The Simply Luxurious Life®: April 2010  

April 30, 2010

Smiling from Ear to Ear!

Foodie Friday, and I am oh so very glad it is here - let me tell you.  I have been looking forward to this particular Friday due to the fact that the majority of my big projects came to an end yesterday at work, and this weekend one of my best friends, Alex, is coming into town to join a handful of us as we head out and partake in the annual Spring Release weekend in Walla Walla Valley wine country

So as a way of ringing in the weekend, I'm treating myself this morning to a lovely pastry, hot tea and Friday's Oregonian.  Very simple, I realize, but so often, while I want to do this for myself before I head to work, I always seem to never have enough time to actually do it.  Well, not today!

One of the frustrations I have come across living where I do is that melt-in-your-mouth pastries are hard to find, and what I have discovered is as long as I have a fail-safe recipe, why not make my own?  So, while I was living in Portland, I came across a simple, yet so very dependable scone recipe in the Oregonian's FOODday entitled "Wednesday Breakfast Scones".  Today, however, they are my "Friday" scones, and I'd love to share them with you.  By now, I know this recipe by heart, but I have dug out the original recipe, which I realized was printed in 2004 and now has flour here and there (actually almost everywhere), but it truly is my favorite simple scone recipe.

Whether the end of your week is today, or you are just getting to the middle of your work week, all you will need is ten minutes to mix this batter up and twenty-five minutes as you wait for the oven to do its job, and viola!  Warm, puffy scones begging to have honey or jam drizzled on them.

Then proceed to get cozy, whether it be in bed, at your kitchenette table, or at work.

Grab your favorite reading material, and forget about the time for a bit.  What a wonderful way to begin the bustling work day that is knocking at your door.

"Friday" Breakfast Scones

-Yields - 8 scones

*3 cups all-purpose flour
*1 Tablespoon baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling (divided)
*3/4 teaspoon salt
*3/4 cup cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into small cubes
*1 cup buttermilk
*zest of 2 medium lemons or to taste
*1 tablespoon whipping cream (optional)


*the butter must be cold - frozen preferably.  This is the key to light, fluffy scones.

*I have always mixed it by hand or with a large fork.  If you have a pastry cutter, this works well.  I find it adds I'm not sure what, but I love it. You'll notice the large chunks of butter in a few of my pictures - clearly I didn't use a food processor, but nonetheless, they always taste fantastic.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set aside an ungreased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/3 cup sugar and salt.  Process with 6 to 8 1-second pulses.  Remove the cover and distribute the butter over the dry ingredients.  Cover and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. 16 to 20 1-second pulses.

3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  Add the buttermilk and half the lemon zest; use a wooden spoon to stir until mixture begins to form a dough, about 30 seconds.

4. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and divide into 2 equal balls.   Use a rolling pin (or hands) to lightly roll each ball into a circle about 7 inches in diameter.  

Sprinkle half of the remaining lemon zest over the circles, then fold each circle into a half circle. 

Sprinkle the remaining zest on top and use the rolling pin to lightly press the zest into the dough.  Cut each circle into 4 wedges. 

Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet.  If desired, glaze the scones by brushing with the 1 tablespoon cream and sprinkling with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

5. Bake until the scone tops are golden brown, 18-32 minutes.   Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes to firm.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon appétit!  And I must send out a sincere thank you for the comments I have received this week.  I love catching up with readers I have been communicating with for awhile now, as well as getting to know new lovely readers as you have stopped by this week to say hello.  I hope each one of you has the weekend you've been looking for.

Images: (1)-Simply Luxurious (2) We Heart It (3) Source (4) Source

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April 29, 2010

Unforgettable Exit

With summer waiting in the wings and the smattering of seventy degree days found throughout spring, I’m beginning to get excited for styles that reveal a very elegant part of a woman’s body – her back.   There is something to be said for people watching a woman as she leaves, and what better way to entice such longing glances than with a fashionable dress or top?  Building the curiosity, only to having them wishing for a return upon her exit.  Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a bit, but you get my point.

Here are a collection of looks that have me impatiently waiting for an opportunity to pull out my tuxedo sleeveless tops and halter dresses.  Enjoy! 

Here’s to a lovely Thursday.  One day closer to the weekend.


Images: (1) - We Heart It (2) - Lace_Tea (3) – Tumblr (4) - Le Fashion (5) – Sebastian (6) – Sebastian (7) – Source (8) - Everything Fabulous

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April 28, 2010

Why Not . . .Enjoy April Showers?

One of the many things I love about spring is having beautiful sunny weather one day and the next, showers to help water the lawn.  The latter however, is my favorite type of day, I must confess.  The sense of calm that is achieved when the rain comes – people tend to flock back inside, events often halt and for a handful of moments things stand still – or at least slow down.  It is also the unpredictability of it all.  It is almost as if, at least for me, the rain is a pleasant surprise that calms my nerves just a bit and begs me to stop by a coffee shop and pull a book or my most recently delivered magazine out and stay awhile.

So why not enjoy April showers?  Here are a few things I enjoy doing on a day full of raindrops.

 Coffee Shop & Words

As I mentioned above, rain tends to beckon me to visit my favorite coffee haunt.  When I lived in Portland, I lived directly above a bustling Starbucks and found myself frequently heading down to soak in the atmosphere of folks hustling in and out.  Bring along a crossword puzzle, a book, magazines or pick up today’s newspaper and pretend to read as you people watch.

Snuggle Up & Grab Some Popcorn

The lovely unpredictable spring weather provides the perfect excuse to snuggle up on the couch and watch a handful of favorite films.  Often times, I find myself choosing a movie I have seen a gazillion times, and allow it to be the background to my daydreaming or journal writing.

Reconnect with Your Significant Other
Need I say more?

Front Porch, Blanket, Good Company

The scent of falling rain is something I truly do savor.  Quite often I find myself during a rain storm sitting out on my front porch with a blanket in tow (if necessary) and sitting with my dogs.  A peaceful moment to just appreciate Mother Nature.

Create – Be Inspired!

I allow my mind to wander a bit on these favorite days of mine, and they tend to sway more toward the hopeful and inspirational ideas of my childhood and beyond.  However, try to use any moment (rainy or not) where inspiration is percolating and take advantage of it!  Pull out the laptop or journal and start getting every last piece of your thoughts down before you forget.

Homemade Treats

Being “forced” to stay inside is a luxury in itself at times when I’ve been going full tilt in what seems like every direction.  One thing I will always do, as long as the ingredients are in the house, is whip up a tasty cookie recipe.  Here are a few of my favorites – Chocolate Chip BarsPeanut Butter Chocolate Chip,  and Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Cookies. Paired with either a cold glass of milk, hot tea or a decadent hot cup of cocoa and I’m ready to put my feet up.

So, of course I’m curious now, very curious indeed.  What do you enjoy doing on rainy days?  It seems both the west coast and the east coast have been getting a bit drenched, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Have a beautiful sunny or rainy Wednesday!

Images: (1) – Source (2) – Tumblr (3) – Sebastian (4) - A Kiss in the Rain (5) - Fashion Gone Rogue (6) – Citified (7) - I do love Pics (8) - Photobucket

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April 27, 2010

Soaking in Luxury

The need to stop time, or at least slow it down, is something that a luxurious soak in a bathtub seems to accomplish.  There is nothing quite like drawing a warm bubble bath, dimming the lights or lighting candles, and letting your worries subside while you relax in a room focused on pampering the occupant.  I have been meaning to make time for such an experience these last few days and look forward to the mood it will lull me into once I finally find time to do it.

For today’s Rooms of Inspiration, enjoy looking over the luxurious bathtubs I have compiled for you.  Which one can you imagine yourself taking a few moments in at some point during your busy day?  And what are your necessary ingredients to making bath time a complete experience?  I can’t wait to hear.  Have a lovely Tuesday.

Letting your troubles melt away and escaping into your own world, if only for a few moments, is most definitely something to schedule time for during our harried and frazzled lives. Won’t you make time for it?

Images: (1) - The Bella Life (2) - Sharon Scrapbook (3) - Elle Decor - designed by Robert Couturier (4) - Castle Gibson (5) - Elle Decor designed by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg (6) – Decorno (7) - Patricia Gray (8) - According to Lia (9) - Elle Decor designed by Italian decorators Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli (10) - Decor Pad (11) - Decor Pad (12) - Decor Pad (13) - Simplified Bee (14) - Source

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April 26, 2010

Renewable Hope

Sustainability isn't about the quick
fix or the cheap solution.

Generally it means making a
commitment and trying, as best we
can, to honor it.

 In any worthwhile enterprise, from
protecting the environment to
preserving a relationship, we are going
to encounter difficulties.

 The good life is not a problem-free
life. In point of fact, the process of
overcoming adversity often produces
some of the most rewarding experiences
we will ever have.

 Human beings need to be challenged
to 'test their mettle,' as it were.

 Throwing in the towel at the first
sign of trouble or small inkling of
distress may be the easy thing to do,
but it doesn't help our self-concept.

Most of life's troubles can be
overcome if we are willing to work
through them with patience.

Having a continually renewed sense of hope is not always easy.  What is easy is to believe things will happen in the way that we have envisioned them when everything else is going well. This tends to change rather quickly when obstacles “jump” in the way, or challenges arise that we hadn’t planned on.
The continually renewable hope that was mentioned earlier has a way of quickly evaporating.

We all find ourselves in the latter situation from time to time, but the key to success really needs to be in being prepared for when those unexpected difficulties arise.  Prepare so that we can be on the offensive instead of constantly being shocked and forced to be on defense.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that we can't predict what will unexpectedly greet us along the way, but we can have a plan of attack ready as to how we will deal with it when it sneaks in the back door and says hello.

The quote above is the perfect reminder that the “good life” we seek does not come without struggle, but it reassures us that we will survive and find a delicious reward on the other side with continued hope and constant patience.

Have hope this week and every week thereafter, despite any frustrations that may present themselves, and believe that maybe this is just the universe’s way of testing us to see how badly we want what we say we wanted.

Images: (1) Source (3) – Source (4) - We Heart It (5) -  Flickr (6) - We Heart That

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April 25, 2010

Cups of Tea (4/18-4/24)

Sunday has arrived, and with it the last Sunday of April.   Where has the month gone?  As promised, the winner of my most recent giveaway – a handmade silk flower pin exclusively from Dulken & Derrick is being announced.

Nicole of Following Rabbits is the lovely winner of this giveaway which was sponsored by The Blue Onion Marketplace.  An enormous thank you to Michele Syre, owner of the aforementioned website who made this giveaway enjoyable and a perfect fit for my readers.  Thank you for allowing them to have a choice.  Again, congratulations to Nicole and thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by and enter.  If you haven’t had a chance to stop by and visit Following Rabbits, be sure to make some.  Her blog is full of images and tales of one who thoroughly enjoys living life in New York City.  I enjoy living vicariously through her blog as I can only visit once in a great while.  Keep in mind there will most definitely be more giveaways in the future, so stay tuned.

All right, so pour your steaming cup of joe into your favorite coffee mug or bring your tea pot to a boil to prep for a lovely few looks into some fantastic posts I came across this week.  What you will find: thoughts on the material items we all seem to collect, a timely spring dessert, beautiful decor, and a thoughtful quote to wrap it up.  Enjoy having a look.


1.  How Much is Too Much?

Life Hack presented a question that most certainly gave me pause. While I am well aware that material items will not make me happy by themselves, how many does it take for our happiness to begin to dissipate? Is that even possible? Click on the header above or the image below read the author’s thoughts on this matter.



2.  Rhubarb Bars   

One of my favorite things in early spring is the appearance of my rhubarb in my garden.  My favorite dessert at the moment to make would most certainly have to be a strawberry rhubarb pie; however, these rhubarb bars posted on Cook & Eat might just give my old standby pie a run for its money.  Click on the header above or the image below to take a look at the recipe.


3. Cottage-like Decor  

Julia of Belle Vivir included on her blog this week four or five images that caught my eye due to the feel of rustic tranquility and unique individuality with regards to the choices involving the mirrors, sinks and other accessories.  These images reminded me of a magazine that is no longer in print, but I so wish it still was – Cottage Living, which was known for cozy, lived in homes with character and charm.  Click on the header above or the image below to see the rest of her compellation.


4. SATC 2 Interior Design

After some searching and digging, Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic shared more than a few images of the set on the upcoming Sex and the City 2 movie.  She goes in-depth sharing with her readers the names of products on display in each shot and shares the details that sometimes often get overlooked by the reader, but not the set designer.  I enjoyed looking through this post especially since it seemed to reveal small moments that allowed my imagination to wonder even further as to what will take place in the film.


5.  Be Grateful 

Isabelle LaFalce of Pink Lemonade Design blog coupled the photo below with a quote reminding us all to be grateful for the optimism that is brought into our lives by others. A lovely thought to end the weekend.  Also, Isabelle’s first novel Adore New York was released this past week in Canada, so why not take a look?  I know I’ll be picking up mine soon!


Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

-Marcel Proust

Images: (1) - We Heart It

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April 24, 2010

Short and Sweet

Saturday morning, oh happy day!  I couldn’t be more thrilled to greet today as it is filled with . . . wait for it. . .  free time!  What a lovely and beautiful thing it is to be able to be busy, but every once in awhile I need to recharge.  Last night, my weekend ended in a very enjoyable way – a fantastic evening of friends, wine and spirited conversation over the six bottles of wine we were blind tasting.  It was my opportunity to host the event and that in itself was a joy – extra flowers “had” to be purchased, the house a bit more deep cleaned and the anticipation of creating a few recipes for a crowd that hadn’t been tasted beyond my own test-run attempts turned out all right thankfully.

All in all, things went well, and I’m exhausted and smiling as I wake up to a lovely lazy Saturday.  How was your week, and what will you be up to today?  Saturday really does seem to be the day that if anyone were to peek at our lives, would reveal a bit about our true loves and passions.  I’d love to hear what one would learn about you if you’d care to share.

Here are a few links to this past week’s posts on The Simply Luxurious Life:

Monday Finding Your Direction

Guest post on CheckYourParisIndividual Luxuries

Tuesday Ellen Pompeo & Elle Decor

Wednesday – Simple Pleasures

Thursday – A Lovely Life

Friday – A Parisian Tart

Saturday -  9 to 5 Femininity

Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your Saturday and be sure to visit tomorrow for my weekly Cups of Tea to see who the winner is of the giveaway.  Bonjour!

Images: (1) Oscar Falk (2)  Oh Baby It’s Natalie

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Workplace Femininity

I must confess, this week, again, has been smashed full of work, piled up on top of even more work.   So as I have been, what feels like, living at my home away from home, a few saving graces I have clutched onto each day in order to bring me more calm, peace of mind and confident as I walk through the door each day at work is the knowledge that a women’s work wardrobe can be oh so thankfully feminine as well as demanding she be taken seriously. 

Donna Karan’s Spring Ready to Wear 2o1o collection drives this message home.  Waists can still be cinched, legs can be shown and beautiful bare arms put on display.  What always need to be kept in check is the fine line between appropriate and outrageous.

Below you will find a collection of Donna Karan’s beautiful dresses.  Have a look and let me know what you think.  Would you feel comfortable wearing something similar work, possibly layered with a jacket or cardigan at times?

Donna Karan Spring RTW 2010 – courtesy

Happy Weekend to everyone! Hopefully you have some very enjoyable leisurely pleasures filling your day.

April 23, 2010

A Bit of French Nostalgia

This week I have found myself daydreaming about Paris for a handful of reasons: my guest blog on CheckYourParis, reading an old interview of author Kirsten Lobe of Paris Hangover and French Trysts: Secrets of a Courtesan, and the beautiful spring weather we have been having that reminds me of the perfect time to take a leap over the pond to the City of Light.

But, since I am tethered to my job at the moment, as most of us are, I thought I'd bring a little Paris to me and to you. 

I am thrilled to share with you one of my new favorite desserts.  After traveling for the first time in France, I, as many do, fell in love with their pâtisseries and all of the delicious treats that can be found at each one.  What impressed me the most was the attention to detail and the seemingly simple ingredients.  However, upon laying my hands on a recipe, while the ingredients may be simple in certain desserts, the attention to detail is what makes French pastries so attractive to the eye, and more importantly, so difficult to master.

Thanks to Ina Garten, again, I used her recipe for a French apple tart found on page 191 in her most recent cookbook Back to Basics: Barefoot Contessa and found, with her help, it wasn't so difficult after all.


For the pastry (full disclosure: I use a Puff pastry sheet, and it tastes lovely and saves time too!)

*2 cups all-purpose flour
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1 tablespoon sugar
*12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

For the apples:

*4 Granny Smith apples
*1/2 cup sugar
*4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
*1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
*2 tablespoons Calvados, rum or water


*For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas.  With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.  Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

(For a really fast apple tart, you can use one sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted.  Roll out to 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches and then proceed with the apples.)

*Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

*Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 x 14 inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges.  Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
*Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem.  Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.  Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices.  Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (Barefoot Contessa tends not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.)  Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup sugar and dot with the butter.

*Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown.  Rotate the pan once during cooking.  If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out.  Don't worry!  The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!  When the tart is done, heat the apricot jelly together with the rum and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture.  Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper.  Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.


(I find it to be a great treat in the morning as well with a warm cup of tea - Yum!)
So, I'm off to have a nibble and reminisce about my days in Paris and the Loire Valley.  Some day, some day, I will return. 

To all of my readers, have a lovely weekend and thanks so very much for entering my most recent giveaway, becoming a new follower or continuing to follow, following me on Twitter or simply taking a moment to revel in a few simply luxurious discoveries on Simply Luxurious.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing from you this week, and don't forget, to stop by tomorrow for Saturday Style and a quick recap of the week.

Au revoir for now!

Images: (1) Source (2)- Source (2) - Simply Luxurious photo (4)-Source

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