Sunday, February 28, 2021

FRESH DECOR CHANGES INSIDE & OUT, BOOKS, AND SOME DELICIOUS RECIPES





Hello friends and strangers!  I'm not even going to apologize for all the time that has passed since I last posted🤦🏼‍♀️.  I'm trying to make up for it with a pretty picture from my archives.  These beautiful roses were from my grocery store if I remember right. So pretty. 

I stopped physically going to the stores back in November when I was worried about flu season starting on top of the Covid.  I really enjoy the whole shopping experience so I can't say I like having groceries delivered.  The shopper just never seems to get the produce right. The other evening I placed an order mainly for fruit and vegetables I had run low on since my last "big" shopping order.  Out of twenty odd items I received only half, and none of it produce.  I ended up having to place a second order with another grocery store and surprisingly, they had everything I needed.  🤷‍♀️






After I had packed away all of my holiday decor in mid January, I left everything bare for a while.  I am so tired of clutter but I have a hard time taking a minimalist approach.  Perhaps its just me but balance is the key when it comes to shelves.  It can all go downhill with the wrong number of pieces, their relation to each other, how they measure, how they're spaced, color family, etc.  When I try something simple, the shelves or mantel look barren.  If I use too many pieces it gets busy and confusing, the focus is thrown off.  Do I sound too technical for someone not trained in design?  Hahahaha!

I made a list of what I didn't want, sometimes that's a great place to start.  I wanted to get off the "cottage" style I had for many years.  I was so inspired by what I saw and read in Gil Schaffer's book A Place To Call Home.  I felt like I was stepping back in time to the way I decorated in my home long ago.  With the creaky floors and huge fireplace, I leaned toward darker colors, florals, thrift store finds with a history, and subtle pops of freshness with plants, books, and framed artwork.  I took tapestry rugs over geometrical, and drapes over curtains.  

Emily came over when I was contemplating what I wanted to do in the living room after Christmas.  She took all the pieces (is there a better word?) I wanted to use and arranged them in such a way that I had that balance I strive for.  As you can see, there are different heights and layers, organic touches as well as old books, and a color scheme of browns, creams, and green.  




  I was just so intrigued by how she walked around the house and picked up this and that from each room and then shuffled, arranged and rearranged everything until it was to her liking (and mine).  She also took a few steps back every now and then to look at different angles...now, remember to do that if you want to look professional!  Seriously, I can learn from her, free of charge of course.  She has that college degree in part by the generosity of myself and The Husband!






I started to use planner a few years ago when I wanted something a little more personal than a wall hung calendar.  It's nice to have something that can fit in your bag.  I no longer carry around cards with appointments, or pieces of paper with scribbles.  I guess I'm still a little old fashioned, I don't use my cell phone much for it's calendar or notes.  Anyway, even though you might have this end covered, I wanted to share my planner with you (and yes--I know, we are going into March!) and give a shout out to this women owned business, Me And My Big Ideas.  They make several types of planners and journals and they are just so cute, inside and out.  Colorful illustrations, quotes and inspirational words; it's also perfect for doodling in.  Grab some colored pencils or markers, maybe some stickers (I order them from Amazon), and start each month with some artwork that will unleash anticipation for the coming days and weeks.  I originally found this line at Target but since I haven't ventured out recently, I scored it on Amazon where you will also find all sorts of products by these talented ladies. ⭐️⭐️⭐️




My draw dropped when I saw this on West Elm, and not just over the furniture-- that's not too shabby either, but the whole space.  It looks like it can be boxed up and dropped off in my backyard where my current patio is.  Even the homes in the background resemble those here on the Southside.  So, very much in the same way that you might see a sofa or dining room set and say, "I love it and it's going to be perfect..." that's how I feel about this picture.  



This is the most recent picture I have of the patio, possibly summer of 2017.   I have wanted something done with the cracked concrete and I think I'll do brick pavers.  I have the room to extend all the way up to the brick.  I'll never grow ivy again, it was strangling my house a few years ago and I had to have it professionally removed.  To add greenery I think I'll bring out some of my large potted plants.  In a nutshell if I move things around I just may be able to have an informal gathering space.  So what do you think?  I'm in love with the size and shape of that little table, and how they mixed up the furniture by adding a chair rather than a third piece from the set.  That saves you a lot of money.  I've seen outdoor furniture everywhere so I hope I can get something similar if West Elm is out of the budget.  Any ideas or something you suggest I add to the whole patio?  I find making plans for summer a little uplifting when there are 10 inches of melting (finally) snow on the ground and another two months til warm sunny days.  

 



I talk more about my reading on Instagram, maybe because I post more often there, but I really have been hitting the books.  I vowed to read a book a week and I'm doing pretty well.  Some books overlap such as when I have a non fiction book going and then feel the need for something fictional and so I go back and forth for a few days.  I don't do book reviews so if you see one you might be interested in, all I can do is tell you what I thought of the book after finishing it.  I almost always order from Amazon and I think they have good reviews from publishers, media, authors and the average Joe.  What a pile I have here.  A few I've read. 

As I look around my bedroom right now from where I'm typing away on my bed, its piles of books on my nightstand along with a lukewarm cup of tea (spiced turmeric), laundry to be folded in a basket on the floor, random slippers and socks, and a menagerie of dog toys.  Home. And I'm almost looking forward to getting up tomorrow morning and getting things in order and doing a nice housecleaning.  Still nesting and faffing (as they say in England).


I have two recipes for you.  One I clearly made at Christmas and it has become my very favorite homemade cookie.  I only make them for special people because I will surely eat half of them.  I recently gifted our next door neighbor with a box for snowplowing our driveway a few times over the past few weeks that we've had tremendous amounts of snow.  Even with my wonky back I can shovel the porch and steps but forget the driveway.  Then the snow plows come by several times a day and make a wall at the end of the driveway and it's back to square one.  Anyway...here's that famous recipe:




White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies 


3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c dark brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 t vanilla
2 c flour
2 t cornstarch
1 t baking soda
3/4 c white chocolate chips
3/4 c  dried cranberries

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go.  Mix in the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda.  Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Chill dough at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

Drop tablespoon size balls of dough on the lined baking sheet spaced about 1 inch apart.  They really don't spread much.  Bake approximately 8-9 minutes until barely golden brown.  They will firm up as they cool.  Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove them to a rack or platter.  If you are using the same baking sheet, make sure it has cooled down completely before dropping more dough.



Easy Focaccia Bread

A lot of people have started baking bread, or have returned to baking bread during this time that we are sheltered in.  I have made bread in the past but it seemed like a long process only to result in one loaf-my sons could make one sandwich with.  Another reason I wasn't keen on it also ties in with baking.  I detest cleaning up flour and washing dishes and utensils with clumps of flour and dough.  Weird?  I think it's just in my blood I should cook and not bake.  

Then you find a recipe that's easy and has your mouth watering before you've finished reading it.  I can't remember where I found the original recipe and I tweaked it quite a bit as it was very wordy with a lot of unnecessary tips.  It's a winner in more ways than one.  The recipe turns out fab results with minimal hands on time.  And for people like me who don't "get" the math and science of baking, its ridiculously easy.  Shall I add that there is no kneading? It may sound time consuming and a lot of steps but I wanted to break it down for those of you who haven't given bread making a try.  So let's get on it.

4 c flour
2 t kosher salt
2 1/4 t instant yeast (or 1 packet)
2 c warm tap water
1 t butter, softened  ( for greasing pan)
4 T olive oil, divided
Italian seasoning or finely chopped herbs
Flaky sea salt

In a medium- large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and instant yeast.  Stir well.  Add the warm water.  With a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula mix well until there are no small pockets of flour.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24.   

About two hours until baking time, lightly grease two round pans with a bit of soft butter, line them with parchment paper and then give that a drizzle of olive oil.  Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, divide the dough in two and place them in the pans.  Now just go on about your business and come back two hours later.  

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  The dough will have filled the pans and be ready to bake.  Top the dough with another drizzle of olive oil.  Poke a few holes in the soft dough (after you washed them of course), and then sprinkle with sea salt and whatever you have chosen as far as herbs and spices.  I like the combination of rosemary and oregano.  If you are using fresh herbs, chop them up finely, and for presentation, maybe use a whole rosemary stem or two decoratively on the surface.  

Reduce the oven heat to 425 and bake for 22-28 minutes, until the tops are golden and the undersides crisp.  Remove from the oven and using a spatula, remove the rounds from the pans and transfer to a rack to cool.  Cut into thin slices to serve.

This bread is delicious with meals or to make sandwiches with.  I like it as an appetizer with company cut into two inch pieces and served on a platter with a small bowl of olive oil flavored with garlic and parmesan cheese.  You can also freeze the bread and when ready to use, thaw it, then heat it up in a 350 degree oven.  Enjoy!


 
I hope that this post wasn't too long.  Now that we're caught up we can move on to current happenings, and there are a lot, just in my world alone!  Take care.  Stay healthy.  Keep wearing those masks.

Jane x







27 comments:

Decor To Adore said...

Welcome back, friend! :) I love the grouping Emily helped you with. I too am old school and prefer the act of actually writing things down. This action also supposedly helps one remember things better. I need all the help I can get. LOL

Beth said...

Hi Jane. Your home is beautiful and your recipes sound delightful. I went to your Instagram page and left some book suggestions that I liked. I forgot to add, "A Street Cat Named Bob" and "Nala's World." Have a great week!

Billie Jo said...

Hello there!
So happy to see you pop up on my feed today!
So enjoyed your post, and I have to tell you, we sound very similar.
Books, laundry, tea(coffee for me) on the table, and pups!
Thanks for the recipes!
Wondering if I could use fresh cranberries in the cookies?
Looking forward to visiting here again!

Dewena said...

That is a lovely inspiration picture for your patio area and it's easy to see that it would look great in your space. I hope you're able to start transforming it when nice weather comes. Meanwhile, I think your mantel looks so good! It sounds as if Emily knows how to use your favorite things in a fresh way but one which will still be you. I saw an interesting idea on a YouTuber's post. She chose 15 things from around her house that she loved the best and took a picture of the grouped together. It helps her to look at it when she's out shopping because if the new things fits in with her favorite 15 things she knows she's likely to like it too. I keep meaning to try that. Your baking looks delicious! I love the combination of chocolate and cranberries!

Curtains in My Tree said...

Gosh what a nice long post. I'm going back and read it again. I have been packing away or putting items on shelves in my storage room, so you have encouraged me to take more downstairs. I have way to many items out however I love them all.
I think we are all ready to get out on our patios with new ideas. I want to get more greenery also.
I can't bake another thing LOL I was just thinking of going to the grocery store and get me a bouquet of flowers

Janice

Patti @ Pandoras Box said...

The bread looks delicious! I dont know what I would do without my calendar tucked in my purse - and like you, i try to take a minimalist approach in my home, but I fail terribly - I love STUFF!!

cindy hattersley design said...

My you have been busy! That bread looks amazing! Love the West Elm patio furniture as well must check it out!! Glad to hear you are well!

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Your mantel looks great! I love the inspiration picture for your patio.

La Contessa said...

HAPPY TO SEE YOU IN MY INBOX!
THAT BOOK YOU DESCRIBED IS ME TO A TEE!
I HAVE THAT ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSE FEEL GOING ON HERE.............
ARE YOU CERTAIN YOU SHOULD BE SHOVELING SNOW AFTER YOUR FALL?
THE COOKIES LOOK MARVELOUS..........THE BREAD SOUNDS TOO EASY TO BE TRUE!!!
THANK YOU YOU ALWAYS HIT ALL THE HIGH NOTES FOR ME!
SEIZE THE DAY!
XXX

Scribbler said...

I am always happy to see you here -- and it is so nice to catch up. I am definitely saving your recipes. The white choc/cranberry cookies Brendan's fave, but I have not see this version containing cornstarch. I will give it a try. Of course with his Keto thing, he probably won't eat them anymore. I love to bake bread, and I will certainly try this one. I have been experimenting with flour and yeast from Italy which I order from SupermarketItaly.com. I have have had good luck with some, not so much with others because I can't read Italian -- everything on the packaging is from Italy because that's where it originates. Oh well. This focaccia looks wonderful. Stay warm!

Rita C at Panoply said...

Hi Jane! It's always good to hear from you! Your design experience with Emily felt very much like how my sister & I go about style our antique booth spaces. Sometimes stepping back is enough, but often it's seeing the photos on my desktop later that reveal the good and bad of what we do in a weekly session. We make adjustments each week.
Spring will come sooner here in WV than in your region, I realize, but its welcome will be equally enjoyed, I'm certain. Happy March!

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Hi Jane. It is good to hear from you. I love what you and Emily accomplished. There is such a good feeling when your house is in order and now that the nice weather is here in our neck of the woods, I feel like I can get back to doing just that. I have no energy unless the sun is shining. Love that patio picture. It looks so cozy and warm. A place to sit and contemplate all that there is! I can't wait to get started on our screened porch..Stay well and take care..xxoJudy

Preppy Empty Nester said...

Hi Jane! Welcome back! You were missed. Those cookies look awfully good. Emily really sounds like she has a designer's eye. It sounds like you ladies had fun rearranging things. Have a wonderful week.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back. Glad you are doing okay. We order all of our groceries on line. Love that pile of books you have. We all doing a lot of reading. Stay well and safe.
HAPPY SPRING
Marilyn

Little Wandering Wren said...

Hello Jane - so lovely to see you back here. Now I had to scroll past the gorgeous recipes (saved for later!) as I'm currently on a wellness retreat I've become a little tubby Wren during Covid! Your daughter has a real talent, I used to have a design Dr who would come into my house and do exactly this collect bits and bots and make them look stunning! How lovely to have those skills in the family!
Have a lovely week
Wren x

Jeanie said...

What a way-fun post! It's always a happy day when I see your post in my feed. I love shopping the house to rearrange things and have been looking at mine thinking "You have GOT to do something!" There aren't a lot of options for arranging the furniture but it's time to lighten things up! Well done on all your reading and cooking, too.

I can relate to the groceries. Now I'm vaccinated and will begin to shop more for myself next week but when I couldn't it was very frustrating. Rick was better when he shopped for me but the store shoppers seemed to find either not the right thing (not their fault if it's not in stock) or the worst produce! Picking out my own produce is number one on my to-do list!

Linda said...

It was good to visit with you again! Thank you for the recipes and I don’t use my calendar/notes on my phone either! Love the look of everything at your place! I think we are all in a nesting cleaning start fresh with a new palette mode!

Laurie said...

It was so good to hear from you, a great update and you sound well and happy. That girl of yours is certainly talented! I love how some people just know the right touch, those cookies sound delicious and we do still make all our own bread only change is Garry now makes it, but that’s ok, I’m so glad you visited me today, it made my day!

An Oasis in the Desert said...

This bread sounds so good! My hubby has been wanting to try his hand at baking bread, and this might just be what he needs to start with...an easy answer to success (you know...men)!!!

Terra said...

Jane, it is good to see you back blogging. You have lots of good ideas for your home and patio. I had a patio put in in my front yard and I highly recommend large flagstones with crushed stone (?) for grout, it is so pretty and no care needed.

It's me said...

Hi Jane...like those cookies...nice to read your long post ...I missed you....everything is so different...our whole world....I also let deliver my grosery...the only thing I buy are flowers....most of the time i am at home glad I have Leaf to go out with...I hope that all will be normal soon....love from me Happy week Ria 🍀💕🍀🙏

Susan~aredheadonthego said...

Jane I love the patio picture. You can totally adopt that look. Your daughter has a really good eye. I have a hard time subtracting some times.this was a great post. I’ll be making those cookies soon. It’s cold today in New York , so it’s good to conjure up spring

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

You've been missed so I enjoyed your longer post. I can relate to so much here, even to your color scheme of browns, creams, and green,,,that's mine as well here in Florida. I'll have to give your focaccia recipe a try. The last recipe I tried was a little to light and airy for Italian, I thought. Stay well.

Kit said...

Glad to see you are motoring along.Lately I feel very hopeful With the new vaccines and covid relief. I got my shot as did my hubby. But I have had such great service at my store, I will still order my groceries for pick up. I can't risk picking it up and giving it anyone. Still happily wearing my mask. Take care and enjoy the spring! Kit

Theresa said...

Everything in your home is always gorgeous! My Daughter is really good at decorating using things she already has. I have trouble changing my decor, well... because I like it the way it is:) It is always nice to add something for whatever the occasion, Easter is next for me. I love the setting with the furniture, makes me want something new by my pool. Thank you for the recipes! Enjoy your day dear friend, HUGS!

Karen @ Beatrice Euphemie said...

Hi Jane, I love the mantel, it really looks nice! So nice to have a designing daughter in your life! I can never get my mantel to look right - I might copy yours :) Your patio looks so inviting. The perfect place to steal a few minutes of peace and quiet with that morning cup of Joe or have a little 'get together' on a summer afternoon. I love your stack of books - a room isn't a room without books and it's always nice to have 'options' according to mood. Books are like old friends. Always there when you need them.
I am so heartbroken about Linda. I can't believe it - she was so full of light and love. Thank you for letting me know. My heart goes out to her beloved family. We've lost a dear friend.
So glad to see you posting again. Sorry I am so late in catching up with you. I haven't opened my computer in a couple of weeks.
I am glad that you are feeling well. Sending hugs xo Karen

handmade by amalia said...

I could spend a very happy afternoon browsing through that pile of books.
Amalia
xo