Home Decor Memories Under The Big Top Of The Piccadilly Circus

I hail from the land of Steel Magnolias, Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood, grand interiors and impeccable tastes.   If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then I have flattered with the best of them.  In my attempts to recreate the glory of fine, whimsical and vintage interiors, I have found I like home decor memories and keepsakes weaved throughout my decor.

Steel Magnolias

It is a nice way to incorporate the wonder times of my childhood, friendships, travels, and family. I’m neither a Southern Belle nor Hollywood’s interpretation of one.  What I am is an appreciator of tasteful objects that take me to a place in my life timeline as I pass by, place around and prize them.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

My mother, who is a Southern Belle with a nth degree black belt in retail, is of the firm belief shopping and lunch go together like Visa and MasterCard.  My brother and I were not particularly thrilled to see this idea of a circus come to town.  The brand of circus I speak of was the weekly ritual of lunching and marathon shopping at “the Village.”  The Village was the largest shopping center in town and the epicenter of early nineteen seventies shopping.

venetian-carnival-mole-by-scalamandreCarnival by Scalamandre

When I can’t sleep there is no sheep counting for my inner insomniac.  I think back and place the shops in their rightful storefronts circa nineteen seventy something.  Works every time!   Fast forward to today’s Village where all that is left of yesterday’s retail offerings is one national chain grocery store and a family favorite, Piccadilly Cafeteria.  I believe I have spent a collective decade of my life at the Piccadilly.  When you are the only kid on the culinary block it just works out that way.  With frequent visits came a strange familiarity with the surroundings.  My parents viewed after dinner visiting with fellow diners, local friends and dignitaries as the final course of the meal.  As my childhood patience was tested, I would stare at the chandeliers, grandfather clock, draperies and paintings in the dining area for what seemed hours.

cattle oil painting

I always loved the gold gilt framed oil painting of cows that graced the wall of the dining room with its larger than life presence.  Some years later the exterior of the cafeteria was remodeled, and the addition of eight large decorative pineapples found a new home atop the cafeteria’s exterior pillars.  Word spread fast throughout the community of the Piccadilly renovation and liquidation sale of interior and exterior decorative goods.  My checkbook, my brother and my memories headed to the Village faster than you could say dilly plate.

Piccadilly-restaurant

The beautiful oil painting proudly hangs over the master sitting room fireplace in my brother’s home, and the “Piccadilly Pineapple” graces our kitchen dining area.  The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, and goodness knows the Piccadilly served up enough of it over the years to my family.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…

A memorable memento from where we’ve been, what we’ve seen, and who we are celebrates us and brings it all home.

Show & Tell

Green Tomatoes In Phyllo Baskets At The Places In The Home Cafe

Creativity is in full force in the test kitchen at The Places In The Home cafe.   A culinary brainstorming session with my brother resulted in this green tomatoes in phyllo baskets recipe.

green-tomato-phyllo-baskets

The recipes is a work in progress and phyllo patience, but it was met with glowing reviews from the family.

Green Tomatoes In Phyllo Baskets

Ingredients

6-8 green tomatoes

1  roll phyllo pastry sheets,  thawed

8 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

1 8 oz. box Tony Chachere’s Creole Dirty Rice dinner mix 0r favorite brand flavored rice mix

½ lb. ground beef

½ lb. medium or hot ground pork sausage

1 tsp. basil

salt & pepper or creole seasoning to taste

8 oz. shredded cheese of your choice

1 tsp. parsley flakes

1 tsp. paprika

1 Pyrex baking dish

aluminum baking pan

6-8 cup muffin pan

sauce pan or microwavable bowl

sauce brush

Directions

Remove phyllo pastry sheets from freezer and allow to thaw according to package directions (two hours at room temperature for quick thaw, overnight in refrigerator for following day use).

Wash and scoop out the inside of  tomatoes.  Place tomatoes in a square Pyrex dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper or creole seasoning to personal taste.  Place Pyrex dish into a deep baking pan. Prepare a hot- water bath by bringing a pan of water to a light simmer on top of stove; carefully pour hot water into a baking pan halfway up the sides of Pyrex dish.  Cover with aluminum foil or inverted cookie sheet to promote a slight softening.  If tomatoes are too soft they will become difficult to wrap.

Brown ground beef  and ground pork sausage together.  Add basil.   Drain and add meats to packaged rice mix; prepare as directed. When fully cooked allow to cool.   Remove Pyrex dish filled with softened tomatoes from hot-water bath.  Melt butter and place to side for use with phyllo dough.  Fill each tomato with cooked rice and meat.  Top each tomato with shredded cheese to individual taste. We Louisianians are big on flavor, seasoning and heat.  I adjusted the spice of the recipe to a  medium spice content.  Tone it down or turn it up to your please your taste buds.

Prepare phyllo sheets according to instructions.  I used two layers of dough per tomato.  Very important to work only with needed dough keeping a damp towel over the remaining layers until ready to use.  It makes it easier to handle and reduces tearing.  Lightly brush the edges of each layer of dough with melted butter.  Place stuffed tomato in center of dough.  “Wrap” tomato by bring dough corners to center and twisting.

phyllo-wrapped-green-tomatoes

Place wrapped tomatoes in ungreased muffin pan.  Lightly brush dough wrapped tomatoes once again with remaining melted butter.  Sprinkle with paprika and parsley flakes.  Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

cest-si-bon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show & Tell

French Onion Soup With A Pinch Of Paris, A Dash Of Cajun, And A Smidgen Of Canada

When it comes to selecting a French onion soup recipe,  I find I am beginning to feel like the character Albert in The Birdcage.

Nathan Lane

Albert, brilliantly played by Nathan Lane, convincingly explains his mispronunciation of Armand’s surname in a context I find myself relating to.  “Oh yes… Coldeman. The “d” is silent in America. It’s Cole D’Isle au Man, or Cole of the Isle of Man, in France, where Armand’s chateau is, Cold-e-man in Greece where Armand’s work is, and finally the vulgar Coleman in Florida where Armand’s home is, so actually, we don’t know where we are until we hear our last name pronounced! Ahahahahahahaaaaa!”

copper weathervanePolished Copper Weathervane

I feel his exaggerated pain, and let me tell you why.  We live in Louisiana where we are heavily influenced by Creole and Cajun French.  Our son attends university in Canada where we are influenced by Quebecois French.  Actually, we don’t know where we are until we taste the food,  the “who cares where we are as long as it is French”  food!  Ahahahahahahaaaaa!

French onion soup

Tonight’s menu will allow me to exercise my multilingual culinary skills.  You’re  definitely speaking my language when you’re  talking French Onion Soup.  I know where to go for the best French onion soup from coast to coast.  My son’s friend holds the title in Canada.  I have my own recipe met, mastered and magnifique.  Cafe Bellagio and Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas both serve a fantastic French onion soup.  I know the latter is a chain,  but one taste of the French onion soup and you’ll understand!  I would love to be on the Las Vegas strip right now watching the Fountains of Bellagio while enjoying French onion soup goodness.  Since I’m not, I’ll bring a pinch of Paris, a dash of Creole, and a smidgen of Canada to the Places In The Home family table.

French Onion Soup

Ingredients

2  Tablespoon butter

2  teaspoons olive oil

6  medium onions thinly sliced

1  teaspoon Creole seasoning

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 bay leaves

½ cup white white or sherry

2 quarts (8 cups) low sodium beef broth

French bread baguette

8 slices Gruyère cheese

Creole-seasoning

For Creole Seasoning

Ingredients

1/3  cup paprika

3 tablespoons dried oregano

3 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoons cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon granulated onion

4 teaspoons dried thyme

4 teaspoons granulated garlic

Directions

Heat butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven over a medium- high heat.  Add sliced onions and bay leaves to the pan, saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle sugar and Creole seasoning over onions, stir to incorporate.

sliced-onion-rings

Cook onions and company for 30 minutes or until softened and reaching a caramelized stage.  Add sherry and bay leaves to onions.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.   Turn heat back up to medium-high and add beef broth.  Allowing broth to heat through, reduce to simmer, and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes in order for ingredients to marry and live happily ever after. Remove bay leaves.

beef-broth-onions

french-bread

Slice French bread baguette and place on a baking sheet.  Place under broiler until slices reach a light golden brown.

soup-crocks

Place crocks, ramekins, or oven proof bowls on a large cookie sheet.  Fill each with 1 cup soup.  Place one slice French bread in each bowl and top with 1 cheese slice.  Broil on high until cheese is melted and browned. Serves 8.

french-onion-soup

Directions for Creole Seasoning

In a medium bowl combine paprika, dried oregano, ground black pepper, dried basil, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated onion, dried thyme and granulated garlic.  Stir to combine.  Can be stored in an airtight container for up to three months.

The Paris influence is this wonderful soup, and to that I say merci beaucoup.  The Creole influence is the addition of the Creole seasoning.  We put it on everything here in Louisiana.  Give a try, shâ.  The Canadian influence?  That’s the best part!  Our son is home to enjoy this dish with us tonight!

Bienvenue, Bon Appétit and C’est si bon!

Love your style!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show & Tell

The Cows Have Come Home: Cowhide Home Decor Accessories

The cows have come home in a grand and stylish way in regards to cowhide home decor accessories.  The look created by introducing one regal piece of home on the range chic can leave a design impression on even the biggest skeptic.

cowhide chairBrantley Chair

A trip to Dallas, Texas proved my theory correct.  I think it’s safe to say this style may not be for every space and taste, but as long as there is farmhouse chic and home on the range style it is not going to roll the way of the tumbling tumbleweed.

turquoise_chairRustic Interior Design

Uttermost Chahna Wood Bench

turquoise-cowhide-dining-chair

Uttermost Chahna Velvet Accent Chair

I first took notice of cowhide furnishings in 2004 while browsing through a Neiman Marcus catalog.

The chair delivered a one-two punch.

The frame was stunning, but the price tag was numbing.  I archived the look in my mental Rolodex, and when I spotted a cowhide chair at auction a few years later it was go time.

I won the bidding battle, but soon lost the design war when a client literally begged me to sell her the chair.

Comfort-Pointe-Jaxon-Arm-Chair

Comfort Pointe Jaxon Arm Chair

How about a pair of these beauties as captain’s dining chairs at the ponderosa, partner?  Did I really just type that?  Yee-haw!

cow-hide-chair

I found this dusty yet affordable cowhide upholstered accent chair at one of my favorite home design haunts, Paul Michael Company in Canton, Texas.

The rich deep fawn and black hide paired with my favorite accent feature, nail heads, make a chair in this style a big contender for office or study use.

House-of-Hampton-Cordia-Arm-Chair

Cordia Arm Chair

cowhide rugOverstock

Faux or authentic, cowhide furnishings lend a chic presence to the sleekest and most modern decor.

cowhide-pillowElle Decor

faux cowhide Kathy Kuo Home chair

Kendra Rustic Lodge Faux Cow Hide Velvet Linen Wing Chair

cowhide pillows

If you’ve contemplated this design choice but feared the look would come across as too rustic, practice the rule of less is more.  Go with one piece and place it in an optimum setting.

cow print cotton table lamp

A little trial and error is to be expected, but when it comes together it will be the right balance of town and country chic.

 

Show & Tell

A Hook, A Towel, And A Thinker: Decorative Towel Holders

By nature I’m a thinker.  It’s a fun challenge of sorts to put a new spin on an old way of doing things, and a great opportunity to stretch imaginative design skills.

kitchen storageLearn NC 

“Lend me your antler and we’ll stylishly hang out together,” said the decorative kitchen towel to the decorative deer head.

decorative towel holdersBetter Homes & Gardens

Normally a towel bar, is a towel ring, is a towel holder.  These utilitarian items are not essential, but they do serve an easier purpose in the kitchens and bathrooms of our homes.  I’ve seen towels hanging over doors, hanging out of drawers, hanging out on counter tops, and keeping company with the refrigerator handle.

Convenient?   Yes.

Stylish?  No.

Let me type that word again- No.

With a few dollars, a few screws, a drill, and an eye for the unique you can turn a decorative hooks or door knobs into useful and decorative towel holders.

decorative hooks

A pair of spade iron door handles make unique displays.

iron handlesvia

A different way to go would be incorporating a vintage door knob and back plate set.   A single knob could be mounted to a decorative piece of backing wood or decorative ceramic tile.

decorative door knobs

vintage door knob towel holdersBetter Homes & Gardens

 

vintage door knobs

Decisions, decisions!

Don’t let me break your creative process, but let me throw another option into the mix.   Drapery holdbacks come in many colors, designs, and finishes. As shown in the picture, drapery holdbacks have more depth, making them more adequate to negotiate thicker hand towels, aprons, pot holders, or oven mitts.

tea towelAdd this Equal linen tea towel with copper-colored inks to my kitchen “Gotta Have It” list!  Equal Linen Tea Towel from  Bambeco.

drapery holdbackJCPenney, Hobby Lobby

Decorative door knockers come in different sizes, styles, finishes and price points.  A gorgeous cast of characters!

door knockersAmazon

I know the decorative towel holders I’m going to choose!

Love your style!

Show & Tell

Mirror Mirror Not So Necessarily On The Wall

Decorative leaner mirrors have become increasingly popular, and why not?  Ten and twelve foot ceilings are relatively standard in new construction, and allow the space needed to accommodate the desired reaction to a leaner.  Older homes like mine with eight or nine foot ceilings handle a leaner mirror quite well in their own right. The height restrictions may make for more of a challenge, but the choices are not limited.

The March 2011 issue of House Beautiful showcases the vision of renowned designer Betty Lou Phillips in their regular feature,  Bath of the Month.  Here you see an antique mirror propped behind the tub as a wonderful example of the effect a leaner mirror has on a room. Mirrors open up a room and instantly cast the illusion of added depth.  A leaner mirror deepens the richness of the illusion.

gray-leaner-mirrorTraditional Home

via

via French Garden House

This antique turn of the century French Treameau mirror perfectly defines leaner mirror.  The patina of the wood and the gold gilt easily enhance a formal decor or become the focal point of a casual space.  I love the visual surprise of pairing stand out formal furniture or accent pieces with casual or primitive design.

via

When the shock wears off for those who don’t get it, or the excitement subsides for those of us who do, the look is hard to dismiss as luck of the design draw.  I have a great example of this to share with you at a later date.

via Traditional Home

Any mirror can become a leaner.  The look achieved by placing a mirror upon a piece of furniture and propping the mirror against the wall spins a traditional placement to a fresh look .

House and Home/photo: Donna Griffith

One of my television guilty pleasures, and there are many, is the sinfully decadent  The Real Housewives franchise.  One of the ladies was chatting up a fellow cast member last season while giving a  tour of her new home.  The master bedroom suite, bathroom, and dressing closet were quite nice but the eye catcher was the floor to ceiling gold ornate up to your eyeballs leaner mirror.  It is as big as the mouth of its owner!  The dual purpose of function and formality comes across loud and clear.

Talk about a fantastic idea and learning new tricks! I had a client purchase a set of small ornate fireplace andirons from me three years ago.  The client knew exactly what she was going to use them for and shared it with me.  The andirons were placed on her fireplace mantle and used in an easel manner to display a leaner mirror.  Fantastic idea!

If you have searched high and low for your perfect mirror and can’t find it, consider an unframed mirror paired with decorative  prefinished picture frame molding.

House Beautiful 

Decorative moldings can be purchased at home improvement stores in limited selections. Larger selections can be found at specialty stores and through millwork manufactures.  Sheet mirror is typically inexpensive. Going this route will allow you to customize a mirror to achieve the look you are going for .  Molding is purchased, corners are mitered, mirror installed, and the perfect “prop” is on your stage.  A diy project that reflects your decor personality~  now who’s the fairest of them all?

 

 

 

Show & Tell

What’s An Architectural Pediment Like You Hanging In A Place Like This?

Conformity is unavoidable in some circumstances, but individuality reigns supreme in most of them. I like to use elements of surprise, or at the very least, ones that invariably make someone ask, “How did you come up with that idea?”

architectural pedimentBrooke Giannetti 

I’m an “eyedea” kind of girl.  Using an architectural pediment as a home decor piece is a unique way to top off the look.

Sherry Hart ~ Houzz

My eyes are constantly looking at the decor world  through idea colored glasses.  Dave the builder is my 20/20 equal and when we are in the zone we can be quite productive.

repurposed pedimentBetter Homes & Gardens

I distinctly remember my first I could’ve had a V8 moment in regards to this practice. It was 1986, and we had closed on the first of many of our dream homes.  Flipping afforded us the opportunity to have many dream homes.  The reason we had many was simple- as soon as we would complete one Dave the builder would sell it and we’d start all over again. Our first dream home is still occupied by the same couple we sold it to. They love it even more today, and have never changed one thing about the interior or exterior of the house.  Either I’m very good at making timeless decor and design selections or they are incredibly lazy.  I tell myself it is the first one.

headboard made from pedimentBetter Homes & Gardens

The den fireplace was in the center of a brick wall that was the focal point of the room.  The original fireplace mantel in the house found a better home by the curb, and the choices for its replacement were less than impressive.  Today’s choices in the arena of home furnishings are infinitely better, and I for one am eternally grateful for the strides that have been made.  Anywho, back to the late 80’s.

antique pedimentsDave the builder went to a neighboring town to look at a property.  He came home that evening the proud owner of another depressed property in need of flipping, but even better than that he brought home a stroke of genius in terms of interior eye candy.  In his rounds that afternoon he stopped by an antique shop and purchased a salvage piece.  Well, it might not be truly defined as a salvage piece, but what it was defined as was our new fireplace mantel.  In its previous life the piece had served as the pediment of an antique Mahogany armoire.

armoire pediment

Surprisingly, the pediment was in pristine condition as a stand-alone item.  We turned that baby upside down and the “ledge” was deep enough to allow my favorite lamp and Staffordshire dogs adequate display room.  The centrally located broken arch looked great upright, but inverted it went to the next  level of wow!   Our “eyedea” and ideal mantel graced four fireplaces out of six of our homes.  When we sold our second to last home the new homeowner begged me to leave the mantel.  For a split second I considered doing so, but couldn’t find it in my heart to part with it.

bed crown

I like incorporating a pediment into home decor.  The one in the picture below is one I purchased for a client.  Her plan was to use it as a bed crown in her daughter’s bedroom, but we went in another direction. I grew fond of it and the finish by default while handling it five hundred times during her creative process.

kitchen-pediment

When she said no I said so and brought it straight home.  I went antique on antique and placed it above the vintage balustrade lamp in my kitchen.

scandanavian-pediment

The one below is really nothing special, definitely a salvage piece off a piece of funky furniture.  It has a bad spot on it we filled in.  The gold spray paint put up a fight not wanting to adhere or cover.  It won, I settled, and it found a home over the picture hanging in my bathroom.

guest bathroom

I ran across a really neat idea in my treasure hunting two years ago.  Don’t throw those old dining chairs away- recycle the top rails and use them as smaller scale pediments.  I purchased two sets and placed them above medium sized frames as a finishing complement.

country-french-dining-chairs1stdibs

Keep your eyes open and the creative juices flowing.   I hope this idea helps you with your own “eyedeas”.   One man’s trash is always another man’s treasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show & Tell

Making Fabulous Out Of Flawed With An Existing Space: Bathroom Remodeling Ideas

Dave the Builder and I had big, big plans for the renovation of our new house, which also happens to be my childhood home.  Plans change, life throws you a curve ball, and you find yourself “the guest” who will now be using the guest bathroom.  It’s time for the bathroom remodeling ideas to begin.

The before pictures have been lost in the shuffle, but you don’t need a great imagination to envision what we were working with.

A vast knowledge of outdated ugly will do.

toile-wallpaper1

tile-squares

The first question Dave the Builder asked me was are you going to leave the existing tile walls.

I’m not a fan of what’s involved with the removal of ceramic tile, so no, Dave, we will not be removing the majority of the existing ceramic tile.

We will be adding to by taking away from.

The bathroom walls had the original gray and green decorative 4″ square tiles, randomly placed on a background of predominately white 4″ square tiles.

Not exactly atrocious, but leaning more to what was hot in style 40+ years ago.

I decided not  to remove the existing white tiles for one simple reason- the exact style of tile is used today.

Dave cut around and extracted the gray and green tiles, replacing them with 4″ glass tiles.  The original ceramic floor was left in place and overlaid with 12″ square slate purchased from Lowe’s.

Step three involved the removal of a double flush mount sink vanity.

Dave replaced it with a custom built vanity for the wow factor effect.  A decorative single sink and faucet from the Artist Editions collection by Kohler completed the look.

orchid-sink

The gorgeous framed mirror was a gift from my equally gorgeous mother-in-law.

Now came the time to select colors and make the decision to paint or paper.

I selected a classic brown Toile pattern with blue background wallpaper by York to enhance the colors of the slate floor and vanity.

Dave wanted to go with a dark brown glass tile, and I wanted to go with Café au lait glass tile.

We compromised with the old half and half trick.

The four light bronze bathroom fixture perfectly matched the mirror frame.

bathroom-light-fixture2

One successful shopping trip to our local Marshall’s for guest towels, and one easy order placed at JCPenney for the shower curtain set put us in home decor business.

I could not be happier with the finished product.  It was the logical, practical and most cost efficient choice for us to make.

Our renovation and remodel repertoire grows.

Love your style!

Show & Tell