March 25, 2017

planning my Easter table

Planning my Easter table is so easy with the fun and so budget-friendly with the goodies that I get at Oriental Trading! This year, I chose a few key items for my table as well as a few little treats for the kids. Of course, the adults will love the treats too! This is the kids table, set with fancy scalloped edge paper plates, fun glasses, bright napkins and then to finish off the look, a cute little take-home gift. Each of our young guests will get to take home this darling little flower pot filled with real Easter grass and planted in the middle is a tasty chocolate lollipop!
At the center of the table is Oriental Trading’s long wood box filled with lush green wheat grass and surrounded by tiny purple wax flowers. This Easter grass will come in handy when we’re hiding Easter eggs throughout the house, but for now it’s a gorgeous living centerpiece. This versatile wooden box can be filled with so many different plants, flowers and candles and it can even be painted a fun color for a future holiday table.  
Each place setting is ready with fun scalloped edge paper plates in mint green, hot pink napkins, and our little chocolate friend that’s all planted and ready to bring smiles to young faces.  
This “Easter Grass” keeps growing, so the kids will have fun giving it a haircut! They can even draw silly faces on the pots when they get home and they’ll have a new easy to take care of little pet! And there’s no mess like you have with traditional Easter grass. That stuff is soooo messy! 
I love the adorable moss bunnies that I got at Home Goods. They’re simple but have lots of personality. Next to those are the silver lanterns. I use them so much year long! I always have candles in them and they’re one of my favorite ways to add a little ambiance when evening arrives. They even look great outside the front door lighting the way for guests.
Setting the table is easy with just a few key components to get you started. These little pots were so easy to put together and really only took a few minutes to make.
I’m so looking forward to Easter with the family! What are your plans? Will you be hosting a group at your home?

And, it all came together like this: 
 Dinner Plates: Wedgwood
 Scalloped Edge Paper Plates: Oriental Trading
Napkins: World Market
Flatware: World Market
Water Glasses: vintage
Wooden Flower Box: Oriental Trading
Flower Pots: Oriental Trading
Wheat Grass: Mother’s Market
Chocolate Bunny Lollipops: Oriental Trading
Flowers: Trader Joe’s
Moss Bunnies: Home Goods
Eggs in Nest: Home Goods
Silver Lanterns: Oriental Trading
Market Basket: French Basketeer
Salt & Pepper Shakers: vintage
Pink Lemonade: Trader Joe’s 

Here are some of the other looks
I’ve put together using pieces from Oriental Trading.

ciao! fabiana

Thank you to Oriental Trading for sending me these products to review. 
The opinions expressed in this post are truly my own.

March 24, 2017

travel together as a couple

Most people would agree that traveling together as a couple is an enjoyable escape from the day-to-day grind of life. We look forward to vacations, come back and share stories with our friends, and reminisce about our travels for years after. But, did you know that studies actually show there are real relationship benefits that transpire when you travel together as a couple? Here are the top 6 reasons you should travel together with your significant other, according to American Express.

When you travel, you see and learn new things, meet new people, taste new foods, and immerse yourself into a brand new experience. It doesn’t matter if you travel to the same destination repeatedly or consistently knock off destinations from, your list. Among non-married couples 79% say that sharing new experiences is an important reason to travel together. Finding shared ground is key when learning about one another, especially early on in a relationship. Traveling together as a couple and in turn creating shared ground to relate to one another on, can even further relationship bonds. It can provide you with inside jokes and memories only the two of you will share, all the while you will be learning about one another’s tastes, interests, and habits.

Couples who travel together report that they are over 10% more likely to communicate well with their partners than those who do not travel together. Traveling together provides you with opportunities to talk to one another, whether it be on a flight, taxi ride, at dinner, or in your hotel room. The amount of uninterrupted time that you’ll have while on a vacation tends to be far greater than during your typical business week, especially if you truly try to “disconnect” from the digital world during your trip. More than seven in ten couples who travel together agree that talking and reconnecting is an important reason to vacation.

According to the study, couples who travel together are more likely to say that they share similar goals and desires, that they have a good balance of time together and apart; that they have shared hobbies and interests; that they agree on how to spend money; that they laugh and have fun together; that they handle differences well; that their partner is patient; and that they are best friends. 84% of respondents who travel as a couple believe that they spend quality time together, compared to only 70% of respondents who do not. For many relationships, quality time together is key for a meaningful and fulfilling relationship.

A lack of energy and time can have an adverse impact on intimacy. However, a couples getaway, if planned with the intent of relaxation and connecting with one another, can provide an opportune time to reconnect and romance one another. During the study, 58% of married respondents said that being intimate is an important reason to vacation together.

Strong relationships are built on a variety of different components. According to the study, almost two-thirds of couples believe that travel helps couples stay together longer. It seems rather logical when you consider all the benefits of traveling together. You are able to build your relationship on shared experiences, communicate, learn about each other more in depth, as well as connect or reconnect romantically. The study even goes on to note that divorce rates are higher among couples who do not travel together.

Vacation or new car? Survey says, 63% of respondents rate a vacation or weekend getaway as important in sparking romance where only 15% credit a big gift to sparking romance. Chances are, your vacation may even end up being more budget friendly than a brand new car. It’s a win-win.

Do you have any couples trips planned in the near future?
My favorite weekend getaways here in so cal are:

Santa Barbara,
Palm Springs, 

ciao! fabiana

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 taste .com)

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

Thank you to Oriental Trading for sending me these products to review.
The opinions expressed in this post are truly my own.

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
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