Friday, September 19, 2014

I Spy Green

As promised, I am finally able to show you our landscaping photos.  We are so pleased with everything and can't wait until a few years from now when all of these plants are "doing their thing".  So here we go.  There are a lot of photos so get ready.

Front of House  Limelight hydrangeas and boxwood
Front of house  More boxwoods and Anthony Waterer Spireas
Beside our "friend" entry.  Camelias and Pentas (these flowers will change seasonally)
4 Nuttal Oaks.  These allow grass to grow and the roots are not invasive.
Welcome to the Sparkling Home

Let's sit a spell.  Camelias, Sweet Olive, Anthony Waterer Spirea, more boxwoods
More front beds
WE HAVE GRASS!!!  Remember how this looked in my previous post?
This area is beside our future looks so peaceful.  GG Gerbing Azalea, Camelias and Crepe Myrtle
Area where patio and fireplace will be.  Work starts next week!  I may move those roses.
I love this bed....azaleas, camelias and spireas

Love this rock actually is covering a city drain.  How cool is that?
This is what greets you when you open our new gate.
WE HAVE A GATE on this side of our yard.  It is the small things in life that make me happy.
These camelias will be pruned to grow more like trees.  They sit outside our breakfast room window.  They will have a pale pink bloom.  I can't wait to see these grow.
This is the side of our house.  More plant materials and a slag walkway will be coming but not until Phase 3
Hey Mom, Why are you out there?
Slag walkway from the gate to the steps.  I love this!  Sparkling Dog happy that I returned to the backyard.
Italian Cypress...attention getters
Gone is the awful deck...replaced with these wonderful steps.  The white design on the left is where a concrete pad will be built for a cooking station.  More on that later.
Little Gem Magnolias anchor the corner of the yard.
Chaste Lilacs were planted now so they could start to grow.  This whole side of the house will be completed in Phase 4...much later.  This is what will see from our bedroom window
I am so giddy about the grass I had to show you one last time.
We have never embarked on a landscaping project this large and the process has been a lot of fun.  We found a wonderful landscape architect that is bringing our dreams to life.   I hope you enjoyed the tour and I will share more as things progress.  Happy Gardening!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Dream In Progress

You have to start somewhere right?  A few weeks ago I told you about our plans for landscaping.  The work began and boy was it a job.  We had a crew for several weeks working from sun-up to sun-down.  In the photo above of our backyard, the crew was working on our outer beds and building a French drain.  Not very pretty right?

And it got worse!

And then with several deliveries of plant got better.

Pinestraw means there will be flower beds...right?

A cement truck meant there would be something built...the excitement is beginning to build.

Yes, the cement was used for the foundation of our new steps...notice the deck is GONE!!!

There was actually a decent bed in this area.  I think we are going backwards.

Even the beds in the front of the house were cleared out.

A blank slate....well...except for Son 1 and the lone sweet olive tree.

So here is some of the plant material.  Nuttal Oaks (4 for the front yard since the front of the house faces WEST...I swore I would not do that again.  Promises Promises), GG Gerbing Azaleas, Lilac Chaste Trees, Oakland Holly, Little Gem Magnolia, Boxwoods.....lots and lots of boxwoods, Shi Shi Sassanqua Camelia, Anthony Waterer Sprirea, Agapanthus (the first grouping of many to come), and Limelight hydrangeas.  Here are pictures of some of them.  Next post..the completed job!

G G Gerbing Azalea

Anthony Waterer Spirea

Shi Shi Sassanqua Camelia

Lilac Chaste Tree

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Day In Italy

Have I ever told you I am in a Cookbook Club?  For some of you, this may be a surprise.  For others you may have heard me talk about how much fun it really is.  I will get to the details about the club later, but for now I wanted to share photos from our September luncheon that was held at my home.  

 I found this invite on Zazzle and thought it would work great for our Italian themed lunch.  Our group does not usually send invitations in the mail but since this was our first luncheon of our year I thought it would be fun.

 This is my dining room table all set and ready to go.  The china is Spode Italian.  I have had the place mats and napkins for years and don't remember where they came from.  The place mats reverse to blue and white on the other side and I have loved that versatility.  How cool is that?

The charger came from Pier 1 years ago, but I think they still carry them.  I have enjoyed using them with all types of china.  The silver was my mother-in-laws and is King Edward.  The crystal is what Mr. Sparkling and I selected when we registered for our wedding: Lenox Hayworth.  I found the burlap table runner at Home Goods.  

 I had so much fun putting these floral arrangements together.  I thought it would be fun to mix vegetables and flowers.  As you see, there is a big artichoke in the middle with sunflowers and arugula....yes arugula. (official name is Arugula Roquette)  I was not sure it would hold up, but it did great and I will use it again.

 This was the place setting in the kitchen.  The bamboo mats and chargers came from Pier 1 years ago and I have used them over and over.  The plain white plates also came from Pier 1.  In keeping with our Italian theme, I found the olive plates at Home Goods.  The silver was given to me by my sister and it is from Southern Living at Home.  The crystal is Waterford.  I have had the napkins for years and don't recall where they came from.  I have a thing for napkins...I pick them up all the time and from any source.  It is a sickness.

 Here is the whole table and you can see the navy and khaki trimmed runner.  I found this at Home Goods.

This was one of our appetizers; Mushroom and Ricotta Cheese Pate and it was yummy served with crostini.  In the background, you can see my little appetizer plates.  I just love that they are perfect for small bites.  I found the French bread board in an antique store in my town.


This was our main course all from the cookbook, True Grits.  Company Lasagna, Crawfish Lasagna, Asparagus and Mushroom Saute, and Tomatoes Rockefeller.

Close up of the Asparagus and Mushroom Saute.  

 Close up of the Tomatoes Rockefeller.  These were fantastic.

Close up of the Crawfish Lasagna.  This was so yummy and I will make again.

Close up of the Company Lasagna.  This is your basic lasagna but it was very good and not too hard to put together.

Really fun and pretty ladies.

Serving in the kitchen.

One day last year we all received tiaras but this lovely lady was absent that day.  We made sure she received her crown!  She wears it well.

Enjoying Lemoncello and discussing our food items.  Yes, we really did talk about the food and not just have a party!
After lunch fun.

We have a new member and she received her tiara too.  Every girl needs to be queen for a day.  Right?

It is hard to be a hostess and take photos.  I totally forgot to take pictures of our desserts which were beautiful and delicious.  

We started our club six years ago.  I think at that time we had six members.  Our group quickly grew to 12 and that is when we capped it off.  Twelve was chosen as most people can seat and serve 12 people.  If you get more than that, it is difficult from a seating and place setting standpoint.  We meet once per month from September through May.  We rotate hostesses and homes which makes it really fun.  We serve 10 items for most luncheons.  The lady that hosted the month before gets a cooks holiday and another lady brings wine.  The hostess selects the menu and theme if there is one.  We must prepare the recipe as it is written and then during our discussion share any changes we would make.  We typically work out of one cookbook per year but one that was a really good one was used nearly two years.  Peace Meals is that cookbook and I highly recommend it.  

If any of my faithful readers want one of the recipes, please leave me a comment or even if you don't want a recipe I always love comments.  Happy Cooking to you!