Monday, August 3, 2015

Blue, White, & on the Victoria Blog

Today I am on the Victoria blog pondering the inviting ambiance created by blue and white. Please join me here to see how this beloved duo is a perfect palette for welcoming guests. And speaking of blue and white, be sure to stop in for my next post -- the reveal of son Christian's classic bedroom.

"The ornaments of your home are the people who smile upon entering time and time again." ~ Maralee McKee

Monday, July 13, 2015

My All-Time Favorite Chicken Recipe

If I ever open a country inn, this is an entree you can expect to find on the dinner menu. Succulent and delicious, Roasted Rosemary Chicken fills the house with the most enticing aromas. My dear friend Stacey's trips to Colonial Williamsburg inspired this recipe. She developed a dish similar to one she discovered during her travels, and today I am sharing my take on the version she served once to our family. This recipe is definitely a keeper -- and one you can feel free to make your own!

Although you could prepare this recipe in a traditional roasting pan, one of my secrets to success is an upright roaster from Reco Romertopf. The company offered me a sample awhile ago, and I was so pleased with it, I actually purchased a second roaster so I could prepare two birds at once for company. Although I was initially concerned that roasting the bird in this manner would dry out the chicken, my fears were quickly laid to rest. The results were mouthwatering!

Since I'm not opening a bed-and-breakfast anytime soon, I am sharing this recipe for Roasted Rosemary Chicken. If you come for dinner at my house, don't be surprised if this is the main course, accompanied with garlic cheese grits, green beans, fruit, and freshly buttered bread. Simple yet flavorful -- comfort food at its best! 

Roasted Rosemary Chicken

1 roasting chicken
8 sprigs rosemary
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2-1 teaspoon flour
Garnish: fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken, and pat dry with paper towels. Stuff cavity with 5 to 6 sprigs of rosemary, and place chicken on an upright roaster. 

In a small bowl, combine seasoned salt, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and paprika. Using your fingers, separate skin from breast, and sprinkle approximately a third of the seasoning onto the chicken. Rub remaining two thirds of seasoning over bird, coating skin well. Remove leaves from remaining 2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary, and sprinkle these between skin and breast.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until temperature at thickest part of breast reaches 165 degrees. To crisp the skin, raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more or until skin turns a deep golden brown. Remove from oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before transferring to a platter or carving.

To make a gravy, strain fats from basin of roaster and transfer juices to a small saucepan. Over medium to medium-high heat, bring juices to a rolling boil. Sprinkle in flour gradually, stirring briskly with a whisk to keep clumps from forming. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture has reduced to desired consistency. Garnish chicken with rosemary, if desired, and serve with gravy.

This is one of my favorite family meals and a dish I have served for holidays and special occasions, as well. If you try this recipe for Roasted Rosemary Chicken, I would love to hear how it turns out!

"The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift." ~ Laurie Colwin

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Screened In Porch Before & After

Finally, I am ready to share before-and-after views of our screened-in porch. Thank you for your patience! It has taken me awhile to complete the final details of the makeover, and photographing our new space has been a challenge. As we begin, let me give you a little background on my inspiration for this outdoor haven.

One of the first things I fell in love with at our hillside home was its cozy screened-in porch. Because this outdoor room is perched high in the treetops, I started calling it our tree house. Without further delay, let me welcome you to our new space!

Isn't it pretty? Keep scrolling for lots of photos and sources.

The pair of shabby chic bird cages on the coffee table was the first purchase I made for the porch. I found these candle holders more than a year ago at Tuesday Morning. I use a candle in the smaller one, but a vase in the larger one is perfect for fresh flowers.

Now for a few shots of the transformation!

Before and After

I snapped this photo after Joe had already painted the floor, which was originally untreated wood. The previous homeowners left behind the palm tree and a wind chime. Keep scrolling to see how this corner of the porch looks today.




I don't have a good shot of this view, but these vignettes will show you this side of the room.

The ceiling paint is the color Dayflower by Behr. Suspended from drapery clips hanging from large cup hooks, canvas drop cloths make easy curtains. 

The homeowners also left a pair of patio chairs, which we left outside under the porch for many months. After a good scrubbing, they made a nice addition to our seating -- saving me money on buying everything new.

Continuing our nesting theme, this chair cushion from Pier 1 turned out to be too small for the chairs we are using, but it works nicely as a throw pillow.

I will spare you a photo of the television mounted on this wall, but the shelves below are from Kohl's. I wanted an inexpensive option for this area, so I purchased the Linon Anna 3-Shelf Bookcase and put it together without the back and painted the piece with chalk paint from Michaels.

A pair of petite wooden crates, also from Michaels, offer convenient storage for flowers, magazines and other sundries.

A framed photo from our recent vacation adds a personal touch. Aren't they precious?

On the bottom shelf, I framed a favorite quote: 

“To sit in the shade
on a fine day
and look upon verdure
is the most perfect
~Jane Austen

To the right of that print sits a practical addition -- an All Natural Mosquito Repellent Lantern, provided complements of Stinger. The company's offer of a sample from their new product line came just as we were completing our makeover, and it has been so effective at keeping our outdoor space free from bugs. To get one for your space, click the link below.

Continuing our way around the room, this trio of canvases adds color to our painted brick. (Joe used leftover deck paint from the floor and wall. I will update this post with the color if we still have it.) The focal point of our grouping is a photo turned painterly artwork from Canvas Pop. Clockwise from there, the bouquet of roses is from HomeGoods, and the bundle of tulips is from Pier 1. The tulips were originally orange, but I painted over those in my signature colors.

On the second chair, a pillow from Pier 1 adds softness. My father was kind enough to stop by and drill into the mortar so I could hang this gallery. I tried a couple of unsuccessful methods of hanging these canvases before going back to basics -- asking Daddy for help!

Our love seat, coffee table and side table were from the Presidio outdoor collection from Kohl's. Find the complete line here. It was challenging to find pastels in my price range, but I am very pleased with the Teal cushions on this piece.

I am totally smitten with the work of Karen Harvey Cox, the artist behind French Script. I discovered her Etsy business while writing Favorite Things for Victoria and knew immediately that her romantic designs would be perfect for our porch. I purchased a trio of pillow slips and a rug from her charming shop, and these easy-living pieces work beautifully outdoors. I have already had to wash the rug, but it still looks pristine. One of the blessings of this transaction was corresponding with Karen, and she is such a lovely person on top of being such a talented painter.

I took this photo to highlight the little posies but also wanted to mention that the lamp is from Kirklands.

From first sight, I have adored the Sunset Pier Deluxe Chair from Pier 1. Find it in Gray here. The cushion is also from Pier 1, although this pattern may not be available now. Throw pillow from French Script.

This sweet little heart painted by Kathy Murphy -- a gift from her daughter, my friend Carrie -- adds one last loving detail, slipped onto a hook by the door.

Here is one final look at our vantage point from the porch.

And one last lingering view of our nest in the clouds.

"A street house, a neat house,

Be sure to wipe your feet house

Is not my kind of house at all  

Let's go live in a tree house.” 

― Shel Silverstein

Friday, June 26, 2015

Announcing the Canvas Winner

"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade." ~ Gertrude Jekyll

Congratulations to Jessica, who won the complimentary 16x20-inch canvas from Canvas PopI will be emailing the promotional code for claiming this exciting prize and hope I will get to see the finished product.

This is such a beautiful time of year that I'm sure we all have no shortage of images we want to capture. So don't forget, through July 15, readers of A Little Loveliness can get 35 percent off your purchase at Canvas Pop with the discount code LOVELINESS35.

Have a lovely weekend! I have taken quite a few pictures of our porch, so hopefully I will share the big reveal next week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Easy & Delicious Breakfast Parfaits

"It is in the early morning hour that the unseen is seen, and that the far-off beauty and glory, vanquishing all their vagueness, move down upon us till they stand clear as crystal close over against the soul." ~ Sarah Smiles

For our recent spring brunch, I assembled the simple yogurt parfaits pictured above. These were so delicious, they have become a new morning favorite.

Easy Yogurt Parfait

Frozen sliced strawberries with sugar, defrosted
Vanilla-Flavored Greek Nonfat Yogurt*
Dark Chocolate & Red Berries Premium Organic Granola**

Spoon sliced strawberries and syrup into the bottom of a dessert dish, parfait glass or jar. Add a generous dollop of Greek yogurt, and top with a strawberry and a sprinkling of granola. For a parfait glass, repeat layers, ending with granola.

*I used Dannon Oikos Blended Greek Nonfat Yogurt Triple Zero Vanilla.
**I used Love Crunch Premium Organic Granola

Perfect any time of day, this easy treat could become your new favorite (mostly healthy) indulgence!

If you haven't registered to win the 16x20-inch canvas from Canvas Pop, be sure to leave a comment on this post. I will announce the winner Friday!

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Delicious Spring Brunch

"Low buds the pink dawn like a rose
From out night's gray and cloudy sheath;
Softly and still it grows and grows,
Petal by petal, leaf by leaf ... ."
~ Susan Coolidge

Recently the children and I enjoyed Sunday brunch together -- actually, the menu I had planned to serve Mother's Day weekend. 

We delayed our festivities and found the perfect opportunity to sit down together while Joe was out of town. He does not like most traditional breakfast foods, so this worked out best for all of us.

Our hydrangeas have been beautiful this year, so a bouquet slipped into a soup tureen made a gracious centerpiece.

Toile de Jardin plates -- a Tuesday Morning find I could not resist -- looked lovely atop crocheted place mats Joe's mother gave me recently.

Here's a view of our table before we filled it with an appetizing menu. Christian has become quite the expert at making omelets, so his hearty specialty was our main course. Read on to glimpse the entire menu.

Delicious Spring Brunch Menu

Lemon-Slush Punch

Omelets Made to Order

Garlic Cheese Grits

Bakery-Style Blueberry Muffins

Yogurt Parfaits

Spring Blend Coffee

Find our recipe for Lemon-Slush Punch here. When I want coffee, The Fresh Market's Spring Blend is one of my favorite brews. Our menu was delicious, and in the end I am glad we delayed our brunch to a Sunday when we had more time to linger.

A few of my favorite people in the world -- aren't they precious?

"What a benediction is this fragrance of the early morning! The vernal grass fills the whole atmosphere as with a shower of sweetness!" ~ Sarah Smiley

Friday, June 19, 2015

Father's Day Craft: Monogrammed Dress Shirt with Bow Tie Place Card Tutorial

"Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!" ~ Lydia M. Child

Perfect for Father's Day, clever bow-tie place cards dress the table with preppy Southern style for Dad's special day. I made a set of these a couple of years back for a seersucker-themed tablescape, but the photos were lost before I could share them with you here. These little accents were my favorite detail of that family dinner, so I wanted to share them with you now. The tutorial below offers directions for making place cards, but you could easily adjust this project to make a greeting card.

Monogrammed Dress Shirt with Bow Tie Place Card

1. For each place card, use a 3x5-inch card. Fold the card in half (short ends together), and make a crisp crease.

2. Open the card, and use a craft knife to cut a slit across the crease, leaving about a 1/4-inch margin on each edge of the crease.

3. At the mid-point of the slit, use a craft knife or scissors to cut a 1/2-inch slit into the front of the card. On each side of this slit, fold the paper down to form a triangle. This will form the collar for the dress shirt.

4. For the placket, glue a strip of white card stock to the center of the dress shirt. The piece pictured is 1/4-inch wide and 1 1/2-inches long. Add three small pearl-sticker buttons.

5. Print a pocket on card stock. The one pictured was designed in Word by adding a text box with monogram to a trapezoid, sized to 3/4-inch long and just over 3/4-inch wide at its largest. A faint dashed line adds a smart "stitched" detail.

6. Use a ribbon of fabric to make a bow tie. (Unfortunately, I don't have the dimensions for the strip of fabric I used, but it won't take much). The finished bow tie is 1 1/2-inch across by 1/2-inch deep. I liked the look of doubling the loops for a fuller bow tie, so I estimate that I cut strips that were just over 1x4-inches in length. Press the fabric, fold the ends under lengthwise, and fold to shape into bow tie loops. Using needle and thread, secure this form with a couple of stitches. Cut a narrow strip to serve as the center knot. Fold each edge under, wrap tightly around the center of the bow tie, and secure with a stitch on the back. Use hot glue to add the bow tie to the collar of the shirt.

Have a wonderful weekend honoring the men of honor who have blessed your life!

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