Friday, June 28, 2013

Fourth of July Tablescape

There is nothing more spectacular than the colors red, white and blue and what they symbolize for our great nation. I am so grateful to those men and women that have put their lives on the line every day for us, and those that have selflessly given their lives for this great nation. Thank you all!

Fireworks, picnics, BBQ's, parades, and time spent with family and friends....these have all become such deep American traditions for many of us.

This year I have decided to put together a festive tablescape in celebration of this great day.

I started my project by purchasing a red stripe Vintage ticking material for my runner. I used a burlap tablecloth that I already owned underneath to keep the theme casual. Tying in the burlap casual look....I used the frosted canning jars (from my previous DIY project), added a burlap ribbon around each jar, and then added a festive blue ribbon with stars to complete the look. By filling the jars with Black-eyed Susan's, the added color of the flowers added
anther dimension to the casual tabletop.

Round red placemats, white dinnerware, and blue napkins complimented the placesettings. Blue beverage glasses were a steal at Pier One Imports and striped straws seemed an appropriate add. Small tin buckets decorated in the same patriotic theme, filled with grapevine stars and flags added a bit of whimsy to the table. These could also be used for nuts, and candies for a different variation.

I love low evening light over a dining table, so I added these Chinese lanterns that I found in Target for just the right touch. If you are evening entertaining candles would be beautiful as well.

Overall the project was so easy and fun. I hope I have inspired you to get your table ready for the upcoming holiday!



Monday, June 24, 2013

Holy Kale!

It appears that the reigning "queen of greens" is kale. A leafy green, kale belongs to the Brassica family that includes broccoli and cabbage. Eating kale in an unprocessed form provides significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.

Kale is rich in vitamins, A, C and K. It contains only 33 calories per cup. It is difficult to find such  high daily values of many vitamins like these in any other vegetables.

I have been in search of great easy recipes utilizing Kale. The Farmer's Market is full of beautiful selections right now, so it is a great time to take advantage of the freshness! My daughter passed along this recipe from one of her cooking classes. Eating healthy has never been this delicious and easy!!

The ingredient list is quite simple:

And here it is tonight's dinner. Add protein and fruit, and you are all set!

Lemony Kale Salad

Serves 6

The time spent marinating in lemon juice "cooks" the kale a bit and makes it softer.


2 bunches of Kale (Lacinato or Red Russian--7-8 cups after chiffonade)
1/2 cup pine nuts (roasted)
1/4 cup golden raisins or currants
Good extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons of grated or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano


1.  Carve away and discard stems from kale.
2.  Chiffonade the leaves by stacking and tightly rolling them, then slicing them into thin strips. Add sliced kale into a large serving bowl. Toss the leaves in the juice of one lemon covering the kale well. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil until it is well coated, but not saturated and toss again.
3.  Allow to sit for 90 minutes.
4.  Toast pine nuts in oven 350 degrees for about 4-5 minutes until slightly brown and allow to cool. Add nuts, currants or raisins, salt and pepper to kale, then top with Parmigiano Reggiano.


Soak raisins or currants in white balsamic vinegar during the 90 minute period that the salad is soaking in the lemon and oil. The salad holds up in the refrigerator until the next day.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Little DIY Fun

Last evening I received my daily phone call from my youngest daughter. She said, "Mom you better get something up on your blog. I was looking for it today and there wasn't anything new."  I really did have something in mind that I wanted to do, but I just needed the time to be able to spend on it because it is a DIY project! It is 77 degrees and sunny today, a perfect day for my new creation. 

I LOVE the translucent glow of sea glass and the beautiful softness you feel to the touch. In searching on my favorite website for ideas, Pinterest, I found by investing in a $5.00 can of Frosted Glass spray paint I could turn regular jars that I had on hand, into something spectacular. If you have old jars or vases that you have tucked away thinking, I will use that "someday." This is the perfect time to get them out, and give this DIY a try.

I started with these:
I prepared my surface outdoors on my patio table with parchment paper, which worked pretty well. Working outside provides good ventilation, making sure of course that it is not a windy day.

The next result was this:

It was the easiest project I have ever done.

I thought I would play a bit with a place setting to complement my new little frosted glass inspiration. My love for black and white using accents of either yellow and lime-----let's just say, it's my favorite combination. You can dress a table for lunch with the girls or glam it up Tuscan style for a great evening party. If you are throwing a Tuscan theme party, June is always a great time to find fresh sunflowers. My favorite are the long stems in a large rustic urn.

 I decided not to run and buy the sunflowers from Wegman's (which are just beautiful right now), but to use some beautiful yellow from my own garden. Love, Love, Love the result!  Soft and natural!

Hope I have inspired you to run to Home Depot and grab that can of Frosted Glass for your next project.

Have Fun!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Pink Master Bath

Pink, Pink, and more Pink! That was the Master bathroom theme  from the previous owners of our new home.  Pink toilet, sinks, tile in the shower, tub, and tub surround, pink tile on the floor---Pink everywhere!

 Don't get me wrong, I love pink, just not in the bathroom that I share with my husband; after all the poor guy has 4 sisters, and 3 daughters, at least  he deserves a semi-masculine bathroom! The pictures below are BEFORE pictures taken prior to our purchase. How about that pink??

Our  realtor told us about a  NJ company that a previous client of hers had used that spray painted the tile. After seeing the quality of their work, their guarantee, and their price fitting into the budget, we contracted the project.  Below is the final result of lots of hard work and compromise.

A change of color on the walls, new chandelier with dimmer switch, and window treatment bring a romantic French feel to the room.The window treatment is a quick sew project easy for windows, and also works over tubs with showers. The French shelf and monogrammed towels are from Horchow. The addition of accessories, like candles, always add a spa like feel.

The countertops were upgraded to granite, new double sinks, faucets, toilet, and updated lighting completed the project for the time being.

Final cost of the complete project is much less than replacing all of the tile at this point. We found that the demolition and installation prices combined, contributed to the project being out range at this time.

This now allows us time to plan a new design for the bathroom in the future and search for that perfect tile to compliment what has already been completed.

Most importantly my husband does not have to face a PINK bathroom everyday!

More adventures to follow-----

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Living

I hope, wherever you call home, you have been fortunate enough to have been experiencing some of these lovely days. We are a bit overcast today so it is a perfect day for me to play catch-up inside.

We have had so many projects to complete during our renovation, the sunroom was the last on the list. I couldn't wait to make a comfy cozy reading nook for those days and nights that beg grabbing that new book, curling up with a cup of coffee (or a nice glass of vino) and venturing off to wherever my book will take me.

Fortunately, the rooms structure and flooring are great so all I really had to do is populate it. Yay, the fun part! I moved two of our comfy reading chairs (borrowed from our bedroom for the summer), and began to build. One investment I made was a trellis style Royal blue and white rug to anchor the setting. (  It gives just the pop of color I was looking for. From our travels I have collected pieces of Polish Pottery in cobalt blue and lime green pattern that seemed to blend nicely with the terra cotta tiled floor; adding a fun light vibe to the room. Then came throw pillows (HomeGoods) in lime, browns, blues. Grabbing pieces from my closets and cabinets to accent was easy once the theme was established.

Take a look:

The bar in the background is the old cabinetry from the kitchen island that we salvaged. Ron plans on working his magic on those "next year" to complete the bar area...until then my draped fabric look is working just fine. I have learned that patience is not one of my strong suits, but I am getting better.

Above the bar, I purchased a mirror from HomeGoods because I loved the frame. Ron used a chalkboard spray paint and turned it into a chalkboard that allows us to create messages for whatever event we are hosting. It provides a personal touch to help make our guests feel welcome.

Since the room is now completed, it's time for some "Summer Living" and first on the list is a good book. My friend has recommended, A Hundred Summers by Beatrix Williams. It was just released on May 31st, so I am off to pick up a copy or maybe I will surprise my daughters with my techy capabilities, and download it to my Kindle! Have any of you read it yet? What are you reading? Please share with us!

Have a awesome day!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Beautiful Day for Banana Bread!

What a beautiful day today is! The temperature is 72 degrees, the sun is shining, and the birds are chirping.

My morning ritual as soon as I get out of bed is to open the shades in the bedroom to get a good peek at the day. We overlook a wooded area, and most mornings at least two deer are stretching their necks to eat some of those beautiful Spring green leaves for their breakfast. This morning was no exception, they were busily moving from tree to tree. We have the nicest straight line along the trees that is just as high as their little, or not so little, necks will stretch. It looks as if we had measured it ourselves, and purposefully trimmed all of the branches at the same height.  Ahhh......the wonders of nature.

This is my favorite kind of day. I love to turn the AC off and open all of the windows and doors,letting the beautiful breeze blow through the house. I, many times, get that urge to bake something, anything, just to permeate the house with some delicious smell.

What could I bake? Hmmm.............well I have these extra ripe bananas I had stuck in the refrigerator before leaving for Florida last week, and so of course, why not bake a banana bread. My husband doesn't have a sweet tooth, but he does enjoy a nice warm piece of banana bread.

My go to recipes are always from Cooking Light or Ellie Krieger.(Of course my splurges are from the Barefoot  Contessa herself, Ina Garten!)  Some of you know that Ellie in my household, is my "go to girl" first for recipes. She is a registered dietitian, and has her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University. If you don't have any of her cookbooks you are missing out on some of the most heart-healthy fare that tastes simply delicious. She is also very active in creating a much healthier school lunch fare for the children in schools in NYC, and so much more! Can you tell I have a great admiration for her?

I love a good banana bread but it is a splurge so why not make the most of the nutritional value when you bake anything anymore.  Today I am using a Cooking Light recipe, Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread taken from September 2003. The recipe makes 1 loaf and yields 16 slices at 183 calories. (copy and paste link below for the recipe)

Hope you enjoy it-- Happy Baking!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Welcome to "The Lavender Bouquet"

The Lavender Bouquet began as a suggestion from my daughters and husband. Over the years my husband’s career has taken our family to many new locations throughout the United States.  It was during this time that I found myself growing in the sense of evolution of color, style, design, food tastes, and overall sophistication. Along the way friends and family have enlisted my inspiration from paint colors and design to entertaining and hosting parties. My hope is that The Lavender Bouquet will allow me to inspire readers at all stages in life, sharing things that I have learned along this road that continues to evolve, and my palette for beautiful things!