Saturday, May 31

The Beachcomber's Summer Mantel Style

I was swapping out a few accessories on the mantel this past week, and got to thinking about all the different ways there are to style a mantel in the summer when the fireplace is not in use. When we’re not using it in summertime for its warming purpose, it’s still fun to accessorize the fireplace mantel to fit the season and style of your home. Even though the mantel can be a tricky area of your home to decorate, here are 5 summer ideas I came up with - beach combing style!

Lighten and Brighten
Pull in a few accessories from your home that reflect the light of summer. Our living room's fireplace is dark. I brightened the room by bringing in lighter accessories. Adding cream colored throw pillows, an old farmhouse window frame, large candlesticks on the hearth and lots of shells. These few items keep my fireplace and mantel the focal point of the room during our long hot Texas summer!

A Dash of Whimsy
Play with quirky finds, and organic objects from nature for a creative approach and a dose of the unexpected. I chose to decorate my mantel with a beach/coastal theme. Our little family loves the beach, from swimming to lazing in the sun to collecting shells. Here I've used some of our favorite shells, driftwood and coral that we've collected over the years on memorable family vacations. 

Fill the Firebox
When not in use, get creative with firebox design and inserts. Use branches, shells, a grouping of large pillar candles, a beautiful green fern or a big bucket of fresh florals to fill the space. It helps to brighten and liven up your fireplace for the summer months.

Avoid complicated arrangements and stick with the basics. Sometimes less is more. Even if I can't have my toes in the sand or hear the ocean waves crashing this summer I can still bring that coastal feel into my home. This simple beachy display features all the elements of a mantel reminiscent of the sea. Driftwood, seashells, starfish, nautical rope and a neutral, monochromatic/turquoise palette are ideal for summer.

Shop you Home
Before heading to the store, check your stash! I found this old window, shells and votives in my 'go to decor' room. I love these little turquoise votives. I found them at Goodwill a few months back for .10 cents a piece. That's my kind of deal!

Decorating my mantel for summer has me dreaming of the beach and the sound of waves lapping at the shore! I hope it has you dreaming of the sand and sea too! Do you switch things around in your home for different seasons? Or do you like to keep things as they are throughout the year? Is your mantel feeling neglected??? Show it a bit of love!

If you'd like more help with ideas and products check out One Kings Lane website!

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Tuesday, May 27

Old Fashioned Angel Food Cake

I have been completely lazy all week. I needed to recoup after our son and new daughter-in-law's wedding last weekend. So today, I decided it was time to clear out our refrigerator in preparation for the coming summer. What did I find? Too many eggs, cream and a half a flat strawberries - leftovers from the wedding. So instead of waiting until they were too bad to eat, and they almost were, I decided to bake an Angel Food Cake and serve it with strawberries and cream in honor of Memorial Day.

As I write this, my angel food cake is upside down, cooling in the kitchen. Upside down. You heard me right. Making angel food cake is one of the great acts of culinary faith. I know separating a dozen eggs, beating them to soft peaks, baking your cake in a quake-free kitchen and flipping it over so that it can cool upside down may be absolutely the last thing you want to do. But trust me, homemade angel food cake is worth the effort. It is moist and airy, unlike the sweet styrofoam cakes available at the market.

This delicious Angel Food cake has a sweet golden brown crust with a soft and snowy white interior. It's made with egg whites, sugar, vanilla extract, and cake flour. It does not contain egg yolks or fat of any kind. Making it perfect for those watching their weight. Angel Food cake is versatile and can be eaten plain or served with fresh fruit and whipped cream. It is also excellent with fruit sauces, chocolate sauce, lemon curd, ice cream, sherbet or sorbet - wonderful for Summertime dining.

Now ask me if this homemade delight lasted in our house until Monday, Memorial Day?

There's a reason angel food cake is one of America's favorite desserts
-- it's tender, light as air, and tastes, well, down right divine! 
SERVES 10 to 12
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  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 large egg whites, MUST be room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Whipping the egg whites.

Gently folding in the flour and sugar.

Cooling cake upside down. You can see that even though I cooled my cake upside down it still sank slightly after placing it on my cake stand. It was STILL delicious!

  • DO NOT GREASE PAN. I used a two piece tube pan that once belonged to my grandmother.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Sift together flour and 3/4 cup + 2 tblsp sugar. Repeat. Set aside.
  • Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until it forms peaks.
  • Slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, then beat on high until soft peaks form.
  • Beating on LOW, add vanilla extract.
  • Using a spatula, gently fold the flour-sugar mixture into the egg white mixture.
  • Lightly spoon into an angel food cake pan.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly with finger and is light golden brown.
  • Invert pan onto a glass, I used a clean flower pot, for at least an hour before removing cake from pan.
  • When cake has cooled, run a knife around the rim of the cake pan and invert onto your serving platter.

  • Don’t grease your pan. Really, don’t. You need the cake to stick to the pan so that it doesn’t fall when baking or when you invert it to cool.
  • Use cake flour. Trust me. It’s lighter than regular flour. See note below*.
  • Don’t get a speck of yolk in your egg whites. Yolks are all fat, and fat keeps egg whites from whipping up properly.
  • No jumping in the kitchen when it’s in the oven. Think of this as a slightly more stable souffle.
  • Cool it upside down for at least 1 hour, longer is better, to minimize shrinkage and maximize poof. 
  • Angel food cake doesn’t like humidity. So, if it’s sticky hot where you are, make the cake the day you’re going to serve it.
  • If you want to get really technical, pulse your sugar in a food processor a few times. It will make it super-fine and add to the over-all appeal of this cake. I skipped this step and my cake was spectacular. Do as you wish!
  • Anyone with the fortitude to beat 12 egg whites by hand has my highest admiration. I on the other hand use an electric mixer!

Cake flour is specially milled flour and is low-gluten and slightly acidic and is stocked in most grocery stores. You can remove 2 tablespoons from 1 cup of all-purpose flour and replace it with corn starch, and sift the two together several times for a reasonable facsimile, although it’s not quite the same. 

Yep, it was really good!

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Friday, May 23

Tex-Mex Tilapia Ceviche

Mr.P and I fell in love with ceviche while vacationing in Cozumel. Simply defined, ceviche is a dish of raw fish or cooked shellfish, marinated in citrus juices and often mixed with all manner of fresh herbs and vegetables. It’s very popular along the Central and South American coasts, where fresh fish is easy to come by. 

I like ceviche as a summer dish because the flavors are exciting, it's cool and refreshing, and there’s no cooking involved. Perfect for our HOT Texas summers! It's also a great compromise for Mr.P and me. He likes sushi - I do NOT! I know technically ceviche is labeled 'raw', but when the tilapia goes from pink to white it tricks my brain into thinking it's cooked. And it doesn't hurt that it feeds my citrus addiction as well! I like to think of ceviche as a better form of sushi. Ssshh, don't tell Mr.P. 

If you'd like to read more, and to find this recipe, meet me over at Texas Women Bloggers, where I am writing today. See ya there!

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Thursday, May 22

Island Hopping and The Bag That'll Get Me There

I just came in from running errands and I picked up a new round of reliable travel books. Mr.P and I are contemplated taking a trip this fall after E is back at university. Just the two of us. Blessedly ALONE! 

We've thrown around a few ideas. Athens and Istanbul, maybe Cappadocia as well. Or a little Greek island hopping could be nice. We can always discover a colorful little village in Italy to fall in love with. Or it might be best if we stay in the states. In which case, we could head to the North East for a little leaf peeping and NYC excitement. 

So now I find myself sitting in the middle of our bed surrounded by all of these wonderful new travel books. Beautiful pictures, great advice - where to begin? I know one thing for sure, where ever we end up, I will be pulling a fantastic new carry-on bag. One of my sweet friends, Toya, purchased this unique carry-on through Luggage Pros.

Toya is my shopping guru! She takes trips to NYC just to shop. She has crawled in and out of the back of vans, sought out seedy looking stores in dark alleyways and found unknown rooms in some of the small shops in Chinatown. Toya is always looking for great bargains on excellent merchandise, and she's successful at finding those deals. She has impeccable taste and I trust her judgement completely. 

This 'MyFly Personalized Travel Carry-On' is just one example of finding an item that everyone wants but few own. It's more than just a simple carry-on. With your own personal high quality photos you can create a customized product that will tell your travel story. What a fantastic idea and best of all you won't have trouble keeping up with your bag! No one will mistake your bag for theirs ever again. You can make your own carry-on by following this link ENJOY!

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Friday, May 16

Pottery Barn’s 2014 Indigo Collection

Our first born is marrying his long-time sweetheart tomorrow night. There are no words for the emotions that have been swirling around in my brain and heart over the last week. Even though he's been out in the world and on his own for quite sometime now, tomorrow night - May 17, 2014 - another woman will forever take my place in his life. And what a woman she is! J couldn't have found a more wonderful young woman, suited JUST FOR him, if he'd taken out an ad OR if  I had hand picked her myself of course! 

I've hardly had time to look up these last few days. I thought I would take a short break from blogging and share this nifty blog post from Pottery Barn - which I love! Their Indigo Collection is Summer yummylicious! Enjoy sweet friends and I'll be back soon!
indigo cover shot
Blue, and indigo in particular, is a refreshing color. In psychological studies, blue has a calming, tranquil affect — the same feeling we get when we look at a clear lake or the ocean. It’s a natural color to gravitate to after months of cold weather and dark skies.
pottery barn living room
But for whatever reason, some of us still get nervous about using it in our homes. “Blue shouldn’t be scary to introduce into your house,”  says Pottery Barn textile designer Sandra. “It’s just like wearing a pair of jeans. It’s very pretty, classic and easy to work with.”
candle votives
Indigo’s rich, deep hue allowed Pottery Barn designers to treat it like a neutral when creating this collection. “Indigo evolved into a neutral for us. Gray and blue is gorgeous,” says Sandra. “You can also introduce red into indigo for more of an Americana feel. There’s really not a lot you can’t pair with it.”
spring preview
The collection mixes textures, colors and patterns with its signature indigo hue. “Flax linens and ivories look fresh with indigo, like a white t-shirt and jeans,” says Sandra. Many of the textiles also combine patterns with influences from Japan, India and traditional America.
Just like it does on a good pair of jeans, indigo offers a gradation of colors as it’s washed and worn down. “We played a lot with tonalities of blues,” says Sandra. “Indigo blooms when it’s washed.”
During the photo shoots, the designers found that adding a touch of black — through wood, iron or finishes — provided a complementary focal point to the indigo. It’s a simple but impactful decision that’s easy to implement in anyone’s home.
“You don’t have to change very much when using blue in your home,” says Sandra. “It’s not that hard to infuse with existing wood, leathers and fabrics.”
cambria pile

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Thursday, May 15


The shift of seasons usually brings changes to the weather and your wardrobe. Changing your home’s décor is not a priority on most peoples list. This month, because summer is soon approaching, I thought it would be the perfect time to discuss ways to summer-fy your home. So as your bathing suits and sunhats are coming out of hiding, introduce an organic palette mixed in with cooler tones, textural elements, as well as bringing the outdoors inside your home. It doesn’t have to be hard or cost a lot to change up your décor for the summer. Here are just a few ways to lighten and brighten your home!

It’s Only Natural 

With the onset of warmer weather and longer days, more focus is put on outdoor living. Creating an indoor space outdoors, with living rooms and dining rooms being taken outside, enjoying the warmer weather while we can. Creating outdoor rooms can be easy with the availability of fabulous looking all-weather furniture and fabrics. The plastic chairs and tables NEED to be eliminated from outdoor décor. Instead, think of using weather ready materials such as teak, rattan, or woven plastic furniture. Outdoor fabrics are also coming out with an array of patterns and colors that will add to your outdoor spaces.  Not only will focusing on outdoor living areas allow you to take advantage of the summer months but it will also increase the value of your home. Your outdoor space should be an extension of the inside of your home.

Life’s A Beach 
When thinking about summer, what comes to mind? Clear blue water, sand, seashells and a warm breeze. Take these elements into consideration when thinking about your interiors for the summer! Remember to keep the look casual, comfortable, and light. The color palette should consist of cool blues and greens, a perfect touch for this summer’s look. Most people won’t opt to paint their whole house—but an accent wall is perfect to introduce some summer hues into your home. If painting is not your thing, then introduce these shades in the way of accessories: vases, pots, artwork, slipcovers and accent pillows for a change which is easy on the wallet and one that will make your home feel fresh and new for the summer months. Touches such as stainless and glass lanterns, seashells, and other beachy-themed décor items are also a great addition. 

Turn Over A New Leaf 
Bringing the outdoors in is a great way of inviting the summer feel into your home. This does not mean you need to turn your home into a rainforest. Keep it simple and add plants such tropical palms true to the theme. It can be as simple as having fresh flower arrangements—it doesn’t take much. If you do have a green thumb and like to have a lot of plants in the home, think about having them in the same colored pots. This will create some sort of continuity. Freshening up your décor for summer need not be hard on the pocketbook. Simple and easy ways such as changing up accessories and bringing the outdoors in will get your home ready for the warm summer days. 

Compound Organics 
When it comes to the interior of your home, the trend is to go with all things organic. Introduce woven/tactile fabrics such as linens. These have an airy quality to them perfect for the summer, and give you more of a casual look. You can incorporate linen through curtain panels or accent pillows in earthy tones. One way to introduce textures (such as sisal or jute) is in area rugs, adding another casual element that is perfect for the summer. These will also allow you to wear your shoes inside and not have to worry about ruining your area carpets, as they are all natural. So stow away the heavy knit throws and blankets you had to keep you warm in winter months, and introduce more organic elements for that earthy, laid back look of summer.
    Happy Summer Decorating!

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