Today’s A Most Fetching Friday serves as a friendly reminder of the importance of keeping cool in the intense summer heat. Our internet service failed to connect us to the world wide web this past Wednesday morning and as of this posting remains spotty. Ugh!
Work crews from AT&T have graced the Places In The Home compound with their skilled and professional presence over the last two days. Knowing the importance of staying hydrated and keeping cool in the fight against heat exhaustion, I keep a steady supply and variety of bottle waters on hand for the postman, landscape crews, and utility workers.
The heat is on in these intense summer days making it necessary for those who work and play outdoors to do what it takes to reduce the risks of associated with the unforgiving combination of heat and humidity.
One does want a hint of style.
Keeping cool is key when working or playing outdoors in the summer. Stay cool, hydrated, sun protected and heat exhaustion educated in these fun in the summer sun months.
It the let’s take the all things house that make a home party outside shall we time of year! Go ahead, take a moment to bask in the sunlight of your summer’s almost here happy dance. Numbers show the benefits of outdoor living and entertaining ranks high in the areas of energy and well-being. I love this time of year when the hot summer days and nights meet hot styles and cool looks of the outdoor living entertaining decorative accessories season. Our Canadian snowbird son will be moving to a new house in a couple of months which means dialing and styling consultations, suggestions, tips and what do you think of this for our outdoor living space is in high demand.
The outdoor living loyal take outdoor living seriously. The how we utilize our outdoor living spaces is an interesting fact.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to outdoor living decorative accessories, I want comfortable, durable, lasting, and affordable style that stands up to the season. Patio, porch, terrace, balcony, rooftop and deck accessories must pass the past one season test.
Style is important, but if the big ticket items such as outdoor furniture and performance fabrics can’t withstand the elements or normal outdoor living wear and tear, what do you have? A repeatable, avoidable and unnecessary expense. Outdoor furniture and accessories made from treated wood, weather-resistant plastic, aluminum and wrought iron products are the preferred material choice in the get the most bang for your buck game.
SunGuard UV Protectant for garden decor comes with four star customer reviews. I have not purchased or used this product, but if it delivers on its promise to protect all types of outdoor decor, furniture and garden accents against fading, peeling and cracking caused by the sun and harsh weather conditions it makes the gotta have it list.
Outdoor living spaces share a design commonality with their interior living spaces counterpart- essential pops of robust color. From mosquito repelling lavender, geranium and rosemary plants and garden fragrant blooms, seasonal keep it summer simple sensation eats and outdoor lovin’ decorative accessories, the spring and summer outdoor living entertaining season presents us with a brilliant and bold opportunity to color our world.
A fire pit tops the millennial homeowner’s gotta have it list for outdoor living function, comfort and style. According to a Casual Living Millennial Outdoor survey, Millennials, singles and couples consider the most integral outdoor living entertaining products to be the five-piece dining set, grill and chat set.
Our son, a millennial homeowner, explains to us, his Southern fried and humidity steamed parents, why a fire pit will be in his outdoor living space future. “Guys, it’s not Louisiana. It’s Canada. We use a fire pit year round.”
Well that explains that.
How about an artisan wood-fired pizza baked in a blue fish terracotta pizza oven?
Place a bundle of these butterfly adorned paper parasols from Save-on-Crafts in a super cute decorative container or basket for sun and heat sensitive guests to use. Other options include summer soiree parting favors or focal point decorations.
One of the best pieces of outdoor living entertaining advice I can give is to keep the theme, design, food and drink menu super summer simple!
I’m convinced more and more the move toward the trend of taking purchased prepared foods to the next level via the presentation factor is a gift from the outdoor living entertaining powers that be and your local grocery store and farmers market. The eyes set the “seen” when it comes to food, and easy always makes the perfect party guest.
Add a splash of nostalgia to your outdoor living decor with vintage or vintage inspired accessories.
Gosh, this vintage tin cooler evokes memories of summers spent in East Tennessee at my paternal grandparent’s house. Granddaddy stocked the basement with a generous supply of original Coca-Cola (cold cola as they called it) in the small glass bottles. In fact, when the formula changed to “new Coke” he saved my brother and me a carton of the original Coke.
I still have mine to this day, and wouldn’t take a million dollars for this priceless memento. Like a scene straight out of The Andy Griffith Show, we loved sitting out on the front steps sipping ice-cold original formula Coke (cold cola as my Tennessee family members say) watching the fireflies light up the summer night.
Everything’s better with Coke. And summer. And memories.
Hey summer, what’s for dinner? The Places In The Home gang knows the answer to that question. Most evenings our summer appetites lean toward lighter fare, and a what’s on hand chilled summer salad is what’s on the menu.
The temps of those hot summer mornings, afternoons and nights have a way of slowing down the pace as well as the need for heavy dishes.
Who needs or wants to be in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove when there’s a lot of patio sitting, summer sippin’ and outdoor living to do. I defer to Bertand Russell and his brilliant words that fit so well with summer.
“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
My sentiments exactly, Mr. Russell.
To the cupboard and fridge we go for ingredients to make a what’s on hand chilled summer salad.
Baby field greens topped with tuna serve as the flavor foundation. Left over crispy fried bacon from breakfast makes the cut. I spotted a cucumber in the crisper to go with the garden tomatoes and red onion slices. A slice, chop, salt and pepper later it was time to whip up a generous portion of avocado spread. Take a nice avocado, peel, scoop out the meat into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Add a heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon.
The lemon wakes up the flavors with a c’est si bon all its own. Feta cheese crumbles bring more flavor into the mix. Fresh sliced strawberries and fresh chopped Louisiana peaches drizzled with honey round out the melange. I purposely positioned the Feta, fruit and red onion slices on the sides of the salad plates so the diners can incorporate the flavors as desired. Now for what I consider the ultimate dressing discovery of the summer 2015 salad season. There is buttermilk ranch dressing and then there is basil buttermilk ranch dressing. This dressed up take on Hidden Valley buttermilk ranch dressing is the new house dressing at Places In The Home. The the fresh basil and lemon juice produce a bright flavor pairing- a combination perfect for summer. Tangy (that’s buttermilk!) meets fresh meets zing meets damn, that’s good!
Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
¾ cup mayonnaise (I used Duke’s in this recipe)
½ cup buttermilk
1 packet Original Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Recipe
¼ teaspoon fine black pepper
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before using, allowing flavors to marry.
Hey summer, what’s for dinner? Think summer salads.
Memorial Day signals the beginning of the summer entertaining season. That’s ninety some odd summer days and nights brimming with opportunity to gather together with family and friends. Is there a summer is here big party blowout in your Memorial Day weekend future or is the plan for something in the neighborhood of quality over quantity for just you, yours and a few close friends? Here are five tips to help you master the summer entertaining season.
Regardless of the numbers involved, the ultimate party favor you can give to you and your guests is an enjoyable and relaxing time. Endless hours of planning and preparing does not a successful party guarantee. However, what does come very close to guaranteeing a successful party is setting an at ease example. Guests usually take the party lead from the attitude of the host and/or hostess which sets the tone for a comfortable let the good times roll atmosphere.
Popular points of culinary and entertaining interest set an inviting place at the summer table. I like to take my tablescape in a casually elegant direction. I know there is quite a bit of considerable thought put into achieving the anything but uptight, stuffy finished result through the right accents, lighting, selected place settings, serveware and flowers, but I want the memo to read effortless chic. This look is achieved with simple finds from my usual haunts- antiques shops, new to you shops, dollar stores, arts and crafts stores and the always handy in-house treasures, trinkets and trash closet. Visually impressive table settings need not be an expensive or exhausting endeavor.
Kick off the summer sippin’ season with the unofficial official fruit of summer, the watermelon.
Watermelon Lemonade Slushies anyone? Click on the link for the recipe from Life in the Lofthouse. Watermelon Punch looks summer yummy too! Click on the video for instructions.
Dazzle the thirsty through sight and taste. Nothing says welcome to our summer soiree quite like a cool summer appropriate beverage.
Summer just isn’t summer until something is basted, marinated or smothered in a stellar Southern BBQ sauce. In Louisiana we don’t need an excuse to jazz it up, fire it up and kick it up, but if we did, summer would be all the excuse needed. Good barbecue is what we call summer stock. We aren’t afraid to turn up the heat, spice or seasoning, but when entertaining we dial back the kick to a respectable c’est si bon level to accommodate the taste bud timid. Good cooks and even better hosts know a little goes a long way in the flavor department and account for all tastes considered.
Balance is key. Entertaining mirrors interior design and decorating in regards to balance. When selecting the music for the party playlist, I aim to keep the types, styles, genres and decades balanced somewhere between current hits, grooving to the oldies, what movie is this from, smooth and easy jazz, lounge lizard standards and the soundtrack to high school and college days gone by. Balance the bar to the standard rule of party planning with help from the handy drink calculator from Total Wine & More.
Everything is right on Target for graduation and Mother’s Day gifts fresh in Lilly Pulitzer colors bright and pattern right. The limited edition Lilly Pulitzer collection for Target will be available April 19th. Can you tell I’m excited about this collection? I read this fabulous remark the other day and found it to hit the bullseye. The cure for spring fever is spring shopping.
I have several selections from the Lilly look book in mind for our son’s girlfriend who is graduating from university next month and a special Mother’s Day gift recipient on my the gift is in the giving list. Allow me to share with you my favorites from the collection.
For chic summer evenings ~
Embroidered Clutch ~ Gold
For a touch of Pulitzer Pattern on the Patio ~
Drinking Glasses ~ set of 4
Nosie Posey Glass Hurricane Candle Holder
For the after graduation getaway or summer beach vacation~
Giraffing Me Crazy Beach Towel
For the home~
Set of 4 Napkins with Pom Pom Trim
Ceramic Mugs with Gold Caddy
Nosie Posey Floor Cushion
Mark you calendars for the arrival of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection for Target gift ideas.
Paging Friday, March 20th. I don’t believe I’m going out on a limb here when I say most of us are more than ready for the first day of spring 2015 to make an appearance in weather reports, gardens, flower beds and home decor accessories. Gloomy days and frozen nights of late make a very good argument for the hurried anticipation of spring’s arrival. North, south, east and west- it’s time for spring to get to springing. I’m for less of this…
and much, much more of this. Blooming trees, color on parade flowers and budding plants, warm temps, sunny afternoons and swing time works for me!
This silly rednecks on a road trip resonates with our crowd in a we know people exactly like that kind of way. One particular dialogue exchange between Billy Bob Thornton (as Lonnie Earl Dodd) and Patrick Swayze (as Roy Kirkendall) in regards to the customized Chevrolet Suburban they would be traveling in hilariously hit home.
Lonnie Earl: Nothing’s too good for my friends. We’re gonna be ridin’ and stylin’ and profilin’.
Roy: It smells loud.
Lonnie Earl: That’s probably that Corinthian leather, is what that is.”
My uncle, a Southern gentleman of few words and good taste, was in the carpet and flooring business for years before embarking on his career as the cinnamon bun king of central Florida. Loud was his word of choice when describing busy colors, bold fabrics and pungent foods.
The MacKenzie-Childs Flower Market Outdoor Butterfly Chair is exactly that, loud. Subdued in its statement it’s not, but then again, neither is the beauty of spring. This chair captures the iconic look of the brand with the perfect amount of funky fun, live out loud color flair, and unique interpretation.
It may be a coincidence, but it seems the senses become heightened as the days shorten, colors deepen, spices and aromas entice and the tones and textures of nature engage us by sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.
From sea to shining sea, coast to coast, the hallmark summer celebration of freedom revolves around good times and great food. The saltwater, freshwater and farm-raised cuisine of summer varies from coast to coast, but it is fried, boiled, steamed, blackened, poached, baked grilled and barbecued with this is how we do it love. I love a good game of connect the food to the corresponding city and/or state. When you think about it, food is the claim to fame of many cities and states. Dedicated foodies travel coast to coast highways in search of gastronomy glory. All gourmet restaurants, neighborhood cafes, seafood markets, crab shacks, beachside bungalows and river restaurants are open game. Leave no oyster unshucked, no shrimp unpeeled, no stone crab unturned.
I can’t tell you how many times I have begun a what’s for dinner conversation with the words, “I wish I had the recipe for insert memorable dish here we had when we were in insert memorable destination here.”
A misconception about Gulf Coast seafood dishes is that they are swimming in grease or hot sauce or both. Granted, the key ingredient featured in many Gulf Coast region seafood dishes and recipes has been swimming at one time or another, but the measure of flavor, spice and heat varies from region to region. I don’t need a map to tell me what part of the Gulf Coast I’m in- just point me in the direction of the kitchen (indoor or outdoor) and the in-house spice cabinet. The pot and the spice potions tell the tales. Get it?
Barbecue speaks the universal language of fire it up, throw it on and c’est si bon! I became a seafood barbecue believer the first time I tasted barbecued shrimp at Pascal’s Manale Restaurant in New Orleans. You can’t talk the cuisine of summer without talking barbecue, and BBQ naturally brings the conversation around to potato salad. I have not tasted this Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Recipe from Food & Wine, but the words barbecue and bacon have my attention.
Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Recipe via Food & Wine
Boiling shrimp and crawfish is a way of life down Southern states of the Gulf Coast way. I’m totally convinced the throw it all in one pot principle of shrimp and crawfish boiling sparked the crock pot revolution.
When Dave the Builder was working in the corporate world, we were active in the office supper club. This group took a crawfish boil to new flavor heights, but the real deliciousness was surprisingly found in the “sides” that went into the pot.
Caught in freshwater or farm-raised, coasters love catfish. Catfish is exactly what it is- a mild, delicious classic comfort food. I’ve had catfish broiled, blackened, baked, poached, grilled, barbecued and stuffed. Given my plate of preference, I’ll have mine fried crisp with a side scoop of coleslaw, flour battered french fries, two lemon wedges and a couple of green onions.