Archive of ‘Lifestyle’ category

Holiday Porch Makeover–All That Glitters is Not Gold…

purple Christmas wreath close up

Sometimes it’s silver…

and purple.

Purple and silver holiday porch

It’s December and I’m still rocking my purple front door and porch furniture. This delicious shade of purple has transitioned easily from summer to fall to winter. And I’m having so much fun with it that I plan on featuring purple once again on my spring porch. Who knew that purple could be so dog-gone versatile?

purple and silver holiday porch decor

For my holiday porch, I kept the same rugs that I used on my fall porch makeover–the rich burgundy and purple colors are perfect for Christmas. I began my holiday makeover by hanging a sparkling purple and silver flower arrangement on my front door.

sparkly silver pillows for my front porch

Then I added lots of pillows in a variety of shapes and sizes in muted tones of silver and white. I couldn’t resist these pillows embellished with sequins, crystals, and beads. I used indoor pillows but they typically hold up well on my covered porch.

holiday pillows with sequins, beads, and crystals for my front porch

This crystal owl pillow was just too cute to pass up.

holiday pillow with big silver bow

This white velvet pillow with a big silver bow and crystal button was the inspiration for my holiday porch makeover. Once I found this pillow, I carried it around the store and chose a variety of pillows to coordinate with it.

mini Christmas trees with burlap wrapped pots

I added some mini Christmas trees in pots wrapped with burlap. I like the way the simple evergreen trees and rough burlap contrast with the elegant pillow fabrics. The green, brown, and beige tones add interest and warmth to this otherwise cool decorating scheme.

purple and silver winter porch makeover

On the coffee table, I arranged a silver bowl filled with sparkly silver accessories, a burgundy silk flower arrangement, and a rusty iron lantern on a simple wooden tray–another combination of glittery and rustic finishes. From start to finish, this winter porch makeover took me less than 30 minutes to pull together (minus the shopping, of course).

purple and silver winter porch makeover

The carpets are bath mats with rubber backing so they stay in place on windy days and I can simply throw them in the washing machine when they get dirty. And the color is holding up beautifully. These rugs have been on my porch for weeks with no signs of fading from the sun.

purple and silver holiday wreath

And once again I’d like to thank Tonya from TwoInspireYou for this gorgeous purple and silver holiday wreath that she custom made for my purple winter porch makeover. Love, love, love it!

Fall Fun at the Cows-N-Corn Dairy Farm

A tour of the Cows-N-Corn dairy Farm

I love Fauquier County in the fall.  I love warm afternoons and chilly nights, changing leaves and clear blue skies, fall festivals and funnel cakes, fish frys and country music, and afternoons spent picking apples and touring local dairy farms. This past weekend we visited the Cows-N-Corn dairy farm in Midland, Virginia.

My daughter and her friends had a blast running through the corn maze, taking hay rides, petting the farm animals, and riding in the cow carts. After spending the evening going through the photos,  I suddenly have a hankering for a cup of hot apple cider–or a Starbuck’s caramel apple spice–YUM! Here are some more photos.

Cows-N-Corn dairy farm

Cow carts

Cow carts

Pumpkins and corn

Scarecrow

Corn stalks and blue skies

Dried corn

Pumpkins

Corn maze

Simple pleasures are the best.

Copycat Roy Rogers Double-R-Bar Burger

Copycat Roy Rogers DoubleRBar Burgers

Dinner Brought to You by Roy Rogers, Martha Stewart, Julia Childs, the Bealeton Farmer’s Market, My Sister, and Me!

My sister and I spent a week together relaxing and doing what we like to do best–chatting for hours; touring Main Street in Warrenton, Virginia;  browsing through antique shops; shopping at the Bealeton farmer’s market; and cooking the fresh fruits and vegetables we purchased there. I took the opportunity to introduce my sister to my copycat version of Roy Rogers Double-R-Bar burgers. I haven’t seen a Roy Rogers restaurant in years, and I really had a craving for a good, ole’ Double-R.

My sister whipped up a batch of green beans almondine ala Julia Childs and I whipped up a batch of Mexican corn on the cob ala Martha Stewart. The burgers were fabulous–we topped them with shaved ham, cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce, mild horseradish sauce, and coleslaw–and the green beans and corn on the cob were out of this world. We rounded out the meal with the best cantaloupe we’d had all season. It was such a fabulous late summer meal that I just had to share it with all of you.

There’s still one more week before summer is over and the kids have go back to school. If you’re looking for a fabulous Labor Day meal to share with your family or friends, this combination is a must try. Recipes are provided below.

Copycat Double-R-Bar Burger Ingredients

  • Lean ground beef
  • Shaved ham
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Barbeque sauce
  • Mild horseradish sauce
  • Coleslaw (optional)
  • Hamburger buns (I used Martin’s potato buns–my fave)

In a large skillet, cook the burgers over medium heat until they cooked medium well (no pink in the center). Top the burgers with two slices of shaved ham and a slice of cheddar cheese. Cover and allow the cheese to melt. Place on buns and top with BBQ sauce, horseradish sauce, and coleslaw.

Green Bean Almondine Ingredients

  • Fresh, whole green beans
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Clean and snap the ends off of the green beans. Cook in a skillet with a small amount of water until the beans are crisp tender (about five minutes). Drain, remove from the pan, and set aside. Add the butter and slivered almonds to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the almonds are golden brown (about three minutes). Add the green beans back to the skillet; stir to coat. Cook until heated through.

Mexican Corn on the Cob Ingredients

  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Corn on the cob, husks removed
  • Butter
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Mayonnaise
  • Chili powder
  • Lime wedges

Rub the corn with butter then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap each ear in plastic wrap. Microwave until crisp tender (about 1-2 minutes for two ears). Remove plastic wrap. Brush corn with mayonnaise and roll in Parmesan cheese to coat. Sprinkle with chili powder. Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Quick Summer Meals

quick summer dinner

Savory BLT sandwiches, sliced cantaloupe, and crispy corn on the cob–what a great combo. I threw together this quick summer meal after a visit to the farmer’s market and it was so easy and delicious that I just have to share. I purchased everything pictured here–except the bread and mayo–at a local farmer’s market. Everything was freshly picked and organic. Even the bacon came from a local farmer. I like supporting local food producers, I like serving healthy meals to my family, and I like the friendly folks I meet at open air markets. Trips to the farmer’s markets are one of the pleasures of summer. Summertime and the livin’ is easy….

Flea Market Adventures

antique majolica plates

Last weekend my mother, sister, niece, and I went to the DC Big Flea at the Dulles Expo Center in Centreville, Virginia. It’s the largest antique show in the mid-atlantic region, and we all found some treasures. Antiquing is one of my favorite past-times. I love browsing the booths in search of majolica pottery, enamel teapots, and other treasures. Here’s a sampling of some of the items that caught my eye.

antique nail bin

I absolutely fell in love with this antique nail bin. It has so many potential uses. Put it in your closet to store shoes, handbags, socks, or belts. Place it in your office to hold office supplies or in your studio to store art supplies. You could place it in an empty corner of your garage to hold odds and ends like baseball gloves, softballs, tools, roller skates, nuts and bolts, you name it. Or, place it in your potting shed to hold pots, seeds, seedlings, and gardening tools. The possibilities are endless with this gem. Love the idea, but don’t have room for a huge nail bin like this? No problem–you can purchase a new one online in a variety of sizes–including a one- or two-tiered rotating nail bin that would fit right on your desk.

antique record player

My mother had a record player just like this one when she was a child. This would look great as an art object in a bookcase.

vintage toy truck

So would this vintage toy truck.

antique purple hurricanes

These purple hurricanes probably rocked someone’s world in the 1980s. They still rock my world today.

antique fiestaware plates

These fiestaware plates would be a great find for food bloggers who are always looking for interesting ways to display their culinary creations. You could match–or contrast–the plates to each particular dish. Yeah, baby!

antique fiestaware pitchers

And these colorful fiestaware pitchers could serve up a bevy of refreshing beverages, like my mom’s homemade lemonade. Hey mom, you haven’t made homemade lemonade in a long time. Hint, hint….

vintage children's clothing

This vintage children’s clothing would look fabulous hung on a hanger as art in a child’s room. Add a straw hat and a vintage tea set on a child-sized table, and you’re set.  I love the black and white polka dress with pink trim.

vintage children's gladiator boots

And these vintage children’s gladiator shoes prove that everything old is truly new again. How awesome are these?

antique majolica plates

There was a good selection of antique majolica pottery. These waterlily and asparagus plates were so pretty. But I was looking for something specific–a large corn pitcher to add to my collection.

antique majolica corn pitcher

After browsing all the aisles I found several majolica corn pitchers of roughly the same size and quality but the prices varied drastically from a high of $400 to a real deal like the one pictured above at just $70.00. I did a happy dance when I stumbled upon this one and it came home with me. It’s always a good idea to view everything at the show before you make a purchase and then go back for the items (if they’re still available) that were the best price. Avoiding the urge to jump on the first item that rocked my world saved me over $300.00. Another way to get a good price is to wait until the end of the show to make a dealer an offer. Dealers are more likely to reduce their asking price at the end of the show because they don’t want to pack up all their items and lug them back home.

vintage melmac dinnerware

My sister snapped up this complete set of melmac dinnerware for just under $80.00. This set will be put to good use in her new home. I can’t wait for her to serve me up some of her awesome brownie cupcakes or pumpkin spice muffins on these babies. Hint, hint, sissy! I’ll have coffee with mine….

vintage enamel teapot

I fell in love with this vintage enamel teapot but walked away without buying it. Now, I wish I had snapped it up. It would look great on my kitchen table or on my fireplace mantel filled with fresh daisies. Drat, drat, and double drat!

My mom bought a vintage pitcher but threw her money on the table so fast that I couldn’t snap a photo! She asked my niece to stop her if she attempted to buy anything, and poor Karen did her best to intervene, but mom was determined to make her purchase. How’s that pitcher werk’in for you, mom? Karen was captivated with the vintage jewelry and picked up an adorable ring made out of a spoon.

We had a great time at the show. It was a fun family outing. The DC Big Flea is held at the Dulles Expo Center four times a year. The next show will be held on November 2-3, just in time for holiday shopping. Yeah, baby!

My Summer Garden

crepe myrtle blooms

Hi everyone, how is your weekend going? My summer garden is in full bloom this week, so I grabbed my camera–and two of my pups–and headed outside to enjoy the show. I snapped some pictures to share here while the pups enjoyed a sniff-a-thon and then settled down to catch a few rays. My crepe myrtle trees are in full bloom this week. Aren’t they beautiful?

hardy hibiscus blooms

These hardy hibiscus will continue to bloom daily until early fall. I planted them outside my kitchen window so I can enjoy the show from inside the house and watch the hummingbirds drinking their nectar. Hummingbirds can’t resists these huge, red blooms. I saw one this morning while I was drinking my coffee and two others this afternoon, including one little fellow with amazing blue feathers.

calla lily blooms

I planted these calla lilies three years ago, and they get bigger and fuller each year. And the best thing about crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies–besides the fact that they bloom in tandem–is that they require almost no care. Just add water during extreme dry spells. That’s it! Easy peasy. Here are a few more pictures of my garden.

summer garden featuring crepe myrtle, hardy hibiscus, and calla lilies

summer garden

summer garden

summer garden

How pretty are these purple blooms and aqua bench? It’s a good thing I have a large stock of aqua spray paint. I see more aqua garden furniture in my future. What’s growing in your garden this week?

Brownie Cupcakes

brownie cupcakes

Redemption cupcakes. Cupcakes you bake to redeem yourself after the cupcakes you brought to work last week (made from a recipe you’d never tried before) were an epic fail. That’s what my sister calls the cupcakes she brought to our family watercolor fest. Made with just five ingredients, you can whip up a batch of these decadent brownie cupcakes any time–whether you need to redeem yourself or not. These cupcakes are so moist that icing is not necessary, but if you’re an icing lover this fluffy white icing made with marshmallow cream is the perfect topping. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make my sister’s redemption cupcakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 squares semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine the melted butter and chocolate until the chocolate is melted. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a cupcake pan prepared with cupcake liners. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy.

So the next time you serve a dessert that flops to friends or coworkers and you want to restore their faith in your cooking skills, redeem yourself with these babies.

 

A Visit to the Bealeton Farmer’s Market

Fresh veggies from my local farmer's market

I stopped by the Bealeton, Virginia, farmer’s market this weekend to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables and other goodies for my family. Just look at these freshly picked red onions; they still have their stalks attached. It doesn’t get any fresher than this. If you like to cook as much as I do, then you’ll definitely want to check out your local farmer’s market; it’s one of the pleasures of summer.

In addition to the Boston lettuce and gorgeous red onions pictured above, I bought some pulled pork, barbecued beef brisket, individual-sized servings of monkey bread, and a variety of home-made sausage (sweet Italian links, kielbasa, bratwurst, and several packs of bulk sausage).

Later that evening, I threw together this quick dinner featuring Italian sausage sandwiches with caramelized onions and peppers, Amish potato salad, and fresh fruit.

Italian sausage sandwiches with caramelized onions and peppers

The Bealeton farmer’s market is a seasonal open air market made up of farmers offering organic honey and meats, locally grown fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, baked goods, and hand-crafted items.

Jerry Headley and Theresa Shiflett from Andralynn Farm founded the market three years ago and it has drawn a steady stream of customers. The market is small and intimate but there is plenty of room for growth and additional vendors are welcome. Vendors pay $80.00 a piece to join the market for the season or $10.00 per week.  The vendor fees pay for signs and advertising, and this year vendor insurance is being offered free of charge.

Fresh fruits and vegetables from the Bealeton farmer's market

The market is located off of US Route 17 at Liberty Station Center (in front of Children of America) and runs from April 23rd through October 29th. Hours of operation are Saturdays from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm, although you can often find Jerry and Theresa there later in the afternoon selling their fabulous Honey Hog barbecue. For more information on the Bealeton farmer’s market email southernmarket@comcast.net or call 540-905-5663.

Honey Hog Barbecue Stand in Bealeton, Virginia

Come on out, ya’ll.

Gorgeous Light in My Garden Yesterday

Beautiful light in my garden

After two days of torrential rain, the sun finally made an appearance and filled my garden with gorgeous light. Everything looks so green and lush.

Enormous cloud formation

After the dark skies cleared, this huge sun-lit cloud formation took my breath away. How gorgeous are these clouds?

Huge cloud formation

In other news, after a two-week hiatus to focus on yard clean-up and home remodeling tasks, I finally started a new painting this evening. Check back later this week to see the finished painting. What’s new in your neck of the woods?

Mojitos and Tapas in Warrenton, Virginia

Mojitos and Tappas Bar, Warrenton, Virginia

Hi everyone, how was your weekend? My weekend was super busy–I did tons of laundry and housework, some much-needed decluttering, rearranged my family room furniture, installed several ceiling fans, and snuck in some yard work just before the torrential rain started–it poured. After all that work I didn’t feel like cooking, so my mother, daughter, and I treated ourselves to dinner at the Mojitos and Tapas restaurant in Warrenton, Virginia. This is a photo of the bar area, isn’t it charming?

Coconut mojito

My mother and I ordered coconut mojitos which featured coconut rum and sparkling soda over muddled mint leaves and lime juice and included bits of fresh coconut. It was so refreshing and light and seriously fizzy. I loved it and must go on a recipe search so I can make these at home.

Mixed berry mojito

My daughter ordered a mixed-berry mojito dubbed the “beach mojito.” It was seriously fruity, fizzy, and delicious. There were at least a dozen varieties of mojitos on the menu. We’re already planning future girls night out dates to sample more.

Loaded chips

My mother ordered Caribbean egg rolls (not pictured) and loaded chips over a bed of black beans. They were messy but delicious. My daughter ordered a traditional Cuban chicken sandwich. It was enormous and definitely enough to serve two people.

Zang-Zang chicken

I ordered the Zang-Zang chicken, which is deep fried bites of chicken coated in a spicy sauce–not the healthiest choice, but boy was it good. The Mojitos and Tapas restaurant is small and cozy, the service was great, the atmosphere was charming, the food was delish, and the mojitos were a real treat. It was a fun and affordable choice for a girls night out. For more information on the Mojitos and Tapas restaurant visit their website.

Mojitas_and-Tapas-Entrance

Till next time!

1 2 3 7