Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Avia Hotel

Last week I checked into the Avia Hotel in Long Beach, California, a new addition to the City as it is only one year old.  I absolutely fell in love with the modern design of this boutique hotel. If you are looking for a simple, yet stylish boutique hotel then the Avia is the perfect alternative to the corporate hotels in the City's downtown.  With respect to amenities, the hotel is simple: no valet parking, no room service and no luggage assistance. I am assuming that they can keep their room rates competitive by not providing these services.

There is a beautiful restaurant and bar on-site.  The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner and there are literally dozens of restaurant choices within a 5 minute walk of the hotel.  You won't go hungry here!  The roof-top pool is an amazing feature of the eight story hotel available only to hotel guests (key card access) or non-guests for a fee.  It boasts amazing views of the Long Beach Harbor including the Queen Mary.  Another plus is that it is conveniently located to the convention center if that's the reason you are in town. 

As much as I loved my stay at the Avia, and as much as it pains me to put this in writing, there was one downside to my stay and it has to do with providing a consistent level of quality service.  Several staff were outstanding and went above and beyond while others provided me with wrong or inadequate information that left me feeling a little frustrated.  But overall, I had a wonderful stay in a comfortable suite and would not hesitate to stay here again.

All photos are original by Mrs. B

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dreaming....a stone cabin and hot apple cider

I grew up thinking of snow as a luxury you visit. -John Landis

I fell in love with this cozy stone cabin in the mountains. Doesn't it look like a story book vacation retreat? The only thing I would change is the color of the door. I would paint it red.....
This picture automatically made me think of drinking hot cider in front of the roaring stone fireplace while snuggled under a nice warm blanket. Ahhhh.....

Hot Apple Cider

Ingredients (serves 6)
6 cups apple cider
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips
1 lemon peel, cut into strips

1.  Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.

2.  Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Or better yet, use a cheesecloth bag.  Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.

3.  Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.

4.  Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving, if desired.
Recipe from here - check out the reviews for this recipe and variations.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kitchen Design

Mr. B and I are in the process of redesigning our home. It is a slow process and we'll be taking one room at time. I haven't thought much about the kitchen until recently. And the one thing Mr. B and I have agreed on loving is a white kitchen. A contrast from what we have now: black cabinetry.  Black cabinetry is so in vogue now but we need a change. To mix it up, if you will.  Plus white looks so clean, sophisticated and timeless. I envision white cabinetry, dark grey paint, white marble countertops and a white marble backsplash in a herringbone pattern.  I was giddy with joy when I saw Cabinet Designer Christopher Peacock's own kitchen. His reality is my dream!

The kitchen below is another one of my favorites by Connecticut Interior Designer Lee Ann Thornton. I have been an admirer of her designs for a long time and I love her attention to detail.  Lee Ann use to live in Los Angeles where she designed children's rooms before moving back East where she opened her design firm in 2003.  I sure wish she was still in Los Angeles because I would love to collaborate with her on a new kitchen!

Photographs by John Bessler for Traditional Home Magazine and Lee Ann Thornton

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's My Birthday!

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. - Lucille Ball

Happy Birthday, to Me!

It has been a hectic week month and besides a wonderful dinner planned for tonight, I have the whole day free.  Sometimes the best things are spur of the moment.  Let's see what the day holds for me! Hmm...what shall I do today.......

Just a reminder...if you have not signed up for my giveaway, see this post. A winner will be announced tomorrow.
Very top photo via Pretty Stuff
Left photo source unknow; Top right photo via Jen Gotch; Bottom right photo via Katrina Shafer