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Friday, April 30, 2010

Vignettes, Part 2

This scene has one of my favorite treasures, a blue milkglass bird-on-nest. It was given to me by my parents. The white branch vase is fantastic, a gift from my favorite sister-in-law. The teacup is from a marvelous set I purchased for a steal at my favorite antique store, which is sadly closed.

What is hiding in the teacup, you ask?
Sleeping acorns, of course. Acorns and buttons. Annie put their faces on and now that I know them, I can't bear to toss them out.

The gold plate is from that same marvelous tea set. The white ceramic strawberry is from TJmaxx, and the red books .. I can't remember, maybe they just appeared. The barn owl is made of plaster or something, and I love it. It snuggles in your arms like a baby. It came from ZGallerie, but they no longer carry it.

This little stack fits in perfectly next to our Wii. The mouse drawing is from Annie. Are you jealous of my artwork? Get your own Annie original at this lovely party. The little whale is trying to fade away, can you see him? I got him at an estate sale for 25 cents. His name is Victor, and I know this because someone carved his name quite carefully into his underside. One time Victor fell off the shelf and his tail broke but I glued it back on.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


We have Ikea's Expedit TV storage unit, and I love the display possibilities it affords. I love little groupings of items on display, groupings I call vignettes. Here are a few of my favorite vignettes from it's many cubes.

In this one I have some aqua books, a milkglass planter with red berries from Annie's yard, and two little bird friends (found at an estate sale).

Here we have more books, this time in shades of white. The footed milkglass bowl is from a dusty antique store basement (only $4!), the ceramic elephant from Ross, and the gold bottles from Cory (who knows where he got them from).

This one holds a marvelous vase, given to me by my parents. The tin used to hold pen nibs or tobacco or something. The coral is from a little store near here called Dixie Gem, a place of wondrous rocks and geodes and usually cool vintage jewelry (warning: interaction with the owners is a unique experience). Do you think it is weird to have old pictures of people you don't know? I don't, I think it is just fascinating.

 I don't know if these vignettes are interesting to other people or not, but my days are a bit full right now and I have the pictures already, so this is what you are going to see for the next few posts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blue Bliss

London Townhome from Elle Decor via Bliss

Can't you just picture yourself enjoying breakfast or a book in this delightful dining room? The colors are just perfect. The yellow chairs are very sweet and the magenta flowers charming, but my heart is longing for that icy blue chesterfield sofa. Oh, to lounge on such tufted bliss.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend Glimpse

Peonies! Blooming already! 
Yesterday they were just slits of pink on the bud,
today they are explosions of color.

Lovely table at a friend's, all decked out for our cooking club. 
This month we did authentic French cuisine, and it rocked my socks off.

Baked Brie for the French feast.
Puff Pastry + Brie + Raspberry Jam = Euphoria

A bit of stamping for this project.

Not pictured:
- chopping up bucketloads of cabbage with a dear friend
- a lovely heavy rain + forgotten umbrella 
- discovering a new love: crème brulée
- catching up on some Hulu

Friday, April 23, 2010

Raw Wood

Raw wood, via Apartment Therapy from Elle Decor

I don't know what happened to this week. I closed my eyes to sneeze and it was over.

I'll leave you with this lovely bedroom. The delicate use of raw wood is enticing and a bit ethereal. I love the look, though I don't know if I'd have the courage to pull of that much white. But that little horned stool, that I can definitely do. Come here, little one.

Happy weekending!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream

I am in love with this fresh strawberry frosting. Trying to think of an excuse to make it again, right now. You're moving? Frosting time! It's your hamster's birthday? Frosting time! I have literally been dreaming about it.  

(Speaking of dreams, last night I dreamed I was Pioneer Woman but I looked like Anna Maria Horner and we were filming a scene for PW's movie. And there was something about a bathtub.)

What was I saying? Oh yes, frosting. I have been experimenting making buttercream with fresh strawberries and am quite happy with the end result.

I made the cake above for Libby's birthday, and it was definitely a hit. I doctored up a cake mix and sugared some extra strawberries to top it with.

Sometimes the cake itself is the star. This time it's the frosting. Don't get me wrong, the cake is moist and delicious, but paired with this life-altering frosting, it just can't compete. It serves as the backdrop on stage, allowing the frosting to take the spotlight. Don't feel bad, the cake knows it will be able to shine once again as soon as strawberries are out of season.

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (1/2 pkg)
2 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 c. confectioners sugar (about 3/4 of a bag)
3/4 c. fresh strawberries, crushed, pureed, or minced.

Prepare strawberries, place in sieve to drain out all the juices (this is important!). In large bowl, cream butter, whipping until fluffy. Beat in cream cheese and vanilla. Gradually add confectioners sugar, beating well (mixture will be quite stiff). Add strawberries, beat in gently. Mixture will immediately soften and tempt you with it's amazingness. Try not to lick the spatula constantly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before frosting, this will help the icing to firm up. After chilling, frost away and enjoy!
Yield: enough to frost a 2 layer cake, a sheet cake, or 2 dozen cupcakes.

Chocolate Cake

1 pkg. Devil's Food cake mix (I prefer Pillsbury)
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding
3 T. cocoa powder (did you know that this is the world's best cocoa powder?)
 Eggs, as called for on box, room temperature
Water, as called for on box
Oil, as called for on box
2/3 c. milk

Fold together cake mix, pudding, cocoa powder. Add eggs, water, oil, milk. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into greased pans (for the cake above I used three 8 inch rounds). Bake at 350 until cake tests done (baking time will vary based on pan size, 8 inch rounds took about 25 minutes). Cool and enjoy!

Sometimes I don't even frost this cake, I just bake it in a 9x13, and throw a handful or 2 of chocolate chips and some sanding sugar on top midway through baking.

If you're making a layer cake like I did, make sure you level the tops of your cake before frosting. You don't have a cake leveler? What is wrong with you?

Sugared Strawberries

Make a sugar bath by boiling together 2 parts water and 1 part sugar. ( I used 1 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar). After sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and cool slightly. Dip clean strawberries into the sugar bath, coating all parts, including the stem. Place on cooling rack to dry. Once berries are dry, they should be sticky to the touch (you can pat them gently with a paper towel if they are not 100% dry). Roll in sugar, coating all parts, including the stem. I choose to brush off a little bit of the sugar with a pastry brush so the sugar coating was more translucent. Use as a garnish or eat them straight up!

Note: This is not the technical way that fruit is to be sugared. Most recipes call for meringue powder or raw egg whites. However, I did not feel like running out to buy meringue powder and the thought of eating raw egg whites made me squirmy, so I tried this, and it worked. (I'm not sure why the egg whites bothered me, I have surely consumed dozens of raw eggs with the amount of cookie dough I have eaten in my lifetime.) If you are not going to eat them right away, you might be better off to use the meringue powder method, it probably makes a more durable coating. For me, the berries were eaten within an hour of being sugared, so this worked fine.

In case you're interested, this was my first attempt at a strawberry buttercream. Perfectly delicious, but as you can see, the frosting is a little to soft to be practical. The adjustments I made to the recipe help it to hold its form better now. I paired it with a lemon pound cake, and I think this is my favorite flavor combo for the strawberry buttercream. I believe Annie is going to make it for my birthday, and I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Indie Craft Parade

For the past few months Libby and I have been working on a massive, fantastic, exciting, somewhat crazy project: Indie Craft Parade.

In a nutshell, Indie Craft Parade is a juried art market catering to independent artisans and their handcrafted goods. The first annual Indie Craft Parade will be held in Greenville at the Huguenot Mill on Friday night and Saturday, September 10-11, 2010. Mark your calendars! You won't want to miss this.

Admission is free, so bring the whole family! You’ll find quality crafts, local food, and opportunities to make friendships and connections with the artists themselves. All goods will be crafted or designed by the artist themselves.

Artists from all over the Southeast are invited to take part in this festival of handmade goods. Applications open June 1st, and all artists and crafters in the area are welcome to submit their work. Please help us spread the word to both artists and art enthusiasts!

I could go on and on about how amazing it will be, but rather I'll direct you to the brand spanking new

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

This is probably my favorite comfort food, this amazing chicken pot pie. I got the recipe from Annie; she is the queen of chicken pot pie. (See her post about it here, her photos are a bit more appetizing than mine). Besides the fact that this chicken pot pie is so wickedly delicious and my husband could eat a whole pan by himself, I love that I can make it a day ahead and just pop it in the oven when I'm ready for dinner.

To start, make your pie crust. My favorite crust is Martha Stewart's Perfect Pie Crust. One batch makes just enough for a 9x13 casserole dish, though I prefer to use salted butter and a little less flour. For chicken pot pie, I usually do 1 1/2 batches, cutting the extra dough into triangles and baking separately, because there is never enough crust to go around. (Did I take a picture? No. I was too busy eating them.) If you prefer to use another crust recipe or store-bought pie dough, just make sure you have enough for 2 regular pie crusts. Prepare your pie dough and refrigerate while you make the chicken pot pie filling.

Chicken Pot Pie

In large saucepan, saute on med-high until softened:
2 T. butter
3-4 celery stalks, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced

Add and cook 30 sec:
2 tsp. minced garlic

Stir in and cook 2 min:
3 T. butter
6 T. flour

Very gradually add 32 oz of chicken broth, mixing well after each addition.

Bring to a boil, when thickened turn on low and add:
4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed
4-5 sliced carrots that have been parboiled til tender-crisp 

1 small package of frozen peas
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper 

1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. rubbed sage

Simmer until everything is hot and adjust all seasoning to taste (For real. Don't be afraid to add more.) Fill a 9×13 casserole dish or two small ones or whatever it fits in.

Roll out refrigerated pie dough (I like to roll out my dough between 2 pieces of wax paper, makes it easy to transfer the dough and easy to clean up), and cover filled casserole with crust. Press or pinch to seal the edges, then cut a few pretty slits in the middle to allow steam to escape. (Again, sorry for the lack of pictures, my hands were a bit messy at the moment.) Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until edges turn golden. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Glimpse

Visiting the lovely Elizabeth Ramos of Two Over Zero 

Eggs! From Greenbriar Farm. Almost too beautiful to eat.

Marshall having the time of his life in our fresh topsoil mound.
(Marshall is our nephew, who, incidentally, has taken to referring to himself as "Uncle Narshall. Big, strong, Uncle Narshall.")

Chewy Chocolate Brownies, which sadly were not at all chewy but rather cake-like (a negative for me). 

Not pictured:
- this song on repeat
- a very late night at IHOP with girlfriends
- BBQ with Annie and Chris
- an epic battle of pollen vs. my sinuses
- chicken pot pie and homemade ravioli (more to come about these!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Download and Print

Invitations from Download and Print, via iDIY

Download and Print is a great website that offers free invitation templates for personal use. Above are a few of my favorite designs, I especially love that sunshine yellow one. This would be a great resource for wedding invites, party invites, or announcements. Just choose your design, download, edit the text in Microsoft Word, then print at home or your local copy shop. The designs are quite nice, with a good mix of modern, elegant, and vintage. New templates are added often, and I'm loving the fact that they're free!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Deer

I found this vase at my favorite antique store over a year ago, and fell in love with it's kitsch-y charm. However, the price tag was not to my liking (kitsch-y as it is, it is also rare and high-quality), so I contented myself to visit the vase off and on. Apparently, no one else was so taken with this unusual specimen, so the price was gradually reduced. But I still held out, and even as the store was in the final weeks of it's store closing sale, I did not waver on my price point. (I point this out only because I don't usually exhibit such strong resolve) I didn't end up taking home the vase until the day of the actual store closing, for a mere one-fifth of the original price.

It has a happy home for now on my bookshelf, but I envision it someday on a white marble mantel, with other aqua treasures to keep it company.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dreamy Kitchen

  Dreamy Kitchen, photo source unknown

This kitchen is the stuff my dreams are made of. The white marble, gigantic island, so much light... and don't even get me started on that chandelier. I'm not sure what is through that lovely arched doorway, but if it's a walk-in pantry, then I'm officially jealous. (I'll just tell myself it's a broom closet. A dirty, cluttered broom closet.)

I can't remember exactly where I saw this photo, but I believe it was on Apartment Therapy. To whoever owns this kitchen: you are one lucky dog. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Scones

Heavenly, that's what these scones are. And I'll tell you what they're not: dry, tough, rubbery, or in anyway unpleasant (like most scones I have gotten from a bakery). They are simply heavenly, and once you've had one, you will wonder if you were ever truly happy before.

These scones manage such devastating perfection because of their secret ingredient/weapon: heavy cream. It keeps them light, fluffy, and melting-in-your mouth. They're a perfect way to use up extra cream (or at least that's my excuse), and they come together really fast. The original recipe is from Williams-Sonoma, and is copied below for your baking pleasure.

Chocolate Chip Scones

2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar + 3 T.
3/4 c. miniature chocolate chips
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
3 T. salted butter, softened

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and chocolate chips, mixing well. Pour in cream, mix gently with a fork until just combined and dough is holding together (will be slightly sticky). Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 10 times. Shape into a ball, than pat out into a 9-inch disk. Spread with the softened butter then sprinkle with remaining 3 T. sugar. Cut the disk into 12 pie-shaped wedges and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are just browned. Serve warm.

I cut mine into 8 pieces instead of 12. Because I felt like it.

Some tips:
-Don't overwork the dough, this will cause it to toughen.
-Don't overbake, bottoms will brown but the top edges should just turn golden.
-They are best eaten the same day they are baked, especially right from the oven.

Use the dough as a base, and mix up the flavors by switching out the chocolate chips for other ingredients!
- blueberries, raspberries, blackberries (add additional sugar to account for the tartness of the berries, probably another 1/4 cup)
- dried cranberries and orange zest
- chopped nuts, topped with a cinnamon and sugar mixture

Monday, April 12, 2010


Come to the Doctor, Harry is a delightful story. But what really made me fall in love with the book are the illustrations. That little cat is too cute, prancing around holding his hurt tail!

Cory and I love children's books, and this was the perfect addition to our collection. Pick up a copy here for yourself or your child. If you don't have a child, give one to someone else's child!

And in case you were wondering who this cat is, his name is Little Harrell, and he is almost a perfect replica of our real live cat, Harrell Whittington. You will meet him eventually.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Glimpse

This is a feature I'll be doing, a glimpse into my weekend. But only if I do something photo-worthy. (Inspired by Heart of Light's "The Weekend, Briefly")

a pretty package ready for giving

hide and seek with hostas

strawberries, waiting for their role in a baking experiment

Friday, April 9, 2010


Check out these delicious desktop wallpapers! Available for free download here from the lovely Ruche, via one of my daily reads, design is mine.

But wait! It get's better! Ruche gives full DIY instructions on how to replicate this wall treatment. Do I need a wall plastered with scrunchy white flowers? Absolutely.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vintage Printables

I found Vintage Printables via one of my daily reads, iDIY. As stated there, they have a huge collection of free downloadable,  out-of-copyright images of vintage prints.  And most of these puppies are really high-resolution, which makes them perfect for printing your own artwork. Mostly scientific and natural history-related such as botanicals, birds, animals, butterflies, shells, art prints, etc.

I'm tremendously attracted to the mushrooms. (So elegant!) I think I'll use a few in my design for the office.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Carrot Cakes

I was asked to bring a dessert to our family Easter dinner, so I made mini carrot cupcakes. I did kind of spend forever on them, but they were worth it... the best carrot cake I have ever had.

I used Pioneer Woman's carrot cake recipe, but I added 1 package of instant vanilla pudding to the dry ingredients, and 2/3 cup of milk to the wet ingredients. I learned this trick as a kid from my church choir director (who, by the way, was awesome. She called us "noodleheads" and taught us to play poker.) - the result is a cake so moist you'll want to kiss it. I add this pudding/milk combo to almost every cake I make, especially boxed mixes. Just switch up the pudding flavor to best suit the cake. (I can't help myself. I'm actually scared to make a cake without it. WHAT IF IT'S DRY???)

The frosting practically deserves it's own post. I have never tasted better frosting (and I've tasted my fair share).  Not too sweet, not too rich, light and fluffy... I could have eaten it straight out of the bowl. (I did eat it straight out of the bowl.) I made the frosting from PW's recipe, but I omitted the nuts and added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. The spice didn't affect the flavor greatly, but it did tint the frosting a nice cream color, and added some lovely specks. I also added a bit more powdered sugar to make it stiff enough for piping, then sprinkled the cupcakes with chunky white sanding sugar.

Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1 package (8 Oz) Cream Cheese
  • 1 1/4 pound Powdered Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
Cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and blend, then mix in the cinnamon. Spread  or pipe on cooled cake.

Of course, you could always leave out the cinnamon if it wasn't the right accompaniment for your cake. Or substitute ginger! Lemon extract! Cocoa powder!

To add some springtime festivity to these, I made some butterflies and little flowers out of vanilla candy coating. I had Cory draw me a few different butterfly designs, then I placed a sheet of wax paper over the drawings and traced them in the candy coating. I wanted to butterflies to appear in flight, so I made their wings separately, let them dry, then piped the bodies and attached the wings while wet, using sugar cubes as supports.

I'll definitely be making these again, though I will probably save such elaborate designs for special occasions.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In bloom

A few weeks ago I was craving some springtime color (nevermind that I had not yet taken down my Christmas wreath) but didn't want to waste money on short-lived hothouse flowers. I found a Martha Stewart tissue paper flower kit for a steal at TJMaxx, the perfect solution. Though, dear Martha does neglect to tell you that it will take you about 8 hours to assemble all the blossoms. I'm very happy with my spring bouquet, they will get me through until I have blooms from my own garden. (Buds on the peonies! Already!)

"N" is for Notecard

I love beautiful paper goods. So much so, that my letter-writing habit can't keep up with my stationary-buying habit. I found these beauties here, and was sold on the packaging alone. (The fact that they were on sale didn't hurt either)

These are alphabet cards, and each letter features a delightful design. I have so many favorites - C! for the cat! No, Y! I love the yak! Wait, wait, E! It's going to be hard to give them up. (This is part of the problem. I get so attached to my stationary I have a hard time actually using it. Messed up, I know.)

While poking around the store, I grabbed this guy as well. A rhino butter dish! How could I resist?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome to 17 Dove Street, a happy hideout where I'll post about those little things that thrill me: hosting parties and home decor, cooking and crafting, dreaming and scheming.

So nice to have you along.