As promised, here are more ideas for your upcoming (small…) summer gatherings, especially for bridging the time from guest arrival to food coming sizzling hot off the grill!
Nothing is better to keep guests entertained than delicious snacks – these days served as “portion packages…” – but just as yummy. A fresh dip goes with so many things – from celery and carrot sticks to pretzel rods, toasted baguette slices to breadsticks.
Get inspired by this relaxed approach to mixing a fresh dip!
First: select your base, be it a creamy (full-fat) yoghurt, creme fraiche, or sour cream.
Next: stir in fresh chopped herbs, and let your own preference guide you. The sky is the limit: chives, parsley, cilantro, sage… whatever you have on hand, BUT fresh!
Then: season to taste! Salt, pepper, cayenne are a must. Balance the taste with acidity with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Finish: by adding an eye-catching garnish on top – crunchy nuts, for example, also add texture.
Now that you’ve gotten the hang of it – what about a dessert dip of your own creation?!
The gummy bear we all love originated in my native Germany as “Gummibär” (gum or gummy bear), or – much more popular in the endearing form – as “Gummibärchen” ([little] gum or gummy bear). As Gum arabic was the original base ingredient used in the gummy bear recipe, the little guys are still carrying the term gum or gummy in their name. The company that invented the original gummy bear was founded by confectioner Hans Riegel in Bonn (and called Haribo) in 1920. Riegel wanted to offer a “children’s article,” and two years into his new company, in 1922, inspired by the trained bears at street festivities and county fairs in Europe through to the 19th century, he invented the Dancing Bear (Tanzbär), a small, inexpensive, fruit-flavored gum candy treat for children (and adults alike), which was much larger in form than its later successor, the Gold-Bear (Goldbär) which we are enjoying today. Even during the horrific economic crisis in Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s, Haribo’s fruit-gum Dancing Bear treats remained affordably priced for a mere 1 Pfennig, (roughly – half a US penny!) in pairs, at kiosks. In 1967, the smaller version of the Dancing Bear was invented – the gummy bear we can buy today as “Haribo Goldbär.” It is certainly one of the most successful (and beloved…) candy products EVER!
With the success of the gummi bears, many similar products have followed – gummy candies that look like animals and other objects: rings, worms, frogs, snakes, hamburgers, cherries, sharks, penguins, hippos, lobsters, octopuses, apples, peaches, oranges… So, what’s YOUR favorite?
Today I would like to “tip my hat” to a longtime collaborator who has become very dear to me over the years, cellist Suellen Primost, leader of the Espiritu Ensembles.
Suellen is not only a talented musician, through and through and an expert in non-Western music with an extensive repertoire – I admire her as much for who she is as a person. Always in harmony and at peace with herself, she creates an atmosphere of quiet joy for all around her, and that is truly a rare gift. When she fell seriously ill, she accepted it with her usual grace and composure – and then, by a sheer miracle, she recovered, and lately she has even gotten back to playing her beloved cello. I have learned a lot from her, and now I would like to share with you all a sample of her music. Enjoy!
As promised, here come more ideas for a leisurely Father’s Day meal (or Fourth of July brunch, or BBQ, or or or…) – super easy to make and great to prepare beforehand!
No-bake personal cheesecakes
Need: muffin tin with 8oz cups – lined with plastic wrap.
Finely grind 13 Graham crackers (7oz) with 3 tbsp sugar in a food processor, mix with ½ stick of melted unsalted butter. Distribute mixture between 6 of the prepared muffin cups, press firmly into bottom and place muffin tray in freezer.
With electric mixer, beat 1 cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks, set aside. Mix 10 oz of softened cream cheese with 6 oz of crème fraiche and 2/3 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar; carefully fold in the whipped heavy cream and distribute among the prepared muffin cups. Freeze until firm (at least 30 min).
When ready to serve, lift cheesecakes out of the muffin cups (using the plastic wrap), set on plates and top with fruit or preserves of your choosing.
A guest post by Tiffany Chiang, founder and owner of Design Her Image, bridal hair and makeup design
I’d love to share with you these easy ways to get gorgeous skin – perfect Beauty Tips for At-Home Skin Care!
Use a Sheet Mask Before Bed Sheet masks are great for skin hydration. I like to layer on a serum before a sheet mask to help double the absorption and for extra moisture. My favorite is the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask, which contains Pitera™: a combination of over 50 micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and natural acids to condition skin. Another great product with 2X Hyaluronic Acid will give you a glowing, dewy appearance – Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask. Try it!
Best time to use Vitamin C Serum Also, apply Vitamin C both in the AM and PM to renew your skin – especially around the eyes. Vitamin C brightens dark under-eye circles while improving the look of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. This is the product for brighter, healthier-looking skin that I recommend: MURAD Vitamin C Glycolic Brightening Serum. Hope everyone is safe and healthy! Looking forward to accentuating your natural beauty!!!
Today I would like to share with you my fascination with vintage scarves – Hermes scarves, to be precise. I know, I know – they are considered a bit conservative these days… but I love them for their beautiful motifs and colors and for the effortless elegance they lend to any outfit. Here I am wearing one of my favorites, a maritime motif in shades of white and blue, with jeans and a shirt:
I have to admit, I have collected a few over many years, and I’d like to give you an idea why (and maybe get you enthusiastic as well!). Each of these scarves is a little piece of art, printed on silk twill in a step-wise process. The most intricate patterns ever made by Hermes show Native American scenes and contain 140 colors which are printed one after the other! Amazingly, the print lines are 100% sharp and crisp. No wonder these scarves are so expensive! I do not own any one of this collection, but I’d like to share a sample:
It’s quite amazing, isn’t it? And from a practical standpoint – look at how these colors work with each other, allowing to wear this scarf with so many outfits – ivory, navy blue and black; natural tones, even red. So versatile! Given that the House of Hermes originated as a saddlemaker, many of their classical motifs are equestrian-themed:
Unsure how to wear such a scarf, how to tie it, how to style it? Here are some examples – get inspired!
And lastly, given that with hair salons closed, we are all having more-than-average bad hair days, it might be time to bring back this timeless style from the fifties and sixties:
All of us pet lovers have always been wishing to spend more time with our “fur babies,” and for many of us this wish has suddenly come true as we are working from home. But – since we are home all day, our cats and dogs expect us to focus on THEM, so that arrangement turns out to be trickier than we had thought. How to keep Fido or Kitty entertained and happy while getting some serious work done? Because if they get bored, they might find “entertainment” themselves – and not necessarily the type we like…
The key is providing mental, physical and emotional stimulation, for example through “enrichment toys” that require a certain mental effort – preferably, in order to get treats!
You can also make your own simple toys, e.g. for tug-of-war (a tennis ball in an old sock, tie a knot – done); a rattle bottle (empty water bottle with a few small rocks or pennies); a little bundle of feathers or a ball of yarn for your kitty.
Also, consider adding a game into your work schedule. Take a few minutes and play hide and seek with your furry friend; you can also incorporate their favorite toy or a treat into the game. And – most importantly, at least for doggie parents: take them out in the yard,
on a walk or to a dog park (with proper distancing, of course).
Dogs have a natural need for running (most of them at least), so allow them that big joy at least once a day. It’s good for you, too; and once puppy is happy and tired, you will get in those necessary hours of work. Win-win!
Call me old-fashioned – but when it comes to the wedding ceremony I always recommend “classics.” And the most beloved ones of them all are – Canon in D (chosen by at least 80% of all my brides for their processional), Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (a favorite for their recessional) and “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles.
Here they are!
The oldest one of them all is Pachelbel’s Canon. Johann Pachelbel was a German Baroque composer and organist who enjoyed tremendous popularity in his lifetime (1653 to 1706). Most of his extensive body of work is nowadays forgotten outside of musicologist circles – some of you may know his Chaconne in F minor and his Toccata in E minor for organ – but the one piece of music that has survived is his Canon in D – it has literally become synonymous with wedding music.
For the recessional, the “classic” choice is Felix Mendelssohn’s Bartholdy’s Wedding March (from his incidental music to Shakespeare’s play A Midsummernight’s Dream).
Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. A true prodigy, he performed as a pianist at the age of nine, and he wrote his first symphony at the age of 15!! Mendelssohn’s compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music which are all still part of the standard concert repertoire; but even those without ties to classical music love the Wedding March! Here it is, played by the Berlin Philharmonic.
And for those who’d rather go a little more contemporary – but still stick with a timeless classic – for their wedding music, there is the last word on love from The Beatles, here played for us by our own Synchronicity Strings!
The hotel was nearly completed before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Although the structure survived, the interior was heavily damaged by fire, and opening was delayed until 1907. Architect and engineer Julia Morgan was hired to repair the building because of her then innovative use of reinforced concrete, which could produce buildings capable of withstanding earthquakes and other disasters.
In 1945, the Fairmont hosted international statesmen for meetings which culminated in the creation of the United Nations. The United Nations Charter was finalized in the hotel’s Garden Room, and a plaque at the hotel memorializes the event.
The Fairmont has been “the stuff of legends” – especially surrounding its famed Penthouse suite where all presidents visiting San Francisco have stayed.
The suite houses among other “follies” the Moroccan-themed Billiard Room – all walls adorned with artful mosaic.
The 2-story suite also houses a double-height library with a secret passageway to the roof (hidden behind a swiveling bookshelf on the upper level) which used to serve as an emergency escape route for the dignitaries lodging in the suite.
Rumor has it that the passageway was also used to smuggle President John F. Kennedy’s mistress, the actress Marilyn Monroe, in and out unseen when the president was in residence.
The Fairmont has been featured in many films, including The Rock, starring Sean Connery. My longtime friend and colleague, event planner Duncan Reyes, happened to be the Events Director at the Fairmont just then. I asked him what the most memorable event was when the movie was filmed. You will not believe this: for the escape scene (through the hotel kitchen) at the beginning of the movie, the entire hotel had to be shut down for a whole week!! Go watch the movie and enjoy!