Since my husband and I don’t do the whole February 14 shebang, I spent Valentine’s day lunch with The Spoiled Mummy Grace Barbers-Baja. (Oh, don’t worry. Ton took me out on Saturday for our weekly date, and made sure I had my fill of Singapore Surprise and Vanilla Bourbon tea at TWG. Thanks, babe!)
Now, Grace was actually a client of mine last year, when we worked on the branding and direction of her blog. We usually eat out or meet at a nice resto, but that day being a school day, Grace decided to host lunch at her lovely home. That photo above was post-lunch: Don’t you just love the pink and blue china? It’s the colors of my blog, said Grace. I didn’t notice that!
That’s Grace, though: She’s detail-oriented and loves to beautify things. I think it’s a great quality, and it reflects in her home. Though stylish and well-appointed, you can tell that it is lived in and full of love. Nothing is pretentious or not well thought-of. Wherever you look, there are touches of family and warmth. Take Grace’s office, for instance, where she does her blogging.
“This is where we usually come together after dinner, with the kids,” said Grace, pointing out that the throw pillows stood for the first letters of the kids’ names. (She has two boys, one girl.) I want to get a pillow that says “M” for me, seriously. They are just too cute.
Having lunch with Grace, in her home, meant that I got to see her in her element. As a full-time mom and homemaker, she’s very hands-on with her home, from the way the household is run, down to how the table is set. That day, for instance, I was amused to find the dining table was set for two, complete with beautiful chargers, stemware, and even menu cards.
Yummy, right? I was amused that we had such a setting!
Why the effort for a little lunch for two, you ask? Well, Grace makes these simple menu cards when there are guests, for the benefit of the household servers. It makes sense, when you think about it: The different courses are served in a particular order, and all the help needs to do is consult the menu card to know when to serve what. “I make them and just print them out myself,” says Grace. She added that it also helps the staff know the proper serving ware for a particular dish, which eliminates a load of guess work. I have to agree that it makes things easier, and it also gets guests excited to eat!
I didn’t get to take a photo of the super yummy buffalo mozzarella cheese appetizers and the pepper-tomato soup (yum) and, but I was able to snap a pic of the fresh pasta. I always say that the pasta is meant to be the star of any pasta dish, and I loved that this one wasn’t doused in sauce. There was a slight hint of cream (another yum), but it didn’t compete with the smokiness of the mushrooms and truffle oil (super yum!), which brought out the gorgeous texture of the handmade pasta.
All the dishes were simple, stuff I can cook at home. (Thanks, Grace, for the ideas!) The presentation just elevated them to a whole new experience. I appreciated the effort that Grace put into everything, especially dessert, which was a trio of ice creams from the latest dessert destination, Bono Gelato. We had pistachio (yummy), dark chocolate (my fave!) and milk ‘n’ cereal (sooo good!). Served with sidings — Speculoos, lemon curd, and salted caramel — this was the sweetest part of my Valentine’s day, no doubt about it!
After lunch, we set down to talk about blogging. What I like about Grace is that she never stops learning about how to make her blog better, whether it’s how to write better, how to make her photos stand out more, or how to keep her blog posts and features true to her brand. It’s amazing what she’s done with her blog in just a bit over seven months. She’s definitely passionate about what she does, and she blogs for the love of it.
Tip: If you want to be a successful blogger, blog about what you love.
I love that Grace jots notes down when we’re together. She has the most adorable notebooks, too — I want that Hello Kitty x Laduree notebook! I’m like that, too: Whenever I have new insights, fresh ideas, musings on how to make my blog better, I jot them down. A good practice, I say, since blogging is still a young, ever-changing craft.
Being the gracious host as always, Grace also had a parting gift for me: A box of buttery chocolate, mocha and pistachio cookies from Shorts Gourmet, which Grace blogged about before. (Read her Shorts Gourmet review on her blog, please. Read all her food reviews, in fact.)
Grace’s home truly is beautiful. But what truly made this little lunch and pow-wow beautiful was her gracious soul: She really thrives on making people feel special and valued. Thanks for having me over, Grace!
Do visit Grace’s blog, The Spoiled Mummy, for inspiring reads on food, travel, and the sweet life. It’s honestly an eye candy/food porn experience for me each time.