Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seasonal Style: Summer Burgundy and White Stripes

From Vogue

My life is totally crazy right now, but fortunately my sister is slowly improving, so I thought I would pop in on my blog for a quick Seasonal Style post.  Summer is officially here, and I found myself drawn to the flowing burgundy and white striped dress shown above.  This dress looks cool and comfortable, but provides plenty of coverage which makes it suitable for almost any summer situation.

From Interior Charm

What I like about the room shown above is that it takes the burgundy and white stripes and raises them to a whole new level with the addition of pale grey and a light citrusy green.  Imagine the model shown above wearing accessories in either of those accent colors (or even both!).  The versatility of her outfit increases greatly, and it would still be perfect for summer.  I may just have to explore a wardrobe color palette in burgundy, white, light grey, and citrus green some time in the near future (but not until I get back home).  Happy summer, everyone!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On the Homefront: On Hiatus

From De Minimis

A sudden family medical emergency will have me leaving town in a couple of days, and I will be gone for an indefinite period of time.  My blog will be on hiatus at least until I get to my destination and have time to settle in and figure out what I will be doing.  I could be gone for weeks, but if all goes well I may be able to check in periodically.  Otherwise, it might be a couple of months before I get back here.  If I don't return for a while, have a good summer, and I will resume posting on my blog eventually.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Foodie Fridays: Fresh Strawberry Pie with Almond Crust

We got back from New Mexico just before the start of the Memorial Day weekend, so our holiday celebration consisted of some crab cakes I had in the freezer plus a big pan of roasted mixed vegetables.  I did, however, want to make a special dessert using the beautiful fresh strawberries available in abundance in stores right now.  I had made an almond crust recipe before for a cooked mixed berry pie, so I decided to use this same crust for a fresh strawberry pie (I used the recipe here for the filling).

I love the almond crust recipe because it is low-carb, so easy to make, and just really tasty (I am never making wheat flour crusts again!).  The flavor of fresh strawberries shines through in this dessert.  You can vary the amount of sugar used in the glaze to suit your own tastes, but I found the berries to be more than sweet enough for me and just needed the glaze to bind the berries together to make the pie sliceable.  I have already made this pie a second time and will probably make it again while those delicious strawberries are still in season!

Fresh Strawberry Pie with Almond Crust

2 C. blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. coconut oil or melted butter
1 egg
3 C. fresh strawberries, washed and halved
2/3 C. water
2 T. sugar
3-4 tsp. cornstarch

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt.  Add the oil or butter and the egg and mix until well combined.  Use your hands to knead the dough lightly until it holds together and forms a ball.  Flatten the ball into a disk and press into a 9-inch pie plate to cover the bottom and sides completely.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a blender, combine 1/2 C. halved strawberries, water, and sugar.  Blend until smooth.  Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and whisk in the cornstarch over medium heat.  Stir frequently and cook until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Pour the lukewarm glaze over the remaining strawberries in a large bowl and toss to coat.  Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie crust.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until the glaze has thickened.  Serves 6-8.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

This 'n That Thursdays: Beautiful Outdoor Seating Areas

From Lushome

The official start of summer is only two weeks away, and in our neck of the woods summer temperatures have already arrived.  The weather lately has been alternating between warm sunny days and mild rainy ones, so lawns and gardens are lush with greenery and colorful flowers right now.  All of this natural loveliness has had me thinking about comfortable outdoor seating areas suitable for surveying the scenery.  Of course here in Georgia one immediately thinks of the classic wooden rocking chairs lined up on the verandah, as seen in the image at the top of the page, but I was curious about options beyond the porch.  Here are some images I found of more outdoor seating ideas for garden viewing:

From beBee

From DIYSite.Tips

From Ultimate Christophe Home Inspiration

From Casa & Diseño

From Garden Decors

From Shelterness

From Home Designing

From Houzz

I think this idea is my favorite:

From DIY Garden

It's time for me to get outside and enjoy my own garden for a little while right now!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wish List Wednesdays: Tea.O.Graphy Georgia Peach Tea

Would you believe I found that the best-tasting Georgia peach tea is made in Taos, New Mexico?  The Farm Shop at the Los Poblanos Inn sold several teas made by Tea.O.Graphy, with small samples open so that everyone could enjoy the aroma of each.  The one that appealed to me the most was the Georgia Peach Tea, which is simply made with my favorite Ceylon black tea plus natural peach flavor and dried Egyptian marigold petals.  I bought one bag, and as soon as I got home I made myself a cup.  The flavor is just delicious, with the delightful peach flavor adding just a touch of sweetness.  I pour in a little light cream and it is a perfect morning cup of tea.  The Georgia Peach Tea is available on the Tea.O.Graphy website ($13.75 for a 2-ounce bag).  I know I will be needing more soon, and I will be trying some of their other varieties as well!

I wish that you could inhale the aroma of this tea, redolent with the
lush fragrance of sun-ripened summer peaches!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Weekend Wardrobe: My New Mexico Vacation Travel Wardrobe

My husband and I are standing outside of La Choza Restaurant in Santa Fe
on a gorgeously mild and sunny day (his second cousin, whom he had never
met before, had lunch with us and took our picture).

My trip to New Mexico last week was a fairly casual vacation, so I decided to pack mostly denim jeans and navy knit pants, plus my new pair of blush pink twill jeans for two occasions when I felt the need for a slightly dressier look (my idea of less casual is jeans that are not denim blue!).  I chose a mix of print and solid tops that included either fuchsia pink or bright aquamarine/turquoise.  Since the weather was really variable (temperatures ranged from the low 40s to the mid-80s), I had to pack a range of options, from a tank top to one with three-quarter sleeves, and I did end up wearing them all.  I also packed a sweater and a three-season jacket and needed them as well.

My navy knit pants are Not-Quite-Tights bought years ago from the TravelSmith catalog, and they are the best pants for long plane rides.  They are no longer available, which is a shame, but L.L. Bean has similar comfortable knit pants.  The tops I packed were all tee shirts, mostly inexpensive cotton ones from Walmart.  I find them to be comfortable, easy to pack, and most suitable for casual trips.  All are no longer available, so I included images of shirts that are similar.  I only needed one pair of sturdy walking shoes, although I did pack some lightweight canvas slip-ons that could double as slippers.

Here is the outfit similar to the one I wore on the plane:

Clockwise from top left: Dorothy Perkins Voulez Vous Blue Floral Zip-Back T-Shirt; Sears Tri-Mountain Women's Mesh Lining Zip-Off Hood Shell Jacket in Putty/Dark Gray; Silver Buffalo Handmade Cuff Native American Bracelet; Dark Tan Crossbody Bag (no longer available); Sperry Top-Sider Leeward Women's Boat Shoes in Dark Tan; L.L. Bean Women's Slim Perfect Fit Pants in Classic Navy (I brought two and packed one).

My tan jacket is an old L.L. Bean Warm-Up Jacket that I wish was still available.  Like my TravelSmith pants, it is an excellent choice for travel because it is lightweight but warm enough for all but the coldest weather, sturdy, and water-repellent (you can see this same item for sale used here).  I always choose one piece of favorite jewelry to wear whenever I travel, and this time I chose a silver cuff bracelet purchased on a previous trip to New Mexico.  My bracelet has a design of several different stylized southwestern animals, but I really like the buffalo cuff bracelet shown above!

These are the items similar to the ones that I packed in my carry-on bag:

Clockwise from top left: Land's End Women's Relaxed Supima Crewneck T-Shirt in Brilliant Fuchsia; Land's End Women's Cotton Tank Top in Brilliant Fuchsia; She Chic Ruffles Sleeve Flowers Printed Slim T-Shirt; House of Fraser Lee Scarlett Skinny Jeans in Pale Pink; Dorothy Perkins Ivory Rose Print Lace T-Shirt; SCOTTeVEST Madeline Cardigan in Burgundy; Duluth Trading Company Women's Longtail T Elbow Sleeve Scoop Neck Shirt in Aquamarine; L.L. Bean Women's Slim-Leg True Shape Jeans in Stonewashed Denim (I packed two).

The burgundy cardigan may seem like an odd choice, but I wanted to pack only items that I already owned, and this sweater was lightweight, long enough to cover an untucked shirt, and my version even has a hood if I want to protect my ears.  It may not look like it here, but the cardigan and the fuchsia shirts work fine together, at least for the ones that I own.  I also happen to be very open to unexpected color combinations.  I added it to the outfit I am wearing in the photo at the top of the page for the cooler morning hours because that particular tee shirt has splashes of burgundy color in the print, and I was happy with all of the colors together.

I actually had a few more items than this in my bag, as alternatives depending upon the weather, but I was still only slightly overpacked.  I threw in one more sweater at the last minute, the pretty Embroidered Toucan Tile Charming Cardigan from Talbot's, because it took up so little room.  I did end up wearing it, and got many compliments on it, but I could just as easily have worn the burgundy sweater instead.  However, everything fit into my carry-on luggage and I could lift my bag into the overhead compartment without help (my mantra is "If I can't lift it over my head by myself I can't bring it"), so overall I was pretty pleased with my packing.  Of course, I have been doing wall pushups religiously for months to improve my lifting capabilities and I am happy to say that they worked!  Now I just have to refine my packing skills for my upcoming 10-day trip to Germany in August - I wonder if I can fit my entire wardrobe for that adventure into one carry-on bag?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Foodie Fridays: Zucchini Corn Quesadillas

Lately I have been really craving vegetables, especially zucchini, bell peppers, and corn!  Last week I posted a side dish recipe using these three veggies, and this week I made a main dish with the same theme.  The recipe for Zucchini Corn Quesadillas came from the Damn Delicious website with very few changes, except that I stirred the pesto into the vegetable mixture instead of spreading it on the tortillas, and I also reduced the amount of cheese by half.  I have been known to add some cooked shredded chicken to the quesadillas when the mood strikes, but any such additions are entirely optional.  This recipe is quick, easy, and satisfying, especially if you are craving the same vegetable trio I am!

Zucchini Corn Quesadillas

1 T. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C. frozen corn, thawed
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C. pesto
8 6-inch tortillas (I used a corn/wheat blend)
1 C. shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the bell pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook one minute longer.  Season with salt and pepper, stir in the corn, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the bell pepper and zucchini are softened and the corn is heated through.  Stir in the pesto and heat through.  Set aside.

Place four of the tortillas on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil or parchment paper.  Top each tortilla with about 2 T. cheese.  Spread the vegetable mixture evenly over the cheese.  Top each with another 2 T. cheese and then a tortilla to make four quesadillas.

Bake the quesadillas at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.  Cut in half and serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

This 'n That Thursdays: Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm near Albuquerque, New Mexico

Los Poblanos dairy barn (from Facebook).

Our trip to New Mexico last week was a much anticipated vacation, but also a chance to get serious about looking at properties for sale as we decide when and where to retire.  Most of the trip ended up being very busy (we checked out a dozen listed homes in many different locations), but the first day my husband treated me to a stay at the 25-acre Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm near Albuquerque.  If you love lavender, then you will be as captivated as I was by the lavender fields which surround the guest accommodations!  We were about a month too early for blooming season, but the plants were covered with buds and I am sure when they open the scent of lavender will be everywhere.

Lavender in bloom at Los Poblanos (from Yelp).

The inn has expanded its guest quarters and we got to stay in one of the newer rooms, which was decorated in the popular modern farmhouse style.  All of the rooms face a courtyard with a water feature.  Our courtyard was similar to the one below:

The Field Deluxe room we stayed in was spacious and comfortable, with a wet bar and fireplace, and there was even a small patio in back with views of the lavender fields behind us.  I should have taken photos, but I never did think to do so on this trip.  You can see some images and read more about another guest's experiences at the inn here.  Our room was similar to the one shown below, except the beds were moved farther into the room to make space for a desk in front of the window.

Los Poblanos guest room (from TripAdvisor).

The entry door is to the right of the window, and the closet/wet bar (which share a pair of sliding barn doors), fireplace, and bathroom entrance are on the wall facing the beds.

Bathroom entrance is out of view to the right (from Yelp).

We had dinner and breakfast at the "field-to-fork" Los Poblanos restaurant, and both meals were excellent.  Before dinner, my husband decided to try the Lavender Margarita.

Lavender Margarita (from Facebook).

Then we both had the Lemon and Herb Chicken entrée (which is seasoned with lavender!).  We shared the Field Plate appetizer and the Lavender Peach Gelato for dessert.

Lemon and Herb Chicken (from Facebook).

The next morning both of us ordered the Eggs Benedict plus freshly-squeezed orange juice (my poor husband was fighting a cold during the entire trip, and he really appreciated the latter).

Eggs Benedict at the Los Poblanos restaurant (from Yelp).

Since we did not stay long at the inn, we had little time to explore.  The Los Poblanos farm has a variety of animals, including peacocks, which we did not see but sure could hear (we did see some Canada geese in the morning, but I am not certain if they are permanent residents)!

A Los Poblanos peacock (from Los Poblanos).

We did stop at the Farm Shop to pick up a few items, including the bar soap I mentioned in yesterday's post, as well as their Herbed Pecans.  My husband had actually ordered some of these pecans earlier in the year as a birthday/Valentine's Day gift to me, and they are so good as to be addictive!

I wish that we had had time to take advantage of some of the inn's other amenities, including a fitness center, salt water pool, and bocce ball court.  There are also a few day trip options available to inn guests, including a hot air balloon ride or a trip to the nearby Acoma Pueblo!

Bocce ball court in front of the Los Poblanos restaurant (from Yelp).

Maybe the next time we are in New Mexico we can stay at the Los Poblanos Inn again, hopefully during the height of lavender season, and spend a little more time getting to know more about this special place.