Sunday, July 31, 2016

On the Homefront: Daisy (2003-2016)

My dear little miniature donkey Daisy lost her fight with EPM yesterday, and I had to let her go.  Her neurological condition became so bad that she could no longer navigate safely, and by the time the vet arrived she was down and could no longer get back up.  She fought her decline every step of the way, in typical donkey fashion, and accepted the necessary care with gentleness and good grace, but in the end we could not get the disease under control.  I will miss my sweet little girl so much and feel privileged to have had her for the short time allowed.  She is with her best buddy Bugs now, and I will think of them as being healthy and happy once again, sharing a big old pasture without a care in the world.  Goodbye, my beloved little Daisy, and say hello to your big brother Bugs for me.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Current Events: An Uncanny Resemblance?

Top image from Wikipedia.
Bottom image from CelebFresh.

I normally avoid politics like the plague, especially here on my blog.  However, I have had an aversion to "the Donald" for decades, ever since his questionable Trump Tower/Marla Maples escapades, so I just cannot ignore the topic any longer.  Since "a picture is worth a thousand words", and Mr. Trump seems to prefer a limited vocabulary, I thought a revealing image would be appropriate.  Frankly, I would rather not see any of the men in the above picture as the leaders of our great nation.  Even though only two of them are actually running for president/vice president, I am starting to think that they are the wrong two.  At least the movie pair says ridiculous things as comedic entertainment rather than political rhetoric!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Chicken, Broccoli, and Egg Casserole

Our hen, Dixie, is laying eggs again.  After having gone broody for more than a month, she is back to laying with a vengeance, so once again I am trying to find new recipes that use lots of eggs!  Today's recipe is based on one I found called Chicken and Cheese Breakfast Casserole.  I used broccoli instead of the vegetables listed in the original recipe, and changed the seasonings, but the basics are the same (you could also substitute ham or sausage for the chicken).  This dish works for lunch or dinner as well, so I decided to alter the name slightly.  Bring on those eggs, Dixie, because I can handle them with this recipe!

Chicken, Broccoli, and Egg Casserole

8 eggs
2 T. milk
1 1/2 C. shredded cheese (use whatever type you like best)
2 tsp. dried fines herbes*
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C. diced cooked chicken
2 C. chopped cooked broccoli
2 T. butter, melted
1/2 C. panko bread crumbs

Beat the eggs with the milk until well blended.  Stir in 1 C. of the cheese with the fines herbs and salt.  Add the chopped chicken and broccoli.  Pour the mixture into a greased 7x11-inch baking dish.

Combine the melted butter and panko.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 C. cheese over the casserole.  Top evenly with the panko mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until the center is set (no longer runny).  Allow to cool slightly before slicing.  Serves 8.

*Fine herbes can be hard to find (I use Spice Islands Fines Herbes), but Italian seasoning is a good substitute.

Don't just stand there, Dixie, get to work!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Weekend Wonders: Walk on the Wild Side 4x4 Wardrobe

Clockwise from left to right: Biba Panther Print Slouch Trousers; Biba Panther Print Tie Neck Blouse; Biba Panther Print T-Shirt.

I had a totally different concept in mind for this week's fashion style board, but then I came across the Biba Panther blouse, tee, and pants shown above.  Sometimes you just have to go where serendipity leads you, so I embraced my chance encounter with these feline-featuring items and chose to walk on the wild side!  Color choices were obvious, with black and white as the neutrals and blue, red, and yellow as accent colors.  If you look closely, the blue on the white blouse is much more vivid than the blue on the black pants and tee, so I used both shades of blue when selecting more apparel for this wardrobe.

I also decided to employ a selection technique I frequently use when buying clothing, especially tops, which is to buy multiples of a preferred item in different colors.  The first set of four in this collection includes the casual pants with three identical tees in each accent color:

Clockwise from left to right: Biba Panther Print Slouch Trousers; L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton V-Neck Short-Sleeve Tee in Butter*, Fiery Red, and Brightwater Blue.
*The v-neck tee is no longer available in this color, but the L.L. Bean Women's Crewneck Short-Sleeve Tee is still offered in all three colors.

The second set of four starts with the blouse, which is stylish enough for more sophisticated combinations with a skirt or dressy pants (I especially love those bright blue pants!):

Clockwise from top left: Biba Panther Print Tie Neck Blouse: J. Crew Italian Featherweight Cashmere Cardigan Sweater in Black; River Island Blue High Waisted Wide Leg Pants; Hobbs Wendy Skirt in Black.

The tee shirt is dressier than the solid-colored ones shown with the slouch pants, and can be dressed up or down depending upon one's mood:

Clcokwise from top left: Biba Panther Print T-Shirt; Pure Collection Cashmere V Neck Cardigan in Cornflower Blue; Pure Collection Pencil Skirt in Yellow; L.L. Bean Women's Classic Fit Straight-Leg Comfort Knit Jeans in Black.

Three more tops and one additional pair of pants will expand the possibilities for this wardrobe:

Clockwise from top left: L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton V-Neck Short-Sleeve Tee in Black; Oasis The Perfect Tee in White; Pied a Terre Cable Turtle Neck Knit Sweater in Red; Pure Collection Smart Linen Trouser in White.

Putting everything together into a 4x4 wardrobe format yields the following:

There are so many possible outfit combinations in this basic 4x4 wardrobe.  The colors complement the panther pattern on the three inspiration pieces and allow them to stand out without seeming too outlandish.  My next fashion post (hopefully this weekend) will feature accessories that will enhance and expand the wild side of this collection!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: Coldwater Creek Wild Spirit Cardigan

I received the latest Coldwater Creek catalog last week, which debuted some new arrivals for fall that have a definite southwestern theme.  Of course I was immediately drawn to the Wild Spirit Cardigan ($79.95-$89.95) with its earthy colors and wild mustang print.  This lightweight, easy-fit, cotton-rayon jersey knit sweater would be a versatile addition to any horselover's wardrobe.  You may want to start Christmas shopping early for any equid fanatics you know and love!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

On the Homefront: Dog and Donkey Update, and More

This past week has been a roller coaster ride for me, but the good news is that little Pippin, the pup I found in our barn two weeks ago, has been returned to her owners!  They saw the ad I posted in our local paper and identified her (someone had painted the pup's toenails pink, and they mentioned that one of their daughters had done that).  Hopefully they will be more careful in the future and Pip (whose real name is Daisy) will be safe and happy now.

My bad news is that my donkey, also named Daisy, has taken a turn for the worse.  We don't really know why, but we will try a couple more medication options before giving up on her.  I really hope she can pull through, but it is looking less likely now.  I will try for another month, but if she does not begin to recover or gets worse, the kindest choice would be to let her go.

Oh, don't try to look so innocent, you dastardly rodent!
(from NBC News)

Also this week, my electric fence charger stopped working, a mouse attempted to live in my car's heating/AC system, got caught in the fan, and died (my car stinks to high heaven now and the corpse is interfering with the fan so I have to get my car in to the shop to be looked at), and a pesky armadillo has been digging up our yard.  The dogs finally caught the culprit one morning and made its life miserable, but armadillos are almost impossible to kill.  I thought about taking matters into my own hands, but then the distraught critter squeaked for mercy and I caved (I am such a softie).  I literally kicked it to the curb and out the gate, hoping that it would stay away.  I also closed up any gaps I could find in our fence and I think I have finally blocked any armadillo's access to our yard, at least for now.  Oh, and to top it all off, my terrier mix, Ruby, managed to scrape her upper lip raw trying to bite the armadillo shell, and almost gave herself heat stroke in the process.

Another dastardly mammal trying to look cute!
(from Natural Unseen Hazards Blog)

Ah, life in the country -- let me tell you, it's not all peace and quiet.  In fact, it's more like tooth-and-claw survival of the fittest at the moment.  If I miss a post or two this week, it's because I'm just trying to survive here!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Cucumber, Pea, and Avocado Salad

I have been eating a lot of salads lately thanks to the long stretch of incredibly hot weather we have been having this summer.  Salads are great for my goal of cutting out refined sugars and starches from my diet, and I can see an improvement in my health already.  My Cucumber, Pea, and Avocado Salad is loosely based on the recipe for Refreshing Salad I posted a few weeks ago.  Served over a bed of greens, with a scoop of cottage cheese on the side, it makes a perfect lunch or light supper.  For me, this recipe is a keeper!

Cucumber, Pea, and Avocado Salad

1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 C. frozen peas, thawed
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
2 oz. Marcona almonds, roughly chopped
zest from one lemon
Lemon-Dill Dressing (see below)
1 avocado, diced

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss with the dressing.  Chill until ready to serve.  Just before serving, stir in the diced avocado.  Serves 4.

Lemon-Dill Dressing: Whisk together the juice of one lemon, 3 T. olive oil, 1 T. minced parsley, 1 tsp. minced dill, and salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: CB2-Inspired Guest Room and Office

Side view of the house, showing the solar panels (over the master bedroom
wing).  The second story bedrooms are on this side of the house.
(from Green Building Advisor)

Are you ready for one more trip to our Serenbe house?

This week I put together CB2-inspired style boards for the two rooms on the second floor of the house.  The second floor has two guest bedrooms which share a full bathroom.  We had a wall of bookshelves built into one of the rooms so that my husband could use it as an office (for some reason I do not have a picture of this room, but it is similar in size to the room shown above).

First up is the style board for the room we would use as an office.  Since this would be my husband's space, I kept the color scheme subdued, which is his preference (although I did have to add some fun art just to keep things interesting):

Clockwise from top left: SAIC Little Wave Desk; Calypso Table Lamp; TPS Carbon 2-Drawer Filing Cabinet; Trio Floor Lamp; Charred Puzzle Table-Stool; Suitor Chair in Hanson Sapphire; Rouka Office Chair; Center: Playful Visionary Print; Center background: Jersey Cummulus Indigo Rug.

Having done the office in mostly cool colors, I decided to pick warmer colors for the guest bedroom:

Clockwise from top left: Alchemy Bronze Bed; Vail Graphite Velvet Bedding; Graph Percale Sheet Set; Acacia Wood 40" Mirror; Junction Low Dresser; 1938 Tobacco Leather Butterfly Chair; Carpenter Bright Orange Lamp; SAIC Sling Nightstand-Side Table; Center: Dhurrie Stripe Wall Hanging; Center background: Granada Rug.

My husband and I have always loved butterfly chairs, so I included the leather version from CB2 in the guest bedroom, even though I think a simpler chair would probably be more practical!


This concludes my CB2-inspired flight of interior design fancy for our Serenbe cottage.  I had a lot of fun with this, and almost wish the house had more rooms to furnish, although that would have defeated the purpose of downsizing for retirement which is why we originally bought the home.  Besides, as I mentioned in the first of this series of posts, we will probably never need to completely furnish the house.  Maybe if I win a lottery or inherit an unexpected fortune (both extremely unlikely as I never play the lottery and don't know any eccentric billionaires), I can indulge myself and decorate this cottage to my heart's content, even if we never get to live there!

From Red Tricycle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: A Trio of Pretty Pillows from Gump's

From CultureBowl

Everyone seems to be feeling the intense heat of summer these days, including our garden plants.  They are wilting and withering, with only a few hardy specimens still valiantly flowering.  I turned to the Gump's catalog to find some eye-catching color, and was not disappointed.  These vibrantly hued throw pillows will add color to even the most sun-bleached day!

The first to get my attention is the Mardi Gras Confetti Pillow ($178), with multicolored hexagons in front and a solid tan on back:

The puffin is my favorite bird, so when I saw the Puffin Tapestry Pillow ($98), I was delighted!  The equally attractive Pelican Tapestry Pillow is the perfect companion:

I also love turtles, and these pretty French Jacquard Turtle Pillows are on sale right now ($69.99 each, marked down from $145!):

I think it may be time to add some new throw pillows to my collection!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Weekend Wardrobe: Summer Weekend in the City Wardrobe

The Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta
(from A Long Mile from Home)

We live about 2.5 hours from Atlanta, so whenever we go into the city it is always a day trip.  However, the drive is just long enough to limit the amount of time we can actually spend in Atlanta.  One of these days I think it would be fun to stay in the city overnight.  It would be nice to be able to take our time when strolling through museums or the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and then go out for a nice dinner somewhere instead of grabbing a quick bite while en route to our home town.  As an avid mystery novel reader, I have always wanted to attend a dinner performance at Agatha's A Taste of Mystery, and an overnight stay in Atlanta would allow me to do so!

For the drive, I would wear something comfortable that would not look too rumpled when we arrived in Atlanta:

Clockwise from top left: Chadwicks of Boston Sleeveless Crewneck Tee in Leaf Print; Coldwater Creek Day-to-Day Cardigan in White; Uno Alla Volta Mexican Fire Opal & Sterling Silver Leaf Earrings; Coldwater Creek Triple Zip Bagg By Baggallini in Beach; Coldwater Creek "Catwalk" Slip-Ons by Bernie Mev in Light Gold; Coldwater Creek Washed CottonLuxe Crop Pants in Dark Desert Khaki.

To beat the heat, I would pack lightweight clothes plus extra shirts should I feel the need for a change after facing the high heat and humidity of a typical Georgia summer day:

Clockwise from top left: ; Veeshee Custom Tuscany Weekender Bag in Jute Linen; Chadwicks of Boston Sleeveless Crewneck Tee in White; Coldwater Creek Pearl Cluster Earrings; Chadwicks of Boston Sleeveless Crewneck Tee in Lilac Mist; Coldwater Creek Washed CottonLuxe Crop Pants in Lavender; Chadwicks of Boston Sleeveless Crewneck Tee in Coffee; Coldwater Creek "Porta" Wedges by Born in White; Una Alla Volta Hand-Beaded Shell Wristlet; Chadwicks of Boston Chambray Fit & Flare Dress; Uno Alla Volta Sunkissed Hand-Marbeld Silk Scarf; Center: Coldwater Creek Tonal Cascade Necklace.

The scarf from Uno Alla Volta really caught my eye.  It is perfect for time spent indoors, and adds a pop of color to any outfit combination from this wardrobe (yellow is the complementary color for purple, and the multicolored marbling in the scarf makes it easy to combine with almost any color combination).  For July in Atlanta, the lightweight short-sleeve cardigan would probably only be needed in frigidly air-conditioned buildings, since even the nighttime lows rarely fall below 70 degrees (for a cold-weather person like me, 70 degrees and above is hot).


One of these days I will convince my husband that we need to stay overnight in Atlanta, and if it happens in the summer then this is the wardrobe for me!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Sausage, Peppers, and Onions with Cheesy Oven Fries

July 13th was National French Fry Day.  The food holiday reminded me that, while I am not fond of deep-fried potatoes, I do like oven fries, so I decided to make some.  This recipe is my modified version of a Rachael Ray menu featuring Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Hoagies with Herb and Cheese Oven Fries.  I eliminated the hoagie roll to reduce the starchiness of the meal.  Since I used a chicken and apple sausage rather than the Italian version, I left out the garlic from the original recipe.  I also omitted the Italian seasoning from the potatoes.  This is a hearty meal probably better suited for cool weather rather than the current heat and humidity we are suffering through here in Georgia, but when a craving hits, sometimes you just have to indulge it!

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions with Cheesy Oven Fries

2-3 T. olive oil
2 large bell peppers (any color), sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 package (12 oz.) cooked chicken apple sausage* (or any flavor), diagonally sliced
2 large Russet potatoes
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C. shredded cheese (I used a blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan)

Heat 2-3 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the peppers and onions and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes.  (If using mushrooms, add them after 5 minutes.)  Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the sliced sausage.  Cook until heated through, about 8-10 minutes longer, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cut each potato lengthwise into four slices.  Cut each slice lengthwise into three sticks.  Toss the potato sticks with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a shallow baking pan.  Bake at 450 degrees until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with the cheese and bake about 5 more minutes until the cheese melts and just begins to brown.

Reheat the sausage, peppers, and onions briefly.  Place a serving of potatoes on a plate and top with the sausage mixture.  Serves 4.

*I used Johnsonville Apple Chicken Sausage Split Rope.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: CB2-Inspired Sunroom and Porches

Our Serenbe house does not lack for transitional outdoor spaces!  The front porch above is the perfect space to sit outside and interact with neighbors strolling down the lane.  I have always had a hankering for porch rocking chairs, and luckily CB2 has just the right chairs for me:

Clockwise from top left: Valalta Rocking Chair; Cement Grey Side Table; Taormina Doormat; Concrete Pot with Saucer; Center: Yellow Leaf Hammock.

Wouldn't two rocking chairs look great in front of the two windows?  Add a side table, a sturdy door mat, and a couple of planters flanking the door and the front porch is done!  But wait a minute,  I think there is just enough room to hang a hammock for my husband at the far end, near the entrance to the screened side porch:

Screened porches are practically a Georgia icon, and ours has the requisite ceiling fan to keep warm and humid southern air moving, making summer outdoor living more enjoyable:

Two entry doors from the living room, and a view of the back yard.

A ceiling fan to keep the air moving!

This space is like an extension of the living room, so it would be furnished as another seating area:

Clockwise from top left: Tropez Natural Sofa; Moravian Star 20" Outdoor Pillow; Criss Knit Black Pouf; Kronos 28" Planter; Cube Table-Planter; Shroom Coffee Table; Background: Diamond Days Reversible Outdoor Rug.

Our Serenbe house was built with an open side porch leading to the back yard, but we opted to enclose the porch to create a temperature-controlled sunroom:

This photo is not great, but the entry door to the laundry/mudroom
is just beyond the foreground on the right.  There are walls of
windows to the left and front of the photo.

The space is small, but could easily serve as a breakfast and seating area as well as a spot for storing a few gardening items:

Clockwise from top left: Fuze Grey Counter Table; Bistro Universal Zinc Chair Cushion; Vapor 24" Acrylic  Counter Stool; Fuze Grey Bench with Fuze Bench Cushion; Salento Storage Bench; Center: Cube Table-Planter; Center background: Scatter Green Rug.

Next week I will conclude my virtual interior design of our Serenbe cottage with style boards for the two guest bedrooms on the second floor.  I almost wish there were more rooms to do, as I am enjoying myself!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: Collage Dog Plates

I love these colorful porcelain Collage Dog Plates (set of four for $64) from Olive & Cocoa!  The set of four dessert plates features a bull terrier, spaniel, whippet, and scottie done in collage-style artwork and packaged in a beribboned matching storage box.  This collection would make a great gift for any dog lover.  Alas, my favorite Dalmatian is not represented, but these plates are so gorgeous I am willing to overlook this omission!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On the Homefront: Puppies and Posts

I was unable to work on my usual weekend post thanks to the adorable little puppy above.  She somehow ended up in my barn Friday morning, and while I would love to keep her, she was not safe there and I don't really have the time to house train a puppy while I care for my hopefully recovering but still neurologically challenged donkey.  Luckily a no-kill shelter opened recently in a nearby town, and they were willing to take her in.  I am doing all I can to help either find her owners if she is just lost, or get her adopted if she was abandoned.  Now that everything is more under control I should be able to blog as usual.  I will try to keep you updated on little Pippin as well (yes, I did already name her!).

Friday, July 8, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Thanksgiving Pasta

You are probably thinking that this is an odd dish to serve at the height of summer, and I agree that it is indeed unusual, but I happened to have all of the ingredients handy and the dish practically came together all by itself!  If you cannot find bottled butternut squash pasta sauce, try the easy recipe from Martha Stewart here.  Substitute a bag of prepackaged butternut squash cubes to make the recipe even easier (just remember to reduce the roasting time as the cubes are very small).  You could even use a package of frozen cooked winter squash for a really quick substitution.  Stir in any seasonings you like (sage, poultry seasoning, salt and /or pepper, etc.) to add your favorite Thanksgiving flavors, and enjoy a taste of the fall holidays in the middle of summer!

Thanksgiving Pasta

6 oz. whole wheat fusilli pasta, cooked and drained
2 T. olive oil
1 bag (about 6 oz.) kale blend chopped salad mix (or 2-3 C. chopped greens of choice)
1/4 C. dried cranberries
1/2 C. whole pecans
1 jar (25.5 oz.) butternut squash pasta sauce
1 1/2 C. diced turkey breast

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the kale blend and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8-10 minutes (adjust heat as needed).  Stir in the cranberries and pecans and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the pasta sauce, adding some of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick.  Add the turkey and heat through.  Stir in the warm, drained pasta and serve.  Serves 4.

Notes: I used Taylor Farms Kale Chopped Salad from our local Kroger (save the dressing and topping packets for another meal) and Dave's Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (I think I found it at HomeGoods, but it is available at grocery stores and online).  If you are lucky enough to have access to Georgia's own Pearson Farm Elliott Pecan Halves, use them, as they are smaller, plumper, and sweeter than your average pecan!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

This 'n That Thursdays: CB2-Inspired Master Bedroom

Master bedroom in our Serenbe home.

We can live without a lot of things when we stay at our Serenbe cottage, but a comfortable bed is not one of them.  That is why I consider the master bedroom the most important room when it comes to furnishings, and luckily the CB2 website is full of great bedroom ideas for my style board:

Clockwise from top left: Façade Grey Bed; Vail Amber Velvet Bedding; Organic Camel Hair Percale Sheet Set; Hive Blue-Green Blanket; Mohair Grey Throw; Shagreen Embossed Low Dresser; Bonded Cement Wall Clock; Eiko Task Lamp; Cement Grey Side Table; Center: Mosaic Wall Decor; Center background: Camel Pinstripe Rug.

The accent colors for the room were selected based on colors from the mosaic wall art.  My husband and I are not big fans of curtains and had room-darkening blinds installed in the master bedroom, but should we ever change our minds, CB2 has some great-looking velvet curtain panels in a trio of colors that would suit this room's furnishings:

CB2 Velvet Curtain Panels in Amber, Navy, and Graphite.

The master bedroom has an en suite master bathroom:

CB2 has items for the bath that would work perfectly in this room:

Left, top to bottom: Channel Cotton Bath Towel Set in Blue Green, Grey, and Copper.

In addition to a the front porch, our house has both a screened-in porch and a side porch that we converted to a sunroom, so next week I will create style boards for at least one of these spaces, or possibly all three!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wish List Wednesdays: Meadowlark Collection from Pottery Barn

Autumn décor is beginning to show up on home furnishings and accessories websites.  I found myself drawn to the Meadowlark Collection from Pottery Barn.  While I tend to think of meadowlarks as spring harbingers, their colors (and those of the other birds featured in the pattern) do work with the fall color palette.  I like the fact that items for various rooms in the house feature this design, so the pattern, which was inspired by an early 20th century botanical illustration, is repeated all though the home.

For the bedroom, the Meadowlark Print Organic Duvet Cover ($129-$159) and Sham ($39.50-$49.50) are available:

A Meadowlark Print Organic Shower Curtain ($69) can be purchased for the bathroom:

Finally, set a lovely autumnal table incorporating the Meadowlark Bird Platter ($69) and Meadowlark Bird Salad Plates (set of four for $49.50):

I can't wait for our uncomfortably hot and humid summer to end and my favorite season to begin, so that I can start decorating for fall!