Decorating, Floral arrangements and Interior Landscaping, Living Beautifully, Our Favorite Things...

Our Favorite Things… Permanent Succulents

Succulents are quite popular right now, and it’s no surprise as they are one of the most versatile plant options for decorating both inside and outside the home.

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Today’s permanent succulents are so close to the real thing that you truly cannot tell them apart. Although real succulents are one of the easier plants to care for, you cannot beat good quality faux succulents for a no fuss, no worry greenery option.

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They are  really easy to work with, and bring a fun, casual look to floral and plant designs.  We use them regularly both in the store and in custom arrangements for customers.   Whether you want something formal, casual, rustic or contemporary; the container you choose will set the stage.

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They also pair beautifully with other plants and flowers, including roses, hydrangea, ranunculus… endless beautiful options await!  I’ve been a fan of preserved roses with succulents lately, and used them for several arrangements for our most recent Parade of Homes decor for a local builder.

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succulent-and-roses-trioThese zinc planters are great in both rustic and contemporary spaces – adding dimension and natural beauty to a blank wall.

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Easy to arrange, just take your pointers from nature – arrange them as they naturally grow.   Many craft stores even have a good selection of succulents, so pick a few of your favorites, choose a pot, dish or planter… and have some fun!

Cooking & Entertaining Ideas, Entrees, Recipe of the Week

Easy Entertaining… Balsamic & Bacon Braised Pork Chops

Crema Balsamica plays a starring role in this impressive braised pork chop dish. Paired with delicious bacon, this sauce reduces to a luscious glaze that’s elegant, but easy to prepare.

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Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, but also worthy of serving to guests. This was a big hit at my house – especially for my husband, who is a huge pork chop fan.

 

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Balsamic and Bacon Braised Pork Chops

· 4 bone-in pork chops (about 1 inch thick)
· Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
· 1 Tbs. olive oil
· 4 bacon, chop into thin slices (lardons)
· 1 red onion, sliced
· 1 garlic clove, minced
· 1 Tbs. firmly packed dark brown sugar
· 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
· 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
· 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat pan and add olive oil. Brown pork chops in pan on each side – about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the onions, cook until soft about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 minutes. Drain excess fat, leaving about a tablespoon or so in the pan.

Stir in the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar reduction, and thyme. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring sauce to a simmer.

Return the pork chops to the pan. Cook, covered for about about 5 minutes and then uncovered for another 7-8 minutes.

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Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or ramen rice noodles and a side of steamed or sautéed green beans.
Enjoy!

Michele

Appetizers, Cooking & Entertaining Ideas, Recipe of the Week

Easy Entertaining… Pear, Goat Cheese & Balsamic Herb Jam Tart

Easy and elegant… go to our Pear, Goat Cheese & Balsamic Herb Jam Tart for a quick appetizer or addition to your brunch menu.

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Pear, Goat Cheese & Balsamic Herb Jam Tart

1 Pie/Pastry Crust Dough (use our recipe below or grab on from the grocery store refrigerator section)

½ Jar of Terrapin Ridge Farms Balsamic Herb Jam* (room temp)

2-3 Fresh Pears, peeled and sliced thin

4 oz. Goat Cheese (or Bleu Cheese if you prefer)

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Roll out dough to fit into a fluted tart pan. Trim or pinch edges.
  • Spread herb jam over crust, and lay pear slices over jam.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, top with crumbled goat cheese – then put back in oven for another 5-6 minutes, or until bubbly.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices.

*Find Terrapin Ridge Farm Balsamic Herb Jam at `a la Maison in Baldwinsville or call 315-440-6637 to order.

My Gluten-Free Pastry/Pie Dough

¾ cup Tapioca Starch

½ cup Oat Flour

½ cup Brown Rice Flour

¾ teaspoon Salt

8 tablespoons of COLD butter, cut into 12 pieces

1 large egg white

2-3 tablespoons of water

In your food processor, combine the dry ingredients (including salt) and pulse to combine.  Add the cold butter and pulse until the pieces are small (pea-sized)

Add the egg white – pulse to combine.  Add the water, one tablespoon at a time and pulse until the dough starts to come together.  Transfer to a board and gently knead into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Roll out dough in between two pieces of parchment paper until it’s slightly bigger than the opening of your tart pan (about 11 inches).  Remove top parchment paper, lay the tart pan on top and flip over.  Remove last piece of parchment and gently push the dough into the pan.  Trim and flute edges… read to use for your recipe of choice!

Enjoy!

Michele

 

 

Living Beautifully

Transitioning Your Home from Summer to Fall – Part 1

The morning air is a bit crisper and days a bit shorter as fall starts to settle in around us.  The change of seasons is good time to embark on those indoor and outdoor tasks that may have been neglected over the summer months.

A good bi-annual clean-up is a great idea and gets some of the big work done and  out of the way before the holidays.  Tackle of these indoor projects now:

  • Wash and/or dry clean draperies and comforters. Pay close attention to manufacturers cleaning instructions. For those items that can be machined or hand washes, use a safe, natural product life.  (I personally love The Laundress Signature Detergent in Classic scent… makes the laundry smell amazing!)
  • Clean carpets and floorsGive carpeting and area rugs a thorough vacuuming and then spot clean, or have professionally cleaned, if needed.
  • Give your wood floor a good cleaning with a quality wood floor cleaner (I like both Bona and Method brands).  Look for scratches and damage, and if your finish is really worn, consider having them refinished.
  • Wipe down kitchen and bathroom wooden cabinets with a good wood cleaner (I prefer Stickley Furniture Dressing which has antibacterial properties and is made for wood).
  • Clean your home office and get papers organized and filed. Many of us neglect office work during the beautiful summers months – now is the time to find your desk top again!

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Pick a nice sunny day to clean up the yard, increase your curb appeal and celebrate the look and feel of autumn with a few outdoor projects:

  • Remove and compost old annuals flowers, remove dead leaves and blooms from perennials.
  • Bring in fall color with mums, sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds to dress the front your home, urns and walkways. Harvest accents such as corn stalks and hay bales and height and interest by creating different levels to display your fall décor on.
  • Replace your summer door décor or wreath with a beautiful fall floral or harvest inspired wreath.
  • Clean wrap and store patio furniture and summer accessories for next season.

 

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Enjoy your refreshly cleaned home and get ready to have fun with Step 2…  Bringing to the look of fall inside!