Friday, October 30, 2009

Perfect, Pretty Pillows

Throw pillows are such a great way to change the look of a space. Color, pattern and texture can really add a lot to a sofa, chair or bed. It is a great way to keep up with the seasons too. Linens and light, airy fabrics are best for spring and summer but warmer, richer colors along with heavier fabrics like burlap; velvet, and thick cotton are wonderful this time of year. Take a look at some of this season's prettiest pillows.

Fall-Inspired Pillows







2.  Chocolate Blue Mirage Pillow














5. Cafe Stripe Pillow




6. Felt Roses Pillow











Do you switch out your pillows with the seasons or use the same ones year round? Which one here evokes your sense of style?


 


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Do YOU Do For Date Night?


Sunrise at Cocoa Beach, FL

I'll be the first one to admit I'm not the most spontaneous person. I am a planner- I like things to be highly organized and well thought out. But sometimes you just need to throw caution to the wind and live a little. My hubby brings that side out in me and I've been trying to make a conscious effort to bring even more of that attitude into my daily life so I don't miss precious opportunites. So far, it's going really well and bringing me a lot of joy.

This past weekend my husband had just arrived home from a two-week business trip. I had lived on my own for ten years before getting married so I'm no stranger to an empty home and I don't need to have someone by my side on a daily basis for it to feel like home. However, by about day 10 I was really missing him and just wanted to wrap my arms around him and give him a big hug. When he came home he wanted to surprise me with a fun date idea. He arrived on Saturday afternoon so we went out to dinner that night and were planning to drive to the beach to watch the sunset. Since we both had had a long week and were stuffed from our meal, we decided to go straight home and call it a night. Our big plan then became to get up before the crack of dawn and drive 45 minutes east towards Cocoa beach. That is just what we did. We got up at 5:45am and were out the door by 6:00am.



Cocoa Beach at 7am in October

We arrived at 7:00am and the weather was gorgeous and breezy, and the water was warm and heavenly! There is something special about being one of the first few people on the beach. We had expected a large orange glowing sunrise at 7:33am, however there were some dark, ominous clouds covering the sun, but instead we were able to see a bright glow across the sky, it was something to behold. We strolled hand in hand along the beach for about an hour, just watching the seagulls catch little fish (their breakfast), observing little crabs scurrying across the sand and admiring some of the crashing waves.



Hubby in his sweats at the beach awaiting sunrise

This was one of the most special dates we've had. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick and inexpensive breakfast before heading back home. It was so freeing not to have to plan or pack anything other than a towel and some bottled water, we simply jumped in the car and headed towards our destination.



I simply adore sea oats that blow in the wind!

What do you like to do for date night or daytime dates? Do you frequent the movies, do you plan picnics in the park, go ice skating or do you prefer to stay in? I thought it would be great if everyone could share with others what they enjoy, so that we can all get some new ideas to do with our significant others! Please leave a comment and share your favorite ideas...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some of MY Favorite Things: A Random Assortment




I hope you are having a great start to your week! If you've been following my blog for a little while, you'll remember a post I did on my favorite things at Whole Foods. I thought I'd share some of the personal items in my home and it will also give you a chance to learn a little more about me too. Some items are things I use frequently and others are those that my heart just adores simply because it does.

Here are 10 of My Favorite Random Things



1. Most Comfy Shoes this Summer-I love shoes, in particular a great pair of peep-toe pumps, but the winner of most comfortable and equally stylish shoe goes to my Tommy Hilfiger Falsetto gladiator-style sandal. They retail for around $70 on many websites but I got these for a steal for only $19.99 at Ross! They are perfect with a pair of cuffed shorts and a top, a long maxi dress, a long shirt and tights or a pair of skinny jeans. I wear them almost every day. Thankfully I live in Florida where I can wear sandals almost every week out of the year.




2. Favorite Way to Stay Healthy-Aside from eating nutritious, organic foods and exercising as often as I can, my favorite way to stay cold and flu-free is to consume a lot of garlic. I'm not talking about a little bit of roasted garlic in a prepared recipe, but full on raw garlic cloves (and several of them) on top of almost anything. I usually crush up several raw cloves and put them on top of an already heated up soup, a fresh salad, or another dinner item. Raw garlic reduces illness, increases immunity, kills parasites, and has even been proven to shrink tumors and ward of cancer! The key is to eat it raw and not heat it, otherwise it loses most of its medicinal qualities.The best part is I pay about 25 cents for a bulb of garlic. I do not have medical insurance and I have not needed to visit a doctor in the 3 years that I've lived here. For obvious reasons, I avoid eating it if I'm visiting clients. Thankfully my hubby is on board and loves it equally as much!




3. Most Used Kitchen Tool- Many would argue that a food processor is their favorite kitchen tool, and I have to agree that it is an amazing tool and I know I'll get far more use out of it one day when I'm making homemade baby food, but until that time comes, my garlic press is my go-to gadget. I use it almost every day and my new OXO press is my favorite by far. It has a no-slip handle and it cleans up quickly and is heavy duty.



4. Favorite Decor Item-I am a sucker for anything costal and beachy, which you might remember from my getting personal post. I love, love, love starfish and was super excited to see some live while snorkeling in St. Thomas. While it is not ocean-friendly or eco-friendly to use real starfish as decor, I have used Pottery Barn's white finger star fish in several places in my home. They look like the real deal without having to harm any sea creatures for our viewing pleasure. I bought mine at their end of season sale. I use them in hurricane vases with sand and a pillar candle in the summer months, leaning against a set of frames on a shelf, and I've even had one in an apothecary jar in my bathroom as well as on the side table in our living room. Lots of fun things to do with them!




5. Favorite Starbucks Beverage-Although I'm not a coffee junkie and my budget doesn't allow for frequent purchases of their wonderful drink indulgences, when I do stop by, I have several drinks I enjoy such as the Chai latte made with soy, or the pumpkin spiced latte and the super sweet peppermint white hot chocolate (it's heavenly!), but my favorite is a drink for the summer months called a Grande Caramel Light Frappuccino, no whip. You can also dress it up with some whip cream and a drizzle of caramel for added decadance. They have a 'regular' version with a lot more calories which I have never tried because I'm sure after that the light would taste well, light. Right now it is the perfect amount of caramel, coffee and sweetness and it does not taste weak or watered down. Here is how you can make your own.






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6. Most Lovely Flower-I adore peonies and was crushed when I realized that I wouldn't be able to use them in my September wedding 3 years ago. I really longed for pale pink peonies. *swoon* I settled for blush roses that day, but I try to bring them into my home whenever possible while they are in season during the early summer months. Being that I live in FL, they are hard to come by. My old home in the Toronto area had peony bushes along the side and front which I couldn't wait to clip and put on display.




7.  Most Used Gift- Based on what comes to mind at the moment, I'd have to say it was a birthday gift that my husband purchased for me two years ago which is a large brown coach mongram wallet. I saw it in online originally and he surprised me with it and was able to grab it at the outlet store, so it turned out to be half the price, gotta love that! I have a cream leather handbag that I use a lot and this goes really well with it, as well as brown one and a few other colors as well as a small matching coach bag that I bought for a steal also. I do have a black favorite too for my handbags/clutches of that color scheme.




8. Inexpensive Glamour-When I decided to decorate our guest bedroom/my office, I wanted to add a bit of glamour to an otherwise boring room at the time. I wanted it to inspire me to paint the walls, the furniture in the room and all several other touches of glam. This little chandelier from Ikea for just $39.99 did the trick. It looks far better in person than this website photo and it has inspired me to transform that space. It has a wonderful sparkle and it provides just enough light without being too much, considering I have two windows in the space already. It would be perfect for a teen, toddler or baby girl room too. Since our guest room is our only 'spare' bedroom, this would be a future baby's room, so here's to holding onto the faith that it will be a girl, then she can enjoy the lighting too. :)




9. Newest Monogrammed Item- A couple weeks ago, I picked up this fun letter 'K' at Marshall's in the clearance section. It had a slight dent in the wood in a fairly inconspicous area, so I purchased it for $7. It is temporarily living on our guest room nightstand until I paint the room a lovely shade of pale blue and then I will hang it above a set of vintage hooks I picked up at a flea market near the door.




10. Must-Read Decor Magazines- My favorite decor magazine(s) are actually from Canada. One is called Canada's Style at Home and the other is Canadian House & Home. I had a subscription for many years before moving to the U.S. At the time I really enjoyed being able to find the items in local retailers vs. trying to hunt down items that were only available in the U.S. I do have several othes I enjoy such as Coastal Living and Better Homes and Gardens, but those are the two I pick up every time I fly home from Toronto after visiting friends and family!



Tell us some of your favorite things! Do you have a favorite pair of shoes you can't live without or a pair of earrings that go with everything you own? We want to hear from you!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Perfect Apple Pie



I apologize for the lack of posts this week, it has been a very busy and eventful one to say the least. Since Sunday is a day of rest for many, including myself, I thought I'd post one of the best recipes I came across this week (in the few minutes I did have to spare) so that you can make it for your family or a special dinner party. Doesn't this pie just call out to you to grab a fork and dig in?!

 If you're not hosting a gathering in your home this year, this would make for the perfect apple pie to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner that you've been invited to. It will be an instant crowd pleaser. Don't worry, although this dessert is super yummy, the turkey is still the showstopper of the dinner table, so you won't steal the host's thunder or upstage her efforts. ;) This recipe is compliments of Better Homes and Gardens.


Makes: 8 slices
Prep: 45 mins
Bake: 65 mins
Broil: 7 mins per batch

INGREDIENTS:


1/3 cup butter, melted

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

4 lb. cooking apples, such as Fuji or Granny Smith, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices (about 12 cups)

1 recipe Oat Pastry for Caramel Apple Pie, OR one 15-oz. pkg. rolled refrigerated unbaked pie crust (2 crusts)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. water

1 12-oz. jar caramel ice cream topping (about 1 cup)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 475F. In very large bowl combine butter and cinnamon; add apples and toss gently to coat. Spread apples evenly in a parchment paper- or foil-lined, large roasting pan or two 15x10x1-inch baking pans. Roast (one pan at a time if using baking pans) 4 to 5 inches from heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until apples start to brown on edges, turning once halfway through. Cool apples in pan(s). Reduce heat to 375F.

2. Prepare Oat Pastry or let refrigerated pastry stand at room temperature according to package directions. Line 9-inch pie plate with half of pastry as directed.

3. In very large bowl stir together brown sugar, flour, and salt. Add apple slices and any juices; stir to coat. Transfer to pastry-lined pie plate. Trim top crust to edge of pie plate. Fold top pastry edge under bottom pastry; crimp edge. Brush top with mixture of beaten egg and water. Cover edge of pie with foil to prevent overbrowning.

4. Place on middle shelf in oven; place foil-lined baking sheet on lower rack beneath pie. Bake 30 minutes; remove foil from pie. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes more or until top is golden and filling is bubbly. Remove to a wire rack. While warm, drizzle with some of the caramel topping. Cool completely. Serve with remaining topping. Makes 8 servings.

Oat Pastry: In medium bowl, stir together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, and 1 teaspoon salt. Using pastry blender, cut in 2/3 cup shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over part of mixture; gently toss with fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time, until all dough is moistened. (You will need 8 to 10 Tbsp. total water.) Divide in half; form each half into a ball. On lightly floured surface, flatten 1 dough ball. Roll from center to edge into 12-inch circle. To transfer pastry, wrap around rolling pin; unroll into a 9-inch pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim pastry even with rim of pie plate. Fill pie plate with filling. On lightly floured surface roll remaining dough into 14-inch circle; cut slits for stream to escape. Place on top of fruit filling; trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold top crust under bottom crust; crimp edge. Makes pastry for 2-crust pie.

You can click on the recipe title link above if you want to simply visit the original site and bookmark it for later.

Visit my fabulous fare post to get more great baking ideas and to see a new food blog I came across a few months ago with many yummy recipes.

What is YOUR favorite pie recipe? Do you have a dessert that you make as a tradition every Thanksgiving or a fall recipe that you just found and are dying to make? Share the link with us or leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secrets to Fall Fashion for Less!


I'm loving all of the gorgeous fall fashion trends this year, there really is something for everyone. As much as I'd love to go out and buy a ton of cool-weather goodies, the budget simply does not allow for it, as is the case for many I know.  Instead of thinking about all the fun stuff I'd be missing out on, I decided to find a budget-friendly resource and have I found just the thing! Since my latest blog poll voter asked for more fashion posts, I wanted today's post to share just that. Ask and you shall receive!

Last month I discovered a great blog which focuses specifically on whole outfits that are under $100 and include accessories too! I am so glad I found it and I've been having so much fun looking at pieces that I adore, but are on the cheap. Without further ado, here is my favorite fashion blog. Awesome, right? Dana does a great job assembling outfits seen on celebrities for a fraction of the cost as well as costume inspiration and specific items for under $50, etc..

HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES:




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Every day I'm continually amazed by what Dana is able to find. She also does a lot of reader requests such as those that are going to a highschool reunion and haven't a clue what to wear. If you write her, she'll suggest something great for you.

Do you adore a great handbag? I have another little secret website that I've fallen in love with, it features the red bag at the top of this post. It's called HandBagHeaven and ALL handbags start at $15 and are no more than $75!

If you missed it, here is my last post on 2009 Fall Fashion Trends!

How about you? What are your favorite fashion trends? What is your latest and greatest purchase? Leave a comment and share it with us!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Which Name Do You Use?



After talking to a few friends over the past few months about our new names and asking why they chose to use the name that they did, and then finding this site last week, I thought it would be fun to pose this question in video format.

Take a look at this video to see how other women responded:




So, what did you choose. Did you decide that you couldn't part with your familiar maiden name, or did you embrace more of a traditional approach and take your husband's name, or maybe a combination of both by hyphenating?

The majority of my friends have taken the traditional route and two of my closest friends use both names together as they are each short on their own and they have also decided not to hyphenate. I, on the other hand; due to the immigration process, have a scattered array of names which began with my maiden name for the first couple of years and I have now (as of this summer) managed to convert the majority of my documents over to my hubby's name.

I've always been a bit more traditional and was always fairly certain that one day when I met the right man, I'd take his name. Well, that and the fact that his is so much easier to spell and pronounce than my former name. ;)

I'm curious to hear how you came to your decision. Leave a comment and share you story...

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Outdoor Fall Display Ideas




Image by ThriftyDecorChick

I can't believe that we're already into the middle of October! All week I've been collecting inspirational fall decor photos to refresh the look and feel of our home. With the weather finally starting to cool down a tad here, I'm now ready to entertain the idea of porch display.
If you haven't had the time yet to decorate your home, here are some inspirational ideas that will hopefully get your creative juices flowing for a stunning outdoor arrangement!




Image from MarthaStewart.com

Leave it to Martha Stewart to create a stunning fall porch display! I love how beautiful this staircase is leading to this home. It's comprised of just two things: potted mums and pumpkins of varying sizes and shades. The wreath on the door is so simplistic, letting the beautiful porch display steal the spotlight! For those on a budget, you can use a smaller arrangement and get the same effect. Use multiple colors of potted mums for a vibrant porch or use a monochromatic scheme such as this one for a more streamlined look.




image from www.bhg.com

For those with a heart for all things country, this is a charming little display. It's small, simple and to the point.






How is this for outdoor fall decor? Using a backyard table, the chandelier was hung above created with leaves, mini pumpkin gourds and tea lights. Using more colorful and shapely gourds as well as a large pumpkin and an assortment of leaves, this rustic look is complete.





Mums the word with this display. Colorful mum bouquets tucked inside orange and white pumpkins. These fun vases can add life to any step or staircase! These work best in climates with cool fall temps, as to preserve the freshness of the mums.



                            Image from www.bhg.com

Don't forget your windows! This planter box is a bit country-inspired as it is filled with wheat sheaths. Simple, yet so symbolic of harvest time. Use a constrasting color such as black or red for the planter box to really give it some 'pop'.




              Image from www.bhg.com

To make these cute 'Mumkins' cut a lid and remove the seeds and pulp. Using a drill or nail, make holes just wide enough for the flower stems to poke through and insert the flowers.





If you love the customization of monogams, add your family's surname initial to your wreath. Using pressed cardboard, you can paint the letter any color you like that will contrast from the color of the wreath so it will stand out. Using a little ribbon, you can adhere the initial to the wreath and hang it from an over-the-door hook.





Why not try something a little different this year and personalize your pumpkin? Add your house address or a fun pattern to your gourd with some inexpensive nail heads. They come in all shapes, sized and colors. you can also spraypaint them to get the exact color you want.



                      Image from www.Centsationalfirl.com

I'm a huge fan of urns, especially those that you an place on either side of your front door, like these. Mine are black and I love placing bright mums inside for a festive look. I thought these pumpkin urns were also super cute. Place a gorgeous new welcome mat and a few more pumplins on the porch or bench and you're set!




Using a ladder shelf you can re-create this look with multipe shapes and sizes of pumpkins. Get out some paint and get a little crazy with gold, silver, black, reds and create spider webs, polka dots, stripes and the like. Use a little bit of leaves or garland as filler between various gourds to complete the look.


I'm dreaming of mulling some hot apple cider, burning some cinnamon-scented candles, bringng the outside acorns inside and curling up in a warm blanket with a book as the windows are cracked open with a fresh, crisp breeze. Ahh, fall. It's here for some and on it's way for others. I can hardly wait!

Did any of these images inspire you to try something different this year-tell us about it. What are your favorite aspects of fall? Do you love to decorate, or bake pumpkin pie? We'd love to hear what you have to say!

Warmly,
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