Saturday, April 26, 2014

'X' marks the spot ...

I'm all over the map this week. Seems I have the travel bug, but will have to wait a bit before a vacation.  Instead, I can dig through dozens upon dozens of maps that I've collected from near and far to visualize some great memories and plan new ones.

If you ever find yourself in Basel, Switzerland, check out the Volkshaus Bar and Brasserie (photos above and below.) In the lavatory, there is an early map of the city covering the walls and ceiling.

Uber cool, right?

Image via Panah Rad.

I fancy trekking across the globe, so a floor map seems to be an easy way to travel. Just think, if I drop something, that stain becomes a new landmark!


Paris, anyone? Or, maybe a coastal mural to set the tone.

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Map themes in kids rooms are adorable, too. I can envision setting sail with a little tot ... oh, the adventures to be had!


From make-believe treasure maps to teachable geography with continents and oceans, children's rooms abound with possibilities for charting new dreams in distant lands.

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Makes me want to find a barren wall and start painting.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Aqua allure ...

Aqua is one of my favorite shades of water and sky. It always makes me think of windswept beaches and Caribbean cottages.

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Images above via Awesome Spaces (left) and Casa com decoracao (right).

Islets, reefs, and cays ... the Bahamas, Aruba and Jamaica ... aqua is the calm, soothing color of tropical getaways and dream vacations.

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The light, blue/green shade is a peaceful refuge and a neutral canvas for dynamic accent colors and artwork. Aqua has a timeless appeal in interiors.


Images above via House Beautiful (left) and Rachel Smith (right).

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I love to see aqua at home in the city, too. But, it's watery beauty would be my first choice for a lake cottage or beachfront condo. Kiss, kiss.

Limoncello lust ...

Upon her return from a school trip to Italy a number of years ago, my daughter proclaimed she would like to move to the Isle of Capri and become a lemon farmer. Well, sure, why not! In addition to the beauty of the Amalfi Coast, she was inspired by her first taste of limoncello.

Isle of Capri

Limoncello is 'the taste of the island,' and the bright yellow fruit that shares the drink's name has been cultivated there for centuries. Did I mention it is the perfect summer drink? It is.

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The Centofanti family, dear friends who hail from Naples, Italy (on the Sorrentine Peninsula across the Gulf of Naples from the Isle of Capri), have mastered the art of making limoncello over generations. And, I'm determined to give it a try.

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No, I haven't been privy to their family recipe, but how hard can it be?  I found a recipe that seems pretty straightforward.

LIMONCELLO RECIPE from Giada De Laurentiis
Yield:7 cups

10 lemons
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

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I have these great stopper bottles just waiting to be put into service. (These bottles are sold at World Market, in case you want to pick some up, too.) 

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Limoncello is cool refreshment in the summer heat and a beautiful reminder of our time in Italy. Love, love the bright yellow hues lemons bring to the table, too.


Friday, April 18, 2014

The court is now in session ...

From the courts where Bocce is played in Italy to Pétanque in France and Spain, I love watching sweet, seniors enjoying an afternoon of comraderie and competition playing the game also known as Boules. It appears so enjoyable in fact, that I'm dreaming of adding a Pétanque court (known as a 'terrain') on our property and taking up the game as well.

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The installation looks pretty straightforward. Wood is used to frame the perimeter and it is filled with sand, then, tamped to level. Finishing with decomposed marble, crushed sea shells or even artificial grass gives the terrain an optimal playing surface. 

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It would be great fun to add a seating area for rest between games and bring in some much-needed color. Surrounded by lush plantings, the court would certainly be an added attraction for entertaining.

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There is nothing demure about this Pétanque court. Not that I have a slope this dramatic, but the landscaping and water feature are obsession-worthy. Gorgeous!

This video link to the Bocce game rules has me thinking this could be just the exercise I need. Oh honey ...

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... it's that simple. We can do it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blue's the hue ...

There's something mesmerizing about the crystal clear, blue skies over Texas. Visitors comment about it all the time. So, I think I may just bring some enviable blue hues to my tabletop as well. Effortless style is what I'm after, and I found some welcoming blues for inspiration.

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Images above via House Beautiful (left) and Laure Joliet (right).

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Images above via Lonny Magazine (left) and Magnolia Rouge (right).

I've been collecting blue fabric remnants for some time, with an assortment of Toile de Jouy and ticking stripes among the favorites for projects I have in mind. No time like the present to get started.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Grained goddess ...

That little love affair I have with wood has me drooling over some incredibly handsome wood chargers.

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You might look at this modest dining accessory and think nothing of its presence at the table.  But, I see its glorious potential.

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I have been staring adoringly at the wood charger at the base of this placesetting for months. (Okay, I've taken a few breaks, but I do keep coming back for one peek after another.) Adorned with wrought iron handles and layered with glitsy metals and china, these babes have star quality at any table. (Oh, how I wish they were at my dining table!)

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So, here's what I'm thinking. Next time we receive some of our soap-making materials on a wood pallet, my darling husband will be called into service. (He really doesn't seem to mind.)

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One pallet, wood stain, wood glue, several vices, and a saw. Cut, glue, hold, and finally trim into a circle (for my round chargers). Oops. Better add sandpaper to that supply list, too.

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Oh yeah! Definitely want these.

Normandy dresses ...

With the change of seasons comes a change of wardrobe, and I'd like nothing better than a closet full of Normandy dresses for spring and summer.


Images above and below via Pip-Squeak Chapeau.

You've probably heard these called pillowcase dresses or drawstring dresses, and they're the ultimate in comfort. But, I love the Normandy reference ... effortless French seaside charm in a garment to be worn solo or layered with a humble t-shirt underneath.

You don't have to travel to Monet's Giverny to pick up one of these Normandy beauties. Sveta Dresher makes a collection of clothes under her Pip-Squeak Chapeau label in Brooklyn, New York, including fabulous Normandy dresses from 100% natural yarns and fabrics (shown above.)  Check out the goods from her studio at

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If you're like me, it's time to rummage through those remnant fabrics (even nicely embroidered pillowcases) to create a cool, comfy Normandy dress of your own making. Super easy, too. Although a pattern is hardly necessary, here's a sweet little tutorial to get you through the process.

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