Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home Alone

This past weekend the Sparkling Boys set off to a football game about 7 hours from our home.  I decided to stay home and get some projects done around the house.  It is really weird being in a house all alone when you are used to lots of noise and activity.  With all the quiet, I was able to complete many projects that have been on my to do list and just enjoy some of life's quiet moments.  Let's take a look.

My Herbier Collection is finally complete!  Before we moved, I decided to collect and dry some of the herbs I had been growing for many years.  So I clipped them and placed them carefully between parchment paper in a huge, heavy book.  And then we moved.  I forgot about them.  A few months ago, I found my big book with my perfectly dried herbs and decided it was time to turn these into the collection I had dreamed of. 

There is not too much information on how to create an herbier collection.  So I went with my gut.  I decided to use paper that would stand the test of time and glue that would not ruin my herbs.  That was step one and a tedious one I might add.  I used Tacky Glue in very, very small amounts and scrapbook paper.  Once all herbs were secure, I took them to the frame shop.  The staff there were a little afraid to work with these.  I told them if they survived a move and sitting under a chair for nearly a year, they would be fine.  At first, one of the frame guys thought I should do French mats.  That day, I learned just what French mats were.  Basically, they hand tint the edge of each mat.  It is really pretty.  When the guy realized they were real herbs and not prints, he told me I should not spend the money on the French mats.

Question.  Would a print be more valuable than actual herbs hand selected from my garden and cured for over a year?  Just askin?  At any rate, since I had 8 of them, it was cost prohibitive to do the French mats anyway.

So here is the collection up close.  I really like the mats and frames they chose.  It is exactly what I was looking for.  I am so happy I took the time to create this collection and think it will be a keepsake for years to come.  While my guys were out of town, I hung these.  Oh, the patience that was required and that I DID NOT have.  Lining these up was a task!  Happy it is done!

After running a few errands this was my view on the way back to my house.  I just had to stop and thank God for his miraculous beauty.

Without her "boyz" to play with, Sparkling dog gave me more attention than I normally get.  Note to Memphistanista, she did give me permission to post this photo of her.  To my faithful readers, Memphistanista has made several comments that I should not take photos of Sparkling Dog without her written permission. 

We had a small breakfast bar at our former home with two counter stools.  When we moved in, I began to look for something for our island.  After much thought and gnashing of teeth, I finally decided and purchased these stools from Ballard Designs.  They arrived on Friday and I opened all the boxes on Saturday.  I am happy to have four stools and I know they will come in handy.

Why do custom curtains take so long?  We have been working our way through our home with decor and our next project was to be our kitchen.  The thought of having to wait months for more curtains was more than I could bare.  So since I had time to shop, I found these ready made, pinch pleated, linen, lined panels.  I am so happy with the fabric and how it looks with everything in our room.    I found these last Saturday and picked up my four panels today!  You just gotta love that kind of turn around!  I will share photos once they are in place.

I knew the Sparkling men would welcome a home cooked meal after being on the road the whole weekend.  I made my favorite wild rice, cooked some steaks and decided to make a wedge salad.  Once my guys arrived home, we sat down to dinner.  I wish you could have heard the questions about the wedge.  From what is this, to how am I supposed to eat it, to why didn't you chop it up like you usually do, were on the top of the list.  Son 1 told me he never wanted me to make it again while Son 2 told asked when we were having it again.  Mr. Sparkling and I loved it so Son 1 is out numbered.   This is a Pioneer Woman recipe and I will share it for you to enjoy too!



1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.


4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
1 iceberg lettuce head
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar or other cheese

Cut iceberg lettuce into four equal quarters.  Place on plate.  Top with dressing then bacon and cheese.  Enjoy!!

So my lonely weekend turned into a very productive one.  In addition to these projects, I watched football literally all day and night.  When I was watching my home team play, I was yelling so loud the dog next door started barking.  Oops!  We will see what this weekend brings.  Enjoy this wonderful Fall weather and I will talk to you next week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cookbook Club Luncheon and a Scallop Potato Recipe

This is the cookbook my club has been working out of for about a year now.  We have enjoyed the recipes but are almost out of some of the categories.  We have selected Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for our new book (s).

Upon arrival to our hostesses home, we were greeted with this beautiful arrangement.  What a wonderful welcome!

Our hostess certainly set a beautiful table.  She is fortunate to have a table that will seat 12.

Here is the place setting up close.  So very pretty.

Here was the centerpiece.  I love the touch of pumpkins added to this orchid arrangement.

This was Ultimate Salsa from our cookbook.  It was very fresh and delicious.

This was a yummy, warm bean dip.

Before serving our main plate, I noticed this fabulous arrangement in front of the hostesses sink.  Again, I love how the pumpkins are mixed in the the ivy and Kalanchoe.

Our main dish was Chicken in Phyllo.  It had a great flavor and the chicken was moist.

This dish is Green Beans Provencal.  The green beans used in this dish were so fresh.

This is the Scallop Potato and Garden Tomato dish.  I will share the recipe now.

2 pounds tomatoes
3 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 1/ 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Peel the tomatoes and cut into halves, discarding the seeds.  Invert to drain for 1 minute.  Chop the tomatoes.

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet until tender but not brown.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper: mix gently.

Spoon 1/3 of the tomato mixture into a greased 3 quart baking dish.

Layer potatoes, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese and remaining tomato mixture 1/2 at a time in the prepared dish.  Dot with two tablespoons butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until the potatoes are tender.

This spinach and artichoke tart was delicious.

I forgot to take photos of the desserts.  Didn't the same thing happen last week???  More picture taking and less talking for me in November.

I hope this inspires you to make a wonderful dinner or create a beautiful table.  Until next time.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall Floral Arrangements and Garden Club Part 2

Now that you have seen the photos of the barn where my garden club was held, it is time to show you the arrangements I presented. I want to thank my wonderful friend for helping me orchestrate 11 arrangements in 50 minutes.  She is dear and helped my nerves just by being on stage with me.  We had everything organized and went from one arrangement to another with ease.   There are a few arrangements missing in this post.   It was hard taking pictures of everything as it was hectic and the ladies wanted pictures too.  Again, thanks to my dear friend for taking pictures because I forgot my camera.

In planning for this presentation,  I wanted to offer a selection of arrangements from easy to a little harder. I did not want to create a large scale arrangement that could not be duplicated.  Hopefully, this gave everyone a bit of inspiration for our beautiful Fall season.  I hope these inspire you too!  Let's take a look, shall we?

Pumpkin with Succulents

One of my number one pins on Pinterest is a succulent filled pumpkin so I felt compelled to demonstrate just how easy this is to create.  Here is a step by step.

1.Find a pumpkin where the top indents slightly.
2.Cut the stem off.  No need to hollow out the pumpkin!  WOW!  What a time saver.
3.Cover the top with moss.  Use floral wire formed into a bobby pin shape to secure the moss.
4. Use sheet succulents and cut them to the size of the top of your pumpkin.
5.Secure with floral wire in the same manner above.
6.Spray with a mist of water.

That's it!  How great is that?  I found the succulents at our local garden center.  The moss can be found at the craft store.  

Coke Crate with Pumpkins & Artichokes

I remember these crates sitting either in our garage or storage room getting in the way when I was a young girl.  NOW, you have to pay around $50 for one of them.  These are so versatile and really could be used for so many things.  I filled this one with chartreuse colored moss, pumpkins, gourds, artichokes, pomegranates and candles.  If you wanted to use this crate with mason jars filled with flowers that would be great too!.  Or you could get some floral foam and place flowers low in a pave style.  The possibilities are endless. 

Garden Boots with Fall flowers
Since everyone in the group is a gardener, I thought it would be fun to fill my garden boots with Fall flowers.  First, I used some dry foam to fill the boots to provide a shelf for my plants.  I placed the foam in a plastic bag to protect my boots.  Then all I did was add some mums, ivy and moss.  The mums and ivy were also placed in plastic bags to protect my boots.  Then I added the cherry on top....the ribbon.  Easy and so fun!  These would look so welcoming by a front door.

Fall Centerpiece
This arrangement was done in a low, round container.  The Fall colors just really seem to work so well in this.  In this photo, you can't actually see the container, but it is the color of the Fuji mums so the flowers coordinate nicely.   I used wet oasis to secure the flowers.  Because this is a low arrangement, it is perfect for a centerpiece on a dining table. The flowers used in this arrangements were Fuji mums, Gerbera daisies, salsa mums, hypericum berries and seeded eucalyptus.

Coffee Bean Pumpkin Patch
When I saw these owl and pumpkin candles in the craft store, I thought they would be so cute displayed in a pumpkin patch style.  I used coffee beans to secure them and placed a few magnolia leaves and berries.  If you could see this all lit up, your eyes would sparkle!

Fall Tablescape Ideas
Here are two tablescape ideas.  I placed a little wet oasis in the coffee cup and secured a small pumpkin with a pick and then surrounded it with flowers and berries.  Time did not allow for me to fill it every spot, but I think you get the idea.  The other idea is to tie your napkin with feathers, leaves and berries.  Both of these would be great for your Thanksgiving table and easy to do.  Both could be done ahead of time leaving you time for cooking.

Annie Glass filled with Fall color
Why just use a beautiful serving piece for food.  Here, I have collected some pretty, fall colored plants and surrounded them with moss, acorns and baby pine cones.  Very easy to put together. 

Hydrangea and Lily Fall Arrangement
I found this tool box in a local antique store a while back.  When I purchased it, I thought it would be great to use as a centerpiece.  Time did not allow for me to finish this.  Used in this arrangement were hydrangeas, lilies, mums and hypericum berries.  Once our meeting was over and I took this arrangement home, it lasted for almost a week. I love the contrast of the blue and orange.

Sugar Bowl with Pansy
We all have sugar bowls that I bet rarely get used.  I thought it would be fun to place a pansy or two inside my bowl.  Wouldn't this be cute in a powder room or sitting by your kitchen sink?  I bought a six pack of pansies and cut the plastic, leaving them in the plastic container and then placed two in this bowl. 

I hope you are inspired to create some arrangements of your own.  I am happy this presentation day is behind me.  The next time I do something like this, I won't be so nervous because now I know that arranging backwards is not as hard as I thought it would be.  Happy Fall!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall Decorations and Garden Club Part 1

WOW!  I have been super busy and not able to post.  I have some really fun stuff to share.  Last week, I had the honor of speaking at my garden club meeting.  Oh the nerves that were involved!  I was not worried about speaking in front of a group because Sparkling can talk!  What did get my nerves going was WHO I was speaking to.  Here's the story. 

I joined the garden club three years ago.  At that time, I had a very mature and pretty yard.  When we moved, you know I basically had a lot of dirt.  So for two years I have felt like an impostor in this club.  So there's that.  Also, many of these ladies are master gardeners which means they have a whole lot more knowledge on gardening than I probably ever will.  So you ask why was I speaking.  Believe me, I asked this question of myself over and over. 

Turns out they wanted a presentation on Fall flower arranging.  Ok, now this is my area.  The things that got my nerves going were would everyone hear me and how was I going to arrange flowers from their perspective or basically backwards to me. 

Wouldn't you know, they had a microphone and I found out that I can almost arrange flowers backwards.  Once I arrived to my speaking location, more nerves popped up.  The photo you see above is the outside of the barn where my presentation was held.  I am not sure if the following photos are going to do this barn justice, but I will share them all.  Once I saw this barn I wondered how could I show them anything that would be as exciting as this barn.  The owner of this barn is a very lovely, creative, cool lady.  We rocked in some of her rocking chairs and talked for what seemed like forever  the day before the presentation.  So, put on your seat belt and take a look!

This is not from a magazine.  This is actually how the host had decorated outside of her barn.  This spider web is wrought iron.  In the background you see the hay filled wagon with the scarecrow on top. 

The arbor filled with colored glass bottles is so pretty.  I even love the wooden gate!  It was all so cool.

Once you entered the barn, you were greeted with this fabulous centerpiece filled with pumpkins and cotton.  Notice the bean filled mason jars.  How great is that?

So here is the kitchen...yes a kitchen in a barn!  Love the saddle stools. 

Look how nice the host set all these chairs up.  The table you see in the background is where my presentation was.   Notice the twinkle lights on the beams and the twig chandelier.

View from kitchen side of barn.

View from the loft.

Landing on the way to the loft.
The deck where my presentation was held.

Here was my view.  This was a great fall day that I will never forget. 

As you can see, there are so many wonderful decorations that made for one of the most memorable meetings we have had.  There's something so fun about being in a barn.  Son 1 was to help me get all of my supplies from my car to my presentation spot.  I had told him that the barn was amazing.  He was like oh sure until he arrived with me.  He went crazy.  He loved this barn so much that his obligatory trip to deliver goods with his mom turned into something he did not expect.  It was fun watching his excitement.  I think everyone had that same level of excitement. 

Kudos to my wonderful friend and son for taking these photos as I forgot my camera.  I will share my arrangements in the next post.  It just seemed that barn needed its own story.  Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Flowers and Plants

Last week I worked on adding a few Fall touches around my house.  I used things that I already owned for the containers and went to town.  I hope these inspire you in your own home.  Have fun!

This is a Croton plant.  I always think of Fall when I see these although they are available year round.  These are easy plants to care for.  They like an even, moist soil.  I find that if I water these once per week, they do great.  While you see this in front of my fireplace, I am going to move it tomorrow as they like sun and this is not a very bright spot in my home.  The more sun they get, the more color they have.  How cool is that?  I found this plant at the grocery store and placed it in my champagne cooler that usually is sitting in my china cabinet collecting dust.  When I first pulled it out, I was ready to put on my rubber gloves and give it a good polishing.  Then I looked a little harder and decided that the darker patina on it seemed to fit with Fall and so I just left it alone.  I surrounded the base with this chartreuse Spanish moss.  I loved finding this color in the craft store because it seemed like it would work so well with the typical Fall colors.

I am pretty sure you have seen this cast iron container before, but I filled it with some orange Kalonchoe and more of the chartreuse Spanish moss.  I usually have Kalonchoe somewhere in my house because of their great color, longevity and ease of care.  These like a sunny spot and if you let the soil dry out between watering they are happy campers.  I usually water mine every other week.  If you blooms fade, you can cut them off and if you are really patient, these will bloom again.  I have never been patient enough to wait.  Perhaps something I need to work on.

These beautiful white orchids (that you can barely see in this photo...sorry) were on sale at the grocery store.  At first they did not make me think Fall, but then I began to think of how white is really a blank canvas and mixed with Fall colors would be really pretty.  I used this Annie Glass bowl and filled it with mini pumpkins and pine cones.  The container the orchid came in was not really great so I covered it with burlap and grapevine wire.  So many people tell me they just can't care for orchids.  I give mine a few pieces of ice once per week and they last until their blooms fall off, at least a month or longer. 

This dough bowl always sits on our kitchen table.  Even when we lived in our former house, it sat on our table.  I think my family would freak out if this bowl was not on the table.  It usually houses some bright green faux apples.  I found these great faux pumpkins and gourds and placed them around the Spanish moss.  I use faux in this wooden bowl as it is porous and if one of these pumpkin cuties starts to... shall we say... get a little too ripe, it could ruin your wood.

So that's all my brain would allow me to come up with last week.  Maybe I will get some creative juices flowing again this weekend.  This is going to be a football weekend around my house.  Son 2 has a game tomorrow night and then on Saturday, all the Sparkling men will be traveling to a game. (This gives me time to work on some projects) I hope you have a great weekend.  Next week I will be sharing some new recipes and an update on our patio.  Stay tuned.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Recipes for Fall

With today being the first day of Fall, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my recipes from blog days past.  If you want to make these, type the name under the picture in my SEARCH bar and you will see the recipe. (The Search bar is in the top is the blank box with the magnifying glass). For the first recipe, you really MUST go to and type eggplant in the Search bar to see the commentary from my sister upon making this in FRANCE.  Hilarious!  You will also find another eggplant recipe and funny story on the same page.  You will find the pasta salad recipe right here at SLAD...a.k.a. Sparkling Like A Diamond.   Fall is such a great time of year for hearty, soul warming recipes.  I hope these bring a smile to your face.  If you have any questions about finding these recipes on my blog, leave me a comment.  Happy Fall Ya'll!!!
Eggplant and Sausage Pasta Salad
Good Old Fashioned Meatloaf
Sparkling's Navy Bean Soup
Gina's Pot Roast
Spicy Smothered Shrimp