop by, it is an adorable shop. otherwise, i am sure it is available in the amazon.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

i dont know what it is about this olive oil that just pleases me, but it really does. when i saw it in my favorite gourmet foods showroom in la amongst all of the artisan chocolates and such, i was just in awe. the deep shade of green, the compact tin and the authenticity of it all just comes together in perfection. it does not hurt that it is part of the world famous il mulino's new gourmet food retail line-so you know it is going to taste a million times better than it looks. i tried their bolognese sauce this past week and oh my goodness, yummy, like you just picked the tomatoes from your garden and squished them up yourself and the coffee has been tempting me out of bed every morning with its absolutely bitter free and purely heavenly flavor. we want to make a trip to NY just to eat at this restaurant, have to reserve your table months in advance, though, i hear. i can not wait to have these products in my shop! they are going to be part of my holiday in tuscany gift and i am so excited to share their goodness. they are available now at il mulino's shop anyone who loves great food will definitely appreciate!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

save the bees

did you know that honeybees are disappearing? i have been hearing things off and on about the problem and my daughter and i notice on our walk to our garage lots and lots of little guys on the ground no longer with us. . .she says every morning, "mommy don't step on the bees-they are dead"-kind of like it would be adding insult to injury if i were to step on them in that condition. it makes me so happy, though, when i see the survivors buzzing in and out of our lavendar plants, like maybe we are helping the cause.

there is this great company in georgia called savannah bee co. they make the most wonderful honey products- i put some of them together in our honey bee good to yourself gift.

haagen daaz has created this very sweet website to help get the word out! i say it is time to save the honeybees!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

of tails and treasures

one of my favorites from the gift show this past weekend. little vintage tins with themed kits for kids. so cute. i personally know my daughter would flip for the piggy tail kit. i think it would be an adorable party favor or little gift. . . currently available overseas here, but soon to arrive at my shop, too!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

well, i am off to the gift show and la mart to see what is new and fun (like these great bags i found last year from the gift bag factory, love!). . .very excited to check out some of la's super fun boutiques -thanks jordan at i heart toys for the great link on design sponge . it is my personal mission to visit every one of these stores this weekend. la traffic be warned. this small town santa barbara girl has her gps programmed. can't wait to share what i have discovered on monday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

upon your pedestal

no little quip from me today, i will let the creator of these fabulous cake plates speak for herself.

."Fling, v. tr. Definition: To throw (oneself) into an activity with abandon and energy.Flings In Aprons – A Love Story of Domestic Designs. . .Born the brainchild of a luckless romance. I salvaged and re-purposed my heart and I now love all of the things that I make. I am as passionate about my intellectual and creative flings as only a textbook Aquarian could be. My current fling? Upon Your Pedestal cake and dessert plates; a perfect pairing of vintage and modern, porcelain and crystal, aesthetics and utility. Hand-crafted from pieces reclaimed from flea markets, antique stores and estate sales from Santa Barbara, central and south coast, and on up to San Francisco. available here, here and here. . .

Monday, July 14, 2008

bag lady

i LOVE bags. kind of a serious addiction, but pretty much just fun-and so much more fun lately because everyone has finally realized that plastic does not grow on trees. i made a little promise to myself that i would allow myself one bag from each new brand i am going to carry in the shop. so, here is today's, but seriously, did i say just one?? oh and they are so great in real life. spacious, clean and lovely. this company is so cool. we received some of the flora ones in, too, green, red, yellow, and black. . . and those are less than $10.00. you pay a bit more for the organic hemp bag, but it is worth it, right?