Thursday, June 30, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: CB2-Inspired Living Room

Our Serenbe house (a variation of the popular Southern Living
Sugarberry Cottage).

Last week I created a style board of CB2 furnishings and accessories for our Serenbe house dining room, and this week I thought I would concentrate on a CB2-inspired living room.

I have a preference for leather sofas and boldly patterned rugs, so I started with those two pieces and then selected items that would complement them:

Clockwise from top left: Alfred Leather Sofa; Parlour Chair in Tess Cranberry; Sari 20" Pillow; Wire Large Hurricane Candle Holder; Fuze Grey Console Table; Leather Pouf; John Floor Lamp; Element Coffee Table; Center: Sunset Boulevard Rug.

What you cannot see in the living room photo is the separate entry foyer beyond the foreground, which is where the console table would be placed.  You may have noticed that I have an obsession with the Fuze Grey table collection.  These pieces are handmade of a cement aggregate in an eco-friendly workshop, and are finished with a non-toxic wax.  To me these tables have a sort of rustic industrial look befitting a rural green community close to Atlanta (don't be surprised if you see more from this collection in future posts).  The rug is also environmentally friendly, hand tufted by artisans from cotton strips salvaged from textile factories.  The throw pillow material comes from a similar source. I love the idea of choosing furnishings and accessories made from recycled materials whenever possible.

Next week I will be putting together a master bedroom style board based on CB2 selections.  These style boards are so much fun, like shopping without spending any money at all!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: Stunning Stone Cottage

I have always been attracted to stone cottages, and the Between Naps on the Porch blog recently posted a link to one that was so gorgeous I just had to share the link here.  We have never even considered New Jersey as a possible retirement destination, and I am not especially interested in historic homes, but this cottage is so perfect that I think we may have to reconsider our options!  Even though the home was built in 1730, the owners have done a marvelous job of maintaining and updating the home without detracting from its rustic charm.  The house sits on over three acres, overlooking a stream and woodlands, and has a detached garage and lovely gardens.  Take a look at some photos and I think you will agree that this is a lovely place!

Street view.

Back view.

Living room with huge fireplace.

Kitchen/Dining room with great views, ceiling beams, and fireplace.

Sunroom (my favorite room!).

Library/Den overlooking stream and woods.

Master bedroom with French doors, fireplace, and plenty of space.

Guest bedroom (one of two).

Main bathroom (one of two) with unique stone walls.

Backyard patio.

Absolutely magnificent garden!

Brick walkway leading to garage.

Detached garage (with finished loft space).

I really am smitten with this fabulous home -- I'm ready to move in right now!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Weekend Wardrobe: Island Vacation Travel Wardrobe

A beautiful image from the island of São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
(from Trivago).

I need a vacation!  My poor little donkey still requires a lot of care, so there is no way I am going anywhere any time soon, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about traveling.  We were supposed to go to New Mexico in early July, but had to cancel that trip because of Daisy's illness (we can always go next summer).  My husband is off to the Azores for a meeting in mid-July, which got me thinking about island vacations.  The Azores are mountainous volcanic archipelago islands with a subtropical climate and tend to get a lot of rain, although they are considered to have a Mediterranean-type climate.  While my husband has been there several times, I have never had the opportunity.  Maybe one of these days I will get there, and if I do, this would be a great travel wardrobe for such a trip:

Clockwise from top left: Coldwater Creek Linen Camp Shirt in Blue Belle; Land's End Women's Supima Cardigan Sweater in Ivory; Coinjewelry Bird of Paradise Pendant Necklace from Etsy; Elaine Turner Sorrel Cork Tote; Vans Unisex Authentic Cork Sneakers; Travelsmith Classic Fit Miraclebody Ankle-Length Colored Jeans in  Yellow; Ralph Lauren Cork Skinny Belt from Lord & Taylor; Center: Decree Women's Cork Band Colored Dial Watch.

You may have noticed several cork-based items (belt, shoes, watch, and hand bag).  The Azores are part of Portugal, and Portugal is a major producer of cork, which comes from a type of oak tree (Quercus suber, or cork oak) native to that country.  Cork is lightweight, watertight, and durable, and it is a renewable resource.  After the cork is harvested from the trees just below the bark, the trees are allowed to recover and produce more cork for future collection.  There are two other pairs of cork shoes in the carry-on bag, and the bag itself is also made of cork:

Clockwise from top left: Land's End Women's Cotton Tank Top in Jewel Blue; Earth Cork Travel Bags Braga Ck2001; Coldwater Creek Essential Supima Boatneck Tee in Cypress; Coldwater Creek Classic Knit Denim Straight-Leg Jeans in Leaf Green; Coldwater Creek Linen Camp Shirt in Daffodil; Aerosoles 4 Give Sandals in Cork Combo; Karen Millen Bird of Paradise Print Cotton Dress; Sam Edelman Augusta Textured Flats in Cork from Lord & Taylor; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail T Short Sleeve V-Neck Shirt in Spice Orange; Karen Millen Bird of Paradise Print Cotton Skirt; Center: Karen Millen Blue Pencil Dress.

The bird of paradise skirt was actually the inspiration for this wardrobe.  I discovered this skirt while browsing the cotton website (did you know that the cotton industry posts links to clothing that are made of cotton?), and liked it so much I decided to include the dress made of the same material as part of this collection as well.  Cotton is by far my favorite fabric, as I find it more comfortable and breathable than any other material available, especially synthetics, which I cannot abide.  As for the skirt, the pattern features the magnificent bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia spp.):

Bird of paradise flower
(from Deviant Art).

The flower received its name because of its uncanny resemblance to the avian species (Paradisaea spp.) of the same appellation (which is why I included the bird of paradise necklace in the first style board):

Male Greater Bird-of-Paradise (Paradisaea apoda) in full courtship display
(from The Internet Bird Collection).

While neither the floral nor faunal bird of paradise is native to the Azores, the islands are a popular birdwatching destination, and the bird of paradise is one of many colorfully flowering introduced plants found on these lush and verdant islands.  (This concludes your geography, botany, and ornithology lessons for today.  You're welcome, and class dismissed!)

As mentioned above, the weather can be rainy on the Azores, so if rain is in the forecast it would be a good idea to pack a lightweight water resistant coat like the one below as part of the travel wardrobe:

The Tog Shop Classic Windbreaker in Bluebell.

Some day I will be able to travel again, and when I do at least I will have some idea of what to pack for an island vacation!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Sautéed Vegetables and Cheese Omelet

I made a batch of sautéed vegetables not long ago intending to make a soup, but the weather has become so hot I was not really in the mood for soup.  Instead I used the vegetables in an omelet, and I have to say it was one of the tastiest omelets I've ever eaten.  Here is the easy recipe if you would like to try a different sort of filling in your next omelet.  I find the bagged, precut vegetables at our local Publix, but use the equivalent of whole vegetables if you are less lazy than I am!

Sautéed Vegetables and Cheese Omelet

2 T. olive oil
1 bag (12 oz.) carrot sticks, diced
1 bag (8 oz.) celery sticks, diced
1 bag (8 oz.) mini sweet peppers, cut into rings
1 large red onion, diced
2 eggs
1/2 T. water
1/4 C. shredded cheese (any kind)

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetables and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Break the eggs into a small bowl.  Add the water and beat until the yolks and whites are well combined.  Spray a medium-sized sauté pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Add the eggs and cook, swirling the pan to spread out the uncooked egg, until the egg is almost set.

Spread the cheese over one half of the omelet and top with about 1/2 C. of the sautéed vegetables.  Carefully fold the other half of the omelet over the filling.  Turn the heat to low and cook until the cheese melts.  Slide the omelet out onto a plate and serve.  Serves 1 (with enough vegetables left over to make several more omelets).

Note: The sautéed vegetables also make an excellent soup base.  Just place in a pot with about 8 C. broth or stock and add your favorite cooked protein (such as beans, chicken, ham, etc.) and/or starch (potatoes, pasta, rice, etc.).  If your starch is uncooked, heat until cooked; otherwise, just heat and eat!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: CB2-Inspired Dining Room

Our Serenbe home.

A few years ago my husband and I bought a house in an eco-friendly community near Atlanta called Serenbe.  Originally we thought that it would be a good transition house for us when my husband retired while we looked for a place in New Mexico, our ultimate retirement destination.  However, my husband keeps postponing his retirement, so we may end up selling our Serenbe home without ever having lived in it.  We rented it out for a couple of years, then put it on the market, mostly out of curiosity to see how well homes were selling.

Since we were not especially motivated sellers, we are now thinking of keeping it for at least another year and using it as a second home for a while.  This means we will have to furnish a few of the rooms so that we will have a place to sleep, eat, and relax when we are there.  We do not intend to spend a lot of money, so we will probably use some excess furniture and accessories from our current house and purchase a few inexpensive pieces as well.

I got to thinking about how I would furnish this cottage-style home if we were younger and this was our first home.  The arrival of a CB2 catalog in the mail last week piqued my interest in their furniture, and I decided to put together some style boards for different rooms in our Serenbe house just for fun.  I started with the dining room (shown in the photo above), mostly because I really liked the Roadhouse Leather Dining Chair I saw in the catalog:

Clockwise from top left: Roadhouse Leather Dining Chair; Capitol Pendant Light; Fuze Grey Bistro Table; Register Placemat in Copper; Black Clay Dinnerware; Felix Block Print Napkins; Rhapsody Wall Hanging; Sage Credenza; John Table Lamp; Center: Marta Smoke Double Old-Fashioned Glass; Pattern 127 Flatware Set; Rectangular Walnut Tray; Center background: The Hill-Side Workwear Blanket Stripe Rug.

The Roadhouse leather chairs also come as counter stools, two of which would fit perfectly at the kitchen island seen to the left of the dining room in the photo above.  I so enjoyed virtually furnishing our Serenbe home's dining room that I think I will work on the living room for next week!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: Pier 1 Sunflower Blooms Dinnerware

A few weeks ago I went to our local Pier 1 store to pick up a Farm Animals Salad Plate Set that I could not resist.  While there, I noticed that they had created a table setting with these plates, pairing them with their Sunflower Blooms Dinner Plates ($9.95 each), part of their Sunflower Blooms Dinnerware collection.  Now I can't stop wishing I had picked up four of those dinner plates as well.  My husband and I both love sunflowers, and they are the epitome of summer for us.  I may just have to make another trip back to Pier 1 this week!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Seasonal Style: Summer Tropical Floral Print

From Etsy

Summer officially begins today, although here in Georgia it has felt like summer for over a month now.  The hot, humid weather has me thinking of the tropics, and the caftan above has that lush tropical feel as well as a comfortable, loose-fitting style appropriate for keeping cool in an equatorial climate.

From About Interior Design

Just like the outfit at the top of the page, the sofa upholstery in this living room has a bold and tropical-looking floral print in shades of red and white.  The big picture window brings an enticing view of the ocean into a living space designed to visually flow seamlessly from the interior to the great outdoors (I love that giant fire pit).  Have a wonderful summer, everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2016

On the Homefront: Time for a Break

I've decided it's time for a short break from blog posting, so I am going to take this week off.  Caring for my still ailing donkey requires a lot of time and effort, and she had a particularly bad time last week.  I think she may be doing a little better now, but recovery is slow if it is occurring at all and only time will tell if she will recover enough to warrant continued treatment.  Meanwhile, I am getting way behind on basic chores like house cleaning, so I need some time to catch up.  Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will be back to blogging next week.  Hopefully I will have better news about Daisy then.  See you next week!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Weekend Wardrobe: Colorful Jacket-Inspired 4x4 Wardrobe

Reversible Art Deco Jacket from Gump's

The idea for this post came from The Vivienne Files, where a colorful jacket was used as the starting point for a 4x4 wardrobe that I found particularly attractive.  I have had my eye on another colorful jacket for a while now, and described it in a previous post.  The Reversible Art Deco Jacket from Gump's shown above is awash in bright summery colors.

There are so many bright colors to choose from in this jacket!  Emboldened by my post from last week where I selected a rainbow of colors for a basic wardrobe, I decided to do the same this week using the jacket as my color source.  I am going to start the 4x4 wardrobe a little differently this time, with three basic bottoms in different colors in addition to the jacket:

Clockwise from top left: Gump's Reversible Art Deco Jacket; L.L. Bean Women's  Washed Straight-Leg Chinos in Classic Black; Coldwater Creek Crinkle Cotton Solid Maxi Skirt in Bright Turquoise; L.L. Bean Women's Premium Washable Linen Pants in White;.

Next up is a simple black skirt plus three tops in various colors:

Clockwise from top left: J. Crew Bi-Stretch Cotton No. 2 Pencil Skirt in Black; Coldwater Creek Essential Supima Shell in Black; Land's End Women's Short Sleeve Jewelneck Tee in Turquoise Bay; Land's End Women's Relaxed Supima V-Neck T-Shirt in Pineapple.

The third set includes a variety of tops in different styles and colors:

Clockwise from top left: Land's End Women's Relaxed Supima Crewneck T-Shirt in Classic Cherry; Land's End Women's Relaxed Supima V-Neck T-Shirt in Black; Coldwater Creek Solid Easy Care Sleeveless Tunic in Daffodil; Coldwater Creek Drape-Neck Shell in Bright Peridot.

And finally, a simple black dress and three more tops in various styles:

Clockwise from left: J. Crew Sleeveless Silk Dress in Black; Coldwater Casual Comfort Tee in Fresh Red; Pendleton Cotton Rib Tank in Larkspur; Coldwater Creek Essential Supima Boatneck Tee in Bright Peridot.

There was a method to my madness in the arrangement of each 4-piece set.  If you look at the columns in the complete 4x4 wardrobe diagram below, you will see outfit options (for example, the second column shows options for a column of black):

Because I wanted all pieces to work with the jacket, I stayed with solid-colored apparel, but tried to vary the styles to add interest.  I chose tailored black pants and skirt, plus another one of each with a less-structured fit.  As much as possible, I also tried to find tops with different necklines and sleeve lengths that were not too fussy-looking.

If I were to add another option, it would probably be a casual dress, perhaps one or both of the choices shown here:

Left: Catalog Favorites Casual Knit Dress in Turquoise; Right: Coldwater Creek Capri Knit Dress in Fresh Red.

And I had to share the perfect necklace for any ensemble from this basic wardrobe:

Zulu Pearl Long Necklace in Gypsy fron Samantha Davimes

I love bright color, and the colors in this 4x4 wardrobe make me happy.  I think I could live for a while with just these apparel items year-round (well, maybe I would have to add a couple pairs of jeans).  At the very least I should probably finally add that beautiful jacket to my clothes collection!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Current Events: Cowboy to the Rescue!

From Local 8 Now

This is just the greatest story, especially for today when the focus is on horses!  A woman who saw her bike being stolen at an Oregon shopping center called out for help, and a cowboy who happened to be nearby sprang into action.  He unloaded his saddled horse from his trailer, rode after the would-be thief, and successfully put his awesome roping skills to the test, lassoing the perpetrator by the ankles when the hapless fellow decided to leave the bike and make a run for it.  Police arrived on the scene and arrested the suspect, and the heroic cowboy went about his business as if it was all in a day's work.  Now that is what I call an "angel on horseback"!  See the complete video on CNN here, and let's hope the next time someone is in trouble a kind soul on horseback will be there to come to the rescue.  

The cowboy hero!
(from Oregon Live)

On the Homefront: A Day at the Races Table

Midnight the horse may never run in a race, but little Ryder the
Dalmatian is absolutely convinced that his favorite steed is the
fastest thing on four legs!

The Belmont Stakes, last "jewel" of the Triple Crown, is being run today.  Even though I am not much of a racing fan, I do love horses.  I have quite a bit of horse-themed tableware and recently purchased some new dishes with a horse design, so I decided that today would be the perfect day to set a horse-themed table.  Since the dishes are tan and brown, the colors used for this table are shades of brown plus white (the color of the carnations used for the blanket that is draped over the winning horse).

Dark brown wooden bead placemat; Running Horses Dinnerware dinner plate, dessert plate, and mug; dark brown wood coaster; Moss Brothers Running Horses Flatware; white napkin; Park Design Horse Napkin Ring; Gallop Tumbler Glass.

A simple arrangement of white carnations sits at the head of the table.

Two white candles in dark brown wood candle holders flank a larger
white candle in a ceramic dish filled with multi-colored glass beads.

A closer look at the horse head napkin ring.

Today is all about the race, so I kept the menu simple.  Since Belmont Park is on Long Island and not far from New York City, I decided to feature foods associated with the city.  The weather is so hot here in Georgia right now that I felt a hearty salad would suffice for the main dish.  Chef salad most likely originated in New York City, so it was the logical choice.

A simple appetizer of mini bagels with lox and cream cheese can be served before or with the dinner salad. New York bagels are my favorites and are without a doubt the best choice if available (just slice them in half, add the toppings, and cut the halves into quarters for appetizer-sized bites).  However, here in Georgia we have to make do with what we can find, so I settled for mini bagels available at the local supermarket.

Rich, dense, tangy New York-style cheesecake was the obvious selection for dessert, and I found a recipe for individual servings.  It is a similar idea to my easy Mini-Cheesecakes recipe, but only makes four servings and includes a sour cream topping.  I added ingredients for a graham cracker crust, but vanilla wafers or similar cookies work just fine.

The choice of beverage for this meal was made difficult by the fact that there have actually been three official Belmont Stakes drinks over the years!  The original was called the White Carnation, which was then replaced by the Belmont Breeze.  The current signature drink is the Belmont Jewel.  I am leaning more toward the White Carnation, because it fits my table theme, but I have included links to all three so you can pick your own poison... I mean potion!

A Day at the Races Menu:

Mini Bagels/Lox and Cream Cheese
Chef Salad**

From The Wall Street Journal

*White Carnation

2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. peach schnapps
2 oz. orange juice
soda water
splash of cream

Pour the vodka, schnapps, and orange juice into a mixing glass filled with ice.  Stir well and strain into a highball glass filled with ice.  Top with soda water and a splash of cream.  Garnish with an orange slice.  Serves 1.

My version of a chef salad, with sliced almonds replacing the bacon
bits and deli chicken substituted for ham because of my red meat
allergy.  I topped my salad with avocado ranch salad dressing.

**Chef Salad

8 C. salad greens, cut into bite-size pieces
4 oz. (or 4 slices) deli ham, julienned
4 oz. (or 4 slices) turkey, julienned
4 oz. (or 4 slices) Swiss cheese, julienned
4 oz. (or 4 slices) cheddar cheese, julienned
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 medium or 4 small tomatoes, diced
croutons or crumbled bacon for garnish (optional)
dressing of choice

Divide the salad greens among four dinner plates.  Divide the meats, cheeses, eggs, and tomatoes evenly among the four servings and arrange over the salad greens.  Garnish with croutons or bacon bits and serve with your favorite dressing.

Note: Use any meats or cheeses you prefer.  Add any other chopped or sliced vegetables that you like, such as avocados, cucumbers, green onions, celery, carrots, etc.  It may not be traditional, but it's your salad so eat it your way!

***Mini New York Cheesecakes

1/3 C. graham cracker crumbs
1 T. sugar
1 T. butter, melted
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
6 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 C. sour cream
2 T. brown sugar

Combine the first three ingredients.  Divide evenly among four muffin pan cups lined with paper or foil liners, pressing the mixture down firmly into the bottoms of the liners to form the crust.  Beat together the next five ingredients and pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for four hours.  When ready to serve, combine the sour cream and brown sugar and pour over the tops of the cheesecakes.  Serves 4.


The chocolates on the table today are Hershey's Milk Chocolate Caramels:

These caramels may not be from New York, but they are delicious!

While this year's Belmont Stakes race will certainly not be as exciting as last year, when American Pharoah won the race to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, for those who enjoy a good horse race this event should still be exciting to watch.  Nyquist, winner of the 2016 Kentucky Derby, was withdrawn from the Belmont Stakes due to illness. Will Exaggerator, winner of the 2016 Preakness race, take first place, or will another horse unexpectedly pull off a victory?  Check out the contenders here and here.  Who do you think will win?  The answer is only a few more hours away!

Last year's Triple Crown winner American Pharoah easily takes first
place at the 2015 Belmont Stakes.
(from Charm City Wire)