Thursday, January 31, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Pendant Lights in the Dining Room

From Veranda

As I mentioned in yesterday's Wish List Wednesdays post, I love the look of pendant lights in the dining room.  They are less fussy than chandeliers, but more interesting than recessed or flush mount ceiling fixtures.  Here are just a few examples of contemporary dining rooms with pendants that I find attractive:

From Lamps Plus

This clear glass globe pendant fits right in to this sleek and modern dining room but does not compete with the bold patterns and textures used in the space.

From Home Decor Gallery

The trio of yellow pendant lights used here pick up on the bright color of the accent wall, helping to spread the color around the dining room without overwhelming it.


The minimalist look of this space is maintained with the use of a single large, simple black pendant fixture.

Great lighting need not be expensive.  Simple paper lanterns add to the fun and relaxed atmosphere in this casual room when suspended as pendant lights above the dining table.

A rectangular hanging lamp mimics the sturdy, angular shape of the dining table and chairs in this clean-lined room.

From Clippings

This dining room is a total commitment to the color blue, and the translucent pendant light continues the theme.

From Lamps Beautiful

A simple globe pendant has been my favorite dining room fixture for years -- we have one in our current dining room.  But there are so many options available that I may just have to try something new.  My ecologist husband studies crustaceans, so he may consider this Lobster Pendant Lamp to be ideal for our dining room:

Now that's definitely something you don't see every day -- I have a feeling we would become the talk of the block with a dining room light fixture like this!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: Wezandla Wire Pendant Lamps

While I am not much of a chandelier person, I love pendant lamps, especially in the dining room.  These Wezandla Wire Pendants from West Elm, one in each color, would be perfect.  They are on sale right now, at $89.99 each, which is not a bad price for dining room lighting.  They are hand woven in South Africa of recycled telephone wire, so they are environmentally friendly as well, and the colors and patterns appeal to my tastes.  Now I feel the need to redecorate my dining room just so that I can include these lovely lights!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekend Wonders: Shetland Ponies in Cardigan Sweaters for Visit Scotland's Tourism Campaign

From Adweek

Ponies.  In.  Sweaters.  Need I say more?  How cute is this?  A new ad campaign by VisitScotland is promoting the Year of Natural Scotland by dressing up these two Shetland ponies, Vitamin and Fivla, in locally made Fair Isle cardigan sweaters and photographing them posed in a beautiful Scottish landscape.  (I wonder if I could get one of those sweaters for my miniature donkey?)  One commenter said it best when he wrote, "If they are trying to get me to visit Scotland, they are doing a really, really good job!"  Watch the YouTube video for even more cuteness!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Maple Cinnamon Applesauce

From Eating Well

If you have never made applesauce before, you should give it a try!  Applesauce is easy to make and hard to mess up.  The basic recipe is very forgiving.  It doesn't really matter if you add too much water or don't use exactly the right amount of apples -- simply adjust the cooking time to get the thickness you want.  Use whatever good cooking apples you have on hand, but try to add at least a couple of tart ones if the rest are very sweet (I used Cortlands which were a bit too tart to eat fresh).  The type and/or amount of sweetener can vary depending on your preference, or leave it out completely.  Add whatever spices you like, or don't add any at all.  I like a fairly chunky consistency, but if you prefer a very smooth sauce you can even put it in a blender.

The only thing at all complicated about making applesauce is preparing the apples.  You can leave the peels on if you want, but I prefer to remove them.  I actually find it relaxing and enjoyable to peel apples the old-fashioned way, with a paring knife.  I like to challenge myself and try to get the peel off in one long piece, but of course this is not essential to the process, just a bit of fun for me!  I have made applesauce many times, but I tried this Maple Cinnamon Applesauce for the first time this week, and it is delicious.  I was going to save some for baking, but I think it will be gone long before I get around to cooking with it!

Maple Cinnamon Applesauce

6 MacIntosh or other tart apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Golden Delicious or other sweet apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 C. water
2 T. maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon

Put the apple chunks and water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook, stirring a couple of times, until the apples are very soft and mushy, about 30 minutes.  Mash the apples to your desired consistency, then stir in the maple syrup and cinnamon.  Makes about 6 servings.  (It's just that easy!)

Note: The applesauce can be refrigerated for up to two weeks, or frozen for up to six months (if there are any leftovers, which is not likely!).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Not-My-Style Animal-Inspired Design

Animals as inspiration for interior design is a popular trend right now.  I have always been a big fan of animal-inspired design, but I have to admit that even I have my limits.  I tend to draw the line at anything that smacks of the scatalogical, or that involves body parts.  For instance, to me the humongous elephant head in the hotel dining room pictured above looks bizarre and even a little bit dangerous -- and it's a disembodied head!

While the Tiger Sofa below appears to be beautifully made, the configuration, with the overly realistic head, oddly shaped body, unusual feet, and a tail that seems out of place, is just unsettling:

The Tiger Sofa is odd, but this Toad Sofa is downright wrong -- I simply can't help wondering what happened to the front half of the toad:

Ditto for the Ostrich Wall Console -- where is the top half of the poor ostrich?

They may only be small accessories, but these headless flower vases are just not my cup of tea either:

Turning the heads into even more vases is not helping matters:

Using a bunny parts chair to transform humans into bunnies is misguided humor, in my opinion (and this is from a woman who still remembers when real rabbit's feet dyed in garish colors were used as key chains, supposedly for luck -- though not for the unfortunate rabbit):

Then there is the aptly named Bad Table, which pees on your dining room floor like a dog:

You can be sure this won't be happening in my home, and neither will the Dogs Salt and Pepper Shakers below, which also need to be housebroken:

These Pooping Dog Lamps are banned from my house as well, just as they were banned from a London art exhibition:

Okay, I have to admit they are pretty funny, but I absolutely refuse to step or press on dog poop, even fake stuff, to turn those lamps on and off!

Finally, since I began this post with an elephant head, it is only appropriate that I end with this:

I realize that children everywhere will find it hilarious, but if I were a parent, would I really want to watch my offspring slide out of an elephant's behind?  Luckily, this elephant slide is far too large to fit in the average house!

So, I will continue to enjoy animal-inspired design for the home, but with discrimination.  Although I have to admit to a sneaking admiration for Wyatt Little's Bird Poop Chandelier -- so much for good taste!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: HGTV Dream Home 2013

If you haven't yet entered the HGTV 2013 Dream Home giveaway, now would be a good time to start!  Located in the green community of Indigo Park on Kiawah Island, just off of the South Carolina coast, the home is only about 20 miles from historic Charleston.  This 3,000 square foot, fully furnished, low country Zen style house features three bedrooms, three full bathrooms plus a powder room, a plunge pool, spacious loft, playroom, two-car garage, and much more.  Also included in the prize package are a brand new GMC vehicle and $500,000 in cash!

My favorite spaces in the house are the great room and the loft:

I am especially drawn to the artwork in this year's Dream Home:

And the outdoor spaces are quite inviting:

You can enter twice daily for a chance to win this house, at and There is also a public tour of the home in February and March.  My husband and I have been wanting to visit Charleston for a while now (we only live about five hours away), and I would love to tour a Dream Home, so we are planning a trip to the area for Valentine's Day weekend to do both, and I can't wait!  I will be sure to post pictures and comments when we get back.

Don't forget to enter, and good luck!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

From Food Renegade

I have not made this recipe in a while, but Cheesy Broccoli Casserole used to be one of my favorite pot luck dishes.  It is basically a macaroni and cheese recipe using broccoli instead of pasta and Parmesan  instead of Cheddar or American cheese (although you could use any good melting cheese you like).  I found this recipe decades before microwavable bags of prepared vegetables came on the market.  If you are like me and want to save yourself some time and effort, just use two 12-ounce bags of microwavable broccoli florets instead of the 2 1/2 pounds of broccoli listed in the recipe.  This casserole makes a hearty side dish, or even a light meal served with soup or salad and some good bread.  You might also want to try substituting cauliflower for all or part of the broccoli.  I can guarantee that this is one of the tastiest ways you will ever eat your vegetables!

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

1 large onion, diced
6 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 C. milk
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 lbs. broccoli, cut into florets and cooked
1/2 C. panko bread crumbs

Saute the onion in 4 T. butter until soft.  Stir in the flour.  Add the milk gradually and cook slowly until thickened, stirring constantly.  Add the cheese and seasonings and stir until the cheese melts. Pour half of the sauce into a greased casserole dish.  Add the broccoli and cover with the remaining sauce.  Microwave the remaining 2 T. butter in a small bowl until melted, stir in the panko to coat, and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (if the crumb topping browns too quickly cover the dish with foil).  Serves 8 as a side dish.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Tree House Living

From 1 Kindesign

I have always dreamed of living in a mountain home.  A contemporary timber house in the woods, like the one shown above, is my idea of the perfect retreat.  If I owned such a place, I would take my decorating cues from the surroundings and fill the space with tree-themed furniture, such as the My Treem lamp/side table I mentioned in yesterday's Wish List Wednesdays post.  Another great furniture option would be the Borghese Sofa, inspired by the stone pines of the Villa Borghese in Rome:

These Trees & Glass Chairs would also work in my tree-themed design:

While the fascinating Nature V2.01 chair is a great conversation piece, it is made of real tree bark and is therefore not an especially comfortable seating option!

This Bonsai Coffee Table, on the other hand, is stylish as well as quite functional:

The Metamorphosis Bookshelf with its realistic-looking branch shelves would fit into my design quite nicely:

The illuminated tree trunks of the Design Light Column are the perfect way to light up a dark corner in any room:

For a wall display, I would choose Viva Terra's Spring Tree Wall Art:

And what could be more delightful underfoot than this Woody Wood rug?

Toss a few of these Log Pillows on the sofa and chairs, and my tree-inspired room would be complete:

In fact, the only way to claim even more authentic tree house living would be to live in a place like the one below!

From Relax Shacks

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wish List Wednesdays: My Treem (Dream Tree)

From Behance

When I first saw the My Treem, a tree-shaped combination lamp/side table, I was entranced!  I love the functionality as well as the naturalistic beauty of this piece.  I have always wanted a home in the mountains, and this table would fit into such a home perfectly.  In fact, I could see designing an entire room around the look of the My Treem!  Since it is made by Fajno Design, which is in Belarus, it is rather unlikely that I would be able to actually purchase it, but if this Dream Table ever becomes available here in the United States, it is at the top of my wish list!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Turkey Meat Loaf

From The Fitness Couple

Meat loaf is one of my husband's favorite comfort foods.  I have been making a variation on a basic meat loaf recipe from an old Pillsbury cookbook for decades that both of us enjoy.  Since I am allergic to beef, I substitute ground turkey breast.  Instead of bread or cracker crumbs, I use quick-cooking oatmeal as the filler.  Replace the catsup with tomato sauce if you prefer less sugar.  I also increase the amount of onion called for in the original recipe, using a large instead of a small one. Ground turkey breast does not have as much fat as beef to keep the meat loaf moist, so the extra onion helps prevent it from becoming dry.  Besides, my husband loves onions, and the more the better as far as he is concerned!  In this recipe the meat loaf is baked in a loaf pan rather than shaped on a baking sheet, and that is the way I always make it.  I like to serve the loaf with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, which makes a great meal for a cold winter day.  In fact, I think Turkey Meat Loaf may just be Sunday dinner for this week!

Turkey Meat Loaf

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey breast
1/3 C. quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 large onion, diced
1/3 C. catsup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix just until combined (do not overwork the mixture).  Pack lightly into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Let the loaf rest in the pan for about five minutes before serving.  Serves 6.

Note:  I like to combine 1/2 C. catsup with 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce and spread this on top of the loaf, either before putting it in the oven or about 5-10 minutes before it comes out of the oven (don't ask me why these are my alternatives, because I don't really know!).  You can also bake this as individual loaves by dividing the meat mixture evenly into a greased 12-cup muffin tin and baking for 25-30 minutes.

Feel free to stir in any additional ingredients you like.  Some suggestions in the Pillsbury cookbook are 1 C. cubed cheese, 2 T. pickle relish or 1/4 cup chopped pickle (sweet or dill), 1/2 C. canned or cooked mushrooms, and/or 1/4 C. diced bell pepper.  Also, for some inexplicable reason 1/2 C. drained crushed pineapple is also listed (to which I say no thanks!).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Shimmery Metallic Branches Dining Room

From Nordstrom

The metallic look is a popular design trend right now.  Gold seems to be especially hot:

From Interior Design 5

A mix of metallic finishes is also encouraged:

From Walmart

My preference, though, has always been for silver:

From Decorate Interior Home

In keeping with my favorite rustic contemporary style, I have created a dining room style board combining the shimmer of silver with the natural look of branches.  To add a little color pizzazz, I chose a deep fuchsia for the background which would make a great wall color.

Clockwise from top left: Orli Silver Coral Branch Chandelier from Clayton Gray Home; Branch Bowl from Z Gallerie; Icicles by Neve Campbell from Z Gallerie; Tree Trunk Dining Table by David Barrett from 1stdibs; Silver Twig Potted Tree from Z Gallerie; Manzanita Branch Candelabra from West Elm; Global Views Branch Cabinet from Zinc Door; Silver Branch Mirror from Shop Ten 25; Frost Chair from Blue Sun Tree; Center background; Hokku Designs Sprig Grey Rug from Wayfair.

This look would add a casually sophisticated elegance to any home.  In fact, I think I would feel obligated to dress up for meals served in this lovely room -- now if only it came with a gourmet chef and someone to serve the food!