Friday, May 31, 2013

The last delicate beauty of spring...


“I have an affection for those transitional seasons, the way they take the edge off the intense cold of winter, or heat of summer.” 
~ Whitney Otto, How to Make An American Quilt

As the saying goes, to everything there is a season. What struck me about this bunch of tulips as it neared the end of its season was how lovely each bud was in its own way. You can see the soft folds of this tulip starting to curl and wither, its bright pink color fading, and yet, it’s still lovely.
Spring is starting to fade, too, as summer speeds up its arrival. The days are sunny and bright, the evenings warm, and we have the urge to begin all those wonderful summer activities ~ spending time at the beach, trading china for paper plates and hot kitchens for outdoor grills, reading in the afternoon after getting all your chores done in the cooler hours of the morning, and enjoying backyard barbecues and picnics. It’s time for hot dogs and lemonade and ice cream cones, flowers bursting with color in the yard and gardens overflowing with vegetables.
Soak in the last couple weeks of spring and enjoy its loveliness before summer’s warm beauty makes you forget the delicateness of the season before.
Wishing all of you a lovely weekend and a happy June...

I am linking to:
Creative Weekends at The Pink Home
Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound
A Favorite Thing at Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper
A Return to Loveliness at A Delightsome Life

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully

Friday, May 24, 2013

The wonder of fresh herbs...


I absolutely love fresh herbs ~ they make so many dishes better. A few days ago, a neighbor gave me a lovely big bunch of basil, cilantro and parsley from her garden ~ a trio of scents so heavenly I felt like I had been transported to Italy. Since she had given me a really large bunch, I decided to use some of them to make a big pot of sauce to freeze for the fall since you can’t get super fresh herbs like that then. Well, you can get fresh herbs at the store here, but not out of the garden (unless you have room inside) ~ and fresh herbs from the store aren’t quite the same thing. So this sauce is a little sharing between the seasons, if you will.
To make my sauce, I browned some mild Italian sausage, then chopped and added the herbs and a few cloves of garlic and some salt and pepper. I also chopped and threw in a bunch of mushrooms.


I let that all cook together and then added some Shiraz Cabernet (which is great with pasta dishes) and cooked that off.


Once all that had cooked together wonderfully, I added a small can of tomato paste and a little more wine. Then I threw in two big cans of diced tomatoes, a couple small cans of sauce, a little oregano and another splash of wine.


I let it all simmer together and then enjoyed a couple of spoonfuls over some penne and a glass of wine. It was delicious.


I’m sure the wonderful flavor was mostly due to those fresh-from-the-garden herbs. They are just heavenly. I hope the sauce tastes nearly as good when it comes out of the freezer a few months from now.


Wishing all of you a lovely weekend, full of seasonal goodness...

I am linking to:
Creative Weekends at The Pink Home

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Catching up with Miss Emily... and a new party to celebrate creativity


After a whirlwind long weekend on the opposite coast, it’s nice to be home with Miss Emily again. She decided to perch herself next to me on the sofa yesterday, climbing up to sit on top of the arm and the pillow so she could get a good view of everything.
I have several lovely posts to show you over the next week or two, but first I wanted to tell you about a new link-up party. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be hosting “Creative Weekends” at my other blog, The Pink Home. You’ll be able to link up any type of creative posts ~ home decorating, craft projects, a new fabric design or knitting pattern, your latest creation from your shop, a creative triumph in the kitchen, tutorials, your latest garden masterpiece, etc. Anything that celebrates creativity will be welcome. I hope you’ll add the party to your weekend activities. Linking will start Friday afternoon.
Wishing all of you a lovely end to the week...


Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ingenious beauty...


Just a quick post to share something I came across on Pinterest. Isn’t this a fab idea? A cake stand repurposed as a soap holder for the kitchen ~ ingenious. I just love it. Adorable and useful is one of my favorite combinations.
I hope all of you are having a great week. And if you are on Pinterest, you can follow me here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cheery yellow tulips...



Since this month is all about the beauty of seasonal living, I thought I’d share a little seasonal beauty from my home. My fiancĂ© brought me these gorgeous bright yellow tulips and I thought they would look lovely in my blue dining room. They’re such a cheery pop of color ~ they make the blues in the room seem even brighter. I love how they look on my sideboard so much I may have to start putting seasonal flowers there more regularly.
And since today is the day we celebrate mothers here in the United States, a Happy Mother’s Day to all.



Wishing all of you a lovely week...

I’m linking to:
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Room reveal: Our TV room makeover...



There are only two rooms remaining in my home that I haven’t shown you as part of the great home redecorating project that started last May: this one and the office. There’s nothing special or interesting about the office ~ I did paint it, but aside from that, it still needs work. Until I can figure out how to arrange it to my satisfaction, it will have to remain a mystery.
So that leaves our TV room, which you see here. It took me a bit longer to finish this room than the others, for a number of reasons. The “before” picture is directly below, followed by the “in-progress” photo. You can see the walls went from pink to a nice gray while the scratched floor waited to be done.  And that set of curtains didn’t make the cut.



Someone years and years ago put linoleum tile down over the hardwood floor in this room. If I take it up, I’ll most likely end up having to replace the hardwood, so for the time being, it’s sticking around. The tiles were a dull white and then painted brown when I lived here before, in an attempt to help them blend in with the other hardwood floors throughout the house. The color wasn’t quite dark enough, however, so when I repainted them this time, I decided to just go really dark since I was covering the floor with a large rug. The darker color actually works much better ~ you don’t notice the difference when you look through the house.



Since the sole purpose of this room is to watch TV (I dislike having a television in the living room, so this small room near the back of the house works perfectly for that purpose) and I’ve always loved movie posters, I decided to use them to decorate. I went with a mostly British/French tie-in on the movie posters, with the obvious exception of Marilyn ~ that was a request from my fiancĂ©. Since I was under orders to keep the room from being overly feminine, I found a graphic, brightly colored rug that he liked and some nice dark purple curtains. We ordered a small sectional for the room ~ comfort was of the utmost importance ~ in a fabric that worked well in the room. He picked out the television, of course, and the chest for it. A few throw pillows, a new ceiling fan and the room was complete.




I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. The room is warm and cozy, and with the curtains closed, it’s quite dark ~ perfect for watching television. What do you think?

I am linking to:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Homemaking at Hope in Every Season
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Monday, May 6, 2013

The beauty of seasonal living...



The beauty of seasonal living is our topic for the month here at The Art of Living Beautifully. And in my opinion, flowers are one of the loveliest things about the changing seasons ~ Mother Nature is always producing something unique and beautiful. We are still seeing bunches of tulips where I live, so I’m continuing to enjoy their spring beauty. It won’t be long before they’ll be gone for another year.
I have made a few more seasonal adjustments at home, like switching out the books on this little table in the living room. Summers in France is a wonderful book, full of gorgeous photographs and ideas on hosting houseguests. The French seem to do seasonal living better than anyone. Diets and activities and homes change easily with the seasons. Embracing the glories of each season is just a way of life there.
Spring here means tulips and daffodils, warm days, crisp evenings and too much rain. We start eating less soup and casseroles and more fruit and light dishes. The nap blankets around the house change from warm and fuzzy to light and cool. Winter bedding is put away and warm-weather bedding is pulled out ~ with an extra blanket still on the bed for those cool spring nights. Seasonal flowers fill vases, and doors and windows stand open.
I would be interested to hear about some of the changes you make with the seasons. Do you try to live a seasonal lifestyle in any way?
Wishing all of you a lovely week...


I am linking to:
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House
A Return to Loveliness at A Delightsome Life

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Front door makeover reveal...


Finally! A few weeks ago, I posted about how we were going to give our front door and front step a makeover. Well, part one ~ the door ~ is finished. It’s gone from green to a lovely golden yellow.
One of the biggest challenges in redoing the front door was that the color of the door had to go with both the outside of the house and the interior, because the door stands open a large majority of the time. (The interior side of the door, which is wood, is simply stained a nice medium brown.)
As you can see in the photo below, the green really didn’t work with my pink living room ~ the shades simply weren’t compatible. The color also didn’t go with the rest of the interior. You can see the front door from a number of rooms in the house, and it was jarring to the eye.


Part of the inspiration for the door color came from this favorite chair of mine below ~ the golden suzani pattern really adds a lovely dimension to the living room and picks up the yellow accents in the dining room rug directly behind it.


Here’s the door before. Between the color and the old brass hardware, it really did need a makeover.


And here it is in various stages...




And here’s what it looks like finished and hung up. We still have to redo the door frame and repaint the glass door ~ the faded and worn white really looks shabby against the new paint. And we still have to refinish the step and railings, which we’re planning to do this weekend. The steps are going to be a lovely chocolatey color, which you can see below.



Here’s another shot of the refinished door, with new paint, a peephole instead of a knocker (we have a doorbell) and lovely new hardware. I woke Emily up from her nap taking photos. Oh well.


As you can see, the yellow looks so much better from the inside, too. It’s much warmer.


A couple shots of the rest of my pink living room...



The change in the door color also prompted me to change out some pillows on the sofa. I originally had pillows with much more pink in them, but after painting the door, I decided to use this pillow that has a touch of yellow and pink ~ it helps tie it all together.




And there you have it ~ my front door makeover. When we get the rest of the outside done, I’ll show you the completed project.

I am linking to:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Homemaking at Hope in Every Season
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound
Make it Pretty Monday at The Dedicated House

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully