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:



Monday, July 8, 2013

Outdoor Shower

As much as I loved the bathroom in the old cottage of my childhood with the pedestal sink and stand alone tub, there was one thing missing - where was the shower? I had well grown out of baths and Mr. Bubbles and was used to only taking showers and no matter how clean that tub was - I could not help but think of all the people that had been in that tub before me. So my Dad bought an inexpensive shower head attachment for the outdoor hose at the hardware store and rigged up a very rudimentary outdoor shower for me. I loved it - being able to rinse off the days sand and suntan lotion under a blue sky shaded and screened by trees and the landscape. It may not have been very luxurious but it was indeed a true luxury.

I would love to undertake an outdoor shower project at the lake to recapture the enjoyment of my youth and share it with my own boys. Below is some of my inspiration.

Photo by Bruce Buck
Photo by Brian Vanden Brink
Photo by Whitlaw Llewellyn
I also love the outdoor shower that Erin from Just Grand and her husband built at their cottage on Lake Michigan - Check out the project here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Does anything say summer relaxation more than the hammock?!? The Mayans are believed to have developed the first hammock over 1,000 years ago and in South America the natives used to use sturdy fishing nets as hanging beds. The trend continued on to sailors and then onto to us lucky folks in the New World who to this day still indulge in lazy summer afternoon naps or in a good book on all styles of hammocks.
 What style of hammock is your favorite?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Shadow Lakes

Although my family no longer has the cottage from my childhood, we do have a great place in Shadow Lakes that is only a 40 minute drive from our home. Shadow Lakes is a gated year-round resort community located 55 miles southwest of Chicago in Wilmington, Illinois. There are acres and acres of nature trails, pristine lakes and waterways to be enjoyed on golf carts and boats as well as a beach and even a pool.  We always have something to do at the lake whether it is riding our bikes out to the lighthouse, boating, basking at the beach or having a fierce friendly family badmitton game.  We also have lots of time to just do nothing at all but relax and enjoy the surroundings.

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