Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bunny buffet ...

Families will soon gather around Easter tablesettings for the first holiday of spring. So, why not hop to it and create a bunny buffet that's sure to please.

Image via Martha Stewart.

The yellows, pinks and greens of the season are perfect color inspiration for the Easter table. While we may be confined to the dinnerware at hand, a napkin bunny fold is an easy way to add festive spirit to the table. Here's a link to a simple You Tube tutorial.

Image via Pinterest.

I love the trend of elevating table decor with cake plates. Here, candies and sweet treats are cleverly displayed in vintage glass jars.

 

I cannot resist bunnies, real or crafted in any variety of materials. Making a rabbit topiary like the one above is so simple. All you need is one vase with floral foam, a stick or tree branch, a ribbon for a bow, a rabbit shape traced onto cardboard or foamboard and cut to create a silhouette, a bit of hot glue and sheet moss. Trace, cut, glue, poke, tie, done.

Image via Grandin Road.

Sheet moss is a messy, but clever material for Easter tables. A runner of moss brings the beauty of outdoors to the table, and it's easy to craft placemats and chargers as well. Little eggs and flowers tucked into the moss is such a treat for the table.

Images via Heather Bullard.

Eggs are another ideal design element to bring in to Easter decor. Paired with natural elements and vintage artifacts, eggs are charming additions to a holiday centerpiece.

Image via House Crush.

With a bit of time devoted to crafting, it's simple to decoupage botanical prints or any favorite images to delicate eggshells. If you haven't saved any shells, artificial eggs are abundant in craft stores.

 

So sweet! In a vase or serving as a planter, eggs and a bit of dye can create lovely centerpieces like these above. Images via Shelterness.

Image via Southern Living.

In San Antonio, many residents chose to host family picnics in local parks for the Easter holiday. 

Image via Southern Living.

When celebrating outdoors it's fun to call out-of-the-ordinary pieces into service. A centerpiece from a block of wood and buckets of snacks create a casual, fun table for the whole family to enjoy.

Take it outside ...

No picnic spot should be left unoccupied. Not now. Not with sunny spring days and mild temps drawing us all outdoors.

Image via Abacus Cards.

I love to picnic and don't create nearly enough opportunities to do so.

Image via Pinterest.

Spring is my favorite picnic season. The weather is cool and sunny - ideal for keeping foods fresh and appetizing, and the bugs are at a minimum.

Image via Pinterest.

There's no dilemma when it comes time to plan the menu. My dad always wanted baked beans at every picnic, and I have followed in his footsteps. His recipe is easy, and the beans are as good cold as they are hot. These are always a crowd pleaser. 

So, when you need to take a food outside, there's none better than my dad's Kentucky Baked Beans. Give it a try.

Image via Neo-Homesteading.


RECIPE KENTUCKY BAKED BEANS


Ingredients:
4 slices bacon
1/2 onion, sliced into rings
2 large (28 oz) cans pork and beans
1/2 cup ketchup (or may substitute using barbeque sauce)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon distilled or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fry bacon in skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onions to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Place beans, onions and remaining ingredients into a greased 13" by 9" ovenproof casserole dish. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of heavy syrup, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

These beans are as good cold as they are hot, so they're great for transporting, and I love them as leftovers!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Breadboard beauties ...

Consider this my homage to the basic wooden breadboard. It is a kitchen's most handsome and versatile workhorse.

Image via Brown Dress with White Dots.

I find beauty in its utilitarian simplicity, with seasoned wood that grows more attractive with use and age. A well-cared-for board will last for generations.

Image via Belgian Pearls.

If a board is used only for cutting bread, all that's necessary is wiping it with a clean cloth. But, if it's used when cutting produce or meats, there are three easy, but important maintenance issues to address.  

Image via Inessa Stewart Antiques.

One of the tricks to keeping a board clean and food safe is maintenance. It's important to season a wooden board to prevent staining and absorption of food odors and bacteria. Mineral oil is a good choice for seasoning the wood since it will not turn rancid as vegetable oils can. Simply wipe down the board with oil and allow it to soak in to fill the wood pores and repel food particles, liquids, and oils.

 

Images above via House Beautiful (left) and Mimi Williams Interiors (right).

Lots of people use bleach to clean their boards, but that can actually dry out the wood. Instead, wash the surface with a soapy rag or sponge (never immerse it in water), rinse, then, clean the cutting surface with peroxide, which is much more effectively used than chlorine bleach to sanitize wood.

Image via Our Vintage Home Love.

After sanitizing, rinse with hot water, wipe with a clean cloth, and allow it to dry in an upright position. Cutting boards should be kept dry when not in use. Re-oil as needed to maintain the wood.


Image via Inessa Stewart Antiques.

I use my boards for kitchen duty, but I also love to use them for serving and display. Culinary antiques, and in particular vintage breadboards, are a charming addition to just about any tablesetting.


Image via Compulsively Compiled.

After seeing attractive groupings of breadboards as wall displays, I may have to seek out a few more beauties to take up residence along a breakfast room wall. 

Yellow fever ...

When I was a child, I thought someday I would own a yellow Cadillac.  That would be about as good as it gets - the ultimate status symbol - my dream car with a butter yellow exterior and white leather interior. While my car choice may have changed over time, I'm still enchanted by yellow, particularly when it's paired with white.

Image via Laurence and Louise.

With Easter just days away, I'm reminded of how cheery yellow is as an accent color. It's a fresh pop of color that works well in any design style.

Image via Little Blue Deer.

I think this desk is 'to-die-for.'  It would be at home just about anywhere and looks simply beautiful with its aged, golden finish. I want it badly and wonder if I could paint a vintage table in my office just like this boho desk. It's worth a try!

Image via Loft Connexion.

Come to mama, you beautiful little sectional. I don't know exactly why, but I have an instant attraction to yellow sofas and chairs.

Image of Casa Midy in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico via Coco Cozy.

Kisses to the designer of the room above. I wouldn't change a thing. Inspired by these delicious golden hues, I put together a yellow pinboard with some sunny shopping finds.  


My shopping basket above includes beauties in yellow: 1) sofa from Urban Outfitters; 2) Robert Haviland Arc En Ciel Yellow China Dinnerware from Nat Schwartz & Co.; 3) table lamp from Pottery Barn; 4) Chirp pillow via Angelo Home; 5) Gatsby chairs from Plush Home; 6) Muuto Raw lounge chair from Panik Design; and 7) yellow rose pillows via Craftaholics Anonymous.

 

Images above via Elegant Thrifter (left) and Magazine Junkie (right).

Retro yellow pieces are so much fun. I've seen lots of cheery, lemon yellow lamps and a variety of ceramics in area consignment shops. These are really hard to pass up, and that doesn't even begin to compare with walking away from a down-filled, buttercup sofa. Boo hoo.

Image via Evantine Design.

I'll just have to bring in some lovely yellow flowers for a sunny addition to our breakfast table. While it doesn't have wheels like that dream car of my youth, our kitchen is painted yellow, and it lightens my disposition every time I enter.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Container gardening ...

There's just no way to miss the cheer derived from plant varieties living happily together in a container garden. Baskets and pots overflowing with living color makes gardening worthwhile no matter where you live.

Image via My Yard Rocks.

I admire gardeners who think outside of the box pot. Old wheelbarrows and barrels are charming planters for the container garden.

Image via HGTV.

I have to find a way to raise some potted plants to eye level. I'd really like to bring the beauty and interest of multi-color plantings to varying heights throughout the garden. A hanging basket or two might be just what I have in mind.

Image via I to I.

I'm a sucker for the chartreuse color of Potato Vine. It is such a worthy companion for the bold colors found in many annuals, like bright pink Petunias.

Image via Container Gardening For You.

In early spring (now's a perfect time) seedlings and young plants can be inexpensively purchased and potted together. Make sure they like the same light conditions and have the same watering requirements to help ensure growing success.


Image via Sunnyside Gardens.

My aim is to create a blaze of colors with tightly placed pots that will enliven some of our barren areas and add interest to our patio. As long as the weather cooperates, this should be a perfect weekend to visit the nursery.

Image via All Outdoor Patio.

I love it when nature calls!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Opening the cottage ...

I would love, love to say that I'm off to open our cottage for the season. I, however, do not own a cottage ... not at the lake, nor in the mountains, nor along a beachfront. But, if I did, you could bet I'd be there this first Saturday and Sunday of spring to begin the annual rite of weekend escapes from the city.

Image via Made in Heaven.

I do love the water and can think of nothing more serene that a vista overlooking a cool lake or ocean.

Image via Shabby and Charme.

While we don't have a majestic view, my husband and I are fortunate to have an oasis just outside the hustle and bustle of city life with an expanse of trees, gardens and outdoor spaces for entertaining. It's our sanctuary and we only have to step out of home's doorway.

 

Images above via Heiberg Cummings Design (left) and Desde my Ventana (right).

But, I must admit that cottage life and its easy decorating style appeal to the sentimental side of me. The clean, crisp linens and soft, comfy furnishings remind me of my grandparents' house.


Image via Decor Pad.

Every cottage in my mind's eye comes with beadboard wainscoting (painted white, of course), simple cabinetry and open shelves that house vintage dishware and humble serving pieces for the litany of guests arriving throughout the days of summer. 

 

Images above via Shabby and Charme (left) and Maxine Brady (right).

The cottage is a perfect place to send mismatched pieces to live in harmony with all of those consignment shop finds that you just have to purchase with no specific use in mind. (You know what I'm talking about!)


Image via Content in a Cottage.

And, every cottage needs a place for vacationing friends and family to rest and relax after a day on the water.

Image via Pinterest.

Plenty of beds, hand-stitched quilts, oodles of comfy pillows and a place to store gear are the basics every cabin needs. I keep a little file with my cottage 'wants' should the occasion to build ever arise. I've previously posted on my sleeping porch desires when it comes to the cottage construction checklist, so you know that dozing is high on my vacation agenda.

Image via Peacock Feather Events.

I'm not married to the idea of roughing it, so my little dream cottage would have lots of light and a good bit of creature comfort and style, too.

What's blooming: spring colors

The wildflowers are covering the roadways throughout Texas, and abundant blooms have popped up everywhere in our gardens at home. Just one step out our door and everything is awash in the colors of spring.

Images by Alamodeus of spring 2012. Flowers in our gardens include: (from top)
Alstroemeria; White Autumn Sage; Colombine in purple, crimson, and white. 

Images by Alamodeus of spring 2012. More annual flowers in our gardens include:
Coral Vine; Larkspur; and Poppies.

Images by Alamodeus of spring 2012. Wildflowers in our gardens include some lovely, but unidentified lilac-colored small flowers growing happily with the Texas Bluebonnets. The splendid fragrance and flowering blossoms of our Wisteria is about finished, and now, the vines have begun to leaf out, creating a perfectly shaded spot for relaxation and entertaining.

I didn't photograph the Wisteria in bloom this year because I have dozens upon dozens of photos already like the one below from 2011.

Image by Alamodeus of our Wisteria-draped pergola.

But, if you would like to see a couple of my previous posts on our experience with growing Wisteria. You can read all about them in posts entitled: "Knock some scents into me" and "Social climbers".

Happy gardening!
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