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Thursday, August 1, 2019

my mother...




My mother died last Friday.  
She was 91 years old,  three months shy of 92.  This is one of my favorite recent photos of her taken last Christmas at my cousin Kim's house.  My sister and nephew had planned a trip to visit her last week.  My mother was excited to have them take her shopping and take her to Ulta so she could buy some makeup and nail polish!  Instead they arrived for her final hours. She was sharp as a tack and lucid until the last week when her health failed her.  She died peacefully listening to a tape of her late second husband, Tim (her high school sweetheart whom she reconnected with at a reunion after my father's death twenty four years ago), singing songs and playing the ukulele expressly to her. My mother was born and raised in Hawaii, and Tim grew up there.  You might remember a blog post I did on my mother being a child in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor happened (here)  Per her request, her ashes and Tim's ashes will be spread together in their beloved Hawaii.
I attribute, as I told my mother many times, my design aesthetic to her.  My childhood home, albeit modest, didn't look like my friend's homes.  I didn't know, nor think much about the "why" until I was in my twenties, but it was different because it was decorated with antiques (she had many antique Chinese porcelain pieces which she learned to love and value from her own mother) and collections and things that meant something special to her.  It just had a certain je ne sais quoi that my friend's homes didn't have with everything being brand-new inside of them.                                                                                                                                                                    
I learned about the love of houses from my mother, because she loved hers.
My mother taught me that you didn't have to have money to have a pretty house.  Since my sisters are eleven and twelve years older than me I basically had my mother to myself growing up in the 60's.  Several times a week we would walk to a decorative shop called Gizmo's in San Antonio.  At 5 and 6 years old I learned the power of interiors and have magical memories of the big spiral staircase and indoor fountain at Gizmo's and all the beautiful "do-dads" (as I grew up calling decorative items) and how happy my mother was shopping for her home.  She taught me how to collect.  She collected Blue Danube, which was a gift to her children and my father as we always knew what to get her for birthdays and Christmas.   She taught me patience in design, that a home is an ongoing project.  I remember as a child her putting two porcelain ducks on layaway at Ethan Allen, and how it felt every month when we went to make a payment.  I always felt very fancy walking through the store and imagining living there  I realized at an early age how I felt different just being in a beautifully designed space.  One weekend in college I came home to find that she had had a contractor take part of the living room to create a huge walk-in pantry off of the kitchen. If you ask any of her grandchildren what their favorite place in their grandparent's house was- they would all state the Pantry!  I learned from her example that you kept your home pretty, neat and clean.  She loved vacuums.  I love vacuums!  One Christmas when I was in college she gave me my first vacuum- I was over the moon!  I came back to school to all my sorority sisters talking about the clothes and purses and jewelry they got for Christmas and I was going on and on about my vacuum!!  They thought I was nuts-  ha!  My mother taught me by example early on that you kept kleenexes  and other utilitarian things in drawers not out on the counter.  That you fold the towel after you use it in the bathroom.  That you set the table for every meal and you use cloth napkins.  That you use her bamboo flatware that she had brought with her from Hawaii every summer.   That you ALWAYS light the wick of a new candle even just for a second to give it a used look.  An unlit wick on a candle is a huge pet peeve of mine to this day:)  She gave me my love of fishing floats!  She had found several at the beach in Hawaii growing up.  She loved to paint and my love of landscape oil paintings comes from her no doubt.  She taught me how to garden and my love of being outside and tending to the yard and garden. She always had a beautiful yard.  She taught me to always.... always write thank you notes.  
So, I write this post as a thank you note to my mother.  Thank you Mama for teaching me the importance and love of home.
Miss you Mama...
                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Friday, July 12, 2019

Jalapeño Crab Dip and the "farmhouse" margaritas!



When I posted this photo of a margarita happy hour we had last weekend over on Instagram I had lots of requests for the Jalapeño Crab Dip recipe that is seen in front of the basket of chips (fyi- the recipe made two poreclain baking dishes, only one is shown.)  I've been making this dip for over ten years and it is always a crowd pleaser!  If you try it be sure to come back and tell me what you think!
And "yes," you're all invited next time!😉😆





Jalapeño Crab Dip 

1 med-large or large red bell pepper, diced
1-1/2 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 (14-oz. approx.) jar/can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1 cup Mayo
1-1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (I either grate my own in the food processor or buy it aged and grated from Costco)
3/4 cup green onions- thinly sliced, using both the white and green parts
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 or 2-1/2 T. minced jarred jalapeño (not fresh, this makes a big difference)
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. celery salt
8 oz. fresh lump crab meat, drained
kosher salt
pepper

Saute bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until softened and lightly brown.  Cool slightly, then place in mixing bowl.
Add remaining ingredients except for crab meat and mix well to combine.  
Fold in crab meat.
Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Spread mixture in an 8" baking dish (or similar equivalent.) 
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes (depending on your oven) until lightly golden on the entire top.
Let the dip cool to barely warm before servivng (about 15-25 minutes) to let all the flavors meld.

It is wonderful on crostini, but my favorite way to serve it is with tortilla chips!  The flavor combo is perfect.  Oh, and cold leftovers are amazing! 



And, since it was a margarita happy hour I will include how I make my margaritas!  These are my favorite margarita glasses (and favorite glasses period, which is saying a lot because I have a "thing" for glassware:) HERE.

I make a sugar, kosher salt and cayenne rim.  I do this in advance so the mixture sets up and hardens on the rims.  Sorry... no exact measurements, just to taste and sight.  Go lightly on the cayenne as you just want a hint of heat!

I use a 1-1/2-1 formula.
1 part Tequila (we love Costco's Silver, and also their Anejo if you can find it
1/2 part Grand Marnier or Cointreau (Dan & I are Cointreau fans;)
and a squeeze of 1/8 of a small lemon AND lime, 
with lots of ice!  I like to add a straw- the perfect straw to me is a McDonald's coffee stir!  I wash and reuse mine, but open a new one for guests!
Cheers!


(Please reuse your personal straws.  When we are at a restaurant and ask for water we always say "no lemon, no ice, no straw, please" (your sever usually garnishes the glass and they are not washing their hands every time they pick up a lemon slice- watch and think about it;), and ice machines... well, enough said;)  and straws because of the following..... Please read...

Q: You say 500 million straws are used in the US every day, but I can't picture that--what would 500 million straws look like?

500 million straws could fill over 127 school buses each day, or more than 46,400 school buses every year!
500 million straws per day is an average of 1.6 straws per person (in the US) per day. Based on this national average, each person in the US will use approximately 38,000 or more straws between the ages of 5 and 65. So the sooner we can begin to use fewer straws, the better - it is never too soon (or too late!) to start!

Also this article from National Geographic


Hope you are having a great summer!
xxojoan