Today I am sharing a few summer reads to add to your summer reading list. These soak up the fun in the sun summer reads travel well to the beaches, lakes, pools and rest and relaxation escapes tailor-made for a beach bag packed with summer reads.
Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is a must read for fans of the must see TV classic Seinfeld.
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck is the story of a bridal boutique owner who finds the perfect vintage wedding gown in a trunk at an estate sale. From there a curiosity with the backstory and the women who have worn the dress evolves into a love story surrounding four women and a wedding dress.
Ooh la love Picnic in Provence: A Memoir With Recipes, a sweet and delicious read by Elizabeth Bard. Did I mention recipes?
The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Topical hilarity.
Discovery becomes more than a passing summer fancy in Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson. A cafe by the beach serves comfort food and comfort for a searching soul as Laura Walker steps out of one comfort zone into another.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson puts the makes you who you are moments of life into a can’t change it so you might as well laugh about it and learn from it perspective.
Belle Isle, North Carolina reads like The Hamptons on spiked Southern sweet tea. Discovery of a dishonest and dead husband, a mother-daughter relationship fraught with issues, decisions old and new in need of dealing with, and plenty of pull up your big girl panties, pour yourself a cocktail and deal with it moments. The island spice of life makes The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews a get lost in a good book read.
Well, it’s official. I am slowly but surely becoming my grandmother- both of them. These two Southern women of strong convictions and delicious confections knew from trial by fire through temperatures of hellacious measure how hot a kitchen could get in the dead of summer.
Late lunch and evening meal menus played to cold salads of potato, macaroni, Louisiana seafood and leafy greens, fresh farm to market fruits and vegetables served at room temperature (the absolute best way to eat a homegrown tomato!), crispy cold fried chicken or bacon, roast beef or thin sliced ham prepared the morning before, canned pickles and chow chow spiked with bite and flavor.
Even in these modern central air times, when the stove and double ovens are cooking and baking at full throttle in the good old summertime, things can get hot, hot, hot in the kitchen. I learned from the best it’s not the temperature it’s served at but the taste and presentation upon the plate.
My latest summer salad series recipe, Fig and Fresh Mint Vinaigrette, deliciously fits right in with the house salad rule for summer suppers. The Dijon mustard, olive oil, Kosher salt and fine black pepper make a tasty base. The complementing flavors of the fig preserves and fresh lemon juice brought on the zing, but two tablespoons of fresh mint chopped uber fine delivered a bright bite placing this vinaigrette in a whole new flavor category. This vinaigrette is summer in a jar. Simply fresh, simply delicious!
Whisk lemon juice, Dijon mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl until blended. Add olive oil and whisk until blended. Stir in the fresh mint, Kosher salt and pepper. To guarantee extra blended goodness pour vinaigrette into a small mason jar. Screw on the lid good and tight and give it a good shake to combine.
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.
As requested, today’s post is an updated version of a summer entertaining suggestion post from a couple of years ago. Good information is always worthy of repeating, and I am happy to share these suggestions new to the Places In The Home summer entertaining repertoire. Summer officially arrives in two weeks with the summer solstice gift of extra daylight. Talk about the ultimate summer entertaining hostess gift! Invite vibrant color, easy entertaining tips, and fun home decor touches to the party and prepare to impress.
Summer nights frame the art of entertaining with a canvas of color and hosting ease. For an evening under the stars, bring down the house lights and light the night with soft accent lighting. A casual yet dramatic effect can be easily achieved by strategically placing lanterns or glass jar luminaries along a walkway.
Tiki torches, table lamps on loan for the evening from your interior home decor, garden chandeliers, and decorative paper lanterns also make great options in the quest to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.
Considering a summer soirée diy project to light the summer night? Here’s several simple, effective, colorful and refreshing summer entertaining diy ideas. Click on the link below each image to get the diy how-to scoop.
A midsummer night’s entertaining dream becomes a reality with these quaint and stunning homemade hurricanes. I discovered this impressive look last week in the new issue of Ladies Home Journal and pinned it to my Pinterest account.
Simply fill clean canning jars with dried beans to hold the votive candles in their upward position. Securely hang the mason jars at various heights from trees with twine. A simple and affordable look to add to the perfect summer evening. The vintage look fits right in with the KISS of summer- keep it summer simple. Glass is slippery when wet and breakable to boot, so summer soirée with caution.
If you’ve hung out at Places In The Home in person or in readership, you are aware of my entertaining relationship with the clay flower pot. Give me a reason to turn a flower pot into a serving piece and it is summer soirée party on. I’ll never forget the look I got the first time I announced we were having pot brownies at our pot party to a co-hostess. I don’t believe I have ever clarified something so quickly before or since.
Anywho, clay flower pots are an inexpensive and summer appropriate alternative to traditional serving pieces. Baked beans, barbecued wings, Creole seasoned french fries, baked Vidalia onions, summer sausage- all great “pot” options.
Why not wrap the bottom of each chair leg with clear plastic wrap? It may be a tad time-consuming, but it will save time on the clean up end of the party. Be as pre-party proactive as possible with certain tasks. It’s a summer entertaining essential skill for the host and/or hostess to hone.
Hello, my name is summer. With the very, very good points of summer outdoor living and summer entertaining comes the very real concern over controlling mosquitoes. It is suggested that burning sage or rosemary repels mosquitoes. The mosquito killing power is in the smoke so I’m thinking summer fire pit or campfire natural necessity.
I like the point in the party when the food and drink has hit the spot, the music is summer smooth, the outdoor party life is kicking up a notch and the company and the conversation is hitting all the right notes. Now comes summer relaxation party pail time. I make up these party pails beforehand and add the chilled and cold items before handing them out.
I fill plastic beach pails from the dollar store with his or hers flip-flops, individual aluminum spray bottles filled with chilled homemade rose water (the guys love this stuff almost as much as the gals), cold cucumber slices in freezer bags and Burt’s Bees Cucumber & Sage facial cleansing towelettes (love the scent). These always make a big splash.
Today’s A Most Fetching Friday is all about the summer vacation.
Tourism thrives on it, houses are built to entertain around it, school teachers wait all school year long for it to get here, kids of all ages celebrate it, and memories made on the summer holiday road stay with us for a lifetime.
Dave the Builder and I have been on a mini vacation for a little over a week. Reality will soon call us back to our normal routine, but for now the pace has slowed and the summer vacation life is good.
Temperatures in Louisiana hit the 90° degrees in the shade mark today. Summer is in sight and the first holiday weekend of the season is coming up. I guess now is about as good a time as any to shine the spotlight on an entertaining summer read and a delicious summer recipe. Two things our dinner gang does not shy away from- discussion and dessert. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and a request for coconut poke cake served up a delicious course of both.
My mother requested I make a coconut poke cake for our Mother’s Day brunch dessert. She specifically wanted me to make a coconut poke cake from a recipe she eavesdropped on overheard two ladies discussing at the beauty shop. Trying to follow her not so committed to memory bits and pieces of recipe recall about drove me coconuts. “They said something about poking holes and coconut.” Gee thanks, Mother.
Google supplied the general outline, but a couple of ingredients adjustments and culinary interpretation fined tuned the overall taste. My mother was so pleased with how my coconut poke cake turned out she asked me to make another one for the next meeting of our dinner gang. My idea for choosing The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert as our required read was no coincidence at all.
Coconut Poke Cake
1 box white cake mix
1 cup coconut milk
3 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons good vanilla
1 can (15 oz) Coco Lopez cream of coconut
2 8 oz frozen Cool Whip Extra Creamy whipped topping, thawed
1 8 oz package shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour the pan(s). I like to use about 2 heaping tablespoons of the dry cake mix to flour my pan. You can use a rectangular pan, two round cake pans or a bundt pan.
Prepare cake mix substituting the coconut milk for the water and adding vanilla. Beat for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until all ingredients are well blended.
Pour cake batter into prepared cake pan(s). Bake according to package instructions. Remove cake from oven and while cake is still hot poke holes all over the top of the cake using a the handle of a wooden spoon.
Slowly pour the entire can of cream of coconut over the top of the cake. making sure the cream of coconut soaks into the holes. Allow cake to cool completely. Generously frost top (and sides) with the extra creamy whipped topping and finish by topping the cake with the flaked coconut. Cover and keep refrigerated.
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.
Recently I saw SunGuard UV Protectant for garden decor featured on QVC. 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 Casual Living 2016 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 will use a fire pit year round.” S’mores anyone?
Don’t forget to apply sun protection with an SPF of Stylish Parasol Fun.
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. We weren’t too consumed with counting calories back then- we we’re far too busy counting fireflies in the front yard and the moments until Gatlinburg.
I miss Mayberry
Sitting on the porch drinking ice-cold cherry Coke
They say when life hands you lemons you should squeeze the most out of the moment. In the Places in the Home test kitchen, I take that not only as sound but as delicious advice. I’m thinking Lemon Angel Squares.
How do I love thee lemon? Let me count the ways I find to include you in the recipes of our culinary lives. The citrusy goodness, the tangy zing of the zest and the brilliant flavor notes of fresh lemon juice balances as it brightens. I prefer substituting a generous squeeze of lemon for salt in several of my recipes. Lemon is simply an essential ingredient favored for flavor by cooks, bakers and chefs in recipes of both the sweet and the savory kind.
Fresh in season blackberries and the herb of my heart, fresh mint, round out the flavor of these summer tastes so good treats. What we serve should look as good as it tastes. The three part harmony on the plated side of a prepared recipe is simple- flavor it up, pretty it up and serve it up. Aromas entice, but we eat with our eyes first.
The Places in the Home test kitchen becomes sweet tooth central in the summer months. The is there anything sweet to eat gang prefers lighter desserts big on summer flavor (coconut, tropical, lemony, melons, berries, etc…) over heavier cakes and pies usually associated with cold weather noshing and nesting. Yes, there is a distinct association between foods and flavors and the seasons. A quick inventory of the sweets shelf resulted in a Duncan Hines Signature Angel Food cake mix staring back at me. Angel food cake stands on its own as a light dessert, and the fresh blackberries I picked up at the market would only add to the mix, but this dessert combination did not call out to me. Isn’t it funny how creative one can become when a sweet tooth is involved? A lone can of lemon pie filling, a gorgeous lemon primed and ready for zest, and a recent rediscovery of the fresh mint I planted in a window box planter a couple of spring seasons ago filled in the blanks. Cream cheese and powdered sugar are basic staples around my kitchen so it’s all good.
This recipe for Lemon Angel Squares is easy, delicious and a nice choice for a summer treat. The taste is fresh, the bite is lemon bright and did I mention this recipe is easy. Just add summer.
Lemon Angel Squares
1 16 ounce package angel food cake mix
1 21 ounce can lemon pie filling
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the angel food cake mix with the lemon pie filling and zest in a mixing bowl; blend until smooth.
Pour the batter into an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and top springs back when lightly touched, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan, and cut into squares.
Cream Cheese Icing
3 oz. cream cheese
2-3 tbsp. milk
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. lemon extract
Beat together all ingredients. It’s that simple! Generously frost each square with cream cheese icing and garnish with blackberries and mint.
Who’s ready for summer? The first day of summer officially arrived yesterday. No calendar needed. It was hot, it was outdoor living at its finest, it was an excellent party guest! Summer is on tap.
Dave the Builder snapped the pic of my brother’s freshly cleaned swimming pool right before he dove in. A cool summer splash revives the mind and refreshes the body on a hot summer afternoon. All winter long we wished for summer, and believe me, the great genie of hot with a huge dose of humidity granted our wish. Do be careful what you ask for.
I am seriously considering developing a signature paint color in a stunning shade of pink to pay homage to my first true color love. The name of my paint color? I pink therefore I am. I have a long history with the color pink. My first design and decorating endeavor dates back to the late 1960s, when my very brave and trusting Mother allowed me carte blanche with the paint color and wallpaper selections for my bedroom. The standout feature of this wallpaper was the texture. The colors and pattern design captured the flower child chic groovy sign of the times, but it was the the texture of this wallpaper that made an impression on me.
I love the summer of 1968 movie With Six You Get Eggroll, starring Doris Day and Brian Keith. Inspiration is everywhere, and evidently it was at the movies for me. I don’t believe it a mere coincidence that my bedroom design and decorating choices closely mirrored the master bedroom of the McClure residence as shown below.
Summer is a three month fest of vacations, outdoor living it up entertaining, interior updates and refreshes with summer colors, patterns and textures and relaxing on the patio, porch or deck with a cool beverage embracing the lazy days of summer. Who’s ready for summer?