I have a very good friend whose home is always about an hour away from being party-ready. Beyond even that her home is magazine-ready. Literally Elle Decor or House Beautiful could come in with one hours’ notice and a bit of tidying up and photograph the whole darn house. It is quite something. No piles of mail hanging around, no piles of laundry ready to be folded, no piles of anything. Everything has a place and everything (pretty much) tends to remain in its place. She has mastered the art of living in her home all the time as others live only when guests come over. She plays music, she lights candles. See is able to do daily what I would like to do. Seeing Home Through a New Lens.
Now I am sure she does not do this every minute of her life. But she does it far more than anyone else I’ve ever met. It really speaks to the concept that we should live our life with a sense of joy, beauty and graciousness. As the French would say, with Joie de Vivre. In many ways the point of this blog for me is to develop a better sense of that concept. I’m captivated with how to capture those concepts and develop the habits to live with that kind of “every day is special” mentality.
It occurred to me as I was taking pictures around the house today (to practice my novice photography skills) that much of what I was trying to photograph certainly wasn’t party-ready. Not because of bad lighting or a lack of things which may be interesting to photograph but because I simply hadn’t taken the time to really see what my home actually looks like. It was the seeing which was the missing piece of the party-ready enigma. It makes sense. When I am going to entertain suddenly I notice the dirty windows (see photo above) or the pile of magazines on the side table making the whole room look cluttered. When I am having a party I suddenly see the house in a fresh way…when I should be taking a look through that party-ready lens daily. Taking photographs for this blog has certainly given me that lens…both figurately and literally. And honestly, I’m not that thrilled at what I see. The dirty windows in the above photo are just one hazy example. I know, I know, it has been a cold long winter…but there have been a few quite warm days of late and I didn’t even think about the windows. Why? I looked but did not see.
Another issue which reared its ugly head was the “I decorated it once long ago and haven’t reevaluated it again since” problem. The above photo is a great example of that. I “styled” the hutch over the desk ages ago. Now I used the word “styled” in the most casual sense of the word. More like stuffed a bunch of things in the hutch. Keep in mind that this happened long ago…so long, in fact, that I have completely changed the colors of the room and in the room (the chase in the first picture is the actual color scheme) and yet…the colors from the long ago master still remain behind those doors. I do think keeping the doors to the hutch shut masks that fact, but I may just be trying to make myself feel better.
And so tomorrow I plan to take care of that hutch and re-take the photos (the windows will have to wait until the temperature is above freezing…alledigely that will be Sunday). If right now I need the camera lens to help train how I see my home…so be it. It will be fun to how this house evolves when mind fully looking at it in a new way. By the way, the wall next to the chase looks yellow and the walls aren’t yellow…are they?
I am ready to put an Easter centerpiece and decorations together. Decorating for Easter is always fun for me…bunnies, lots of greenery and my cabbage bowls. I know Easter is a month away but I can’t help but start on the road to easter decorating and the start is the Easter centerpiece for the diningroom table!
To kick it off I found these stunning Helleborus is a find from the grocery store. I haven’t had much experience with these but it seems easy enough…shade, cooler temperatures and moist soil. Sounds perfect for the diningroom. The colors are perfect…pink and greeny-cream bi colored petals. The red and white buds open to large, soft pink flowers which will eventually turn burgundy. Best yet these are perennials and so if I can keep it alive long enough I’ll plant it outside.
On another front, I’ve started on a table decoration for the diningroom table for Easter. I know it sounds early but I want to grow grass and that won’t happen overnight!
The plan is to plant grass in a long wooden trough and then insert flowering bulbs. I’m also going to plant grass seed in little terra cotta pots for the kids table. I am not sure what I’ll add at Easter…could be a little chocolate bunny a yellow furry chick or a decorated egg. I’m waiting for that inspiration to strike. But for now I know I want the base to be a mini Easter field.
First I layed out all the things I’ll need.
Wooden container ( found this trough at Home Goods a couple of years ago)
First I put a layer of plastic grocery bags in the bottom of the wooden trough. Next I cut paper plates to line the long openings.
The soil needed to be moistened and I so I mixed it in a bowl with water to make it soft and moist but not dripping wet.
That went into the trough over the paper plates. Next a layer of grass seed!
I used a fork to mix the seeds into the very top of the soil layer.
I misted the surface with water to get those little buggers moist. Finally I moved the trough to a sunny windows to get the party started. With luck, and watering, the mini lawn will be lush and green by Easter!
One of my favorite Easter treats are Cadbury Creme Eggs. I look forward to them appearing on store shelves a month or so before Easter each year. It occurred to me as I gobbled one up last week that perhaps that yummy chocolaty, creamy taste could somehow be transformed into a cocktail. Thus this delicious Easter Cadbury Creme Egg Martini recipe was born!
My first attempt was to infuse vodka with those little chocolate nuggets. I have infused vodka often with great success…pears, figs, vanilla beans and even allspice. Yummy concoctions all. The creme eggs however were a colossal failure. Cloudy sludge filled liquid. Not fit for human consumption. Plan B was far more successful…the flavors of the chocolate treat deconstructed and reassembled in cocktail form.
I garnished the glass with a gooey rim of the insides of a Cadbury Creme Egg. This made the cocktail much sweeter than without. I actually preferred the version without the gooey rim. I was preferable overall especially if the cocktail is to be enjoyed with appetizers. If it is a stand alone at dessert time then the gooey rim is a must try…or do as we did, half with, half without.
The base is vanilla vodka. Added to that Godiva White Chocolate liquor and Creme de Cocoa. The magic ingredient is the Effen Salted Caramel Vodka. The depth of flavor it added transformed this from good to amazing. Finish it off with a splash of heavy cream and you have heaven in a glass. This is a potent treat…but really we are only having one…right?
Posting a little eye candy here. I couldn’t resist these gorgeous raspberry hydrangeas at the store today. You know how it is…stop in for bread and milk and come out with a cart full of english toffee and raspberry hydrangeas. Well, maybe you don’t know but I sure do! This deep raspberry color is the exact shade of those napkins I love so much. What a huge punch of color this adds to my diningroom. It is those small touches that really make a room sing.
I’ve always found these to be a bit finicky to keep happy. They love water and the second they start to dry out the poor flower heads droop and look near death. Hopefully I can keep this one happy and healthy until the blooms begin outside (which given the winter we have had should be in July sometime).
I love a quest. Right now I am on a quest to find the most delicious Blackberry Martini recipe I can find. I have scoured the internet and my library of cocktail, mocktail, entertaining and hors d’ouvers cookbooks and have compiled quite a list of drinks. Some sound yummy and some sound quite non-yummy…or is it un-yummy? The trick is going to be a cocktail with lots of berry flavor without the cloing sweetness inherent in many of the recipes I have tried.
This is Blackberry Martini version one. A rather simple concoction of blackberries, vodka, Blackberry liquor, simple syrup and lemon perrier. Yep. Lemon Perrier.
Verdit? It was enjoyable enough. It had a bit of a kick. I liked the sparkle but don’t know how much the lemon Perrier added. I did not like the blackberry bits which ended up floating on the surface of the drink. And the berry taste wasn’t…well…berry enough. I think version two might need a kick of another berry…raspberry perhaps. This is a good one for those that adore blackberries straight up, no chaser.
I am not a big breakfast eater but I do like to have a little something to start the day! I am trying to be mindful of using color around the house these dog days of winter (if there is such a thing) and so I took a minute (literally, one minute) to spice up the breakfast table. Now keep in mind that I was eating alone…no one there to impress but myself. But in reality we should do for ourselves what we gladly do for others. If we think about it…which I often don’t. Except for this morning when striving to add color I inadvertently added some “taking care of me time”.
It was kind of amazing how enjoyable turning my breakfast into a petit déjeuner was. I know the words mean the same thing, however pulling out a little wooden tray and a tangerine napkin turned the hum drum into something just a bit more special. Suddenly the juice really needed to be in one of my favorite pink wine glasses. And was it such a stretch to pull out a silver napkin ring? All in all I think it took me seconds rather than minutes to arrange and yet it put a spring in my step all morning. And I know it sounds crazy…but honsetly I think the yogurt, berries and granola tasted better than normal.
I do like to give little gifts to those who are special in my life. What a great opportunity to say a thank you to those who make life richer. I’ve put together this St. Patrick’s Day gift jar (with a printable). This year my leprechaun list will include my son’s crossing guard (always helping to guide him to school safely in the midst of what, this winter at least, resembles a NASCAR race). Also a few others who could use some St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans about now. Actually, the word shenanigans is one of my favorite parts of this holiday. What a great word…especially for Mother’s with sons. The shenanigans never stop with my boys….those little rascals. Find the St. Patrick’s Day Gift Jar instructions (and printable below).
I started with a Weck jar. I found these at Sur la Table which would also work perfectly!! Next came the good stuff. I wanted a mix of candy and fun little surprises all in gold. Silly and delicious…leprechaun sized goodies. The gold glitter nail polish was a fun find!
The rainbow label for the top came next. I wanted it to be the rainbow leading to the gold underneath. I printed it, cut it out and attached it to the top of the jar with double stick tape. I ran out of sticker paper which would have been even easier.
I am happy to share what I created. The label is approximately 3″ round. The link is below. This is one of the first downloads that I have done. That is a nice way of saying I have no idea how well it will work. But I am giving it a try and fingers (and toes) are crossed hoping it all works out well. If not send me an e-mail and I will get working on it.
Finished off with a flourish of ribbon and my leprechaun gifts are ready to roll.
Here is my another little step in adding some Spring into the end of winter. Jazzed up Rice Krispie treats. It doesn’t seem that something so very simple can make us so darn happy. But it certainly does. That delicious combination of marshmallows, Rice Krispies and butter with the magical dusting of multi colored sprinkles really put smiles on our faces. If you ask me the sprinkles are what elevated this humble treat to star status.
Vowing to keep brightening it up…even as snow is flying outside I wore a bright pink jacket and one of my favorite 90 carres (Belles du Mexique). (Step 4 in my “Fake It Until You Make It” Spring post). It is a riot of color in a design which features spinning dancers. I must admit that wearing this super bright pink with a splash of orange did make me feel spring like. Not so much the boots and down coat I had to don to make it through the blizzard outside. But at least inside I feel lighter and brighter.
Flowers are in the vase, and sprinkle coated Rice Krispie treats are on the counter and I am wearing a pink spinning rainbow. It is brightening up in here!
It looks a bit like spring around here as the tulips are just about to bloom! I may need to pick up another bunch for my desk. I can feel the winter thawing already. Perhaps it is just in my own mind but that works, right? One of my 5 Steps to fake an early spring complete!
A beautiful vase + one bunch of flowers = Springtime in the kitchen!
There are few things in life that I look forward to more than the Olympics. Every two years I sit down in front of the television and get up two weeks later. Actually this year the Winter Olympics were 18 days long!
Our tradition is throw an Opening Ceremonies Party comple with food from the host country (although some years are much more difficult to plan than others…this being one of them). In years passed I have used the traditional Olympic colors: red, blue, black, gold, green and white and the 5 rings.
This year I decided to change it up. No colors at all. I thought just gold with touches of white and black and a spash or two of silver.
I first assembled the bar (Bien sûr). A Russian Vodka anchored the bar followed by a bottle of wine, glasses (gold of course) and a silver bowl of gold wrapped chocolates. My favorite touch was the gold lit twigs in the clear vase. Usually in use at Christmastime they reminded me of the Olympic torch and so they were a fun addition.
Next I tackled the sideboard. My father has this great greek reproduction bust. I can’t remember a time it wasn’t in our home growing up. I think it is Apollo. He seemed a fitting addition and so I borrowed him to rule over the festivities. Next came the clear candlesticks with green mini wreaths on top. I bought them years ago for use at Easter but in reality I use them all year around. They reminded me of the wreaths put atop Olympian’s heads.
I needed something special for the center of the sideboard. Rings. Five. Gold. Olympic rings. Off to the craft store I went for 5 styrofoam rings and a can of gold spray paint. I used Design Master 731 Brilliant Gold Colortool Spray. This is important as regular spray paint will dissolve styrofoam. A quick spray, some toothpicks between and hot (low melt) glue and the rings were ready to go. I especially liked how the bright gold spray paint turned out to be a deeper antique gold look once on the strofoam. A roll of gold glitter tulle for the table and the decorations were complete.
It was fun to have the Olympic decorations out throughout the games…not that we needed a reminder that the games were happening…Figure Skating on TV all day nearly every day (bliss) took care of that! And on the “non skating” days I learned all I’ll ever needed to know about curling.