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April 23, 2015

Mother's Day Collection | Lavender, Baskets, Candles & Trays

For Mother's Day this year I've gone back to the classics - Mom's like that, right?  Bunches of dried lavender from France, I brought back the Hanging Door Baskets from last year, a new size of Willow Serving Trays and a collection of Classic Trays that are my new favorite thing (made of recycled materials!).  I hope you find something that you (and your Mother) love.

See the entire Mother's Day Collection, here >


French Lavender Bundles - Dried, $14

These dried French Lavender Bundles come straight from the fields in Provence.  They are the perfect little something for a hostess gift, can transform a bedside table into something special, or go into a Hanging Basket (here) on your front door.  I used three of these bundles in this photo of the hanging basket, but even two would do the job.  They come wrapped in kraft paper and tied with natural twine, just like you would find at a French market.

Basket - Willow Hanging, $38.5

A favorite from last year is back!  This year I've filled ours with dried bunches of French Lavender, but you might remember last year when it was filled with hydrangeas and flags for the 4th of July.  It looks great with branches of Cherry Blossoms, big bunches of leaves or wheat in the Fall, branches of berries for the Holidays... endless.  
 The secret to using fresh branches and blooms in the basket is using floral tubes to keep them fresh.  I've included 10 large clear tubes with each basket.  Please note, it was a little too large to hang on our old front door, as we had a storm door in front of it, but looks great hanging off of a door knob inside, too.  

Lavender Spray Bottles - Set of 2, $8

I love simple ideas - easy ideas that are incredibly chic.  By adding dried sprigs of lavender to water you can transform your linen spray into something really special.  Spray on linens before ironing, or spray on a freshly made bed... or wipe down your countertop with it!   It will make you feel like an incredibly chic French woman in the Provence countryside : )
For this collection, I've included two spray bottles that come with three sprigs of dried lavender.  The set also comes with multiple labels for the bottles - both "Lavender Linen Spray" and "Lavender Counter Spray".  All you need to do is affix the label and fill with water.  In just a couple of hours, the dried lavender will lightly scent the water.  It is simple and chic - no chemicals to cloud the pureness, just an easy way to freshen your daily routine. 

Large Willow Serving Baskets - Set of 2

For me, Summer Entertaining is all about ease and bounty.  These serving baskets are exactly what I envision when I think about a breezy, easy summer party.  They make anything from appetizers to stacks of plates and linen napkins look inviting and lovely.
Last year I carried a set of 3 Willow Serving Baskets that were smaller than these - they were very popular, so many of you have them from last year!  I loved the smaller collection, but this year looked for larger ones that would hold a bigger spread of appetizers.   This set of 2, (and 18" round and a 20" round) are a great size for a summer party - I'm thinking a bowl of tomatoes with basil and mozzarella surrounded by crostini, or chips surrounding fresh guacamole.  I love lining the basket with a nice linen tea towel.  

The Tea Towels used with the baskets, can be seen here.

Bread Boards - Aged Pine (Special Order)

With our new kitchen on the near horizon, I've been thinking about some new accessories (necessities?) that I've had my eye on.  A set of aged Bread Boards is at the top of the list.  We've all seen them in our favorite kitchens, namely the Tessa's (Nine & Sixteen) and the Barefoot Contessa's, leaning on their counters.  Not only are they great for building a big cheese board or appetizer spread, but they will add some aged character to my very new kitchen.  
These Aged Bread Boards are a special order item and will take two weeks to ship.  

Classic Tray Collection


For a while I've been looking for serving pieces that have the softly polished, rustic look of Italian handmade pewter, but would be suitable for more everyday and casual parties.  When I stumbled upon this Classic Collection it was like an incredible twist of fate - a New England company (in Manchester by the Sea, Ma.) making pewter-looking serving pieces out of 100% recycled aluminum.  All of my favorite things in one! 

Of course, all Moms (ok, most) Mom's love to bake.  Here are my favorites that make baking a pleasure.  See entire Baking Collection > 

Each year for Mother's Day Emma does a handprint on a nice Linen Tea Towel with her name and year as a gift for her Grandmas.  This year I've restocked this collection of Provencal Blue Striped Classic Towels and Table Linens just in time.

Everyday Candle - Lovely, $16

For Mother's Day I mixed some of my favorite soft and lovely scents - Gardenia, Lilac and Lily Of The Valley.  The result is a clean, soft and fresh floral scent that feels like the doors open on an early morning.  As always, my candles are poured in a Mini Latte Bowl that can be reused after the candle is gone.  Limited supply available.
I hope you enjoyed browsing the Mother's Day Collection.  See everything here >

April 20, 2015

Party Food! Easy Menu Ideas & Recipes for Gatherings

As I mentioned last week, I've been getting emails from friends and past clients wanting some menu ideas for upcoming parties they are hosting.  While personally I love smaller dinner parties and get togethers, many big moments in our lives are centered around larger gatherings - open houses, showers and parties.  Even the most seasoned hostess can get a little nervous preparing to entertain 50+ guests.  What kind of food, do I need staff, how much food, how much drink, what kind of decor?

In my catering days I dubbed my business as an Event Planning Co. that specialized in Small to Medium Sized parties in my Clients homes... so, I have lots of answers and solutions for these questions, but I forget to talk about them on the blog because they are a little out of my daily routine now.  I flipped back through the blog (even reached back 7 years!) and pulled some photos from old parties that I did for clients and a couple for myself.  You'll have to forgive the photo quality - most of these photos were taken with my Blackberry very long ago just before I threw off my apron and served drinks to guests.   

Entertaining for our friends is a big part of our life, and I can't wait to get back into the swing when our house is finished in a couple of weeks - it has been something we've really missed.  So, it has been nice for me to look back and relive some of these fun parties. 

Backyard Birthday

I created this event for a client's surprise 30th birthday party for her husband and for 60 guests.  We wanted the event to feel like a casual backyard barbecue that was a little more special than brats on the grill.  The guest of honor was a 30-year-old guy, so we picked all of his favorite foods, but dressed them up a bit.  For example, instead of "potato skins" we made potato canapés out of red potatoes and topped them with bacon, sour cream and chives, and instead of chicken wings, we made buffalo chicken skewers.  This would be a great menu for a high school or college graduation party, too!  More party details, here.

Menu :

- Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese
- Cheddar & Special Sauce
Buffalo Chicken Skewers
Potato Canapés with Bacon
Bowl of Cherries

Drinks :

White Wine

Ladies Night Patio Party

I hosted this party for about 25 neighborhood girls a couple of years ago.  Everything was made ahead of time and I put the food out in a baskets and on platters to make it relaxed.  I spread the food out - some on the patio, some on the porch and some with the drinks in the kitchen so everyone could sort of graze and mingle.
Get all of the details and recipe links, here.

Menu :

Herbed Shrimp Skewers
Summer Tomato, Olive & Zucchini Bruschetta
Creamy Crab Dip & Veggies
Mini S'mores
White Wine & Peach Sangria

You might remember this setup from last summer - my current favorite easy entertaining menu.

 Menu :

- BBQ & Onion Ring Burgers
- Classic American Cheeseburger
-Watermelon & Tomato Kebabs
-Guacamole Salad & Chips

Get more details and recipes, here.

I used the Privet Berry Folded Cards from my store to label them - always helpful at a party and an easy opportunity to give the food display some color from your theme.

Ladies Open House

This was a party I did for a Mission Hills client almost 7 years ago - I can remember it was the week after Mike and I moved in our first house and I was so thrilled to be able to make everything in my new kitchen.   It was an open house for a group of ladies in May - heavy hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.   Get all of the details, here.
 Menu :

Mini BLTs on Baquette
Mini Grilled Salmon Sliders with Caper Mayo
Artisan Cheese & Berry Platter with Homemade Cheddar Biscuits
Watermelon & Tomato Kebabs (a favorite I guess!)
Veggies & Creamy Corn Dip
Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tarts
Mini BLTs a favorite of the women that night - and the Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tarts.  I think I wrote out the recipe for a few.

I think cute signs always elevate the look of a food display for parties - makes it look a little more planned and professional.  I forgot how cute these were!
These Salmon Sliders were so good - very easy.  I grilled the salmon earlier in the day, then refrigerated it.  I served it on these mini rolls topped with caper lemon mayo.

This is a Game Day Party that I've featured several times on the blog.  I put it together just after we moved to Massachusetts and set it up on our patio.  It would also be a great menu and setup for a graduation party or a birthday.   You can get all of the details from the post, here.

Menu : 

Pulled Pork Sliders
Creamy Spinach with Tortilla Chips
Pigs in a Blanket with Mustard Dipping Sauce
Football Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Beers

 I'm planning to do even more entertaining posts coming up - I'd love to hear about what you are planning!

April 13, 2015

Weekly Menu | Chicken Chowder, Pork Tenderloin, Cherry Cupcakes & Spring Pasta

Remember when I used to do this every week... for, like, 8 weeks in a row?  You all loved it and said it was so helpful to you.  It was really helpful to me too - just taking a little extra time at the beginning of the week to get organized... which I've been terrible at lately.  Mike and I are feeling a little overwhelmed right now.  Much too much going on.  Great things, yes, but we've been majorly maxed out.  When that happens we tend to gravitate toward comfort foods - easy and filling.

Like most of America our dinners have looked a little like Steaks, Spaghetti, Tacos, Burgers, etc. a little too often lately.  Sometimes just coming up with what to make for dinner is too much to think about when you have a list of 100 things to be done and decisions to be made.  When we're overwhelmed easy is good, but now I'm even burned out on the easy stuff.  Besides burnout, I get so much pleasure out of coming up with and cooking a fresh dinner that the laziness of "easy" just doesn't satisfy.

So, here I am again.  Monday morning with a Menu for the Week!  I also love to hear what you are making - please share.  We all need some inspiration!

Monday :

Chicken Corn Chowder

This recipe says "Summer" but really sounds good to me this week.  I'll probably make a version of this with Chicken, Cheddar and Veggies.

Tuesday :

Pork Tenderloin

This might seem fancy, but really very easy.  I probably will make the pork with random roasted veggies.  Great on the grill, too.

Wednesday :

Cherry Blossom Cupcakes

Wednesday is going to be a lot of fun - making dessert for a dinner for women at The Sheffield Place, a shelter for homeless women and children.  I'll be joining them for dinner, so Mike and Emma will be on their own :)

Thursday :

Spring Pasta

Friday :

We're headed to my parents house in Lexington for a Morel Mushroom Hunting weekend with the entire family... so next week, Morels will be on the menu.  Hopefully!

April 08, 2015

House Update | Trim, Tile, Stone & Paneling Complete

This is going to be quick - just a photo tour with a couple of comments (because I can't hep myself).  I just wanted to keep you in the loop on the latest house progress.  So many of you are so kind with your words of encouragement and excitement for us that I wanted to give you an update!  The trim carpenters finished last week and the painters swooped in the next day covering floors, filling nail holes and perfecting walls.  

I have to tell you the trim aspect of the house was transforming.  Transforming!  I had a completely humbling moment of - oh, it's too much, too nice, too pretty - when they had finished.  We had never lived with too much "fancy" before, and certainly don't need to.  Did we need to do all of this?  We could live with less.  We have lived happily with less in the past.  I've come to realize, while this home is a huge thing to us, I'm trying for it to not mean too much.  It is easy to get so engrossed in the planning, especially with what seem like huge sacrifices (time, money and energy).  But I'm consciously trying not to make it mean too much.  Does that sound strange?  I'm just trying to keep myself in check and not hold too much stock in something physical.  Thinking this way also takes pressure off of excess "needs" and "wants" at this stage in the game.  I am so happy with how everything has turned out.  So pleased.  It is amazing and we will cherish living there.  What I'm trying to say (maybe not quite so eloquently...) is our cup runeth over.  And over.  We'll never take it for granted and I'm hopeful that all of the careful planning and considerations will make our lives a bit brighter living in such a home.

So, back to the recap.  (Smooth transition, right...?)  The garage doors are in (have you seen these yet?  can't remember!).  I love how they turned out to look like two doors instead of one very large.  Will look even better with paint.  We ordered plain doors then had trim added.  It was very inexpensive to transform them from plain to carriage type doors - even under budget, if you can imagine.  I'll post about how I designed them laster.  The driveway was poured yesterday, so even this photo from Monday is dated!  Final deadline is approaching things are moving fast - yeah!

This is the entry... still debating on a fixture.  We opened up the foyer and lost a small linen closet, but I love the addition of the banister railing.  I didn't have my camera before the paper was put down on the floors, so the photos show a lovely red paper where the wood floors are : )

To the right (where the old garage was) is Mike's office.  The wood paneling is awesome.  We had it done in pine, so it has a soft graining.  It was my first choice, and actually the cheapest option... which I didn't even realize.  I love when that happens - not often enough.  We've picked a medium walnut stain with a matte finish.

I love this room.  Very small, but will be our cozy spot.

Back in old front living room looking into new big room.  Emma and I spent an entire afternoon there last week testing paint swatches in each room.  I don't know why I find paint so overwhelming, but I do!  I'll recap final paint choices next week when colors start going up.  

Old mantle replaced in old living room with new wood + stone to match the one in the new hearth area.  It really updated this old room... in an old way : )

Painters prepping in the kitchen.  You can see the beam treatment on the ceiling from this view.

I have to admit I was worried about the beams at first, but they have completely transformed the room and added so much character.  Might be my favorite part now.

Fast forward to the wood butcher block top on the island installed.  It is being stained right now - a medium provincial.  More details later.

Bad lighting : )  Range area.

Baking counter.  Favorite spot!

180 degrees from where I was standing (kitchen behind me now) and here is new fireplace.  The stone is local called, Kansas Field Stone... appropriately.

To the right of fireplace to table area, and into Mike's office.

Upstairs old bedroom - going to be painted all light blue, windows, base and walls.

Master bedroom.


Master Bathroom.  Tile complete!  I'm so glad we added the picture frame mouldings in here - really brought it up the next level.

 The splash detail on the vanity was a last minute decision and I love it!  Just a little curve.

Master shower.  You can see paint swatch on wall to the right - very creamy.  Above it was another shade I was considering... too white.  Why is paint so hard!

Emma's Bathroom Floor.  Seems darker in this photo than in real life.

Tiny Bathroom, but it works!  Again, all seems a little darker in this photo. 

Back of house with new porch.  I'll be back later in the week with details about butcher block, stain and paint decisions.  While I'm overwhelmed at times with all of the details, it is amazing to see our vision turn into a reality... and actually look as great as we hoped it would!  Thanks for joining me out or progress tour - just moments away from fixtures and finishings... it is about to get really fun!
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