Monthly Archives: May 2016


Dreaming Of…

May 25, 2016, posted by Michelle – We are always on the lookout for interesting table linens and tableware. Recently, we’ve found quite a few items around the web that we really love and we assembled them in a couple of groupings. Both incorporate classic colors and motifs; one for a spring tablescape and the other has us thinking ahead to summer…

COOL SPRING
Spring Tablescape Set

 

 HOT SUMMERSummer Table Set

  • 1.One Piece Seat And Back Squared Edge Outdoor Seat Cushion… target.com; 2. Blue Stripe Tray, designdarling.com, 3. Lalique Midnight Blue Turtle Vase, amara.com, 4. Certified International Coastal Postcards Lobster Rectangular Platter, jcpenney.com, 5. Rustic Garden Medium Red Planter, Handpainted in Tuscany, vietri.com,    6. Vintage Hungarian Embroidered Ecru Tablecloth, chairish.com


The Park in Bloom

climbing roses peach

May 24, 2016, posted by Michelle – Things are blooming in Lyon’s Parc de la Tête d’Or near our neighborhood. Since this is the time of year that the park looks its most gorgeous, I couldn’t help but assemble some photos to post. This park has a wide variety of plants and trees, a beautiful lake, a few greenhouses and several rose gardens. I also took photos of some of the beautiful homes that overlook the park.

Pink Roses wm

PINK and PURPLE wm

RED wm

Wildflower Pond wm

lake wm

Desert Palm wm

Maisons wm


Shopping Excursion: At Home 2 comments

May 23, 2016, posted by Gina – About two years ago a Sam’s Wholesale closed one of its stores in Jackson, leaving the neighborhood with a huge empty building and a deserted parking lot. Never a good look. Finally, At Home, a home decor superstore, moved into the space and opened last week. Garden Ridge re-branded and converted all their stores to At Home; this is their third store to open in Mississippi.

at home wm

Driving up to this store, I knew it was going to be an adventure, and potentially tiring, since it’s 128,000 square feet. I have never been in a store that big dedicated to home décor, so I thought I would share a few things that caught my eye.

The outdoor section was huge. I think there were 12 aisles dedicated to outdoor furniture cushions. I mean, really, this has been a struggle for me every year but not any longer. This blue and chartreuse cushion caught my eye as well as a metal medallion that would be happy somewhere in my outdoor area.

cushions and medallion wm

I have been on the lookout for outdoor urns for the front of our home for quite some time now. There were several choices and I honestly could not make up my mind.  Maybe you can help me decide:

urn choices wm

Next, I moved on to the furniture section. I have to say that with a big store like this I was not expecting the furniture to be so sturdy nor for there to be such a wide variety of styles and colors.

monotone furniture wm

I was becoming a bit tired at this point because there was just so much to look at but I soldiered on to the kitchen area where I saw these cute carafes. I don’t know why I did not bring these home with me but I plan on returning in hopes they will still be there.

carafes wm

This utensil holder with galvanized tray and mason jars with chalkboard tags would work well for an outdoor function.

utensils wm

And these cupcake holders were so cute. After all, there are cupcakes that are pretty enough to be put on pedestals.

cupcake pedestals wm

The next few items made their way into my cart.  I have been wanting a casserole carrier as I am always toting food somewhere.  This one was very reasonably priced and attractive. The sea grass rug with its hints of blue had to come home with me as I have a bit of blue in every single room in our home. A while back I purchased new linens for one of our bedrooms. I’ve been looking for a few coordinating pillows with a pop of blue and these linen ones filled the bill. We are always in need of citronella candles and they had ones below in every color imaginable.

purchases wm

In the decor section I found a silver vase shaped like a purse. There were some frosted vases that I could imagine grouped together with the same type of flower in each. They had this candle holder in several colors and I think it would be great on a dining table with an unscented candle in it.

vessels wm

The last area I visited was wall art. Since Son 1 has a new apartment and Son 2 is moving at the end of the summer, I thought some of these would be great for them. Selfishly, I like the lab picture and while I did not get it today, I think I will have to return. It reminds me of our sweet Emma lab and would be perfect in her room.

lab wm

There was a lot I did not see even though I spent close to two hours looking around. It was a lot of fun experiencing a new store and getting to know their brand. I’m also looking forward to seeing seasonal items as well.

We’d like to hear from you. Which urn did you like? Maybe none or all of them? If you’d like to leave a comment, just click on the title of this post and the comment form will appear at the bottom of the page.


Grand Marnier Custard Squares

May 20, 2016, posted by Gina – My youngest son will graduate from high school next week. My friend and I are hosting a dinner for our sons and their friends and families. We have divided up the cooking and all other party details. One of the recipes I’ll be making is Grand Marnier Custard Squares. These are just delicious and similar to a lemon square but oh so much better in my opinion.

ingredients wm

You’ll notice there’s a bottle of Solerno instead of Grand Mariner in the photo of all the ingredients. At Christmas, I was out of Grand Marnier and sent my older son to get a new bottle for me. He returned with Solerno insisting that it was a wonderful orange liqueur and he was right.

First, you make the crust:crust wmThe next step is making the top layer. There is nothing more fragrant than zesting an orange and my house smelled so fresh as I was making these culinary delights.

oranges wm

The recipe calls for placing sugar and the orange zest in a food processor. Here you see it before processing and after, it’s a nice golden color:

before and after processing wm

Nest step, making the custard:

eggs and custard wm

As if these bars aren’t already delicious, you spread icing on them which takes them over the top. Here are the finished bars:

bars wm

This recipe came from the Junior League of Jackson’s, Come On In, a great cookbook that I highly recommend.

GRAND MARNIER CUSTARD SQUARES

Bottom Layer
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature.

Top Layer
1 ½ cups sugar
Zest of 3 oranges
1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
6 large eggs
3 Tbs. orange juice
3 Tbs. Grand Marnier liqueur
1 tsp. orange extract

Icing
2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tbs. Grand Marnier liqueur
3 Tbs. orange juice, or less

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare bottom layer, blend sugar, salt, flour and cut in butter.  Spread mixture in buttered and floured 10 x 15 baking pan.  Bake until very lightly browned, 20 minutes.

For the top layer, blend sugar and zest in food processor until zest is finely chopped.  Mix in baking powder, salt, eggs, orange juice, Grand Marnier, and orange extract. Pour mixture over bottom layer in pan and bake until firm, 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Prepare icing by blending powdered sugar and Grand Marnier with just enough orange juice to produce a spreadable consistency.  Spread icing over cooled cake and cut into squares.


Spring Wreath 2 comments

May 19, 2016, posted by Gina – A friend of mine saw a wreath in an upscale catalog and fell in love with it. We both thought the price was too high so she asked if I could make something similar. Duplicating it was challenging but I must say the completed wreath looks pretty close to the over-priced beauty.

Spring

As you can see this wreath is fairly full and, believe it or not, the one in the catalog was four and a half times the cost of this one. I am so happy she asked me to work on this fun and rewarding project.

We’d love to hear your comments. Click on the title of this post and the comment form will open at the bottom of the page.


City Garden Tour

May 18, 2016, posted by Gina – Two weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of going on a wonderful garden tour consisting of five homes. I went with one of my neighbors and we were certainly inspired by the beauty and creativity on display in these gardens.

We began our tour in a well-established yard that had been added to little by little over the years by the owner. One of the great things in this garden was this tree house. Who didn’t dream of having their own tree house as a child? This one was perfectly perched in a large shade tree complete with shutters and a small deck surrounding the exterior.

treehouse wm

The next home had so many surprises in store for us. The beautiful Confederate Jasmine surrounding the garage doors inspired me to plant it in my own garden. The home’s dining room extends out into the lush, shady yard and its floor-to-ceiling windows allow the outside to come in, creating an especially dramatic space.

jasmine and dining wmIn the kitchen, a gorgeous floral arrangement in a beautiful iron urn was generously filled with coral, pink and white flowers.

flowers wm

This vantage point from the second floor overlooking the pool and lake made us feel like we were at a resort.  How relaxing would it be to have this to view from one of the many outdoor living areas?

wm view

There were several screened-in porches and open air patio spaces surrounded the pool. What an amazing backdrop for parties! Across from the pool we found an old re-purposed feed trough filled with small pebbles and a variety colorful of succulents. I just loved the ingenious creativity of this feature.

pool wm

trough wm

Finally, the fireplace really struck me not only because it is just beautiful all on its own, but because of the creeping fig which is yet another idea I now have in mind for my own fireplace.

fig and fireplace wm

We then moved on to another home where we found an almost life-size statue of St. Francis greeting visitors at the entrance of the most wonderful vegetable garden. (That’s me by St. Francis)

francis and gina wm

As we were finishing up the tour, we were left with this one lasting memory of these fabulous irises.

irises wm

We enjoyed every minute of our tour and look forward to the tour next year.  For now, I plan on putting on my garden gloves and getting to work!

We’d like to hear your thoughts and comments. Just click on the title of this post and the comment form will appear at the bottom of the page.


Chicken Tetrazzini

May 17, 2016, posted by Gina – A friend and I are feeding a crowd before our sons high school graduation next week. We’ve been doing lots of planning and running around as we check things off our to-do lists. We are making several casseroles of Chicken Tetrazzini which I have never made but, knowing my friend, I’m sure this is delicious. It is one of her family’s favorites and it’s easy to put together. I did take a bite of it and really liked it. Here is the recipe:

Chicken tetrazzini wm

CHICKEN TETRAZZINI

Ingredients:
1 – 16 oz. package vermicelli
2 Tbsp. butter
1 – 8 oz. package sliced fresh mushrooms
3 oz. finely chopped prosciutto
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup frozen baby English peas, thawed
1 – 10 ¾ oz. can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
1 – 10 oz. container refrigerated Alfredo sauce
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms and prosciutto, and sauté 5 minutes.

Stir together mushroom mixture, chicken, next 5 ingredients, and ½ cup cheese; stir in pasta.  Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish; sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese.

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until bubbly.


Rose Garden by the River 1 comment

white roses

May 16, 2016, posted by Michelle – Bonjour everyone! I am posting a collection of photos from the beautiful rose garden (Roseraie de Saint Clair) in the park by my apartment. There are 150 varieties of domestic and wild roses in this garden that sits idyllically on the banks of the Rhône river. We’d also like to dedicate this post to our grandmother (1912 – 2010) whose birthday was May 16th.

rose collage

primrose path

first third

roses by the rhone

in bloom last third


Outdoor Oasis

May 15, 2016, posted by Gina – We loved our new home the moment we stepped in the door and in fact, upon our first visit told our real estate agent we finally found The One after a two year search. One of the things that we really loved was the outdoor screened-in porch. It has been wonderful for entertaining and while we wouldn’t have guessed, a great place for teenagers to hang out. Our youngest son and his friends have spent countless hours on our porch and I am so glad they like spending time out there.

porch

While the porch was love at first sight, the backyard was another story. There was no patio and not much landscaping. So, a priority after moving and settling in was looking for landscape architects and we eventually met with three different companies. The one we choose had great ideas for our patio area that included the addition of a warm and welcoming fireplace.

patio

That’s Emma by the way, our house proud Lab.

I had not given the porch a proper cleaning since winter so it was way past due and this weekend was the time. It felt so good to clean everything up and put out a few plants to liven things up. It’s such a comfortable, relaxing spot for us and our guests to enjoy. When I finished cleaning the porch, I moved on to the patio. Once the fireplace and pollen covered patio furniture were cleaned, I freshened up the area with a few new plants and planters.

I have an array of colorful perennials in my yard and they take turns on being the star of the show beginning with camellias as early as January and moving on to azaleas, roses, hydrangea and iris in early spring then daylilies, agapanthus and chaste lilacs appear by mid-spring.

sweet potato vine

I planted angelonia, petunia and sweet potato vine in a few planters on the porch stairs. Before long, these flowers will be so thick that I’ll have to cut the sweet potato vine from time to time. I also put some some zinnias surrounded by burlap in a wire planter in another area. This makes a perfect, simple summer floral arrangement.

zinnias

I will admit that I procrastinated but am so happy that the cleaning and sprucing up the planters is done…it basically gives us two outdoor rooms to enjoy. Summer, here we come!


Herbs

watermarked herbs

May 13, 2016, posted by Gina – If you are a regular reader of GDFC then you know that we have been working with a landscape architect for a few years now. The work has been done in phases and we will finally tackle the last phase in the fall. I am beyond excited about this final phase as it will incorporate four raised beds. So, next growing season I will try my hand at growing a few vegetables and one of the beds will be dedicated to herbs.

I am no stranger to growing herbs and even had success in our former yard that barely had a ray of sunshine. This past weekend I decided not to wait on the raised bed and planted a few herbs in some pots I had on hand. I selected rosemary, spearmint, basil and lemon thyme.  The fragrance from these herbs in my car on the way home was divine.

You know I love to cook and I will certainly use these herbs in plenty of dishes but I also like using rosemary in floral arrangements and spearmint in good ole sweet tea and other fun beverages.

If you’ve been thinking about growing a few herbs go ahead and take the plunge. They are really very easy to grow and are great to have on hand.