Saturday, November 24, 2012

Do You See What I See?

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I got my indoor bulbs going.  As a kid, part of Christmas decorating meant sticking plastic holly and poinsettias all over the house.  It's amazing how just a few sprouting bulbs placed around the house can easily replace most holiday decorations and bring each room to life.

Here I've started paperwhites in a trio of McCoy planters in the Greek Key pattern.

I've also started a few amaryllis in my turquoise McCoy planters.  The front planter is the Daisies pattern and the back one is Sand Dollar, often referred to as the Necco Wafer pattern.

Photo:  Wikipedia

Not only are Necco wafer candies nostalgic as a treat from my childhood,
the Necco wafer factory was just a few blocks from my house.

It's nice to keep a record of the amaryllis you're growing so you
can search out those favorite varieties the next year.

My favorite from last year was this La Paz.

This year I thought I would try a few new ones called Picotee and Lemon Star.
I'll show what they look like when they bloom.

The flowers are always something to look forward to as we head in to winter.  And I'll probably pick up some more to start in a few weeks so I have greenery and blooms through most of the winter.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It might seem I'm pushing the season with the title of a Christmas song, but thanks to the fine doctors at Mass. Eye & Ear Infirmary, it's most appropriate.  I'm hopefully on the right track; I'm hearing again and feeling well enough to throw together Thanksgiving dinner for four.
A few corners may be cut but no one will notice.

I have tons to be thankful for today including all of you, my friends around the world,
who are kind enough to check in regularly and see what I'm up to.

Even if you're not celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope you have great day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Image:  Serena & Lily, Hero bed with Wyeth duvet
Blogger friend Carol Beck and I took a ride up to Zimman's Fabrics in Lynn last weekend.  She's working on a new project that I'll tell you more about later and I wanted to find some fabric to make the "suit" to slipcover my bed.  I've heard people rave about Zimman's for years and it didn't disappoint.

There were plenty of really gorgeous fabrics that would have fit the bill--in fact, a little overwhelming--but unsure I'm going to be able to pull this off, I was a little hesitant to spend the $40 to $80 a yard. 

I did a little searching on ebay and found this herringbone plaid for only $8 a yard and there's a few extra yards that I can remake something if I mess it up.

Here it is draped over the headboard next to the new drapes and a white
pillow cover just for reference.

I think it will be perfect.

So I'm disassembling the old cover so I can cut similar pieces
that I'll pin together on the piece before sewing it.

It's this end piece that has a slight curve to it that will be the biggest challenge I think.

If I sew this label in to my piece, will it give it more credibility?

I had hoped to have this done by Thanksgiving but a terrible ear infection has left
me feeling like I should be kicking back a little bit.

I should be on the mend soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I don't know how I went so many years without even hearing of muhammara
but when I found it on a vegetable antipasto at my favorite local restaurant,
it was love at first bite.

Muhammara is a Middle Eastern dip but I've used it in sandwiches of grilled eggplant, 
in quesadillas, or mixed in to a little pasta.  It's versatile.  If I were to describe it to
someone who's never had it, I would say it's like a sweet red pepper pesto.  

When time allows, I like to do everything from scratch but I've added a few shortcuts in red
that will allow you to whip this up in a few minutes with things can keep in your pantry.

                    Ingedients                         (Quick-n-Easy alternative in red)              

                    1 cup walnuts, toasted  (toasting optional to save time)                      
                    3 sweet red peppers, roasted (or use one 12-oz. bottle roasted red peppers)        
                    2/3 cup plain bread crumbs (or throw one piece pita bread in food processor)          
                    3 cloves garlic
                    3 T. fresh lemon juice (don't you dare use the fake stuff)
                    1 T. paprika
                    1 tsp. cumin
                    1 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
                    1 tsp. salt
                    1/2 tsp black pepper
                    2 T. pomegranate molasses* (2 T. pomegranate juice, optional)
                    3 T. olive oil

                    Extra olive oil, moroccan black olives and spring of mint for garnish

                   * See recipe for pomegranate molasses below

Brush peppers with oil and roast in 400 F. oven.  Roast about 30-35 minutes,
flipping once or twice so they brown evenly.  When tender and collapsed, set aside
to cool.  Remove stems, seeds and skin.

On another baking sheet, toast the walnuts for about 7 minutes.
Watch them closely; they burn quickly!  Set aside to cool.

1 16-oz. bottle of pomegranate juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 lemon juice

Heat pomegranate juice to boiling.  Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add lemon juice and reduce heat to a simmer.

Simmer until liquid is reduced to about one cup.

Remove from heat and cool.

Extra molasses can be stored in a glass jar in fridge for a few months.

In a food processor, start with the walnuts, bread and dry ingredients to make sure
they're well integrated.  Add the peppers and wet ingredients and puree until smooth.
Use a spatula to push ingredients down a few times
End with the olive oil and add one tablespoon at a time.  You may not need all the liquid
and it's a great place to cut on calories if you want to.

Can be served immediately or stored in refrigerator for a few days.

Garnish with moroccan black olives and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with any kind of bread.  I love toasted pita points because there's
something satisfying about eating something with a little crunch.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Maison Decor

Blogging offers the opportunity to easily connect with people around the world but nothing is more fun than finding local bloggers. One of those local bloggers is Amy Chalmers of Maison Decor.  Amy is a designer who loves french country, cottage and vintage styles.  We've often mentioned how our styles are so different but we can appreciate what the other does.  We even joked about how we should open a store with a line down the middle.  Her side would be light, feminine and romantic; my side would be dark, masculine, rustic and industrial.  It would have something that would appeal to every shopper.

Amy not only opened a store without me, she's opened two stores this year...and, although a little envious, I couldn't be happier for her.

Amy's Malden store sells vintage furniture, chandeliers, reproduction mora wall clocks, window treatments and new and vintage home accessories.

Many of the furniture pieces have been given a new life with various decorative paint finishes.

In fact, both shops sell Annie Sloan chalk paint, Miss Mustard Seed's milk paint and a variety of brushes, waxes and other painting accessories.

Amy also offer Annie Sloan painting workshops.  This is a recent class in her Malden shop.

The South End, Boston location has a much more masculine feel.  Note the 1798 Swedish Mora clock and the heavily carved antiqued French armoire mixed with new London tube roll signs and Parisian apartment clocks mixed with a vintage globe...

...and other "mantiques" as she calls them.

I walked away with a cool vintage Kodak camera on a great old wooden tripod.

The tripod needs a little refinishing but I thought it would make...

...and awesome lamp.

Amy's shop can be found online but if you find yourself in Malden or Boston,
stop my Amy's shops at the following locations:

50 Summer Street
Malden, Massachusetts

(click link for shop hours and more information)

524 Harrison Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts

(click link for store hours and more information)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Urban Cottage in Cottage Style Magazine

My dining room table

Several months ago, I did an interview with Better Homes & Gardens about my decorating style.  I'm glad it wasn't a live interview because I'm sure I sounded like an idiot...or crazy.

The article is in the Fall/Winter 2012 Cottage Style Magazine.
The magazine is a specialty publication that won't be in all stores but  I'm told is available
at Home Depot and other fine stores
but it is also available on-line at the BH&G shop.
The article can also be previewed on Zinio.

The article includes some of the same photos from the Cottage Style book along with new
ones that make it seem like a totally different house.
It's official.  I think my 15 minutes of fame are about up.