Chocolate is in the Valentine’s Day spotlight, and it doesn’t get any better than dark chocolate pudding.
Valentine’s Day heart shaped ideas are just another way to have fun with your Valentine’s Day presentation plans. The dazzle is in the details, the delicious is in the recipe, the joy is in the sharing, and the ♥ is in this Happy Valentine’s Day post.
Conversations, estimations, and prognostications for the upcoming LSU Tigers football season has gone from a meow to a roar.
Football fans- this is not a drill. If you haven’t scouted the recipes, planned the menus, decorations and tailgating tablescapes ideas we’ve got something to talk about as well. Football fans and the tailgating nation from conference to conference, division to division take their football and tailgating times serious. Football fans here in the South surely do, and come rain, sunshine, humidity or hurricane, we let the good tailgating times roll.
Tailgating planning and execution is a process that rivals that of an elaborate dinner party. The selection of a tailgating tablescapes theme and the perfect decor accessories and tablewares can be an entertaining success from parking to parting.
Tailgating has come along way from the hibachi and red Solo cup days, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Tailgaters decked out in team attire and colors believe in getting the party started early in game day style.
The old adage football is a religion in the South has a lot of truth to it. The shall we gather at the stadium loyal gather together to get the pregame ritual kicked off in true Tiger style. Game day chic includes both a pregame bag and a clear bag compliant with stadium policy.
Team logo and tiger chic flats and sandals bring style and comfort to the look. For the away games to college towns where fall is actually fall, gold metallic espadrille slip-on sneakers or warm lined suede boots fit the bill.
To every sport there is a season, and to every tailgating tablescape there is a reason. If real estate is all about location, location, location tailgating tablescapes is all about display, display, display. Pitch your tailgating tent in a prime location, hang a focal point chandelier, and proceed to impress the crowd with your tailgating tablescapes skills and style.
I begin by dressing the table in whatever choice of table linens fits this weeks theme. Burlap is the tailgating accessory that consistently tops the tailgating tablescapes must have table linens list because of its durability and inexpensive price tag. Versatile for table covers and table runners, burlap, the on-trend farmhouse chic fabric, is a very forgiving fabric.
There’s no crying in football or spilled chili, dip, gumbo, cocktails, etc…
If a stain should occur, cover it up with a serving tray or platter for the duration of your tailgating soiree (a hosting trick). Between tailgating times, head over to a fabric store or online retailer to pick up or order a couple of more yards of this tailgating friendly fabric.
Decorating your tailgating tablescapes with pieces in team colors, seasonal accents, and holiday du jour decor never fails to impress the crowd. My game changer tablescape works with a casual yet elegant theme. It brings a bit of juxtaposition to the tailgating tablescapes mix with stoneware plates paired with inexpensive faux wood chargers.
Easy to work with centerpiece options include a team mascot figurine, collectible helmet, and a bronze poly-stone football player sculpture.
Arrangements of fresh or faux flowers and plants of the season set a festive and colorful scene. Crotons, hydrangeas, garden mums, marigolds, branches, decorative feathers, dried lotus pods, magnolia leaves and sunflowers give a festive nod to fall and transport well.
Vases and containers can be as simple as a collection of empty vegetable-sauce-bean cans to dollar store metal vases with rope accents to craft pumpkins to a football cut to accommodate a can in which to house fresh flowers. When selecting vases and containers, I keep ease of transport, the unique factor, and avoid breakage at all times in mind.
Simple serves a purpose, a hungry crowd, and an easy cleanup detail. I keep my eye of the tiger on these 5 gallon college buckets from Home Depot. I like to pick up several of these tailgating gotta have it staples to use as a carry all, cool all and basic catchall.
Tailgating tablescapes wow factor serveware suggestions include cake stands stacked for a tiered effect. Stacked cake stands work great as serving pieces and chic displays for cheeses, fruits, crackers, breads, muffins and of course, cake.
Be sure to shop end of season sales and clearance sections for all your tailgating tablescapes needs. The very fall and Halloween color choice appropriate Corin melamine serving collection in spice orange is on clearance at Crate & Barrel.
A woven crate basket can pull triple duty as a tailgate supply tote for a hot chocolate with all the fixings, turned upside down and used as the aforementioned fixings display, and holder of fleece throws in seasonal or team colors.
Tailgating recipes for barbecued anything, Creole seasoned popcorn and lemonade with a kick, cold or hot dips, salads, sandwiches, soups, stews or chili, and tasty tailgating appropriate desserts always satisfy a hungry tailgating group.
Gumbo or deer chili served with homemade buttermilk cornbread with pork cracklin’s has Louisiana c’est si bon written all over it.
5 pounds skin-on pork belly
4 cups lard
Peanut oil, for frying
Cracklin’ Spice (recipe follows)
Place pork belly skin side up on a cutting board, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
In a large Dutch oven, place lard and pork belly. Do not layer pork belly in more than 3 layers. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until skin blisters and turns golden brown. Transfer pork belly to rimmed baking sheets, and refrigerate until cold.*
In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 4 inches, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 380°. Add pork belly in batches, and fry until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let drain on paper towels, and liberally sprinkle or toss with Cracklin’ Spice.
Fans are always looking for a way to celebrate their team(s). Tailgating gives us a great excuse to get to the stadium early for pregame food, fun and fantastic times. Fire up the grills and set the tailgating tablescapes, football fans. It’s tailgating season!
You would think color palette inspiration is what I gleaned from the country French aesthetic of this Charles Faudree decorated bedroom. Oh, it catches my eye and pops the patriotic palette, but what speaks 4th of July to me is the blue and white plates on the wall.
More on that further down the post.
Old Glory proudly welcomes visitors and the 4th of July to Places In The Home. I never shy away from an opportunity to add a pop of color to interiors or exteriors.
Displaying the American flag and decorative throw pillows in red, white, and blue brilliantly colors my world in true patriotic style.
Our usual cast of characters made an executive holiday decision to hold our 4th of July bash at my brother’s house.
I voted for our 4th of July holiday to look a bit more like this,
but the majority ruled for our grand old flag pop and splash style 4th of July bash to be a home for the holiday celebration.
Relocating our 4th of July bash to my brother’s house puts us closer to the lake and his pool.
My Dad was a Veteran and a proud American. His love of country was rooted in the American flag. He fought for it, he never shied from his pride in it, and at the end of his life the American flag honored him. In honor of my Dad, Veterans, and the military servicemen and women who serve our country, our flag flies for you.
What would a 4th of July tablescape be without a red, white and blue centerpiece? I’m supplying the vase which is actually a cookie jar sans lid and the American flags.
Whatever greenery or flower I can find in blooming abundance in nature’s floral department (the yard) will be the center of centerpiece attention. I happened to notice how full our neighbor’s magnolia tree is at present, and with their permission to “get all you want whenever you want” I’m thinking a bouquet of magnolias is where this centerpiece is going.
I’m staying true red, white, and blue with the party palette, but the 4th of July patio table will be set with vintage blue and white plates in various china patterns.
Summer sweet corn grown in the fields along the bayou is on the menu. Some want it roasted, some want it cut off the cob and Southern fried with home grown tomatoes and sauteed Vidalia onions, and some want it boiled or as it was put to me the way nature and the farm to table gods intended.
Summer sips, snacks, sweets, sides and sizzle simple is on the menu. Dave the Builder will lead the barbecue pit crew, I’ll handle the sides, my brother is in charge of beverages and appetizers, and Mama Places In The Home is on dessert detail.
From planning to preparing to plating, our grand old flag pop and splash style 4th of July bash is a family affair. We’re ready to go 4th, color our world and our holiday, and party in patriotic style. We hope you all have a fantastic 4th of July and if things don’t get planning and preparing crazy around here, I’ll pop in with a post next week.
Note to summer: We’ve got a lot of irons in the summer campfire. Summer simple suggestions in chic summer style for bedecking interior and exterior settings, entertaining, dishing up summer fare, and outdoor living it up easy peasy is greatly appreciated.
Southern, Northern, Eastern or Western Living- regardless of geographical location, summer living and loving decoristas have got the memo, and it’s all about keeping it summer simple and summer simple suggestions.
It’s kinda sorta tough to kick back, relax and savor the season when you notice heavy equipment sitting on the sidewalk in front of your house and you, the homeowner, have no earthly idea what it is doing there.
Seems our city water department has a little curb appeal water line improvement of their own in mind. This does not make my summer simple suggestions list.
Progress isn’t always a pretty process, and the installation of a new water lines makes it difficult to achieve summer curb appeal style, but we forge on.
We trimmed the unattractive dead sago palm fronds and within a week new green growth emerged. Here’s a trick in my simple summer suggestions repertoire for getting your Sago palm(s) summer curb appeal ready.
Sago Palm Care
Outdoor planted Sago palm care involves watering the plant regularly until it takes root. I like the look and the drought tolerant aspect of the mature Sago palm. Fertilize at least once a month beginning in spring to aid in active growth. Covering the base of the plant with mulch will help to protect the roots from cold snaps. In inclement winter weather or fall freeze, we cover the exposed Sago palm with a heavy duty extra large black trash bag to protect it.
If it’s not one thing, it’s this.
Cue The Rolling Stones, cause it’s shattered.
The lawn and garden guy’s super duper heavy duty weed eater took aim at a loose piece of exposed aggregate, obliterating the exterior glass panel of the patio French garden door. One simply can’t patio pretty with ugly on parade. Thank goodness for the friend who frequents our summer patio soirees that just so happens to own a local glass company.
It’s time once again to get your summer soiree on, and the ideas for fun in the sun or evening tiki torch, lantern or string light are flowing. We’re working with what we’ve got in the front of the house, and if you are like us, you’re getting your porch, patio and deck hangin’ game plan down pat. Comfortable, fun, relaxing, refreshing, simple, tasty and stylish as chic- this is my number one summer simple suggestions formula for a festive summer gathering.
If Ina Uses It
I read with interest an article listing the pros and cons of a charcoal grill. The pros outnumber the cons, and personal preference trumps all however, the one pro of the charcoal grill worth mentioning is worth mentioning. Grilling on a charcoal grill ups the flavor quotient and gives great grilled flavor.
Brushing the grate with oil helps to prevent food from sticking. Take three or four paper towels and wad them up in a bunch. Pick up the paper towels with tongs and dip into a bowl of peanut, Canola or vegetable oil. Lightly coat the grate and proceed to grill.
Ina is a huge fan of the charcoal chimney starter. Using a charcoal chimney starter is both easy and a safe way to get things cooking. I hate the taste of lighter fluid, and am leery of it as well. When you use a charcoal chimney starter there is no need for lighter fluid. Simply fill the chimney starter about ¾ full with charcoal and light it over several sheets of scrunched up newspaper over the bottom grill grate.
Allow the fire to catch and then burn for about 10-20 minutes or until the fire comes out of the top and the coals are glowing orange. Carefully spread out the charcoal in a single layer across the bottom cooking grate, place the oiled grate on top, and you’re ready to grill.
As Ina Garten would say, how fabulous is that?
Speaking of Simple Summer Suggestions, Ina Garten, Summer Fare and Grilling
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for brushing the grill
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces grated Gruyere
12 small Brioche buns
4 ounces baby arugula
3 medium tomatoes, sliced in 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 small red onions, sliced in 1/8-inch-thick rounds
Ketchup, for serving
Build a charcoal fire or heat a gas grill.
Place the ground beef in a large bowl and add the mustard, olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix gently with a fork to combine, taking care not to compress the ingredients. Shape the meat into 12 (2-inch) patties of equal size and thickness.
When the grill is medium-hot, brush the grill grate with oil to keep the sliders from sticking. Place the sliders on the grill and cook for 4 minutes. Turn the sliders over with a spatula and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes, until medium-rare, or cook longer if you prefer the sliders more well done. For the last 2 minutes of cooking time, place ½-ounce Gruyere on the top of each burger and close the grill lid. Remove the sliders to a platter and cover with foil.
Slice the buns in half crosswise and toast the halves cut side down on the grill.
Divide the baby arugula among the 12 bottom buns, top each with a slider, and finish with a slice of tomato and red onion. Cover with the top of the bun and serve hot with ketchup.
Culinary experiments put the taste and c’est si bon in the summer entertaining mix. Summer menus require summer classics, new discoveries and improved additions.
Fried chicken is practically required eating in the South and a mainstay of the summer dining and picnic table. Once the Places In The Home gang discovered how good the fried chicken is from the deli at our local Kroger, frying chicken at home has become a thing of the past.
Here’s my tip for simply summer impressive- it’s all in the presentation. I go heavy on the presentation and simple with the preparation. I picked up a pack of mini terra-cotta clay pots at the dollar store to use as individual s’mores supply pots.
Chippy, rusty, and charming- this vintage Hershey’s Milk Chocolate metal tray would make a great serving tray or decorative accent for the s’mores table.
Vintage ironstone and in the style of vintage table linens set a summer chic table. A quick trip to an antique shop, garage sale or Goodwill store usually results in an ironstone serving piece find or two. Vintage picnic wares and baskets bring memories to the table, and can be used for the actual purpose of food and beverage and/or as decorative accents.
Dave the Builder and I bought a vintage picnic table from a fellow antiques dealer with the express purpose of featuring it in a summer display at Hopefully Classic. I used a vintage picnic basket filled with hydrangeas for a super easy, super cute centerpiece. You can make quite the keep it summer simple statement with a collection of glass jars or melamine vegetable bowl and whatever flowers, greenery or veggies are growing fresh in your yard or garden. No garden or flowers on the homestead? Check out the floral department and produce section of your favorite grocery store.
Mini watermelons on a natural table runner of Pittosporum and Lemon Lime Nandina is summer simple and summer chic.
Ears of fresh corn with the husks slightly peeled back in order to expose the corn kernels grouped in threes and tied with woven ribbon of your color, pattern and texture choice or metallic twisted rope is another fresh centerpiece idea.
Bring the sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and cool. Puree the plums, cooled syrup, and lime juice in two batches, using a blender, until smooth. Stir the plum puree and yogurt together in a large mixing bowl.
Pour the mixture into popsicle molds, leaving about ½ inch at the top, as the mixture will expand when it freezes. Follow popsicle mold manufacturer’s instructions and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.
Have you heard about these new scratch-and-sniff Frozen Treats stamps inspired by summer and the whimsical watercolor illustrations of Margaret Berg? These will be great for those summer cookout-party-soiree snail mail invitations.
Pair your favorite frozen treat with a glass of sparkling wine for a little zing. Dipping a frozen treat into a chilled glass of sparkling wine pops the flavor notes and takes summer treat to a whole new tasting dimension. Prosecco grapes is another winner. These frozen treats are super easy to make and quite refreshing.
2 lb. green grapes
1 bottle prosecco
4 oz. vodka
½ cup granulated sugar
In a large bowl, pour prosecco and vodka over grapes. Let them soak in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Drain in a colander and pat dry. On a shallow plate, roll the grapes in sugar until fully coated, then serve.
The on the patio, porch, terrace or deck on summer holidays season complete with summer ready spots of relaxation and entertaining decked out to impress is ready to a kick off. Memorial Day is fast approaching with the 4th of July and Labor Day arriving sooner than later. The Canadian snowbird couple celebrated Victoria Day this past Monday, and the snaps of their deck and yard getting summer ready mirrors what many of us are patio planning.
Ollie by Gollie and Caramel the Wonder Rescue love spending time outdoors soaking up the sun. Winter is in the rearview mirror, and we are looking ahead to outdoor living, entertaining, and my favorite, decorating, with the full-on colors, patterns, and textures that visually convey the message summer has arrived. The warm temps of spring every days and summer holidays is inspiration central for those who love decorating and celebrating their outdoor living life on the patio, porch, terrace or deck on summer holidays.
Summer evenings set to a serene and tranquil scene usher in a leave the fast track behind and escape to relaxation destination. I love an outdoor space that visually draws you in and stunningly communicates come for the style, stay for the view.
Great lighting is an essential part of framing the space- indoors and outdoors. I always suggest adding or at least consider adding a chandelier and/or table lamp(s) to your patio, porch, terrace or deck space. These lighting options inject a touch of casual elegance and make the space more intimate.
Celebrating the moments of your outdoor living life with a cool refreshing beverage is always a good idea. Convenience makes a fabulous party guest, and a beverage station or bar cart sur le patio is as convenient as it is necessary.
The image below reminds me of the vintage sewing machine stand I bought at a flea market when Dave the Builder and I were dating. Dave found a scrap piece of marble to serve as the top and we were in business.
I first used the marble top sewing machine stand as a bistro table, then a kitchen island, then a microwave stand, and eventually a poolside bar/beverage stand. Nothing fancy by any means, but unique (at the time) and very versatile.
Are you familiar with the site Wish.com? My niece-in-law introduced me to this online direct from China shopping site, and I have ordered several things from the site with no issues. The merchandise quality is good, I have had no problems with shipping dates, and the items arrive as advertised. I ordered this leaf linen throw pillow cover last summer, and I am so pleased with the product and the price.
Are you ready for the price?
$2.00 including shipping.
A quality look at a super inexpensive price. That’s a summer style deal I can get on board with.
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.
Culinary contemplation over how I could up my holiday side dish game brought me to a delicious conclusion. How ’bout pairing the highly holiday requested Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with the OMG as in oh my goodness of puff pastry. Southern Sweet Potato Puffs it is!
Impressing the palates of those who gather together is a part of the holiday dinner and entertaining equation. As someone who puts stock in the you eat with your eyes first approach to dining, the looks so good has to match up to the tastes so good. Let’s begin with the recipe for Southern Sweet Potato Casserole.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Boil sweet potatoes under tender. Carefully remove from heat, drain, peel and mash sweet potatoes.
In mixing bowl, mix together the mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, eggs, melted butter, milk, vanilla extract, Southern Comfort, ground cloves and ground nutmeg. Spread mixture evenly in prepared baking dish.
In a separate mixing bowl, mix together brown sugar, chopped pecans, flour, and melted butter.
Spoon over sweet potato mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Southern Sweet Potato Puffs
southern sweet potato casserole for filling
1 box puff pastry sheets
Allow the casserole to cool before using as the filling for the puffs. The reason I elect to fill the puff pastry with cooked sweet potato casserole is to work with a dryer filling. Baking off the casserole absorbs the liquids into the baked casserole, and makes it easier to work with a firmer filling. The next step in the making of Southern Sweet Potatoes Puffs brings puff pastry into the mix. I used the defrost in the refrigerator overnight method of thawing the puff pastry sheets. Unfold 1 puff pastry sheet and place on lightly floured countertop or large baking sheet. Roll puff pastry out using a lightly floured rolling pin. Lightly dust pastry sheet with flour. Using a knife, cut the pastry sheet into six (6) squares.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of the Southern Sweet Potato Casserole mixture in the center of each pastry square.
Pull corners of each square up over the filling and twist at top to seal. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet. Place the pastry squares onto a large baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
Beat 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of water together in a small bowl with a fork. Brush each puff with the egg mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes or until puffs are golden brown.