Thursday, November 28, 2013

The beauty of giving thanks...

I walk through this doorway in my home nearly every day but most days I must be distracted or busy or who knows what because it was only recently that I looked up and happened to notice just how lovely the view is through that French door. How could I have missed that? (Especially considering I write a blog about enjoying the beauty around you.) For a moment it was like I was a little girl peeking into someone else’s beautiful home, only to realize it was mine. And that gave me pause to think about how fortunate and blessed I have been in life.
So today, on Thanksgiving, it seems only right that I offer up a thank you to the universe for some of the things I am grateful for in life. In no particular order... I am thankful for my fabulous friends and family, our beautiful old home, the color pink, Frank Sinatra’s voice, our adorable little Emily, hot water that runs from taps on demand, the sausage, apple and cranberry dressing in the oven, the miniature apple pies I made earlier this week (what a discovery!), the stack of books waiting on my coffee table to be read, decorating magazines, my interior design classes, Agatha Christie mysteries, the fabulous Phryne Fisher and Doc Martin, the yellow orchid in bloom on my desk, the poinsettia from last year that is still alive and thriving on my porch, the porch ceiling finally being fixed, glittery pillows on my sofa thanks to one of my dearest friends, Pink Flamingo (the color, the Christmas ornaments ~ from another dear friend ~ and the one in my yard), my latest wallpaper designs turning out so beautifully, a four-day weekend, the classic WKRP turkey drop episode, letters from my grandma (I just got one this week), a fabulous outfit to wear to dinner today, the word fabulous, the people who continue to read my blogs and like and buy my fabrics and wallpaper, and getting to decorate for Christmas this weekend.
What are you thankful for this year?

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Delicious pumpkin bread...

I am one of those people who adores the flavor of pumpkin. I look forward to autumn and the holidays every year partly because I know I’ll get to make and enjoy pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin milkshakes, pumpkin… well, you get the idea.
I first shared this recipe a couple of years ago, but it is well worth repeating for those who may have missed it the first time. This is a recipe my mom used to make and every time I make it, people go crazy for it. The only thing is you really must bake the bread in coffee cans (three per batch). Now I know that sounds odd and you can always use a regular pan, but I think you’ll find the texture is better when it is baked in the coffee cans. Don’t ask me why. I know they are hard to find these days, but it is worth the trouble. Trust me. 
Think of this pumpkin bread as more of a dessert type item, great with tea or coffee. I hope you love it as much as I do.
Wishing everyone here in the States a lovely Thanksgiving holiday...

Pumpkin Bread

4 eggs
3 cups sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup oil
1 cup pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda

Mix starting from the top and continue down. Grease and flour three 1 lb. coffee cans. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Test with broom stick or long tester.
I have found it’s best to make the bread the day before you plan to eat it. After it cools, you can remove the bread from the cans and keep it wrapped in aluminum foil. When serving, I usually cut the slices in half. Serve with cream cheese slightly softened for spreading on top, if desired. (It’s heavenly.) This bread makes a great dessert, or a perfect treat with your coffee or hot tea. It also freezes really well.

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Favorite food blogs...

Since I am celebrating the beauty of the kitchen this month, I thought I would share some of my all-time favorite food blogs. There are many, many fabulous food blogs out there and I always enjoy looking at them. These blogs, however, are the ones I have read for several years and return to again and again. If you haven’t discovered these yet, I hope you’ll explore them. (Click on each name to go to that blog.) You won’t be disappointed.

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend full of good food...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The beauty of Pink Flamingo...

So believe it or not, I decided to pick up my paintbrush again. Even though I spent the better part of the last year painting my house, I can’t seem to completely stop. Last weekend I had to repaint the porch ceiling and the rest of the porch, so I figured I might as well go ahead and paint the great long wall in the living room. 
Yes, I know I just painted it a year ago. But for some reason the last few months I have been thinking it needed to be warmer, brighter. I went through just about every pink paint chip I could get my hands on the last couple of months and then, finally, I found THE ONE, the color I had been looking for and dreaming about: Pink Flamingo.
The photos above show the living room with the accent wall painted in Pink Flamingo. Isn’t it fab? It deepens as the light dwindles and is cheery and warm and welcoming during the day. I just love it.
Here’s the original color on that wall, a much cooler pink:

And here it is now:

It’s much warmer, don’t you think? Lovely and warm and bright ~ it really gives the room the feel I was looking for. And so far, everyone loves it. My friends especially love that I painted part of my living room a color named Pink Flamingo. What do you think?
For those of you who have not seen the rest of the living room, here it is:

I am linking to:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound

All photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bulb planting...

All gardening is an act of faith in a way, but there’s something about planting bulbs that seems an even greater leap. I mean, you put these bulbs in the ground in the fall (usually), before it freezes, and have to wait through winter until spring to see if they come up or if all that digging was for naught. Fortunately, many bulbs are pretty determined not to let you down, so your hard work is usually worth it.
We decided this year to plant a variety of bulbs in our front yard in a little strip between a brick walkway and another bed. It’s not an area that will get dug up for anything else, so hopefully we’ll be rewarded with a burst of color in the spring. Emily decided to oversee the work, as you can see. She looks like a tough little taskmaster, doesn’t she?
We’re planning to continue the brick path on the other side of the yard and will plant more bulbs between that path and the large established bed behind it. It will provide a nice burst of color in the spring while we’re waiting on those other beds to come back into bloom.
Wising all of you a lovely week...

I am linking to Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life.

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Favorite apple recipes for fall...

Apples are one of my favorite things about autumn. I enjoy them all year long but there is just something about fall that puts me in the mood to do a lot of cooking and baking with apples. Nearly every week at this time of year we go through 3 to 5 pounds of them. In addition to all of the wonderful things you can make with them, is there a more perfect snack? Yum. I am currently on a Honeycrisp kick, but I love just about every type of apple there is aside from Red Delicious.
Since it’s all about the kitchen this month, I thought I would re-share some of my favorite apple recipes. There is Homemade Apple Sauce, as instructed by my fabulous grandmother; a wonderful and simple Apple Pie recipe and, of course, my mom’s Raw Apple Cake, which is one of my favorite things of all time to make and eat. Click on the name of each to take you to that recipe. You can find all of these on my In the Kitchen page, too, along with other goodies, if you just want to browse.
Wishing all of you a little kitchen inspiration...

I am linking to:
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Home at Rose Chintz Cottage
Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Saturday, November 9, 2013

New kitchen companions...

I always find the kitchen more fun when you’re creating with a companion. Especially a new companion in the form of a new cookbook. As I’ve said before, I just adore cookbooks. I read them cover to cover just like any other book. Giada’s new cookbook, shown above, just came out this week and I have added it to my list to pick up. I only have a couple of her other cookbooks, but I enjoy her shows and this looks like a keeper from what I’ve seen.
The Pioneer Woman also has a new cookbook out. I am a late arrival to the PW party, but I can see the attraction after checking out her first two cookbooks. Her recipes are fairly simple, her directions are clear and most importantly, the food is good. I’m curious to see how her holiday cookbook stacks up.
Has anyone picked up either of these yet? I’d love to know what you think if so.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The beauty of the kitchen...

This month I am musing on the beauty of the kitchen, everything from recipes to my favorite food blogs to decorating. We have been talking about renovating our kitchen for awhile now and even though that adventure is still probably a couple of years away, that hasn’t stopped me from looking for inspiration. 
We have a galley kitchen with a breakfast nook off of it (both of which you can see here) and I know the footprint is not going to change, so I am particularly drawn to lovely galley kitchens like the one in the top photo. And though we have no space for an island, I love kitchens that can accommodate such a luxury. And then there’s the sink. I absolutely love a good, deep and wide farmhouse sink like the ones shown below. (Our current sink is divided and a bit shallow, hence my infatuation.)
Of course, there is plenty of dreaming over finishes: wallpaper in the cupboards or on the walls? Marble for a blacksplash? Tile or hardwood floors? A fab chandelier or more “normal” lighting? There are so many ideas to consider, especially when you get to start from scratch like we’ll be doing. Thank goodness for Pinterest (you can follow me here) so I can keep track of all the things I like.
Wishing all of you a lovely day...

All photos from Pinterest