Friday, August 31, 2012

On the Home Front: July and August Flowers - Full Circle

The heat of summer has slowed down the flowering of all but the hardiest of our garden plants, but those few are doing quite well:

Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Monkey Grass (Liriope spicata)

Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Lantana "Miss Huff" (Lantana camara)

Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii)

Butterfly Milkweed and Trumpet Vine are producing some pretty impressive pods:

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

The bountiful blossoms of Butterfly Bush and Lantana attract numerous butterflies to our yard:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

The Giant Swallowtail in the photo above is new to me.  These butterflies are attracted to the blossoms of Butterfly Bush and Lantana in our yard, and lay their eggs on plants in the family Rutaceae, which includes citrus trees.  While there are no citrus trees growing in this part of Georgia, apparently both Ptelea trifoliata (Common Hoptree or Water Ash) and Zanthoxylum americanum (Common Prickly Ash), with which I am not familiar, are in this family and grow in our area.

I have now come full circle in my photographic accounts of blooms (and butterflies) on our property since my first post last September.  I hope to expand my skills by finding more challenging subjects to photograph, just to see if I am up to the task, and should I manage to capture something interesting it will certainly show up as a post here!

Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea) growing wild on our pasture fence.

Foodie Fridays: Super Easy Peach Cobbler

I couldn't let National Peach Month go by without posting at least one peach recipe!  Peach cobbler is a summer favorite here in the Peach State, and this recipe for Super Easy Peach Cobbler is just as effortless to make as the name implies.  Why not serve it up this holiday weekend and/or on Labor Day?  You will not be disappointed!

Super Easy Peach Cobbler

4 C. fresh peach slices
1 T. lemon juice
1 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
6 T. butter, melted

Place peach slices in a 9-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with the lemon juice.  Stir together the dry ingredients, then add the beaten egg and stir together until crumbly.  Sprinkle over the peaches, then drizzle the melted butter over the top.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  Serves 6.

Note: This cobbler is actually better made the day before you intend to eat it.  The crunchy crust can be a bit hard when eaten on the same day it is baked, so if possible cover it and let it sit for a day before eating so that the crust can soften.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: Butterfly-Kissed Dining Room

We have had so many butterflies visiting our flowers this year that I got to thinking about designing a space around these lovely lepidopterans.  After finding a photo of a butterfly-inspired table, the dining room seemed the obvious choice.  Here is what I came up with:

Clockwise from top left: Vanessa Table from Bonaldo; Rosewood Butterfly Dining Chairs from Red Modern Furniture; Butterfly Cafe Lumbar Pillow Cover from Pottery Barn; Swallowtail Butterfly Pitcher from Laura Zindel Design; Lepidoptera propriedae VII by Lacey Terrell; Butterfly Pendant Light by Alex Earl; Lenox Butterfly Meadow All Purpose Glasses from Belk; Black Felt Butterfly Placemat (no longer available); Center: Butterfly Plates from Signals; Background: Giandia Blasco Butterfly Rug from 2Modern.

Having butterflies in the dining room would be like dining al fresco on a perfect summer day all year round -- I could get used to that!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Moody Aquarium Sink

When I first saw the Moody Aquarium Sink I thought it was a photoshopped image that someone had created as a joke.  Not so!  This amazing bathroom sink and fully functional aquarium is actually available for purchase.  If you happen to have $4,500 sitting around, you could become the proud owner of this novelty item.  You have a choice of black or white sand on the inside, and either a chrome or wenge wood stand:

The addition of fish is optional, of course.  I rather like the zen look of the wenge wood-base sink in the photo above.  In fact, the more I see it, the more I am drawn to this sink.  Now where did I put that spare $4,500 that was lying around...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Madeira Cake

From BBC Good Food

Yesterday was National Sponge Cake Day, which reminded me of a recipe I haven't made in a long time called Madeira Cake.  Technically, a true sponge cake is made without oil or butter, but the addition of the latter makes for a very moist and tender, not to mention delicious, cake, actually more like a pound cake but with a lighter texture from the stiffly beaten egg whites.  Often a sponge cake is baked in a round pan, then split and filled with jam or berries and whipped cream, but I prefer the Madeira loaf, sliced and served plain.  Citrus flavoring, usually lemon, is often added, and sometimes almond flavoring with or without the citrus, but once again I am an advocate for a plain version.  This is the recipe I have had for years, and it remains my favorite.  Be sure to whip the egg whites quite stiff to get the most rise in the cake, although the baking soda in this recipe should help.  All you need is a nice cup of tea and you will be all set to enjoy a little slice of heaven!

Madeira Cake

1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
5 egg whites, stiffly beaten
5 egg yolks, beaten
3/4 C. sugar
3/4 C. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together the flour and baking soda.  Fold the egg yolks into the whites, followed by the sugar, flour mixture, butter, and vanilla.  Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for a few minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.  Serves 10.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: I Am Curious (about) Yellow

From House to Home

Back in the sixties an avant-garde movie oddly named "I Am Curious (Yellow)" (1967) caused much consternation in the nation.  Considered very risqué at the time, about all that it is remembered for now is that quirky title.  While I was a bit too young then to have any interest in this movie, I am curious now about the color yellow, especially in interior design.  Yellow has been selected as Asia's 2012 Color of the Year, so I am obviously not the only one who is intrigued by this vibrant hue.  However, yellow has always been one of the most difficult colors for me -- I like it, but have a hard time trying to figure out how to use it in my house.  I prefer bold, bright, in-your-face, dazzle-the-eyeballs yellow to more subtle shades, which may be part of my problem.  I don't think I am ready to completely saturate a room in yellow like the one above, although I adore the wallpaper.  Since some of my favorite flowers are bright yellow, and I frequently use them in flower arrangements to add just a touch of this color to my home:

From Easy Home Tips
From Central Square Florist

I guess I just need to learn how to use this color correctly, and then perhaps I can add some of these eye-catching items to my rooms:

From Layla Grayce
From Domestic Modern
Yellow rugs

From Fab
From Inmod
Yellow pillows

From Passementerie
From Unica Home
Yellow seating

From My Best Furniture
From A2
Yellow furniture

From CB2
From Maison Bertet
Yellow accessories

The only thing I find curious now is why it has taken me so long to embrace the color yellow!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Chick-a-Dee Smoke Detector

Once again the avian world has inspired the world of home décor, but this time a purely practical item has been transformed into something attractive as well as essential.  Louise van der Veld's Chick-a-Dee Smoke Detector makes those utilitarian ceiling fixtures worthy of being seen.  I'd say this fun new spin on the old smoke alarm is worth every penny of the $75 price tag.  You even have the choice of letting your little birdie perch on either a black branch or a white one -- and if you live in Europe, other color options are available.  I think I need these in my home right now!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

From Yummly

I have been enjoying a store-bought version of Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies recently, but have decided that it is time to make my own, so that I can control the quality of the ingredients (less salt, no trans fats).  The recipe I found sounds perfect.  I prefer the free-form drop cookie shape to cut-up squares, but there's absolutely no difference in taste!  Because no baking is required, these delicious little bites are even manageable on a hot summer day, which looks to be our forecast for the foreseeable future, so these may just become a staple at our house!

Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

2 C. sugar
1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. milk
1 C. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 C. quick or old-fashioned rolled oats

Put the sugar, butter, and milk in a large pan and bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for about a minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until the butter is melted.  Mix in the rolled oats.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper, or pour into a greased 8-inch square pan.  Cool completely, and if using the pan cut into squares.  Makes 16 cookies.

Note: If you love chocolate with your peanut butter, simply increase the butter to 1/2 cup and add 3 T. of cocoa powder with the rolled oats.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: Bold but Feminine Bedroom

From Katie Little Photography

I have never been an especially "girly" girl, but that does not mean I can't appreciate a more feminine design style.  In fact, I decided to create a style board for the sort of feminine bedroom that would appeal to me, just to prove that I could.  It is a room full of curves and floral patterns, with pink accents and dove grey walls. I did have to draw the line when it came to the color palette, though.  Pastels and soft, muted tones just don't work for me.  I prefer bold hues and high contrast -- hence the black and white color scheme with hits of hot pink:

Clockwise from top left: Hot pink silk pillow from Pillow Décor; Sardes Circular Platform Bed from Lynda Marconi; quilted pillow cover from paperaster on Etsy; Zoe Black Lacquer Oval Dresser with Mirror from BA-Style; Pierre Paulin Pumpkin Armchair from Ligne Roset; Elements Grant Dining Chair from AllModern; Southern Enterprises Belmont Oval Desk from Home Furniture Showroom; Damask fabric from momoftwoboysDesign on Etsy; City Slicker Hot Pink Side Table from CB2; Zoe Black Lacquer Oval Chest from BA-Style; Center: Damask Dog Bed from Dog Beds & Pet Beds Store; Center background: Flordely Wool Rug from; Background color: Dove Grey from Homebase.

Looking to add even more hot pink to this room?  Here's an idea -- hot pink cork flooring!

From The Assembly Hall

If pink is not for you, the accent color could easily be switched -- lemon yellow, turquoise, or even lavender would be equally good options.  I'm not quite ready to change my bedroom décor yet (I have a feeling that my husband would strongly object!), but if I were ever to crave a more feminine boudoir this would be it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wish List Wednesdays: Circle of Friends Cookie Jar

I have never really cared for home accessorites decorated with images of people, but something about this Circle of Friends cookie jar from UNICEF made me change my mind.  Maybe it was the colors, or the cute design, or even the clever globe knob on the lid, but I would be happy to have this cheerful ceramic jar in my kitchen!  At just $20 it is a real bargain -- I would even purchase the matching cookie platter ($20) and mugs ($10 each) to complete the set:

Best of all, I would feel good knowing that my purchases will help UNICEF's efforts to save children's lives around the world.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Noodles with Cabbage and Ham

From Lillian's Cupboard

Noodles with Cabbage and Ham is a real comfort food.  My version is based upon a classic Eastern European dish called halushki.  This recipe makes a lot, so be sure to use a very large boiling pot and frying pan.  The latter should be at least 12 inches, and preferably larger if you have one, or you can cook the cabbage in two batches.  I used Mueller's whole grain yolk-free noodles, but of course any type will do.  If you don't like caraways seeds you can leave them out, but they are the main flavoring for this otherwise rather bland dish, so you may want to add another seasoning -- poppy seeds or dill would probably work.  The flavor actually gets better if you let this sit for about 15 minutes before eating (if you can wait that long!).

Noodles with Cabbage and Ham

12 oz. wide noodles, cooked and drained
8 oz. package ham strips
4 T. butter
2 T. oil
2 16-oz. bags coleslaw mix (any variety)
4 scallions, sliced
1 T. caraway seeds
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste

Combine the cooked noodles and the ham in the noodle pot.  Heat the oil and 2 T. butter in a very large frying pan over medium heat.  Sauté the coleslaw mix until it begins to soften, then stir in the scallions, caraway seeds, salt, and pepper.  Pour the cabbage mixture into the pot with the noodles and ham, add the remaining butter, and stir together until the butter is melted.  Let the pot sit for about 15 minutes, loosely covered, then serve.  Serves 6.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

This 'n That Thursdays: When Nature Calls... Flora and Fauna in the Powder Room

From Above Top Secret

A nature-inspired powder room needn't be quite so rustic as the outhouse pictured above.  Select the right wallpaper and your little space will make you feel as if you are truly one with nature!

If a woodland look is your preference, try one of these:

From Bath Solutions

From houzz

From Clever Spaces

And if the addition of birds to your forest makes you feel like singing, here are a couple of avian options:

From Furniture Minimalist

From The Shabby Nest

Maybe you like big, bold flowers:

From Brown Design

Or do you feel the call of the wild from exotic Africa?

From Miles Redd

Some may love a more aquatic theme, either coastal,

From Better Homes and Gardens

or ichthyological:


From Chic Coles

From AtticMag

There may even be a few of you out there who are big fans of odonates:

From Odi et Amo

If you are feeling the call of nature when it comes to your powder room, these lovely wallpapers can add that outdoorsy feeling in a good way, without resorting to the need for bug spray and/or bear bells!

From Top 20 Fun