A Garden Party


, , , , , ,

Last month Georgia turned one year old, it is hard to believe that she is walking and trying to talk!  Since we have such a great deck for entertaining, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have a garden party.

Pink floral details were added where ever possible.  The rustic floral topped cake was made by my MIL, and the cake topper is actually just a wooden number one from the craft store that I spray painted and hot glued to a chopstick!

I made a few large paper flowers from this tutorial (minus the stems), and hung them along the pergola.

The pink party hats are some from target that I embellished with silk flowers.

Putting together this party for Georgia was a blast!  Nothing is sweeter in life to me than being a mom, and I treasured every moment this evening celebrating Georgia and all of the joy she has brought to our family this year!


Living Room Progress


, , , , , , , ,

Please excuse the radio silence. I really don’t have much excuse as to why I have quit blogging save for the fact that I have become a manic wanna-be interior decorator and avid furniture collector.  Matt is just about ready to submit me for hoarders as it gets more and more difficult to actually walk through our garage each week.

We have been in our house over 7 months now, and looking back at the old MLS picture from when we purchased the house, even I can hardly believe it is the same room!

Here was what we started with:

The oak paneling, and brown brick fireplace made the windowless space really dark and heavy.  The grey floor and the wood walls also clashed in the worst of ways and I was convinced we needed new flooring, but honestly after we got everything painted white, the floor was much less offensive! We painted the entire space Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White prior to moving in with a paint sprayer.  Which instantly made the room feel bigger and more contemporary!

We painted the French doors and back of the built in bookcase Benjamin Moore’s Onyx to provide a dramatic contrast, and of course I wanted the room to match Lacy the mutt.  Can you even find her below?  It is like playing Where’s Waldo!

Most of the other stuff in the room is stuff we had in our last house.  The rug and sectional are both ikea.

The pair of antique French cane chairs were a lucky thrift store find that I painstakingly reupholstered myself.  I love the mix of the antique chairs with the more modern elements in the room.

The console table is vintage Pace Collection, and probably my favorite thing in the space.  The artwork is by me and the coral side table is Nate Berkus for Target.

There are still a few tweaks left to do.  We are planning on switching out the mantle and tiling a marble surround similar to this:

Via Bliss at Home

I am also hoping to update the ceiling fan with this light:

Swwooon!  It might take some convincing with the hubs because it is obviously not as practical as a fan would be in these Texas summers, but the fan that is here is not even working!

I have been working hard on the rest of the house too, and will be back to share more progress this week!

Hazelnut and Orange Dark Chocolate Bark


, ,

Hi Y’all!  I am trying really hard to stick to this cleanse (if you can call it that), and I have to say, my willpower is not as great as I thought.  I am really awful at waking up and making myself the breakfast it suggest, actually I have yet to do it, and I am going into week two of the two week cleanse. The oats, barley, and other breakfast foods are stowed away in a deep dark corner of the pantry, where they will probably remain until  I make them into some granola concoction that I can grab and go in the morning.

The one thing on the cleanse that I am sticking to is the dessert part.  It takes A LOT of discipline, but somehow I manage to pull out this chocolate bark night after night, much to the delight of my girls. In honor of Valentine’s week I thought it would be kind to share said chocolate bark recipe because it is awesome and your Valentine would be super impressed to get this as a gift. Plus it is really simple to make, #winning!  It is like an incredibly better version of a  Ferrero Rocher.


You will need:

  • 10 ounce bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • zest from one mandarin orange
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted and chopped
  • flaky sea salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave in 30 second burst, stirring in between until chocolate is melted, about a minute and a half total.  Stir in 3/4 the chocolate chips and orange zest.  Spread the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet in a thin layer and sprinkle the remaining zest, nuts and a little sea salt on top.  Refrigerate for half and hour before breaking the bark up into smaller pieces.


Health food at it’s finest!



House Progress, Paint in the Living and Dining Room


, , , ,

This past month has been jam packed with house projects (mostly painting) and painting commissions (these seem to really pick up when I have a million other things going on), and I am looking forward to the day when I can give my brush a break and really enjoy some of the progress we have made on the house.

Almost every part of the main house has been painted and is almost unrecognizable.  Remember how the living room looked before..


Now she is all bright white and airy.  I am planning on adding in artwork, some textiles, and accessories for a cozy and layered look.  I have a lot left to do around the other parts of the house too, but obviously I already think it is sooo much better than where we started!



Same thing for the dining/piano room.  Before it had the vibe of a Mexican restaurant..


Now it is all white.  I cannot believe how much the new paint has made the architectural details really stand out.


We have painted the kitchen walls, but have yet to paint the cabinets to make it the dream kitchen, but it is already much more livable.

We painted every inch of this ourselves.  Matt did most of it with a paint sprayer, but I have been slowly making my way through the rest of the house painting the trim and French doors.




Hopefully I will be back to report more progress soon!


Easy Peasy Grilled Caprese


, , , , ,

Grilled Caprese Salad

Is it really January, or have I been secretly teleported to April.  The weather here is telling me the latter.  The trees in the yard are even confused as the early buds are being coerced out almost to full bloom.  I have been lackadaisical about the house work for no excuse other than it is warm and sunny.  The girls doctor has said to make sure that they are getting enough vitamin D after all, and what better way to get it than basking in the warm winter sun.

We have also been firing up the grill in the evening and spending the last few minutes of daylight on our new deck watching the sun set each evening.  One of my new favorite things to grill is this Caprese Salad.  It makes and excellent accompaniment to pretty much any grilled protein, and requires the companionship of a warm and crusty baguette.

I didn’t exactly write down the recipe, but it is easy enough to recreate without one.

You will need:

  • roma tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • mozzarella cheese, sliced into thumb sized slices
  • a handful of basil
  • balsamic vinegar

First, slice your tomatoes lengthwise Brush the flesh side with olive oil and toss on the grill.


Let them start to soften, and then brush the skin side with your olive oil and flip over.


Continue to let the tomatoes cook until the cheese is melted.  Tranfer the tomatoes to a plate and top with some chopped basil leaves and a quick drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  Serve with warm baguette.

Easy Peasy Grilled Caprese

This would make a superb Superbowl snack too, don’t ya think!



A Fresh Start for February: Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse


, , ,

food-lovers-cleanse-day-14-744x600 bon appetit

I have to come clean to you guys. I have been really crappy to my body the last few months. It has been filled with too much pizza and wine, and not enough sleep and exercise. The once frequent nutrient packed and veggie centric meals are now a very rare occurrence, and Annie’s Mac and Cheese is currently considered health food at our house.

I don’t really know how things took such a shift. I think it is just a combination of triggers. The kids, the move, trying to get a million things done each and ever day (sound familiar?), somehow my health took a nose dive straight to the bottom of the priority list. I am really starting to feel the effects of it too. I am almost always tired, I am not sleeping well, and really irritable.

I have been wanting to try something new and turn it around for awhile now. Even though I know how to prepare a to of clean and delicious dishes, I haven’t had that spark of motivation or creative kick in the rear that I needed to jump start it, until last Thursday. I was somewhere in a Pinterest rabbit hole when I saw this: “Bon Appitite Food Lover’s Cleanse 2015.” Despite doing the Dr Oz 3 day cleanse a couple of years ago and having great result, the idea of a strict juice or smoothie cleanse sounds about like hell in a glass to me now. The thing about the food lover’s cleanse is that you get to eat, and actually chew, your food, which takes some of the fear away for me.

The menu looks really intriguing. It has some veggies that are new to me. So I am starting today. I am hoping that it will bring me back to life a bit.
Did I mention that it includes dessert too?

I will be back to report my results, and hopefully share some yummy new healthy(ish) recipes too!

Have you ever tried a cleanse? Want to do this with me? Get started here here!


Project Dream Kitchen Plans


, , , ,


We are finally getting settled into our new place. The past week has been a whirlwind of painting, packing, moving and more painting. I am about this close to burnout, so much that the kitchen has been half painted for the past five days. That’s trivial though, the real pain about this move is having to clean our rental post move out. And I discovered our chihuahua, Lacy, has a thing for taking wine corks under the bed and tearing them into 967 pieces. It is almost enough to make me stop drinking wine all together, almost.

So you have seen the plan for the living room and dining room, so moving right along to the kitchen.  Here is what we are working with…

13032714_5 13032714_4 Open floorplan from the living room into the kitchen, formal din Classic styling in this open floorplan living area. See the kitc

More arsenic washed walls, but I see a small glimmer of potential. The cabinets and appliances are fairly new, and are there to say, but there are a few changes in store to make it my dream kitchen.  I think one of the reasons that I have not been inspired to cook lately is because of our tiny galley kitchen in the old house. The new kitchen is wide open to the living room, so it has to be FABULOUS!

This is direction we are planning on going in..


Blog-Isabella-Favaro-AyA-Kitchens-Baths-Reno-bar-sink-stickley-IMG_4552 Blog-Isabella-Favaro-AyA-Kitchens-Baths-Reno-bookcase-stickley-IMG_4551 Blog-Isabella-Favaro-AyA-Kitchens-Baths-Reno-kitchenaltshot-stickley-IMG_4547

-Images Via

The turquoise walls are getting a nice coat of crisp white paint as we speak. Hopefully those cabinets will be getting gussied up by going a dark and moody charcoal gray, topped off with some delicious new brass hardware.  A subway tile backsplash with contrasting gray grout is going to grace the spot where that huge and happy sun behind the stove is.  We went back and forth on whether to paint the uppers white, but in the end we decided that even though we like the look, painting all of the cabinets one color would look best in our kitchen, mostly because of we couldn’t figure out what color to paint those floor to top spots around the fridge and oven. We also nixed the idea of open shelving because I despise dusting, so I am not going to make any decision that requires more than I already have. A couple of the cabinets have picture frame glass, so I can show off some of my prized dish hoard.

I might add a runner to the space too a Kilim or Persian number, I am waiting for something to catch my eye and fit into my budget, which is basically about five dollars.

So that’s it, one dream kitchen in the works. Hopefully I will have some progress pics to come soon, but right now it looks like a tornado has just blown through here. I must go and paint, clean, catch up on 10 loads of laundry. Later taters!




2015 Resolutions and the 5 Piece French Wardrobe Experiment


, ,

With 2015 on the horizon, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish this year.  I would love to grow the blog to include my musings on design and fashion, while still posting the occasional food post.  I also want to focus on simplifying other areas of my life, starting with my wardrobe.

You see, I am a bargain whore.  I tend to buy thing based on the fact that something is a good deal, not based on need, or even because I love an item.  This has left me with a wardrobe of pieces that I feel mostly meh about.  I really want to change that this year, and really forever.

I recently came across the concept on Pinterest of the five piece French Wardrobe. It is based on the way that French women have been shopping forever.  You build a wardrobe of high quality basics, and every season (as in twice a year), you are allowed to buy 5 pieces that are trendier or infuse some personality to your wardrobe. My new rule is, if I don’t absolutely L.O.V.E. love it, I don’t buy it, no matter how much of a bargain it is.

At the core of this concept is having a really good set of basics..

Minimalist Wardrobe Basics

I am first and foremost a mommy, so I tailored my list of basics to my mostly casual lifestyle.

1. T-shirts in black, grey and white

3.  Some great go with everything jeans.  I am including a dark denim wash, black and white on my must have list

4.  A cashmere sweater

5.  A wool blazer

7.  A leather moto jacket

8.  A little black dress

9.  Shoes including, booties, sneakers and a pair of black pumps.

10.  A great watch and leather handbag

Luckily, I own most of these items, except for the black dress, so there is very little investment to get started on it.  Of course I have a few more items in my closet that I plan to keep as well, but these are the things that are go with everything essentials for me.

Even though it may seem boring to dress in neutral basics everyday, I love the simplicity of it, and I can always zhush things up with some great accessories.

I am really excited to about this experiment, I just hope I am able to stick to my guns, and not give into buying things because they are a “good deal.”  I am also looking forward to finding my five treasures I cant live without each season.

What do you think about this?  Would a minimalist wardrobe work for you?

Why Not Roll Your Own Sushi


, , ,

One of our favorite meals to make together as a family is sushi rolls. I cook up the rice and cut up all of the seafood and veggies, then we all gather around the table to do the rolling! It is fun to see what new combinations we can come up with.

Rolling your own sushi may look intimidating, but it really couldn’t be easier. All you need is a sushi. After a little practice you will be a pro!


I found my sushi rolling mat at my local Super H Mart, they have an online store too that you can purchase the mats and wrappers from in case you don’t have an Asian supermarket in you area..Most grocery stores now carry nori sheets for rolling sushi.  That is where I found these 1/2 size sheets.  I really love the smaller size, so much easier to handle!

Once you have your supplies, it is time to make you sushi rice.  Here is my sushi rice recipe:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Calrose Rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar.

Bring the rice an water to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.  Whisk together the vinegar and agave and pour it over the rice. Stir it together and you are ready to roll.

While the rice is cooking I cut up all of my veggies, fish, etc, into strips about the size of the nori wrappers.  A couple of easy make at home sushi rolls:

The Texadelphia Roll:  Smoked Salmon, cream cheese, avocado, and jalapeno (my signature roll)

Spicy California Roll:  crab stick, avocado, cucumber,and siracha mayo

These are just to get you started.  The sky really is the limit here!

When it comes to rolling it up there are two options.  You can do rice on the outside, or put it on the inside.  I do a little of both usually.  Rice on the inside is much easier though.



First you will want to lay a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat.  Get your hands wet (I either work by a sink or keep a big bowl of ice water next to me), this is a very important step because it keeps the very sticky rice off of your hands,  Grab a handful of rice and evenly spread it across the nori sheet.


Stack up the desired filling on the end nearest to you.  Then take the mat and fold it just past the end of the filling (the avocado in the picture above.  Continue pushing the mat in a rolling motion and you should end up with a nice tight roll.  If the first one isn;t perfect, don’t worry, each one after will be a little better. 😉


Repeat the process until you have used up all of the rice and or filling.  Get creative!  After the rolls are made, grab a sharp non-serrated knife and wet it.  Slice it all up into little bite sized pieces.

Sushi Night

Learning to use Chopsticks

If you make this be sure to snap a quick pick to share with me on Instagram @jennygarvin


The Best Vegan Cheesecake


, , , ,

Peanut butter chocolate cheesecake

Hi Y’all!  The inevitable finally happened.  My baby, Minda, started Kindergarten.  As we walked to the school on the first day, I had to force myself to put on a brave face and hold back the tears.  On day two when she cried and didn’t want to go inside the school when we arrived, I wanted to scoop her up and tell her it was fine to come home and that she could stay my baby a little longer.  Day four and she was still a little hesitant, but is getting braver everyday.  I miss her so much while she is at school, but I also love hearing her joyfully recount her day each afternoon on the way home.

Mindas first day of kinder

To celebrate this milestone I made my new favorite homemade dessert, Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake via a A House in the Hills. It’s as if a cheesecake and a Reese peanut butter cup met and had a baby.

Peanut butter cup cashew cheesecake

A baby that went all holistic and decided to become a vegan.  If you are like my husband, and insist that this technically cannot be a cheesecake because there is no cheese then go ahead and call it what you want.  I just call it delicious.

Vegan Cheesecake

The recipe is waiting for you here, so check it out, and if you do make it be sure to save me a slice!