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

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Go With Your Gut

Today I tried a new recipe for pot roast.  Why do I always want to make pot roast on Sunday?  At any rate, this recipe was from a very reputable magazine and one that I trust.  I prepared and cooked the roast exactly as it was written and it cooked so long it had a burned taste. My gut told me it had a really long cooking time. So frustrating!  A few weeks ago, I tried a recipe from a magazine that I don't always trust and I was right not to trust!  The rice in the dish tasted like mush. My gut told me the rice would be mush. The MORAL of this story is trust your gut when reading and attempting to make a recipe.  Not only do you have a financial investment but a TIME investment as well.  I have learned my lesson.  Mr. Sparkling wanted to know why I went meddling with my regular pot roast.  Good question!  While we are going to eat this burned tasting meat tonight, I thought I would share a really good recipe with you that I found on the Internet several weeks ago and I never trust those recipes.  Go figure.  Enjoy!

Crispy Cheddar Chicken
Soak chicken breasts in buttermilk

Place 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese on a plate
Place 2 cups crushed Cheez-It crackers on a plate

Here is the full recipe


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (this works better if you grate it yourself)
2 cups crushed Cheez-It crackers

Wash chicken and place in the buttermilk, salt and pepper.  Let soak in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Dip soaked chicken in shredded cheddar cheese and then the crushed Cheez-It crackers making sure to coat all sides.

Place in a greased, uncovered, baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Take out of oven and top with sauce.  Serve and Enjoy


1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

In a saucepan, mix all ingredients and stir until warm.

Spoon over Crispy Cheddar Chicken

I served this with wild rice and a salad and everyone in my family thought this was a great meal. 

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