Storm clouds are hanging heavy over our part of the world this week. What’s up with this weather pattern? Houston, we have a problem took on a whole new meaning and a whole lot of water Monday morning. Everything is bigger in Texas, including this most recent flooding event. My mother, channeling her inner Jim Cantore, kept me informed of the worsening weather conditions and rescue situations in the Greater Houston area throughout the day. We watched the following rescue unfold live, amazed at Mother Nature’s power and the strength in numbers good Samaritans who saved this stranded trucker’s life.
Funky weather conditions can dampen even the sunniest of dispositions. We’ve had just about all the sadness we can take around here lately, making the distract and deflect act I have become abnormally good at a necessary part of a cloudy day. Lighting plays such a significant role in our moods and energy levels. The right amount of the right kind of lighting can promote a calming, serene and pleasing atmosphere. Sunny days and the pristine natural lighting are favored, but not a 365 day reality. What to do, what to do with the cloudy one at hand? I know, let’s take a gander at what’s going on with our feathered friends on a cloudy afternoon.
Dave the Builder put out bread and filled the chandelier bird feeder pots with seed late Sunday afternoon. We kept watch to see how well the birds would respond to this first feeding of the spring season.
Robins, blue jays, doves, cardinals, mockingbirds, sparrows –
You would think a rainy, cloudy day would keep them away, but it seems the weather was just right to entice these creatures to turn out to feed and frolic.
See the tilted and empty clay pots?
Meet the culprit.
Never underestimate the will of an alpha squirrel and the king of the yard swagger that goes along with it. This greedy gut and his partner in squirrel crime worked in tandem to tip each of the full clay pot feed holders over. This was one seedy ground game. A determined blue jay with expert aim dive-bombed the spotter squirrel and it was game on from there. Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal and the sparrows circled the wagons, and the doves noshed in couldn’t care less fashion. Victory was declared by the feathered finishers, and a pair of crestfallen squirrels cried “fowl” and retreated to the neighbors yard.
Spring gardening days are here, my friends! Can you dig it? Recent snow (or as they say in Louisiana, sneaux) events, frost dusted mornings and the band of 32° and below temps has got to go. My visual and vocal denial of last week’s light frost on the ground mornings brought forth the words of Sergeant Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes fame. I see nothing, nothing! I only have eyes for spring.
A kitchen vegetable garden flush with vegetables, herbs and color rich flowers is on my fresh from home farmers market radar. Better Homes and Gardens has a free kitchen garden plan to download which includes planting instructions and plants list for the kitchen veggie garden shown in the illustration below. Click on this link: An Eye-Catching Kitchen Garden Plan.
A local radio personality gives a daily update on the produce progress of her vegetable and flower garden, and I must admit I look forward to and am inspired by her down on the farm reports. In regards to the spring and summer salad season my question to you is this: Is there anything better than a fresh garden salad made with home grown tomatoes? Pass the fine black pepper and the buttermilk dressing.
Common edible flowers to consider planting in your spring garden areas and containers: marigolds, chrysanthemums, nasturtiums, pansies, petunias, snapdragons, geraniums, sunflowers, begonias, daylilies, dandelions, tulips,
violets, hibiscus, lilacs, honeysuckles and roses.
Spring plants a sweet treat seed. Doesn’t this orange chiffon cake with buttermilk ice cream look fabulous? Fabulous and fattening, but gardening is an excellent source of exercise so take that calories. Dig in.
Orange Chiffon Cake with Buttermilk Ice Cream
7 large eggs
1 egg white
½ cup canola oil
zest of 2 medium oranges (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. melted butter
Buttermilk Ice Cream:
3 cups low-fat buttermilk
1½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Meanwhile, fit the bottom of a 10-inch tube pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a small bowl, mix orange-juice concentrate with ½ cup water and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, oil, half the orange zest, vanilla, and ¾ cup reserved orange-juice mixture. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the reserved egg-yolk mixture until batter is very smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to batter and whisk gently to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in remaining egg whites.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack of oven (do not open oven until end of baking time) until top is golden brown and springs back when touched, 50 to 60 minutes. Invert pan over neck of a bottle or heatproof funnel to cool completely. Remove when cool. Run a knife between the pan and outer edges of cooled cake, all the way around, and invert cake to remove from pan.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter, and remaining orange-juice mixture and orange zest. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of glaze and set aside until ready to use. Place cake on a serving plate and drizzle with glaze. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Buttermilk Ice Cream.
To make Buttermilk Ice Cream:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and refrigerate until very cold, at least 1 hour. Pour mixture into an ice-cream maker; process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pack ice cream into a 1 ½-quart lidded container and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface before sealing. Freeze until completely set, from 2 ½ to 4 ½ hours, depending on freezer. (Ice cream can be made up to 3 days ahead.)
An early Easter gets the spring gardening ball rolling. I’ve got my “she shed” area on the back patio mapped out and a spring gardening supplies list primed with items to aid in the task at hand.
It’s all nursery festivals, spring forward garden centers and merry, merry, how does your garden grow everywhere you look. Here’s a spring gardening video from Garden Answer blooming with inspiration and how-to steps for longer lasting spring blooms.
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.
I love the Alice Walker quote from The Color Purple, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Our local weatherman just made my day with the forecast that pays- sunny with an expected high of 78 degrees. Can I get a spring is in sight! The first day of spring didn’t necessarily bring spring like weather to some, but let’s look at the iced tea, water and lemonade glass half full. Good things and warm temps will come to those who patiently bundle up this week.
Now that the weatherman and the calendar have established that spring is in sight, one’s thoughts naturally turn to spring break vacation, daycation and backyardcation destination ideas. There’s places to go, people to see and parties to plan. I received an email from our friends at Pinterest inviting me to create a place board of my ideal dawn to dusk daycation. Any guesses where we’re going?
This season’s color crush is brought to you by Sherwin- Williams Aloe and Sherwin-Williams Bunglehouse Gray. I love any excuse to contemplate and coordinate bedding with spring and summer colors and textures.
An acquaintance of ours has recently purchased a beach property in need of a decorative update or two. Too many miles between us and certain time constraints makes this project a prime candidate for my edecorating services. I’ve been perusing shops and sites for furnishings and accessories that say beach chic. I’ll share the design board with you all soon. Your comments are always welcome!
It’s here! Today marks the long awaited first day of Spring 2013. I am welcoming the season with a raised glass of sweet tea, a luscious new hanging fern for the front porch, and the A/C set to comfortable. Spring doesn’t stay around very long in Louisiana, but while it is here it is made to feel right at home.
Neutral color palettes need not be color deficient, especially in one with natural light, open doors, and crisp white curtains. Throw pillows easily infuse seasonal color, pattern, and texture into the space.
Color, texture, edits and updates usher in spring and spring home decor ideas. The colors of spring take winter’s edge off our interiors and fashions- the mirror images of style. Pantone’s fashion color report for spring 2013 colorfully illustrates that exact point.
Home decor items in decorative and colorful choices spring up everywhere this time of year. Regardless if your seasonal update involves a major weekend color infusion paint party throwdown or a more subtle approach of the decorative throw pillow, lampshade, and decorative accent kind, inspirational and affordable ideas abound.
That’s a moiré wallcovering! Designer Jamie Drake selects a silk moiré wallcovering that not only exemplifies optimum pattern and color choice, but highlights the accessories in the always spring appropriate fuchsia. I like how the balance between feminine and masculine in this bedroom tips the scale toward perfection.
The Featured Designer room at Lee Jofa in New York City features the color inspired brilliance of Nick Olsen. The Cheshire Tight Back chair is upholstered in Lee Jofa Ayla Trellis in fuchsia red. Bold colors in big doses too much for your tastes? My advice for that is to practice the ABC’s of impact- AdjustBig Color. A seasonal splash of color through spot accessories can achieve just as big of an impact as color drenching the entire space. Big and colorful things do come in small packages.
Let’s Go Shopping For Spring Things~
1. Morrocan 18-inch Embroidered Blue Decorative Pillows (Set of 2) ~ Overstock: $58.99
I want to share this recipe with you all even though I have not personally prepared it…yet. We had dinner at a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago, and to my surprise the “house chef” prepared Nutmeg and Black Pepper Popovers. I’ve raved about trying this recipe after seeing it in the December issue of Bon Appétit . Oh-my-goodness- do these popovers please! The search for the perfect popover pan is officially on. I am currently working on a wonderful soup recipe, and these will make a great addition to the meal. Soup knows no season in at Places In The Home, but warmer weather and the very first signs of spring turn a cook’s mind to salads and lighter fare. That’s the good and tasty thing about these popovers- they will complement any dish in any season.
Photo: Ditte Isager
Nutmeg and Black Pepper Popovers
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
2½ cups whole milk
3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Whisk 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk 3 large eggs and 2 1/2 cups whole milk in a large bowl until well blended. Gently whisk in flour mixture, followed by 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (do not overmix). DO AHEAD: Batter can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 425°. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter; grease 12 standard muffin cups with 1/2 teaspoons melted butter each. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling cups three-quarters full and dividing equally. Bake popovers until puffed, golden brown, and crispy around edges, 30-35 minutes. Using a thin knife or an offset spatula, remove popovers from pan. Serve immediately.
Last week during the torrential rain storms here in Louisiana I noticed a pale yellow film standing on the tops of water puddles in the driveway. Enter the time of year when the cold for Louisiana temperatures rise signaling a call to bloom to both winter and spring flowers.
With what appears to be the first signs of an early spring comes a mixed fertilizer bag of jubilation and dread. Into every flower bed and decorative garden planter a little dusting of bright yellow must fall. It’s the annual trade-off we must endure in order to bring forth the colors and blooms of the season.
Pollen is the necessary ingredient (evil) in nature’s bud and bloom recipe. I could live without the yellow calling card it leaves everywhere during the creative process, but the plants could not. With that being said, I focus on the lovely end result of nature’s process and the beauty it creates spring after spring.
In the spirit of winter and spring colors, today’s positive attitude is brought to you by the glass vase is half full with water and totally full of gorgeous camellias and azaleas.
Camellias infuse color and a spring preview into what winter we do have in Louisiana. Even though winter is still with us, spring is already waving a color packed hello. I’m beginning to gather ideas for my Easter tablescape and dinner presentation, and this one is being added to the must make list!
Floral ice cubes make a pretty presentation, don’t you think? This spring fling party in a glass floral presentation looks relatively simple to achieve. From the May 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living:
To suspend flowers in the cubes, work in layers: Fill an ice tray (one that makes large cubes so the ice will last longer) a quarter of the way with water, add flowers facing down, and freeze. Add more water to fill halfway, and freeze. Fill to the top, and freeze again.
For ice that’s especially clear, use distilled water that has been boiled and then cooled. This limits impurities and air bubbles, which make ice cloudy.
Use only edible flowers, such as orchids, nasturtiums, pansies, and snapdragons, that have been grown to be eaten (to ensure they haven’t been treated with chemicals).
Nice winter driveway look we’ve got going on at Places In The Home. Tidying it up is on Dave the Builder’s going to get to it list now that the rain has stopped and the temps are mild. The lazy days are in season all year round for Fatty Cat. And so it goes…