Charcuterie – Fancy Name, Easy Appetizer!

Charcuterie – Fancy Name, Easy Appetizer!

Talk about SUCCULENT! You may have noticed the latest appetizer trend at bistros and dinner parties is the fancy-named Charcuterie (shahr-cute-uh-ree) board. But this is not a new thing – Charcuterie can be traced back to the first century in France as a variety of unrefrigerated meats, primarily from pork.

There’s several ways to put together this easy appetizer. Focus on a few meats such as prosciutto and salami, then add in cheese, pickles and spreads. I also like to add in grapes or thinly sliced apples for even more variety and texture. A quick trip to the deli counter and farmers market, and you’re ready to go.

I purchased a large butcher block board on Amazon like this one, and use it only for charcuterie. You can also use interesting  baskets for bread, or additional smaller boards. Add in branches from a lemon tree, wild mint from the garden, or any edible plants you have growing in the yard such as a sprigs of rosemary or flowering nasturtiums. Think about color and contrast when developing your plate.



Here’s a quick list of ingredients you can use. Focus on about 6 – 8 items. Simple boards for smaller parties might just have 4 items. Stock up on olives, pickles, and other pantry-ready items, so you can put something together in a few minutes!

  • Meats: Prosciutto, Salami, Mousse or Pate, Pepperoni
  • Cheese: Hard Cheddar, Soft Brie, Goat Cheese Log, Spicy Swiss
  • Bread: French Bread, Toasted Pita, Crackers, Toast Triangles
  • Fruit and Vegetables: Grapes, Sliced Apple, Dried Apricots, Thin Sliced Radishes
  • Pickles and Olives: Cornichon Pickles, Stuffed Jumbo Olives, Black Kalamata Olives
  • Spreads: Whole Grain Mustard, Honey, Fig Jam
  • Nuts: Spicy Almonds, Macadamia Nuts, Salted Cashews

This easy appetizer is super easy to assemble for any party. Use what you have on hand and make it simple! The most important thing is to have fun and make your Charcuterie Board your very own!



San Clemente Succulent Yard


A friend wanted me to share some photos with her sister who is remodeling a yard in Pasadena…hopefully with succulents. Here’s a few I had on hand! Everything you see here including containers is used, recycled, yard sale, or something on hand. Even the Thanksgiving table decor was succulents and things we had on hand, including some big Fall maple leaves. I rarely buy succulents, as they are the perfect clip and plug! If you’re looking for great succulent inspiration, make sure to follow @Debra Lee Baldwin. She’s the queen.

Beautifully Tarnished


I’m not one to buy succulents because my yard is loaded with so many varieties! But I was really taken with the unique containers and succulents at the new Market at North Beach in #sanclemente (Wednesdays 3-7pm).

Beautifully Tarnished had a booth today with some amazing unique succulent arrangements in small heavy steel containers, some organically tarnished (no acid), and some painted in bright colors like the pink one I purchased. But the story of this small new business is even more amazing.

A portion of planter proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This family has experienced a loss first hand and is now healing through planting succulents and sharing the passion, making planters and holding classes on how to make awesome arrangements.

I love their tag line –“Grow through what you go through”. Please visit their website for more information! And to Austin and family – all the best and many blessings to your family!


A Couple Cooks – Fattoush Nourish Bowl!


My daughters and I have been following this great vegetarian/vegan blog called A Couple Cooks – Tonight made another great filling low calorie and super healthy dish. Lots of nice color, and I had EVERYTHING in my fridge (rare!). Also had leftovers, even though I made just half the recipe. The dressing is super good and the cinnamon and allspice gives a nice little spicy kick to the ordinary dressing. Give it a try.

PS. The pita bread at Sprouts was 190 calories, so I opted for the everything thin bagels instead (100 calories) and added half an avocado! A great trade.

Another Succulent Wedding!


We are in the prep stage for another daughter’s wedding, and using our own succulents and cactus as the main feature for table decor.

Chelsea  (bride – 27 – my daughter) has such a natural way of putting a unique touch on decorating. She’s my go to person when I’m having Thanksgiving, a dinner party, or any event at my house. She can pull things together in ways that are amazing to me. She looks in my cabinets, drawers, book shelves, and even plants in the yard, finding a variety of items to use that are right before my eyes. Usually my tables look bomb and I take all the credit!

Chelsea and Brendon’s wedding is going to be in Palm Springs, June 2017, at the historic Cree Estate – a large home with lots of great desert vibe. Chelsea and I are both big succulent enthusiasts, so we knew right from the beginning that we would be a part of the floral for her wedding.

I think I can take some credit for her love of succulents. When I moved back to southern California in 2010, succulents were just catching on, especially with the extreme drought. What we didn’t expect was the variety, color, flowers, and little watering! My little yard became a paradise, and I used cuttings from my own plants, neighbors, and some here and there to make pots and plantings that were crazy gorgeous!

Together Chelsea and I have had so much fun creating some really unique, and sometimes wacky planters. We hit up yard sales for pots and containers, take them home and drill a hole no matter what it is.

Chelsea wanted to help design her wedding centerpieces and we worked with a local florist who loves succulents as well, but was willing to work with us on cost since we were going to be providing most of the plantings and containers. The florist is focusing on bridal bouquets, boutineers, and a few fresh flowers. The cost was about half of what would be standard!

A big part of our planting was gathering about 75 wine bottles (okay – so it wasn’t too hard), but the work was cutting off the tops with a special glass cutter and sanding each bottle so they were not sharp. After doing this with only clear and green bottles, we also drilled a hole in the bottom of each bottle and added a half cup of white pebbles for drainage.

Today, 6 weeks out, we filled with cactus-friendly soil and stuck in the cuttings, then watered well. I’m going to keep a close eye on them the next few weeks to make sure they get love and water as needed.

I should also mention that we collected a lot of tin cans (aka soup cans) and painted them with chalk paint in several colors. Chelsea wants to use these for cactus, and top with colored sand as you can see in the photos. Those will ring around the wine bottle vases, along with votive candles and a variety of clear small vases that will have fresh flowers, like daisies etc.

I hope that you enjoy following this process. We will show you the final table in a couple of weeks. Thanks for following!

Succulent Wedding Centerpieces


Succulents for the Wedding!


Succulent Centerpiece in Tin

Maid of honor and bridesmaids with succulent bouquets.

Maid of honor and bridesmaids with succulent bouquets.

Wow, we just married off our youngest daughter and the wedding was amazing! Lots of wonderful little personal touches that made it intimate and reflective of their tastes and message. We worked in conjunction with her florist, Collected with Love in San Clemente, to grow most of the succulents that would be the base for the bouquets, boutonnieres, and center pieces. 20 bags of potting  soil, 200+ plastic starter containers, 25 plastic trays later, we were ready. The yard was also used to trim, fill, and add to the array of plants. I can happily report that two months later, it is back to full glory – although it was very well sliced back to the point in which I wondered why I had offered 🙂 Honestly, trimming things in the summer does do wonders for the fall blooms of succulents.

Here’s a few photos of the wedding prep and in the next post, I’ll show you the wedding photos with all the succulent amazement.

Succulent Topped Pumpkins for Fall


I just got back from a wonderful two-day fall event at Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido, CA. If you are a succulent lover, visit them and you will feel like you died and went to heaven. There are acres and acres of colorful and amazing varieties of succulents and roses, lining the fields and hillsides and staging areas of design. It was also fun to be with 200+ others who are intrigued and obsessed by these plants – some even more than me!

One of the events I participated in was hosted by Laura Eubanks of Serenity Gardens. With her excellent direction, we created a gorgeous Succulent Topped Pumpkin centerpiece, which will last well through the holidays. Three years ago, this creative Master Gardener was looking for something unusual to accent her holiday decorations, and after a little experimenting, she came up with the succulent pumpkin! Her creations are available for sale at a variety of locations including Roger’s Gardens and through her website. You can also request a custom gift, centerpiece or landscape arrangement and have it shipped to any location.

Or – like me – you can learn to do it yourself! The workshop included all the tools you need but here’s the short list if you want to DIY:

  • Pumpkin
  • Florist Moss
  • Cuttings of a variety of succulents in varying sizes
  • Cones, Acorns, Magnolia Pods
  • Craft Glue or Hot Glue Gun

Watch this instructional 4-minute video with Laura and photojournalist/author Debra Lee Baldwin for complete directions on creating your own masterpiece. Have fun! Send pictures!

Waterwise Botanicals Fall Garden Party

Waterwise Botanicals Fall Garden Party

Looking for something succulent to do this Friday and Saturday October 25-26, 2013? Join me at a Fall Garden Party at Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido, CA.

This two day event features Debra Lee Baldwin, garden photojournalist and author. As Debra introduces some of her favorite easy-care succulents for Southern CA gardens, she explains how to beautifully combine them in landscapes, gardens and containers. Based on her new book,  Succulents Simplified, this fun and informative presentation celebrates the shapes, colors and textures of succulents, and gives tips for keeping them fat and sassy. Come be reassured, entertained and inspired! Book signing follows.

Next on the schedule is a Holiday Succulent Centerpiece Workshop.
Lois Walag, owner of Succulent Salon is “Obsessed” with succulents! She’ll teach you how to make a living centerpiece that will bring you years of perennial joy! Registration fee: $45. Price includes all material to construct a 10″ diameter centerpiece. Pruners are suggested and will be available for purchase.  Limited Space. Students must register in advance via PayPal on Lois’ website at

Saturday morning features Rebecca Sweet, author, designer, and book launch of her newest, Refresh Your Garden Design – Simple Strategies to Wake a Weary Garden. With all of the buzzwords and trends in gardening these days, how do you know where to begin? Rebecca takes a fresh approach to explain, simplify and reinterpret traditional design concepts for home gardeners of all levels. Both practical and inspirational, you will learn how to identify what has gone wrong with your garden and, more importantly, how to fix the problem. Book signing follows.

We are looking forward to the entire weekend and expanding our love and knowledge of succulents. Hope to see you there! Make sure to RSVP. This event is free!

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Succulent Cafe – A Secret Garden

Succulent Cafe – A Secret Garden

Succulent lovers, here’s an amazing place to stop on your way to San DiegoSucculent Cafe in Oceanside, CA. Have a cup of delicious locally roasted coffee, nosh a fresh baked pastry, cozy up in a chair and soak in the expanse of colorful varieties of succulents, art, and creative arrangements. The owner, Peter Loyola, has created a virtual secret garden right in the middle of town – vertical arrangements accented by drift wood, unique beds of Aoenium and blue fingers in repurposed rain gutters, and local artwork line the private, serene courtyard. Peter said his goal was stimulate all the senses, and he has succeeded!

On the weekends, the cafe features local music, including an occasional visit by harpist Geri Afshari. The private patio is also available to rent for private parties, the perfect atmosphere for a small reception. Like them on Facebook to get notifications of special events including art shows and musical events.

Featured in the Best of San Diego in San Diego Magazine, this little gem is worth the trip. Stop in and tell them you saw them on Everything Succulent!