Let the Summer Patio Good Times Begin

Chatting with Dave the Builder about how Memorial Day weekend traditionally signals let the summer patio good times begin and the opening back up of stores, shops, salons, restaurants, casinos, and the like brought up the question of just when to jump back into the swing of normal things.

Slow and safe is the approach I’m taking concerning out and about, but I’m all in on the season of living easy.

Toledo-Bend-pier

Granted, I would love to host a gathering of more than just me and Dave the Builder to usher in the summer season 2020, and we will eventually, but for now we’ll keep it summer, party of two.

summer patio good timesDaponte Outdoor Polyresin Wood Burning Fire Pit

Getting patio, deck, porch or pier summer ready kicks the salute to summer party in gear.

Washing away winter’s remnants always puts a fresh and clean spin on things, and makes way for the patio party part of the process most of us really look forward to- the decorating details.

Solar+Powered+Outdoor+Table+LampSolar Powered Outdoor Table Lamp

Outdoor decor items enhance the look of the season and emphasize chic summer style.

Solar Powered Outdoor Table LampSolar Powered Outdoor Table Lamp

I love the seagrass pendant lamp shade from IKEA.

Mama Places In The Home (better known as the proofreader) asked if this was a food cover.

Although not its intended use, reimagining an item to better suit your decorating and entertaining needs often creates a wow factor.

Seagrass is so summer chic, and the price (19.99) is so summer sweet.

TORARED Pendant lamp shade, seagrass, 14 "

TORARED Pendant lamp shade, seagrass, 14 “

Let there be light pairs with let the music play in these LED string lights with bluetooth speakers.

bright tunes string lights

 

bluetooth-string-lights-speakers1

Bright Tunes – LED String Lights with Four Bluetooth Speakers

A patio, deck, porch or pier becomes the perfect summer canvas for the art of decorating.

inexpensive-patio-chairsLiving Accent Brown Wicker Chat Chair

Ions ago when Dave and I had commercial and residential real estate dealings in Central Florida, we liked to stay at a particular hotel in the International Drive area of Orlando.

We mixed business with pleasure sitting poolside several afternoons, sipping cool beverages and soaking up the island vibe complete with tiki terrific motif.

Crank Tiki Market Umbrella in Straw

Crank Tiki Market Umbrella in Straw

Relaxing, summer stylish, and memorable- an excellent theme to work with.

Beachcomber Ceramic Tiki Mugs - 16 oz - Set of 4Beachcomber Ceramic Tiki Mugs – 16 oz – Set of 4

Fresh mint ice cubes add a zip of cool summer minty freshness to your favorite beverages.

Easy to make, delicious to taste, and talk about pretty in a pitcher or glass or both.

fresh mint ice cubes

Place gently rinsed fresh mint leaves into each individual square of the ice cube tray.

Fill  squares with water.

Pop tray into freezer until cubes are solid.

Enjoy these summer minty fresh ice cubes in your beverage of choice.

airstream-party-coolerAirstream Party Cooler

Airsteam is a classic, and this replica party cooler brings to mind travel trailer road trips to destinations of summer fun.

The Summer Airstream Party Cooler from Pottery Barn is sure to be a conversation starter and a summer good times investment piece.

Summer Patio Good Times Cookout Recipes

Click on the link for full recipe – Favorite Barbecued Chicken

I’ve carted this handwritten recipe on many a camping trip for the express purpose of satisfying the request of our camping crew.

baked-beans-recipe

I got this recipe for Sue and Gloria’s Baked Beans from an episode of Paula’s Home Cooking, and tried it out for the great Fourth of July camping trip of 2008.

Oven baking is not always camping convenient, but you know what is?

A 7 qt. slow cooker.

I put the recipe together while we’re drinking coffee in the morning, set the slow cooker on low for approximately 6-8 hours, and let the goodness come together for dinner.

Click on the link for full recipeGrilled Corn 4 Ways

Click on the link for full recipe- Bloomin’ Grilled Apples

Decorate.

Cook.

Plan.

Patio.

Summertime is the season of living easy and summer patio good times.

love signature

Mother’s Day Celebration Ideas

With the closings, limitations, concerns, and interruptions in the normal Mother’s Day celebration ideas and retail shopping routine, Mother’s Day will be somewhat different this year, and that’s not a bad thing.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Curbside pick-up is a helpful, healthier, and convenient option (don’t spread the germs, but spread the tip love to our hero clerks) for these Mother’s Day celebration ideas gifts and ingredients.

Mother's Day celebration ideas

Going out to eat at a restaurant is out for this year, so we’re considering hosting a picnic complete with social distancing etiquette.

brown-vintiquewise-insulated-food-carriers

Better Homes & Gardens Hannalore Quilt1

Warmer afternoons and sunny May days invite a picnic to the list of Mother’s Day celebration ideas.

Besides, a picnic spread gives me the perfect gift idea.

quilt-roses

Better Homes & Gardens Hannalore Quilt

One can never have enough romantic floral quilts in soft tones and shades of pink and green reminiscent of an English garden.

The Better Homes & Gardens Hannalore Quilt from Walmart is picnic perfect for a Mother’s Day spread and a lovely from me to you picnic parting gift.

Plastic Dinner Plate - Room Essentials™

Plastic Dinner Plate – Room Essentials™

Included in our picnic basket is a set of plastic dinner plates and gingham check napkins.

pink-white-gingham-napkins

DII Pink & White Reversible Gingham Check Napkin Set, 4 Pieces

Melamine is outdoor entertaining friendly, and offers an array of color and pattern choices.

Lenox® Butterfly Meadow® Melamine Small Butterfly Trays (Set of 2)Lenox® Butterfly Meadow® Melamine Small Butterfly Trays (Set of 2)

hibiscus flower

Inspired by the hibiscus plant my brother recently gifted me, I’ll be serving  hibiscus peach tea with fresh lemon slices and fresh mint.

Pure Leaf Peach Hibiscus Herbal Tea

fresh-mint-lemons

If you’re looking for an impressive taste of spring dish for a Mother’s Day brunch, lunch, snack or supper, Strawberry Watermelon Chicken Salad served with a light homemade basil dressing from Sandy aka Reluctant Entertainer is a standout dish.

Click HERE to get her divine recipe.

Agnes Pie Dish By AnthropologieAgnes Pie Dish By Anthropologie

Bacon and Cheddar Grits Quiche is the best of Southern light fare, or at least our idea of it.

Bacon and Cheddar Grits Quiche

Ingredients

6 thick bacon slices

2 ¼ cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup uncooked stone-ground grits

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

6 large eggs

2 ½ cups half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sliced green onions

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon; drain and crumble.  Transfer 2 tsp. bacon drippings to a saucepan.

Bring drippings, milk, and butter to a boil over medium heat. Gradually whisk in grits, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper; cook, whisking constantly, 15 minutes or until very thick. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup cheese; let stand 10 minutes.  Stir in 1 egg; spread in a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until set and browned. Sprinkle remaining 1 ½ cups cheese over warm grits, spreading to edges.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.  Combine half-and-half, cream, onions, and remaining 5 eggs, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper.  Pour over grits; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.  Place pan on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lightly browned and just set. Let stand 20 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around edges of quiche; remove sides of pan.

-Southern Living

Mother's-Day-gardenia-bouquet

Dave the Builder presented me with a bouquet of garden gardenias picked on his late evening walk around the grounds of Places In The Home (the backyard).

His Mother’s Day celebration ideas gesture is a gift to the senses.

Vintage pitchers and crystal rose bowls full of fresh cut gardenias make a pretty sight, and the intoxicating scent floats throughout the entire house.

Majestic Gifts Inc. Hand Cut and Mouth Blown Crystal Rose Bowl

I am so pleased with the look created with this arrangement of peonies from the Kroger floral department (included in our pick-up grocery order) paired with a variety of fresh cuttings that I’m adding it to my Mother’s Day celebration ideas portfolio.

The cost is minimal, the effort simple, and the finished result a visual gift to the eye.

I’m excited to try this Rose and Lemon Layer Cake recipe from Victoria Magazine made with lemon curd, lemon zest, and rose water.

With the help of a pastry bag fitted with a large fluted tip, oodles of delicate rose frosting rosettes complete this dessert stunner.

rose and lemon cake

Creative Mother’s Day celebration ideas show love and gratefulness in ways beyond retail.

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Sharing the Christmas Cheer

Time is short on this Friday before Christmas, but there’s always time for sharing the Christmas cheer.

vintage-style-gift-bagsChristmas on sale emails get my attention at this time of year.

I sourced, shopped, and scored these Simplicity vintage gift bags at Joann Fabrics and Crafts, and they are so super vintage style cute.

Christmas-potpourri

Apples, lemons, cinnamon sticks, whole coves, and bay leaves brought to boil and set to simmer fills the house with the scents of Christmas.

poinsettiaBrothers bearing gifts of poinsettia in winter white and Christmas red kick off the week before Christmas gift exchange.

porcelain-Christmas-tree

This year’s Christmas decorating is less extravagance and more emphasis on special touches rooted in memories, provenance, and simple I love that beauty.

angel-wings

oranges-cloves

Oranges and cloves remind me of my great grandmother’s house at the holidays.

cloves-oranges-cedarHer uncomplicated approach to Christmas decorating translated into a unique style all her own and adorned in understated grace.

bottle-brush-Christmas-trees

I conducted a Christmas tasting trial run while the kids were home.

Hands down, this cranberry fig cheese ball took top honors in the holiday appetizer category.

cheese ball

Cranberry Fig Cheese Ball

Ingredients

8 ounce block cream cheese softened

8 ounces shredded mild cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

½ cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup fig preserves

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon Creole seasoning, optional

½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

In a mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese to soften.  Add shredded mild cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, Worcestershire sauce, fig preserves and chopped parsley.  Mix all ingredients together to blend.

cheese-ball-ingredients

Form cheese mixture into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or even better, overnight allowing cheese ball to firm up.

cheese-ball-form

Once firm, unwrap cheese ball from plastic wrap.  Roll the cheese ball in Creole seasoning and chopped walnuts to cover.  Serve with snack crackers of choice.

Santa-figurine-on-table

Sharing the Christmas cheer is the best part of the holiday season.

I’m spending this weekend in the Places In The Home test kitchen churning out cakes and cookies for family, friends, and neighbors.

After all, it is the most wonderful and tasty time of the year, the present is in the process, and the gift is in the giving.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and love from me to you at this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

love your style

 

 

 

Sweet Treats No Tricks Halloween Goodies

Coming soon to a serving tray or cake plate near you is the sweet treats-no tricks Halloween goodies sure to tempt and delight.

jack-o-lantern-on-column-1

Flickr

I’ve selected several recipes, ideas, and suggestions for making the Halloween goodies baking process a delicious, easy, and wickedly fun endeavor.

Halloween goodies

Country Living Magazine

Presentation is key, and the vintage cutouts, bendables, honeycomb decorations, candies, and tin tray spell trick or treat.

Vintage Halloween Tissue Dancer Witch Hanging Decor

Vintage Halloween Tissue Dancers Hanging Decor

I loved our annual Halloween shopping trips to Kmart, TG&Y, and Gibsons for decorations.

Selections were limited compared to today’s offerings, but did the trick.

black melamine serving tray

A honeycomb decoration served as a centerpiece, a bendable scarecrow or warty witch a front door decoration, and two plastic jack-o’-lanterns lights to light the Halloween night and living room windows completed the look.

Vintage Halloween honeycomb cat

My mother showed a cake mix who was boss in the original Places In The Home test kitchen.

Duncan-Hines-dark-chocolate-cake-mix

Rae Dunn Large Mix Mixing BowlRae Dunn Large Mix Mixing Bowl

Her bag of tasty tricks included adding candy bar pieces, flavoring extracts, calorie rich whole milk, and food coloring combinations transformed a store bought cake mix into the taste of homemade.

There’s Halloween goodies magic in a bag of Milano cookies and white chocolate chips.

Milano milk chocolate cookies

Milano mummy cookies

M’mm M’mm mummy cookies are easy to make with a bag or two of Milano cookies, white chocolate chips, sprinkles, or candy eyes.

Milano cookie ghosts

Start by placing 2 cups of white chocolate chips and ½ teaspoon shortening  in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 90 seconds.  Stir to incorporate. Microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is fully melted.

For extra smooth chocolate, add another ½ teaspoon of shortening to the melted chocolate; stirring well to mix.

*******************************************************
Test kitchen experiment with mint chocolate chips (not a favorite in the Places In The Home test kitchen) proves the times and ingredients accurate.
*******************************************************

mint-chocolate-chips

melted-chocolate-chips

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Place Milano cookies on cookie sheet.

Spoon melted chocolate over the top half of each Milano cookie and allow to set.

Reheat the remaining chocolate for 10 seconds to melt.  Carefully spoon melted chocolate into a resealable plastic bag.   Zip or seal the bag and snip off the bottom corner off the bag.

Drizzle chocolate over each cookie to create the bandage look.  Finish by adding candy eyes or sprinkles for the eyes to each cookie while chocolate is soft.

Refrigerate cookies to allow chocolate to set.

Halloween graveyard cake

Halloween Graveyard Cake from Country Living Magazine

Milano cookies make excellent tombstones.

Classic-Chocolate-Creamy-Home-Style-Frosting

Spoon canned frosting in your choice of color into a resealable plastic bag.

Seal or zip the bag and snip off the bottom corner off the bag.

Pipe RIP on top half of a Milano cookie, and that’s it.

halloween-cookie-recipes-black-cat-cookies

These Black Cat Cookies from Good Housekeeping immediately caught my eye.

Granted, there’s several steps included in this recipe, but the finished product makes it worthwhile.

Black Cat Cookies

Ingredients

Basic Sugar Cookies – recipe here

Black Cocoa Cookies – recipe here

Royal Icing – recipe here

Vodka or other clear alcohol (you might need to add a dram or two for the baker!)

Black and silver luster dust

Directions

Prepare cookie doughs as directed.  Use flour-coated circle cutters to cut out circles from sugar cookie dough, and use cocoa-coated cat cutters to cut out cats from black cocoa cookie dough.  Bake as directed and let cool completely.

Use royal icing to decorate sugar cookies and attach cat cookies on top.

Mix a small amount of clear alcohol with silver luster dust and use a paint brush to paint small brushstrokes on the royal icing of the sugar cookies. Repeat with black luster dust to paint bats.

Makes 1 dozen.

-Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen

witch-cupcakes

These witch cupcakes are so ugly they’re darling.

I’m taking baking liberty here by suggesting you make the cupcakes using cake mix.  Where the cake mix calls for water, I use milk for a richer homemade taste.

How to make the witch hats:

Place a wire rack over a baking sheet.  Use a serrated knife to carefully cut 3 in. from the point of the sugar cones.  Place the chocolate wafers on the rack.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave according to package directions. Spoon the melted chocolate over one cone at a time making sure to evenly cover each cone.

With a spatula, spread the chocolate to cover the wafer, adding more chocolate if necessary.

How to make the frosting:

Using an electric mixer, beat 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 1 ¼ cup butter (2½ sticks), 1 tsp vanilla and ¼ tsp salt in a bowl until smooth and fluffy.

Tint frosting green by mixing two drops of yellow food coloring with two drops of blue.

How to make the witches:

Spread a small amount of frosting onto each cupcake, top with a doughnut. Frost sides and top of the doughnut.

Place the jelly beans, cut-side down, into the frosting for eyes.

Cut each taffy into 4 pieces, shape each into a nose and place under the eyes.

Pipe the brown frosting ( two drops of red and two drops of green) onto the jelly beans for pupils and over the jelly beans for eyebrows.

Pipe a mouth with the red frosting.

Break the shredded wheat into strands and place on top of each doughnut.

-Woman’s Day

The homemade and the taste of homemade Halloween goodies trick is to treat the eye and the sweet tooth.

love your style

 

Easy 4th Of July Celebration Ideas

In the spirit of letting freedom ring in the good old summertime, let’s look at a sampling of easy 4th of July celebration ideas for your star-spangled spectacular.

flag on barn canvas art print

Kirkland’s

The 4th of July is a special holiday celebration bedecked in patriotic red, white, and blue commerating the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of the United States of America.  

Women's American Flag Snip Toe Boots

red white bbq shirt

Summer sets an anything goes good with fun, food and family background, and goes perfect with the 4th of July. 

4th-cocktails

It’s never too late in the party planning process to throw an indoor and outdoor party with a festive “pop” of festive seasonal color.

american-flag-pillows-mcdowell

House Beautiful

Outdoor celebrations around our house involve the double D rule (no, there is nothing going on that wild).

Dollar and discount store disposables and the convenient and affordable  first line of defense against wasting money and valuable party time cleaning up.

4th party supplies

Paper or plastic tablecloths, plates, napkins, and plastic cutlery packages serve the party purpose, and the red Solo cup is diposable party royalty.

Red Solo Cup

Red Solo cup

I fill you up

Let’s have a party!

summer tableware

Intermingle items in red, white, and blue in with principal tableware favorites.  I find I get more use out of items in either red, white, or blue vs. red, white, and blue.  

smores-fixins

Finding cute and clever ways to serve your guests is not that hard.  All things summer is an easy theme to work with. 

Mini terra cotta flower pots easily become a pot of s’mores fixings gold. 

Terra Cotta Flower Pots

Terra Cotta Flower Pots – Hobby Lobby

Clear jars, containers, and cansiters aren’t just for food storage.  These versatile and affordable entertaining musts prove a clear winner to house and serve anything from utensils to candies to salads. 

July 4th candy treats

Better Homes & Gardens

Cracker-Jack-twizzlers

anchor-heritage-glass-jar-gallon

Heritage Hill 64 oz. Glass Jar with Lid

jar salad serving ideas

Mosquitoes are an outdoor entertaing nuisance, a pest of a pest. 

Add the following items to your 4th Of July celebration ideas shopping list, watch the DIY Citronella candle how to make video from P. Allen Smith, and let’s project.

8 ounce Mason jars 

floating votive candles 

lemons and limes

citronella oil

fresh sweet mint and rosemary 

Place the citronella candle jars around the table and surrounding party area.

outdoor-lighting-ideas-summer-entertaining

Martha Stewart

Clear apothecary bottles in varying sizes and heights filled with lamp oil and wicks is a clear and chic light the summer night option. 

casual-picnic-tablescape

Country Living – Photo by John Kernick

Clear jars filled with fresh flowers and/or greenery from the yard come in make a simple and lovely display. corn-centerpiece

Small groupings-stacks-bundles of fresh fruit or summer vegetables such as corn, tomatoes, peaches, cherries, blueberries, or grapes dressed up with ribbon or in their natural state serve a colorful bounty of fresh and sweet summer style.  

red-white-blue-fabric

Red, white, and/or blue fabric is my suggestion for a table runner.  This works for dinner napkins, too. 

I can’t sew a stitch, but I can work a hot iron and a roll of hem tape like nobody’s business.   

Determine the width and length (add one inch to both the width and length), cut your fabric to desired size, fold over each side (fold in the corners to create a 45 degree angle), and either sew sides or apply hem table with iron. 

summer-fourth-of-July-ribbon

Don’t forget your Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon

If you’re going with the dinner napkin option, pair them with a patriotic palette ribbon natural and either a nautical rope ball or decorative tassels. 

red white blue tassels

Jo-Ann Stores

The finished result is a festive theme napkin ring and stylish dinner napkin presentation.

free printable anthem banner

I love this printable from HMH Designs.

red-white-blue-printable-cupcake-topper

And this one from Today’s Creative Life. 

Click HERE and HERE for the free patriotic food picks and place card ready printables. 

Oh, say can you say that three times real fast. 

red-craft-bag

Dressed up craft bags or plastic popcorn buckets make festive party favor containers.

popcorn-bucket

4th wrap

Pack your 4th of July swag bags full of dollar and party store finds for beach, lake or backyard fun sure to go over real big with kids of all ages.

wood block game

Tumbling Tower Game

4th-July-fan

Fan

playing cards

Playing Cards

Tootsie Roll Scented Bubbles 4ct

Tootsie Roll Scented Bubbles 4ct

Popsicle ice pops firecracker

Popsicle Ice Pops Firecracker 18 ct

red white blue glow wheel

Patriotic Red, White & Blue Glow Stick Flying Disc

Safety is a big part of the summer fun equation. 

Good Housekeeping features an informative piece 15 Safety Mistakes to Avoid This 4th of July detailing smart tips for staying safe while you celebrate the 4th.

4th of July celebration ideas

Sparklers

That about wraps up my 4th of July celebration ideas show and tell. 

These ideas are easy, affordable, crowd pleasing and party perfect for a 4th of July or any summer soiree. 

Party fun, stylish, and safely and I’ll see you all next week.  

Love your style!

Bake, Chill, Sweet and Dill: Summer Food Recipes

With summer’s official arrival and the 4th of July coming up, happy summer times are here again, friends.  Like the summer temps, summer food recipes are a hot topic of conversation.

I really look forward to picking, preparing, and plating traditional summer fare.  I’ll put a new spin on an old favorite to spice the taste factor up a bit, but all in all I stay true to the original recipe.

Fresh is best for many summer food recipes.

Fresh tomatoes?

The official unofficial fruit of summer.

Yes, a tomato is a fruit.

fresh-tomatoes-summer

Fresh corn?

fresh corn

Flickr

Stir in chopped bell pepper, onion, Kosher salt, fine black pepper and you’ve got a sweet summer treat.

tomatoes-bell-pepper-green-onions

Fresh peaches?

fresh peaches

Peel ’em up and pass the sugar.

summer food recipes

When I can’t make it out to the local growers, it’s to the farm to market produce section at the local grocery store I go.  There’s plenty of summer food recipes out there with an ingredients list of seasonings ready to enhance the flavor quotient.

Today I’m shining the summer food recipes spotlight on traditional and new traditional favorites sure to please.

summer-macaroni-salad

Classic Macaroni Salad

Ingredients

1½ cup (12 ounces) dry elbow macaroni

½ cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

¼ cup milk

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)

black pepper to taste

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 medium bell pepper, diced

¼ cup red onion, diced

1 whole green onion (green and white parts), sliced

1 cup whole kernel corn, drained

Directions

Cook the elbow macaroni in salted water according to directions on package. Drain cooked macaroni, rinse with cold water, and allow to completely cool.

Chop, slice, and dice the tomato, bell pepper, red onion, and green onion.

summer food recipes

To prepare the dressing grab a medium mixing bowl.  Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, milk,  sugar, salt and pepper.  Stir all together to incorporate and set aside.

Place macaroni in a large mixing bowl.  Add the bell pepper, green onion, red onion, tomatoes, and corn.

macaroni salad dressing

Pour dressing over top and toss to evenly coat.  Chill salad for at least 2 hours before serving.

Bread-and-butter-pickles

Bread and butter pickles recipe from Recipe Girl.  Click on over to the  delicious Recipe Girl blog for the recipe details.

Recipe Girl Blog Link HERE

pickled tomatoes

Marinated Tomatoes and Onions

Ingredients

1 medium red onion, sliced and separated

3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

½ cup vinegar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon honey

1 cup water

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper

½  teaspoon allspice

Directions

Layer tomatoes and onions in jar.  Sprinkle the pepper and allspice into jar.

tomatoes-sliced-onions-Ball-Mason-jar

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, honey, sea salt, and water to combine.

Pour vinegar-sugar-honey-sea salt-water mixture into jar covering the tomatoes and onions.  Place lid on jar and seal tight.  Give the jar a vigorous shake to incorporate the flavors and to thoroughly coat the tomatoes and onions.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Firecrackers, chicken, and the summer soiree are part of the recipe for summer entertaining success.

baked-firecracker-chicken

Contrary to summer soiree belief, not everyone grills and barbecues.

Oppressive heat, inclement weather, building restrictions, personal taste preference- you get the idea.

If you’re not on board the grilling/barbecue train, this recipe for oven baked Firecracker Chicken from Jo Cooks has got your name written on it.

Click HERE to get the recipe.

And now for something sweet

Chocolate-chip-smores-bars

Dessert puts the cherry on the top of the summer spread cake, so to speak.

It’s always a good time for a good s’mores recipe, and this Chocolate Chip S’mores Bars recipe from Glorious Treats is, well, glorious.

Who remembers cranking out homemade ice cream on a hot summer afternoon?

Dave the Builder and I both have done our fair share of cranking over the years of childhood.  What complaints we had about having to crank were quickly diminished when the ice cream was ready.

When a good crop of peaches came in at the local orchard, my grandmother would peel and dice a bowl full of fresh peaches to add to the ice cream.

Talk about good!

In the spirit of summer, good memories, and great summer food recipes, this recipe for fresh peach ice cream from Southern Living is deliciously appropriate.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Ingredients

5 large egg yolks

½  cup sugar

2 cups whole milk

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk

2 cups mashed peaches

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Whisk in the milks.  Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.  Stir in the peaches and vanilla.

Cool completely (about 30 minutes); cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.

Pour the custard into the freezer container of a 2 ½ to 3-quart electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Instructions and times may vary.)  Transfer to a freezer-safe container; freeze 2 hours or until firm.

-Southern Living

enjoy

Summer Simple Suggestions In Chic Summer Style

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.

summer simple suggestions

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.

best-of-summer-Southern-Living

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.

heavy-equipment

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.

dug-up-sidewalk

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.

sago-palm

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.

shattered

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.

edison-string-lights

CB2 Edison String Lights

Did someone mention summer soiree?

Why, yes.

I did.

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.

grill

Better Homes & Gardens

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.

charcoal-chimney-starter

Country Living

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.

chimney-starter

Weber® Rapidfire® Chimney Starter

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

ina-garten-sliders

Sliders

Ingredients

2 pounds premium ground beef (80 percent lean and 20 percent fat)

1 tablespoon good Dijon mustard

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

Directions

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.

– from Food Network

hot-dog-1

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

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.

smores-fixins

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.

A pack of mini terra-cotta clay pots from the dollar store become individual s’mores supply pots.

Vintage Hershey's Milk Chocolate Metal Tray

Vintage Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Metal Tray

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.

plum smoothie pop

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.

basket-hydrangea

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-watermelon

Mini watermelons on a natural table runner of Pittosporum paired with Lemon Lime Nandina is summer simple and summer chic.

corn-centerpiece

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.

ironstone-tureen

Antique White Ironstone Tureen Cookson Chetwynd Small Serving Dish Bowl

 

summer-serving-pieces

4pc Indoor Outdoor Gingham Napkins  ||  Lyndsay Stripes Cotton Table Runner  ||  Design Imports 18″ Square Farm Fresh Stripe Napkin (Set of 4)   ||  Striped Fete Buffet Napkins in White (Set of 4)  ||  Chambray Fringe Napkins, Set of 4  ||  Basics Watercolor Check Napkins in Navy (Set of 4)

Watercolor Black Plaid Dinnerware

Watercolor Black Plaid Dinnerware

DII Gingham Check Napkins (Set of 4)DII Gingham Check Napkins (Set of 4)

Summer Simple Suggestions for Refreshing Treats 

Summer is fun, but summer is hot.

Delicious and easy frozen treats of the leaded and unleaded type make a big splash with guests.

plums

Plums

Plum Smoothie Pops

Ingredients

¼ cup sugar

1 Tablespoon corn syrup

1 lb. assorted plums

8 tsp. fresh lime juice

6 oz. plain yogurt

Directions

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.

-Country Living

popsicle-outdoor-throw-pillow

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.

frozen-treats-postage-stamps

USPS

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.

prosecco-grapes

Prosecco Grapes

Ingredients

2 lb. green grapes

1 bottle prosecco

4 oz. vodka

½  cup granulated sugar

Directions

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.

-Delish

original-bomb-pop-frozen-treat

Inspiration is everywhere!

Huber+Popsicle+Throw+Pillow

I saw this VW Bus throw pillow and immediately my thoughts went to summers spent camping with my childhood friend and her family in their VW Bus.

VW-bus-summer-throw-pillow

Louisiana is a long way from the California coast, but the Gulf Coast is a fun place to sand, swim, sun and sing we’ve been having fun all summer long, Louisiana style.

The Beach Boys definitely make up the soundtrack of summer.

he-beach-boys-greatest-hitsThe Beach Boys – Greatest Hits (Capitol) (CD)

My final summer simple suggestions tip is as follows:

Don’t sweat the details.

The simplicity of summer is an easy theme to work with and makes a great backdrop for mixing and mingling with friends and family in the good old summertime.

love your style

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Two Peas In A Stylish Pod: Art and Interior Design

Art and interior design are like two peas in a stylish pod.

green-peas

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.

Del Monte Sweet Peas framed supermarket ad

As explained in “Sasha Emerson’s California Cottage -Funky Decor Ideas”  in Country Living magazine, scaling down from an expansive 4500 square feet home to half that in an English-style cottage signals it’s edit-yard sale-Craigslist-donate-giveaway time.

As they say, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole.

I know.

I’ve tried.

It ain’t happening.

Ikea cabinets

Repurposing from within allowed Sasha’s decorative integrity to remain intact.  She discovered balance and comfort frame a pretty picture through art and interior design.

oil_painting_of_paint_brushes_in_an_english_pea_can

Paint Brushes in an English Pea Can by Elizabeth Blaylock

I’m forever reminding clients and fellow decoristas the importance of incorporating a sense of you into your design and decorating scheme.

The art of individuality is paramount to personal style, and what better place to express yours than house and home.

palette-canvas

Imagine your home as your canvas.

Dip your brush in a palette of personal style and paint a gorgeous scene of individuality throughout.

benjamin-moore-split-pea

Art is the manifestation of creative expression rooted in imagination, emotion, and inspiration.

Let me ask you something, what is not art?

Author Unknown

BM-split-pea-paint-color

Benjamin Moore Split Pea

Benjamin Moore’s Split Pea makes a made in Palm Beach style color match to the lush purple window coverings in the main room of  Designer Sam Allen’s Connecticut apartment.

IS Architecture

“Color is a creative element, not a trimming.”

– Piet Zwart 

green-breakfast-room-1

IS Architecture

Peter-Rogers-kitchen-new-orleans

Peter Rogers Historic Creole Cottage in New Orleans

art and interior design

“The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away.  It is always on his doorstep.”

– Paul Strand

wood-marquetry-dresser

AD France

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 

 – Edgar Degas

give-peas-a-chance-garden-marker

Give Peas A Chance Garden Marker

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.

andy-warhol-campbell's--soup-green-pea

McGaw Graphics Campbell’s Soup I: Green Pea, 1968 by Andy Warhol 

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.

mother-daughter-grocery-shopping

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.

A&P-brands

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.

Ann-Page-mayonnaise-Capetown-Lobster-Salad

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.

pea salad recipe

English Pea Salad

Ingredients

2 large hard-boiled eggs

1 yellow bell pepper

2 oz. Cheddar cheese

½  c. mayonnaise

½  c. sour cream

3 tbsp. dried basil

2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion

2 tsp. chopped pimiento

1 tsp. Apple-Cider Vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. soul-food seasoning or seasoned salt

1 tsp. granulated garlic

½  tsp. Freshly ground pepper

2 dash Hot sauce

60 oz. early peas (such as Le Sueur)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the peas, mixing well. Stir in the peas.  Refrigerate the salad for at least 10 hours or up to overnight.  Serve at room temperature.

Country Living

sweet-pea-ricotta-tart

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

Ingredients

Tart Crust

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

5  Tablespoons cold butter

3 Tablespoons trans-fat free vegetable shortening

ice water

Filling

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

Directions

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.

Make Filling:
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.

~Good Housekeeping

enjoy