Soak Up The Fun In The Sun Summer Reads

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

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

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.

Summer Reads

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

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke.  Topical hilarity.

Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe

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.

lets-pretend-this-never-happened

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.

The Weekenders

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.

enjoy-hydrangea

Summer In A Jar: Fig and Fresh Mint Vinaigrette

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.

summer-fruit-bowl

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.

blueberries

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.

Fig and Fresh Mint Vinaigrette

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!

butter-lettuce

Note the vintage serving bowl I bought on our latest antiques treasure hunting trip.

summer-butter-salad1

Fig and Fresh Mint Vinaigrette

Ingredients

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 Tablespoons fig preserves

1½  Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped

Kosher salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

 

Directions

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.

enjoy-hydrangea

A Most Fetching Friday: Keeping Cool

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!

fetching-define

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.

bottled-water

sunscreen

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.

cooling-towels

 

floppy-hat

 

One does want a hint of style.

 

keeping cool

 

fan

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.

signature-pink

 

Summer Entertaining Suggestions

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.

lantern luminaries

John Jacob Interiors

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.

lights-in-trees

House Beautiful

For extra ambiance wrap, hang, drape or string white twinkle string lights from trees, in shrubs and around columns.  Stunning!

 bamboo lantern

Bamboo Cloth Lantern

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.

decorative-outdoor-lanterns

Pier 1 Imports

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.

RECYCLED WINE BOTTLE TORCH

Recycled Wine Bottle Torch for Outdoor Use Only

DIY-ice-bucket

DIY Ice Buckets

The Ball Jar is a versatile party decor darling.

ball-jar

Light them up, fill them up, or chill them down.

ball-jar-purpleThis is my idea of a party 6 pack!

ball-jar-green

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.

clay-pot

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.

Vidalia-onion

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.

outdoor-tablecloth

Patio in Pink

An average patio table pops a pretty party look when topped with a stylish outdoor tablecloth and paired with chairs, cushions and outdoor pillows decked out in bright summer colors.

flamingo-pillow

Celebrate Local Life Together Flamingo Tufted Throw Pillow

Decoristas have long had a trusty trick up their sleeve.  Home decor and furnishings that work gorgeously inside our homes will rock an outdoor living space like a Led Zeppelin concert!

tablescape ideasvia

Love your inside dining chairs and know they will be  the key to pulling the entire outdoor tablescape together, but don’t want the chair legs to get dirty?

outdoor-table-setting

Architectural Digest

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

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.

mosquito_sage

Pure Wow

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.

fresh-rose-petals

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.

Cucumber_Cleansing_Towelettes

Enjoy the colors and celebrations of the season.  What better excuse for throwing a stylish summer entertaining soirée!

A Most Fetching Friday: The Summer Vacation

Today’s A Most Fetching Friday is all about the summer vacation.

fetching-define

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.

ff-Texas-hill-country

Texas Hill Country

ff-foyer-CL

Lake Keowee Lake House Cabin, South Carolina

Palm Springs Hotel

Summer In Color at The Saguaro Palm Springs

the summer vacation

What story will your summer vacation tell?

sea shells

Sanibel Island, Florida

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.

luggage tag

Tagged for Travel

576px-Ambler's_Texaco_Gas_Station5

Get Your Kicks and Your Gas on Route 66

ff-tubing

Sunny Days and Cool Waters

Summer Sounds

Have a lovely weekend.

signature-pink

Coconut Poke Cake

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.

ef0822572bc63956_cale.xxxlarge_2x

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

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.

cake-on-a-plateGoogle 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

Coconut Poke Cake

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

enjoy-hydrangea

A Most Fetching Friday: Grilled to Perfection Delicious Inspiration

Today’s Fetching Friday features grilled to perfection delicious inspiration for your outdoor living entertaining ideas pleasure.

fetch·ing

/ˈfeCHiNG/

adjective

adjective: fetching

attractive.

synonyms: attractive, appealing, sweet, pretty, good-looking, lovely, delightful, charming, prepossessing, captivating, enchanting, irresistible

salmon with creamed peas

Grilled Salmon with Dijon and Dill Creamed Pea Sauce

201208-HD-grilled-flatbreads-with-mushrooms-ricotta-and-herbs-201208-r-grilled-flatbreads-with-mushrooms-ricotta-and-herbs

Grilled Flatbreads with Mushrooms, Ricotta and Herbs

bfe84a51d3586fd0a5ed3a10ca805116

Grilled Portofino Vegetable Antipasto

grilled-tandoori-chicken

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

grilled-shrimp-with-cranberry-salsa

 Grilled Shrimp with Fresh Cranberry Salsa

grilled-stone-fruit-almond-mascarpone-dip Grilled Stone Fruit with Almond Mascarpone Dip

enjoy-hydrangea

Summer’s Almost Here Happy Dance: Outdoor Living Entertaining

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.

Lucy on the phone

Curb and yard appeal primps and preps the outdoor living entertaining area for the season.

JD-3-22

The outdoor living loyal take outdoor living seriously.  The how we utilize our outdoor living spaces is an interesting fact.

Outdoor Spaces by the Numbers

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.

resort stripe outdoor fabricResort Stripe Aruba Outdoor Fabric

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.

aluminum patio furniture

South Haven 5 Piece Patio Set 

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.

sunguard-uv-protectant-2-pack-4 (1)

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.

decorative outdoor string lights

Threshold™ Tear Drop String Lights

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?

fire pit

Don’t forget to apply sun protection with an SPF of Stylish Parasol Fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Save On Crafts

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.

umbrella-from-tree

Style Me Pretty

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!

outdoor living entertaining

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.

Sandwich-Skewers_001-533x800

Better Homes and Gardens

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

 Rascal Flatts – Mayberry

Picture 8650

1stdibs

This week’s A Most Fetching Friday will place the spotlight on outdoor living entertaining delicacies.  It all goes so well together.

Love your style!

Refreshed: Lemon Angel Squares

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.

Lemons_(4279536576)via

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.

Black_Butte_blackberryvia

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.

Mint,_Puthina,_പുതിന1via

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.

Duncan-Hines-angle-food-cake-mix

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-ingredients

 

Lemon Angel Squares

Ingredients

1 16 ounce package angel food cake mix

1  21 ounce can lemon pie filling

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Directions

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.

lemon-angel-food-batter

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

Ingredients

3 oz. cream cheese

2-3  tbsp. milk

2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. lemon extract

Directions

Beat together all ingredients. It’s that simple!  Generously frost each square with cream cheese icing and garnish with blackberries and mint.

lemon-angel-squares

 

enjoy

Who’s Ready For Summer?

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.

who's-ready-for-summer

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.

forecast

If summer means I get to color my summer world with tropical brights,

summer-paint-colors

Sherwin-Williams

fresh and green right off the farm to table seasonal vegetables and fruits,

farmers-market-summerEd Lester Farms ~ Coushatta, Louisiana via Janohn’s (Official FB Page)

and accents in the so summer appropriate classic color combination of pink and green then I say bring it on

pink-and-green-breakfast-areaTraditional Home

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.

sweetie“Sweetie” by Inaltéra

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.

with-six-you-get-eggroll-doris-dayvia

benjamin-moore-sweet-16Benjamin Moore sweet 16 pink

 

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?

Love your style!