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Monthly Archives: June 2011

COOKING IN CABO | travel + food

Written on June 30, 2011 at 6:10 am, by

Cabo San Lucas, Travel, Las Ventanas, Home Decor, Mexico, recipes cecyj

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary by spending five glorious days in Los Cabos, Mexico at the Las Ventanas al Paraiso resort.  For our last day in paradise, my husband booked the Saturday morning cooking class conducted by the resort’s executive chef, Fabrice Guisset.

We stumbled out of our room and walked the short 2-mintue walk to the open-air demonstration kitchen located in the property’s beautiful and fragrant herb garden where we were greeted by a very pleasant sous chef who offered us chilled champagne (my kind of cooking class).

Chef Fabrice Guisset, who as the name would suggest, is originally from Avignon France but has spent over a decade in Mexico absorbing the culture and becoming one of the most celebrated chefs in the country.  He found his way to Las Ventanas in January of 2007.  Chef Guisset was charming and witty.  He engaged us as sun kissed travelers, cooking students, and food lovers in a way that was disarming and which created a wonderful energy.  The whole experience confirmed my long held belief that stepping just a bit out of your normal “vacation routine” always makes for the very best memories.

As I watched Chef Guisset walk around the garden smelling and picking the peppers and herbs for the dishes he was making with us, I was reminded that the most important part of cooking is to keep it simple… use whatever fresh ingredients you have right in front of you.

Needless to say, everything was absolutely delicious.  Last week, the husband and I whipped out our notes from our cooking class, cracked open a couple of cervezas, and did our best to reconstruct the memories and fantastic meal we had with Chef Guisset.  Bon Appetit!


Yucatan Sea Bass Ceviche

Fresh Guacamole

Chipotle Chicken Soft Tacos

recipes cecyj


Yucatan Sea Bass Ceviche (Serves 4)


1.25 lb fresh sea bass fillet

1/4 red onion

2 ripe roma tomatoes

1 cucumber

6 oz fresh squeezed lime juice

1 habanero chili

1 bunch of cilantro

1 oz virgin olive Oil

salt to taste



1. Cut sea bass into small cubes (half inch square) and marinate in the fresh squeezed lime juice for 45 minutes to 1 hour

2. Chop the cilantro and set aside

3. Dice the habanero chili and set aside (be careful, these little guys are very hot so you may want to start with just half.  Also, Chef Guisset recommended wearing gloves when handling the habanero)

4. Dice all remaining vegetables the same size

5. Take the sea bass out from the lime juice and drain off liquid using a colander

6. Mix all ingredients (fish, veggies, habanero and cilantro) in large mixing bowl

7. Drizzle olive oil over the top

8. Season with salt to taste

9. Serve in a desert dish with thick and crispy tortilla chips on the side


Fresh Guacamole (serves 4)


2 avocados

1 medium sized white onion

1 ripe tomato

1 bunch of cilantro

2 chile serranos

1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

salt to taste


1. Cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds

2. Slice into big cubes (bite sized)

3. Chop the onion, tomato chili and cilantro

4. Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and the lime juice

5. Serve with thick and crispy tortilla chips


It seems simple, right?  Other than using all fresh ingredients, especially avocados, here’s the trick… do not over work the avocado.  According to Chef Guisset, the secret to his guacamole is the combination of whole pieces of avocado plus slightly mashed avocado and other fresh ingredients.  Every bite should have a slightly different taste and texture.  Basically, the avocado is the star of the show and everything else is there to add layers of freshness and flavor.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Chipotle Chicken Tacos (Serves 4)


2 large chicken breasts

2 large yellow onions

2 chorizo links

1 chipotle pepper

2 oz adobo sauce

1 can refried black beans

8 small corn tortillas

1 head romaine lettuce

olive oil

sour cream

salt and pepper to taste



1. Clean and cook chicken breasts.  I like to use the slow cooker with cumin, salt, pepper and some Corona beer for at least 4 hours.  Shred and set aside

2. After chicken is done, slice onions into fajita style strips and cook in Olive Oil over medium heat in a large skillet until translucent and tender

3. While the onions cook, remove the meat from the chorizo sausage casings and cook thoroughly in small skillet

4. Add shredded (pulled) chicken and chorizo to the onions in the large skillet

5. Chop up the chipotle pepper and add to the skillet

6. Stir in Adobo sauce until all ingredients are mixed thoroughly together

7. Add salt and pepper to taste

8. Shred romaine lettuce to use as a garnish

9. Heat black beans in a small pot

10. Serve chicken mixture on warm small corn tortillas with a thin layer of the black beans on the bottom.  Top with some shredded lettuce and a dollop of sour cream plus a side of fresh guacamole.

{lime photo sourced from Wikimedia Commons | ceviche photo sourced from Las Ventanas al Paraiso}

Share my love of easy elegance and finds from around the globe that are simply fabulous?  Ready to make your place a space that you adore?  I’d love to help make your house a home.  cecy j is currently accepting new interior projects.  Let’s chat

Life Jacket Lessons | domestic god(ish)

Written on June 29, 2011 at 5:07 am, by

lifejackets, swim lessons, art, summer cecyj

Every parent of young children has an overwhelming fear of the water.  So when I mentioned to my kids’ swim instructor that our 4th of July plans included some serious beach time and that my kids had been venturing further and further into the ocean waves… it made me feel better that he told me to bring their life jackets to our next swim lesson.

Honestly, it never occurred to me that they might need lessons to get the most out of their life jackets.  If you’re like me, you probably assume that if you throw life jackets on your kids, you have nothing to worry about.  But my kids’ instructor informed me that balance in the water while wearing a life jacket is a completely different feeling and it’s important to practice… which makes perfect sense.

If you have swimming lessons planned for the kiddos before you leave for a water vacation, bring the life jackets along to class and ask your instructor to help them get ready for fun on the open water.


Thank you… to the talented Zoe Sheehan, who was kind enough to let us use her beautiful life jacket photograph for this post.  You can check out her work at Zoe Sheehan Saldana.  By the way, how cool would this life jacket photograph look framed and hung to freshen up a lake house or in a little boy’s bathroom for a pop of color?

Also, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is no better swim instruction company than ALL-STAR ACADEMY.

Twitter Tuesday | life + style

Written on June 28, 2011 at 5:32 am, by

Cindy Crawford, Twitter cecyj celebrities

Celebrity Twitter Tuesday gives us a little peek into how our favorite stylish stars make it a splendid life.

Cindy tweeted this photo while on a family lake vacation.  Thank you, Cindy, for indulging us in your life + style while away from the spotlight.


Written on June 27, 2011 at 5:59 am, by

PBS, The Cooking Odyssey, Greek Kitchen, Recipes cecyj

Before racing out the door to start my Saturday adventures I caught the tail-end of a new show on PBS called, The Cooking Odyssey.

The television series showcases the sights, sounds and tastes of Greece with host/Chef Yannis Mameletzis, who previously worked as a pastry chef for Jamie Oliver (“The Naked Chef”).  And, as a side note, Chef Mameletzis is a pretty accomplished academic.  He has a Ph. D. in Molecular epidemiology, a Master’s in Public Health and an undergraduate degree in Biology & Religion.  And he COOKS!

the cooking odyssey cecyj decor

The food he was preparing looked delicious (I’m trying out a recipe this week) but I’m an interior decor girl at heart and it was the kitchen that had me salivating.  After just a few minutes of watching, I was dreaming of having all that counter-space.  This kitchen is entirely green and designer Effie Karambelas did such a great job with placement and flow.  I love where she put the two sinks not to mention the fresh and very cool sink faucets both by Kohler.  Overall, a well organized and beautiful kitchen.the cooking odyssey cecyj kitchen decor

The Cooking Odyssey Team was kind enough to send me some up-close and detailed photos of the kitchen, and floor plan renderings to share with you.  Hope you enjoy!


cooking odyssey cecyj kitchen decor

Share my love of easy elegance and finds from around the globe that are simply fabulous?  Ready to make your place a space that you adore?  I’d love to help make your house a home.  cecy j is currently accepting new interior projects.  Let’s chat

BOY BOOKS | domestic god(ish)

Written on June 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm, by

boy books kids cecyj domestic god(ish)

So if you’re a parent of little BOYS today, you’ve already noticed there is a serious shortage of books geared toward 2-5+ year old boys.  Publishers have the girls pretty well covered with Fancy Nancy, Olivia the Pig, Purplicious, Pinkalicious, Goldilicious… you get the idea.

Since my boys were the ripe old age of 1 my husband and I have read them books almost every single night.  Bath, P.J.’s, brush teeth… BOOKS, lots and lots of books.  I feel very fortunate that my boys are so engaged and truly love reading.

Given that we feel pretty dialed-in, I thought I would share our top ten “boy” approved books that are in constant rotation.

These 10 books (in no particular order) are some of our favorites.  Some have beautiful lessons about friendship, getting old, manners and the scary things in life like going to the doctor.  Some are just plain hilarious.  Not all of the stories are necessarily politically correct, but you won’t be bored. Nor will your boys (or GIRLS) for that matter!

1. What Do You Do, Dear? written: Sesyle Joslin illustrated: Maurice Sendak

2. Enemy Pie written: Derek Munson illustrated: Tara Calahan King

3. Froggy goes to the Doctor written: Johnathan London illustrated: Frank Remkiewicz

4. I Stink! written: Kate Mcmullan illustrated: Jim Mcmullan

5. City Dog Country Frog written: Mo Willems illustrated: Jon J Muth

6. Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel written & illustrated: Virginia Lee Burton

7. Busiest Firefighters Ever! written & illustrated: Richard Scarry

8. Toy Boat written: Randall de Sève illustrated: Loren Long

9. Otis written & illustrated: Loren Long

10. The Wonky Donkey written: Craig Smith illustrated: Katz Cowley


Written on June 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm, by

bullying parenting advice toddlers

All things considered, I think I’m an incredibly patient parent.  I don’t scream, yell or lose my cool at my 3 or 1 year old ever and I feel like I do a good job giving them learning opportunities all day long.  But at bedtime I start to lose my… you-know-what.  Obviously my 1 year old is a bit helpless since he is in the crib, but my 3-year-old daughter will literally wander out of her bedroom 5 times for 5 different reasons before I can get her to actually fall asleep.  I need my time at the end of the day too.  Do you have a strategy for making bedtime a little less complicated?

Gina B.,  Boulder, CO.

Dear Gina,

Keeping your cool all day long with a baby and a toddler is an all-encompassing job.  By the time it is your children’s bedtime, guess what, you are tired too! Your three-old is behaving quite normally.  She wants to be with you.  She does not want to miss out on anything.  I am assuming that you put the baby down to sleep earlier than your toddler.  If not, that is a good place to begin because establishing a routine is extremely important.  After the baby is in his crib, plan to enjoy at least a half hour with your daughter before her bedtime.  You might allow her to hang out in the living room for 15 minutes with you and your husband talking, fitting puzzle pieces, or watching a recorded program.  What is valuable is that you are together and you are focused on her.  Then, read books with her for at least another 15 minutes.

Children need to know what to expect so talk to her about the new bedtime routine.  Set aside time during the day to plan the “before bedtime” for that evening, perhaps even selecting the books and deciding on a program to watch.  Nothing works right away with children but a “before bedtime” routine for the “big girl” in the evening should help.  She’ll probably still get up and want continuing contact with you, but slowly the five times getting up will narrow to three and then even to one and none so you can have a little of “your” time as well.


Written on June 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm, by


beverly hills cecyj travel

Trying to figure out where to stay on your next trip to L.A?  I normally like to be right on the beach when I’m in Southern Cal, but I recently stayed at  Mr. C, a brand new boutique hotel, for a lovely little weekend getaway in Beverly Hills.

I sat poolside for happy hour and got in enough people watching to last a lifetime.  Not to mention they had Burrata cheese on the menu (my absolute fav) and served GIANT glasses of wine!

There were still some “new hotel” kinks, but the staff was so great it more than made up for it.  Considering they just opened this month, the little things were no big deal.

Mr. C is a total no brainer for a swanky little getaway.

Share my love of easy elegance and finds from around the globe that are simply fabulous?  Ready to make your place a space that you adore?  I’d love to help make your house a home.  cecy j is currently accepting new interior projects.  Let’s chat


RUE Magazine | life + style

Written on June 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm, by


life+style cecyj rue magazine

Are you loving Rue Magazine yet?   Check out this beautiful virtual magazine on your ipad tonight.   The content is so fresh and chic you will not be disappointed.

Twitter Tuesday… coming next week

Written on June 21, 2011 at 5:54 am, by


twitter tuesday celebrities life+style cecyj

Celebrity Twitter Tuesday.


Written on June 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm, by

You feeling me on these doors?  Fun, right?  Each of these distinctly different doors have such a wonderful story to tell.  Proving that the personality of your home should begin with the threshold. I decided to “name” these doors after celebrities that I personally think should live behind them (they don’t, and I have no idea who does, but it was still fun).
brad pitt celebrity front door cecyj

The Brad Pitt Door


penelope cruz celebrity decor cecyj

The Penelope Cruz Door

decor drew barrymore celebrity door cecyj

The Drew Barrymore Door

martin scorsese door decor cecyj

The Martin Scorsese Door

jack black celebrity cecyj

The Jack Black Door

decor cecyj julia roberts

The Julia Roberts Door

Who do you think should live behind these doors????

Share my love of easy elegance and finds from around the globe that are simply fabulous?  Ready to make your place a space that you adore?  I’d love to help make your house a home.  cecy j is currently accepting new interior projects.  Let’s chat