After a week's vacation in glorious southern California, Jaithan and I are finally back at work! What a fantastic time we had, filled with family, great food and friends, both new and old. Here's the front entrance of the house in San Diego, a charming English country style cottage Jaithan's parents built about two years ago. I love the little rounded wrought iron gate leading to the courtyard.


Jaithan's mother is an avid gardener with all sorts of beautiful flowering plants throughout the property. These camellas in the courtyard were breathtaking!


In fact, they were so inspiring, I decided to do a little arrangement for Jathan's mother, all with fresh cut flowers from a local farm stand. Problem was, when we got there, the mums, by far the most beautiful, were also the most expensive! So I thought—why pay three bucks a stem for the fresh cut type when I could pick up an entire plant full of flowers for eight? Note to self: Buy the plant and grab the clippers!  


Here's the finished arrangement on the dining room table Jaithan's mom set using her beautiful set of Lenox china with a "K" monogram, together with simple wine glasses and flatware. For a little extra color, Jaithan and I picked up this pretty hemstitched golden runner at a nearby Target on the way back from the farm stand. I love it with the rust-colored mums, burnt orange roses and crab apples in the arrangement. The glittered edge leaf cards add just enough sparkle! And thank you to Kari, Jaithan's sister-in-law and a talented photographer, for the picture!


With the table set and the turkey still in the oven, Jaithan and I had just enough time to catch the sunset from the beach at nearby Torrey Pines.


So pretty…


The next day, it was off to LA to meet up with one of my closest friends from the show, Andrea Schroder, and her adorable family at their home in Topanga Canyon.


In fact, Jaithan and I were lucky enough to stay with them for two days at their beautiful guest cottage. I love the red bouganvilla together with the pretty blue of the door.


From the moment we started working together on Top Design, I knew she had amazing taste and style. Plus, she and her family are such gracious hosts! Check out the fresh cut roses from her garden on the coffee table. Everything about the place was just so charming!  


Here's the little sitting room off the master bedroom. What a great place to take a nap after a long hike through the canyon. And Andrea's design is so cozy and beautiful, I love it!


Speaking of, I thought this bathroom was so pretty. A skylight over a clawfoot tub? Heaven!


This time I wanted to save the best for last. How amazing is this kitchen? For a guest cottage, it had everything you could possible imagine—and more! Carrera marble countertops, Waterworks fixtures, stainless steel appliances. Needless to say, Jaithan and I didn't want to leave!


For a hostess gift, I found this beautiful set of old French ivory knives at a junk shop in SIlverlake. The carving I thought had a wonderful French cottage feel Andrea would love—and she did!


In fact, Andrea loves antiquing, especially at her favorite spot in Santa Monica, Wertz Brothers Antique Mart.


As soon we walked in, I spotted this beautiful Heisey bowl. Jaithan's mom collects old glass, and with that pretty scalloped edge, I knew she'd love it! This piece is probably from the 20s, yet it still feels modern to me. I just wished we'd had it for Thanksgiving. It would have been perfect for the delicious brussels sprouts we had!


Check out the little "H" in a diamond, always the marking of good Heisey glass.


Half way through the store and it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas! So many of the booths were filled with holiday merchandise, and even though it was about 70 degrees outside, I couldn't help but get in the spirit. Check out these beautiful beaded candy canes we found.


Although they're new, I still love 'em! How great would they be hung on a tree, garland over a fireplace mantel or even in a pretty glass vase set on a bedside table?


Check out this beautiful wreath made of antique ornaments and beaded garland. Love the sophisticated and unconventional color palette. So pretty!


Here's another great collection of antique ornaments, this time displayed on an old drying rack. How charming is that? I've always loved vintage ornaments and have quite a few in my collection, ever since my grandmother Dottie gave me hers years ago.


Another thing I love this time of year are vintage linens in all the fun retro patterns of Christmas. I especially love finding onsie napkins, then typing them to a bottle of wine or champagne for an elegant, one-of-a-kind hostess gift.


Check out this great footed silverplate gravy ladle that Andrea found for all her holiday entertaining. The wooden handle keeps you from burning your hands!


Speaking of holiday entertaining, with a full house of kids (all of them so sweet!), Andrea's planning on doing plenty of baking this month. So how perfect is this footed cake pedestal going to be for serving classic gingerbread cookies? I love the scalloped lip around the edge and the pretty pressed glass pattern I think is so elegant.


Here we are settling up only minutes away, Andrea told me, from where we filmed some of Top Design!


After the antique mart, her husband Rick had a great idea to hit up this pawn shop on the way to lunch at Ivy at the Shore. Talk about a city of contrasts!


Inside, I immediately spotted a display case full of flatware!


Check out what I found! It's a gorgeous set of ten mother of pearl knives with sterling silver cuffs. The price? 50 bucks. I smell a Pawn Shop Christmas table setting…


After such an amazing weekend with Andrea and her family, all of whom were so incredibly generous…and funny—you'd laugh hysterically if you could see Andrea's youngest daughter Faith doing an impression of me from Top Design!—it was finally time to head back to San Diego for the last leg of our trip. But not before a meeting with an agent from Creative Artists Agency! How pretty (and legendary) is the building located on Avenue of the Stars in Century City?


And it wouldn't have happened without my new friend Catherine, a devoted reader of the blog and an absolute sweetheart! There's so much great stuff in store for the holidays (and beyond!) here at, so thank you all for indulging us in some time away. Now, onward and upward!