Collections and Obsessions, Cucina, food, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Photography, sweets, Wine Wednesday, Winery

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Nutella

Over Valentines Day weekend I was in charge of Red Velvet Cupcakes for the Pleasant Valley wine Trail, since we are a part of the trail. Everyone had something they made and then paired with a wine. We paired our cupcakes with our Late Harvest Zinfandel. I heard nothing but good things, so I was very happy that it was warmly received.

I made 100 cupcakes on Friday night, and then another 100 on Saturday night. I used the recipe that was passed down from my Great Aunt Nelle. She was a great cook, and it was said in the family that she asked about the recipe one time when she was visited the Waldorf Hotel. I later learned that many southern women told the story about asking for the recipe from the Waldorf. She was a traveler, and was a fantastic cool. I never questioned the story!

My Great Aunt used to make Red Velvet Cake for my dad every year on his birthday. It was his favorite cake. She also would make a mayonnaise cake that was so delicious. Although, I remember that she didn’t like to say the name around me, it made me sick to think of mayonnaise being used to bake a cake. When we would love something that she made, she would give an index card with the recipe to my mom. We would cherish those recipe cards. There was a special wooded box that we kept them.

Never the less, here is the recipe for the cake…

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pounds canned beets, drained and pureed
  • 1 tablespoon red food color
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I make my own by adding vinegar, and waiting for 10 minutes, 
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start preheating your oven to 375, drain and puree your beets. If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, I never do…Add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your cup of milk.

Meanwhile, add your dry ingredients together, add you eggs, beets, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar, olive oil and finally, the buttermilk. Mix until all the ingredients are wet.

Add the paper cupcake holders to the cupcake pans, fill up the cupcake papers about 1/2 full. This will make about 18 cupcakes. They will take about 25 minutes to bake.

While your cupcakes are baking, you can make the frosting…

8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)

1 Stick of butter (softened)

4 cups of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Blend your ingredients together to make the frosting. I used a pastry bag for the first time last week when I made these for Valentines day. I had to end up asking my husband to take the pastry bag away from me, since mine didn’t look good. His looked lovely!

Now, if you want to add the Nutella, it does taste delicious, but it is time consuming. We took a melon baller, and scooped out the center. After each one was done, we then added the frosting. Like I mentioned earlier, my frosting job was a little frightening, so I had my husband make them look pretty.




Collections and Obsessions, Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday, Photography

Rob Ijbema


Instead of posters on the walls in the rooms of my children I allowed them to select art. One of the themes that my son loves is transportation. Green is his favorite color, and he loves races. The Bentley that he liked was an impressive choice. He really enjoyed the other paintings of Rob, so we purchased a few others.

The perceived motion of the car, the reflection of the windshield…it just looks powerful,  there better not be a human in the way of this car. With it’s broad stance, streamline look, it just sticks to the pavement as it travels across the finish line.

Would you like to see more of his work? Click here

Collections and Obsessions, Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday, Photography

Lindsay Goodwin


I began collecting art when I was in College. Often visiting small galleries, and University galleries and meeting with the artists. I like to think of myself as a modern day Medici. Collecting art and promoting the artists. The best way to show the artists the I love I have for their work is buying the art.

I have purchased many paintings by Lindsay. I have mostly purchased her work through Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art Gallery. One of my favorite paintings that I own from Lindsay is this one. This particular one I asked Ella to get a hold of Lindsay to paint this for me. I had admired this painting for a long time at another gallery, but the painting was already sold. I asked if I could commission Lindsay to paint another rendition of the painting. I just love the way Lindsay portrays the details. The young woman in the mirror bathed in light. Holding the mask near her face so she can see how she is going to look before going to a party. Her beautiful red dress draws the eye of the viewer directly to the subject. There are many other items on her vanity that are interesting to view as well. A picture of a girl in the background, the brass mirror, and the silver chest in the foreground. The reflection and refraction of light on the objects is tough to capture for an artist. Yet, Lindsay does so beautifully. Not only does she captures the warmth of the young woman, but the cold metal objects that are on display for us to view. We are drawn into this private moment. Yet we are not disrupting her from getting ready to go to the ball.

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Coloring Shopping

Before consturction began on our house in the Bay Area we would go shopping of sorts. We would get into our car, and go to Piedmont, CA to look for just the right color. We knew we wanted a yellow hue. There are just so many of them out there, and we wanted to find the right balance. Our neighborhood was filled with white homes. We thought our neighborhood could use some color.

When we told my Mother In Law she was not happy. She thought we were going to embarrass her. Later she would tell us that she too wanted to change the color of her house. We liked the color she wanted for her house, but she never got to change it. We are going to use the color she wanted for her on a rental house. It will be a tribute to her to paint our a rental house her color.

Anyway, we found the house, and there were no apps that gave us exactly what we were looking for back then. We had to do it the old fashion way…ask.

I knew I would have to be the one to ask, so I went up to the door. Actually, it was the gate. They had an intercom system, so I pressed the button and I asked “Do you know the name of the color of your beautiful home?”

The lady of the house replied “I do not know for sure the name of the color, but I can ask our construction supervisor.” I then asked if she would like to have my phone number so she could call me, and tell me the name of the color. She took my phone number, but weeks passed.

I lived close to the house, so we went for a Sunday drive to the house. It was house stalking. LOL! I had to approach the intercom again, press that button…from the intercom she told me…”I am glad you drove by, I lost your phone number. The color is called Desert Gold with 30% white.” Oh, thank you, I replied. Here is the house I color stalked…


Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday

Mark Pettit


Images of Venice stir my soul. There is something so seductive about that place. It may be the mystery that lurks in the shadows of my mind. It may be my romantic heart that pounds with desire. It may be that this was the place that women explored their intellent only if they were a courtesan or a nun. Such drastic divisions…either a sinner, or a savior or souls were allowed books.

The first time I saw a painting by Mark Pettit I had to have one. His painting almost come to life right in front of your eyes. There is a dream like quality about them, one could almost step inside the painting and join. I have only two of his paintings. The one below caught my eye, and I had to grab it fast. His shows sell out very quickly, so a decisive mind is a must. One does not have the luxury of waiting a day to decide. I did that once with his painting, and the painting was gone the next day.

Upon gazing at the painting the viewer becomes immersed in the bouncing waves. Smelling the flowers, and hearing the sounds of the cloth of the blind billowing in the wind. The sound of the waves continually lapping the building, and the sound of the gondolas hitting on another in a rhythm that one does not forget.

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Sock Curator

Sheba, is our Cane Corso. img_9030

She loves socks. She comes upstairs in the middle of the night and steals at least one sock. Sometimes, she even steals one sock per family member. I guess, she doesn’t want one of us to feel left out of her pack. LOL! She is 9 years old, and will turn 10 on December 24th. Her sister passed away last spring of bone cancer. She still has her little buddy Gucci. Gucci, is her four pound side kick. We will take a look at Gucci next week.


Here are some of the socks I found around the house.

See, everyone in our family collects something. Sheba just has a thing for socks.

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Paint and Sip @ San Marcos Creek

Last month we had a great turn out for our paint and sip class.

Everyone did such an amazing job on painting their roosters. Everyone did a different back ground, and everyone had a rooster that seem to have it’s own personality. I love doing paint and sip classes, it’s fun, and really brings out the Michelangelo in everyone. I am not a good artist, and in fact, my painting is usually the worst one.

I hung mine up in the tasting room, and someone offered to buy it. I couldn’t sell it, but I did give it to them. I even wrapped it up for them. LOL! We are offering another class on the 20th of January. So, if you are interested in having a great time…You ought to come and join us for the fun, and let your creative juices flow. We will have some wine available as well as some light snacks. Seats are sold at CASA Dell ARTE.

Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday

Maureen Crofts


There is usually a story behind the reason why a person is drawn to a painting, and this one is no exception. I love art. I have loved art since I was very young. I am not good at it, but I enjoying looking at art, studying art, and collecting art. Once captivated by a particular artist I want that artist to know that I am supporting their gift. Often, I buy more than one of their pieces. Art is not just beneficial to the artist, but also the admirer of the art. When we allow ourselves permission to drift into the art, it can take us to other places.

This painting was the first one I purchased from Maureen. It reminded me of the place my husband and I first met. We actually crossed paths on Yahoo. In the mid 90’s,  we emailed each other first, until I got the nerve to call him. After we finally talked on the phone, we phone dated before we met in person.

When the time came to meet in person, we both had the same place in mind. We decided we would meet at the clipper ships in San  Francisco. There is also an old fashion clock right before the dock. We thought it was best to meet in the morning, in case we decided that we did not like each other we would still have the rest of our own day.  Neither of us knew that the clock was rolled out each morning. When I arrived, he was already there, but I was wondering if I was in the right place since the clock was not out there. I walked down the hill where the clipper ships were, and they finally started rolling the clock out on the street. They told us they had to put the clock away at night so no one would steal it.

Both of us had gifts for the other. We took a look at our gifts, he got me a huge bear, and I got him a wizard. We had a great time…

Although the ship Maureen painted is a British ship is looks so strong. Just look at it long enough, and one can almost hear the creaking of the old wood. Smell the salty air filling the lungs. The sail billowing reminds one of a crisp morning. This painting is a watercolor which is even more astounding, it take such skill to paint in watercolor since it is unforgiving. If you would like to learn more about Maureen and her art click here.

Collections and Obsessions, Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday

L. Henkel


This watercolor is one of my favorites. It has the theme I love, people reading. Since I have many women reading I wanted some men that were reading too. I have a deep fondness of Cardinals, so I had to have this painting. The technical skill to do this watercolor shows a great deal of control. Watercolors are very difficult, and very unforgiving. The detail of his face, and the chair are exquisite. Look at the tile on the floor, and his shows peeking out from beneath his gown. Look at the the creases on his gown, and the shadow of the folds of the gown.

This piece is from 1902. I do not know who the Cardinal is, but I really like him! What do you think about the painting?

Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday

Grafince Tasgotti


Since the children have always been allowed to chose their own art, my son has had a transportation theme to his room.  I wanted each of them to feel like they shared in helping to decorate their room, and this was their private space. All the items on the walls would be things they cherished, and would be not just a part of their childhood. These pieces could go with them into their adult lives.

This litho is an old one that I found in an antique store.  I purchased the set of the balloons, and he loved them. The detail is exquisite, one can really spend time looking at the nuances that the artist has captured.