Friday, March 28, 2014

GARDEN FUN

If you have been following my blog for a while then you know I have taken you on a garden tour of my home for the past couple of years.  Well, we have moved and our new home is currently a blank canvas.  So instead of show you a lot of grass and some sad builder shrubs, I decided to share some of my favorite landscaping photos and hope you can dream with me too.  Enjoy!
Janelle McCulloch's Library of Design  vegetable garden Michael Devine
This is the garden of designer, Michael Devine.  WOW! is all I can say.  How can I get that?  If you look closely at the surround of the raised beds, you will see it is a basket weave....so pretty.  What a great way to grow vegetables and herbs.  I have plenty of sunlight.  This is just so inspiring!

Roses over the door...beautiful!
Would you not just love walking up to this very inviting door with the beautiful vine surrounding it?  I am not sure what that vine is but if any of you knows, please leave me a comment because it is so pretty.

So pretty!
I have always loved ivy growing like this on a house.  I just looks so regal.  I have heard that ivy can tear your house up and so I have never taken the plunge.  Would love to know the real truth about this since so many homes seem to have it.   I have had success with creeping fig and would love to plant it on the front of my house, BUT I have read that it should not be planted on a West facing wall.  Well guess what direction the front of my house faces???  You guessed it WEST.

outdoor fireplace with ivy
Now this patio - fireplace area would fit nicely in my backyard since it is a blank canvas.  It is so inviting.  It would be so nice to sit by a nice fire on a chilly autumn evening.

White Crepe Myrtles with boxwoods.
Well, I do have a six crepe myrtles in my yard...they are simply a workhorse and I am thrilled with their placement.  Add these boxwoods and the simplicity is just elegant.  I could do this!!

climbing roses and green urns
Remember I said the front of my house faces west.  Well I think I could be pretty successful with roses like these.  BUT, what would all this look like in the winter?  I love this look, but am just not sure.

So by now with all of the questions and concerns I have you are probably thinking I should hire a landscape architect.  I would love to do this but I can't seem to get over the sticker shock of their work.  No doubt they are talented and could certainly make my yard an oasis I am dreaming of but, I can seem to take the plunge.   Any wise words of advice would be welcomed.

For now, I am going to focus on areas of my yard where I have a plan that I am thrilled with.  The north side of my yard is going to become Hydrangea Heaven.  The backyard is ready for some climbing roses and lots of some kind of trees. A good friend came over and offered some wonderful suggestions of Chaste Lilac and Little Gem Magnolia.  I love both of those and will coordinate them with other plantings.   I feel like we are in a fish bowl and am tempted to plant the largest, fastest growing trees I can find, but I know better.  So perhaps I need to take a breath and just take it slow.  Yards don't develop in one year.  I have to keep telling myself this!  I leave you with this wonderful, inspiring quote.  Until next time!


:-)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SIGNS OF SPRING AND A FEW FUN RECIPES

This is a spring arrangement I made for our side "friend" entry door.  I was so happy to find the fisherman's basket and then the flowers, apple, lotus pods and very realistic orchids. This makes me smile and think of spring.


Put your seat belt on.  Lots of random things to talk about...but all fun so let's see what I have been doing.


These are NO BAKE Chocolate cookies that I made for a Valentine's luncheon....so yummy.  Recipe below.



 These are White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites...so easy and so good.



Greek Salad with an oregano vinaigrette.  This salad is one that I have made since Mr. Sparkling and I married.  While there are lots of yummy ingredients, I think the dressing sends this salad over the top.



This arrangement was a prayer.  I needed a centerpiece for a luncheon but did not have a budget.  Hmmm....how do you pull flowers out of a hat?  Luckily, a few weeks previous to the luncheon, I purchased these flowers for my porch.  As luck would have it, they still looked pretty good so I mixed them with an ivy plant that I had and surrounded everything with some gold colored Spanish moss. I will say it makes me think Spring!





Oh my goodness!  I need large plants and I need them NOW!  I am feeling like I am in a fish bowl in my new house.  This Southern Magnolia would grow to be very large...maybe too large but I am trying to decide if I would mind.  Lots to ponder.

Plans to add LOTS of hydrangeas to our landscape are in order.  While I found these blue beauties, I am on the lookout for the Endless Summer variety as they bloom more!  I want a sea of hydrangeas.  Hello shovel!

And now, here are the recipes.



NO BAKE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup butter
3 cups instant oatmeal
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons cocoa

Bring to a boil sugar, milk and butter.  In a bowl combine oatmeal, vanilla and cocoa.  Pour hot mixture in bowl and stir.  Drop by teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet.  Cookies will harden as they cool.  



White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

4 cups crisp white cereal
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
4 cups (24 oz.) white chocolate morsels, melted

Mix cereal, marshmallows, peanut butter and peanuts in a large bowl with a spatula.  Melt the white chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, or in the microwave on High for two minutes.  Pour the white chocolate over the cereal mixture and quickly mix to coat.  Spread the cereal mixture on a sheet of waxed paper and let stand until cool and firm.  Break into small pieces and store in an airtight container.


GREEK SALAD WITH OREGANO VINAIGRETTE

1 head romaine lettuce, cleaned and torn into small, bite sized pieces
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes (or by all means homegrown tomatoes when possible)
1 can pitted black olives, drained
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup  drained capers

Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix well, toss with salad

OK, THAT IS ALL I HAVE FOR NOW.  Still working on the new table and chairs.... hoping to have the seat cushions soon.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hello New Friend And Should I Invite Others?


Ahh!!!! A new kitchen table and chairs at last!!!  We have finally taken the plunge and found a beautiful new kitchen table and 8 chairs.  Honestly, there was more emotion in doing this than I realized.  Our former kitchen table was the hottest, latest, greatest, thing when we purchased it in 1990....let's see that was 24 years ago!  While this table has been our family table all that time, it has also been host to lots of homework, projects, meetings and just general fun.  The problem with this table is that it looks like it came from 1990....yes a little dated.  For years, I have thought we needed a new table but just could not give my old friend the boot.  WELL, enter the beauty you see above. The great thing is that is has 8 chairs!  So excited about that!  A friend and I found this table and the chairs at an antique store.  It was born in the 1930's and came over to the US from Europe.  It needed a bit of TLC which I gave it and besides the seat cushions, it is ready for its new home.  Once we have it all dolled up, I will show another picture.   

This is a fabric we are considering for the seat cushions.  I really like it.  I have a designer working with me to determine fabrics not just for these cushions but also window treatments. 


With the excitement of finding the new table and chairs, I began thinking of other needs in our home and began wondering if other items should be invited.  I found this lamp that I can't seem to get off of my mind.  I just love the rustic vibe is has.  I think I will need to return to the store and bring him home.

 I am not going to be purchasing this armoire, but I do like the finish on it.  A while back, I had the honor of Joni Webb of Cote de Texas actually look at photos of my dining room and make suggestions.  WOW!  that was exciting.  I love ALL she does.  At any rate, she suggested painting my hutch and others commenting agreed with her.  While I don't have quite this much ornamentation, I think the same look could be achieved.  Now the real question:  TO PAINT OR NOT TO PAINT!  I am thinking YES!  If I am brave enough to have it done, I will of course share photos.  I would love to know your thoughts on painting furniture. 

Here is our old friend.  This set is going into storage for one of our boys when they have a place of their own.  I would love for this to stay in our family.  It was one of the first farmhouse tables when they became popular again in the 90's and it is a true butcher block top.  The Windsor chairs have been the most sturdy chairs I have ever seen.  I guess quality does not ever really go out of style.  So for now, Goodbye Old Friend.



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sparkling's 3 Top Pins from Pinterest

So I have been pretty excited lately.  It seems that several of the things that I have made and pinned on Pinterest are receiving some attention!  I thought it would be fun to see the TOP THREE of my pins.  Let's take a look!

I have been writing this blog for several years.  Many times when I share a recipe with you, I also pin it on Pinterest.  This recipe for Redfish is my number one Repin of all of my items on Pinterest.  It usually receives a couple of pins per week.  I think maybe we should try this recipe again.  Don't you?  It is delicious!



Redfish Special


REDFISH SPECIAL

4 - redfish fillets
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Sprinkle both sides of each redfish fillet with lemon pepper and dust with flour. Saute fillets in 3 tablespoons butter for 5 minutes, turning once. Preheat a separate, oven proof pan and add lemon juice, 2 tablespoons butter and sauteed fish. Pour butter from saute pan over fish and add garlic salt and Worcestershire. Broil 3 minutes without turning. Serve immediately.


The next pin is for a Valentine Wreath I made several years ago.  I find it very interesting that when I first posted it, nobody repinned it.  Now that everyone is looking for Valentine's ideas, it seems this is catching people's attention.  Go figure!

Valentine's Wreath




And the third among my popular pins is one that I did for Fall.  What makes me happy about all of these are they are all actually things that I made.  So exciting when you are able to share something that someone else will actually make too! 




Saturday, January 4, 2014

Let's Dream A Bit, Shall We?








I am in love with home decor.  I think about it each and every day.  I am always trying to improve my own house.  I study home decor magazines and books like there is no tomorrow.  I love to check out Pinterest and have a few blogs that I check very frequently.  Here is my list of favorite blogs; Cote de Texas, Segreto Secrets, The Enchanted Home, the French Tangerine, French Essence and Jones Design Company (This was actually my first blog to read...more on this in another post).  All of this makes me dream happy dreams.  Over the years I have pinned some fantastic rooms on my Home Decor board.  I decided to share a few of my favorites with you.  Let's dream together.  Enjoy!  You might want to get a cup of coffee because I think this may be my longest post ever, but lots of fun!


kitchen - I love it all!!

Wonderful kitchen!
I first saw the first kitchen on Pinterest about two years ago and I fell in love.  It also opened me to one of my favorite blogs and one of the BEST design books I have in my collection.  The very popular blog from Joni Webb, Cote de Texas originally pinned this kitchen.  Upon investigation, I found that it was featured in Leslie Sinclair's book, Segreto Secrets.  Leslie and her firm do the most amazing plaster, faux and decorative painting.  I fell in love with this book for all of the beautifully designed rooms and to this day look through it for ideas at least once a week.  About a month ago, I read that she is publishing another book!  I can't wait until it is ready for the public. 


The second kitchen is another one that I love.  The blues and grays just work so well together.  Just really love everything about it.

 One of my ALL time favorite rooms...LOVE LOVE the shutters.

This living room was featured on the cover of House Beautiful many years ago.  So wonderful how classic design never goes out of style.  This has to be one of my all time favorite rooms.  I love every piece in the room, but the shutters just steel the deal.



What's for dinner?
One of the prettiest dining rooms ever!
The first dining room is simply beautiful.  I love the ceiling, the neutrals, the fabrics, the paint....well really just all of it. 

The second dining room was featured in Southern Accents years ago....I think...maybe Veranda.  It is stunning and unforgettable.  I love every single bit of it!


 Great Entry


This entrance way is spectacular.  I love the wall treatment and the furniture.  It looks so elegant and inviting.  My entry is not this large, but I could do some type of wall treatment to create this inviting look.  Hmmmm....my wheels are turning.   


Blue shutters and boxwoods!

The exterior of this home is so beautiful with its boxwoods and blue shutters.  I hope to have some boxwoods at my own home very soon!

Beautiful master bath...great colors.

WOW!  is really all that needs to be said here.  Love the browns and blues but really, the whole thing is spectacular!


Dream laundry room!!!

Ok, now this is what a laundry room should look like!  BUT, more importantly check out the washer and dryer situation.  Doesn't that just make sense.  Find me a dryer that can keep up with a washer!  I have always joked that I wanted two washers and two dryers.  Wouldn't that make washing clothes so much easier?

I hope you enjoyed checking out some of my favorites.  I have so many, it was hard to choose.  I will do this again in the future. Until then!

Friday, January 3, 2014

No, I am not Paula Deen



Delicious Dinner Rolls


So let me tell you the story of these rolls.  I was halfway watching The Pioneer Woman one day when she made these.  So she gets the credit for these beauties.  Remember, I said "halfway" watching.  I usually am not a big bread person so this recipe was really not on my radar until I saw the finished product....yes, the picture above was made by me and can be made by YOU!  Trust me.  At any rate, when my sister was home from France, I made these for dinner one night.  I slaved over the remainder of the dinner BUT she loved these rolls.  Hum....you just never know. 

I decided to post the recipe (or at least what my mind remembered) on Facebook.  I received many lovely comments and one that for some reason got my attention.  Upon reading the ingredients and finding out that there is a stick of butter, I was asked if I was Paula Deen.  I miss Paula...but back to the story.  I think of myself as a moderately healthy eater.  My motto is everything in moderation.  I do not eat fried food....I try to eat only healthy fats...I confess to loving a good piece of chocolate...anything chocolate.  So this comment kind of made me want to defend this recipe.  So, I put the pencil to the paper and found out that basically each roll only contained 1/4 teaspoon of butter and only 25 calories.  Judging by the number of these babies my sister ate, I think it was totally worth it. I really don't think that is anything to get your panties in a wad over. I think you will love these...not only do they look so pretty but they taste wonderful.  Give them a try!


These rolls are delicious and look so pretty....but best of all they are so easy to make. In a cast iron skillet place frozen dinner rolls side by side. Cover with a dish towel and let rise...about 2-3 hours. Once risen pour a stick of melted butter on top and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs. Bake at 350 until golden brown...about 20 minutes. My family loved them! Give them a try. You won't be sorry.