Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Craving Ina's Coconut Cupcakes!

barefoot contessa coconut cupcakes (click here for recipe))

OK, raise your hands, who likes coconut? I love it, but Hubby on the other hand does not! And that is probably the reason why I've never attempted to make Ina's famous Coconut Cupcakes. I even have the cookbook with the recipe. I've had Ina's Coconut Cupcakes on my mind for years, which is obviously why I'm blogging about them now. Over Mother's Day, I did bring up the subject with Hubby of of doing Ina's Coconut Cupcakes, but Helen's chocolate mousse won out! Hubby and his mother are big chocolate fans, but his father loves coconut. And you know which holiday is around the corner? Question is--should I attempt to do them from scratch or from the box...oh, what to do?

barefoot contessa coconut cupcake mix (click here for the box)

Some Essentials for Summer Gardening!

A Straw Hat From Talbot's

Last week while at work, I overheard Janice, our Assistant Site Director here at the museum, scream, "Twenty-five hundred dollars, you've got to be kidding"! "Lisa and I will do it". After hearing my name being screamed my ears perked up and I said, "So Janice, what will we do?" She said, that their was a twenty-five hundred dollar estimate just to do some pruning, trimming and weeding for the grounds. I enthusiastically screamed back: Yes we'll do it, and we can do it for half the inflated estimate! Janice looked a little shocked that I was so enthusiastic about the prospect of being outside in the heat and the dirt. I suppose she had a hard time picturing me out of my my work uniform--currently a skirt, blouse or dress (depending on what fits these days), and heels. I told Janice, that I loved nothing more then to be outside in nature in my straw hat and gloves and willies, gardening, watering, pruning, and watching Ellie chase squirrels and chipmunks. Just like Leslie, one of our master gardeners who brings her dogs--Toby the stubborn Basset Hound and his shy brother Baily the Cocker Spaniel--to roam the grounds while she plants, prunes and weeds. My ideal of the perfect job--wouldn't you say?

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Perfect Picnic!

A few weeks ago, I asked my buddy Helen if she would like to go see Shakespeare's A Comedy Of Errors, and attempt to do a nice festive picnic before the outdoor performance. Early morning the following day, after asking Helen about the picnic, I spotted an e-mail from her, asking me if Hubby and I liked turkey roll-ups. My response, "Love them!" An hour later, the same day, she sends me another e-mail, "How about black bean salad?" My response, "Sounds great!" Before I sent my response back to her, I had remembered when she offered to bring a spinach artichoke dip to my New Years Day party and I turned her down. Big mistake, because when a trained, experienced, foodie culinary-type person offers to bring food, you accept, especially if your just into pretty presentation!

Crate & Barrel

Later on, as I was getting ready to shut down my computer, I spotted another e-mail, "How about homemade chocolate chip cookies?" My response, " Are you kidding, of course!" The day before the picnic, I started to think what Hubby and I could contribute since Helen already had a perfect menu lined up. As I'm thinking to myself, why can't I ever come up with different things to take on a picnic other then fried chicken and slaw. So I signed up for the wine, cheese, fruit, plates, napkins, utensils, candles, salt & pepper--I know, easy stuff!The plates and napkins were really easy because I had my eye on some Caspari ones that I had been dying to go get at the Fresh Market!

Napkins from Caspari

Saturday morning rolled around (the day of the play & picnic), and Hubby and I are out on the deck drinking coffee and reading the paper without a care in the world. I decided to call Helen to make arrangements with her for Hubby to pick up the chocolate mousse (our Mother's day dessert) that Helen was making (more on that later). As she was rolling up the turkey wraps, she told me that she had been up since seven that morning, the cookies were baking, and she just had a few more finishing touches to do. I felt slightly guilty as I sipped on my third cup of coffee of the morning!

A few years ago, a friend gave me a set of these, I love them because they're small and easy to throw in your picnic basket. From Crate & Barrel

This summer, I plan on doing lots of picnics, so I asked Helen for her black bean salad recipe click here for Black Bean Salad. Helen also noted that she omits the green peppers and pimentoes and instead does two jalapeno peppers and two avocados. So if your looking for something different other then pasta, potato, and slaw for your picnic, trust me you won't go wrong here! Here's to a great summer full of perfect picnics...Ha!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Skin Creams?!!

The last couple of months I've been obsessing over skin creams...this past Saturday morning I was enthralled with an info-mercial with Cindy Crawford, who was promoting her new line of skincare products. Do you want to look like Cindy Crawford? Well, yes, of course I do! Five minutes later, after hearing that the top secret formula contained rare melons produced in the south of France I kept watching... still enthralled. I wanted to hear more about the products, and, more importantly,what the key ingredients were in the secret formula (other than just rare melons from the south of France, but they never really covered that. The info-mercial went from "Do you want to look like Cindy?" back to the rare melons. Now during the whole info-mercial the price kept going down, down, and down to $39.99 for her whole line of products, a steal if you want some really nice smelling rare melon skin care creams. However, memories of the day when I got my Lady Diana haircut (hence wanting to look like Lady Diana) reemerged and I put my credit card back. Not that hair and skin cream have anything to do with one other but I think you get my point!

Then their was this past Sunday morning while reading the Atlanta Journal & Constitution Living section. I noticed LA'Mer's promoting their cream de la mer in their new limited specially designed blue sleeve boxes and it's only $230 for two ounces. No thank you! Even Hubby has heard of LA'Mer. He reads John Stossel.

Anyway, I currently use Revison skincare products such as their Retinol and their firming night cream and have been very happy. Plus the price is not bad either! I've been looking for a good eye cream since the beginning of time (by that I mean a eye cream that is affordable and that works) so a couple of Saturdays ago I asked my good buddy Susan ( See Me and My Aesthetician) for her advice on affordable skincare products that performed. Here's what she had to say. Thanks Buddy!

"I will try to make this short, but when I get started on skin care I tend to go on and on. The main keys to skin care and anti-aging are protection (sunscreen) and a good retinol to exfoliate. Products with antioxidants are great for the skin. They protect and heal. Not all products on the market have the proper amounts of ingredients in them to be effective and the container can leave the ingredients unstable. After much research I have found some affordable products that are easily obtainable (Target and CVS) and think you might like them. I will start with Cleanser- I want it to cleanse and remove my makeup without stripping my skin. "

Cleansers-Neutrogena Anti-Oxidant Age Reversal Cleanser. Around $8.99.

Neutrogena Ageless Restorative Energy Renewal Cleanser. Around $7.99.

Moisturizers/Treatments- Neutrogena Health Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Original Formula. It is a good moisturizer with retinol and anti-oxidants. Around $13.99.

Mutil Correction Eye Treatment (will not diminish dark circles but has a stable retinol with good anti-oxidants) Around $24.99.

ROC Multi Correction Night Treatment
- has good retinol with lots of Vitamin C. Around $24.99.

Hope these ideas are helpful. Please start off slowly with Retinol. Maybe every other night as it can be irritating if overdone.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Stalking Talbots!

I despise shopping. In fact I hate it, but what I despise more is getting ready for work, date night, running errands (like shopping) and not having anything to wear. Another thing is--I love clothes! I wish I could say that I was hip like Nicole Richie and shopped for cool vintage designer pieces but I don’t, because I want it easy! I did come close to buying a vintage piece one day while at an antiques store; I found a great 1940’s cashmere sweater that I wish I would have bought.

Anyway, with spring here and summer around the corner I need clothes--dress pants, blouses, shoes, etc. The funny thing is--last fall, Sylvia, our eighty-something volunteer brought in her Talbots catalog. Quite honestly, a store that I’ve not been into for many, many years. I was mostly an Ann, Banana & Crew type girl. While in Charleston it was all about Banana, but all the other years it has been Ann & the Crew…extremely faithful as you can imagine. Anyway, looking through the fall Talbot’s catalog I noticed several things that I wanted and after being a a little disenchanted with my other stores, I decided to give them a go. So this past January when everything went on sale, I loaded up… black leather riding boots, cords, jeans, peep-toe leather pumps, a coat, ballerina flats, jeans. I was in heaven!
Talbots Straw Tote

Now since March, and having to put away all my fall/winter stuff, I’ve been stalking them for my spring/summer stuff. I have already gotten a few pieces and I’ve tried on several other things that I really want. However, I’m waiting until they go on sale...know what I mean? The other funny thing is Sylvia and I were comparing notes the other day and we are both eyeing the same dress. As Sylvia said “it is the perfect linen dress” and you know what? I could not agree more!

Vachetta City Sandals that I have and I just worn them the other day to work & got tons of compliments..not just from the eighty-year old! Plus they are very comfortable!

Croc-Embossed Crisscross Sandals that I'm stalking.

P.S. While at Talbot's the other day the sales associate said their new designer is from the Crew…I just knew it!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spring...Shopping, Dieting & Getways!

Where does the time go? For me, personally, I've have been busy trying to knock off a few pounds, catching up on some much needed shopping (because of those extra few pounds), working on a few design projects and finally, after five years, taking an Easter trip to my in-laws' mountain cabin with the Hubby and Ellie (who was amazingly invited) up in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Almost forgot, we did sneak in a three day trip to Jeckyl Island....amazingly! It rained mostly, but we didn't care, we were just happy to be at the beach, and little Ellie got her paws wet for the very first time.

Anyway, I was at the bookstore the other day catching up on some reading (Bazaar) and discovered Gwyneth Paltrow's new website GOOP. It covers everything--clothing, dieting, recipes, hip restaurants spots, you name it...I'm hooked! It's nice getting something in e-mail other than... will you know.


P.S. I was reading Paltrow's spot on Nashville, and now wonder to myself if I ever lived there for over three years! Happy Reading!

Speaking of shopping--later my thoughts on Talbots!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Want an Office!

For years now, I have dreamed of having my own office! No more sharing with the Hubby while at home trying to blog or trying to do my spring shopping. No more sharing with the accountant while at work while she's trying to pay the bills and pay the employees (like me)! I guess I should not complain because it certainly beats sitting at Starbucks. Talk about not being able to get anything done...Whew!

Image from House Beautiful

While in Nashville, my so called office was up in the attic. I was freezing in the winter and sweating like mad in the summer, so I don't even really even count that. Anyway, I've always admired both offices (above & below) by Ruthie Sommers. I attempted the sawhorse desk (see Williams Sonoma Home) while living in Nashville for my attic office. But I was a little too cheap to actually buy that sleek sawhorse desk...which can be expensive. I even called a few glass people and got some quotes, and kept my eyes open for a pair of sawhorses, which, unfortunately, I never found. So, yes, I still need a desk of my own. Last year sometime I did focus my attention to finding myself a desk, but then I started thinking that I wanted something more rustic like a farm tabl--go figure!

Office by by Ruthie Sommers and image from Style Court

If I can't have a whole office maybe I can a least get a this. Add some pretty wallpaper and a bamboo chair and voila! To think that I had my hands on a chair just like that a few months ago at a consignment store. Image from Better Homes & Garden

Image from Martha Stewart

And at this point in time, I'll settle for a wall with a beautiful bulletin board and the parsons desk from West Elm, which is much more affordable. I've thought about that desk too for the last few years. I just need to make my mind up because the Hubby and the accountant are getting on my nerves! Just kidding....not!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yellow Please!

Laundry Room from Cottage Living

I love the color yellow. In my first house, I experimented quite a bit with it. In fact, the day we closed on the house (Oct 31st, Halloween day) I was way too busy tearing down wallpaper in the kitchen to take time out for the trick-or-treaters who were knocking at my door! My painter was coming soon, and that was much more important because I wanted my yellow walls. However, it turned out that it wasn't a great yellow for that room... way too 'mustardy'! I hated it! The kitchen only had one window so it was just too dark. But...I kept experimenting with the color yellow and I'm proud to say I did get my little powder room right. We wallpapered it in a golden yellow floral wallpaper.

Another room that I think I got right was a boring square box living room, which I painted more of a soft buttery yellow, and used the color red as an accent (red plates, a few red toile pillows, etc.). When the real estate agents came to voice their opinion, they said to repaint the room. However, after six years of painting each room several times, I was quite tired, and knew that little room needed something and just left it to see how it would go. Guess what? the lady who was purchasing the house told me herself that she loved that color yellow.

Kate Spade...dying to do a room like this one day!

Anyway, I'm currently working on a few projects for myself and a few clients, and I'm eyeing Benjamin Moore's Hawthorne Yellow, Golden Straw and Farrow & Ball's Dayroom Yellow.

But untill I get the perfect yellow room, I'll keep admiring my napkins from Boston International. I've only had them since my New Years day open house (see New Years Day Open House).

I don't know about you? but I'm ready for the daffodils!

Friday, February 26, 2010

AHHHH The Color Green!

My Old Cottage House in Nashville that I'm currently missing!


Ahhh the color green, and as you have probably already guessed by now, it happens to be one of my favorite colors!

In our old bathroom in Nashville, I used Benjamin Moore's
Fernwood Green # 2145-40 and absolutely loved it!

While out a few days ago, and strolling through Crate & Barrel, I noticed a few home accessories with the color green that I'm adding to my spring sprucing-up-the-home list.

Such as these pretty Hampton Green Dinner plates! I'm thinking of just doing the salad plates to mix with my all white dinner plates.

Also, spotted this Marimekko Madison Green shower curtain. Since I'm going to be overhauling bathrooms later on this year...I certainly hope so anyway!

Nonetheless, I'm adding this pretty bathroom to my files. Just spotted this the other day while reading a Habitually Chic post on the Spades. Hence the bathroom is Kate's. Does any one happen to know the wallpaper that she used, here by chance?

Last but not least, spotted these bamboo Caspari napkins at the market last week and bought them. What can I say, instant gratification!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Loving Marilyn!!!

Image from Lonny

The other day while reading through Lonny , this ad for Rubie Green's quickly caught my eye. And after doing a little digging I discovered that one of Lonny's creators is Michelle Adams, a former Domino Editor and also the creator of RUBIE GREEN...go figure! The headboard fabric to me is very similar to a fabric by Clarence House--"Dahlia"--to be exact (see About Time). A fabric that I've tried to get my grubby little hands on but unfortunately found it a little too high for my budget. The fabric on the headboard is "Marilyn" and can be ordered directly through Rubie Green. I came very close to ordering a yard yesterday but I figured I had better wait to see how all my projects shake out this year. I would love to see this fabric in a sunroom (preferably my own) on a tufted ottoman, or perhaps a breakfast room (preferably my own), or an office on a settee (preferably my own) or exactly just like it's used here in this application as a headboard.


Here is a picture of Michelle's bedroom...fresh & crisp!
Image from Mabelle Michelle's blog

One thing that I was wondering though...Do you think that Michelle was inspired by this Kate Spade room? I've always loved this room!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Will You Be Doing for Valentine's Day?

Drinking wine, eating cheese with candles aglow while sitting by a roaring fire?

Or having a nice private dinner for two?
Image here & above from Victoria Magazine


Admiring your beautiful roses that your sweetheart got you?
Images from Martha Stewart

Or making a nice chocolate fondue... like this one, from Carolyne Roehm.
I'm dying to try this recipe!
For me, this coming Sunday the Hubby and I will be having pizza at our favorite pizzeria. In Charleston it was Andolini's. In Nashville it was Mafiosa's. Here in Atlanta it's Felini's.
Please don't get me wrong about Hubby. He's really not that mean. He would buy me a piece of jewelry or even take me to a nice restaurant of my choice. However, a couple of glasses of red wine, a nice pizza, perhaps a box of chocolate that we can pick over and I'm pretty happy. I know, I'm one of the few women, just not into jewelry and as for the roses well.. I did scream at him one time for bringing me long stem roses. Needless to say, he has not came home with them ever since. Why, would I scream at such at such a nice gesture, you ask? Let's just say it had to do with my old job description of selling rose bowls and chopping up roses to display them...see The Quintessential English Rose Bowl .

FYI - Hubby did make the Red Velvet cupcakes using the Country Living Magazine recipe, I'm taking them to work in the morning...fingers crossed! In case you're in the mood, it's not too late I did find another recipe for Red Velvet cupcakes with Pinch My Salt. Also, Pinch My Salt pointed out a nice article on Red Velvet Cupcakes from the New York Times just in case your interested. WHO knew?

Your turn!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

How Do You Organize Your Books?

Here I have my travel, self help, old college books (I was a Political Science Major, Hubby was Finance), travel guides, antiquing, and finding a job of my dreams types of books. And yes, we're big fans of Harry Potter !

My books are the one thing that I cannot live without! I keep everything, and not just the expensive decorating books, but my old college books, paperbacks, travel. etc. You name it, I keep them! I still have the first Let's Go Europe book that Hubby and I used on our first trip to Europe. It's quite funny to look back at some of our old notes. Another thing is that when I loan books out, I'm not a very happy camper when they don't get returned! Just last year when I loaned Sandy, our old Bohemian neighbor in Nashville, several books and she forgot to return them. In fact, I don't even think she ever read them! But that's OK, because she gave me all her old back issues of Martha Stewart Living . I had pitched my collection some time ago when we moved to Charleston. I do tend to pitch magazines collections but only when we move. I hate to do it but they can get mighty heavy!

Our night time reading...I'm currently reading The Help.
Really, the whole reason why I'm even blogging about this is the last couple of years I've seen some people sorting their books according to their color spine. I did try that and it just did not work for me. I have found what works best for me is to have my book sorted according to self-help, travel, entertaining, gardening, you-name-it, and in different areas of my house! Hint, my self help books (Men are from Mars Women are from Venus ) are upstairs. I believe my buddy Cruella gave me that book, which is odd in and of itself because we usually get each other expensive decorating books, not self-help! In fact, I'll give Cruella a decorating book for a gift just so she doesn't have to borrow any of mine. Well...She does the same thing!

Of course my entertaining books with a few cookbooks thrown in, mostly Ina's.

Last but not least, my decorating books, which I have stacked throughout my they are used to stack Hubby's bourbon. Also, I have several in my Man Cave (see Decorating A Man Cave) but Hubby doesn't mind!

I've shown you mine...your turn! How do you like to organize your books?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Are You Blue?

I remember this room very was one of my first issues of House Beautiful & I've always have wanted to do a room like this!
Just last night, I finally finished this month's issue of House Beautiful which was All About Blue the color blue that is. You know, the last couple of years I have been on a blue kick myself (see Feeling-Little-Blue-lately). Also, just this past year I bought several Blue Willow plates to incorporate with my English Asiatic Pheasant platters. The platters were leftovers from my antiquing days that have seemed to have stayed in my life. So last night after finishing House Beautiful, I realized that I love all my blue accent pieces, I even love indigo blue striped rugs. I love several blue fabrics and blue wallpaper even more. But sorry, no painted blue walls for me please. In Hubby and I's first house, the dining room walls had been painted powder blue (which, I suppose, can be pretty if done correctly) but...what do you think I did?

One of my favorite rooms by Victoria Hagan

Love this room by David Lawrence...perfect balance! Love the blue floral
fabric especially! Images via Cote de Texas.
Oh, and by the way, I did purchase my friend Cruella's blue Canton ginger lamp (you can see it in my Man Cave). I guess before I put my foot in my mouth (I do have a few painting projects coming up), I suppose if I ever did paint walls blue, it would be above white beadboard--it just has to be mixed with white to work for me! How about you...

Are You Blue?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do You Have Committal Issues with Wallpaper?

in my old cottage house in Nashville

After writing A Room of Your Own, I've sensed that a few people have committal issues with wallpaper. I know, I hear it all the time. You don't want to commit to a wallpaper, or wallpaper is not 'in' right now! A couple of years ago, when I was putting wallpaper up in our cottage house in Nashville, everyone looked at me like I was a crazy fool! Even a few of my designer friends wondered why I was committing to a certain wallpaper. I loved the Ringwold paper so much, I even showed it to my realtor...he loved it immediately. Finally, I thought, someone who gets me. Plus, Hubby liked it as well, and, no, I don't think he just told me that, because he's quite vocal when he wants to be. So for all you folks (ladies & men) who have committal issues with wallpaper, here is what I may be doing down the road for a project that I'm currently working on.

Try it above with some here at Winterthur. Image from Victoria Magazine

Still too much? Do one wall as a focal point. I'm loving this baby room, by the way! Image from Style at Home

Really afraid to commit and want a punch--do wallpaper panels.
Image from Canadian House & Home

Or just try it in your closet, and every time you open your doors--voila'. I've really been thinking of doing this myself (see Closet Envy). Image from Domino & wallpaper is Farrow & Ball St. Antoine

Friday, January 29, 2010

Searching For A Red Velvet Cupcake Receipe

Last year, for Valentines Day, Hubby and I made Red Velvet cupcakes to gobble and to give to his parents (his dad loves cookies, cakes etc. so this is always a good way to stay on his good side). The cupcake mix came from a fancy box that I picked up at the Fresh Market. Everyone seemed to like them (especially Hubby's dad), although I thought that this year we would step it up a notch and actually try a real recipe from scratch. I do have a little time before Valentines day to find a great recipe so that I take them in to work to pass out (just like I use to do in grade school). Back then, it was always sugar cookies, and one of my classmates' mother was always a better icing decorator then my own mother. I seemed to acquire her same talents in that department. When I googled Red Velvet cupcakes, no doubt Paula's name popped right up, and then, of course, Martha. But then, I found Country Living's recipe on my own because I always like their recipes. So I've printed all three recipes but I can't really tel
l which one is the best--if Hubby and I test all three recipes this weekend, we'll be in trouble!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Closet Envy Anyone?

I'm digging this groovy chair of Windsor Smith's
from House Beautiful ...I can see everything!

Getting my closet well-organized and pretty has been pretty high on my list of things to do this month. Admittedly, I haven't gotten that far. This past Monday, I did manage to swing by the Container Store for a few ceder hangers, which I know are a little bit more expensive then the bamboo or the plastic ones, but I like the smell of them. Is that weird? Anyway, my closet is roughly 12 by 12 square, the wire shelves were already there. Not my choice, but I did not have a say, and they work for now. No, I've not painted or wallpapered or added a chandelier (you'll see)! First things first...organizing! Though I've already done a lot of pitching, especially over the last eight years due to all the moving around that Hubby and I do. But hey, I still see a few things floating around in my closet that made it through my last pitching session from Nashville. Good by circa 1996 suits!

If I had Aerin Lauder's closet I would have died and gone to heaven! I would just add a round tufted stool to sit and linger while I'm drinking my morning coffee debating what I'm going to wear that day. Perhaps take a door or two off so I could see everything.

For me, I like to be able to see everything--jackets, sweaters, jeans, shoes, scarves. I've found that if it is tucked away I tend to forget about it. Plus, I hate getting into my old 1940's annoying English chest that Hubby has taken over. Also, what makes things a little easier and manageable is I keep my summer clothes in the guest room (talk about that later). Additionally one of my pet peeves is that I like my sweaters color-coded and my shoes stacked in clear boxes. Who knows, maybe I'll get around to wallpapering it and adding a small chandelier and a cute stool so I don't have to scream for Hubby to pull down my purses. You know, it's not even February yet...I think that I have a little time!

A closet much more attainable...I would take it in a heartbeat!

But for now I have this! Come on now, I've not only told you, but shown you, my messy ugly closet. Closet envy... anyone?