I almost feel guilty in my time for spring celebration when I get an email from the Canadian snowbird with the following image attached.
A jaunt to the Home Depot garden center tops the time for spring planting to-do list. Curb appeal begins with spring cleaning, planting, updating and exterior decorating.
In order to achieve optimum spring curb appeal you gotta have the proper tools to get the job done.
A recent time for spring inventory of the tools and toys needed for the upcoming lawn and garden season resulted in the Places In The Home gang becoming proud owners of a new riding mower. This bad boy is 15.5HP of get the job done in no time power. In all the new lawn and garden toy excitement, Dave the Builder set the cutting height a tad too low. Let’s just say our front yard has that freshly scalped mowed look.
That’s one way to eliminate the need to mow for a week or two.
Purple Diamond Loropetalum is good for an early blast of bloom and color. I won’t go so far as to say it basically grows itself, but once established it is low maintenance.
Every time I say Loropetalum I think of sayings you only hear in the South and one I consider a classic- going by Laura’s house. Going by Laura’s house is the term my mother’s best friend’s mother coined years ago for when she would have to go out of her way to get to her intended destination. Miss Melba called that going by Laura’s house. It wasn’t until recently that my mother discovered the truth about going by Laura’s house, and now we say it all the time. How I love the sayings you only hear in the South.
HGTV inspiration strikes again. Add a dollar store drop in to the time for spring lawn and garden list.
Sightings of buds and blooms in spring fling color usher in spring and Easter parade palettes.
You know it’s time for spring by the scents and sights of spring in full bloom. I would love to be able to bottle the the fragrance of freshly picked wisteria to use as a linen spray on crisp cotton sheets.
Fresh flowers, delightful fragrances, visually stunning table settings, and the scent and sight of it’s time for spring in the late afternoon or evening gorgeously set the scene, mood and table for spring entertaining.
The “I Love a Charade” episode of Sex and the City is my garden party touchstone.
Art and interior design are like two peas in a stylish pod.
Fresh starts, fresh vegetables, and fresh colors do the body, mind, soul, and home good. Just ask Sasha Emerson. The Los Angeles based interior designer is mastering the art of personal downsizing without sacrificing the creature comforts of home through art and interior design.
Repurposing from within allowed Sasha’s decorative integrity to remain intact. She found the comfort of art and interior design. I like to remind clients and fellow decoristas to always seize the opportunity to make your home your art and interior design canvas by putting your stamp of individuality and personal style on everything.
The framed 1960’s supermarket ad for Del Monte Sweet Peas captures the essence of Sasha’s flea-market chic home decor, and fancifully pays homage to Pop Art Icon Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I: Green Pea.
When I first saw the pop of art, it immediately evoked thoughts of weekend grocery store excursions to our local A & P- my mother’s idea of big fun.
Looking back it was. Thinking about split pea art and interior design brings back memories of shopping at A & P and the display feature for School Days Brand Early June Peas.
Design and color are the cornerstones of visual merchandising. I vividly remember brand labels rich in color, distinctive font and visual design. The aforementioned School Days peas and the I remember it as if it were yesterday red tomato-green lettuce leaves- navy blue background Ann Page Mayonnaise label serves memory and a craving for a spring Easter comfort food classic.
This comfort food recipe for pea salad is uncomplicated, styled for a classic taste, and quick to please. I liken it to the creature comforts of home through art and interior design and memories of the walks down the aisles of A & P hand in hand with my darling Mother. I’ve learned so much from both.
1 15 ounce can green peas, drained
1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
1 large roma tomato, diced
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ -1 teaspoon salt
½ tsp. fine black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
Drain peas. In a medium mixing bowl, combine peas, cheese, diced tomatoes, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Gently stir ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.
With spring and Easter right around the corner, I thought I would include this two peas in a pod recipe for Sweet Pea and Ricotta Tart from Good Housekeeping.
Sweet Pea and Ricotta Tart
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
5 Tablespoons cold butter
3 Tablespoons trans-fat free vegetable shortening
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium leek, chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ cup ricotta
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ cup microsprouts or microgreens
Make the Crust:
In the bowl of a food processor, blend flour and salt. Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle in 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until large, moist crumbs just begin to form. Shape dough into disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. (If chilled overnight, let dough stand 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll pie crust into a 12″ circle and fit into a 9″ pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving 1″ overhang; tuck overhang under and crimp edges.
Line dough with large sheet of parchment paper or foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes or until dough is set. Remove parchment with weights and bake until crust is golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more. Remove from oven; let cool completely on wire rack.
In a 10″ skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add leek and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until leek is tender, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add peas and cover; cook until tender, stirring once halfway through, 3 to 5 minutes. Let mixture cool, then stir in lemon juice.
In a medium bowl, stir ricotta, cream cheese, pecorino, lemon zest, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until well-combined. Spread in cooled pie shell. Top with cooled pea mixture and garnish with microsprouts.
Today’s A Most Fetching Friday moves the hands of time and the clock ahead one hour as we spring forward this Sunday. Spring daylight saving time taketh away one hour, but the spring forward trade-off is worth it as spring and summer days giveth extra sunlight.
The beauty of a French themed tablescape is found in the ooh la la factor, and this We’ll Always Have Paris French themed tablescape focuses attention on the it’s all in the details appeal of understated elegance.
French decor elements bring a palette of both deep and soft blue and green, crisp white, rich brown and citrine, soft gray and deep wine red to the table. Below are tabletop and serveware accessories and thoughtful accoutrements to illustrate the point.
Ambiance is paramount to setting the scene and the table for the dining experience. I call it an experience because dining should be exactly that- a social, sensory and scrumptious experience. Sight (we eat first with our eyes) sound, touch, smell and taste anchor ambiance.
Grab a free place card template printable, pop over to your photo editor of choice, add your own favorite French themed embellishments, colors and fonts and voilà!
Frame prints or printables such as this menu écrit en français as conversation pieces.
These wall shelf-wall sconces plucked from the clearance shelves at Hobby Lobby have served as my go-to tabletop decor accessory at shop and at home. The decorative duo immediately caught my eye as tabletop gotta have it rather than wall decor. When you like the details, finish and presence of a decorative piece but not in the context of its original purpose, repurpose. This Antique Cream Half-Circle Wall Shelf from Hobby Lobby X 2 is on my French themed tablescape gotta have it list.
From place setting to ambiance, destination themed tablescapes travel well. Part III of Themed Tablescapes Table Escapes features decorative accessories and accents of Chinoiserie chic to set a Far East Fabulous tablescape.
Like the relaxing powers of Calgon, this updated and improved post takes me away on a visual travel adventure through stylish place settings and tabletop accessories of themed tablescapes. Themed tablescapes set the table for a visual experience of table escape destination presentation.
More people answer travel when asked what they would do if they won the lottery. As my hopes for a lottery windfall and the endless travel funds it would bring eludes me, I rely on themed tablescapes table escapes to destinations of sea, ooh la la land, and fabulous Far East to take me away.
Destination decorating creates a passport to dining adventures, where the dining table top becomes an inspired canvas. Stylish and affordable ideas run the gamut from elegant to casual, translating to themed tablescapes that visually take your fellow “travelers” on a journey to enchanted places. The first seating of this three part themed tablescapes series is one inspired by the captivating beauty of the sea.
The rule of kiss (keep is seaside simple) applies to centerpiece ideas. Taper candles weaved throughout a piece of decorative coral placed atop a cluster of oyster shells is a guaranteed centerpiece showstopper.
I could spend an entire afternoon on a dollar store run searching for affordable tabletop accessories that set a place for chic at the table.
Bulk shells, accent gems, decorative sand and river rocks make a decorative splash as anchor embellishments. For a small amount of moolah you can create an impressive tabletop focal point or decorative companion piece to build your centerpiece upon.
An easy DIY project, coastal themed fabric paired with pearl trim, a decorative starfish, pendant or pin make great custom tablecloth, napkin and napkin ring options. A seamstress I am not, but I can work a package of hem tape and a hot iron like nobody’s business. Ornamental starfish tied with natural or coastal color rich raffia results in a tailored napkin ring. Decorative pearl trim looped through a natural crystal pendant from Hobby Lobby results in a stylish napkin ring and “souvenir” to take home.
I like to use aquarium decor because it is significantly less expensive than full size versions and the smaller sizes work to an individual place setting advantage. Aquarium coral or dry rock makes a highly decorative and inexpensive place card or individual menu holders-easels.
From place setting to ambiance, destination themed tablescapes travel well. Part II of Themed Tablescapes Table Escapes focuses on the très chic ooh la la factor of the We’ll Always Have Paris tablescape.
Home decor accessories, accents and furnishings inspiration is everywhere, and now it is on the sidebar. Allow me to introduce you to a new year, new feature, Shop the Sidebar. Sourcing home decor accessories, accents, and furnishings is part of the all things house that make a home process. Interest in and inquires about accessories, accents and furnishings as seen on Places In The Home is always welcome, and I’m especially pleased when a piece or color I use in a client consultation or moodboard stirs interior design and decorating interest. Always the interior design and decorating show and tell, it is my pleasure to assist and suggest.
Shop the Sidebar features distinctive accessories and accents of regional and seasonal interest that catch my eye and hopefully appeal to and please the most discerning tastes.
Traditional home furnishings fill my design and decorating portfolio, new traditional styles are worthy of attention, and antiques remain a classic furnishings choice near and dear to my heart.
You will notice the pieces and accessories featured throughout the Shop the Sidebar column reflect my personal style and taste– a stick with what you love and design and decorate accordingly presentation. If you see a piece that makes your gotta have it list, click on the image for product information.
Classic furnishings and design accents complement eye and space. We are big fans of TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar, and being the accent chair set design reviewer that I am, I was in my height of glory watching Giant last week. The scenic wallpaper in the foyer of the home of Leslie’s (Elizabeth Taylor) parent’s home is the star of the scene, embodying the design features of Classic Revival style homes. (Try as I may I could not find a photo of the scene that does my point justice). Granted, some patterns and images correlate with the more formal aspect of traditional style, but not in all cases. The Etched Arcadia Mural in Grey Motif from Anthropologie typifies what I have come to know; understated is on par with elegance when contrast is the intended design element.
I just got off the phone with Mr. and Mrs. Canadian snowbird who are moving into a new house this spring. Spring things to come furnishings, colors, fixtures and finery is the current topic of source conversation and conversion (Mom, is the price U.S. or Canadian?). I suggested a Shop the Sidebar session for decor inspiration.
It is everywhere.
Shop the Sidebar contains affiliate links. I receive a commission when a purchase is made of a piece I have suggested. The compensation received has never, and will never, influence the content, topics, retail suggestions or posts made on this blog. You do not pay any more for an item purchased via my links. Commission earned from affiliates allows me to provide free content on the blog, stay connected to the internet, and keep the strong Louisiana coffee brewing.
Preparing or purchasing Valentine’s Day sweets for the sweet is a scrumptious tradition. Sweet logic and delicious justification make Cupid’s case for whipping up one of these Valentine’s Day desserts delectably dedicated to the one you love.
Sharing is caring.
Food is love.
Calories don’t count on Valentine’s Day.
Let’s Valentine’s Day Desserts!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Valentine’s Hearts
¼ cup unsalted butter-softened
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini chocolate chip morsels
For Dipping and Decoration:
10. oz semi sweet baking chocolate
1.5 oz white chocolate for garnish
A few drops of pink or red food colors
Beat softened butter and brown sugar until fully combined, then add vanilla and peanut butter and beat until fluffy. Add flour and sweetened condensed milk and beat until combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chip morsels.
Press the mixture into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish lined with parchment paper and set in the fridge to chill.
Pull off the parchment paper to lift the dough from the baking dish. Using heart shaped cookie cutter cut off the truffles and place them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Set in the freezer while melting chocolate.
Using a fork dip the truffles into melted chocolate ( one at the time), slightly tap the fork against the side of the bowl to trim the excess chocolate and place the truffle back on the parchment paper. Set them back in the fridge to firm.
Melt white chocolate, stir in a few drops of red food color, transfer into a small bag, cut the corner off and pipe melted chocolate on top of the truffles.
recipe Cherry or Chocolate Frosting (see recipe below)
recipe Chocolate-Dipped Cherries (see recipe below) (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 6×2-inch round cake pans or springform pans. Mix 1 teaspoon each flour and cocoa powder; dust pans. Set pans aside. In bowl combine ¾ cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. In large bowl with electric mixer beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Beat in sour cream and flour mixture. Pour batter in pans; spread evenly.
Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on rack.
Use serrated knife to horizontally cut cakes in half to make 4 layers total. Place bottom layer on plate; spread with 2/3 cup frosting. Repeat with layers. Place top layer on cake. Heap remaining frosting, swirling in peaks. Refrigerate.
To serve, top with Chocolate-Dipped Cherries. Serves 8.
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 8 ounce carton sour cream
1 cup whipping cream (do not use ultra-pasteurized whipping cream)
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
In a chilled large mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, sour cream, whipping cream, and cherry juice. Beat with the chilled beaters of an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until fluffy.
16 maraschino cherries with stems
½ cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon shortening
Drain cherries; pat dry with paper towels. In small microwave-safe bowl combine semisweet chocolate pieces and shortening. Cook on 50 percent power (medium) 1½ to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once. Dip cherries in chocolate; place on waxed paper until set. Store, covered, up to 24 hours.
The red velvet cupcake, molten lava cakes or cheesecake!
Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes from Spache the Spatula look absolutely divine. Click on the link to check out this and other tempting recipes from Spache the Spatula. Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes
Red Velvet Cheesecake
1 pound milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup butter
19 ounce package chocolate wafer cookies (40 to 45 cookies)
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup slivered almonds
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
48 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
18 ounce carton dairy sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
11 ounce bottle red food coloring (2 Tbsp.)
2 egg yolks
Chocolate leaves (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)
Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
Fresh raspberries and/or small whole strawberries(optional)
In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate and ½ cup butter over low heat; transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
Place wafer cookies, chocolate pieces, almonds and brown sugar in a large food processor. Cover and process until finely ground. Add the ½ cup melted butter; cover and process until well combined. Transfer crumbs to a 10×3-inch springform pan with a removable bottom. Press crumbs onto bottom and up the sides of the pan, leaving a ½-inch space at the top of the pan. Set aside.
In a very large mixing bowl, beat the cooled chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, buttermilk and red food coloring with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. Add 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks all at once. Beat on low speed just until combined.
Pour filling into crumb-crust lined springform pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan on the oven rack. Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 1 hour, or until 2 inches of outside edge appear set when shaken gently.
Remove springform pan from baking pan. Cool cheesecake in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to loosen cheesecake from sides of pan. Cool 30 minutes more. Remove sides of pan. Cool for 1 hour; cover and chill at least 4 hours.
To serve, use a paper doily to decoratively sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder on the top, if you like. Garnish the center with chocolate leaves and fresh raspberries, if you like. Clean knife between each cut. Makes 20 servings.
Bake and chill up to 24 hours. Garnish just before serving.
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, ¾ teaspoon salt and the baking powder in a medium bowl. Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg
and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the dough until 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface, then cut out cookies with a 2-inch heart-shaped cutter.
Arrange about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are slightly firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the pans, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Make the filling:
Combine the white chocolate, remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla and
pinch of salt in a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan, then pour over the white chocolate. Stir until smooth, then refrigerate until cold, 25 minutes. Beat with a mixer until creamy. Sandwich the white chocolate mixture between the cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on cookie sheet or counter work surface.
Using soft brush, brush over sheet with melted butter. Lightly sprinkle entire sheet with sugar. Top with another sheet. Butter, sprinkle and repeat until 6 sheets thick. Repeat to create another 6 sheets stack. Using a pizza cutter or large knife, make ten vertical slices and one horizontal slice down the middle of each stack.
Lightly spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line each muffin cup with 1 of the phyllo pieces at a time, covering sides and bottom to form a cup. Repeat making 12 cups.
Using a microplane, shave dark chocolate over each cup to dust.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until light golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and immediately place desired amount of chocolate chips in each cup allowing to melt.
Top melted chocolate chips with strawberry slices, drizzled honey and whipped topping. Dust whip topping clouds with cinnamon.
Valentine’s Heart Candy Box Cake from The Cake Blog. Trust me, this recipe is well worth the time, the effort, and the click on the link to check it out. Valentine’s Heart Candy Box Cake
Easy as the top ingredient!
Chocolate Sweetheart Cupcakes
2 sticks butter
1 ½ cup sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup heavy cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 oz. white chocolate
Heat oven to 350ºF. Line 12 regular-size (2 1⁄2-in. diam) muffin cups with paper liners. Beat butter, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl with mixer on low speed 1 minute or until well blended. Add eggs; beat 2 minutes or until fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla (batter may look curdled), then flour just until blended.
Spoon scant 1⁄4 cup batter into each muffin cup, filling each about 2⁄3 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in centers of cupcakes comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes before removing from pan to rack. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with remaining batter. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting and decorating. Each recipe makes 24 cupcakes.
For the ganache:
Gently heat ¾ cup heavy cream over medium heat, then pour over 8 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute; stir until melted and smooth. Evenly spoon ganache on top of 12 large or 24 small chocolate cupcakes. Let set for 30 minutes.
For the lettering:
Microwave 3 ounces white chocolate on 50% power in 20-second intervals until melted and smooth. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1.5 tip, then get creative!