Friday, April 27, 2012


This weeks episode is one of the prettiest!  I got to pull together the ultimate in Sweet Sixteen parties.  Great party throwing tips and.....have you ever made crepe paper flowers?....well, I show you how!

Saturday mornings on Home Made Simple on the Oprah Winfrey Network - 9am/10ct

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My mom used to always make peach ice cream for the 4th.  It's one of the vivid memories of my childhood.  She made the cream concoction and my brother and I were in charge of churning.  He would sit on top of it and I would crank it with all my strength. 
There are still a few precious jars of last seasons peaches in the country pantry, so I cracked open a jar this past weekend and used this Southern Living Recipe. (Sorry Mom, but your 1970's recipe needed a little upgrade!)
Since my brother lives 3000 miles away, I thought I would use the Cuisinart ice cream maker which was a wedding gift (no rock salt or cranking needed).    All in all, very easy and nothing beats home made ice cream on a hot 4th of July.
Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Amy Burke
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste*
  • 1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped peaches
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1. Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in milk and whipping cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.
  • 2. Whisk egg yolk until slightly thickened. Gradually whisk about 1 cup hot cream mixture into yolk. Add yolk mixture to remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in vanilla bean paste. Cool 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • 3. Meanwhile, cook peaches and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Coarsely mash, and let cool 30 minutes. Stir peach mixture into cooled cream mixture.
  • 4. Place plastic wrap directly on cream mixture, and chill 8 to 24 hours.
  • 5. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat; add pecans, and cook, stirring constantly, 8 to 9 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).
  • 6. Pour chilled cream mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and time may vary.) Before transferring ice cream to an airtight container for further freezing, stir in pecan mixture.
  • *Vanilla extract may be substituted.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alexis Bittar San Francisco Store Opening

Had a fab time co-hosting the opening party for the new San Francisco Alexis Bittar store with Jeanine Payer last night.  Alexis, Jeanine and I have know each other for, geez, 15 years.  The new store is a gorgeous, the jewelry amazing....and the taxidermy...well, it was very well accessorized.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Faux Foam Tombstones

I've gotten a lot of requests since the HGTV Halloween Block Party for step-by-step instructions on the tombstones.  I didn't take many photos of the actual process except with the TV cameras, but here's a verbal blow by blow:

Start with a sheet of the hard pink foam insulation that you can get from any Home Depot or Lowe's. It comes in different thickness.  I used the thickest since it resembles the depth of a real tombstone and will hold up better to years of being stored in the basement.  One sheet will get you around 6 stones, which is pretty good.  Warning, it may not fit in your car, so see if they'll cut it in half for you....or you'll end up like me, in the parking lot sawing it in half with a pair of car keys.

Once you get it home, sketch out your tombstones on the foam with a pen.  Mine were of various sizes, but averaged 18" in width and went from 2' to 5' tall for some variety.  For the shapes of the tops I did everything from square, to curved, a cross, a peaked roof.  You really can't go wrong.  Once you're happy with them, cut them out with a small hand saw, don't worry about neat edges, your going to mess them up later anyway.

If you want any inscriptions on the tombstones, have at it.  Play around with fonts and sayings on the computer, print them out, tape them to the foam and trace them with a pen so it leaves an indentation on the foam.  Remove the paper and then carve out the letters with a Dremel tool or file.  They also look good plain, so don't panic if you get lazy half way through.

Now comes the fun part.  Bring the tombstones outside and wet them down with the garden hose.  The water will mostly run right off.  While still wet, use a hand held blow torch (a good investment at $19.00 - you can use it for creme brulee afterwards) and burn the surface of the foam.  Where the foam is dry it will burn more than where it's wet, giving a nice rough finish.  Be sure to get the sides and corners as well to give it a really worn finish.  Don't worry, you really can't over do it.  Just be careful, it is fire after all.

Now let them dry and coat them with some nice grey paint.  If you're feeling really ambitious you can further antique them once they're dry by running the hose over them again and at the same time spraying them with a can of black spray paint.  The paint will run down the tombstone with the water, getting caught in all the nooks and crannies...pretty cool.

To install them, I hammered some pvc tubing into the ground and used duct tape on the back.  If they're going to be seen from both sides you can drill two holes in the bottom and lower them onto rebar in the ground.

A fun project, only takes a couple of hours and the kids will have a blast (oh, and you too.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blood Fondue Recipe

I came up with this recipe for HGTV's Halloween Block Party.  It's super easy and only takes a few minutes:

12 oz white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbl butter
Red food coloring
Sponge Cake (cut into cubes)

Combine the heavy cream and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  When warm, add the chocolate chips, stirring constantly until smooth.  Add food coloring several drops at a time until fondue becomes blood red.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Arrange strawberries, sponge cake and pretzels in serving dishes with toothpicks or bamboo spears.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On the set this Halloween with HGTV

Airing October 16th, 8:00 pm on House and Garden Television

I was fortunate enough to be asked by House and Garden Television to be one of the designers on this year’s Halloween Block Party.  Three designers, three houses, three families and three days to create spooky Halloween masterpieces.  

I worked with the Donovan Family who were up for anything.  Together we turned their house into the ultimate vampire lair – complete with creepy cemetery and chic Blood Bar.  We create an old “wrought iron” fence out of PVC and aging stone tombstones out of insulation foam. I also share entertaining how-to’s like creating blood stained party invitations, bedazzled pumpkins, filigreed candy cones and blood fondue.

  I don’t want to give away too much, so be sure to watch when it airs Saturday, October 16th at 8:00 pm. 

You can also get the step-by-steps at


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Homemade Peach Jam

On our ranch, Roy Ridge, in the Anderson Valley, we planted a small orchard a few years ago.  It has 38 trees and they’ve just started producing.  However, some forward thinking former owner of the property had previously planted a few fruit trees.  One of these being a peach which produces an amazing bounty of the largest, sweetest peaches I think I’ve ever eaten – and that’s saying a lot coming from someone raised in Georgia.  So, in anticipation of having the bounty of an entire orchard to preserve in the coming years, we took it upon ourselves to spend some time making jam.  All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning as well as having that self-righteous feeling of being the ant instead of the grasshopper. 

Just in case you need it, here’s our step-by-step:

Before starting, get your jars and lids ready.  We had a few hundred mason jars left over from our wedding last year (they served as cocktail glasses) and we had kept all the lids and rims – I’m nothing if not thrifty!  Run the jars through the dishwasher on an extra hot cycle to sterilize them. Once clean, line them up on the counter so they’re ready to go.  Put the flat lids in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.  Keep them in the saucepan until ready to use.  Remember, you can’t reuse the lids for canning – they’re a one time deal.  The rims, however, you can reuse every year.

Next, turn your attention to the peaches.  I blanched the peaches to remove the skin.  Don’t even think of using a paring knife to peel them, it’s waste of time and peach since a good chunk of the fruit goes into the compost with the skin.  Simply get a pot of water to a good boil, drop in a few peaches, pull them out a 30 seconds later and dip them in a bowl of cold water to cool. The skins will just slide right off.  Cut the peaches in half and take out the pit and you’re ready to go. 

Cut the peaches into small pieces.  I like my jam chunky, so I left them about  ½” – ¾” or so.  Mix  4 cups of peaches, 3 cups of sugar, juice from 1 lemon and 1 box of pectin (I use Sure-Jell) into a large stockpot.  That’s less sugar than a lot or recipes call for, but I like to taste the fruit and not the sugar, also, did I tell you how sweet these peaches were! 

Bring to a boil stirring frequently for about 20-25 minutes until the mixture thickens and drips off the spoon in heavy drops. Now ladle this peachy goodness into your sterile jars. Leave around 1/4" at the top. With a pair of tongs, grab a lid, place it on top and screw the rim into place. 

For this project we invested in a canner.  For $19.00 from the local farm supply we got a beautiful black enamel stockpot with a wire canning insert made specifically for holding jars and lowering and raising them out of the boiling water.  Definitely worth it, plus it looks like something my grandmother would have, which I love.  Fill the canner with jars and slide it into the stockpot and boil for 10 minutes.  Remove the canner and carefully move the jars to somewhere to cool.  In a few minutes you’ll hear the re-assuring pop! of the lids as they seal with the cooling of the jam.

Believe it or not, that’s it.  Super easy and works for any fruit.  The next morning (okay, I lied, it was later that day) I made biscuits and we smothered them in jam.  You truly can not get better than that!