Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Summer Cocktails | Aperol Spitzer

I thought it would be fun to do a little summer series on cocktails!  Truthfully, I'm much more of a wine drinker at home but when we go out I almost always order a cocktail, especially in the summertime. I also decided recently to create a little bar tray area on the gate leg table in our dining room.  Jimmy thinks it's all very Mad Men-esque but I always find them so pretty when I see them in other homes.  I decided if we are going to have one, then I better learn to whip up a few cocktails in the process to justify all the pretty bar tray accessories I would like to acquire.  It all feels very grown up and I think having them out will make it more likely we will whip up something fruity and bubbly after a day at the pool or on a whim.

I'm starting with a very simple one, Aperol Spritzers!  An Ina favorite!  Of course!

3 parts Aperol
2 parts chilled Prosecco
1 part San Pellegrino
Orange Slices

Fill the glass about 3/4 full with ice before pouring in the ingredients, garnish with orange slice.  Enjoy!  Such a summery drink!  I pretended I was sipping it in Italy since it was such a glorious evening out yesterday.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Inspiration | Charming Buckhead Home

 I always know we are off to a good start when a new client includes Jackye Lanham's work among their inspiration images.  I too am consistently inspired by her charming and timeless interiors.

We are using images from the living room (left and below) as inspiration for a new living room project that I just started working on.  I had to go back and see this whole home again, featured a year ago in Atalanta Home Magazine (May 2016 issue).

I love all the soothing shades of chalky white, pale green and dusty blue used throughout the home.  The dark iron light fixtures  and hardware, along with the dark wood antiques, look so pretty against that backdrop.  I also love all the wicker to make the space feel more casual and easy to live with.

The article mentions that Jackye was brought in the "charm up the interior."  I couldn't describe it any better.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Brunch 2017 | New Recipes

We had a nice Easter Sunday, spent just as a family of four.  Typically we host my parents for brunch, but they had theater tickets this year so we didn't see them till later in the day.  We were up early, 6:30 AM, thanks to Charlie and his excitement over his basket and egg hunt!    I kept brunch and the decor so simple this year.  I didn't even buy flowers, just trimmed some of the blooming branches from our garden. With Easter so late, everything is in full bloom.  I hadn't planned to take photos and blog about it either, but I tried a couple new recipes that were really easy and delicious, so I wanted to remember for future brunch celebrations! (and share them with you for yours!)

After brunch we went downtown and rented bikes and rode through Smale Park, over the Purple People's Bridge, through Newport, the Riverwalk and the historic district in Covington.   We even ran into the Easter Bunny! We came back over to Cincinnati via the Roebling Bridge  It was a glorious sunny day, with everything fresh and green and in bloom, the perfect time to give thanks for the Easter blessings in our lives.

^^little German and English ornaments from when I was little hang on the branches^^
^^always the first one ready and waiting for food!^^

Our Simple Brunch Menu

Asparagus Gruyere Tart (recipe below) - Jimmy LOVED this and it's so simple!!
Classic Deviled Eggs (recipe below)
Hashbrown Potatoes (from frozen)
Mixed Berries
Bacon + Sausages
Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze (Ina Garden, from Parties cookbook)
Vanilla Glazed Sugar Cookies (my recipe)

Asparagus Gruyere Tart
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (6 oz)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.  On a floured surface, roll puff pastry to 10x16 inches.  Place pastry on baking sheet.  With a sharp knife, lightly score a 1 inch border around the inside of pastry edge, making a rectangle.  Using fork, pierce dough every 1/2 inch.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove and sprinkle with cheese, then lay asparagus in a single layer on top. Brush all over with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Return to oven and bake until asparagus is tender, about 20 minutes.

The "Greatest" Deviled Eggs
Kosher salt
8 large eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons very finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped drained pickle relish
2 tablespoons very finely chopped scallion
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 teaspoons very finely chopped parsley, plus more for serving
2 dashes hot sauce (such as Tabasco), plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully add eggs. Bring water to a simmer and cook eggs 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water; let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel.
Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, celery, relish, scallion, mustard, 2 tsp. parsley, and 2 dashes hot sauce in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Halve eggs lengthwise. Scoop yolks into mayonnaise mixture and place whites on a plate. Gently mash yolks into dressing; season with salt and pepper. Using 2 forks, fill egg halves with yolk mixture.
Top eggs with pepper and more parsley and serve with hot sauce.
Do Ahead: Eggs can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill egg whites and filling separately; fill just before serving.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Vacation | Our 30A Recommendations

For spring break this year we headed south to Florida.  I've been hearing about how wonderful the 30A region is for some time now and we were excited to check it out.  Well, I was excited and my family was skeptical.  Charlie always wants to head to a city where he can watch some major sports team (preferably basketball) play and Andrew prefers historically significant sights or the action of a big city.  Jimmy wasn't sure how I would handle the long car ride - I can be a bit of a wimp when it comes to road trips.   However, we were all pleasantly surprised how much fun we had on all accounts.

Let's start with the drive...  It's a 10.5 hour drive so we broke it up into 2 days.  On the way down we stopped at the Hermitage in Nashville (on a whim, we didn't have this stop planned) and toured Andrew Jackson's home (historical sight for Andrew, check).  We all really enjoyed the tour and the chance to stretch our legs, walking the  surrounding grounds.  We drove a bit further and stayed in Mountain Brook, AL for the night.  Thanks to all the generous recommendations from Instagram followers, it was the perfect stopping point.  We went to Vulcan Park and explored the little downtown areas of Homewood and Mountain Brook the next morning, before finishing up a rather short drive to Watercolor, FL.

Again, thanks to so many wonderful suggestions from readers and friends we had a long list of places to eat and explore.  We had a glorious week of perfect weather, which I hear can be a gamble in March.  The water was amazing and even made a beach lover out of Andrew.  It is prettier in person than in photos and so much warmer to swim in than the dark Atlantic of the Northeast.  We stayed in Watercolor which was perfect for our family.  The resort was sprawling and meticulously kept.  Pastel houses and gas lights as far as the eye can see.  We could bike everywhere and were only a few minutes from all the restaurants and shops in Seaside.  The resort has a number of pools, the only crowded one was at the Beach Club, the others we pretty much had to ourselves.  There is also a lake for kayaking and YOLO boards and plenty of recreation space for soccer and basketball.  We visited a few other areas while there just to get a feel of the different towns.  And while I am by no means an expert after one visit here, I did want to share a list of places we loved for anyone who is considering planning their own trip...

Places to Stay:
Watercolor Inn and Resort
Seacrest (we had friends staying there - it was beautiful and so close to Rosemary)
Watersound (has a new England feel in the architecture)
Rosemary Beach (so charming and more shops than Seaside)
Alys Beach (especially if going on a girls trip or a couples trip - it's the prettiest of all the towns and feels the most upscale!)

Places to Eat:
Shrimp Shack (Seaside) Eat on the beach! Peel and eat shrimp and the BEST lemonade. We ate there twice.
George's (Alys Beach) for a nice dinner.  I'm still dreaming about their coleslaw with the shaved brussel sprouts - so, so good
Bud and Ally's (Seaside) Eat outside to watch a pretty sunset.  Crab cakes were amazing.  It's definitely a tourist spot, but what there isn't?
The Great Southern Cafe (Seaside) Breakfast, lunch and dinner all looked excellent!
La Crema (Rosemary) Tapas and chocolate, enough said
Pizza Bar (Seaside) Pizza and salads
Cowgirl Kitchen (Seaside on 30A)
Charlie's Doughnuts (Alys Beach)
The food trucks in Seaside are all pretty good, from BBQ to Smoothies, oh and the Taco Bar too

Didn't go but it was recommended a number of times, Goatfeathers Fish Shop (there are two that we saw.  Next time I will because eating out every afternoon and night was particularity pricey there, more so than Nantucket which surprised us)

Skip: The Hub Restaurants, The Wine Bar (Watercolor), unless just for drinks and nibbles, the dinner was so so.

We only went to Watercolor and it was lovely.  Not sure there is a beach there that isn't.  Best times to be on the beach, before 10:00 and after 4:00, but we were there all day.  :)

The highlight of our trip was an afternoon where we chartered a boat and explored some very remote little islands and the bay area.  It's a bit of drive, just under an hour, to Panama City.  We spotted so many dolphins that swam right along side out boat.  We found starfish (and put them back!  don't worry!) and sand dollars and learned about all sorts of marine life.  It was a magical adventure.  Osprey Charters with Captain Greg.  Link here.  He is an amazing guide and will customize the trip for your family.  He can take up to 12 on his boat. Highly recommend!!

All of us really loved the area.  Anyplace with turquoise water and white sand beaches, plenty of fresh seafood and more time spent on bikes than in our car is a winning combination for us.  There is definitely a heavy high school spring break scene happening, especially in Seaside, but it's mellow since there aren't bars or nightclubs, and most, I believe, are with adults, maybe? ;)

On the drive back we stopped overnight in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel (a favorite of our boys) and spent the next day there visiting a few fun spots like the 12 South area and the Parthenon replica (Andrew! He loves his Greek and Roman history!).

It was such a good trip, with so many fun memories made.  We all came back relaxed and refreshed and ready to wrap this school year up and welcome summer. The older the boys get, the more fun traveling is and now that I know I can actually enjoy a road trip (biggest surprise of all on this vacation), it opens up so many more possibilities for us.  Holiday road here we come!!!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Inspiration | A Country Home in Conneticut by Timothy Whealon

I've been spending my morning soaking up the sun in our family room and gathering fresh decorating inspiration.  A lazy Sunday morning, easing into the time change!  I recently started following the designer Timothy Whealon on instagram and spent some time today going through his portfolio.  I'm really drawn to the classic New England style featured in some of his designs, like this country home in Connecticut.  I think it's so important, especially when I'm helping clients with their decorating decisions, to both know what I love and why I love it.  I recently had a new client inquiry, from the sweetest fellow blogger, but I knew pretty quickly that we likely weren't the right fit for each other.  A lot of designers can dabble in lots of different styles, but I've found 99% of the time when people reach out to me for help with their own homes it's because we share a similar style.  They know the look they want but need help achieving it.  They know what inspires them but maybe not how to translate images from magazines and pinterest into their own home.  They typically want to know what would I do if it were my home.  I know if I was seeking the help of a decorator or designer, I would find one who's own style I admire and love.  So with that in mind, I try to take the time to really break down the elements I'm drawn to when I come across something that inspires me.  This home has so many... It is the style of decorating I'm most drawn too. Warm, inviting, nothing trendy or attention grabbing, a clean and classic interpretation of country style, that feels timeless.

^^ Gorgeous millwork in a pretty warm white, black iron finish on the lighting, a pretty dusty gray blue mixed in with the textiles, woven shades for texture in the adjoining room, dark finish on the wood legs and floor.^^

^^I love all the warm tones in here and the iron lighting fixtures, with a couple painted antique pieces to keep it feeling fresh and relaxed.  I do think it helps to keep the fabrics free from pattern when using a large patterned rug to ground the space, especially in a very open space like this where too much pattern will make things feel cluttered.. ^^

^^ Bell jar lanterns and a little more of that dusty, gray color on the upper walls.  I too like to mix in a cooler tone here and there in a home with lots of warm tones to keep it feeling fresh.  ^^

^^White kitchens will forever be the most classic to me^^
^^It goes without saying that my love for check fabrics runs deep.  Can you really have a country home without it?  I think not. ;)^^

Hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring Finds for Your Home

With spring in the air I always get the itch to freshen things up around our home.  There have been quite a few things that have caught my eye lately and thought it would be fun to share.  
Some have already made their way into my home.

Gorgeous Lamps || I have been anxiously awaiting this launch at Circa. My jaw always drops when I see Christopher Spitzmiller lamps, but they are a serious investment.  This new line, while not exactly bargain priced, certainly makes his gorgeous pieces more accessible to many.  I have my eye on one...

Watercolor Figure Study || Adding black and white abstract art or nude sketches instantly adds a sophisticated layer to a vignette.  I am seeing LOTS of black and white art everywhere.  If you want to dip your toes into the look and still have something original, these figure studies done by my friend and talented designer, Brooke Chamblee, are perfect.  You can find them here on Instagram at Studio South Collection.  I have one being framed as we speak.   

The Perfect Check Chair ||  I recently recommended this chair in the brown check for a client.  I absolutely adore it in every color.  Found here from Serena and Lily.

Pretty Spring Table Linens || Jenny just launched her spring collection today and her pretty block print linens are perfect for giving us an excuse to entertain. They would be so pretty lining little Easter baskets too, which is how I plan to use them.  Found here.  

The Best Spring Scent || I purchased the Martha's Vineyard Farmhouse candle after blogging about this design duo and I'm obsessed with the scent.  I immediately ordered a second.  So fresh and clean.  I will use it all spring and summer long.  A handmade, soy candle, scented with natural oils - the best kind.  You can purchase here.

For Your Closet ||  Isn't this the prettiest spring dress?!  I love the bows on the sleeves.  I really haven't bought much in the way of new clothes the last couple years.  I try to add one or two special items each season and that seems to fit the bill.  It's nice to have something new to wear, especially out for a date night.  This dress has me dreaming of summer vacation in Nantucket.  Found here.

Woven Planters || I was on the hunt last year for pretty basket planters and had a tough time finding ones I liked.  Terrain has the mother load this season.  I will be adding a few of them around our home.  You can never have too many baskets! :)  Link here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

My Home Office | Before and After

Despite the quick snow flurry we had this morning, spring seems to have arrived early this year.  Daffodils have popped up, trees are in bloom, everything is feeling fresh and alive again. I have started to make my list of spring repairs and home updates - rotten pickets in our fence that need replacing, dinged up cabinets in our kitchen that need touching up, removing Christmas greenery from our window boxes (yes, still there and surprisingly looking very green-ish).  It got me thinking that I have yet to share my home office that was updated, ohhh, welllll, last summer!! Yikes.  I even took photos but then never got around to writing the blog post and when the holiday season rolled around I decided to wait and then forgot about it.  Even though I've actually added a few things since these pics were taken, I thought it was high time to blog about the space.   Thank you all for being so patient.  I'm amazed I still have readers at all with the time it takes me to get things up!!

A little background... My office is a room right off our master bedroom.  It is part of a two story addition that was added in the late 50s which included our master bath and the downstairs family room.  It is a small space, more of a sitting/dressing room since it includes three closets.  It was the last room in our home that remained completely untouched decorating wise.  The only room with wall to wall carpet, which was old and faded.  Jimmy had been using it as a home office and it was my original intention to redo the space for him.  However, once I got started it made more sense for me to use this room as my work space.  It's easier to store bolts of fabric, spread out my work and take advantage of the better light and more private setting.  So, Jimmy moved downstairs and I moved up.  (His office is on my to do list for this year and I promised him this time I was designing for him!:))

I love this space and feel so fortunate to work in here several times a week.  My design plan was to create a space that felt like a summer cottage in New England.   I drew inspiration from all the wonderful places we have vacationed over the last 20 years.  For fabrics I choose my favorite English floral (Althea from Lee Jofa), a blue ticking stripe, and a small block print then I added a collection of art that includes early American portraits, seascapes, and an etching of Boston.   All the wood furniture are antiques from estate sales or local stores.  It is basically a room full of things that I love and flows so well with our green and blue bedroom next door...

photo by Helen Norman (with proper lighting! and accurate colors!)

Here are a few more pictures...
^^ Wall to wall seagrass carpet that I LOVE. I used Kalo by Design Materials seagrass. We did not add additional padding but if this was a main living space I would have.  This is the most comfortable seagrass we have in our home, but it's still seagrass and not plush.  Zero regrets on this decision and I would put this carpet in any room in our home without any hesitation.  I have since added added to the small gallery wall and moved everything around a bit.  I also added a small Bowood pillow to the wingback chair. I wish I could show you the pretty view outside of so many lovely trees.

Other Sources: Desk chair: IKEA, Desk: Pine, vintage, Baskets + Lamp: Ballard,  Roman Shade: Lee Jofa, Althea, Footstool Fabric: Robert Allen, Wingback: Craigslist find, slipped in washed denim ticking, Wing Chair Pillow: Les Indiennes, Fabiola, Paint on Walls, Trim, Ceiling and Windows: Farrow & Ball, French Gray^^

^^Standing lamp: Rejuvenation Hardware^^

^^Taken on a very sunny day, all colors read warmer in this picture than in real life.^^

I really should have charged up my camera to take some new shots and from a few more angles.  I didn't realize how hazy these shot were, but the thought of cleaning up my desk and all the projects laid out on my floor is more than I wanted to take on. :)  Sometimes you just got to go with good enough. Ha.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek!  Always fun to share a little of my home with you.  Have a terrific weekend!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Inspiration | Charming Hampton Cottages

While at Andrew's swim meet this weekend I picked up the Feb/March issue of Cottages & Bungalows.  There was a really beautiful bookstore located a mile from the pool and it was the perfect spot to kill a little time in between prelims and finals.  I always make a bee line to the shelter magazine section in a new bookstore - so surprising, right? ;)  I love the chance to discover a magazine or designer that is new to me.  This time it was an introduction to the work of Bernt Heiberg and William Cummings of  Heiberg Cummings Design.  Their Sag Harbor cottage is absolutely perfect.  A little Scandinavian sensibility mixed with a whole lot of classic charm.

As much as I'm a pattern layering lover, I occasionally come across a home like this and have a strong desire to simplify.  This home,  while void of pattern, is layered with warm neutral shades of ivory, sage green and flax with a little  dark gray and black in the accessories and hardware.  There are very utilitarian antiques mixed with more ornate side chairs.  And so many white candles! It's really a perfect vacation home, though I could easily live in it year round.  Here are the photos, found on the Cottages and Gardens website.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

(the colors in this shot are a little warmer in the magazine, and appear somewhat washed out online)

^^The green walls and windows remind me of my own office, a color that is soothing and refreshing at the same time.  Sadly, no sources are shared in the article.^^

^^ Adore this white bedroom and luxurious linen bedding. ^^

^^The floors in this cottage are AMAZING^^

I also loved another Hampton project, Towd Point Cottage, found in the portfolio on their website.

^^chippy farmhouse island paired with iron candle holder is a repeated theme.  But it doesn't look too country when surrounded by the simple, clean lines and practical white dishes of the kitchen.^^

^^ more black frames and old rugs to add contrast amidst all the neutrals^^

You can also buy their soy candles on etsy, which I couldn't resist doing myself. 
 I let you know what I think of the scent.