Saturday, December 29, 2012

Party of two ...

I'm reserving a table for two for New Year's Eve. This year, we're planning a quiet dinner at home with a romantic table set for my husband and I to enjoy with candlelight, our favorite jazz and a good bottle of bubbly.

Image via the archives of Conde Nast.

Nothing too elaborate, mind you. But, I have found some online inspiration to help me plan our little celebration.

Images above via This is Glamorous (left) and Rattlebridge Farm (right).

I want to skip the dining room table (too big), ignore the breakfast room (too mundane), forego dining on the patio or pergola (too chilly in winter) and come up with a plan to dine somewhere out of the ordinary.

Image via Desde My Ventana.

I have several 'two-tops' from which to choose. Now, it's all about location, location, location. I'm actually thinking of our entry, a cozy little spot with lovely Saltillo tiles like those above.  I'll share photos next week.

Snow white ...

Cheers to white, the color of falling snow and winter drifts. Sad to say we rarely see snow here (1985 being the last true snowfall), but that doesn't temper my love for all things winter white.

Image via Paris Rain.

A warm throw, a gilded French chair, pearled sconces ... the list of tantalizing whites goes on and on in the photo above. I just wish that vignette was in my house!

Image via The Decorista.

Ahh, a blissful bedroom with white faux fur that is decidedly snuggle-worthy! This room is like a blanket of freshly fallen snow. Beautiful.

Really, can there ever be too much faux fur in winter? Modern cushions and glam ottoman attest to the posh personality of sublime winter white. Images via Homestilo (left) and French Madame (right).
Image of Samantha Sano design via Rue Magazine.

For you beach bodies, a wintry design mix may leave you cold. But, landlubbers like me appreciate the call to hibernation in snow white surroundings.

Image via Architectural Digest.

When interiors call for chic finishes. look for a predominance of white.

Elegance defined. Tufted divine. Beauties above via Honey of A Thousand Flowers (left) and Found Design Studio (right).

Image via Timeless Living.

Simple, creamy and dreamy winter white. Yes, please! 

Tending bar ...

Parties large and small generally begin at the cocktail bar. Every New Year's celebration I can think of has been christened with hosts and hostesses crafting and serving festive drinks for party guests.

Image of Suzanne Kasler home via Trouvais.

I'm not complaining that our home has a built-in bar, as do many houses these days. But, somehow those little bar carts of yesteryear and clever re-purposing of vintage furnishings seem far more seductive.

Image via Sweet Designs.

Tables called in to do double duty work well. Throw a table shirt over a round library table or an entry sideboard, and viola, a drink bar is born.

Image via Bryn Alexandra Interiors.

Image via Le Petit Chou Chou.

While we are skipping the entertaining this year, I find oodles of inspiration for our next soiree from party hosts with an eye for hospitality design.

Image via Cote de Texas.

Even with minimal space an experienced host will call an occasional table into service as a champagne station, serving flutes on heirloom silver trays.

Image via Indulge Decor.

A easy 'come-as-you-are' party keeps it casual with drink service on a trunk or vintage chest.

Images above via Pinterest (left) and Pretty Stuff (right).

If weather isn't a factor, fill a wire basket with liquor and mixers for a tropical party atmosphere with refreshments on the porch or patio.

Image via Riches for Rags.

With no party to ring in the new year, I'm inspired to belly up to the bar and begin plans for our spring soiree.

On the menu: Spinach dumplings ...

My Spinach Dumpling recipe fits the bill for foods that taste good and are certainly among the 'slow foods' that are good for you, too. Since our garden is full of spinach during the winter, this dish comes from garden to table in no time at all. Certainly a healthful way to start the new year!

Image via My Kitchen Capers.


1 1/2 cups blanched spinach (quantity after blanching)
3 eggs
1 1/2 lbs fresh ricotta cheese
2 cups fine grated quality Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano)
2 ounces all purpose flour
6 cups soft, fresh bread crumbs
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
extra flour for dusting

Process blanched spinach and eggs till smooth. In a bowl mix together ricotta, Parmesan, and spinach-egg mixture.

Add flour and breadcrumbs, and black pepper to the mixture and fold together until incorporated.

Dust a sheet tray liberally with flour. Form mixture into 1 – 2 ounce dumpling balls, and generously dust each ball with flour and refrigerate between 30 minutes and 1 hour to set.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a medium boil, add 6 dumplings at a time and boil 4 to 5 minutes for an approximate 2 oz dumpling. Usually when they rise to the top of the pot and float, they are done. Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. 

Image via Slow Food Sydney.

The dumplings may be placed briefly under a broiler to crisp the balls and toast the cheese (optional). A quick and easy butter cream sauce drizzled over the dumplings is another yummy option as well.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 ...

Wishing all a Merry Christmas! I've missed posting the last couple of weeks while busy with gift-making projects and preparations for the holidays.

Artwork by artist David Dean.

I hope each of you enjoy special time celebrating with family and friends. For many of us, that means lots of joyful hours spent around hearth and home. So, here's to you ... "may your days be merry and bright, and may all of your Christmas' be white."

For us in central Texas, the forecast calls for sunny skies and 75 degrees F. Maybe I'll work on my tan. Ha!

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Breakfast guests ...

The Christmas holidays are upon us and treating our family houseguests to some enticing holiday meals is a real pleasure. Planning breakfast is my favorite treat since we generally stick to our same menu all the other days of the year. (Much healthier, too, I must say.)

Image via EcoSalon.
But, its a special time, so I'm thinking let's make the most of it. Mascarpone, Nutella, cream and sliced strawberries on toasted artisan bread sounds like a crowd pleaser. And, don't even think of dieting at my house during Christmas.

Image via Vows and Cake.

Mini pancake appetizers drizzled with syrup and topped with mint sprig and blueberry is sure to make breakfast fun.

Image via Sanctuary.

As long as I find one morning to make a yummy tart and serve it with a scoop of fresh cream and delicious hot chocolate, I will be satisfied.

The new year will be here soon, and there's time to get premium calories in before I resolve to get back to healthy eating. For now, it's all about 'no guilt' holidays with our loved ones.

In concrete ...

Depending on where you live, you may call them benchtops or countertops, and when they're made of concrete, I call them beautiful.

Image via Tine K Home.

The organic nature of concrete appeals to me, as does the versatility of the material in almost any design scheme. It is simultaneously modern and ancient, as well as both sleek and rustic.

Image via Maison Cote Sud.

The fact that decorative concrete can be left in its natural color or tinted to any shade is definitely a plus. Really, is there anything more durable than concrete? Not any material that comes to mind.

Image via Sunset Magazine.

Concrete should definitely be sealed to prevent staining, but other than that, the choices are a honed finish for a matte look or polished to a high shine. Or, they can be stained black (my thoughts exactly) to eliminate stain worries entirely.


Images above via Decor Pad (left) and Stil Inspiration (right).

There are dozens upon dozens of sites on the web with DIY instructions to create your own countertops. I'm just not sure my husband or I would be game to tackle such a project on our own. This is a case of practice makes perfect, so maybe it's better to leave it to the professionals.

Image via Decor de Provence.

The more I think about it, the more I am drawn to using concrete when we finally get around to our kitchen renovation. I'm not sure my husband is as convinced.

Image via Better Homes and Gardens.

But, hopefully he would agree about the beauty of concrete in our kitchen.

Image via Solid Designs.

Decorative concrete is yummy, I tell you. Simply yummy!

Tempted by topiaries ...

I love the look of ball topiaries ... boxwood being my favorite. They are so elegant and welcoming. Okay, I like other shapes, too, but balls appeal to my orderly nature.

Image via The Style Saloniste.

Anytime I see these classic topiaries, I feel transported to a lovely formal garden.

Image via Restoration Hardware.

Add weathered concrete or zinc planters, and my passion is ignited for a French jardin to call my own. Paris Garden shops are stocked with these handsome gray planters, and topiaries reign supreme.

Images via Tree Frog Nursery (left) and BSpoke Design (right).

So, guess what serves as my inspiration for adding some natural elements to my company's exhibit booth during the January market? You've got it ... ball topiaries handmade with moss.

Moss ball topiary crafted by Alamodeus.

I couldn't possibly transport heavy planters with real greenery. So, I started with paper lanterns for the ball skeletons and sheet moss for the greenery. Lots of hot glue and singed fingers later, I completed my moss balls and gave them lovely gray planters for the base.

Moss ball topiaries by Alamodeus.

Viola! I now have two really lightweight and easily transportable moss ball topiaries to add some great character to the Capistrano Soap Company booth during the Bath & Body FINDS Temp Show at Dallas Market Center in January.

Completed moss ball topiary by Alamodeus.

Topiary project completed. Now, I'm off to begin making the draperies. I'll be sure to post photos in January of the booth with topiaries in place.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Made of steel ...

Steel windows and doors are my latest design obsession. And, when I say obsession, I mean obsession, not infatuation. This is lust at its highest level!

No words are necessary ... just look, and you'll understand my burning desire.

Image via Architectural Digest.

Image via Bates Corkern Studio.

Image via Emma's Design Blogg.


Images above via Pinterest (left) and House Beautiful (right).

Image via


Images above via Belgian Pearls (left) and Maisons Cote Sud (right).

Image via Paonote Room 269.

Image via Segreto Finishes.
OMG-level fabulous!
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