Monday, February 16, 2009

Get Inspiration From A Few Decorating Tips!

Could someone let me know if the following photos appear too large? Thanks.

Creative Seat Cushions
Sew old jump ropes onto seat cushions to serve as ties. When you pull up a chair, the wood handles chatter as they gently move with motion

Picture Hanging Tips
Turn a stack of framed works into a striking wall of art. Inexpensive paintings and drawings from thrift stores create a one-of-a-kind gallery in a guest bedroom.

Hang Plates

Instead of keeping your special-occasion china hidden behind closed cabinet doors, put it to use every day by letting it set the decorating theme in your dining room. These blue-and-white classics pop against the yellow wall.

Nature On Display

Dried gourds become mini sculptures when coupled with old glassware and cloches.

Painted Furniture

Refresh patio furniture with a coat of paint. Coat wicker pieces with a primer, then add a coat of exterior latex paint. When dry, mark off an argyle pattern using a paper diamond template and painter's tape. Paint the pattern in a contrasting hue, such as the pretty periwinkle blue used here. Hand-paint intersecting lines using a long straightedge for a guide.
Check out more wicker projects

Furniture Makeovers

Transform old furniture with a coat of paint and a simple decorative treatment. Here, a non-descript secretary's desk becomes a classy writing desk with stenciled details. A leaf-and-berry pattern decorates the drawer panels and bronze upholstery tacks enhance the legs.
Check out more furniture updates.

Source: Country Home

Chocolate Lovers Rejoice

I found the following tips about chocolate at Heart-Healthy Living. I'm sure you've heard that a bit of chocolate is good for you, but maybe you'll pick up a few more tips from the following article and check out the recipes. Didn't we all know that something that makes you feel so good had to be good for you?
Dark chocolate not only tastes good, it's good for you, too. It promotes heart health by lowering blood pressure and boosting your mood.

By Lynne Meredith Schreiber
Photos by Scott Little
Food styling by Greg Luna

“Dark chocolate saves lives,” says Arthur Agatston, M.D., a preventive cardiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and an admitted chocoholic. He bases his claim on a 2006 Scandinavian study, which showed that consuming small amounts of chocolate with 70 percent or more cocoa content—and without fattening mix-ins such as caramel, butter, or too many nuts—significantly diminished the likelihood of heart attacks.

Derived from the cacao plant, dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which help keep blood vessels clear and flowing, says Julia Zumpano, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic.

Dark Chocolate Increases HDL
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder increased good (HDL) cholesterol levels by 10 percent, according to a Finland study.

When buying chocolate, avoid:

* milk chocolate
* heavily processed bars
* chocolate with marshmallows
* chocolate with caramel
* chocolate with cream

Heart-healthy nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are OK. “The more plain the chocolate, the better,” says Julia Zumpano, R.D., of the Cleveland Clinic.

Salad With Oranges And Chocolate
Scientists believe nuts may play a role in protecting against heart disease. Here almonds or walnuts team with salad greens, oranges, and a hint of chocolate for a spectacular side dish.
View the Recipe

Feel Better With Chocolate

Chocolate’s naturally occurring serotonin and dopamine are potent antidepressants, Zumpano says. That makes this indulgence a good alternative to cigarettes and addictive drugs; its quick, blissful high won’t hurt your body.

Chocolate also prompts pleasure because it contains phenylethylamine, a natural pain reliever.

Saucy Chicken with Garbanzo Beans
A little chocolate stirred into the chicken and bean mixture just before serving provides a rich but subtle flavor without adding lots of calories and fat.
View the recipe

Heart-Healthy Living's Favorite Chocolates
We taste-tested about 20 brands of chocolate that contain at least 70 percent cacao for the best heart-health benefits. When the buzz wore off, six favorites rose to the top. Look for quality chocolate in specialty food stores or shop online at

Here are our picks:

Valor Dark Chocolate 70%

El Ray, Apamate, Dark Chocolate, 73.5%

Scharffen Berger, Bittersweet, 70%

Bernard Castelain, Macaibo, 70%

Unique Origin, Guyave, 71%

E. Guittard, Quetzalcoatl, 72%

For more heart-health tips, visit:

Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Low-Sodium Recipes

30-Minute Recipes

Register for the free Heart-Healthy Living e-newsletter

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hot Chocolate Cake

Oh, do I have a Valentine's Day gift for you. You may have guessed, it involves a recipe, but the real gift is much better. It's the gift that keeps on giving. I've been reading a blog for years - Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. It's one of my favorite food blogs. The recipes are great, the posts are witty and fun to read, and the photography makes you drool. What more could we ask from a food blog? Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate Cake

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup prepared hot chocolate(your favorite kind)
1 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until very thick; the batter should fall from the beaters in a thick ribbon. Beat in the vanilla.
While you’re beating the eggs and sugar, heat the hot chocolate and butter in a small saucepan to just simmering. Add the hot chocolate mixture to the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream as you continue beating.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring until they’re just combined.
Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9 inch cake round. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake is a deep golden brown and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan.

Remember. If you forget to bookmark Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, you can always find her in my sidebar under What's Cookin'.

Earth Tones Anyone?

I love the earth tones in this bedroom and how the design relies on form, shape and texture.
Photo Credit: Gridley + Graves
Source: House Beautiful

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A beautiful life???

During the past few weeks, I've found myself participating in Melissa's Beautiful Life series over at The Inspired Room - not overly enthusiastically at first, but slowly warming to the idea. I mean, who am I to speak of a beautiful life or how to find the key to that most mercurial of locks?

Then I realized she didn't ask us to come up with the key but only to search for it - to open our eyes to the beauty in our lives. This week has been a particularly difficult challenge for me.

Not one but two tragedies - one on the heels of the other - galloped into my life this week. Unexpectedly, without one ounce of warning, they came bounding through the door like puppies let off their leashes for the first time. A dear friend diagnosed with stage four
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and a nephew diagnosed with a brain tumor will make you sit up straight.

While beauty has been elusive, perspective has been born at tremendous cost this week, as perspective always is. Why is it that the opportunity to see life in proper proportion almost always comes at a significant price? We need a jolt sometimes in order to understand the value of what we have.

Tragedy may not bring beauty, but it brings clarity, and it fosters a humble gratitude that only a glimpse at what we could lose will ever do.

On this day my husband is healthy, my son and his wife and children are healthy, and I am loved by them. Can there be a beauty more undiluted, more valuable, more enviable than that?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Swedish Home Décor

I've always loved color - big, bold color! I've splashed it from one end of my house to the other without a single regret. I find its warmth and personality comforting and stimulating all at once.

So why am I loving Swedish design lately? Isn't it the polar opposite of rich, deep colors, accessories scattered about, bold art displayed on every wall, and curtains on every window? You get the idea.

There is definitely something that appeals to me in Swedish design, though. I love the wood floors, area rugs, furniture with legs so you can see underneath, neutral colors everywhere, the clean, open feel of the simple lines and light colors, and then there's the light. Oh, yes! Light that seems to stream in from every window. Notice how the subtle design elements rely on texture, shape and style rather than color.

If rich, bold colors offer comfort, the airy atmosphere of Swedish design frees and lightens the spirit. Enjoy these photos that I found at Country Home.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Valentine's Day Cards

Some cards I found on Etsy. Click on the image, and it will take you to the artist's Etsy store.

A "Two Loving Mice" notecard.
Pencil drawnig on paper.
Approximate size: cm.10x15 (inches 3.9x5.9).
This artwork is sprayed with a protective art fixative for protection and lasting color.

The maker of this card says:
This is a very special Valentine's Day Card. How perfect is this to give to your husband or wife! This card has a black textured card stock base, a pretty cream printed paper on one side that says "I Love You" and an iridescent red paper on the other. I have added a single heart stamp with added glitter to the one side as well. The pull out insert also is made from the same matching cars stock layered with the same papers as the card. On the top cream layer I will print out a personal of your choice. A pretty black satin ribbon is attached to pull out the insert as well.

So here it is, a 3-D depiction to your loved ones because you know you just can't help falling for them everyday like the first time.

Two darling rabbits grace the front of this sweet valentine. Printed on ivory, archival cardstock, this card measures 5 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches, is blank inside and comes with a matching envelope.

I think this one speaks for itself.

A Bath With Personality Plus

Make no mistake. The star of this bath is a furniture-like vanity, topped in Carrara marble and two square basins. Pendant lights and mismatched mirrors add sparkle and personality.

The shower has two shower heads and a shelf to place toiletries. The floor is made from chips of Carrara marble.

What do you think of that antique-style “telephone” faucet mounted on the side of the tub - instead of at the end?
Source: pointclickhome

Monday, February 2, 2009

Perfect Compliment

I found this bedroom on Coastal Living. I'm posting it for no other reason than the color scheme. I love the vivid orange with that cobalt blue. It reminds me of a Matisse.

In the master suite, mosquito netting drapes a four-poster bed in classic island fashion. The designer chose traditional French West Indies-style furnishings for the bedrooms. Walls painted sunset orange complement cobalt blue fabrics.

Dear Heart

I found this adorable watercolor painting on Etsy. It's an original by Karen Faulkner.