Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wish List Wednesdays: Turkey Cloche

I had never even heard of a turkey cloche before, but this year I discovered two!  Crate and Barrel offers the Silva Turkey Cloche ($119.95), which pairs perfectly with their Silva Oval Serving Platter ($59.95).  The steel pieces have a rustic antique look, with a punched floral motif along the rims.

The Cavo Turkey Cloche ($129) from Pottery Barn is quite impressive, especially when paired with their Turkey Figural Carving Platter ($139).  The stainless steel cloche has a brass handle and a brushed finish, while the platter is made of mango wood with etched metal figural turkey handles.

Turkey cloches are not inexpensive, but if you regularly host big family gatherings for the holidays they might be a worthwhile investment, and these covers look sturdy enough to pass down to the next generation of holiday hosts when the time comes!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Seasonal Style: Autumn Tailored

From Redbook

The pairing of orange and black isn't just for Halloween.  This color combination gives the tailored look in fashion and home design a sophisticated yet comfortable feel.  For example, the orange cardigan and belt in the photo above add a fun and eye-catching hit of color to classic style.

From Revedecor

The geometric pattern of repeating squares on the rug, art wall, and even the pillows on the sofa in this tailored living room is softened and made to look less formal by the bright orange focal wall and touches of orange in the fireplace wall painting.  Black and orange is a color palette that works at any time of the year, but suits the mellow mood of fall.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

On the Homefront: Autumn Leaves Table

An oak leaf wreath and hurricane candle holder with a cutout leaf
design (both from Crate and Barrel a few years ago) create a focal
point at the head of the table.

Fall is officially here, and I wasted no time setting a table with my new Mikasa Autumn Nights dinnerware!  It is even more lovely than I expected, and it will stay out on my dining room table for the season, only to be moved when I set a new table for the blog or the next holiday.

Dark brown wooden bead place mat; bronze leaf cutout place mat (from Bed, Bath & Beyond several years ago); Mikasa Autumn Nights dinner plate, dessert plate, soup bowl, and mug; autumn leaves napkin (from HomeGoods this year); leopard spots flatware (from a catalog so long ago I don't remember which one); autumn leaves water glass and goblet (from Kroger a couple of years ago).

Glass leaf candle plate and leaf-shaped candle from HomeGoods this year.

The yellow leaf platter (from HomeGoods this year) will hold the
bundt cake, while the two small leaf plates (which I have had for so long
I don't remember where I got them) will hold tea bags and turbinado sugar
cubes for tea or coffee.  The moose is actually a cream pitcher!

The menu for this table will feature autumn harvest produce, including pumpkin, butternut squash, and apple cider.  Since there is a chill in the air now, warm and comforting foods are in order, so hot cider, soup, warm sandwiches, and coffee or tea with dessert will be served.  My bruschetta is based on two different recipes, Fall Bruschetta and Roast Autumn Veg Bruschetta (I just took the parts I liked best from each one).  I drink tea, not coffee, and my tea of choice for this meal will be one of my very favorites, Bigelow's Cinnamon Stick Black Tea.

Autumn Harvest Menu:

Hot Apple Cider
Pumpkin Bean Soup*
Roasted Autumn Vegetables Bruschetta**
Coffee or Tea

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin purée
1 can (14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1 can (15 oz.)  cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I used low-sodium)
1 can (14 oz.) vegetable or chicken broth (I used unsalted)
1 tsp. dried sage
2 T. maple vinegar
1 T. sauce from canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 T. honey mustard
salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 tsp. salt)
pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional)

Combine the first five ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat through.  Stir in the vinegar, adobo sauce, and mustard.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds if desired.  Serves 4.

Notes: Use sherry or balsamic vinegar if you do not have maple vinegar.  Because I keep salt to a minimum in my dishes, I added the adobo sauce and honey mustard for more flavor, but these are optional if you use more salt than I do.

**Roasted Autumn Vegetables Bruschetta

2 bell peppers, any color, deseeded and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 small eggplant, cut into small chunks
2 C. diced butternut squash
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
3 T. olive oil
1 ciabatta loaf, cut in half lengthwise
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 C. ricotta cheese
basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped (optional)
balsamic vinegar

Combine the vegetables with the cumin seeds, salt and pepper, and 2 T. olive oil in a shallow roasting pan, lined with heavy duty foil if desired for easier cleanup.  Toss to coat the vegetables with the oil.  Roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, tossing once halfway through the cooking time, until the squash is just tender.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Cut each ciabatta loaf half into quarters.  Sprinkle with the remaining oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until golden.  Rub each piece with the garlic clove.

Toss the torn basil leaves with the roasted vegetables.  Spread the toasted ciabatta pieces with about 1 tsp. of ricotta cheese and top with 1-2 tsp. of the vegetables.  Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar.  Serves 4.

Notes: Instead of rubbing the bread with garlic, I used garlic-infused olive oil instead of plain olive oil before baking.  I had Black Maple Magic Balsamic Vinegar and drizzled on a generous amount of that.  Yum!  If you can find it, get yourself a bottle.  If not, sherry vinegar would also be a good choice.  If you can find ciabatta rolls, they are even more convenient than the loaf form -- less slicing for this lazy cook, and just the right serving size!

The candy on the table today is a big earthenware bowl full of miniature Twix candies, because "Twix" sounds like "twigs", and leaves are found on twigs!  Besides, who doesn't love a cookie, caramel, and chocolate combination?

Even the dining room credenza gets a touch of fall décor:

Sweet Dalmatian Maple is so excited that her favorite season
has finally arrived!

I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures, the colorful leaves, and the fun holidays of autumn!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

On the Homefront: Pumpkin Everything!

Here is what I've been having for breakfast since the first day of fall -- Thomas' Pumpkin Spice Bagels slathered with Kraft Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese.  Both of these products are limited edition items, which is probably a good thing as I would tire of them fairly quickly, but for now I am enjoying this delicious taste of the season.  I know that there are pumpkin-flavored teas available, but even for a pumpkin lover like me the line has to be drawn somewhere!   I prefer to have a cup of an old favorite that complements the taste of pumpkin, Bigelow's Cinnamon Stick Black Tea.  I have been drinking this tea since I was a junior in college, and I can honestly say that this is the one that turned me into a lifelong tea lover.

I have never liked coffee, but I did notice that there is pumpkin-flavored coffee available now in the supermarkets, along with a lot of other pumpkin-flavored treats, like pumpkin spice-flavored marshmallows (perfect in a cup of hot chocolate!) and Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream.  I'm ready to sample just about every one until I am all "pumpkined" out, saving just enough room for Thanksgiving pumpkin pie before moving on to the next season's flavors!

From Facebook

Update:  I just found an article about even more pumpkin-spiced foods available this fall.  Check it out here if you can't get enough of this popular flavor!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Foodie Fridays: Caprese Garlic Toast

A while ago I found a recipe for Caprese Garlic Bread that I wanted to try, but needed to reduce the number of servings since this dish must be eaten immediately and I did not have eight mouths to feed!  I also made it even easier (although it is already very easy) by using garlic-infused oil instead of garlic butter and heating it in my toaster oven.  I always have a bottle of garlic oil in my pantry because I love it (you can find it in most grocery stores now).  Currently I am using an especially delicious one called O Roasted Garlic Olive Oil.  I bought it at HomeGoods, which often has good quality specialty foods at greatly reduced prices.  If you are more industrious than me,  make your own garlic-infused oil by simmering some garlic cloves in olive oil.

You can drizzle the top of each toast with some balsamic vinegar, or not (I've had it both ways and they are equally good).  If you want you could pour the vinegar into a small saucepan, bring it to a boil, and then simmer over low heat to reduce it by half if you prefer a more syrupy texture, but of course I didn't bother.  Lazy cook that I am, I even buy pre-sliced fresh mozzarella so I don't have to slice my own!  Right now I am still harvesting basil from my herb pots, so this is a great way to use up some basil and enjoy a delicious, quick, and easy meal before cold weather sets in even here in Georgia and does away with my basil plants.  What a great-tasting way to say farewell to summer!

Caprese Garlic Toast

2 slices ciabatta bread
1-2 T. garlic-infused olive oil
6 slices (about 3 oz.) fresh mozzarella
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
salt to taste
8 basil leaves, torn or julienned
balsamic vinegar to taste (optional)

Drizzle the ciabatta slices with the garlic oil.  Place on a small foil-lined baking sheet and toast in a toaster oven until golden (almost one full toasting cycle on my oven).  Layer three slices of cheese on each toast and return to the toaster oven to melt the cheese (less than half the time it took to toast the bread for my oven).  Remove from the toaster oven and distribute the tomato slices evenly between the toast slices.  Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt to taste, and then top with the basil.  Drizzle carefully with balsamic vinegar to taste if desired (do not overdo it!).  Serve immediately.  Serves 1 generously.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: 2015 Serenbe Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Designer Showhouse

From Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles
(this is the back view of the house, overlooking the lake)

My husband and I toured the 2015 Serenbe Designer Showhouse this past Sunday, and it is stunning. I am not the most enthusiastic of photographers, but I did take a few photos, so I thought I would share them today.  I wish I had taken more, but mostly I photographed details that interested me.

The favorite room for both my husband and me was the master bedroom, designed by Cloth & Kind.  I love high contrast color schemes, and the simple black and white palette was very striking.  We also loved the primitive design features in the fabrics and artwork.  A gorgeous black and white striped rug covered the floor, and we were told it was a vintage Moroccan rug priced at $8,000 (if you are interested, it is available on the website Chairish).

You can see a corner of the rug in the above photo.  This cozy reading nook is adjacent to a large picture window overlooking the lake.  My husband and I also liked the fabric on the chair, which was repeated on a bolster pillow on the bed.

These textured fabric Roman shades with a simple geometric design, which were hung on windows in the master bedroom and bathroom, were another favorite.

There was a wall of art directly opposite the bed which featured this fantastic image by local photographer Jason Thrasher (too bad he isn't the one posting photos of the house here!).

The master bedroom designers used so many unique fabrics.  In the the hallway leading to the master bedroom, there were French doors opening out to a screened porch, and these beautiful drapes were hung on either side:

Another favorite room was the downstairs family room designed by Shayelyn Woodbery Interiors (for some reason her website no longer exists).  I neglected to get pictures of the room (I have provided a link to a website farther down that does have images), but I did photograph the colorful curtains that caught my eye:

Just outside the French doors in the above image is a terrace that overlooks the landscaped backyard and Grange Lake beyond.  The terrace was furnished by Stuart Pliner Design in a way that gives it an almost tropical feel:

I wish I had thought to photograph the back yard, as it was beautifully done by Bellwether Landscape Architects, but alas I neglected to do so.

Update: I did find one image of the back yard in an e-mail newsletter sent to me from Serenbe:

The above photo also gives you an idea of what the back of the house look like.  The back yard is very spacious for Serenbe, where yard size tends to be small.

Under the master bedroom and adjacent to the back yard was a guest bedroom, another beautiful room that my husband and I really liked.  My photo is not great, but my husband was impressed with the blue rug (he has a thing for rugs) while I liked the leather bed frame, although the headboard was a bit too elaborate for me (which may be why I subconsciously cut the top part off in my photo!).

I did get a photograph of the kitchen as we were leaving.  Designed by Huff Harrington (which also has a lot of artwork featured throughout the home), it was a chef's dream kitchen.  Since I am such a lazy cook it is a little too fancy for me, and I don't care for painted cabinets or subway tiles.  The island countertop is marble in a honed finish that was lovely and felt like slate.

The front porch was designed by B. D. Jeffries, and the focal point was this living wall, something I have been coveting for a while now, even though I think I would probably get tired of caring for it.

There was a small fountain in the front yard, greeting visitors with the soothing sound of trickling water.

And finally a view of the front of the house (I do seem to have presented our tour backwards!).  This discrete and simple façade gives little hint to the truly impressive home behind it, which is probably intentional.  My husband asked one of the volunteers about the value of the home, and was told it was $1.7 million.  We are not sure if that price includes all of the furnishings, but if my tastes were more sophisticated I would certainly keep all of the rooms furnished as is.  My photos don't even begin to do this house justice.  Here are a few more images that I found online:

View to kitchen from living room
(From Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Closeup of the kitchen range and hood
(from Bosch Experience Center on Facebook)

Another view of the master bedroom
(from Chairish)

Check out some really excellent pictures of the Designer Showhouse at BluLabel Bungalow.  The designer who created the website also loved the master and guest bedrooms that my husband and I favored, and her photos are much better than mine.  She has pictures of the family room I really enjoyed, as well as the dining room and home office which were decorated in styles that were not really our taste.

By a happy coincidence, later that evening after we got home I was glancing through the new October issue of Country Living magazine and saw an ad for WallpaperDirect that featured a wall covering we saw in the entry hall just outside the powder room in the Designer Showhouse.  The paper is from the Imperial Garden collection by Thibaut and is called "Birding".  The blue color option was used in the Serenbe home.  Feathers and birds seemed to be a bit of a theme in the home, and could be found in many of the rooms.

If you live in the Atlanta area and have an interest in interior design, I really encourage you to get to Serenbe and tour the show house.  It is a self-guided tour, so you can spend all the time you like in the house and grounds.  There are helpful volunteers stationed throughout to answer any questions you may have about Serenbe, the house, and the twelve featured designers.  The house is open for tours until October 4th.  For more information, visit the Serenbe Showhouse website here.

If you have never visited Serenbe, you are in for a treat.  It is a beautiful and well-planned eco-friendly community that continues to grow.  Serenbe was chosen as the location for the 2012 HGTV Green Home, and this home is not far from the site of the Designer Showhouse.  A day trip to Serenbe can be a fun family event, as a number of activities are available, including trail riding.  If you do ride, you may even get to meet EinSwine, the pot-bellied pig who wandered into Serenbe looking for horses and liked what he found so much he decided to stay (see a video of EinSwine accompanying his beloved horses on a trail ride here)!

The incredible EinSwine!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wish List Wednesdays: Mossy Oak Fox Plates

As I mentioned last week, I have been finding way too many wonderful dessert/salad plates for this fall season.  I finally decided I owned enough and absolutely would not add any more dinnerware to my already over-abundant collection.  Then I saw these cute little Mossy Oak Fox Plates at our local Walmart, and naturally I caved.  Who could resist that face?  At only $2.94 each, the price was irresistible as well (also available online as a set of six for $11.76)!  Of course I had to get a few, but now I most positively, emphatically, resolutely will not purchase any more items for the table (I hope!).

Happy first day of fall, everyone!

From HD Wallpapers

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mystery Mondays: "Rosemary and Thyme" TV Series on PBS


It has been quite a while since I have done a Mystery Mondays post, but over the weekend I discovered that one of my favorite BBC mysteries (and one that I have mentioned before on this blog) is being shown on a local PBS station, so I just had to comment!  "Rosemary and Thyme" is a 2003-2006 television series about two older women with a love of plants who suddenly find their well-ordered lives thrown into turmoil in the first episode.  Quite by accident their paths cross, and just as accidentally they find themselves drawn into the mysteries of a suspicious death and two unusual illnesses, one involving a wealthy businessman and the other afflicting the exotic trees in the businessman's breathtaking garden.

Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal) is a plant pathologist called in to treat the trees who is abruptly laid off from her university position.  Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris, most recently seen as Sister Evangelina on "Call the Midwife") is a former policewoman, avid gardener,  and soon-to-be divorcée whose husband has just left her for the stereotypical younger woman.  Inevitably, the two women end up working together to solve all three mysteries, and by the end of the episode the beginnings of a beautiful friendship (and partnership) are well on their way.

If you love British mysteries and gardening, you will love this series.  The two actors are perfect in their roles, but I have to say most of the time it is the lovely gardens that steal the show.  Check your local PBS listings to find out if this series is being shown in your area, and do give "Rosemary and Thyme" a look!

One of the many beautiful gardens seen on "Rosemary and Thyme"
(from Sweet Sunday Mornings)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Foodie Fridays: Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Marcona Almonds

As the weather cools down and fall approaches, I find myself wanting to cook with foods more appropriate to the season.  Sweet potatoes and broccoli are two of my favorite cool weather vegetables, and I found a recipe that incorporates both of them in a quinoa salad, similar to a pasta or rice salad.  Of course I changed it up quite a bit, as the original recipe had very little seasoning.

Quinoa, like pasta or rice, tends to absorb and dilute any added flavors, so I tried to heavily season the vegetable mixture before adding the quinoa (keep this in mind when tasting the vegetables for seasoning; they should taste over-seasoned until the quinoa is added).  I tend to keep salt to a minimum, so you may wish to increase the amount, although if you use Marcona almonds (usually available in most grocery stores now) remember that they are salty.

Next time I may add some dried cranberries for an added sweet and tart flavor, but even without them this is a satisfying and tasty side dish (or even main dish for me).  This is also one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, served cold, at room temperature, or slightly warmed.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Marcona Almonds

2 C. water
1 C. quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 T. coconut oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 canned chipotle in abobo sauce, diced, plus 2 T. sauce
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 large cooked sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/4 tsp. salt
2 C. cooked broccoli florets, roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 C. chicken or vegetable stock if needed (I used unsalted)
6 oz. Marcona almonds, roughly chopped

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the next four ingredients and cook to heat through.  Stir in the broccoli, and add stock if the mixture seems dry.  Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed.

Toss the quinoa with the vegetable mixture in a large bowl.  Stir in the almonds and any oil they may have been packed in.  Taste again for seasonings and add salt as needed.  Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.  Serves 4-6.

Notes: Instead of one onion, I used some leftover vegetables I had in the fridge, which included half of an onion and two each of pimento peppers and small Japanese eggplants from my "garden" (actually just a couple of large wooden containers strategically placed to get as much sun as possible on our overly shady property).  Anything goes here as long as you include some onion in the mix.

I will always take a shortcut when prepping vegetables, and in this case I used microwaveable sweet potatoes in a bag (three small ones from a bag of six gave me just the right amount).  The broccoli was also in a microwaveable bag, and I used about half the bag, leaving me some leftover cooked broccoli for another meal.

Since I am a hot pepper wimp, I only used one chipotle, but if you like heat increase the amount to suit your preference.  If you cannot find Marcona almonds, any nuts will do (next time I may try cashews), but you may need to add a bit more salt and possibly a little olive oil if you use unsalted and/or dry-roasted nuts.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: Sleek Contemporary Living Room

The inspiration piece
(from Lamps Plus)

I love living in the country.  I don't think I could ever be happy as a city dweller.  However, that does not mean that I prefer country décor.  I am not a fan of farmhouse sinks, scrubbed pine tables, and farm implements hanging on the walls.  My decorating style is what I like to call rustic contemporary, which means a preference for clean and simple lines, lots of natural wood (no painted pieces for me, thank you very much), and a color palette of rich, earthy hues.  I even like the look of sleek contemporary glass and metal, although I don't think I could live with such stark, sharp-edged furniture because of our rambunctious and sometimes downright clumsy dogs, who are always bumping into the furniture!  For me, that more industrial look needs lots of color to warm it up.  I happened to find an image of a contemporary sofa online that I really liked,  so I thought I would do a style board featuring a sleek style with bold and colorful accents.  Here is how I envision such a contemporary living room:

Clockwise from top left: Zuo Modern Singular Terracotta Leatherette Sofa from Lamps Plus; Abstract Art Throw Pillow Cover by Sharon Cummings on Etsy; George Kovacs Polished Chrome Arc Floor Lamp from Lamps Plus; Eurostyle Sandor End Table from Wayfair; Zuo Modern Singular Terracotta Armchair from Lamps Plus; Viendra la Fin du Jour Loft Art by Huguette Lagacé from; Gold Crystal Plate with Murrinas from MuranoNet; Eurostyle Sandor Coffee Table from Wayfair; Center background: Mohawk Tossed Floral Multi Area Rug from Target.

Should I ever find myself forced to live in the city, I think I could be happy in this colorful contemporary living room, as long as I could find a way to pad my dogs from any sharp edges!