Sunday, May 29, 2011

One Beautiful Bloom & A Summer Giveaway

I don’t claim to have a green thumb, but once in a while, when something we’ve planted in our garden takes off and does well, it feels great. I love flowers in general, but one I’ve never tried to grow before now is the hydrangea. I love the beautiful colors, the shape of the large mophead flower and the different variations of the blooms. They’re not known to be a low-maintenance plant, especially in our Zone 4 cooler climate, and they can require a bit of pampering. Regardless, we planted both a hydrangea bush and a hydrangea tree in our landscape, and hoped with some sun, a little pruning at the right time and plenty of water, we might have success. Just maybe.

Hydrangeas come in this gorgeous green color . . .

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. . . and this absolutely beautiful shade of blue.

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Here’s a lovely white mophead.

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If you’ve watched her program, The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten often uses hydrangeas in her beautiful tablescapes. She simply walks out her back door, pruning shears in hand, and lops off several huge hydrangea blooms from one of her many bushes, which she then magically plops into a waiting vase for the perfect centerpiece. How bad can that be?

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While I may not have the spectacular gardens Ina has, I’m pretty proud of my one hydrangea bush . . .

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. . . which finally gave us our VERY FIRST blossom!  Isn’t this the most perfect shade of pink?  With no real pampering, the bush has really thrived, but for the longest time, only had healthy green leaves. Imagine how thrilled I was to look out one afternoon and see this!  :)

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The pink flowers look so dainty, so perfect. I can’t believe this came from my garden. I hope there are bunches more to come.  :)

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And since the Summer season means gardening is finally in full bloom, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to receive a free 2-year subscription to one of my favorite magazines, Better Homes and Gardens.  Every issue is full of great tips and ideas for decorating and caring for our homes indoors and planning and growing plants and flowers for our gardens and patios outdoors. I’ve been getting BHG magazine for years and I’ve always found it informative and inspiring. If you’re not already a subscriber, I know you will too.

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For a chance to be in the drawing for this FREE 2-year Better Homes and Gardens subscription:

1) Leave a comment on this post. Be sure to mention if you’d like to be entered in this drawing.

2) If you're not already a blog friend, I'd love it if you would start following.

3) Make sure your email address is available either via your blog or in your comment so I can email the winner.

4) U.S. addresses only please.

I’ll draw the winner at random on Monday, June 6th, at 6 p.m. Central time.

I will email you after the drawing to get your mailing address to submit the subscription for you. You should see your first issue within the next few weeks afterwards. Yay!

Thanks so much for stoppin’ by LWYL. And good luck on this giveaway. :)

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Linking to:

Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Good Life Wednesday at A Beach Cottage

Open House Party at No Minimalist Here

Inspiration Friday at At The Picket Fence

Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Friday, May 27, 2011

Photo Feature Friday – Purple Pansies

It’s Photo Feature Friday at A Rosy Note and this week’s suggested theme is Flowers.  I’m more an outdoor flower kind of girl. I love the sunshine, the bright greens, so I’m choosing to share these beautiful purple pansies from some of our recently planted patio pots. I love this delicate flower and this gorgeous, soft shade of purple. The detail in each tiny bloom is amazing.

I took this in the early morning, just as the sun was hitting the patio, still in part shade. It’s as though some of the blooms haven’t yet awakened to the new day. Their tiny faces will soon open from the light, the warmth, the life-giving sun.

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Isn’t it funny how the colors are just as beautiful inverted? 

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I’m hoping this little container garden will soon be in full bloom. A mix of purple, yellow, green and white. Happy colors. Calming colors.

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Happy colors with a little texture added.

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Thank you, Tricia, for hosting such a beautiful and inspiring weekly party.  :)

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Linking to:

A Rosy Note

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Home May’d Best Rum Cake Ever

I’ve seen several variations on this Rum Cake recipe, there’s even one in our official family cookbook, but I would imagine the end result is generally the same. A delicious, moist, nutty, rummy cake.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup dried fruit
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Brown Sugar
  • Nuts
  • 1 or 2 quarts of Rum

Before you start, it’s very important that you sample the rum. Pretty good, isn’t it? Next, select a large mixing bowl, assemble your ingredients, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc. Just to be sure the rum is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink it as fast as you can. Repeat if necessary.

With an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl, add 1 seaspoon of thurgar and beat again. Take another few sips of rum, open the second quart if necessary. Add 2 arge leggs, 2 cups of fried druit and beat until high. If druit gets stuck in the beaters, pry it loose with a screwdriver…oh, wait, that’s another recipe. 

Sample the rum again for tonsicistricy. Next, sift 3 cups of salt or pepper (it doesn’t really matter at this point). Sift a pint of lemon juice. Fold in chopped butter and strained nuts. Add 1 babblespoon of brown thurgar or whatever color you can find, mixing well.  Grease oven and turn cake pan to 350 degrees. Pour the whole mess in and bake. Remove when, or if, you hear the timer. Allow cake to cool, at least until the kitchen stops spinning. Take a few more sips of rum and bo to ged.

Be sure to read all instructions carefully before beginning, as this is a very precise recipe.

Enjoy!  :)

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Linking to:

Southern Hospitality

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Summer Mantle Makeover

It’s finally warming up enough these days that we have started to think about moving from Spring into Summer. We actually now have all of our outdoor containers planted and our bedding plants into the ground as well.  We’ve even had to start the central air a time or two. Finally.

I’m making some changes indoors as well, retiring some Spring decor and adding a few new touches. I’ve seen some beautiful rooms, decked out in a beach-theme, with wonderful displays incorporating sand and sea.  Seashells, starfish, sand dollars, to name a few.  But I wanted to do something different, a bit unexpected, on my Summer mantle.  So I’m going a little “organic”, also using elements of nature, green, my favorite, and just a bit of color.

Quite by accident, while shopping for some new furniture for our den, I came across this beautiful print for over our fireplace mantle. I love that it’s nature-inspired and the perfect colors for the gold in my living room.  Since it is a substantial piece, I tried to keep the accessories to a minimum so not to overcrowd the mantle, which in itself is a very limited space for decorating, no matter what the season.

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On a trip this week to our local greenhouse to look for outdoor plants, I noticed these metal containers in several shapes and sizes on a display just inside the front door. The pictures may not do them justice, but they are the perfect blue patina to go with the PB drapes on either side of the fireplace. The. Perfect. Color.  I couldn’t have found this color if I’d gone looking for it, but I walked in and there they were. Don’t you love when that happens? The idea for the mantle began to take shape once I found these containers.

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I wanted to keep any arrangements low, so I chose to fill the oval container with three moss balls, anchored by some river rock.  I love their green color. I used a couple of birch logs to fill in some space, they’re low enough to not interfere with the artwork. I often use these birch logs at Christmas. Love, love them.

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You’ve maybe noticed my rather unique mantle lamp in previous posts. It’s a favorite of mine and I leave it up year around. Another fortunate find that I stumbled on when I wasn’t on the lookout for new lighting. It’s the perfect soft night light.

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Here’s a small bucket I picked out, also in the same blue patina. I tucked in some simple faux greens and added two moss birds’ nests.

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Here’s the entry table, also in the living room, decorated for Spring. . .

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. . . and now, for Summer. The larger bucket below is the same blue tint as the one on the mantle.  I found this rustic GROW sign, the perfect color, in the Garden Section of my local greenhouse. It came with a metal stake so I could use it outdoors as well, but I like it here for now. What do you think?

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You can see here how well the color of these metal containers goes with the blue in my drapes.  A great find.  I love those kinds of pleasant surprises.  :)

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My Spring mantle was nature-inspired as well. A lot of you seemed to like my picket fence idea, I appreciated your nice comments.  :)  You can see more from my Spring mantle here.

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What do you think of this seasonal mantle transformation?  I’m not sure I won’t still do some tweaking, but the mantle’s finished. . . for now.

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Have you ever stumbled on something that was the perfect find?  I would love to hear your story.  Share, please. 

Have a great week, everyone.  :)

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Linking to:

Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch

Amaze Me Monday at Dittle Dattle

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesday

Pink Postcard Transformations & Treasures

Inspiration Friday at At The Picket Fence

Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense

Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

SNS at Funky Junk Interiors

Summertime Ideas Challenge at The CSI Project

Spring/Summer Link Party at The Lettered Cottage

Countdown to Summer at Domestically Speaking

Mod Mix Monday at Mod Vintage Life

Before & After at Thrifty Decor Chick

 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Road Less Traveled - Maps

I love maps. They have character, they tell a story, represent travel and adventure. They’ve also become a very popular element in decorating, covering everything from walls to furniture, shelving, fabric and more. They can be a great conversation piece and can even signify the importance of your family’s heritage when displayed in your home.

I have a pair of map prints hanging over the entertainment center in our den. They’re not just for the stuffy old library any more.

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Maps can be a source for adding beautiful color to a room. I love the yellow in these maps, paired with the soft gray walls and bedding. A beautiful combination.

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A wall of map prints make a real statement in this photo. Even though they’re all in muted tones, the variety of the shape and size of the frames and the arrangement on the shelves really draws the eye.

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Maps on the walls in this room act as wallpaper, adding an almost old-world, vintage touch.  I love the subtle colors.

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The possibilities are endless for using old maps as covers….on books, on cans or jars, as in this container holding a collection of paint brushes. Or cut maps to size and insert into the panes of an interior door for privacy or decoration.

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Source

map door

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What a cozy space. The framed map here adds some beautiful blues, which are picked up in the pillows on the bed. Love the hanging globes as accents. Very clever, and so easy.

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Source

Remember the pull-down maps from our school days? How cool were those? Before there were laptops and iPads in the classrooms, these huge maps were our main source of information and the way we learned about all the different far-away countries that made up our world. The map was pulled down for History and Geography lessons, then rolled back up again when class was over. Gorgeous colors in this map.

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Look for ways you might use old maps in your home. I’d like to eventually completely re-do my office and bringing a few maps into the decor is a distinct possibility.  Let’s see, pillows, lampshades, drawer liners, placemats. . . .

Do you have any good ideas for using old maps?  Share, please.  :)

Linking to:

Inspiration Friday at At The Picket Fence

Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

SNS at Funky Junk Interiors

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Lavender Piano

I’m often amazed at some of the remarkable transformations we see around Blogland, where someone’s put their imagination, blood, sweat and tears into taking a piece of what could be “trash” and turning it into a “treasure”. I have memories from my childhood of my mother spending many hours out in our garage refinishing furniture. Not because she enjoyed the process so much, I think as much as, at times it was more out of necessity. Furniture was often handed down, reused and repurposed. Tables, dining chairs, bookcases and even an old upright piano which, if memory serves, was a pale shade of lavender when we got it. What would possess someone to paint a piano purple is beyond me, but they did.

My mother took all the smaller pieces off, then put in hours and hours of scraping off layers of the old paint, going through many, many cans of paint remover and steel wool pads. Unlike some products available today, I still remember the strong smell that sometimes made your eyes water. I remember watching her sand and then stain until it looked nothing like it had before. And it played music in our living room for years after. I also remember the day she said “that’s it, no more.”  It might have been after she refinished that lavender piano. I’d be willing to bet it was.

Since furniture re-finishing is not my forte, I may not understand the process, but I certainly appreciate what it takes to make these transformations happen. These before and afters from bhg.com are amazing makeovers. Here, this outdated wood chest now has a new life, painted a bright white with a colorful cushion and new caster wheels. For inexpensive art above, paint an old frame to match the chest, insert a wallpaper sample, and secure branches for hangers with wood glue.

 

Many of us have carts like this left over from days gone by, maybe as a TV or media cabinet or a microwave cart. What could you do with this?

Here is it after it’s makeover, primed and painted white, now a charming bedside table. The casters were removed and replaced with new wooden furniture feet. The doors were removed, covered with decorative paper and put back on with new knobs. How cute for a guest bedroom, or kid’s bedroom, and I don’t imagine this project being very expensive to do.

This old chair looks like it’s seen better days. This project might be a little more involved, since you’d have to take the chair apart for reupholstering. 

And here’s the after, recovered in new fabric and finished with nail heads, the wood trim pieces repainted. You’d never believe this piece could have been a cast off from someone’s curb. 

 

All old pieces, given new life. I think it’s an art. I sure wish I had a picture of that old lavender piano. 

Have a great week, everyone!  :)

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Feature Yourself Friday at Fingerprints on the Frig

Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch

Amaze Me Monday at Dittle Dattle

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Touch of Class (or should I say Glass)

If you don’t have the space in your family room or den for a full-size bar, somewhere you can relax and entertain guests, a mini bar may be the answer. My son and daughter-in-law recently purchased a mini bar for their apartment from Pottery Barn. The Norwood Bar, measures 28.5" wide x 14" deep x 33" high. They’d been looking at them for a while, and this is the one they chose.

Here’s the PB mini bar as set up on the PB website.

  • Crafted from hardwood with antique-bronze corner brackets.

  • The top of the bar is surrounded by a gallery rail to keep items in place.

  • Two fixed shelves below hold barware and bottles of spirits.

  • Wine rack holds six bottles.

  • A cast-iron bottle opener and two towel hooks are mounted on the side to enhance the bar’s utility.

  • Finished by hand in lightly distressed mahogany.

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    And here it is assembled and set up in their living room.  It’s the perfect size for this corner, great for entertaining.

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    A cast-iron bottle opener and towel rack are handy on the front of the bar. On the shelf, he added a wine and bartending book. Linen napkins and a corkscrew rest in a narrow, natural-wood bowl.

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    A silver bowl filled with lemons adds some juicy color.  A variety of glassware completes the display.

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    To add some light in the corner, and balance the lighting around the room, he chose a tall iron lamp base with a nature-inspired shade. He and I were shopping together, something we don’t get to do nearly often enough, when we found this lampshade. If you’ve seen the rest of the room in my post Living Room with a Global Twist, the shade fits right in with the nature-inspired decor. The mahogany frame above is just enough for the space between the window and the corner.

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    A collection of wine corks tumble in a couple of wine glasses. A monogrammed glass corkscrew was a gift. Wine bottles come in gorgeous glass colors and can really add some interest to the display. Use them.

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    If you’re thinking of a mini bar, this PB one is a beautiful piece of furniture. It was just the right size, serves the purpose, but also adds character and has a presence in what was once an empty corner. I think my son did a great job choosing all the elements. Cheers!

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

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    Linking to:

    FFF at Miss Mustard Seed

    SNS at Funky Junk Interiors

  • Open House Party at No Minimalist Here

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