Friday, July 29, 2011

Foodie Fridays: Tipsy Strawberry Soup

By Femina

A recent post about fruit-shaped bowls and the best foods to serve in them on the HGTV Design Happens blog got me thinking about chilled fruit soups.  Then, on the most recent Food Network Star episode, one of the contestants made a roasted strawberry cupcake.  Putting the two ideas together, I decided to try making a chilled strawberry soup with roasted strawberries!  My goal was to duplicate a refrigerated packaged soup that was sold many years ago in the supermarket but is now unavailable.  Unlike most cold fruit soups, this one had no milk, cream, yogurt, or sour cream in it, but did have red wine.  I took a simple recipe I found on the internet and modified it, and was actually able to reproduce the soup I remembered fairly accurately. Even my husband, who was skeptical of cold fruit soups, loved it!  Roasting strawberries enhances their sweetness, but if you do not want to bother with the additional steps, I will include the original recipe as well, and also some variations.  Whichever way you choose to make this soup, it is perfect for a hot summer day!

Tipsy Strawberry Soup

4 C. trimmed and halved strawberries
5 T. sugar
2 C. cold water
1/2 C. red wine
2 T. Grand Marnier

Combine 2 C. strawberries with 4 T. sugar in a baking dish and arrange berries in one layer.  Roast at 425 degrees 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Cool, then purée in a blender.  Add water, then pour into a bowl.  Add wine and Grand Marnier.  Purée 1 C. berries briefly in blender, then add to bowl.  Add 1 T. sugar to remaining 1 C. berries and mash coarsely (I used a fork and knife together to get the right chunky texture).  Add to bowl.  Chill, then serve cold as an appetizer or dessert, topped with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and a sprig of mint, if desired.  Serves 8.

Notes: Substitute pomegranate juice for the wine and orange juice for the Grand Marnier if you prefer a non-tipsy version.  Also, since strawberries vary in sweetness, taste after puréeing the roasted berries and add more sugar as needed.

Variation: For an extremely fast and easy version, combine all ingredients (including 1/2 C. sour cream or yogurt if desired) in a food processor and blend until smooth.  You may need to increase the amount of sugar to get the desired sweetness.  Chill and serve.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This 'n That Thursdays: A Veritable Forest of Tree-Themed Shower Curtains!

I tend to keep decorative items in the bathroom to a minimum as I prefer a calm, spa-like atmosphere.  One focal point is all that is needed, and any one of these shower curtains would fill that niche admirably:

Top row left: Target; top row right:
Middle row left:; middle row right: Bed Bath & Beyond
Bottom row left: CB2; bottom row right: Walmart

Either of these towel sets would pair well with the shower curtains:

From Bed Bath & Beyond
From Macy's

Bath accessories can range from sleek to rustic:

From Pioneer Linens
From The Cabin Shop

And for a true summer woodland look, this green marble leaf-shaped sink is a must for the bathroom:


I'm ready to rush out and at least get one of those shower curtains for myself right now!  Of course, I still need to find that perfect mountain getaway summer cabin...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wish List Wednesdays: Dalmatian Cookie Jar

Dalmatians rule!  This adorable cookie jar will look right at home in my kitchen along with the Dalmatian salt and pepper shakers and Dalmatian tea pot that already inhabit the space.  Now all I need to do is bake the cookies!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Holiday Hits: Tell an Old Joke Day

From Corbis Images

Today is Tell an Old Joke Day!  If you are having a hard time remembering any, here are a few to get you started:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Answer: To get to the other side!

Knock, knock!
Who's there?
Boo who?
Don't cry!  It's only a joke!

How do you stop a charging elephant?
Answer: Take away its credit cards!

What do you call a man who stands around and makes faces all day?
Answer: A clockmaker!

What do you feed an 800-pound gorilla?
Answer: Anything it wants!

How do you make a tiger stew?
Answer: Keep it waiting for three hours!

Why shouldn't you write with a broken pencil?
Answer: Because it's pointless!

Go ahead and have a good laugh, even if you are just laughing at how corny these old jokes are!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Foodie Fridays: Blueberry Banana Walnut Muffins


July is National Blueberry Month, and the luscious orbs are widely available right now.  Feel free to eat as many as you like, because the healthful properties of blueberries make them a perfect snack!  Baked in muffins is a favorite way to cook with these fruits, but instead of following my usual recipe I decided to try something new.  Blueberry Banana Walnut Muffins take this tasty baked treat to a whole new level -- the moist sweetness of the banana and the crunchy, faintly bitter walnuts really enhance the juicy pop of the blueberries.  I may never make plain old blueberry muffins again!

Blueberry Banana Walnut Muffins

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 1 T. hot water
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
1/2 C. fresh blueberries

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add egg and baking soda in water and mix well.  Combine the remaining ingredients in another bowl.  Fold into the wet ingredients until just moistened.  Spoon into a greased 12-cup muffin pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a rack.  Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This 'n That Thursdays: Summer Woodland Dining Room Décor

I am officially obsessed with this summer woodland décor idea.  I suppose it is because, while most people head to the coast for both vacation and design ideas during the summer, I prefer the mountains for inspiration.  This week I created two styleboards for a dining room based on a truly unique (although unfortunately no longer available) dining room table.  The first keeps the color scheme neutral, which I tend to like for a dining room as it leaves color options open for any table setting:

Clockwise from left: trees graphic long console from Iannone Design; resting birch dining table (no longer available); bentwood birch plywood dining chairs from 1stdibs; black white Gibson new leaf dinnerware from Style CEO; tree ring placemat from Viva Terra; triptych art whitetail deer tracks from Etsy (no longer available); vinyl decal birch forest from Rare Hollywood Auction; The Wise One pendant lamp from mammalampa; teak flatware from Viva Terra; ilio forest drinking glasses from connox; Center: birch print napkins from Etsy; Background: yellow birch wood flooring from Kalley Flooring

The second focuses on bringing the color green into this room -- the shade I chose is very cooling and is perfect for the summer season:

The Wise One pendant lamp; tree silhouette napkins from Etsy; resting birch dining table; trees graphic long console; vinyl decal birch forest from Etsy; The Cellar Lots of Leaves dinnerware from Macy's; owl wineglass from Scentsational Salts & Stuff; tree ring placemat; white tree glasses from Bouf; birch sapling green plastic modern dining chair from Wholesale Interiors; Center: twig flatware from The Dinner Party Shop; Background: yellow birch wood flooring

I would be happy serving meals in either space, as long as I am surrounded by green forests and majestic mountains in a cool high-altitude summer getaway cabin!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wish List Wednesdays: Dalmatian Salt and Pepper Shakers

It must be obvious by now that I am a serious fanatic for all things Dalmatian!  Case in point -- these adorable kissing teacup Dalmatian salt and pepper shakers.  A small magnet keeps these two pups lip-locked until needed for seasoning purposes, and at less than ten dollars they are very affordable.  I have recently become the proud owner of this set so I can remove them from my wish list, but any Dalmatian lover should be sure to get their hands on them as well!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Picture Parade: Colorfully Wild And Wacky Sofas

A few weeks ago I posted a comment about the patchwork Bensington sofa, something I found surprisingly to my liking despite that fact that I normally prefer modern, solid-colored upholstered pieces.  Recently the HGTV Design Happens blog posted a similar comment about the Oswald Squint sofa sporting an even wilder patchwork pattern (and this is only one of many from Squint Limited):

This led me to do a search for even more colorfully wild and wacky sofas, which turn out to be quite easy to find!  For example, the African-themed Qalakabusha ("New Beginning") couch from Ardmore was a recent finalist in the Design Indaba 2011 Expo's Most Beautiful Object Contest:

Other colorful sofas include the Versace Bubble sofa,

as well as their Jaipur sofa:

Then there are the pixellated sofas by Cristian Zuzunaga:

With Cristophe Delcourt

With Morose UK and Kvadrat

The Betsy Victorian couch by Suzanne Meyer Pistorius of BlugirlArt is another eye-popping find,

as is the Amor sofa from Corita Rose:

Nicole Chazaud Telaar of Festive Fibers designed this fun "Like Bees" sofa:

And while I could go on for quite a while longer with these pictures, I will end with the colorful and fuzzy Cipria sofa from Edra Furniture:

Colorfully wild and wacky sofas seem to be a fun trend right now, and I for one cannot get enough!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Current Events: Congratulations, Milly!


Milly the Dalmatian of Shropshire, England, has just given birth to a litter of 16 puppies!  This is so unusual that her owners, Lisa and Terry Elvins, had to have the vet who performed the Caesarean on Milly sign a letter confirming the veracity of the births to get them registered.  Even more amazing is the fact that Milly herself was born to a litter of 16 pups as well!  Mother and puppies are doing well, and the Elvins will soon be sending all but one of the litter off to good homes.  I have to wonder if this new generation will prove to be just as prolific!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Holiday Hits: I Love Horses Day

Today is I Love Horses Day -- who knew!  To mark the occasion I thought I would share a few must-have horse-themed items for the bath from the LoneStar Western Decor catalog that any true horse fanatic would love.  For starters, this copper oval bowl sink with embossed horses would be an essential:

Right above the sink this horse and colt vanity light would be perfect:

These running horses towels would look lovely in a horse-themed bathroom (and so would the turquoise-washed wooden wall, as long as it could be sealed against moisture damage, but no gun-shaped accessories for me, please!):

Finally, a running horses bathroom rug would certainly be cozy under the feet on chilly mornings:

If you love horses, ordering these bathroom items just may be the ideal way to celebrate today's holiday!

Foodie Fridays: Chocolate Marshmallow Pie

By Sweetapolita

Chocolate marshmallow pie is very easy to make, and so delicious your taste buds will think they've died and gone to heaven!  It is light and airy in texture and should be served chilled, which makes this an ideal summertime dessert.  Feel free to adjust the amount of chocolate up or down as you see fit.  There are many versions of this recipe and I have seen the amount of chocolate range from 2 to 10 ounces.  This is your opportunity to use up any stale marshmallows that happen to be sitting around, and in the unlikely event that there is some uneaten chocolate in the house use that up as well!

Chocolate Marshmallow Pie

1 pre-baked 9-inch pastry shell
5 oz. chocolate, preferably dark or bittersweet
20 large (campfire) marshmallows (1 lb.)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Melt chocolate with marshmallows and milk in a heavy saucepan or double boiler over low heat until smooth and well blended, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool completely (do not refrigerate).  Whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold cream into chocolate mixture.  Pour into pastry shell and chill for 4 hours until set.  Serves 6-8.

Note: A 1-lb. bag of regular or miniature marshmallows may also be used.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This 'n That Thursdays: Summer Woodland Bedroom Design

I had so much fun coming up with a summer woodland living room style board last week that I decided to give a bedroom with the same theme a try.  After finding the fabulous birch tree bed, designing the rest of the room was a breeze:

Clockwise from left: birch tree bed from Rustic Furniture; trees graphic nightstand from Iannone Design; birch forest panels from Viva Terra; green leaf Lulu chair from Urban Outfitters (no longer available); tree trunk tables from Etsy; leaf print linen curtain from La Redoute; trees graphic tall dresser from Iannone Design; boxwood bird pillow from Clayton Gray Home; Madera in moss coverlet and shams from Linenplace (no longer available); Silhouette cocoa sheet set from Dwell Studio; Center (background): Surya vivid green textured rug from; Center (foreground): trees graphic long dresser from Iannone Design

Because I am an early bird who is always up before dawn, I included a few song birds in this bedroom décor -- a night owl may wish to use images of those nocturnal raptors instead.  I would love to spend every night nestled in this serene and cozy tree-filled room!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wish List Wednesdays: Four Fabulously Fishy Finds

For some reason summer makes me think of fishes!  I recently discovered four fabulous fish-themed home décor items in the At West End catalog, which specializes in rustic and recycled goods.  I would love to incorporate every single one of them in my home for that summery feeling they evoke for me!  First up is this fantastic fish fireplace screen, the perfect coverup to add some interest over what is normally just a big blank hole in the wall during the warmer months:

Over the mantle I would like to hang this fish crafted from vines:

A guest bathroom would be the perfect spot for this fishy towel rack:

And last but certainly not least, a couple of these colorful folding fish tables would be fun on a patio or deck, or next to some pool lounge chairs:

All of these items are so attractive I'm starting to think that I may just have to keep the fish theme year-round!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Foodie Fridays: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Dill

From Real Simple

Recently I have had a craving for shrimp, so I tried a shrimp and pasta recipe from Real Simple, modified slightly to suit my tastes, and was quite pleased with the outcome.  The biggest change I made was to replace the feta cheese with Mexican queso fresco, since I find feta to be too salty.  I also substituted Barilla Plus multigrain spaghetti for regular spaghetti.  This recipe is quick, easy, and flavorful, and the dill is an unexpected but delightful taste sensation with pasta.  I definitely plan to make this one again!

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Dill

1 lb. spaghetti, cooked, drained, and returned to pot with some olive oil (reserve about 1/2 C. pasta water)
1 T. olive oil
1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp
salt and pepper
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon (about 3 T. and 1 tsp., respectively)
1 C. crumbled queso fresco
2 T. chopped fresh dill
1/4 C. olive oil

Heat 1 T. oil over medium-high heat in large skillet.  Season shrimp with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and sauté in skillet, tossing occasionally, until completely opaque, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and zest.  Add the pasta, cheese, dill, 1/4 C. olive oil, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.  Add some of the reserved pasta water if needed.  Serves 4.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This 'n That Thursdays: Summer Woodland Cabin Décor

Many people long to escape to the coast when summer begins to heat up.  Their idea of the perfect vacation house is a coastal cottage with a beach theme.  Others, such as myself, look to the higher altitudes for summer relief.  I much prefer cooler mountain temperatures and the shade of verdant forests.  The ideal summer getaway for me is a cabin decorated in a woodland theme.  My cabin living room would be filled with items like these:

Clockwise from top left: Stockholm sofa in Gammelbo beige from IKEA; reclaimed teak tables from  Clayton Oxford; faux bois floor lamp from Vastu; twisted branch table lamp from Tactile from Nature; Stockholm chair in Blad brown from IKEA; Iannone Design cork mosaic long sideboard from Velocity Art and Design; olive green leaf pillow from Pillow Décor; brown woodland pillow from Branch; Winter Moons giclée print from Etsy; Owl on a Tree Limb giclée print from Etsy; Center left (background): Couristan Floral Impressions Sage Leaf rug from CSN Stores; Center right: Walk in the Woods canvas art from Psychedelic Canvas Art

The cool brown, green, and beige palette is the perfect antidote to a hot summer day.  Now all I have to do is find my mountain cabin and I'll be ready to face summer weather!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wish List Wednesdays: Pewter Crocodile Stapler/Glass Desk

From The Loaded Trunk

Do you often spend hours at your desk?  Are you finding the view a bit boring?  Maybe you need to liven up your work space with this eye-catching pewter crocodile stapler!  Not only is this reptilian predator functional, the lifelike detail makes this little gem seem almost alive.  So go ahead and live dangerously -- just don't get your fingers too close to those gaping jaws!

And the best place for this ferocious office accessory to reside?  On this sleek, barely there glass desk, of course:

From Wisteria

Just think -- when you get tired of working, or admiring your crocodile stapler, you can gaze right through your desk and study your shoes (or slippers or bare feet if you work at home)!  I do, however, shudder to think about the hazards of shipping this giant piece of glass, and would not breathe easily until the desk was safely unpacked and settled in to its new home.  Talk about living dangerously -- no boring workplace here!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holiday Hits: Independence Day

From The Purse Page

Today is Independence Day!  Time to fire up the grill, try to remember the lyrics to some patriotic songs, and watch the local fireworks displays.  And just in case you are unable to catch the latter, here is a video of some Fourth of July fireworks, complete with a band playing "Stars and Stripes Forever":

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Foodie Fridays: Berry Blondies

By From Apples to Zucchini

These white chocolate blondies with red and blue berries are the perfect dessert for the Fourth of July.  They are quick and easy to make and are a good way to use the abundance of summer berries now available.  Just be sure not to overbake these as they dry out quickly and are much tastier when they are moist.  Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!

Berry Blondies

1 C. (6 oz.) white chocolate chips
5 T. butter, diced
2 eggs
2/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. fresh raspberries
1 C. fresh blueberries

Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, then grease.  Melt chocolate and butter in microwave.  Stir until smooth.  Beat together the next three ingredients until thickened and pale.  Beat in the chocolate mixture.  Combine the dry ingredients.  Beat into the first mixture.  Spread in prepared pan.  Sprinkle with berries.  Bake on middle oven rack at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes until very light brown but soft to the touch in the center.  DO NOT OVERBAKE or blondies will be very dry.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Chill to cut.  Serve at room temperature.  Makes 16 squares.