Monday, January 31, 2011

Luxury Defined...

What is your definition of Luxury?

This question and a couple of others were presented to me by
Shannon, the Editor of the inspiring blog, The Simply Luxurious Life. She presents such questions to her readers and features their responses in a column in her newsletter.

Celebrating the Haute Route and the Matterhorn
While this may sound like an easy question to respond to, I found it actually took me awhile to come up with my answers. I guess I find the word "luxury" to be a little loaded. I wrote an answer, but then I had to go back and edit {way too} many times, just trying to articulate my most honest and accurate definition. 

When I was finished and sent in my final response {thank you for your patience, Shannon!}. I realized that this was a great subject to ponder at the beginning of the new year. Taking the time to define "luxury" for myself was taking the time to identify the things and situations that I enjoy most in life.  To read my complete definition, visit the thought provoking newsletter, The Simply Luxurious Life.

Following is a story I included to help explain my definition, what a surprise ~ it's focused on food!!

“Elegant food in a rustic setting” is my idea of a luxurious dining situation, one that can please all of the senses.  I always want to have fabulous food, be it refined or casual, but somehow it tastes better to me if it is presented in a rustic or unusual setting or manner. I guess that explains why I have a special affection for high mountain huts. 

This affection inspired me to ski the Haute Route across the Alps last spring, from France to Switzerland, staying at a different hut along the route each night. After a long day of ski touring, my friends and I would convene in the dining room to share the local mountain fare with an international blend of skiers. It was a true luxury for me to be able to glide and climb across this historical route and to thoroughly experience and absorb authentic Alpine culture and cuisine.

On the first night of 2011, I was fortunate enough to experience my favorite dining situation again, a little closer to home. Our local ski area has a rustic gem of a restaurant with wonderful cuisine, perched at 6,872 feet and surrounded by miles and miles of undeveloped forestlands. I have skied to lunch at the Summit House restaurant many times, it’s the highest restaurant in Washington state and offers an astounding view of Mt. Rainier. 

This year, Crystal Mountain built a gondola to bring people (with or without skis) directly to the summit to enjoy the view, lunch, and now, dinner. The “Mt. Rainier Gondola” began  operating on 1/1/11. I loved watching the shiny red cabins float overhead as I skied beneath them that day, and I felt so excited, knowing that I had reservations for dinner that evening. 

Our friends came over for black-eyed peas and champagne before we bundled up, boarded the gondola and were lifted up into the darkness. We watched the small village below disappear,

 sipping champagne and staying warm beneath a classic striped woolen blanket.

 Then, slowly, the twinkly lights of the restaurant above came into view. We disembarked from our cabin, walked up a snowy bank and into the warm and inviting restaurant.

The evening was splendid, and every element, the fire, the fellow culinary adventurers, the food, the service, was all the more exquisite because of the rare opportunity to travel in a gondola, full of friends, on a cold and clear winters night to enjoy a meal together at the highest restaurant in the state.

So, how do you define Luxury? What would you like to experience more of in 2011??

I found it interesting to read fellow readers responses to Shannon's questions in other editions of her newsletter. Like me, most said that what they found to be luxurious wasn't so much expensive "things", but more the almost intangible comforts and joys of life.

Fireworks over Crystal Mountain on New Year's Eve

Thank you Shannon, for featuring me in your newsletter and for always providing me with ideas for living a better life!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

an indoor meadow of spring flowers

forecast: early spring

While bulbs planted outdoors are still enjoying their winter nap, garden shops have greenhouse bulbs that are a little ahead of schedule.  I love bringing these bulbs indoors, en masse, to enjoy the beauty of spring a little earlier than Mother Nature planned.

These common looking pots of hyacinths, daffodils and crocus can be transformed into a lovely meadow of blooms and will last for weeks indoors.

The beauty of bulbs is that they are pretty hearty and self sufficient. They will not complain if you separate them, tear a few roots apart, trim a few more. As long as they have their nutrition source attached (the bulb), the flowers will happily reach for the light, bloom and grow.

I decided to use these rustic wooden trays, the sides are just under 3 inches tall, enough space to hold the bulbs and some soil.  Lining the containers with foil will protect them from the soil and water.

After taking the soil mass from the pot, I separated and reconfigured the bulbs to fit them into the tray attractively.

There should be at least an inch of soil under the roots. I nestled the bulbs atop the soil and gently spread out their roots for stability.

Planting flowers in uneven numbers looks more natural and pleasing to the eye.

While working with the bulbs, I tried to keep the tops as clean as possible by gently dusting or misting them. It's nice to see the clean tops of the larger bulbs above the soil.

Once the bulbs were in place I covered the soil with small clumps of moss, living in the Northwest, this moss is right out my back door. Moss can be bought at floral shops as well -- if you have to use dried moss soak it in water before topping your soil.  Instead of moss you could use stones, shells or twigs to cover the soil, or, just leave it natural.

Since these trays do not have drainage I water them every day or two using a mister or by just putting some ice cubes on the surface.

Each day your bulbs will open a little more,

blooming and growing and filling your home with their heady fragrance.

Indoor gardens do need to be tended from time to time (it's kind of fun)! My daffodils were the first to bloom, when they were finished, I folded them over and tied them down with twine to let the new blooms prevail.

I love my multiple tray display -- it looks like an expansive meadow of blooms in my kitchen. 

Almost any container would work (see more examples below) ...look around your abode, what can you fill with a little bit of Spring??

I hope you'll try this, I think you'll love having a close-up preview of of the sights and smells of Spring indoors.

          Please send images if you do!!

To see how to make some of the indoor bulb gardens we've done in the past, click on the titles below.

Indoor Garden Splendor

Monday, January 24, 2011

honey tangerine juice

A dream of a Tangerine

Honey Tangerines or "Murcott Oranges"
I adore the beautiful, shiny Honey Tangerines or Murcott Oranges that come onto the market each January and stay for a few months. They are lovely on display and full of juice. In fact, with their thin skins and high seed count I find they are way too much work to eat, I only buy them for juicing. 

As with any fruits, it's always best to buy the heavier feeling tangerines for more juice.

honey tangerine sliced
The juice has that unique tangerine-y tang to it, with a mellow honey finish. 

honey tangerine juice
The juice is so refreshing in a glass straight up, but feel free to pass the champagne ~ it makes a marvelous mimosa!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thank you, Black Zebra!

How nice to receive this stunning Stylish Blogger award from the author of a blog I so enjoy called Black Zebra.

I think I first learned of Black Zebra from Pam, a friend who has the wonderful blog and store in my neighborhood called  Red Ticking. When I visited Black Zebra, it was love at first sight! The author is a photo stylist and aspiring designer, living in London. She posts a spare amount of images, but each one speaks volumes. I love the things that catch her eye - most have an exotic edge and striking color combinations.

Black Zebra image
This honor comes with some pleasant obligations, which I shall thoroughly enjoy fulfilling!

Here are the rules for the Stylish Blogger award winners...
after receiving this award, please pay it forward and follow the rules;
thank and link back to the person who awarded you {check};
share 7 things about yourself;
award 10 great bloggers that you have RECENTLY discovered:
contact those bloggers and tell them about the award.

seven things about me..

As a child, my favorite television show was Julia Child's, I thought she was magical
When I can't sleep at night, I listen to the BBC on my Zune.
My mother's coffee frappé recipe was the inspiration for Starbucks Frappuccino.
I love inclement weather (snow, rain, even gray skies)!
My favorite natural scents are figs (the fruit and the leaves), tomato vines, citrus blossoms and the smell of a wood fire when the air is cold and crisp.
I love Lemonheads and Hot Tamale candies.
I started Splendid Market after I tore my MCL on a toboggan ride on New Years Eve, I couldn't ski or play tennis for 6 weeks! My goal was to become more technologically literate. Along the way, Splendid Market has become a greatly rewarding creative outlet for me. The readers and fellow bloggers from around the world that I have "met" along the way are one of the greatest parts of this endeavor.

Thank you all so much for your support and interest!

And now for the award winners..
{maybe I've watched too many award shows!?!}

I'm not sure where this award originated, but I hope it's okay if I came up with my own interpretation of "stylish" blogs. I decided to choose blogs where it is clear the writer has their own style and talents and they are confident demonstrating and expressing their personal style and point-of-view.

I'm very thoughtful about who I choose to include in my blog roll, I try to choose blogs that I think will bring the highest level of inspiration and enjoyment to my Splendid Readers. As much as I would have loved to have passed the award on to many of the very qualified blogs already on my roll {more splendid inspiration}, I chose to follow the rules. In the end, I found this to be a terrific impetus for me to look more closely at some of the blogs I have been casually following and to update the blog roll with some incredible additional talent.

I am off to visit each of them to let them know "I like their style". I've added each blog to my blog roll so you can easily visit them with just a click. When you do, please tell them "hello" from Splendid Market.

Now, without further ado {can you hear the drum roll??} here are the next winners of The Stylish Blogger Award...

The Perfect Grey
The Hampton Hostess
Not Without Salt
India Hicks Blog
Dwellers without Decorators
Interior Design Musings
Bourbon and Pearls
Lindaraxa's Garden
Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris

Here's to you, please keep the great posts coming..

and Congratulations!!

xo ebh

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Feu de Bois

The Scent of a Wood Fire

A great interior design/ life style blog that is always full of interesting ideas and images is Habitually Chic.   Reading through the other day I saw a post on the authors favorite things listed in Lonny magazine.   I loved seeing the photo my favorite summertime candle, Baies from Diptyque.  The fresh, seaside fragrance of this candle wafting through the market in the summer is hard to beat.

In the winter, my favorite candle is also by Diptiyque, It is called Feu de Bois (firewood).  The fragrance reminds me of the smell of the air on my trip to The Home Ranch in Clark, Colorado.   The fragrance is woody, slightly smoky and fresh and sweet.

Diptyque Feu de Bois candle and spray

These candles can be bought from Gorsuch.  If you are not familiar with this company, click on the name and take a visit.  These stores and catalogue are the epitome of Chalet Chic

Oh, how I love to visit their Colorado based stores.   Beyond the fashions featured in the catalogue, they offer amazing home furnishings.   It's probably for the best that I usually have to settle for the catalogue and the candle.   Whenever I find myself alone in one of their lovely rooms, decorated with the perfect balance of rustic and refined furnishing, and those gorgeous linens, I really get the urge to very quietly, very secretly, just move in...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Home Ranch, Clark, Co.

Pete's Hut
Greetings from the Home Ranch,

where firewood is abundant,

and the only thing more abundant is snow!

There is so much downy snow, that on our cross country tour we were able to cross many a high barbed wire fence with a single glide.

 Destination: Pete's hut (can you see it up on the hill?)

We arrived at this perfect (recently rebuilt) little hut and found it to be splendidly outfitted with chairs, a table, books, cards and, of course, plenty of firewood to build a fire in the stove.


By the time we got there, everyone was ready to dive into the sack lunches from the ranch,

featuring hearty sandwiches on homemade bread.

Back at the ranch, these crispy shortbread cut-outs filled with tangy lemon curd welcomed us "home"again (their pastry chef is AMAZING!!).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

French Onion Soup Recipe

Enjoy an après-ski classic
(skiing optional)

There is nothing like a warm bowl of soup when it is cold out, and French Onion soup is especially satisfying. I just love the broth soaked crusty toast floating on the top with that layer of melted Gruyere -- it's just divine!

I've been sampling a few French Onion soups this season and came to the conclusion that my previous recipe could be a little more...splendid. So, I've revamped the recipe and I must say,  this bowl is much richer and more flavorful than our previous recipe. I hope you have a chance to enjoy it!

The soup takes about an hour to cook, and can be refrigerated for up to 3 days until ready to serve (this soup can easily be transported to your mountain hut).

If a trip to the mountains is not in the plans, skip the skiing and just enjoy the après-ski in your lower elevlation-location. Light a fire and plenty of candles, chill some chablis and have a group over for a cozy, casual dinner.

For an easy salad to offer with the soup try baby arugula leaves or mache, lightly drizzled with walnut oil and sprinkled with a coarse sea salt.

French Onion Soup
yield: 8  

6 tablespoons butter
8 cups coarsely sliced onions
2 tablespoons flour
10 cups beef broth 
3 tablespoons Cognac or Brandy
1 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
1 baguette
1 - 10 oz. chunk of Gruyere cheese
sea salt to taste
1/2 loaf day old, good quality bread, a baguette or cibatta bread works well.

In a large saucepan, over medium high heat, melt the butter, then add the sliced onions. Sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Allow the onions to caramelize at a leisurely pace in their butter bath (about 30 minutes), stirring and tossing them about every 5 minutes until soft and golden to deep brown. 

Deglaze the pan with the red wine. To deglaze: push the onions to one side of the pan, and pour in the cup of wine. Using a wooden spoon, or rubber spatula, stir the wine and scrape up any baked on bits of onion attached to the pan.

Sprinkle the flour onto the onions and lightly toss the onions until the flour absorbs the pan liquids and browns along with the onions (3-5 minutes). Add a little more butter if necessary during the cooking process.

Add the broth, Cognac, and bay leaves and allow the soup to simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves. At this stage the soup can be served or refrigerated for up to 3 days until ready to use.

When it's splendid soup time:

Reheat the soup, if necessary.

Check the racks in the stove and adjust them to accommodate a tray of soup bowls, the top of the bowls should be about 6-8 inches from broiler, turn the oven on to broil.

While the soup is heating slice the bread and cheese.

Ladle soup into oven proof bowls (these lion head bowls are available in "Splendid Items").

Top each bowl of soup with slices of bread.

Top the bread with slices of cheese.

Put the soup bowls on a baking tray and slide it into the oven. In 5-10 minutes the cheese should be bubbly, golden and beginning to brown in some spots. Be sure to check the soups often to prevent burning...I usually set a timer as a reminder.

From the oven, bubbly hot vessels will emerge with a delicious, comforting combination of flavors and textures!

Don't mind the marks of the broth that bubbled over the lip, it's a part of the rustic charm of this soup.

Pass the salad and the chilled Chablis and put another log on the fire.

Bon Appetite!
French Onion Soup ~ more splendid