Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A natural glow...

The idea of a Christmas palette filled with neutral colors appeals to me this year. Simple metallics, a touch of pink and a few natural elements are really all you need to make the holidays glow. What are your preferred colors to decorate with for the holidays?

Photo credits, top to bottom: Pottery Barn, Midwest Living, Laura Moss/Country Living

Monday, November 29, 2010

Warm up your home with apple pie...

I always think of pies as holiday dishes, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas or Fourth of July. In the winter, I like to make fruit pies ~ apple and cranberry cherry are my favorites, along with pumpkin, of course. After all, baking is a great way to warm up the house. I have been experimenting with apple pie recipes and thought I would share this one, which is adapted from The Lady & Sons, with a couple minor modifications. (Note: Experimenting with pie recipes is a delicious way to make your house smell heavenly.) I made this one for Thanksgiving and everyone declared it a winner. It was delicious, if I do say so myself ~ and it looked beautiful, too.
I tend to have a problem with pie crust so I usually rely on Pillsbury, but my mom swears by the recipe below from Southern Living, so I thought I'd include it, too, for those brave pie crust making souls. No matter whether you make or buy your crust, the filling part is very simple.
Bon appetit.

Apple Pie
adapted from “Just Desserts” by The Lady & Sons

Dough for a double crust 9-inch pie (homemade, frozen or refrigerated)
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling over top
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of salt
3 1/2 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples (I used a mixture of Rome, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith - about 7 apples.)
1 16-ounce jar applesauce (I used natural applesauce, with no additional sweeteners.)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of dough. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Stir in apples, applesauce and lemon juice. Spoon apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Cut remaining crust into strips; arrange in lattice design over top of pie.
Dip a pastry brush through the lattice into the juice of the pie and brush all over the top of lattice. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Pie Crust
from Southern Living
Makes enough for two crusts (top and bottom or two bottoms)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle ice water 1 tablespoon at a time over the surface; stir with fork. Shape into a ball and chill until ready to use.

I am linking to :

Stop by and visit for more delicious recipes and inspiration. Wishing all of you a lovely week filled with delicious homemade food...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A little holiday inspiration...

The holiday edition of Belle Inspiration is out. If you're not familiar with Belle Inspiration, it's a new online magazine started by Mimi at Bonjour Romance. The holiday edition is huge ~ 266 pages ~ and full of beautiful holiday inspiration, as well as some non-holiday related content, including an article by moi. Click here to visit the magazine site ~ I'm sure you'll find some beauty to love.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A different way to shop...

As the holiday shopping season begins in earnest and the chains and malls slash prices, don't forget about the small, artistic shops out there. Etsy is full of them and I've featured several here this year. You'll find vintage, stunning art, linens, jewelry and all sorts of other gorgeous creations in the shops below, all of which were featured in my Beauty on Etsy series. For more, you can find the Etsy-wide gift guide here. And Karyn at French Charming also has a gift giving guide featuring various shops.
No matter where you do your shopping, I hope you find items to delight everyone, without emptying your pocketbook.

Adeline's Attic Vintage
Chic and unique vintage clothing and accessories, primarily from the 1920s to 70s, with some Edwardian pieces coming into the mix now and then.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Creative Carmelina
Handmade crochet tea cups, art reproduction cards embellished with crochet, doilies, cotton silk screened tote bags and paper creations such as digital art prints, journals and bookmarks.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Fine art photography, collages and one-of-a-kind notebooks with mixed paper inside and afiori prints on the covers.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Obee Designs
Fun, funky French items for you and your home.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Le Boudoir Secret
One-of-a-kind jewelry that is hand created for the passionate soul.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Cottage by The Pond
A mother-daughter team, offering hand-sewn pillows using vintage fabrics, wall hangings, artwork, fiber jewelry, sewing patterns, one-of-a-kind handbags, tote bags, wristlets, scarves, small contemporary art quilts and unique greeting cards.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Shabby Cats and Roses
Handmade pillows, Christmas stockings and other creations, with a few reworked vintage finds. A true pink lover.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Jezebel Charms
Original handmade jewelry with a literary twist and steampunk edge. Each piece is a work of art. Jane Austen lovers will be particularly in awe.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Annies Attic, Crafting Vintage Style
One-of-a-kind, handmade, adorable aprons. The vintage fabrics are whimsical and fun, with something for every personality.
Click here for the feature and here for the Etsy shop

Photo credit: Obee Designs

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans. May your holiday be filled with good food, good friends and grateful hearts. In a time when more and more people in the world find themselves in need, may all of us, in every country, soon know peace and plenty.
Wishing all of you a beautiful day...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beauty on Etsy... Annies Attic, Crafting Vintage Style

With the holidays upon us and nearly everyone busy in the kitchen for the next month or so, this seems an appropriately timed bit of Beauty on Etsy. Lee Ann at Annies Attic creates some of the cutest aprons you'll ever see ~ her use of vintage fabrics is wonderfully whimsical and fun. They would make a perfect gift, for yourself and the chef in your life. And now...

Name of Etsy shop: Annies Attic, Crafting Vintage Style

Etsy shop URL: http://anniesattic.etsy.com/

Blog name and URL: http://thriftshopannie.blogspot.com/

Briefly describe what browsers and buyers will find in your Etsy shop:
You'll find one-of-a-kind, made one-at-a-time, handmade aprons. I love mixing and matching fabrics for my aprons and seeing the final results of my efforts!! I also LOVE making vintage inspired aprons with my vast collection of lace, embroidered pieces, bark-cloth and all things vintage. Who could not love a job like this!!!!

What inspires you to create?
What may inspire me to create is a trip to the fabric store or an estate sale where I find vintage linens that speak to me to find them a new home and purpose. That's how my "Jane Austin" and "French Flea Market" aprons are created... just layer upon layer until they're done.

What would you like others to know about your work? Is there a particular philosophy you follow?
If there is a problem, I always give the customer the benefit of being pleased with my work. Customer service is my philosophy and that's been number one decision in my shop ~ just look at my feedback. I want them to always love what they have bought from my shop.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you and your work?
That I love what I do and it shows in my aprons!!!

All photos courtesy of Annies Attic, Crafting Vintage Style

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wishes for Wednesday...

I have been a Mac person from way before Apple was cool. I love my Mac, love my iPods, and am longing for an iPad. Unfortunately, before I get an iPad, I have to get a new Mac ~ mine is too old to sync with the iPad. And since I'm not made of money, that is going to take a little time. Sigh...
I am hoping and wishing that Santa might be abundantly generous and bring me one or the other this year. That wishing was made even stronger this week, when I got an e-mail announcing the new, exclusive-to-the-iPad app from Martha Stewart. The photos are screen shots from the app. Isn't it beautiful? I love that the theme of the issue is "Boundless Beauty" ~ it sounds, and looks, like bliss. (Click here for the iTunes preview or here for the preview on the Martha Stewart Living site.)

All photos from Martha Stewart Living

I am linking to Wishes for Wednesday at Just a Happy Housewife. Stop by Kathie's place to join in. Wishing all of you a beautiful week...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pearls of wisdom...

"The fascinating thing about pearls is that they are conceived through irritation and grow slowly in layers, just as our lives do...  Like life and love, pearls thrive on skin contact and will lose their luster if not worn. Although pearls grow in darkness and distress, the luminosity of their beauty ~ born of imperfection, irritation, and, sometimes, neglect ~ like the woman who wears them, is only visible in the Light."
~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Romancing the Ordinary

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A little autumn beauty...

This isn't your traditional taste of autumn beauty ~ no gorgeous scarlet and burnt orange leaves ~ but it's a little outdoor loveliness nonetheless. Much to my delight, my Paperwhites are blooming, and a nearby bush is putting out these beautiful dark blue berries. You can see the spiders have been busy weaving their webs through the bush ~ I guess everyone enjoys the simple pleasure of being surrounded by beauty, even spiders.
Wishing each of you a little bit of beauty in your corner of the world...

I am linking to Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer and Simple Pleasures at A Collection of This and That. Stop by each blog to join in or check out other posts.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beauty on Etsy... Jezebel Charms

This bit of Beauty on Etsy comes from across the pond ~ and is it ever worth the virtual trip to visit her Etsy shop. Jezebel Charms in England creates some of the most interesting, unique jewelry I have ever seen. I personally have my eye on several pieces; the Jane Austen and Agatha Christie pieces are my favorites ~ decisions, decisions. It's beauty with a steampunk edge and literary twist, if you will. So, without further ado...

Your name: Kate Smith aka Jezebel

Name of Etsy shop: Jezebel Charms

Etsy shop URL: http://www.etsy.com/shop/JezebelCharms

Briefly describe what browsers and buyers will find in your Etsy shop: Original handmade wearable art jewelry with a steampunk edge. All my pieces are delicate works of art specially made to be wearable and adorn yourself with. I've taken traditional methods and added a twist to create unique, contemporary and original jewelry; vintage pocket watches are given new life to form the most intricate and intriguing steampunk necklaces and traditional decoupaging adapted to create wearable art cuffs and earrings. Whether your inspiration is Sci-Fi or Shakespeare you will be the individual wearing the most individual baubles!


What inspires you to create? Escapism ~ we all love to escape, whether in reality or just in our dreams and I like to think my wearable art jewelry is a reflection of the ultimate forms of escapism; dip in and read a literary classic such as Pride and Prejudice or perhaps a sonnet by Shakespeare, travel in time in a little blue box or dwell on the philosophy of life and the ultimate release of death. Yes, these things are truly what I think about on a daily basis and are consequently reflected in my creations!

What would you like others to know about your work? Is there a particular philosophy you follow? If I don't love it, it doesn't go in my shop.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you and your work? All creations are made by me in England, United Kingdom and custom pieces are no problem.

Note: A special thank you to Laura at Love at Home for recommending this Etsy shop.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Furry First Friday...

Happy Furry First Friday!
This month I am featuring photos of my little girl dog, Emily. In previous months I shared photos of Russ, Nick and Wally, known collectively as my boys. Emily Elizabeth is my only girl. She's a little Shih Tzu (well, actually, she's not little, more like kind of chubby) and while she is beautiful, she is not a princess. She is a serious tomboy. She loves to play, loves to meet people (she practically passes out from excitement on Halloween) and frequently gets dirty.
The top photo is from her second birthday, I believe (she's 4 now). The next photo is her in her Halloween costume this year; she was the cutest little pumpkin. The photo at the bottom is her lounging next to me after what I'm sure was a rough day of eating, playing and napping, her normal routine.
For newcomers, Furry First Fridays is hosted by moi on the first Friday of each month. Everyone is welcome to participate. All you have to do to join is post pictures of your favorite furry friends, link to my blog, then add your post (not your blog link, but the specific post link) to the Linky tool. Please grab the button, too, and be sure to visit other participants.

Simple Pleasures... Candles at dusk

I love candles ~ the ambiance they provide, the wonderful scents they impart. If I'm going to be home for the day, I'll burn scented jar candles and votives, usually according to season: Spices in the fall, Christmas scents and peppermint around the holidays and during the winter, florals and fruits in the spring and summer. But one of my favorite indulgences is to light candles at dusk and leave off all the other lights for the evening. I did that this past weekend and it was wonderful; the house felt even more warm and welcoming. Everything looks more beautiful by candlelight ~ a simple pleasure indeed.

I am linking to Simple Pleasures at A Collection of This and That. Stop by for more Simple Pleasures posts.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wishing for a dreamy bedroom...

"Of all the rooms in her house, a woman's bedroom is the most personal expression of the state of her soul. For her bedroom reflects a woman's truth ~ her past, present, dreams for the future, or lack of them. Her hopes, her sorrows. Her passions, pleasures, peccadilloes. What she believes about herself, what she thinks she's hiding and, obviously, is not."    
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach, Romancing the Ordinary

If there is a grain of truth in the above sentiment ~ and I suspect there is, and then some ~ I am a woman in need of a new bedroom.
I've been thinking about this for several weeks now, after reading some passages in Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Romancing the Ordinary (a wonderful read, by the way). Wishes for Wednesday seemed like the appropriate time to share my lovely bedroom dreams.
The bedroom has always been the one room in my home that has vexed me. In a bid not to make it too feminine when I was married to my ex-husband, I ended up with a series of rooms that didn't feel right at all. The closest I have ever been to a bedroom that really suited me was several years ago, when I lived alone. A friend of mine had no room for her antique bed and gave it to me, along with the beautiful matching dresser. I put two ~ yes, two ~ featherbeds on top of an already comfy mattress and each night it felt like I climbed onto a cloud of heaven. I dressed the bed in ultra soft, gorgeous linens and fluffy pillows and hung antique purses on the walls. My closet was the perfect size and gorgeous drapes hung at the windows. All I needed was a comfy chair and a different vanity and I'm pretty sure that would have done it. Even though it wasn't 100 percent perfect, it was pretty close ~ close enough that I still think of that bedroom and sigh with longing. 
Mind you, there's nothing really wrong with my current bedroom ~ it's not like it's a horrible, dark, cluttered room. But it is small and overwhelmed with a huge California King bed (my sweetie is a very tall man). In fact, there's only room left for two nightstands  ~ and I had to turn mine to the side to get it to fit. The room is painted a pleasant moss green, with matching linens. But the truth is, it could be anyone's bedroom, not necessarily mine.
I am determined that when we move in a couple of years, I am not going to settle for anything less than my perfect bedroom. The photo at the top probably comes the closest to what I see in my mind when I close my eyes and dream. I love the wallpaper in the second ~ I'm thinking wallpaper on at least one wall ~ and I want a beautiful, elegant chair like the one in the photo below. (The photo next to it looks like a perfect guest room to me, with the added bonus of extra book storage.) Should I have the grand luck to inherit a really large bedroom, I will go for all-out glamour, faded and soft, like in the photo at the bottom. I will accept nothing less than gorgeous bliss this next time.
What do you dream of in a bedroom?


I am joining Wishes for Wednesday at Just a Happy Housewife. Stop by Kathie's place to join in.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Just a reminder...

Furry First Fridays, hosted on the first Friday of each month by yours truly, will be held this Friday. All you have to do to join is post some photos of your furry friends, link back to my blog and add your link to the Linky tool on my post, which is usually up on Thursday evenings. I hope you'll join. And feel free to grab the button as well.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Autumn inspired fabrics...

In searching for some fabric inspiration, I came across a few beautiful swatches that look like they are made for this time of year. Gorgeous reds, browns and yellows ~ perfect to recover a few throw pillows or even a chair.
Do any of you have a fabric project in the works?