La Dolce Vita!

I love to travel. And when I am lucky enough to travel, I am always looking for spaces that absolutely need a Fancy Fire Pit. I recently spent a week in Italy and aside from eating too much pasta and drinking too much delicious Italian wine, I found a perfect spot for my fire pits.


Imagine yourself here…a glass of red wine and a plate of crunchy, juicy tomato bruschetta dripping with olive oil. And, of course, a fire in your fire pit. No s’mores in this scene!


Or even better, picture yourself here. My new Onda design, with its sexy curves, would be perfect. You could be sitting on luxurious brocade couches, looking out onto this gorgeous view.


I’d like a Bellini or a glass of chilled white wine and some delicious cicchetti (Venetian snacks). Back at home, I will be trying to recreate the amazing Spaghetti Carbonara we ate in Rome, bowls and bowls of it.


It has always been my children’s most requested dish, made for all birthdays and special occasions. But I digress… I start writing my posts with the best of intentions, to write about my work. But inevitably, they end of being about food- a little obsessed perhaps?

The next time I light my fire pit, if it ever gets warm enough, I will be making a plate of salty little snacks, salami, bruschetta and the like. I will be drinking a glass of wine and enjoying my version of La Dolce Vita, at home in my own backyard.

Salute, Joy

Pause and Swizzle

Are you ready for a respite from winter? I know I just went on about how much I love snow and cold, and I do, truly. But I also like a little mid-winter fantasy. This usually involves turning the heat up in the house, making a island feast and drinking a few cocktails with umbrellas. Are you with me? Let’s start with the cocktails and then we can move on to the feast. I have been watching the Olympic ice dancing and they keep talking about the swizzle. I know this is some sort of twirly move on the ice, but for me, swizzle means something entirely different, as in swizzle stick or better yet, rum swizzle. A real swizzle stick is a multi-forked branch of a tropical bush. It will swizzle your drink into a froth, a sort of rustic little whisk. Modern versions are a little more colorful and plastic, and really, just for show, but they are fun.


The Real Deal- Wooden Swizzle Sticks


Sparkly Festive Swizzle Sticks

A rum swizzle is a Bermudian drink of dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and a squeeze of lime. It is delicious with or without the frothy head produced by the swizzle and the umbrella (or swizzle stick) is optional, but it does make for a festive touch! After a long week spent standing at a trade show, a few rum swizzles are certainly in order.  I will follow my cocktails with a spicy vegetable curry.  I like the thriftiness of making a meal from all those winter vegetables still filling the market. Winter squash and root vegetables make a delicious curry enriched with coconut milk and warmed with a little spicy heat. I know curry is not really an island dish but it makes me think of warm climates. That will have to do, for now.

Stay Warm! Joy



Eat, Drink and Be Merry…

With a late Thanksgiving this year and one less week on the calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the pace of the season feels positively frenetic, the faces on the shoppers a little panicked. For me, the shopping, poker evening and other gambling game, and gifting are over, so I can just focus on the merrymaking. I am thinking of sprucing up my cocktail party game. I will admit to being truly uninspired when it comes to making salty, delicious little bites. They look great in pictures and recipes but inevitably, by the time I have finished making dinner and dessert, I can’t be bothered to do more than put out a piece of cheese and some nuts. Pathetic, I know. Even when I throw a party that is all about the cocktails and snacks, I fall down on the job. Homemade pizza cut into little squares is about as fancy as I get. Once, for a truly epic party-probably New Year’s Eve- I made thinly sliced filet on little homemade parker house rolls. That was the peak and I have yet to return to it!


I gave over an afternoon to the cause and tested a few cocktails with girlfiends. We did not try anything particularly seasonal- I am not keen on creamy peppermint drinks or overly sweet red concoctions. Instead we stuck with the classic, a three olive martini, a gin gimlet and a cosmo. I’ve noticed that if you spruce up the liquid party and then nobody will care that all they ate was pita chips and hummus and not much else. Fancy, signature drinks seem to be all the rage and that would be quite a fun project. This morning’s NY Times food section is full of interesting drinks (and a few yummy snacks). Maybe I need to invite over a few friends to help me try a few and taste- who’s in?

A delicious cocktail just might be the perfect little helper for Santa!

Happy Holidays, Joy


Shake it up!

When my children were small, I used to make them smoothies for breakfast. It was so simple and healthy, filled with yogurt, milk and fruit. And they loved them. I haven’t pulled out my blender in quite a while, but lately I have seen lots of articles featuring milk shakes and I thought it was time for the blender to have a space on my counter again.  Summer is coming, or so I am told, and I love a dairy free smoothie for my own breakfast, made with silken tofu, soy milk and fruit. And who doesn’t adore a creamy, thick milk shake for an indulgent treat!

I am not one to sip a shake with my meal, but I love it as liquid dessert. Add a shot of something sweet and boozy and you have the perfect treat to enjoy around your Fancy Fire Pit. With that in mind, I whipped up a few adult milk shakes last night.

Getting ready for summer sipping!

Getting ready for summer sipping!

The beauty of milk shakes is the ease of them. Just pile ice cream, ice or milk, depending on how decadent you like your shakes, fruit or chocolate syrup, and a little shot of something, like Kahlua and Irish Cream, in the case of this one. Whir it up and you have something creamy and delicious.

The thermostat outdoors is still hovering in the low 60s, but when summer does actually begin, I will be ready! My fire pit is piled high with wood and my blender is pulled out and primed for action.

Happy Sipping! Joy

Fantasy Island Part Two

I have been fortunate enough to have two vacations this winter in warm places and each time, I have looked around and found a perfect place for a fire pit. I promise this is the last post of this sort as I am now staying put in the frozen North for the duration of the winter. So indulge me this one final fantasy island photo, taken on the Caribbean coast of Panama.

Now isn’t that just the perfect spot for a Fancy Fire Pit?? I might even design one specially for this location with an island theme, palm trees, pineapples and the like. There certainly was no shortage of downed palm trees and leaves to burn and we had delicious red snapper and local spiny lobsters cooked on a fire with said wood so it clearly works quite well. Just imagine yourself enjoying this view, wearing a Panama hat and drinking a Panama Cocktail. Truthfully, the cocktail seems more like dessert  but Panamanian beer is also very good! To make a Panama Cocktail, combine equal parts white creme de cacao, brandy and cream and serve well chilled – delicioso!!

Stay Warm, Joy


Fantasy Island!

Whenever I travel, I look around and think, “now here is a good place for a fire pit”. I don’t worry too much about the logistics of actually getting a Fancy Fire Pit to said location, that would ruin the fantasy. I am currently on a small island off of Puerto Rico called Vieques. This is a place where they have trouble getting planes to land on time and one cannot dependably find a banana or a lime in the little local grocery. Needless to say, shipping a fire pit here would be difficult at best. And yet, it is so beautiful and has lovely warm days and breezy nights.

The perfect spot for a Fancy Fire Pit!

There is very little to do here save go to the beach during the day and drink rum punch at night. Which makes it a perfect place for a fire pit- can we say evening activity!

If you don’t care for rum punch and would like to get into the holiday spirit, they have an island version of eggnog which is rich, delicious and very strong. It is called Coquito and is made with coconut milk and lots of rum.


Recipe for Coquito. A little glass of this stuff goes a long way!

For a Caribbean Christmas celebration, serve chilled Coquito and some toasted coconut shortbread. Even if it is cold and snowy outside, you will be warm inside!

Happy Holidays, Joy

Pink and Green

As the Sargent Crabapple blooms outside my window, I am thinking pink and green. The buds start out hot pink and open to a beautiful pale pink. It is my favorite tree in the garden and when it blooms, I know spring is really here. It also signals the arrival of my birthday, an event I look forward to with childlike pleasure. Although, as the years march on, not so much!

I love pink and green!

Pink and green has gotten somewhat of a  bad rap, in my opinion. It brings up images of preppy, bright Lilly prints which are fun and cute on little children but can be a bit too pink and green. What I do love is my pink and green tree and the hot pink azaleas that bloom at the same time in my yard. I also adore lipstick pink peonies. I actually chose the color for my bridesmaid dresses, much to their dismay! I got married an eon ago and it really was quite beautiful with the girls in their pink dresses and the bouquets full of peonies,  rubrum lilies and roses. Lately, I have returned to my love of pink. I have been wearing it often and it is the color of my favorite cocktail- the Cosmo!

In the pink spirit, I am going to mix up a pitcher of cosmos, light a fire in my Fancy Fire Pit and invite over a few friends to help me drink them and celebrate Spring.

Happy Pink and Green, Joy

Fire and Wood

I am having tree work done in my yard and it occurs to me as I stare out at the piles of wood that I know exactly what I am going to do with all this wood. I am going to burn it in my Fancy Fire Pit!  Granted, it will probably take me years to plow through all this wood but I will dutifully arrange it in a very tall stack and start burning.

Ready for burning in the Fire Pit!

We are having quite a draught where I live so it would not be particularly responsible to have a fire in my fire pit anytime soon but as soon as we get some rain, I am good to go.  My crabapple tree is about to burst into bloom and I would love to sit outside in the evening ( finally staying light later- yay!) and enjoy a pink cocktail to go with the pink blooms on my tree. Cosmo anyone??

Cheers, Joy

Think Green!

Green is the newest color. Unfortunately, I cannot wear green clothes (they don’t look great with my olive complexion) but I do love green foods and I especially love the “green” movement afoot everywhere.

Is it easy being green?

When the air gets warmer and the grass turns green, I am going to sit by my Fire Pit, eat a crunchy green salad and drink green tea. Or maybe I will drink a   green smoothie, made with either spirulina powder or fresh spinach.  Doesn’t that sound virtuous and healthy? I would certainly forgo the health cocktail for something more adult, but I haven’t found anything that appeals. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I have come across some perfectly awful sounding concoctions made with creme de menthe or melon liquor.

All drinks aside, this time of year, I love to make a shredded salad with crunchy and slightly bitter greens, dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette. Rifling through my crisper, I came up with napa cabbage, endive, romaine lettuce and arugula. I might add a splash of red radicchio. For me, this is dinner, eaten with bread and unsalted butter and, sorry Kermit, red wine!

As for making my life more “green”, I have tried not driving as much but that is not working well. I do bring my bags to the grocery store and use a travel cup for my water instead of plastic bottles. And I recycle my scrap paper…does that count?? My honey rode his bike to work yesterday- 20 miles each way! it was very “green” of him but today his bum hurts and he can’t walk very well.  As Kermit says, it’s not easy being green!

Add light to your life, Joy

White White Winter!

It seems winter has finally arrived and with it snow, cold weather and thoughts of delicious, creamy cocktails. I don’t imagine everyone connects these three things but I see white snow and think white drinks, creamy, sweet and indulgent. See, we are not even out of January and my resolutions are already down the tube!

I am planning a party to celebrate the season with all things sparkly and white. January can be such a bitter month, full of dreary days, too many salads (or not,in my case!) and freezing early morning journeys to school and work. I think a little festive gathering will be just the ticket out of this funk. I will not even pretend that I will be enjoying this gathering around my fire pit. It is covered, finally, with snow.

getting ready to make snowflake cookies

ready to make snowflake cookies







I am going to bake up a batch of gorgeous sugar cookies and a mound of Mexican wedding cakes dusted in a snowfall of confectioner’s sugar.  I will serve them up with my favorite white cocktails, White Russians, Toasted Almonds and something new I have just come across, Toasted Marshmallow Martinis. Then I’ll send my friends home in a sweet, slightly loopy sugar haze.

marshmellow martini | fancy fire pitRecipe Type: Cocktail

Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 2

2 ounces vanilla vodka
2 ounces Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
2 ounces heavy cream
2 ounces Smucker’s marshmallow topping, plus more for rimming martini glasses
mini marshmallows (optional), for garnish


Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake for 30-40 seconds.
Serve into martini glasses rimmed with marshmallow topping.
Garnish toasted marshmallows

Enjoy and Add Light to your Life, Joy