Food & Wine

Beer ‘Ritas Recipe

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When you’re throwing a Cinco de Mayo party and don’t have time to test and sample margarita recipes for the best one, you ask a few of your most “in the know” friends for a recommendation. And when you’re friend’s eyes light up and they say – ask Nancy Jane – she has an amazing recipe for Beer ‘Ritas – you do it. NJ did not disappoint. I cannot even believe how delicious these were. You’ve absolutely got to try them! (Sidenote, Nancy Jane is quite possibly the sweetest realtor in Houston. If you’re looking for a house, she can help you out – with patience, kindness and a bright smile. She’s wonderful!)

Everyone loved these at our party tonight (more fiesta details on the blog tomorrow!) So, without further adieu, here it is.  Enjoy!

RECIPE:

1 mexican beer (just pick your favorite kind)
1 can minute maid limeaid
1 can of good quality tequila (just fill the limeade can) – we used Tierra Fertile, which was recommended by the guy at Spec’s
1 can of Fresca

Mix & serve over ice! Serves probably 8-10 smallish margaritas, perfect for a party.

 

 

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My Rooted Garden

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How beautiful are those greens?! Swiss chard, arugula, dinosaur kale and banana peppers abound in my garden right now and I am so excited to make a salad with them tonight! Curious about how this all started? Read on, dear one.

I first met Nicole Burke of Rooted Garden when I inherited a garden at the home we moved into over this past Summer. Nicole had started the garden and in the lovely, temperate climate that is July in Houston (please note the sarcasm here), I was tasked with learning about what she had done and how to maintain it. Honestly, gardening is one of those things that I have always romanticized (likely because my mom did it when I was a little girl) and wanted to learn more about, but never really had the time. I always sort of figured I’d learn to do it when I got older and my kids were grown. Isn’t that what Southern women do? (Note: There’s a strong possibility that Ouiser cemented this idea in my head. If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, check out the graphic I made below to bring you up to speed and then, for the love of laughter, curl up with Netflix and watch Steel Magnolias ASAP. It is one of my very most oft-quoted movies ever!)

 

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Anyway, back to my darling friend Nicole. She has coached me through six months of gardening now and, while I have not learned nearly enough about gardening yet (which is no reflection on her, but more a result of the fact that my retention for things is severely diminished at this stage in my life) I have learned some valuable takeaways for life…

  • It’s never too late to learn new things, so quit putting off what you really want to do if a lack of knowledge is all that’s holding you back. Grab a book or find a friend who is an expert and learn alongside them.
  • Pruning (cutting back) is required for growth. (Ouch, there’s one I need to reflect on more!)
  • Your garden requires daily (or at least semi-weekly) maintenance. Just like anything important in life, truly investing in something requires being present and taking action. We are far too quick to automate things these days and let them go.
  • Kids love digging in dirt and get a HUGE thrill out of picking fruit and veggies they’ve helped to maintain. (Here’s hoping they start getting that same thrill out of eating them!) Our children today need more time outdoors. That’s a simple fact. Growing a garden together gives you a task at hand to focus on together and heaven knows we need more of that in my family! It’s a bonding experience AND its lots of fun.

In case you’re debating undertaking a garden project, let me encourage you to give it a try. Even if you don’t have a green thumb (I’m positive mine is black!) you can do it. Will you grow prize-winning vegetables? Likely not. But, will you relish the food that you eat that you have grown yourself in your backyard? I’m pretty sure you will! There is something so grounding and inspiring about eating something you’ve planted and cared for and grown and reaped. And, bonus – it’s organic! Well, unless you spray your garden with scary pesticides, in which case – yuk! And, at the very least, you’ll have some lovely landscaping in the process.

So, if you’re in the Houston area, check out Rooted Garden. Nicole can do as much or as little as you like. She can offer a consult on what you should plant and tips on how to care for it or she can take your existing “blah” space and turn it into a gorgeous urban edible landscape and then she can come back and care for it and then deliver the fruits of your (her) labor right to your door for you. If you do want to get out there and garden next to her, you’re sure to learn something and have a lot of fun in the process as well! If you’re not in the Houston area, Nicole offers virtual consults as well, so don’t let that stop you! And if you’re just interested in a dabble, follow her on Instagram. Her feed is lovely!

 

Introducing Our Pritchard Hill Collection

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Our Pritchard Hill Collection was inspired by a Summer trip to the California wine country and our discovery of a lesser-known spot in Napa, Pritchard Hill.  Our collection features Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year, Marsala, where deep brownish-red garnet abounds. Check out a few of the highlights below and then hop on over to the website to see the full collection here.

Interested to learn more about Pritchard Hill? (You definitely should be!) read our blog post about our incredible visit to one of the premier vineyards there. You won’t want to miss those photos!

Pritchard Hill Photo Grid

Upper left: Vineyard soil
Upper right: Marsala Earrings in Garnet
Lower left: Boon Fly Necklace
Lower right: Wine Pour

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Yountville Earrings in Garnet, Champagne Citrine and Labradorite

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Sea Ranch Necklace in Garnet & Citrine

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Petaluma Earrings in Garnet, Citrine and Pyrite

Introducing Our Carneros Collection

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We are launching our latest collection, which was also inspired by a Summer trip to the California Wine Country. For our stay in Napa Valley, we were at the Carneros Inn, which is a serene property with accommodations that are both luxurious and comfortable at the same time. (Just writing about it has me aching to go back!) The muted orange tones and soft grey colors mixed together with stark white was the inspiration for this collection. Feel a bit of the relaxed sophistication of Napa each time you wear a piece. . . See some of our fav items below and then view the collection on our website here.

 

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Upper left: Domaine Carneros 
Upper right: Oceans Eight Bracelet in Moonstone
Lower left: Asheville Tassel Necklace
Lower right: Vineyards

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Oceans Eight Bracelet in Grey, Peach and White Moonstone E7121-PYR_blog

Oakville Earrings in Pyrite

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Yountville Necklace in Labradorite and Carnelian

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Petaluma Earrings in Labradorite, Carnelian and Pyrite N7845-BN&TQ_blog Asheville Tassel Necklace in Bone, Pyrite and Turquoise

Trick or Treat!

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One of the best things about living in our neighborhood is the sense of community here. It is (literally) a small town in the middle of a big city and it has such a unique feel to it. For our family, it reminds us of our wonderful time in San Francisco, a city amazingly good at fostering a sense of community within the various neighborhoods.

One thing that reinforces this neighborhood feel is when our local businesses reach out get involved. One fabulous example of this is Tiny’s No. 5. Every Halloween, Tiny’s hands out their famous chocolate chip cookies (seriously the best I’ve ever had!) to the neighborhood trick or treaters. They are delish and were the best treats we got last night!

It’s so neat to see how the community here gathers together on Halloween. It is reminiscent of the small town America of days gone by. Of course the “fresh out of the oven” chocolate chip cookies don’t hurt either!

 

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The Judgment of Paris

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In 1976, Chateau Montelena shocked the world when their 1973 Chardonnay was rated above all other wines during a grand tasting, which has now come to be known as the “Judgment of Paris.” At a time when French wines reigned supreme, this stunning win helped to put California on the map in the world of wine. In the 2008 movie, Bottle Shock, beautifully tells this true story and is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys wine.

If you get the chance to visit the California Wine Country, a visit to Chateau Montelena is well worth your time. The grounds are absolutely stunning (and if you’re a wine club member, you can use their lovely Jade Lake for picnics!) and the wine is equally fine. Their Chardonnay is, of course, most famous, but all of their offerings are delicious, so don’t miss the rest. If you’re in San Francisco, but not able to make it North to taste, pop into the Westin St. Francis in Union Square, where Chateau Montelena maintains a small tasting room in the city within the hotel.

Inspired by the deep golden-yellow color of a glass of crisp Chardonnay, our Bottle Shock collection features rich golden tones that are both warm and mellow at the same time. Yellow and brown sapphires, rudilated quartz, gorgeous sunstone, sparkling silverite, champagne-colored mystic topaz and natural and white bone are all featured in this collection, which has a hip, but effortlessly chic vibe. Like a cool glass of white wine on a warm Indian Summer day, this collection brings good feelings with it as it illuminates your skin.

In the spirit of small companies with a big dream making a big splash in the world (and in Chateau Montelena’s case, changing the course of history!) take a moment to check out our new collection and learn a little more about what makes Andrea Montgomery Designs different. We are small by design, choosing to craft our pieces out of quality materials right here in Texas.

So, grab a glass of wine, get comfy and click here to peruse our newest collection for Fall (that will transition beautifully into Spring as well!)

Bottle Shock Photos

 

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The Blues of Bodega Bay

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On the Sonoma Coast of California sits the enchanting Bodega Bay where the sandy beaches are met with a beautiful rocky coastline. Tide pools abound, surfers congregate and whales can be spotted migrating through the area. This is the perfect place for a romantic getaway where you can relax on the beaches in the evening, listening to the waves crash, sipping the new wine you discovered during the day in Sonoma.

This collection was inspired by the wide spectrum of blue shades in Bodega Bay. From the coastal skies on a grey, overcast day to the clear blue sky on a bright, sunny day at the beach, luxurious London blue topaz and beautiful Swiss blue topaz abound. Like the Pacific ocean waves, seafoam-colored Peruvian opal splashes up against the shimmering grey of pyrite. Brushed gold vermeil and white freshwater pearls add a sophisticated coolness. Serenity is the overarching theme of this collection and upscale gemstones bring richness and a chic feel to the nature-inspired designs.

I hope that you love it as much as I do!

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My Best Invention EVER

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I’ve been designing jewelry for fifteen years now. I LOVE the thrill of designing something completely new, especially when it is something I can’t wait to wear myself. Often, my designs come from a need in my own wardrobe, which makes them all the more satisfying when I finish hand making them and get to flaunt them!

Recently, however, I invented something completely different. (Let’s just agree to use the term “invent” loosely, so as not to burst my bubble of excitement, okay?) My sweet hubs and I are on our second round of Whole30. (Between you and me, I like to call it my third round because our first go at it, we did 62 days in total – I really feel like that should count as two, but I digress, so…back to my genius.) A key component of a Whole30 is the homemade mayonnaise and I’ve discovered since making it that it is WAY better than any store-bought mayo I’ve ever tasted. In fact, I’m not even sure they should share a name, it is so much better. We use the mayo in burger bowls, mixed with lemon juice and fresh dill on top of salmon, mixed with chicken pieces, slivered almonds and grapes for a quick chicken salad protein fix or mixed with tuna, slivered almonds and chopped apple.  It’s even good as a salad dressing when thinned out with lemon juice and spices of your choice. And, of course, its the base for the dressing (almost like a tzatziki sauce) for my very favorite dish – Deconstructed Gyros. Like I said, its a key ingredient for us.

My favorite recipe for said homemade mayonnaise is from Mel Joulwan on her blog Well Fed (please note this was formerly listed in my other posts as The Clothes Make The Girl, but I think she has changed her blog name because it now redirects to Well Fed.) The only bummer about making homemade mayo for a poor planner like me is that you need to let your eggs and your lemon juice come to room temperature before you can start (hello, waiting an hour) and that you have to pour the oil into the Vitamix VERY, VERY slowly. (Sidenote: I love my Vitamix. We have the professional series one, though the standard model is equally fabulous, and it was definitely an investment, but that little machine has MORE than paid off over the four years we have had it. It is my most often used tool in the kitchen and BY FAR my favorite part about it is its self-cleaning setting. That’s a huge part of the reason that I use it so often. It’s incredible. Okay, back to the amazing mayo you can make in it…)

But the great news for you, my friends, is that I have solved the second of these problems. With a little inventiveness and a splash of creativity, making homemade mayonnaise got WAY easier. I’ve done two rounds of Whole30 with a group of dear friends/amazing women, because it is just so much more fun that way. And all I have to say is that you would think I solved the world peace problem by the reaction my girls gave me on this invention (of course, that may be why we are such dear friends!)

All you need for my invention is. . . a styrofoam or plastic cup and an icepick or needle or the like. That is it!  It helps if your styrofoam cup is a super cute one like mine pictured below. I mean, how funny is that at preschool baseball practice? Anyway…

All you do is remove the center of the top of your Vitamix, poke a TINY hole (and I mean tiny) in the bottom of your disposable cup, set said cup on the top of the Vitamix and pour in the extra light olive oil that you’re supposed to be patiently pouring at a snail’s pace in order to make the perfect fluffy, emulsified homemade mayonnaise. Then, you turn your Vitamix on and voila it does all of the work for you as you sit back and take a short (and well-deserved) rest. I like to store mine in a quart-sized wide mouthed mason jar for easy access and I have lots of those on hand for my to-go salads! Per the recipe, the mayo should be good for about a week past the expiration date on the eggs you use in making it.

Go ahead. Give it a try and tell me if it isn’t just life-changing!

 

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I love the lighter flavor olive oil (this one is from Kroger) since it doesn’t give an olive-y taste to the mayo. (Note that the spices shown in the photo are for the Deconstructed Gyro dressing linked above.)

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Mint, parsley, red pepper and za’tar = yum!

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Here it is, folks! Best. Invention. Ever. (And crazy inexpensive!)

 

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PS. How fun is my styrofoam cup? (And it’s not really vodka.)

Tasting at Ovid

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Living in San Francisco spoils you in many ways. Beautiful views at every glance, incredible food, abundant culture and proximity to fabulous vacation spots abound. One such spot is, of course, the wine country.

When we lived in SF, we could be in Sonoma in 45 minutes and Napa just a smidgen longer and we took advantage of that. . .a lot! When driving up for the day was as common as it was for us, we didn’t have to choose our vineyard visits and tastings very carefully – after all, we knew we could drive up again next weekend!

Now that we are back in Texas (and seriously missing those wine country visits!) we were so thrilled to take a trip back to Napa for a visit. Our friend turned 40 this year and his adorable wife planned the most incredible party for him at their ranch in the wine country. It was an absolute blast! (But I digress…)

Hubs and I decided to head up a few days early (our first trip sans kids – yikes!) and do a little wine tasting – and getting to know one another again. It’s amazing how much talking with one another we got done when we weren’t being interrupted by little voices the whole time! As you know, hubs is a major wine guy, so he planned all of the tastings. He loves research and during his reading, he asked me if there were any places that I wanted to visit. Well, hubs may be the wine guy, but I have a dear friend who is a sommelier (which is not an easily-earned title, let me tell you!)  See? I have connections, too! So, I emailed my friend Amy who recently founded the Bay Area Wine Company who gave me a few “not to be missed” tasting ideas, one of which was Ovid. Hubs was ecstatic, as that was one of the wineries on his list, so a phone call later, we were booked!

Ovid sits on Pritchard Hill and let me tell you, I wasn’t prepared for the fabulousness of this wine tasting experience. The surrounding beauty, the gorgeous facilities, the incredible wines and the lengthy two-on-one chat with our friendly hostess, Janet, a managing partner at the winery, were absolutely unparalleled. We had some great tasting experiences on our trip, but this was probably our very favorite.

Ovid makes only three wines and doesn’t even make each of those every single year. They create as the harvest allows and are committed to only using the best of the best in their wines, which means that some years, a particular wine doesn’t get made. Ovid grows four Bordeaux varietals:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot and farms them all organically. Varying proportions of each are used in their blends. You can read more about their wines on their lovely website here.

If you’re near Napa or planning a trip there soon, I highly recommend giving Ovid a call to see if they can fit you in. There is a waiting list for their wines, but we were able to purchase a few at our tasting on their beautiful property on Pritchard Hill. I’m positive that your palate will thank you!

For now, take a “mini tour” through our photos below. As you can see, they are committed to making each visitor feel special and literally set out the silver and crystal for us. We enjoyed such a nice, long chat with Janet and truly felt like we left as friends, having talked about wine, the changes in the California landscape, raising children and just about everything else in between! Did I mention that they sent us a handwritten thank you note after our visit? Astounding attention to detail, my friends. THAT is what great products are made from!

 

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When you first walk in, you’ll notice that your name is written on the Ovid chalkboard.
They’ve been expecting you and you’re an honored guest!

 

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So much so, that THIS is your lovely place setting.

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No attention to detail has been left to chance

 

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It is like a friend set the table beautifully, just for you.

 

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Sweet details

 

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Delicious bites!

 

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Thoughtful details.

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A lovely living-room-like setting for a tasting!

 

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(PS. I fell in LOVE with this glassware!)

 

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How lovely is THIS piece of furniture?

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Beautiful and meaningful – I wanted to open each one of these!

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A fire pit on the balcony

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Stunning views from the tasting room

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You can see so much of Napa Valley from up here!

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Lovely

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The valley

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Pretty sure I could sit here for hours and never tire of it!

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Ovid Vineyards…a must-visit!

The Carneros Inn

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The moment we pulled in to the Carneros Inn, I felt all of the stress of home melt away. This is our very first trip away from our three small children (yikes and yay at the same time!) and I’ve been a little worried about it. Oh, but the quiet drive up to the wine country with my husband reassured me that we had done the right thing in coming here. And then seeing our accommodations at the Carneros Inn confirmed it once again. This place is a mini-paradise, y’all! I cannot recommend it more highly.

The soft muted orange and grey colors everywhere contrast beautifully with the green and every amenity imaginable is here. There’s a gorgeous gift shop, a fabulous spa area, super comfortable suites with clean design, comfy beds, luxurious bathrobes, gorgeous bathrooms with a huge tub and a waterfall shower and an ADORABLE outdoor patio complete with relaxing loungers and heat lamps. I seriously want to live here. . .

 

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I love the aesthetic of this place!

 

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Gorgeous vistas await at every glance.

 

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Y’all, I even love the font! (Is that weird?!)

 

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How fabulous is the contrast of grey, soft orange and white here? Jewelry design ideas abound!

 

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Adorable vignettes beckon you to sit and rest awhile everywhere you look

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I mean… (right?!)