Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekend Wardrobe: Magenta Pink and Shades of Brown Travel Wardrobe

From Etsy

This week's travel wardrobe was inspired by a lovely cherry blossom scarf I discovered on Etsy.  The rich vibrant pinks combined with shades of brown or cream worked so well together that I used these colors as the basis for the apparel.  Two of the scarf colors were so appealing to me that I decided to include both, because scarves do not take up much room when packing and the punch of color they add really brightens up any ensemble.  (Even if the weather is warm, wide scarves like these two are useful as cover-ups in an overly air-conditioned plane or restaurant.)  Here is the outfit to wear while in transit:

Clockwise from top left: L.L. Bean Supima-Blend Cardigan in Dark Sable Heather; REI Women's prAna Evie Pants in Dark Khaki; Cyberoptix Cherry Blossom Scarf in Fuchsia on Espresso Brown; Caravelle New York by Bulova Women's WatchFossil Preston Flap Crossbody Bag in Espresso; Birkenstock Women's Granada Soft Footbed Sandals in Habana Leather; Land's End Women's Cotton Tank Top in Vibrant Magenta.

There is quite a bit more magenta featured in the packed items:

Clockwise from top left: Old Pueblo Traders Knit Floral Tee in Geranium Print; BMW 20-Inch Carry On Spinner Upright Suitcase in Brown; L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton V-Neck Short-Sleeve Tee in Petal; Women's Lottie Zip Front Culottes in Mocha; L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton Elbow-Sleeve Scoopneck Tee in White; Brown Sea Turtle Necklace with Coqui Taino and Taino SunDonald J. Pliner Poppy Suede Hidden-Wedge Skimmer in Magenta; Cyberoptix Cherry Blossom Scarf in Pink on Magenta; L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton Sleeveless Shell in Cream; Travelsmith RFID-Blocking Leather Wristlet in Hot Pink; Land's End Women's Mid Rise 10" Chino Bermuda Shorts in Vibrant Magenta; Center: Land's End Women's Mesh Knit Polo Dress in Rich Magenta.

The packed scarf had a bit of pale pink in the design, so I used that as an excuse to add a top in a paler shade of pink.  Also, if you look closely at both the watch from the "in transit" ensemble and the packed magenta shoes, you will notice a tiny band of faux diamonds edging each.  I just love little details like these!

And for a touch of nature in addition to the floral print tee and scarves, I had to include the unique sea turtle necklace, which is designed with Taino symbols.  The Taino were indigenous people of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico where my husband has been involved in ecological research for decades.  Sea turtle species are found in Caribbean waters, and all are endangered.  I knew several people involved in sea turtle studies there, so this little necklace reminds me of many personal connections to the region.  How could I not include it in this travel wardrobe?

Even if you are not planning a Caribbean weekend getaway, this comfortable and colorful collection will work for many travel destinations.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Cauliflower Cheese

I am a big fan of the novels of Barbara Pym.  Pym wrote about everyday life in the mid-twentieth century English country village, with occasional forays into more cosmopolitan realms.  Her focus was always on women's lives.  The tone of her works is slightly ironic, subtly comedic, and at times tragic.  Relationships between men and women played a large part in her stories, whose lives often revolved around local church functions, or sometimes more academic pursuits.  I prefer books and movies that are character-driven rather than plot-driven, and Barbara Pym's novels fall into that category quite nicely.

This introduction to Barbara Pym leads in a roundabout way to today's recipe.  In her debut novel, Some Tame Gazelle, I first encountered a dish called "cauliflower cheese".  It is similar to macaroni and cheese, but cauliflower florets are substituted for the pasta.  The Barbara Pym Cookbook, compiled by Pym's sister Hillary and cookbook author Honor Wyatt, includes a recipe for Pain de Chou-Fleur as an example of cauliflower cheese.  Their recipe uses eggs and puréed cauliflower and is more like a steamed pudding, but I prefer a recipe I found recently for Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole.  I modified the original only slightly (microwaveable cauliflower florets instead of cutting up a whole head, and Parmesan cheese added as a topping), but in my opinion the basic recipe is perfect in its simplicity.  I liked this dish so much I may never make the pasta version again!

Oh, and if you ever get the chance to read Some Tame Gazelle, take note of the rather quirky and funny passage involving the cauliflower cheese, as it is an ideal encapsulation of the tone of Barbara Pym's works!

Cauliflower Cheese

2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 C. milk
1 C. shredded cheddar cheese (or other good melting cheese)
2 packages (10 oz. each) microwaveable cauliflower florets, cooked*
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour until well mixed, and cook for about one minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Remove from the heat and add the cheddar cheese, stirring until smooth.

Spread the cooked cauliflower in a greased 7x11-inch (or equivalent) casserole dish and cut any very large pieces in half.  Pour the cheese sauce on top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top, turn the dish, and bake 15 minutes longer.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.  Serves 4.

*Or use one large head of cauliflower, cut into florets.  Steam the florets until tender (about 10 minutes).


Thursday, May 26, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: Possums, Protozoa, and Daisy

If I skip some posts over the next few weeks, it is because my miniature donkey, Daisy, is being treated for EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis).  As the name implies, it is a protozoal infection, usually spread to equids via inadvertent ingestion of the droppings of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana).  EPM is the most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in horses, and can be found throughout North and South America.  Since equids are not the intended host, they cannot spread the infection, but the effects of this disease on the host can be devastating.

We think that Daisy may have had the infection for a while, possibly a few months, but showed only very vague and mild symptoms until recently, which is not unusual for this disease.  She has definite neurological symptoms now, which is not good, but she is showing some response to a combination of anti-protozoal and anti-inflammatory drugs.  The treatment takes a long time to work, and she may never recover completely, but we hope that she gets well enough to be able to function without risk of injury to herself.  She had a rather bad day yesterday but is still willing to eat and drink, so her treatment will continue unless her condition worsens.  All we can do is wait and hope for the best.  Please send healing vibes her way.  I will provide updates on her condition when appropriate, and will try to continue normal posting to my blog if possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wish List Wednesdasy: Pier 1 Farm Animals Salad Plate Set

I certainly do not need any more dishes, but the minute I laid eyes on the Farm Animals Salad Plate Set from Pier 1, my resolve to refrain from any more purchases began to waver.  The whimsical animal designs and the colored plate rims would be perfect for summer table settings, and the $31.45 price tag for the set of four would not break the bank.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if I succumbed to the animal magnetism of these attractive plates!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Weekend Wardrobe: Metallic Gold and Chambray Blue Travel Wardrobe

Top: SAS Shoes Women's Cozy in Denim
Bottom: SAS Shoes Women's Metro in Gold

A while ago I read a blog post at "Over 50 Feeling 40" which highly recommended San Antonio Shoemakers (SAS) shoes.  I took a look at their website and liked what I saw.  The shoes are stylish and comfortable, and I'm sure live up to their reputation of being the "shoes you don't want to take off at the end of the day".  I even found a couple of pairs in the "Last Chance" category that I would love to own.  In fact, they inspired me to create a travel wardrobe around them, using the shoe colors as the basis for the apparel choices.  The outfit to wear while in transit starts with the attractive but cushy Metro loafers in a sophisticated metallic gold color.  I paired them with equally stylish accessories but, contrarian that I am, also with a rather casual outfit:

Clockwise from top left: Muveil Cardigan in Gold;  L.L. Bean Women's Signature Cotton/Modal Tee in Blue Stripe; Cara Metallic Skinny Scarf in Soft Gold; Ralph Lauren Oxford Leather Tote in Gold Mine; SAS Shoes Women's Metro in Gold; Metaphor Ladies Goldtone Butterfly Dial Watch; Center: L.L. Bean Women's Sunwashed Chambray Pants.

The items packed for this trip of about a week include the comfy blue Cozy sandals in a shade I would call chambray.  I've also added a lovely necklace from a previous post, since the colors work perfectly with this collection:

Clockwise from top left: Dotted Denim Shirt; Herschel Supply Novel Duffel Bag in Limoges Crosshatch; Biba Striped Metallic V Neck T-Shirt in Gold; J. Crew Lightweight Chino Bermuda Short in White; DVF Val Printed Cotton Tee in Gold Butterfly; H & M Cotton Shorts in Blue/chambray; L.L. Bean Women's Elbow-Sleeve Scoopneck Pima Cotton Tee in White; Braintree Short Sleeve A Line Dress in Blue; SAS Shoes Women's Cozy in Denim; J. Peterman Your New Denim Skirt in Chambray; Belt Is Cool Wide Patent Leather Fashion Belt in Gold; Dorothy Perkins White Scoop Tank Top; Center: Soft Surroundings Waterfall Necklace.

As always seems to happen, I added a touch of nature to the wardrobe with a butterfly print tee, butterfly watch, and gold cardigan with starfish buttons.  I've decided that these hints of nature must be my style signature, since I just can't stop myself from adding them, so be prepared to find them in just about every fashion style board I create!  This particular travel wardrobe would work for all but the coldest summer destinations, equally appropriate for the coast or the mountains, and anywhere in between!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Refreshing Salad

As the days get warmer, I am determined to eat lighter and healthier fare.  A delicious chopped salad recipe full of crunchy and nutritious vegetables is a wonderful way to start, and I have shortened the original overly long name of this dish to the much simpler Refreshing Salad.  For a heartier meal, stir in another protein in addition to the beans (chicken or shrimp would be excellent).  I hope to be eating a lot more meals like this one over the summer!

Refreshing Salad

1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
1 C. frozen corn, thawed
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
1 C. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Lime Vinaigrette (see below)
1 avocado, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C. sliced almonds

Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour the Lime Vinaigrette over the salad ingredients, tossing to coat.  Mix in the avocado and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon individual portions into bowls (I served mine over salad greens) and sprinkle each with 2 T. sliced almonds.  Serves 4.

Lime Vinaigrette: Whisk together the juice of one lime (about 2 T.), 1 T. finely minced cilantro, 1/2-1 tsp. minced fresh ginger, 3-4 T. olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add a dash of hot sauce if you like a spicy dressing.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: The American Bison, Our New National Mammal

American bison in Yellowstone National Park
(from Wikimedia Commons).

This week President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, giving our nation its first official National Mammal!  The American bison (Bison bison), commonly (and erroneously) also known as the buffalo, is a large, even-toed ungulate, or artiodactyl, and is the largest terrestrial animal in North America.  There are two subspecies, the plains bison (Bison bison bison), whose range includes the Great Plains, and the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae), found mostly in the boreal forests.  Since the range of the latter is mostly outside of the United States, I presume that it is the plains bison which is considered our National Mammal, although the act does not specify (and it is probably not that important to most people, unless you are a taxonomist who wants clarity!).

Galloping bison by Eadweard Muybridge,
first published in 1887
(from Wikimedia Commons).

Historically, the bison population was huge, probably in the range of 25 million, but by the late 1880s a massive slaughter campaign reduced their numbers to less than 600 (the following photo is truly frightening):

Pile of American bison skulls to be ground for fertilizer in the 1870s
(from Wikimedia Commons).

A few ranchers at the time became concerned that the massive mammal would become extinct, and began efforts to protect the small population that remained.  Gradually other groups became involved, and currently it is estimated that 500,000 bison are spread across North America.  Although there had at one point been some crossbreeding with cattle, at the present time there are still several small herds of purebred bison, and efforts are being made to breed out any hybridized cattle genes still left in the remaining bison herds.

Bull bison at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (1979). 

I saw my first bison herd at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge when I lived in Oklahoma.  This herd was the first successful reintroduction of a mammal species to a former range in the United States.  American bison are truly impressive, and the species is an integral part of the nation's heritage. Without a doubt they deserve the distinction as our official National Mammal.

For more information about the history behind the National Bison Legacy Act, check out the American Bison Society and Vote Bison websites.  And please, if you visit an area with bison or any wild animal, respect their wildness and do not attempt to approach, pet, take a selfie, or undertake a misguided rescue mission, as it could end badly.  Three cheers for our new National Mammal!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: Crab Area Rug

My search for crustacean creations continues, and the latest find is the Crab Area Rug from Home Decorators Collection.  This indoor/outdoor rug is hand-hooked from synthetic fibers, making it durable and easy to clean.  It is ideal for high-traffic areas, is available in a range of sizes, and comes in two color options (navy and ivory).  I have the perfect spot for one of the ivory rugs, and have already placed my order!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekend Wardrobe: White Summer Dress/ Casual Jacket Wardrobe

Not long ago, a blog post on The Vivienne Files described some recent fashion trends noted in Paris.  The one that particularly caught my attention was a white summer dress paired with a denim jacket.  By chance, I had just seen similar apparel in a recent issue of Catalog Favorites.  This coincidence inspired me to create a fashion style board using only items from Catalog Favorites (which, by the way, are not too outrageously priced).  I found two jacket options that I liked (blue with floral embroidery and lilac-colored cotton twill), so I came up with ensembles for both:

Left, top to bottom: Embroidered Denim Jacket; Floral Denim BagDenim Watch; Stretchy Denim Ballerina Shoes; Center: Embroidered Cotton Sundress; Right, top to bottom: Lilac Cotton Twill Jacket; 6-Zipper-Pocket Bag Set; Lavender Jade Carved Rose Sterling Ring; Multicolored Stretchy Sneakers.

Both outfits are perfect for a casual summer day or evening event.  Even though white can be frustratingly hard to keep clean, the simple cotton dress is easily washed.  It is also relatively inexpensive, so buy two and wear one while the other is in the wash.  Everyone will envy your ability to keep white clothes spotless, and only you will know that your dress has a twin!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Pizza Roll Bundt Cake

Two of my latest food fascinations have been bundt cakes and prepared food used in unusual ways (see here and here), so when I saw the recipe for a Pizza Roll Bundt Cake I just had to try it!  Pizza Rolls are one of those foods that I never eat (in fact, I don't think I've ever had them before!), but I was willing to give them a try in bundt cake form.  While I don't think I would want to serve this as a main dish on a regular basis, I do believe it would be a great party appetizer, either served in thin slices or pulled apart into individual rolls, like a pull-apart bread (as long as the cheese is still warm and soft enough to pull).  Why shouldn't we have fun with our food once in a while?

Pizza Roll Bundt Cake

2 bags 40-count (about 20 oz. each) Totino's Pizza Rolls, any flavor
4 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C. pizza sauce (see Notes)
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
fresh basil, minced (optional)

Bake the pizza rolls at 425 degrees for about 14 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray.  Place 20 pizza rolls in the pan and sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Repeat the layers three more times, ending with the last cup of mozzarella.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown around the edges.

Remove the bundt pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.  Use a spatula to loosen the edges, and then place a heatproof plate upside down on top of the pan.  Turn the pan and plate over, tap the bottom of the pan to release the contents, and remove the pan.

In a loosely covered microwaveable bowl, heat the pizza sauce on HIGH for 20-30 seconds until warm (I skipped this step as the room temperature sauce was equally pourable).  Spoon the sauce over the pizza roll bundt cake to resemble icing.  Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle the basil over, if using.  Cut the cake with a serrated knife and serve warm.  Serves 16.

Notes: I used Prego Pizzeria Style Pizza Sauce.  Be sure to serve this dish with extra pizza sauce to spoon over the top, as I found the pizza rolls to be rather bland without the sauce.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: Fun with Hot Dogs

For some reason, last week everything seemed to be coming up hot dogs!  First a colorful fashion blog post, and then a Heinz Super Bowl ad that I saw for the first time (see above), brought hot dogs to the forefront for me. Just for fun, I decided to google "hot dogs", and I ended up finding some seriously silly ways to serve this popular summer food that I think would be worth attempting.

From Spice Up Your Life with a Taste of Japan

First up is a recipe for creating your own dog face-shaped hot dog buns!  The method is included in the blog post, and if you like making your own bread then this variation would be fun to try.

From Pinterest

If you would rather not make your own bread, then simply use hamburger rather than hot dog buns.  Attach cheese slice ears and eyes plus black bean nose and pupils with mustard, and enjoy!

From Rhodes Bake 'N Serve

Almost everyone may remember biscuit or crescent roll dough-wrapped hot dogs from childhood campfire days.  Well, you can take this concept one step further and create dog-shaped wrapped hot dogs!  The technique may be a bit more difficult than the one for dog face buns, but with a little practice and a modicum of skill you can delight your guests with their own pup-shaped hot dog.

From Foodiggity

The last creation is the easiest of all if you have even minimal drawing skills.  Just take a squeeze bottle filled with catsup and draw an image of a wide-jawed dog on a white dinner plate (paper plates are fine).  Plop your hot dog into a bun, use a squeeze bottle of mustard to add some pointy teeth, and place the bun in the spot where the catsup dog's mouth should be.  It's that simple!


All four of these options would be fairly easy and fun to replicate, but please do not imitate the following image unless you have very cooperative baby "weiner dog" who is bold enough not to be traumatized (and definitely do not consume that used bun!):

From Serious Eats

I rarely eat hot dogs, but I am determined to try the first four options at some point this summer, because I find them all to be hilarious (okay, so I am way too easily amused!).  Happy hot dog days, everyone!

From Dogster

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: Horse Mugs and Salad Plates from Black Forest Decor

The Kentucky Derby this past Saturday got me thinking about setting a horse-themed table.  I am seriously considering acquiring the beautiful Horse Mugs and Salad Plates from the Black Forest Decor site.  The mugs and plates come in two different designs (horse head and running horse) and all are on sale right now for $14.95 each.  I just might have to get two of each mug and plate so I can mix and match a setting for four.  I may be too late for the first race of the Triple Crown, but there is still time to set an equine-inspired table for the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On the Homefront: Birds and Butterflies Table

Marjolein Bastin Nature's Jouney Collection Plates
(from Signals -- no longer available)

I've had this table set up since mid-April, but due to a variety of plumbing-related emergencies, have not had a chance to get these photos posted until now.  This table was meant to be the setting for our anniversary dinner last month, but the aforementioned emergencies meant that the dinner did not happen, although I did cook the dishes meant for the meal after our anniversary.  I liked the look of this table for spring, so I've mostly kept it set up.  The cheerful yellows with the lovely butterfly plates (shown above) and colorful bird glassware (shown below) lifted my spirits every time yet another plumbing disaster occurred, so even though no anniversary dinner was eaten here, the table settings did serve a useful purpose!

Charley Harper Birds Glasses
(from Bas Bleu)

Now let's take a look at the table!

Dark brown wooden bead placemat; yellow dinner plate (Block Basics by Cerind of Portugal); Marjolein Bastin Nature's Journey Collection Butterfly Plate; Yellow Dots Flatware (from HomeGoods); yellow napkin; Charley Harper Bird Glass; yellow mug; dark wood coaster.

Bright yellow tulips in a yellow vase, and white bird salt and
pepper shakers from Pier 1.

Gold foil-wrapped chocolates in a dark bowl set inside a
decorative platter filled with glass beads in warm colors
serve as the centerpiece.

Yellow egg-shaped salt and pepper shakers, plus one of our
favorite decorative plates ready to hold the bundt cake.

Since the predominant table colors are yellow and brown, I thought it would be fun to focus on a menu featuring these colors.  Mole sauce is an appropriate brown color, so Mexican-inspired dishes were chosen.  Yellow rice accompanies the chicken mole, and the mostly yellow vegetable dish is modified from Guy Fieri's Corn con Queso recipe.  The bundt cake is obviously not Mexican, but the colors of lemon and chocolate fit right in to this theme, and the flavors taste great together.

Birds and Butterflies Table Menu:

Easy Chicken Mole*/Yellow Rice
Squash and Corn con Queso**

*Easy Chicken Mole

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. olive oil
1 box (9.5 oz.) Dona Maria Mole Ready to Serve
chopped cilantro (optional)

Cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise into two chunks.  Put the oil into a 13x9-inch baking dish.  Add the chicken pieces, turning to coat both sides with oil.  Pour the mole sauce over the chicken.  Turn each piece to coat both sides, then turn the chicken so that the smooth side faces up.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through the cooking time.  Check the chicken to see if it is cooked through (if not, bake for 5 more minutes).  Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.  Serve the chicken with rice, spooning some of the sauce over both.  Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired.  Serves 4-8, depending upon appetites.

**Squash and Corn con Queso

2 T. butter
2 medium yellow squash, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 C. frozen corn, thawed
2 T. chopped cilantro leaves*
1/2 C. crumbled queso fresco
Lime wedges

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the squash and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the corn and cilantro and heat through.  Remove from the heat and stir in the queso fresco.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

*If you do not like cilantro, substitute another herb (such as parsley, chives, or basil) or just omit entirely.


The candy on the table is Hershey's Nuggets Milk Chocolate with Almonds, wrapped in gold foil:

Goldy the Dalmatian wonders what happened to the
anniversary dinner!

Here's hoping that our plumbing problems are over now, and that next year our anniversary dinner can proceed without a hitch!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Weekend Wardrobe: Acorn Favorite Cotton Sweater Style Boards Redux

Acorn Favorite Cotton Sweater in Plum

At the beginning of the year I posted a comment about the Acorn Favorite Cotton Sweater in three different jewel-tone colors that I received from my husband for Christmas.  I love those sweaters, and even created some style boards in which they are featured.  The colors were perfect for winter, but I recently found out that these same sweaters come in three springlike colors as well.  I could not resist coming up with some ideas on how to wear these pastel-colored sweaters for mild weather.  My style boards feature a casual feel, perfect for an easy-going day in town or relaxed overnight getaway to the beach or the lake.  The sweaters make a perfect top layer for chilly nights or mornings, and can be removed during the heat of the day.

Clockwise from top left: Acorn Favorite Cotton Sweater in Coral; L.L. Bean Women's Elbow-Sleeve Scoopneck Pima Cotton Tee in Petal; Pendleton Women's Cotton Rib Tank in Larkspur; L.L. Bean Women's Sunwashed Canvas Cropped Pants in Clearwater Blue.

Clockwise from top left: Acorn Favorite Cotton Sweater in Iris; L.L. Bean Women's Elbow-Sleeve Scoopneck Pima Cotton Tee in Brightwater Blue; Pendleton Women's Cotton Rib Tank in Steel Blue; L.L. Bean Women's Sunwashed Canvas Cropped Pants in Khaki.

Clockwise from top left: Acorn Favorite Cotton Sweater in Turquoise; L.L. Bean Women's Elbow-Sleeve Scoopneck Pima Cotton Tee in White; Pendleton Women's Cotton Rib Tank in Mesa Rose; L.L. Bean Women's Sunwashed Canvas Cropped Pants in Burnished Orange.

Obviously these basic outfits need some accessories, and I think the same colorful set of four can be used for all three ensembles:

Clockwise from top left: Scala Sevilla Paperbraid Floppy Sun Hat in Orange; Journee Collection Sterling Silver Natural Bead and Shell Bracelet; Indie Multicolored Canvas Slip On Shoes; Mad Style Blue Milan Straw Tote

Our weather is still cool enough in the morning and evening to require a warm layer like a sweater, so now would be the perfect time for these ensembles.  And of course, once A/C season (i.e., summer) arrives, the sweaters will be indispensable for the great indoors!  Have a happy Mother's Day tomorrow, and also congratulations to the recent UGA graduates.  Vacation time is here!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Smoked Paprika

I have always loved cauliflower.  Years ago, when ranch dressing became the popular dip for crudité platters, raw cauliflower florets were my favorite dipping vegetable.  With the introduction of microwaveable packages of vegetables, one of my frequent quick meals became microwave-steamed cauliflower and broccoli with warmed mild cheese dip poured over the top.  Roasted cauliflower is quite popular at the moment, and I am one of its biggest fans.  Simple to make and easily seasoned to any taste preferences, it is the perfect side dish for almost any meal.  My current favorite seasoning is a simple combination of mostly cumin and smoked paprika, which you can adjust in amounts to suit your own taste.  Give this cruciferous vegetable dish a try and perhaps you will become a cauliflower convert like so many others!

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Smoked Paprika

2 bags (16 oz. each) microwaveable cauliflower florets
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. salt

Cut the cauliflower florets into uniformly sized pieces if necessary.  Toss all ingredients in a large roasting pan.  Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, tossing once or twice while roasting, until the florets are just browned.  Let the pan sit in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 5-10 minutes to allow moisture to escape.  Remove from the oven and serve.  Serves 4.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: A Garden Ramble and a Perfect House

One of the gardens on the tour surrounds a former cottonseed mill,
which has been converted into an art and sculpture studio
(from Flagpole).

Over the weekend my husband and I participated in a Roving Garden Party hosted by the Boulevard Gardening Club in Athens, Georgia.  This type of tour is called a ramble, which is something I had never heard of before we moved to Georgia, but apparently rambles are quite popular with certain groups, especially those interested in historic sites.  The little town we live in has hosted rambles for The Georgia Trust, which holds these events all over the state in the spring and fall.

Rambles are held on the day scheduled regardless of weather, and we were afraid that our event would be a very wet one.  Fortunately once we bought our tickets the rain stopped and, other than getting our shoes wet and suffering through some high humidity, all went well.  The gardens were lovely, there was plenty to eat and drink at each location, and all of the houses were fairly close to each other so the two hours allotted for the tour was more than enough time.

Even though this tour focused on gardens, however, I found myself obsessed with one of the houses on the tour, to the point that I told my husband that I had found my perfect home!  The architect of this wonderful house has posted pictures on her website, Bork Design Inc., and I just had to share some of them.  While the contemporary style is not for everyone, this is just the sort of home (and garden!) that I would love to own.  Take a look:

The view from the street.

View from the top of the driveway.

A look at the sunken garden fronting the basement level.

Two views of the entry bridge that leads to the front door.

The front and side balconies.

Another view of the side balcony.

The screened porch at the back of the house.

We did not get to see the inside of the house, but luckily the website had some interior images, and the inside is every bit as perfect as the outside:

The large and light-filled living room.

The spacious and gorgeous kitchen.

A luxurious master bath.

It is rare to find such a contemporary house in our part of Georgia, so to find one that is my absolute dream home was quite a surprise.  I'm ready to move in right now, but I know the proud owners will not be moving out any time soon.  Maybe one of these days we will find the perfect plot of land where we can build our own version!