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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Simple Summer Menu : Lemon Basil Shrimp Skewers, Pesto Pasta, Tomato & Prosciutto Salad, Glazed Lemon Cake

When you think of backyard entertaining, burgers or steaks are usually on the menu.  If the crowd is right I like to take a fresher approach and serve pasta with Homemade Pesto Sauce
and Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp.

You can use any pesto for the pasta that you like - it is so much easier to make than you'd think.  The basil in my garden is not quite ready to harvest, so I bought a huge bunch to use at Trader Joes for just a couple of dollars.  I like the put the hot pasta in a big bowl straight from the pasta water and toss it with the pesto - the heat takes a little bit of the edge off of the fresh basil and raw garlic.

Recipes :

Homemade Pesto Sauce

Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp

For a simple, but elegant summer party you can't go wrong with hydrangea.  Here, I put them in a rustic pot to make them feel a bit more casual.  How-to, here >

Lemon Basil Grilled Shrimp

This Tomato, Goat Cheese & Prosciutto Salad would be the perfect thing for a seated starter.

If it is more of a gather around sort of party, the Tomato Mozzarella Platter is always my go-to in the summer.  

This Glazed Lemon Cake is perfect ending for a summer party.  No one will say no to lemon - it always sounds so light and refreshing.

Shop the Summer Entertaining Collection for more entertaining ideas >

Friday, May 19, 2017

Recipes Index

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Blue Hydrangea Cupcakes for Summer

I think it is so fabulous to be able to make something out of nothing. I love that with a few simple ingredients (hello, cake mix!) and tools, it is possible to make something really beautiful. These hydrangea cupcakes are a great example of making something really pretty out of nothing.

I've wanted to try these cupcakes for a long time. I love when the hydrangea are turning from bright blue to a deep blue, purple with touches of green. They are just amazing. I have a very generous neighbor that invited me to cut blooms from her bushes whenever I wanted... obviously, she didn't know what she was saying! Though tempting, I've only borrowed this one time to use as a centerpiece to go along with these cupcakes.

I used a box cake mix for the cupcakes - no shame. To set off the color of the blue "hydrangea" I used these Brown Cupcake Papers They are taller than standard cupcake papers, but still fit into a standard 2" cupcake pan. They make a bigger cupcake, which is nice when you use this much frosting.

Here is a link to the frosting recipe I use.

Products Used :

Celebration Candles - Seaside
Disposable Piping Bag
Jumbo Star Tip
Brown Cupcake Papers

 Fit the piping bag with a Jumbo Star Tip (I used these disposable bags (100 bags for $14) to make clean up easy).

To get the variegated blue/purple look,  I made the blue color first, set half of it aside...

Then mixed in a little red to make the purple color.  There is only a slight difference, making them look more realistic.  Can you see the streaks of purple?  It just sort of naturally happens when you put both colors in together.  I use a small spoon to help get it into each side of the bag.  You don't have to do it perfectly, just a little bit of each color makes them look great.

I'm trying a new thing - video!  Here is a little technique video to show you how I make them look as real as possible.  What do you think?  Do you want me to do more videos?

I served these for my sister's birthday, so I used Celebration Candles in Seaside.

Here is the Pin Strip!

Stay tuned for details on the Blue Hydrangea themed table setting tomorrow!

Resources :

Celebration Candles - Seaside
Cocktail Napkins - Seaside
Disposable Piping Bag
Jumbo Star Tip
Brown Cupcake Papers

Thursday, May 18, 2017


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Master Bathroom | White, Ivory, Marble, Subway, Brass & Glass

I'm doing a little behind the scenes organizing of my blog and trying to get everything in order, including a new home tour area.  I haven't yet given a proper tour of our Master Bathroom since our renovation/addition 2 years ago.  You've seen photos included in the Master Bedroom Tour, but this post gives more specifics and resources for your reference.  

It is one of my favorite rooms and works just as I hoped it would.  In fact, I will probably duplicate this very bathroom in any future home we have : )

Here are some posts I wrote while planning and designing the bathroom : 

I wrote this post when we were planning the bathroom.  I include inspiration boards, dream photos, the floor plan and how we got everything we dreamed of to work in the space we had.

This post is the worksheet I prepared for the tile layers along with inspiration photos.

Planning the vanity was one of great debate.  I wanted a free-standing style that fit perfectly between the two windows.  We had 5ft, which meant a single basin.  So many people told us it was a mistake. I couldn't disagree more.  I am so glad that we have the added countertop space vs. squeezed in two sinks.  Never once in 2 years has it been an issue - sharing the single sink.

Cabinetry : Inset, Shaker Style Cabinets (same as our kitchen)

Clear Powder Room Bottles : These are part of my Clear Bottle Collection, found here.

This detail to the backsplash of the vanity was a last minute idea - I think it "makes" the entire thing... and it cost no addition money : )

Adding lots of windows and natural light were essential to our design.  It is not that large of a bathroom, so the large beautiful windows really make it feel luxurious and bright.  After this photo, we have added roman shades without blackout liners (to still filter in soft light) that are pulled down during essential times.  They are pictured in other photo below.

I love my tub so much!  When we were building, I told our architect that I wanted a bathtub.  They were convinced that we didn't have enough room for a 'soaking tub.'  Nowadays, most masters are complete with a 6 ft. soaking tub that has a prominent position in the bathroom and looks beautiful but never gets used.  I wanted a tub that I wouldn't feel bad filling up every other day... and would fit.

I found the perfect 60 x 32 inch Koehler tub.  It has clean lines and is rectangular in shape.  I chose Biscuit to match our subway tile and paint.

The glass doors were much more expensive than I had anticipated.  They were the last things we had to order for the entire house.  Since we hadn't gone crazy or much over budget on anything else, I just went for it.  There were more inexpensive options, but none of them gave this exact look without more metal trim hardware.  I do love them, though, and I feel like they really set off the entire room.

Subway Tile : Bone with Matching Grout
2 Polished Nickel Rain Shower Heats

These Shower Bottles were the main reason I design my Clear Bottles Collection.  I couldn't imagine putting big, brightly colored, logo clad bottles in my beautiful new shower!

Clear Shower Bottles available in my store, here.

In this photo you can see the picture frame moulding we had added to the walls by the trim carpenter.   It was the perfect way to add character and a luxury feel without breaking our all white/ivory color scheme.

You can take a tour of our Master Bedroom, here.

Walls & Trim : Benjamin Moore Navajo White Satin 

Countertops : Arabescata Veneto Marble with Honed Finish

Powder Room Bottles on Vanity : Available in my Store, here.

Shower Bottles : Available in my Store, here.

Hardware : Martha Stewart Bedford Brass from Home Depot

Sconces : Visual Comforts Vendome Rubbed Brass

Shower Walls : Biscuit Daltile Subway (Home Depot)

Shower Floor : Hampton 2" Hexagon in Honed (The Tile Shop)

Shower Curb : MS International Grecian White in Honed (Home Depot)

Shower Heads (we'll have two) : Danze Opulance in Polished Nickel (

Deck & Splash Marble : MS International Grecian White in Honed (Home Depot)

Windows : Anderson 400

Roman Shades : Roman Shades from Home Depot in Milan Feather

Floors : Hardwood Stained, Minwax Dark Walnut

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Orange Orzo Pasta Salad with Golden Raisins, Green Onion & Almonds

Orange Orzo Pasta Salad

2 cups of Orzo Pasta, Cooked
Golden Raisins
Green Onions
Slivered Almonds
Zest of 1 Orange
Juice of 1 Lemon
3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 teaspoon of sea salt

Cook pasta in salted water according to directions.  Drain from water.

Begin by making dressing in a medium bowl.  Add orange zest, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Whisk together.

Add almonds, green onions, raisins and pasta.  Toss.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

I packaged the orzo salad in one of the small Kitchen Containers, here >

Products Used :

Market Totes
Gingham Linens
Kraft Bags
Plastic Kitchen Containers
Clear Plastic Cups

For the rest of the picnic menu, visit my Tips for an Easy Picnic, here >

Friday, May 12, 2017

The T.A.C. | Turkey, Avocado & Cream Cheese Sandwich | My Favorite

Yesterday, I shared my Tips for Packing a Simple Picnic post, which included my favorite sandwich of all time - the T.A.C.  I discovered it in college at Quinton's and this sandwich + a bread bowl of cheddar broccoli soup was my favorite lunch.  (Carbs? Who worried about carbs in college?!  I think they even served it with a bag of pretzels...)

For our picnic, I packed the sandwiches in my Kraft Paper Bags, part of the Kitchen Essentials Collection.

This sandwich doesn't really require a recipe - it is pretty self-explanatory.  Turkey, Avocado & Cream Cheese.  But there are some tips that can make it more exceptional.

Good bread.  Good white bread.  This is a farmhouse white loaf from Farm to Market Bread Co.  I also like a sesame covered loaf.

Do you know how to get perfectly sliced pieces of avocado?

Slice avocado in half, vertically by running your knife around the pit.

Stab the pit with your knife and twist it out.

Slice the avocado while it is still in the skin.

Scoop out with a spoon.

The idea is that if you slice it after you remove it, too much handling can mush up the avocado, so slicing before handling helps to keep them together.

Be generous with the cream cheese.

Salt + Pepper on top of the avocado are a must.

Read the rest of my picnic tips, here >

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