Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year of the dragon ...

Welcome to 2012, the Year of the Dragon! In the Chinese culture, the dragon epitomises the yang (male/warm) energy and is seen as a symbol of power, superiority and rule.

The dragon is also viewed as a source of wisdom as well as a primal force of nature. So, its a great year to get in touch with our own inner dragon and pursue whatever quest we have set before us.

Tonight, New Year's Eve, we toast the days ahead with a little wine, dinner and movie at home ... a joyfully quiet night before the clock brings in 2012.

I wish each of you a happy and prosperous New Year!

Tangerine tango ...

Drum roll please ... The 2012 Pantone Color of the Year is ... Tangerine Tango! Yes, it's that time of the year when the good folks at Pantone announce the color of the year, and this year's winner is a vibrant choice.

Am I brave enough to add a bit of tangerine tango to my home decor? Maybe. I did go through a 'rust' stage at one point, so that's close, right? Just take a look at how easy it is to 'tango' in the rooms below.

Image via Acquired Objects.

Image via Decor Pad.

Sofas upholstered in tangerine make a bold statement in the rooms above. You can see how just a little of this color can create quite an impact. The orange accents below are equally dynamic design statements.

Images above via Ooh Food (left) and KitchAnn Design (right).


Images above via Ribbon Box Events (left) and Sally Jane Vintage (right).

Where this year's color is truly comfortable is in my wardrobe. Bring on the Tangerine Tango in purses. Images above via Fashionologie (left) and Be and D Bags (right).

Ooh la la! Tangerine coats and dresses are daring and glam. Love them! Images above via She Finds (left) and Michael Kors (right) on Gwyneth Paltrow.

But, my one very favorite tangerine find comes from a retailer that is also selling my ACEQUIA line of bath and body products. Kathleen Sommers boutique here in town sells fabulous, Texas-made bracelets made of exotic skins. This one (above) is a Stingray Cuff that I adore! It is also sold online at Serena & Lily.

Here's to a truly tasty year of tangerine!

Get nailed ...

Does everyone love nailhead trim or is it just me? I can't get enough of this little decorative detail.

Headboards like those above and below are perfect partners for nailhead trim. It's such a simple little design element, but it adds loads of personality and a classic accent. Images via We Heart It (above) and House Beautiful (below).

Nailheads can add a bold and energetic finish to hard lines, too. Are you seeing what I'm seeing below? It looks like high end cabinetry, but I think it could be duplicated with a simple IKEA type cabinet with a clever design executed in nailheads. Brilliant! 

Images via First Sense (above) and Houzz (close-up below).

I'm always amazed when designers and visionary homeowners take an element like nailhead trim and create something totally unique like the sitting area below. With the unusual angles present in this room, measuring and laying out the design on these walls had to be a challenge.

Image via Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle magazine.
Nailheads succeed splendidly in creating architectural interest to a plain, painted door below. And, just look how handsomely tailored the banquet is with the addition of the trim.

Images above via Martha Stewart (left) and Pinterest (right).

I know I've posted the photo above previously, but I swoon over every element here: from the marble top and dove gray coloring to the LED lighting and nailheads that edge this cabinetry. Delicious!

Image via The Little Book of Secrets.

And, how can I forget chairs! Chairs with nailhead trim are humble, charming and oh-so-beautiful in my eyes.

Progressive dinners ...

Progressive dinner parties have always appealed to me. Yet, I've never attended or hosted one. I love the idea of a party where each successive course is eaten at a different host's house, and the guests progress from house to house.

Image via She Knows.

The problem is that each of our friends live a significant distance from one another, and hopping in a car and driving to another destination for the next dinner course looses some of its appeal (not to mention that it puts a damper on drinking wine and spirits!).

Image via Suddenly Single Now.

We host soirees in the warmer months under our wisteria-covered pergola, but in the winter our outdoor entertaining choices are nil. So, it would be fun to be part of a communal event that lets each host serve one course in their home with minimal work, prep and cleanup. It's a party plan perfect for city dwellers who can walk or hop on a subway to the next abode.

Image via I'm a NOLA Girl.

It seems like these parties would work well in walkable neighborhoods like a downtown urban corridor or even a rural village, but our suburban setting presents greater challenges.

Image via Oh Happy Day.

Acquaintances in Paris host progressive dinners that transverse the City of Light via the Metro. With six to eight guests and three or four party venues, there is ample opportunity for starters, entree, dessert and drinks at a different host's home.

Jordan, a party planner from San Francisco who has moved to Paris, chronicled her progressive dinner party on her blog, Oh Happy Day. I secretly want to be on her invitation list next time we're in Paris. Until then, I'll just start planning for spring when we can take our parties outdoors.

Beau Monde Frittata

Image via Spice Islands.
I made my first Beau Monde Frittata on Christmas morning, and it was a huge hit with the holiday guests! I was thrilled this breakfast was so yummy and easy to make.

Although I served it hot out of the oven, the great news is that this frittata can be made ahead and refrigerated. Just bring it to room temperature before serving.


3 ounces pancetta, chopped
1/2 cup chopped, fresh asparagus 
1/2 cup sliced leeks or sweet onion 
1 cup sliced, fresh mushrooms 
1 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 eggs
3/4 cup Half-and-Half 
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp Beau Monde seasoning (I used Spice Islands brand)
1/4 tsp tsp red pepper, crushed
1/8 tsp ground pepper, preferably white
1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina chesse


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pancetta in an 8-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat unti crispy. Remove pancetta bits and reserve grease.

Add asparagus, leeks and mushrooms to skillet; sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove vegetables and set aside. Add olive oil and heat skillet over medium heat. Whisk eggs, Half-and-Half, cornstarch, Beau Monde and crushed red and white pepper in a bowl; stir in cheese. Pour into hot skillet; spread evenly and top with pancetta and vegetables. If desired, reserve a few vegetables to garnish the frittata.

Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook 10 minutes or until eggs are set about 1 inch from sides of the skillet. Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes. The top should be puffed and center set.

Loosen the sides of the frittata before slicing and plating. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings, and if you're counting carbohydrates in your diet, this frittata is only 5 grams of carbs per serving. Perfect for those New Year's diet resolutions.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas greetings ...

Happy holidays everyone!
Enjoy your time with family and friends,
and have a very joyous Christmas and Hanukkah season.

Alamodeus will be back next weekend with all new posts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gilt trip ...

I find vintage, golden gilt obsession-worthy, whether it's a finish on furniture or accessories. My greatest weakness is gilded mirrors, and the bigger the better. I have three gilt framed mirrors that I swoon over.

Apparently, I'm not the only one with a 'gilty' pleasure. Both of the modern rooms above play off the vintage gilt mirrors with contemporary accessories that share the Midas touch. I love the black drum shade (left) with its gold lining in an image from Belle Maison. But, I seriously lust for the gold trimmed chairs (right). Image via Curated By Color

Image via Acquired Objects.

It seems that just about every antique lover holds a special place in their heart for gilt frames. That golden hue is particularly beautiful when an aged, framed mirror is given new life as a bed headboard.

Image via unknown.

Image via Kris Helmick.

It's not just gilt mirrors that create a serene bedroom. Gilded wood bed frames inspire regal design schemes.

French-inspired boudoir image via La Maison Fou.

Isn't the Dallas, Texas bedroom (below) joyful with its ornately carved, gilt headboard paired with thoroughly modern side tables and ethnic coverlet? Its bohemian style just makes me want to smile.

Image via D Magazine.

What has most recently stirred my passion for gilding is a set of horn nesting bowls from Serena & Lily. The bowl trio is crafted of naturally shed Water Buffalo horn that has been sculpted by hand and rimmed with a lusterous gold finish.

Images above and below via Serena & Lily.

Oh, Santa ... you do read my blog, don't you?

Holiday Project: The decorated mantle ...

If decorating the fireplace mantle for Christmas is high on your holiday to-do list, you may find just the perfect inspiration in these photos.

Image via Southern Hospitality.

Fresh garlands are the stars of the traditional holiday mantles above. Images via Southern Accents. The pheasant feathers, pine cones and crimson berries are a nice touch, too.

Image via designer Betty Burgess.

The use of burlap (above) by Atlanta interior designer Betty Burgess gives this fireplace mantle its country cottage charm and a real homespun feel.

The addition of ornaments and string beads gives garland swags a bejeweled accent. Images above via Post and Beam Living (left) and Blog 2 Modern (right).

But, I'm loving the small, twin fir trees that create the stunning mantle decor below. 

Image via My Home Ideas.

Design checklist: silver loving cups on the fireplace mantles above and below, check; delicate white flowers in each, check; plenty of greenery and pine cones, too, check. Love it!

Image via Southern Accents.

I've been looking for my loving cups for days and finally found them in my studio. It's time to dust them off and give them duty in my holiday decor.

Sundried Tomato Polenta Bites ...

Appetizers are the heart of holiday entertaining. I love to take these starters to friends' parties or make them ahead to serve at my own soiree. What's important is that they have abundant flavor, plate beautifully and can conveniently be made ahead.

After discovering the Polenta Bites recipe from Recipe Girl (loosely adapted from Bon Appetit), these 'go to' appetizers are going to be my party staple this holiday season. They look gorgeous on a tray with festive red and green accents.

Image via Recipe Girl.


Yield: 24 to 30 appetizers, Prep Time: 40 minutes, Cook Time: 10 minutes


2 2/3 cups whole milk
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
1/3 cup olive oil (more or less), for frying

1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 ounces goat cheese, cut into small chunks
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained & cut into smaller pieces
chopped pistachio, optional
sea salt

Prepare polenta bites: Lightly oil 13x9-inch baking pan. Bring first 4 ingredients to simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat; simmer 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove herbs and garlic. Whisk in cornmeal in a slow steady stream; return to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until the polenta is very thick, whisking often, about 10 minutes.

Turn polenta out into prepared pan; spread to 1/2-inch thick layer- don't worry about making it perfect- just spread it out as even as you can. Let it cool completely. When the polenta is cool, use a 1 to a 1 1/2-inch round cutter to cut out 24 to 30 polenta rounds (as many as you can).

Prepare pesto: Place basil, pistachios and cheese in a mini processor Blend to create a coarse puree. Add olive oil and blend until pesto is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour about 1/3 cup olive oil into a large nonstick skillet to coat the bottom; heat over medium-high heat. Saute polenta rounds until they are lightly browned, about 1 minute on each side; transfer to paper towels to drain.

Assemble: Top each polenta round with a small amount of pesto, a chunk of goat cheese and sundried tomato. Add a few chopped pistachios too, if you'd like. Finish them with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Make-ahead tips:
  1. Prepare the polenta rounds as described in step 1 up to two days ahead; cover and chill.
  2. Prepare the pesto up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. For a quick & easy sub- use store bought pesto in place of the homemade.
  3. Fry the polenta rounds up to 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature, then re-warm in 375 degree oven for 5 minutes before adding toppings and serving.
  4. Serve this warmed, but they're still good when they come to room temperature too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Project: Christmas tablescapes

Viewing Christmas tablescapes really gets my creative juices flowing. I love to look at centerpieces and placesettings designed by decorators and bloggers who are filled with the holiday spirit.

Images above by Vignette Design.

San Francisco designer/stylist Scot Meacham Wood shares masterful holiday tabletops in his blog, Adventures of Tartan Scot. The great tablesetting above is by Tartan Scot holiday contest winner Vignette Design.

Image via Rafter Tales.

Red is always appropriate during the season. Image above shows how the show-stopping color is used beautifully at the table.

We could take our centerpiece decor cue from the photos below. Handsome branches from outdoors have been brought inside and secured in a pot. Glimmering ornaments, icicles and beaded strands have been added to create a dramatic tabletop. Gorgeous!

Image above via Pottery Barn.

Image via Decor Pad.

I love the use of tall, glass vases for all sorts of decorating schemes. Below, some vases are filled with sparkling pine cones, while others play host to coordinating candles. Here, too, branches are the focus of the holiday table.

Image via Pottery Barn.

Glass vases also show off seasonal berries and fruit, ornaments and sparkling gems to complement any tablesetting.

Image via She Knows.

Don't you want to be seated at the table below for an intimate dinner party? I do. It  is so welcoming with the candle glow and casual table decor of holly berries and leaves.

Image via HGTV.

Gathered in a cottage for Christmas seems such a perfect setting for a family dinner. Could it possibly be more cheerful than this?

Image via Country Sampler.

I had fun making my easy centerpiece last year with left over baubles and beads. Now, it's time to put the finishing touches on this year's decor.

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