Wednesday, May 31, 2017
I am obsessed with lavender. I absolutely love the fragrance, and always try to find lavender-scented soaps and lotions to use at home. The first day of our trip to New Mexico was spent at Los Poblanos Inn, which is a working lavender farm as well as an inn. They make a variety of lavender products, and stock their rooms with several of their bath products for guests to try. Naturally, I was thrilled! I used all five of the options provided, and love them all. The farm has a gift shop, and products are available online, so I will be ordering many of their products soon, including the lotion, shampoo, conditioner (each $12 for 8 ounces), and liquid hand soap ($18 for 8 ounces). We brought a couple of their bar soaps home with us (piñon and lavender honey, $12 each)), and although I have not yet had a chance to use them, I am sure I will adore them as well. If you too love lavender, I suggest trying their Lavender Traveler Gift Set:
For just $20, you can try four of their lavender bath products and choose which ones you like the most, although I can almost guarantee that you will want them all!
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Last week's art-inspired 4x4 wardrobe for warmer weather has a very distinctive color palette, but luckily accessories to suit this collection were not hard to find! The red and aquamarine/
turquoise blue accessories really make a statement, but the white and grey/silver options allow for a calmer color scheme when needed. I also think that everything in this wardrobe would be great for any summer travel you might have in mind.
Let's start with the shoes. I am someone who does not believe in high heels. I have one pair of low-heeled black shoes that are suitable for dressy occasions - they are decades old but fit so well and are used so seldom that they have lasted forever. The style is classic and simple, so I doubt that they will ever be inappropriate, thank goodness! Anyway, the shoes I chose for this wardrobe are all relatively flat but attractive, and hopefully extremely comfortable:
|Clockwise from top left: Clarks Gracelin Gemma Slip-On Shoes in Red Leather; Olukai Pehuea Slip-On Shoes in Vivid Blue/VividBlue; Vans Slip-On Shoes in True White; Cole Haan Women's Pinch Leather Weekender Loafers in Grey.|
The handbags I chose all coordinate nicely with the corresponding shoes of the same color:
|Clockwise from top left: ILI New York Leather Wristlet in Red; Magid Long Crochet Crossbody Bag in Turquoise; Giani Bernini Nappa Leather Hobo Bag in White; Botkier Soho Heavy Grain Pebbled Tote in Smoke/Gunmetal.|
And now on to the jewelry! I selected a lot of silver pieces because most of the tops are pretty colorful, but I had to throw in some turquoise and red options as well, just because I love those colors:
Finally a few miscellaneous accessories - sunglasses because they are a must in the summer, a beautiful scarf in coordinating colors, a water-resistant jacket because rain does happen even in the summer, and then a protective sun hat in three different colors, just because it was available in the appropriate hues:
|Left top to bottom: REI SunCloud Patrol Polarized Women's Sunglasses in Silver Gray; Vintagedame Vintage Silk Scarf in Aqua, Blue,and Red; Free Country Women's Meadow Packable Windbreaker in Shell Grey; Right top to bottom: Sunday Afternoons Beach Hat in Turquoise, White, and Red.|
Grey is not normally I color I choose, but I love this wardrobe so much I might be willing to reconsider! Next week we will be out of town, so there will be no post over the Memorial Day weekend, but posting will resume the following week. See you when I get back!
Friday, May 19, 2017
I was in the mood for fish tacos this week, and wanted to make a side dish to serve along with them. I considered making Calabacitas, a southwestern zucchini and corn dish that I have made in the past, but I also found a recipe in my file box for a corn dish called Quick Corn Mazatlan, which has no zucchini but is made with an easy cream cheese sauce. Since I had some cream cheese left over from another dish, I decided to combine the two recipes, and ended up with the perfect vegetable side dish for my fish tacos.
This can be customized however you like. Add hotter peppers if you prefer things spicy, use yellow squash instead of (or in addition to) zucchini, or a regular onion instead of scallions, add different herbs or cheeses, or even add meat if you want to turn this dish into a full meal. I added frozen corn because I had half a bag in the freezer to use up and I decided that it would add more crunch than the canned variety, but you could substitute fresh corn or a different frozen vegetable (edamame would be nice) or just leave it out. I am sure the next time I make this recipe a few ingredients will change just based on what I happen to have in the house!
6-8 oz. cream cheese
1 can (15 oz.) corn (I used unsalted)
1 C. frozen corn, thawed (optional)
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
2 T. butter
1 red bell pepper, diced
3-4 slender zucchini, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 C. shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
4-6 scallions, sliced
1 T. minced cilantro (optional)*
Combine the cream cheese with 1/4 C. liquid drained from the canned corn in a small saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the cream cheese is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside. Combine the canned and frozen corn with the canned chiles in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook 5 minutes longer. Add the garlic and salt and cook one more minute. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the corn mixture and stir to combine. Mix in the shredded cheese. Pour in the cream cheese sauce and stir until well combined, then add the green onions and cilantro. Serve warm. Serves 6.
*I love cilantro, but if you are not a fan feel free to omit it from the recipe.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
|From Astronomy Picture of the Day|
This past weekend I got a phone call from one of my brothers asking if he could come stay with us in August when he heads in our direction to view the total solar eclipse. Naturally my response was "What solar eclipse?" (because I am always so well informed - not!). After he updated me on this momentous event I told him he was welcome to come as long as I was included in the expedition. Apparently optimal viewing is less than two hours from where my husband and I live (unfortunately, my husband will be out of the country that day, so he will miss out). My brother and I searched for a few prime viewing locations that will hopefully not be too crowded, and he is in charge of acquiring the protective glasses (recommended for anyone intending to stare at the eclipsing sun for an extended time without damaging their vision).
The path of the solar eclipse will take it pretty much straight across the continental United States, something which hasn't been seen since 1918! And here it is happening only a few months hence practically in my backyard! While I don't consider myself much of an astronomer, even I can get excited about an event like this one. If you too happen to live in the path of the eclipse, you may want to plan a viewing yourself. Should you need more information about where and when the eclipse will pass through your vicinity check out this map on the Eclipse 2017 website.
I am really looking forward to seeing this phenomenon, and just hope that the weather will be clear so that we experience the maximum effect (supposedly the skies will darken considerably when the sun is fully concealed by the moon). The last time I remember hearing about an eclipse in my vicinity I was a small child, and we were told not to look at the sun, so I did not (I can't remember if the day darkened much, as I am not sure if this was a total or partial eclipse). The next total solar eclipse across the United States will not happen until 2023, and I am getting on in years, so this year is probably my best opportunity to see one and I am not going to miss it!
|Phases of a total solar eclipse (from MrEclipse).|
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
I was really smitten when I saw this Rightside Design Baby Crabs & Beach Waves Table Runner ($41.06) on Amazon. Even though the above image is ridiculously long, I had to show the entire length to get the full effect of the design, which evokes the feeling of a walk along the beach - perfect for a summer table setting! This 100% cotton, embroidered table linen is also available as a place mat ($43.54 each, although I'm not sure why the place mat costs more than the runner!):
These lovely linens almost make even a non-beach lover like me want to visit the coast!
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Weekend Wardrobe: Transition to Summer 4x4 Wardrobe Inspired by Artist Anuk Beluga's Portrait of Barbare Jorjadze
Before I even saw the striking mural shown above, I was already planning a 4x4 wardrobe based on a similar color scheme derived from a striped t-shirt I saw on the Duluth Trading Company website:
It was quite a coincidence that the same colors can be found in this painting! Incidentally, the woman portrayed is Barbare Jorjadze, a 19th-century Georgian princess known as both a cookbook author and early feminist, and I encourage you to read her fascinating story here.
The colors I chose from the shirt are fairly obvious, and all occur in the portrait as well:
So let's get started with the first set of four in this wardrobe:
|Clockwise from top left: Duluth Trading Company Wom|
en's Short Sleeve Longtail T-Shirt in Aquamarine Stripe; Grattan Longline Cardigan in Grey Marl; Duluth Trading Company Women's Short Sleeve Longtail V-Neck T-Shirt in White; L.L. Bean Women's Slim Perfect Fit Pants in Dark Gray Heather.
The second set of four brings in some of the red as well as more grey:
|Clockwise from top left: L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton Elbow-Sleeve Scoopneck Tee in Fiery Red; L.L. Bean Women's Signature Linen Cardigan in Orange Red; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail Short Sleeve T-Shirt in Gray Heather; L.L. Bean Women's Classic Fit Straight-Leg 1912 Jeans in Washed Gray.|
White and an aquamarine/turquoise blue are featured in the third set of four:
|Clockwise from top left: L.L. Bean Women's Pima Cotton Three-Quarter-Sleeve Splitneck Tunic in Dark Turquoise; J. Crew Cotton Jackie Cardigan in White; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail Short Sleeve V-Neck T-Shirt in Aquamarine; L.L. Bean Women's Side Zip Ankle Pants in White.|
The last set of four really bumps up the red, and adds a bit more of the blue:
|Clockwise from top left: PapayaSun Women's Sleeveless Hawaiian Shirt in Chili Red; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail Tank Top in Aquamarine; Coldwater Creek French Terry Capri Dress in Fresh Red; Coldwater Creek Relaxed Linen Pants in Fresh Red.|
Here is the 4x4 wardrobe when all four sets are combined:
I think the color scheme for this wardrobe works well for transitioning into summer, and the mix of tops will cover any temperature swings along the way. Here in Georgia we have had highs ranging from the upper 50s to almost 90 in the past week, and lows from the low 40s to the mid-60s. I have definitely worn everything from warm jackets to sleeveless tops recently! Next week I will add accessories to this 4x4 wardrobe (I'm thinking red shoes plus silver and turquoise jewelry could be in the mix!).
Friday, May 12, 2017
I recently found a recipe called Mr. Right's Baked Pesto Chicken on the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen website and thought it sounded delicious, so I had to give it a try. This quick and simple dish is based upon the flavors of a Caprese salad, and how can you go wrong with a combination of basil, tomatoes, and cheese? I especially loved the way the tomato slice on top roasts and gets a crispy cheese crust. Next time I will layer more than one tomato slice on top!
Be careful not to overbake the chicken or it will dry out. When I make this again I may put an additional layer of pesto on the top before adding the tomato and Parmesan cheese to keep the top layer moist and to add even more pesto flavor. Perhaps I will even marinate the chicken in the pesto for about 30 minutes before baking. I just love finding new ways to cook chicken!
Baked Pesto Chicken
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 T. pesto
2 fresh mozzarella slices
1-2 T. olive oil
1 large tomato, sliced
2 T. grated Parmesan
Pound the chicken breast halves into 1/2-inch thick cutlets, or cut them in half lengthwise to form a pocket. Spread 1 T. pesto onto one side of the cutlet and top with a mozzarella slice. Fold the other half of the cutlet over the top.
Lightly oil the bottom of a glass baking dish with the olive oil. Place the chicken in the baking dish and top each with a tomato slice. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each one. Bake at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving, topped with the pan juices. Serves 2.
Note: Our local Publix sells chicken cutlets made by slicing chicken breast halves in half again lengthwise, so I used those and just stacked the two pieces. Also, the amounts of pesto, cheeses, and tomato slices are only guidelines, so be as generous with any of them as you like (although too much mozzarella may end up in the bottom of your baking dish instead of staying inside the chicken!).
Thursday, May 11, 2017
|"My Front Yard" (summer 1941) by Georgia O'Keeffe|
We are traveling to New Mexico in less than two weeks, and I am so looking forward to visiting our favorite state! It may still be a bit early for peak garden viewing, but if we are lucky we will see some signs of spring blooming in the desert. When my husband eventually retires (and he really is finally serious about retiring in the near future!), we hope to move to New Mexico, so we will be looking at properties on the market while we are there. I like to garden, and I have been thinking about the challenges of gardening in a dry climate, but we lived in Colorado before we moved to Georgia so I already have some experience with limited water gardening. I have been searching the internet for photos of southwestern gardens for inspiration, and I've put together a post for today which features some of these images. Take a look, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
|From The Garden Glove|
|From Landscaping Network|
|From Letz Design Landscape|
|From Home Garden Design Plans|
It won't be long before we are enjoying the low humidity and sunny skies of New Mexico, and hopefully we will get to see some flowering southwestern gardens as well!
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Talbots seems to have a bit of a bird theme going on for summer this year. The cute Parrot Woven Straw Wristlet ($59.50) shown above is just one example. And speaking of parrots, check out the Parrot Printed Scallop Hem Canvas Skirt ($69.50) - I love that hem:
|(for more parrot-themed items click here)|
If you prefer flamingos, you might like the 10 1/2" Embroidered Flamingo Twill Shorts ($59.50):
|(for more flamingo-themed items click here)|
There are even a few toucans included in this flock of avian-inspired apparel. I especially like the Embroidered Toucan Tile Charming Cardigan (on sale for $62.65):
|(for more toucan-themed items click here)|
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Last week I put together a warm weather 4x4 wardrobe with a giraffe theme, and this week I am adding accessories to that wardrobe. Of course the giraffe theme continues! I was surprised at how many scarves are out there that feature giraffes, and in a rainbow of color options. So let's start with the scarves I found that complemented the color scheme of the apparel I chose last week (the scarf at the top right is the reason I included the orange t-shirt in the 4x4 wardrobe last week). I doubt that anyone would need to own all seven scarves, but maybe three or four favorites could be selected. I also included a giraffe headband in this set, because it seems to fit here:
|Clockwise from top left: Nation Ltd. Women's Giraffe Pattern Scarf in Black; Fossil 'Cindy' Giraffe Silk Scarf; Yochoice Giraffe Print Scarf; World of Shawls Giraffe Print Scarf in White with Black; Romance Tales Giraffe Print Scarf in Beige; Anthropologie Giraffe Headband in Neutral Motif; World of Shawls Giraffe Print Scarf in Cream with Brown; Purple Possum Giraffe Scarf in Beige and Orange.|
Just in case you think I've forgotten about top layers, I've included them as accessories because in warmer weather they are optional:
|Clockwise from top left: National Geographic Women's Cotton Safari Jacket; H&M Fine-Knit Cotton Cardigan in Black; Land's End Women's Supima Cotton Cardigan in Blush Sand Heather; Wish Women's Giraffe Printed Kimono.|
Let's take a look at some shoes now. Who knew there were so many giraffe-themed shoes available? And aren't those giraffe slip-ons adorable? I did add one pair of sensible black shoes to tone down the wild patterns of the others a bit:
|Clockwise from top left: Soludos Giraffe Espadrille Flats in Natural; A2 by Aerosoles Women's Taillight Giraffe Wedge Sandals; Naturalizer Veronica Loafers in Black Leather; Cole Haan Jennica Lace Sneakers II in Shimmer Giraffe Print.|
Next up is an array of fun giraffe bags, plus a sensible black one to once again slightly tone things down:
|Clockwise from top left: Signals Giraffe's Neck Handle Tote Shoulder Bag; Duluth Trading Co. Women's Lifetime Leather Medium Sling Bag in Black; Brixton Baker Coach Park Giraffe Print Canvas and Leather Hobo Bag; Chico's Beaded Giraffe Clutch (no longer available).|
The fifth set contains a variety of giraffe-themed jewelry that I discovered, and I included a watch as well:
And finally, I put together one last set of miscellaneous accessories featuring giraffes, just because there are so many available (isn't that shower cap a treat?):
So there you have it - a vast array of giraffe-inspired accessories for a giraffe lover's wardrobe! Before I bring my "Save the Giraffes" week to a close with this post, I thought I would leave you with a BBC video from YouTube documenting efforts by Dr. Julian Fennessy and his wife Stephanie of the Giraffe Conservation Society to save giraffes in Africa (the documentary is almost an hour long, so make sure you have some time to view it):
Enjoy the video, help in any way you can to save the giraffes, and have a great weekend!
Friday, May 5, 2017
Believe it or not, I actually found a giraffe recipe that does not involve eating a giraffe! Almost as important for me is the fact that this Gluten-Free Banana Giraffe Bread contains no wheat flour or added sugar (except for the sugar in the chocolate chips). The bread gets its name from the alternating dark and light pattern of the bread when sliced, which resembles the coat pattern of the giraffe (although mine ended up looking more striped than reticulated, I have to say!). The small amount of flour used is coconut flour, and the sweetness of the bread comes mainly from the bananas.
This bread tastes just like regular banana bread, and I could not even tell that there was almost no flour or sugar! It does take a bit of time to put together, but no more so than making a marbled loaf bread of any kind, and the end result is so moist and delicious it is worth the little bit of extra effort. And it is just so darned pretty, plus the name is so much fun!
5-6 (about 20 oz.) ripe bananas*
1/2 C. almond butter
4 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. coconut flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 C. dark chocolate chips
Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a hand mixer until almost smooth (there will be tiny lumps from the bananas). You can use a blender instead for this step if you prefer, and then pour the liquid mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients except for the chocolate chips until well moistened.
Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and heat in the microwave on HIGH for one minute. Stir and microwave for 15 seconds at a time until completely melted. Add two cups of the batter to the melted chocolate and stir well to combine.
In a parchment-lined loaf pan, add a few blobs of the chocolate mixture, spaced well apart. Cover with some of the banana batter. Repeat, varying the areas where the chocolate batter is spooned. I had some leftover chocolate chips, so I sprinkled those on top of the batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick or wooden skewer. When the toothpick or skewer comes out clean, remove the bread from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely on a wire rack. Cool at least 2 hours before slicing. Makes 1 large loaf.
*The weight is more important than the number of bananas.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
|Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya|
(image from M2).
My "save the giraffes" campaign continues, this time with a giraffe-inspired living room style board. Apparently I am not the first person to be inspired by giraffe home décor - check out a few more interiors with a giraffe theme by clicking here. Of course, for the ultimate giraffe design, you can't beat the addition of the real thing, as shown in the Giraffe Manor photo above!
And here is my living room style board based upon this African artiodactyl ruminant:
|Clockwise from top left: Sunland Home Decor Kenyan Banana Batik Wall Art Giraffes No. 113; RoomCraft Giraffe Print Throw Pillows in Natural Tan; Sunland Home Decor Kenyan Banana Batik Wall Art Giraffes No. 112; Crate and Barrel Trevor Leather 4-Seat 106" Grande Sofa in Tampa Fawn; 1st Dibs Bronze Giraffe Table Lamps; Crate and Barrel Patina Bronze Drum Table; Avana Africa Standing Tall and in Love Floor Lamp; Crate and Barrel Trevor Leather Chair in Sicily Camel; Crate and Barrel Patina Bronze Cube Table; Center top: Giraffe Things Kenyan Zebra and Giraffe Print Oval Wood Bowl; Center bottom: Coleman Furniture Delano Antiqued Brass Drum Coffee Table; Center background: Rugs A Bound Giraffe Print Rug.|
Not only are giraffes impressive and beautiful animals, they are an excellent inspiration for design!
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
After my most recent weekend post, I decided that this week had to be dedicated to giraffes! The lovely Giraffe Nature Table Dessert Plate ($18) from Anthropologie would be a great start to any giraffe collection for the home. The 9-inch stoneware plate is designed by artist Lou Rota, who specializes in ceramics with nature designs. The plate is available in five other animal-based patterns as well (the one you can't see below has hummingbirds), but the giraffe is my favorite!