04/04/2017

Easter Egg Decorating Basics

Let nature take its course is the theme for holiday decorating in our home. There are no Dollar Store outings where we rip items from their cellophane prisons to add loud package flash that looks inspired from a children’s cereal box. Decorating Easter eggs also follows a simple approach. It comes down to a few basics: non-reactive bowls, hardboiled white eggs, distilled vinegar and food coloring.

Easter egg decorating simplified when made with household items.

White eggs hold their own beauty and can mix well within the decor–even the carton has its own design appeal. For the dyes, stick to the main colors of the spectrum and you can play with combinations as you watch how your eggs hold their color. We also kept our bowls shallow and less colored to achieve the pastel shades.

Easter Egg Decorating Tips:

  1. Mix 8 tablespoons of vinegar, 1/4 cup of water and 5 drops of coloring (less for pastels, more for deeper shades). The vinegar helps brighten the shade.
  2. Keep paper towels on hand to soak up dye splatter.
  3. Allow enough time for eggs to sit, from 5-15 minutes depending on how deep you want the shade to set. Switch non-dyed side to another color. You can also add more dye mixture if you want the eggs to be coated in one color.
  4. Let dry in egg carton or plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Keep your children’s art supplies on hand so they can be creative with their decorating.
  6. Save some white hardboiled eggs and have the children draw Easter motifs. Or, design yourself and at breakfast tell the children that the decorated eggs must have come from the “Easter Chicken”.

Breakfast made with eggs from the “Easter Chicken” began a new tradition with my son.

Non-dyed eggs colored with marker.

Resources:

Easter basket: www.themountainthreadcompany.com/shop/colorful-easter-basket-with-handle

Gigogne ice cream cups: 
https://www.duralexusa.com/tableware/Gigogne-Ice-Cream-Cup-Pink-8-75-ounce- Set-of-6-plu5002EB06-6.html

Carrot garland: hobbylobby.com

03/23/2017

Ultimate Easter Basket

Forget the Easter basket spilling with flammable straw that takes months to clean up, create a display that looks so good you won’t want to eat the treats (but don’t do that). When browsing your holiday market aisle with an assault of colors so bright you need to wear sunglasses, the natural response is to stock up on all things spring and festive. Take the classic approach of this time honored tradition by focusing on chocolates created by artisans skilled in their craft and custom woven baskets that will have an appearance each holiday. We rounded up the best offerings in a few styles that will make the Easter Bunny envious.

A delicious mix of chocolates and novelties.

Begin with a solid basket, like this willow style with a cloth insert. Add shredded paper in your color scheme and style with Easter candies, pom poms and toys in likeminded colors.

Even grownups can look forward to receiving an Easter basket.

Using a fair trade basket as the starting point, pull from the colors and keep the styling simple. Surround with mini pom poms and chocolate Easter eggs to complete the look.

A simple basket with thoughtful touches.

This basket has a story. Made from 100% cotton rope in the Mountain Thread Company shop and studio in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, it shows the beauty in handcrafted work. Complimented by chocolate covered marzipan bars with packaging that recalls Easter’s past and inserted with a festive tea cloth, the basket has a soft appeal that will work past the holiday.

 

A free trade market basket shows a green approach alongside organic chocolates and toys that do not beep.

After a season of cold and dreary colors, a bright scheme is welcomed. A scattering of purple and orange carrots connect to the jewel tones of the African market bag. Add some gift items, like artful watercolors, that fit the look.

What you’ll need:

Gather quality supplies and candies that pack in more style than your local drug store variety. Begin with a festive basket, fill with colored paper or straw, and adorn with foiled wrapped candies and treats. Take the theme further with organic sweets and free trade wares that make a difference.

 

Resources:

White willow Easter basket: https://www.burtonandburton.com/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Branded&utm_term=burton%2Bburton&utm_content=burton%20%2B%20BURTON%20-%20E

Market baskets: www.BasketsOfAfrica.com

Blue rope basket: www.themountainthreadcompany.com/shop/colorful-easter-basket-with-handle

Stuffed bunnies, chicks: www.jellycat.com

Gold bunnies, carrots, bugs and bees, white truffle eggs: www.lindt.com

White chocolate bunny, dark chocolate purple carrots, organic filled chocolates, mini gift basket: http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.

Organic Easter candies and eggs: lilliebellefarms.com

Bunny Munny: http://m.rmpalmer.com/easter/

Yellow chubby bunny: http://www.thompsonchocolate.com/products-easter.php

Chocolate marzipan bunny bars: http://www.niederegger.de/en_GB

Mini pom poms, carrot garland: hobbylobby.com

Tissue, corrugated paper wrappings: www.nashvillewraps.com

Yellow pom poms, watercolor set: http://shop.eeboo.com

Organic jelly beans: https://www.jellybelly.com/online-candy-store

03/15/2017

Homemade Snow Cones

When life gives you snow make snow cones. Such is the motto I practiced when you experience the arrival of crocuses one week and then faced with a record blizzard the following. With only so many sled runs and ice forts to create when school is cancelled, we used our snow for an alternative kind of treat.

Turn snow into a delicacy with hand made snow cones.

What you’ll need:

Fresh snow

Vitamin Water (any flavored powder or liquid drink works)

Gummy vitamins

Cupcake holder

Directions:

Scoop a ball of snow into a cupcake cup holder. Add flavored water. Garnish with a gummy bear. Enjoy.

01/28/2017

Ultimate Dog Gift Guide

Our dog Ellie came into our lives after a $140 donation and pitch to Bideawee that we have a backyard. She is a mixed breed, but nothing trendy with a doodle or poo. Once her little paws click clacked into our home we have been forever smitten. Pets are not just novelties that add cuteness to family photos, they are part of the family worthy of canine comforts.

Keeping your canine warm and well-dressed in a Pendleton dog coat.

When a Milk-Bone doesn’t say enough, give your pooch what she truly deserves.

 

  1. Rain Coat 2. National Park Dog Coat 3. Roll Up Bed 4. Dog Treats 5. Leash  6. Bow Tie Collar 7. Fabric Dog Toy 8. Bowl 9. Heart Sweater 10. Collar

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01/25/2017

Ultimate Coastal Cottage Bedroom

As design trends follow the spikes and lows of a real estate graph, one style that remains consistent is the coastal cottage. Putting together a space that stirs up seaside emotions restores, makes you want to say namaste, or lie face down with warm rocks on your back. The one room where tranquility is foremost is the bedroom. As someone who can’t make it through a night without abusing my pillow, I welcome any natural based assistance. In my Laguna Beach bedroom I brought in the core elements of the beach cottage look.

Laguna Beach bedroom follows a basic scheme of a few colors and coastal accents.

Beach design is quite simple, just add these 5 basic ideas:

  1. Natural woven pieces: Anything rattan, wicker or seagrass supports the coastal look. Accent with an accessory, sisal rug or bed frame. Since “beach” and “cottage” typically equates to space challenged, rattan baskets offer both storage and style while a bamboo side table can be a catchall for your bedtime needs within the desired design.
  2. Stripes: Blue and white stripes are the unspoken uniform of seaside style. The pattern is simple and easy to pair with other like-minded prints. A basic duvet is layered with throw pillows and blanket for a styled, relaxed feel.
  3. Batik prints: Classic British Colonial batiks that conjure up faraway places are a solid investment piece. The simple indigo color and hand-printed design of the accent pillows seamlessly weave into the room’s scheme.
  4. Color: White always says cottage and creates a soothing atmosphere. Touches of blue and beach colors are the natural choices to make a room coastal.
  5. Light: Since cottage bedrooms are often smaller, keep the room paired down to the essential needs and accessories to create the illusion of more space. White walls make the room feel open and doesn’t compete with blending items. A wood framed mirror that has the effect of a window on a boat is both decorative and reflects additional light.

Storage is always needed in a cottage bedroom. A wicker hamper and pine armoire conceal belongings in a pulled together presentation.

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01/13/2017

Classroom Friendly Blueberry Muffins

I’ve been assigned the role of Mystery Reader in Luc’s class. One of those parental duties when reading The Day the Crayons Quit with verve is simply not enough to engage your young audience. They want treats and sugar free lollipops aren’t enough. (Too trite and sticky). While other sweets could warrant a flurry of emails from parents on responsible snacks along with their child’s nutritional requirements if a future feeding should arise. I settled on gluten, dairy and peanut free muffins.

Fresh blueberries add natural flavor to a recipe.

In the thick of winter blueberries are thriving somewhere (Peru) and the taste of summer is missed (January in Connecticut).

Mini muffins is a healthy alternative over candy and cookies.

Following the mix’s directions–supplementing with fresh berries and almond milk–allows me to serve something homemade, not ripped from loud packaging, and requires minimal effort.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

(Courtesy of Authentic Foods)

Ingredients:

1 package Authentic Foods Blueberry Muffin Mix

2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk, non-dairy substitute or buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease the bottom of 12 regular size muffin cups or 24 mini size muffin cups or place cupcake liners inside the muffin cups.

Beat the eggs, vegetable oil and milk (or non-dairy substitute or buttermilk) in a large bowl until very bubbly.

Stir in the Authentic Foods Blueberry Muffin Mix and cinnamon. Stir until the flour is moistened and the batter is slightly lumpy.  Using a tablespoon or medium sized ice cream scooper, spoon the batter into the muffin cups.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffin top bounces up when touched (the muffin is not ready if it sinks down when you touch it).

Remove muffins from muffin cups and cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Resources:
Ceramic berry basket: https://www.katom.com
Tea towel: https://pomegranateinc.com/

Bite sized treat that goes well with story time.

 

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01/11/2017

Green Is the Go To Color of 2017

The color of the year has been elected and home enthusiasts are colorfully dressing up rooms for its inauguration. Pantone’s Greenery has the kind of pastoral shade you’d see when flying over Ireland. While green may seem more extreme than recent darlings like gray, neutrals or soft pastels, it’s always been a natural choice. Consider how grass and leafy trees blanket the outdoors, it has no choice but to blend with everything.

Find your aptitude for green in simple stages and begin by styling with accessories.

For those who are hesitant on this spirited shade, test in subtle ways with accessories or accent pieces. I’ve always been a follower of green in fashion as the color pops and adds personality to an ensemble. In my bedroom I added a throw and cosmetics case to my bed for a trial run that creates a snappy, effortless look.

From Simple to Daring, here are three ideas on how to design with this happy shade.

1. Simple:

An all white bathroom is punched up with green accessories. Photo by Donna Dotan Photography

Designer Claire Paquin of Clean Design Partners offers a subtle take on this white bathroom. The addition of towels, modernist painting, and even the selection of toiletries direct the room’s standout style without a major adjustment.

2. Moderate

A green range by Big Chill is the wow factor in contemporary kitchen. Image courtesy of Big Chill.

Make a bolder statement with such investment pieces as furnishings or an appliance. A predominantly white room keeps the statement on the colored piece. Says Orion Creamer, Founder of Big Chill, “Pantone’s Greenery symbolizes all thing fresh and natural. Introducing a Big Chill Range in Basil Green into a kitchen automatically brightens a space, while lending a hint of the unexpected.”

3. Daring

The exterior of my Laguna Beach came painted in Grinch green, which I kept for laughs until the right shade presented itself. It may be in the right shade after all.

Ready to immerse yourself in green? Try painting your house in the bold shade. My Laguna Beach home came in green and I never had the heart to paint it even after neighbors pestered me on its color status. It fits into the landscape. I don’t need a house number as mail arrives just by saying “green house.” It stands out in a good way.

The mustard colored wood burning fireplace pairs well with retro green, colors that swung back into fashion. Photo by Bret Gum

The color continues indoors with tiling to complement the mustard yellow wood burning fireplace. What I considered as mod Palm Springs that may have needed to be redone became quite prescient, hitting on this year’s color, which confirms that sometimes it’s best to wait on any home alterations.

Shop It: Wayfair teamed with Pantone in the color selection, finding that bolder colors are current in the design lexicon. “They may not be bright and airy but a vivid sofa in plush upholstery will have everyone fighting for a seat,” says Jessica Dowling, head of Wayfair Trade Services.

  1. Loveseat 2. Side chair 3. Ottoman 4. 3-piece vase set

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12/27/2016

No Fuss Winter Gathering

After the holidays there is a tendency to hibernate until the appearance of crocuses lure us from our winter repose. Look to the cooler months as a time to celebrate simply and regularly, such as a light afternoon tea without the stuffy customs.

Find a look by connecting color and motifs.

A palette of frosted blue, silver and neutrals bring in light and awaken the senses. Pull in a theme, such as pears and colorful baker’s twine, then add delicate touches to finish the look.

3 steps to a simple winter gathering:

  1. Choose pieces with Gustavian colors to compose a wintry scene that warms the spirit.
  2. Serve elegant chocolates and a baker’s mix of cookies that complement the setting. Green tea is a warm, healthy beverage that follows the scheme.
  3. Set with a variety of heights with pedestal plates and a mix of pieces to fill out the vignette. Even children’s dishes and books liven up the table.
12/11/2016

No Fuss Christmas Decorating

The countdown to December 25th is clear. The neighborhood looks like a traveling Christmas exhibition from Vegas. Store windows are frosted with snow shot from an aerosol can and loud holiday signage. Years ago I found that decorating for the season was less stressful when I deviated from the conventional. Nothing against Santa but you will not find his appearance from a red felt hat or ornament in my home though stories about Saint Nick are encouraged. Blinking colored lights should be saved for a hotel vacancy sign. I choose items that I’d decorate for the winter season that happen to be intended for a major holiday.

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A crochet advent calendar from Garnet Hill with numeral pockets start the festive momentum each morning.

Stay true to the design and colors of your home then flourish with supporting details.

Creating a gingerbread home has a dual purpose as a fun activity that adds to the decor. Simple eco-friendly lessons are learned from decorating with household items, like twine and burlap, over shiny paper.

Even our tinsel tree fits the bright theme of the family room and decorated with with coordinated metallic ornaments.

11/18/2016

Simple Holiday Tabletop Ideas

When hosting our annual Thanksgiving dinner I tend to channel those Oscar winning actresses who decide hours before the event on what they will wear. While I am not on a designer coveted-one-to-dress-list, a girl can dream, I play dress up on the tablescape.

buffet

A soup tureen and its accompanying pieces set the theme of this holiday celebration. Guess I will be making soup.

Over the years I have acquired a variety of tabletop pieces, either from pestering family members who retired their holiday hostess post or scouring thrift stores. As with dressing for an event, have fun by falling into the caprice of the moment.

Ways to simplify a memorable holiday table:

  1. Linchpin: Select your tabletop collection and create the theme around those pieces.
  2. Simplify: Restrain from pulling out all your trusted entertaining wares, which only adds chaos, and highlight your quality pieces.
  3. Mix: Weave in traditional with newer pieces for an updated look that shows a signature look.
  4. Natural: Save on pricey floral arrangements that will crowd the table over natural elements that add to the decor. Fruit, leaves and candles bring in color and warmth.
  5. Linens: Keep it simple, and fuss free, by eschewing a tablecloth for a runner, table mats or simply napkins nestled within a holder.

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