Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bailey's Pudding Shots

Pudding shots are so fun to serve at parties and are always yummy! I make them several different ways but love to make them with Bailey's for the holidays.  Here is the recipe for the ones I made for a get together with friends at our house last weekend.

1 small box of chocolate instant pudding
1/2 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream
1/4 cup vodka
3/4 cup of milk
1 8oz tub of cool whip

Mix the pudding and milk with an electric mixer.  Pour in the alcohol and continue to mix well.  Fold in the Cool Whip and put into individual serving cups with lids.  Keep in the freezer and let sit out for a few minutes before serving.  They should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Ikea has adorable 5 inch tiny stainless steel spoons that we like to serve them with.

Monday, November 25, 2013

B & A - Chest

I picked up this old chest of drawers at the local Goodwill for $20.00 because I really needed some storage in the Living Room area.

After a good cleaning up and a light sand - it got primed and painted black.
Here it is today in its new home:

 Gotta love Goodwill Hunting!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Painted Brick and Mortar

I have been dreaming of painting the red brick on my home white for some time. I love the look of painted brick and mortar and I am still hard at work trying to sell the husband on the idea. This lovely little house by Harrison Design Associates is a perfect example of how amazing it can look - I already have the black door and the ivy - so I am almost there! 

Now that's Curb Appeal!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

B & A - Black Interior Doors

The exterior of my front door has been black for years and I have finally gotten around to what I like to call Black Door Decor!

 I painted the inside of the front door and the closet in the foyer as well. What a difference - Why didn't I do this sooner?  I added some great glass pulls to the closet doors and I am really happy with the way everything came out!

I am trying to continue Black Door Decor throughout the whole house but for now at least the main level is done and I get to enjoy this:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pumpkin Topiary

I love to make a stacked pumpkin topiary every year for the front porch sometimes with three pumpkins - sometimes with two. Here are the steps I followed to make mine:

  • Large urn
  • fill dirt or gravel
  • 1 large pumpkin
  • 1 small to medium pumpkin
  • Wooden skewers
  • Dried moss
  • Hot glue gun
  • 1. Fill urn with dirt or gravel
    2. Break the stem off of the large pumpkin and position it in the urn
    3. Stick some wood skewers in the large pumpkin with the sharp side facing up - I usually use 4
    4. Position small pumpkin on top of large, gently pushing it onto the exposed skewers. This will stabilize the topiary and hold the smaller pumpkin in place.
    5. Hot glue pieces of dried moss in between the pumpkins for a finished look. You can also use fall garland or raffia.

    Tuesday, October 1, 2013


    Badmiton has been around for centuries and I just love it because it so much easier for me than tennis.  We love to play when we are at the lake, especially in the early fall when the weather is a bit cooler and always have a great time.  Badmiton is said to have been originally played at a garden party of the Duke of Beaufort at his home in the country so we feel a little fancy (but don’t look it) when we are swinging away at that birdie!
    How to play:

    You need rackets, a birdie – also called a shuttlecock, and a net

    Stand on opposite sides of the net in the opposite corners

    The first player serves underhand

    If the birdie hits the ground or goes out of bounds – the server gets the point or the receiver wins the serve

     The first player to get 15 points is the winner
    It's even better if you can find some great vintage rackets.  I am always picking up them up at flea markets when I see them.  Sooooo much fun !!!!!

    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

    Packing a Picnic

    The weather is just absolutely perfect right now to get outside and enjoy a lovely picnic with your friends and family.  Here are a few tips for packing that picnic basket:

    Choose foods that travel well and don’t require more than one utensil to eat

    Pack the plates and utensils

    Pack last what you will need first - like the picnic blanket

    If your food requires cutting – do it at home and then wrap tightly

    Pack cold foods in a small cooler so they stay cold


    Cups and glasses


    Salt and pepper

    Trash bags

    Citronella candles



    Friday, September 6, 2013

    Going to the lake...

    Friend: "What are you doing this weekend?"
    Me: "Going to the lake"
    Friend: "AGAIN?"

    But a weekend at the lake is something special - even if it is every weekend. A Saturday at home is very different than a Saturday at the lake. A Saturday morning at home is heading to the grocery store with a list and then Target, maybe even Home Depot. Saturday morning at the lake is getting out early with the fishing poles or just taking your coffee down by the water in the adirondack chair.

    Saturday afternoon at home is watching your kids run out the door to be with their friends for the day and probably the night. Saturday afternoon at the lake is packing up the boat with the cooler, snacks, rafts, noodles, snorkel masks and most importantly the kids.

    Saturday nights at home are in the kitchen preparing dinner or maybe ordering a pizza. Saturday nights at the lake are picking up fish and chips from town and bringing them down to the beach to watch the sunset or having long alfresco dinners on the deck until its time to start the bonfire.

    Sundays at the lake are pretty much the same except with maybe the added benefit of bloody mary's and long bike rides- so Target and Home Depot will have to wait - this weekend I am "going to the lake".


    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Fresh Flowers

    Is there anything more beautiful around the house then fresh flowers? Whether you are picking your own or buying them from the market, here are a few tips to keep them looking fresh and gorgeous.

    From your cutting garden:
    1. If you are picking your own try to do it in the early part of the day before the sun starts to drain them.
    2. Bring a bucket of water and put the stems in as soon as you cut them.
    3. Pick the flowers that haven't bloomed completely yet so they will last longer


    From the market:
    1. Cut all of the stems on a diagonal
    2. Take off any leaves that will be under the water line in you vase
    3. Snip off thorns and remove damaged petals

    Use tepid water

    Add floral nutrients

    Change the water regularly

    Friday, August 30, 2013

    Before Summer is Over...

    There is no denying that summer is fleeting but before it is over why don't you...

    Go Outside and Read an Entire Book

     Dip Your Toes in the Water

    Go For a Bike Ride

    Listen to the Ocean in a Seashell
    Eat an Ice Cream Cone
    Go Skinny Dipping

    "Summer's lease hath all too short a date"
    - William Shakesperare

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    Grilled Corn

    Is there anything better than fresh corn in the summer! Nothing completes a summer meal or barbeque like grilled corn and here is a great way to add some zip to yours:


    Fresh ears of corn
    Sea salt
    Chili powder
    Ice cubes
    1.  Shuck the corn. Put the ears in pairs on pieces of foil and fold the edges.
    2.  Put a piece of lime and butter on each ear and then sprinkle with chili powder and sea salt.
    3.  Put two ice cubes on each pair of corn and fold up the foil into a packet.
    4.  Place the packets of corn onto the grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.


    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Adirondack Chairs

    Photo by Rare Brick
    The first Adirondack chair was created in 1903 on the banks of Lake Champlain near the Adirondack Mountains by a man named Thomas Lee who wanted his family cottage to have comfortable lawn chairs to sit on in the summer. 
    One of my favorite memories of our summer cottage was the original white Adirondack chairs that were perfectly placed - looking out to the lake.  I spent hours reading and daydreaming in those chairs and I remember my parents and their friends taking them over at cocktail hour.   
    The Adirondack chair has certainly gone through some changes in the past 100 years but it is still the same recognizable, comfortable chair that almost anyone would want to relax in at a summer cottage, by the water with a book or in a circle with friends watching the sunset.
    Photo by Rare Brick

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Watermelon Sorbet

    To me melons are the official fruit of summer as nothing tastes better or keeps you nutritionally hydrated on hot days since they are water saturated.  My personal favorite is watermelon and here is a fun way to enjoy it and keep cool:
     Watermelon Sorbet

    Half of a watermelon sliced lengthwise
    Small can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
    Large can of crushed pineapple, undrained
    Sugar to taste
    Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

    1.  Scoop the watermelon flesh and put it in a blender or food processor.  Process it until it is smooth.
    2.  Pour the puree through a strainer into a bowl, discard the pulp and seeds.
    3.  Measure out 8 cups of juice.  Add the lemonade concentrate, pineapple and sugar.  Stir until sugar dissolves.
    4.  Pour the mixture into a 13 X 9 inch pan.  Cover with platic wrap and freeze until firm.
    5.  Break the frozen mixture into chunks.  Place half of it back in the blender and process until smooth.  Repeat with the second half.

    Garnish with fruit or mint and ENJOY!

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    Beach Reads

    I am sorry for my absence but Summer was calling and I just had to answer!  We have enjoyed a few little get-aways, time at the Lake and I have been lucky enough to be hanging out at the beach with some great books.  Some of my summer reads so far have been:

    Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
    Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
    Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinski
    A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (absolutely loved this book)

    This weekend I will be off to the lake and my beach chair with The Summer Everything Changed by Holly Chamberlin. 

    I hope you are enjoying your summer and have a wonderful weekend!

    Thursday, July 25, 2013

    Summer Cocktails - Drink Garnishes

    During the summer everything feels like a celebration and our refreshing cocktails should look as festive we feel.  Here are a few garnishes that are a great way to dress up your drinks:

    Lime Zest
    Use a vegetable peeler to cut a narrow strip of lemon peel and twine it around in the glass.  Slice a lemon round in half and place on top of the glass.

    Orange Spiral 
    Cut a narrow strip of orange peeler with a channel knife.  Twine it around by hooking one end to top of a glass and the other around the stem.

    Pineapple Chunk or Stalks
    Cut a chuck of pineapple to adorn the top of your glass or cut two long squared strips to stand up in the glass - one being a little taller than the other.  Top the tallest strip with a cherry using a toothpick.


    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Beach Cabanas

    When we were in Myrtle Beach I absolutely fell in love with these great little houses that were along the ocean. They are certainly tiny but so perfect right there in the dunes among the sand and sea grass. There is no parking or curbs so it was a bit difficult to get photos - that is why I only got pictures of two of them. I would have done anything to get a look at the interiors.

    I was finally able to find some information on them and learned that this area is called the cabana district and they are only 200 square feet and 12 feet high. The cabanas are in very high demand and those who are intent on buying and cabana that becomes available are wait listed.

    The funny thing is that nobody is really sure how the cabanas came to be. The theories are that they belonged to the homes across the street or to a hotel that was once there.

    They would be so much fun to decorate - it is said that because of the small space, interior designers use boat cabins for their inspiration.

    They really are unique and lovely - aren't they?

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    French Hens Market

    Morris, Illinois is a small town located along the I & M canal and the Illinois river. It has a terrific downtown with great shops, restaurants and community events. It is also home to a great French country and farmers market called the Three French Hens Market. Two women who have shops in town started the market to show people that it isn't necessary to drive for hours to find great treasures, talented and creative vendors and just a nice day in town that has so much to offer.

    I was at the market this past Saturday and had a great day there and in town and went home with a few vintage finds, beautiful fresh vegetables and some jewelry from Whimsy, which is owned by one of the Hen's named Traci Tessone. I met some very nice vendors and shop owners and was inspired by their beautiful vignettes and creativity. The next French Hens Market will take place on Saturday, August 10th from 8:00am - 2:00pm if you are in the area.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Martha's Vineyard - Seeing the Island

    Martha's Vineyard has a great bus service that runs throughout the island to all of the different towns and it is a great way to get where you want to go and to see the lovely homes, countryside, lagoons and cliffs. 

    With a full day pass from the transit system you can find yourself in the unique town of Oak Bluffs admiring the quaint cottages and colorful gingerbread houses and then in Vineyard Haven having a bite to eat at The Black Dog and watching ships in the harbor.

    Oak Bluffs

    Oak Bluffs
    Vineyard Haven

    Vineyard Haven
     In the town of Aquinnah, the Gay Head cliffs rising above the beautiful beach are not to be missed and it is not unusual to find nude bathers here rolling around in the colorful clay. It is quite a sight as is the Gay Head Light standing tall above the cliffs.
    Gay Head
    Gay Head
    Don't forget to bring along an old copy of Moby Dick to read as you are on the bus riding from town to town to really feel the history as you are experiencing the natural beauty of the island. Some of the pages of my copy are still a bit crumpled from the dampness in the air coming from the ocean.


    Friday, July 12, 2013

    Farmer's Market

    One of the best things about summer is the bounty of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs and although I do have a small vegetable garden in the yard I really love to shop the Farmer's Markets. Here is how to make the most of a trip to your local market:
    • The earlier you go for your favorite items the better the selection. As the day goes on there is less availability but if you are out to get some great deals, the vendors are happy to give them at the end of the day.
    • Browse all of the stands to see what is being sold first and taste test as much as you can before you go back and make your purchases.
    • Be sure to have small bills and change with you and there are no shopping carts so bring a large bag, basket or rolling cart. I love my wicker rolling cart which is similar to the one shown below:

    Most importantly - have fun and make a day of it. Meet up with friends and neighbors or meet new people and talk with the vendors - they can offer great tips on cooking and planting and are always very helpful.

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    B & A - Shed

    After being so happy with the hardware kit on the garage door I just had to have it on the shed as well.  After a fresh coat of paint - the shed got a bit of a dressing up:



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