Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wooden it be lovely ...

I love rustic wood furniture! So, when a very special Red Oak on our property became a casualty of the drought a couple of years ago, I asked my husband to save the tree trunk. He did just that, and took the behemoth to a saw mill.

The wood was milled into thick sheets that had to dry for a year. Now that the wood is ready for its new calling, I'm seeing photos of glorious rustic tables and finding creative inspiration for putting these beautiful planks to good use.

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Okay, so you didn't have to cut a tree down in your yard. That doesn't mean you can't have a super simple wood table, too. So many tabletops are crafted from old utility spools like the one below.

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I love seeing old doors given new life as well. My personal favorites are the primitive, hand hewn variety that can transform into upcycled beauties for the home.

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A set of legs from IKEA and some scrap heap searching can result in a utterly fabulous DIY table.

May I just say, "thanks, honey." I'm excited to see what becomes of our anniversary Oak Tree and know your craftsmanship will make it an heirloom.

Fig fancier ...

Fig and goat's cheese salad may not top the list of great culinary achievements, but it certainly appeals to me on so many levels. Taste - check. Fresh and nutritious - check and check. I even came across an adorable, illustrated poster by artist Felicita Sala with a charming recipe.

Sala's hand drawn poster available for purchase here.

This salad is a winner for taste and scores points for a beautiful starter when you want to up your dinner party game. Serve with a rustic Focaccia bread or a yummy Rosemary Ciabatta loaf. Bellissimo!

Many of these same salad ingredients are used in my newest love, Prosciutto, Fig & Arugula Flatbread Pizza. It's an easy, delicious recipe that makes a meal for four or an appetizer for eight guests.

Rustic, Tuscan style pizza by Alamodeus

Leftovers from our weeknight dinner made a to-die-for breakfast the following morning!



1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
8 ounces pizza dough, at room temperature
1 tablespoon cornmeal, for dusting
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
3-4 mission figs, thinly sliced
1 ounce prosciutto, torn into thin strips
1/4 cup lightly packed baby arugula
1 salt and pepper, to taste
1 grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Remove the dough from the fridge about an hour before you plan to cook. You want it to be a room temperature when you work with it.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

To make the balsamic reduction, add the vinegar to a saute pan. Heat over medium heat until the vinegar comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until it reduces by half, keeping the heat low to medium-low (you don’t want it bubbling up on you or over thickening). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. The vinegar will thicken as it cools.

To make the flatbread, sprinkle some of the cornmeal out on a cutting board or another smooth, flat surface. (If you don’t have cornmeal, you can use flour) Roll out your dough.

Add the dough to a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Add the crumbled goat cheese, season with salt and pepper, and add to the oven for 10 minutes. While waiting for the pizza to cook, slice your figs and tear the prosciutto.

Remove the flatbread and switch the oven to the broil on high setting.

Add the fig slices and prosciutto to your flatbread. Broil for 1-2 minutes.

Top with arugula and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Drizzle with the balsamic reduction, cut into pieces, and serve.

Buon appetito!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vintage Botanicals

Somehow, the end of summer always reminds me of vintage botanical prints. Part of the season's appeal is the change in daylight that gives everything a painterly look. And, I'm happy with cooler temperatures that draw me back to our gardens as autumn nears. It's my favorite time of year!

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Vintage botanical prints are much like the transition of seasons to me. They capture the essence of nature's cycle and bring the beauty near for us to enjoy long past their harvest.

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Having just completed the annual harvest at our little olive grove, I feel particularly drawn to the natural beauty outside and appreciate ways others have extended nature's influence indoors.


Above: Shades of white with botanical prints and DIY framed bulb vase are crisp, clean and simple creations.  Images: left (via) and right (via).


I'm a sucker for rustic character, and these botanicals offer loads of both.  Images: left (via) and right (via).

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Often, I come across room photos that express all the charm and character of vintage botanical art without one printed canvas. I can only imagine that these spaces are marvelous places to spend an afternoon, or perhaps a season.

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After summer comes autumn, or in my world, Botanical Bliss!

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