August 19th, 2012

Did you feel it in the air this morning? Autumn is fast approaching and that means Thanksgiving, Hanukah and Christmas will be here before you know it. I always grimace when I see seasonal decorations displayed in stores months ahead of time. But here I am, advising you to get ready!

Have you always wanted to host the holiday festivities at your house, but your dining room seems inadequate?  Let’s fix that problem this year! Now is the time to make a plan of action. If painting is on the list, we need to select colors and get on the painters’ schedule. Custom window treatments can make the whole room pop, but they need to be ordered within the next few weeks to ensure installation before Thanksgiving. (In fact, my 20% off linen drapery promotion is back again starting September 1. Perfect timing!) Do you need new furniture or can we freshen up what you have with some new fabrics or refinishing? Either way, we need about 8 – 12 weeks.

How about lighting? Do you need a new rug or can we have the old one cleaned?

Then there are the finishing touches: centerpieces, table linens, accessories.

If you want to be ready for holiday company, contact me today.  Whether your style is traditional, contemporary, mid-century or eclectic, we’ll get your home all decked out so you can just relax and celebrate the season with those you love. And get ready…for compliments!

August 10th, 2012

I have discovered the most wonderful online resource for accessories, furniture, art, lighting…almost anything for your home…even one of a kind vintage pieces. The prices are deeply discounted and the website is like rummaging through the best tag sale EVER! It’s called, One Kings Lane and I’ve posted a link to the left. So after you visit here, just click the elephants to visit there.

Accent Pillows

Let me know what treasures you find!

July 31st, 2012

Oh, the bounty of the garden! If you planted even one cherry tomato plant this year, you are probably picking a dozen or more tomatoes a day right now. A person can only eat so many salads! Here is a great tomato recipe that you can tweak and improvise to your heart’s content. In fact, it’s less of a recipe and more of a suggestion.

The cooking method of roasting concentrates and intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes, so don’t be put off by the fact that they shrink. Each little morsel packs a punch of flavor.

If you don’t have cherry or grape tomatoes, slice the larger varieties into thick slices and use them instead…or use a mixture. You can add in sweet peppers as I did, or small chunks of peeled eggplant if you want. Or just stick with the tomatoes. I also cooked some small slices of Italian sausage and stirred into my dish, but all veggies is great, too. Enjoy!

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Slice tomatoes or cut small ones in half.

Add peppers or eggplant if desired.

Add finely minced fresh garlic to taste. I used one large clove for two servings.

Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil.

Dust with a healthy pinch of dried oregano, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Toss to coat evenly and spread into single layer in pan.

Roast for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven when tomatoes start to caramelize.

At this point, you could cool the mixture and put into freezer bags to save for a winter’s day.

But life is short…why wait? Toss with your favorite pasta and top with grated Parmesan cheese. With a piece of crusty bread and a glass of pinot noire….mmm…mmm…good!

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July 25th, 2012

If you’ve read even a few posts on this blog, you know I’m kind of a farmers’ market junkie. All week I look forward to getting up early on Saturday morning, grabbing our market bags and dashing out the door. I can hardly wait to see what delicious bounty has been harvested for our dining delight!

Our CSA shares from Frog Bottom Farm have been generous – so much so, in fact, that I’ve turned to the farmers for advice and recipes. This recipe for Refrigerator Pickles came from Frog Bottom Farm. I made a batch a few weeks ago as a test before I relayed the recipe to you. Every one of my pickle eating guinea pigs have loved them! I have never made pickles before and they really were as easy as described below.

From Frog Bottom Farm:
“If, like me, you have been meaning to make your own pickles for what seems like a decade now, I am here to tell you: get up from your computer this very instant and go to your kitchen! It takes about nine minutes! These fridge pickles from Donalyn Ketchum are, in a word, perfect. Crunchy, garlicky, and just sour enough, I can’t stop reaching for them. You make a simple brine of water, vinegar, and salt. Then you pour that over cucumbers, garlic, and herbs. Leave the jars alone for a few days, and voila! Pickles! They aren’t canned, so they need to be stored in the fridge. They’ll keep at least a couple months in there — if they last that long!”

Ingredients (3 quarts or 6 pints)

For the brine
•2 quarts water

•1 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

•1/2 cup canning or pickling salt (kosher salt is also fine, but may result in cloudier pickle brine)

For the pickles
•Cucumbers, enough to fit snugly into your jars, washed well and sliced into spears

•Garlic, 1-2 cloves per pint jar or 2-3 cloves per quart jar, smashed and peeled

•Herbs (dill is classic; we also love thyme), 1-2 sprigs per pint jar or 2-4 sprigs per quart jar, rinsed well [note from Merry: I also used rosemary and oregano]


Preparing the jars
1.Clean your jars thoroughly with soap and water. They do not need to be sterilized.

For the brine
1.Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to be sure the salt dissolves completely. While the mixture is coming to a boil, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

For the pickles
1.Place a smashed garlic clove or two in the bottom of each jar.

2.Add the sprigs of your chosen herb.

3.Fill the jar the rest of the way with cucumber spears. Really cram them in there — otherwise some spears will float above the brine when you add it, and this can lead to premature spoilage.

4.Add another smashed garlic clove to each jar — wedge it down between some cucumber spears so it won’t float when you add the brine.

5.Pour the simmering brine over the vegetables, being sure they are completely submerged. If your brine isn’t simmering, bring it back to a simmer before pouring it over the vegetables.

6.Put a lid on each jar.

7.Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days (less time when the weather is very hot, more when it’s cold) and then, if you can stand it, put them in the fridge for an additional 1-2 weeks. We usually break into the first jar right away but give the rest of the jars the additional slow fridge fermentation before eating them.

Heavenly pickles!

Thank you, Frog Bottom Farm! www.frogbottomfarm.com

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July 24th, 2012

Still clearing out my basement…whew! What a job! I have two large rugs that need a home. Do you have a home that needs a rug?

8’2″ x 10′ 1″ with hand knotted fringe

This gorgeous Indo Azerbaijan rug was handmade in India. It is 100% wool, very thick and heavy. Neutral ground with pale blue, butterscotch, clay, clover green and black accents, the vegetable dyes give subtle striations and shadings that mimic the appearance of age. This is not a new rug, but it is not an antique – $450.*

Indo Azerbaijan detail

Indo Azerbaijan detail

The next rug, below, is a traditional design by Saray Hali.

6’7″ x 9’10” with hand-knotted fringe

This lovely carpet was machine made on Wilton looms in Turkey. It is 100% worsted wool. The colors in this rug pop! Nothing faded and subtle about this one. Crimson, ivory, wheat, clover green and navy comprise a traditional pattern with no center medallion. This makes it great for a room where the furniture might be off center. An ivory sofa would look amazing on this rug. Though not new, is in like new condition – $350.*

Saray Hali detail

Both of these rugs are in great shape with no stains, tears or other imperfections. They have been rolled up and in storage for several years, however, and could probably benefit from a light cleaning just to refresh them. Both rugs to the same buyer – $700.*

*Plus delivery charges, if required.

If you are interested in either or both of these rugs, email me (link at left of this page) or post a comment below.