March 22, 2017

easy italian coffee at home

Italian style coffee or espresso is so easy to make! I do it every morning, and then just add foamed milk to make a cappuccino. All you need is a moka pot or machinetta which works on the stove top. For a cappuccino, all you do is add warmed frothy milk to the espresso. My frother of choice is the Nespresso Aeroccino. It heats the milk in it’s little thermos-like compartment and all you do is top of your coffee. 
Italian METHOD
1. Unscrew the base of the caffettiera and take the coffee basket out of the base. Fill the base of the caffettiera with cold water, ensuring the water level is just to the level of the valve.
2. Fill the basket to the top with ground coffee and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface, without pressing the coffee into the basket. Place the coffee basket back into the base and screw the base back onto the caffettiera.
3. Place the caffettiera over medium heat (a hotplate, or gas or electric stovetop is fine) and heat for about 8-10 minutes or until the gurgling sound subsides and all the coffee has risen to the top half of the pot. Don't put it over a high heat as a slow extraction will yield a better result. When the gurgling noise stops, immediately remove caffettiera from the heat (it should be about half-full with brewed coffee). If you leave it on the stove too long, the coffee will boil and may develop a burnt flavor.
4. Stir coffee with a spoon and pour into warmed serving cups. This method makes espresso coffee for 4. If you like weaker coffee, add hot water to taste.  This is the way my mother and grandmothers always made their coffee too! 
(Instructions via

Do try this at home!
ü Cappuccino: equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk
ü Caffè latte: espresso with more steamed milk and less foam
ü Latte macchiato: steamed milk “marked” with a splash of espresso
ü Caffè macchiato: For the softer side of coffee, enjoy this espresso “marked” with a splash of frothy milk. Unlike the breakfast drinks, this lightly milky caffè can be enjoyed as frequently as caffè normale.
ü Caffè americano: After trying drip coffee in the United States, Italians decided to offer tourists a taste of home. Their interpretation: espresso diluted with plenty of hot water.
ü Caffè lungo: This “long coffee” comprises espresso with a splash of hot water but is stronger than the americano.


ciao! fabiana

March 21, 2017

beautiful framed succulents

Framed succulents are the ideal focal point for a barren patio or garden wall. I know there are many nurseries that sell similar arrangements to these, but they can be pricey. Have you ever thought about making one of your own? Here are a few guidelines for you, if you’re feeling crafty enough to create your own succulent wall hanging.

Make or purchase an interesting wooden frame. With the frame still face down, you’ll want to use a staple gun and staple ½ inch grid hardware cloth to the back edge of the frame. Then attach a ¼ inch plywood backing to the shadow box with nails or staple gun. Fill with soil over the hardware cloth and push soil through the openings. Keep adding soil until it reaches the bottom of the wire grid. Lay your project flat on a table. 
Have your succulents ready. Choose varieties that stay small. Echeveria, hens & chicks, and sedums are good choices because they’ll stay tidy and compact. Limit your palette to three or four colors. Choose different varieties of succulents within that color scheme and supplement with cuttings if you can. Create movement of color through the display. If it’s a larger piece, you can give your framed plants a focal point, such as a singular large floral shaped selection.

Use a chopstick or pencil to push through one square of the grid and into the soil. Place the stem of each succulent cutting into the planting hole. Finish the look by tucking in smaller varieties after you've planted the larger ones. As the succulents grow, they'll fill in bare spots. Keep the framed succulents flat and in the shade for at least a week or two for the roots to establish themselves.  Hang the frame on a wall with heavy duty picture frame hooks and water about once a month, by laying it flat. 
Then just sit back, grab a cold drink and enjoy!

Photos from the California Cut Flower Commission

ciao! fabiana

March 19, 2017

first day of spring

I am so happy to welcome spring this year, especially since it's the perfect time to work on new ideas, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. And of course the most glorious representation of spring are the beautiful flowers that explode this season. Take time this week to treat yourself to flowers. Cut a few wild flowers or garden flowers or buy yourself a little bunch of daffodils or daisies. Celebrate the season of rebirth!    
After women, flowers are the most lovely things God has given the world. --Christian Dior
Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. --Oscar Wilde 
I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.  --Claude Monet 

ciao! fabiana

photos via 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 

super healthy blueberry muffins

It’s such a treat to wake up to freshly-baked blueberry muffins on a Sunday morning! They make the kitchen smell amazing and they’re the perfect little treat for our morning coffee and tea. My favorite organic muffin mix is Cherryvale Farms Blueberry Muffin Mix. All you need to add to this mix is a stick of melted butter, a cup of fresh blueberries, and water. It all mixes up in a bowl in less than three minutes and they bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.
You can also substitute coconut oil for the butter which I do occasionally. This time I added the yummy butter, but I used about a half cup of coconut water and a quarter cup of water in the mix for the liquids, just for fun! 
If you know me, then you know I really  like to change things up a bit each time I make them, but my favorite way to add a real nutritional boost is to these muffins is to add a tablespoon or so of Trader Joe’s Super Seed and Ancient Grain Mix. It’s filled with super foods like quinoa, flax seed, chia seed and more! We also love adding this mix to cereal, oatmeal and almost anything we bake here at home! 
Well, they turned out to be so delicious and soon after these photos were taken, my family had already gobbled them all up! Look at these sweet and juicy blueberries infusing all their goodness into the muffins! Next time I think I’ll need to make two batches. xo

ciao! fabiana

March 18, 2017

adorable easter place setting

Well, now that we’re passed St. Patrick’s day, my focus will be on Easter décor. In my collaboration with Oriental Trading, I’ve put together several fun and easy Easter ideas for your table and more. This first one in the series is a sweet little place setting that’s really a cinch to put together. There’s not much crafting involved and these little guys will last at least a week or more, so you can make them early and really enjoy them!
I started with a set of these light colored ceramic mini flower pots and a dozen chocolate flavored bunny lollypops. These little flower pots are the perfect size and can be used in so many different ways too! Now for something to put in these pots. My favorite health food market, Mother’s Market, sells 4 inch pots of wheatgrass, and they’re only $2. I also picked up a bunch of this small purple flower. I’m not sure what it’s called, but any mini flower, like baby’s breath, would be perfect. Each container of wheatgrass will fill 4 of these mini flower pots. I just took the wheatgrass out of its pot, and using a serrated bread knife, divided into 4 little squares that fit perfectly in each pot. All you have let to do now is decorate with small flowers and your bunny!   

Make sure to water the wheatgrass after a day or two and you may even have to trim it a bit, because it grows so fast!

Here’s a glimpse of my tablescape with a few more elements added. This faux farmhouse table was a thrift store find at only $12. I had so much fun distressing it and then finishing it off with some fabulous chalk paint. And, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for my new Serena & Lily French bistro “Riviera” chairs to arrive this week. I ordered them online, and they arrived so quickly! I love how they look with my little table and all the Easter goodies surrounding them. Now I’m off to look for a few of my pretty vintage dishes that have that delicate spring look. You see, I’m working on another look for Easter…
Make sure to stop by again soon for more on this Easter tablescape and others!

ciao! fabiana

March 16, 2017

happy st. patricks day!

Wearing green and decorating with shamrocks are a given on March 17th, but the origins of these traditions goes back hundreds of years with Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish

The earliest evidence of this anecdote first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. The color green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s and green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St. Patrick's Day since at least the 1680s. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the association of the color green and with St Patrick's Day grew.  

Here's something really interesting to me... in Buenos Aires, a huge party is held in the downtown street of Reconquista every St. Patrick’s Day, where the Irish community is the fifth largest in the world outside Ireland. Irish emigrants arrived in Argentina mostly between 1830 and 1930. 

In fact, the Irish community in Argentina is the largest in any non-English speaking country in the world! The Irish-Argentines are still trying to keep the inherited traditions alive and are working to rescue older traditions that have been lost over time. It’s believed that there are over a million Irish descendants in modern-day Argentina. One of their most famous or infamous descendant of the Irish is Che Guevara!

Today we celebrate in many ways and the shamrock is still the most significant symbol of the holiday!

ciao! fabiana

(info from Wikipedia, images from BHG)

March 15, 2017

ginko green

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and the Pantone color of the year, I’m sharing some photos from the “ciao archive”.  These pretty shades of green are a sure sign that spring is on its way!  
Who wouldn’t love to enter a door like this surrounded by lush green Boston ivy? It’s like a dream and a fairy tale all rolled into one! 
These next few photos are of my friend and neighbor Nancy’s amazing garden. She chose the perfect shade of green to accent the windows and trim on her sweet garden shed and on her comfortable adirondack chairs. 
Nancy’s garden is a tropical sanctuary, and as you can see, she pours her heart and soul into here yard. The result is a peaceful and relaxing retreat, right outside her doors. 
And here’s her darling little companion, Buddy enjoying the garden along with his human friends.
Also, don't forget to check out my new Ciao Tablescapes page. It’s a collection of my favorite tablescapes that I’ve created since starting my blog in 2011. I'll be constantly updating this page with new favorites, so check back often! If there are any holidays or themes you’d like to see, leave me a comment! You can find the tab at the top of my page or simply click here.

ciao! fabiana

first photo via bhg

March 14, 2017

succulent inspiration

One of my favorite French bakeries here in Newport Beach, C’est si Bon, has been renovating their exteriors for the past few months to include lots more outdoor seating, and a more garden-y outdoor space. Here’s a little peek at some of the cool pierced metal and reclaimed wood planters that they’ve designed and filled with succulents and some "Hot Lips" salvia, on the left. I love this look! And they’re so pretty up against the aged brick wall too.
ciao! fabiana

March 13, 2017

what's your kitchen style?

Kitchens are such a personal space, and whether you like to cook or not, it’s ultimately the place where everyone likes to congregate. So today I’m wondering what your favorite kitchen style is. How would you describe your perfect kitchen? I’m sharing some examples of a few interesting ones I found recently. This first one is Coastal InspiredWhite cabinets, a hint of ocean blue, driftwood tones and beach glass inspired lighting are some of my favorite elements here. 
Second, I love this Traditional Modern look. It has all the characteristics of a traditional style, but is streamlined, uncluttered and elegant.
This next style I’m labeling Eclectic Modern Farmhouse. It’s a little boho chic, with a little nod to kitchens from the past. Gathered vintage elements combined with modern amenities create a warm and cozy look.
The best of both worlds, Coastal Farmhouse style! This home would fit in perfectly near the beach or in the middle of a prairie, or for that matter, anywhere you wish! The vibe of this style is easy, breezy, comfortable.
This last style is hard to pinpoint with a name. Vintage Estate style is what I come up with. Picture a stately old home with amazing details and character, and then infuse modern luxuries. (This may be my favorite style!) You can have the best of both worlds! And, oh that table! Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned eat-in kitchen? So remember, let me know what your favorite kitchen style is. It may not be pictured here, but I’d love to know! xoxo 

photos via 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 

ciao! fabiana

March 12, 2017

white chocolate coconut easter cakelets

I spent part of the day today testing yummy cake recipe for Easter. For the cake itself, I used Miss Jones’ Organic Vanilla Cake Mix, which is just as good as making it from scratch, in my opinion. (Miss Jones' is available at Target.) To the mix, I added 3 eggs, milk and melted butter. I then used a cookie sheet that was buttered and floured as my baking vessel. I poured the batter straight on the cookie sheet. I’ve never done this before, but I’ve seen it done on “Chopped” and other cooking shows. It’s a great way to bake a cake fast! It was done in about 15 minutes. And when it was done, the cake was about 1” tall. I let the cake cool for a few minutes and then used a round biscuit cutter to cut out as many circles as I could from the cake. I got about 12 cut, so that means I would have 6 little 2-layer cakelets in all.
I put these on a cooling rack and iced them with this amazing white chocolate buttercream frosting that’s soooo easy to make! It’s just cream, butter, powdered sugar and white chocolate (I used about ½ a package of Baker’s Brand white chocolate chips). My neighbor Clare, who’s a fabulous baker and caterer gave me this recipe, which she also tops with toasted coconut! I used organic, unsweetened large flakey coconut and toasted it in the oven. I then finished the cakelets off with 3 little speckled malted milk egg candies in a variety of colors. The end result is adorable, and so delicious!! The sweet white chocolate frosting with the toasted coconut is a divine combination! I will definitely make these again for Easter.   

Clare’s White-Chocolate Butter-Cream Frosting

1 package (6 squares) premium white chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream OR: milk
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup confectioners sugar

1.   Microwave chocolate and cream in large microwave-safe bowl on high power 1-1/2 minutes, stirring halfway. Stir to melt chocolate. Let cool to room temperature, 15 minutes.
2.   Beat butter, sugar gradually into cooled chocolate on high speed until smooth and fluffy, 2 minutes. Makes 3-1/2 cups.
3. Don't forget to add the toasted coconut flakes on top!

I invite you to stop by my new Ciao Tablescapes page. It’s a collection of my favorite tablescapes that I’ve created since starting my blog in 2011. I'll be constantly updating this page with new favorites, so check back often! If there are any holidays or themes you’d like to see, leave me a comment! You can find the tab at the top of my page or simply click here.

ciao! fabiana

March 10, 2017

the latest decor at anthropologie

Happy Friday! I’m so happy the weekend is practically here! I’ve spent most of this week playing catch-up, but I did get to fit in a little fun along the way. I stopped in at Anthropologie in Fashion Island. It’s been a while since I visited in that store, since I usually go to the one at South Coast Plaza now. Well, their displays never cease to amaze me! I took a few pics of my favorite vignettes to share with you. I love the aged plaster walls they are showing with this grouping of antique–inspired mirrors. This look reminds me of the real aged walls of my favorite antique store in Savannah, Alex Raskin Antiques. And, that rug! Oh my!
Here’s another grouping of mirrors in this little room that has a more vintage tropical “Miami” look.  
I love the look of this massive armoire filled with carefully arranged art and everyday dishes that are ready for the next table setting.  
A pair of ladder-type shelves benefit greatly with a balanced approach to styling. The books are placed in a zig zagging pattern across the two shelving units, patterns and color are perfectly arranged and then the hanging ”fish hook” plants soften the whole look. 
Here’s a really fun coastal dinner table look. It’s not totally beachy, but it definitely has a vibe that’s chic but casual.
Love the textures on this bed!
And, of course, their “shelfies” can’t be beat!
While at Fashion Island, I also popped over to K. Hall Studio. If you watch the Real Housewives of Orange County, then you may recognize this as Meghan King Edmonds new candle store. They had the opening party on the show. It’s a cute little store filled with books, candles and other pretty gifts. The styling in this store is darling too!

I also want to fill you in with the latest on the Newport Harbor Home Tour. This week I got to preview two GORGEOUS homes that will be featured on the tour on May 18th. The committee has been really hard at work finalizing all the details, and I can assure you, everyone will be amazed with the homes that have been selected. There'll be six home on the tour this year, and what’s really great is that all the homes are relatively close to one another, so there will be more time to see them all and more time to enjoy the luncheon, shopping at the boutique and the after party at Barclay Butera Interiors. Also new this year is a morning reception at the Balboa Bay Club!

ciao! fabiana

March 7, 2017

lauren conrad's tea party details

March, April and May are ideal months to host a tea party like this one that Lauren Conrad's created. A bridal shower, special birthday or even Easter are the perfect occasions for serving up some special tea blends, dainty sandwiches and petit fours.   
I love how the elegant china and tea cups stand out against the moss and wild ferns that are the backdrop for this charming table.  
A collection of vintage vases line the center of the table and are filled with tall wild flowers. Mix and match dainty tea cups and saucers for a sweet look. 
Flowy floral dresses are all the rage this season, so don’t forget to dress the part!
Soft lavender colored flowers like clematis and wisteria decorate the backs of old-fashioned chairs. Here you can also see the moss “carpet” effect that’s on the table.  
A tea party wouldn't be complete without deliciously beautiful tea sandwiches, served on a tiered plate. Garnish lavishly with herbs!
It’s all in the details! Purple sweet alyssum’s delicate vanilla scent provides the perfect aroma for each place setting.
Ivory china and gold flatware nestle in nicely with the lush green backdrop.
Lauren has thought of everything. A darling jar of wildflower honey will make nice party favors for guests.
Even the desserts have a floral motif. You can’t go wrong with a Rose Apple Tart!
Thanks, Lauren, for your sharing your inspiring spring tea party! Here are some more charming tea party ideas to check out.

ciao! fabiana
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